everyone knows it's windy

How very nice to go to Melbourne and fly a defunct kite on Brighton Beach and then drive wayyy across town to the Thornbury Theatre to see Bill Callahan. He came out wearing a simple shirt and white pants, bare feet and possibly freeballing, looking like Terry Melcher without the handlebar moustache. The Thornbury Theatre looks like the kind of place for a big fat greek wedding - plush carpet, chandiliers, mirrored tiles, cherubs, practically. Then how even lovelier to come back to the country to hear DJ Pop Proud playing groovy summer tunes like this:

some love and megan abbott

Finally! A little bit of yankee love. I was getting a bit worried that the whole country thinks like Sara M: "Riley had nothing compelling about her."

First, one from Bookpeople - A massive independent bookstore in Austin, Texas who are "proud purveyors of Austin's famously weird vibe"
I'm down with that.


And secondly, Colleen Mondor, whose blog Chasing Ray fulfills my smart YA and adventures-in-remote-places needs:


These are batch reviews, and the other books in the batch look like corkers - particularly Ron Koertge's Deadville - I love his books but they are rare as hen's teeth in these here parts.

EB comes out in the UK today! And there's been some pommie love too:


Book 3 goes snarly. I'm writing in circles again. It could be the weather, or because I have a crick neck... or it could be because I still don't know exactly how I can write what I'm writing. I have done a kind of plan but I like to keep things loosey-goosey, allow for the element of surprise. I'm less worried about this faff-writing now, though, because it's book 3, and faffing is part of my process (must remember to put that on the next grant application!) So. Crap words today may come golden tomorrow. I hope. I have signed up for week-long workshop at the end of January and I bloody better have something to work with.

Meanwhile I have been reading books by Megan Abbott. It's like having a Mildred Pierce party. Look at her lovely lovely covers

lenny and me and the twain

I have a piece in the current Big Issue. It's about Lenny Kravitz, and me, and the twain.

Starts like this:

I rarely feel the urge to respond to articles in UK Elle magazine, but a recent ‘My World in 24 hours’, featuring Lenny Kravitz, got me thinking about lifestyle and wondering about mine…or if I even had one. Lenny, in case you’ve forgotten, once had a hit single, married actress Lisa (The Cosby Show) Bonet and might have been slugged by Mickey Rourke back when ‘sexy’ meant stonewash and acne-pitted complexions. In 1989, Lenny was like Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Terence Trent D’Arby stuffed into a snakeskin jumpsuit. He’s 44 now and, as the article claims, lives his life “to the full in New York”. I’m 36 and live my life semi-consciously in a mid-size country town, but the contrasts don’t end there ...

NB: A disclaimer. When I wrote about Megan Follows' facial tics, I meant Shanae Grimes. I blame Shania.

This is my first attempt at trying to be a freelance writer type. I had the idea that I would write heaps of these and send them off willy-nilly ... but then I started working in earnest on Book Three and that gets dibs on any freewheeling brain power. Maybe later.

xmas bobness

Christmas done gone and a theme emerges:

I received:
Bob Dylan and Barry Feinstein's Hollywood Foto Rhetoric -

And this:

And W got this:

In other news: I read Charles Willeford's Sideswipe. It's genius.

"Hoke showered, slipped into slacks and a sport shirt, and walked to the Tropic Shop in the Ocean Mall to see if his jumpsuits were ready yet. he had ordered two yellow poplin jumpsuits when he bought his surfer trunks, but had asked the shop owner to have the sleeves cut off and hemmed above the elbow. This was Hoke's first positive step towards simplifying his life. He would wear one of the jumpsuits one day, wash it at night, and then wear the other one the next day. That way he wouldn't need any underwear ..."

I also have to say that as far as last lines go, Willeford rules the world. You'll have to read it to see what I mean.

Santa also brought me a blisteringly good review of Everything Beautiful from the Sydney Morning Herald. Here 'tis:

It is good and hot. Yesterday I swam in the local waterhole and it was divoon.


First off I wish I could give a book to everyone who entered and that's the truth, but the good folk at  Pan Macmillan are not CRAZY. So - in no particular order here are the winning entries. If you are one of the winners please send me an email at simmonehowell at hotmail dot com with your snailmail details and one signed copy of Everything Beautiful will be headed your way. I know I said there would be three winners but I can't count.

1. (because I like the string of memories

My friends make my life meaningful... they're the family I got to choose and I believe they are genuinely some of the best people in the world. They make me laugh when I don't even feel like smiling, they don't judge me, they know when I know know when I need them to listen or when I need them to tell me everything will be okay, when my dad died they're the ones that helped me - more than they'll ever know.

So yeah, my friends make my life meaningful, there are other things that matter to me obviously but they're the thing that I know for sure I wouldn't be able to live without, the best memories I have are all with them... and to me that's what happiness is as the end of the day, a string of good memories that get you through the bad, I'm only 20 (I just turned 20 today actually) but I have had a lot of bad stuff in my life so far and I would have never got through any of it without my friends.

I don't know if that is what you meant by interesting but I figured I'd just go with the truth. :)

Posted by Lanna[Lovely]Pidge: I sometimes bite! on Monday, October 27, 2008 - 10:44 PM

2. (because I loves a visual and the note under 'imagine')


what makes your life meaningful? Photobucket This is my response to the above question. It's not words, it's a photo, but that seemed more appropriate to me because...photography is definitely something that makes my life meaningful, and can also be a much more effective way of communicating sometimes. The image is sort of a symbolic representation of a number of things that make my life meaningful, some obvious and some maybe more obscure.

Posted by [ g e o r g i a ] on Monday, November 03, 2008 - 4:20 PM

3.  (because it's so zen!)

</b></a>zoidberg_cool wrote:
Oct. 24th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
what makes your life meaningful?
My life is meaningful because I have friends and family that love me. I might not have a lot of money but I don't need any because I'm happy with everything that I've got.
My life is also meaningful as I like to read funny blogs and videos like the book trailer for Everything Beautiful. X]

4. (because there's a school camp novel in you waiting to come out!)

</b></a> wrote:
Nov. 9th, 2008 09:16 am (UTC)
Camp Humiliation
‘Humiliation’ is pretty much my middle name. I’ve been on four camps in my life, all with school. None were pretty. When I got home at the end of the week, I felt like I’d stumbled across the Nullarbor, sole survivor of a zombie epidemic, or was I the zombie…? Sure, everyone else looked crap – but I, yes I – was in the utmost pain.

Camp at the beginning of Year 7 was my worst – they had it at the start of the year to help everyone get to know each other, which in my opinion was a terrible idea. In the course of three days, I managed to:

1. Become entangled in the ‘spiders web’ – a group activity where you have to wriggle through gaps between ropes. I was the last, after everyone else had gotten through to the other side. And, believe me, it was the pressure of everyone watching me, that made me somehow end up hanging by my arm, with fifteen classmates I didn’t know resisting the urge to laugh. The teacher actually did laugh. It was mortifying.
2. My birthday fell in the middle of camp, and my parents brought up cake. At dinner, when everyone sang happy birthday and watched me blow out the candles, a girl sitting on my table pointed out I had food in my teeth. I’m pretty sure it was spinach. I was smiling a lot, which it made it all the more worse.
3. A girl was moved into the cabin I was in, for talking in hers. We pretended to be asleep when the teacher brought her in, but resumed talking as soon as she left. Of course, it just so happens I’m remarking on how a certain girl dressed like a tart – and it was the girl who’d just come into our room. It got worse. I spent fifteen minutes insisting the girl in the room with us was a different girl than the one I was talking about. I learnt a very valuable lesson about shutting up, which was later forgotten.
4. I became the lost when the group was on a nighttime nature walk. I figured I’d find them sooner or later, but made the most of being by myself and began to sing, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt.’ Really, I’m quite the moron. I’d actually wandered ahead (god knows how) and luckily was only heard by one boy. Who’d been sent ahead to find me when the rest of the group stopped. Oh, yes.
5. I fell into the lake with my clothes on. The lake was about a metre deep, and filled with mud. I managed to crawl back to camp with one of my friend’s laughing deliriously, and my muddy clothes were hung on the fence outside our cabin. I discovered muddy clothes turn stiff when they dry.

I think you can gather from these five instances (and believe me, there are many more) that I’m extremely self-unaware and a klutz. I say awkward things at the most inopportune moments. And camp only exacerbates it, considering I never get any sleep.
(Sorry for the extremely long comment. If you could find it in your heart to forgive me…)

dirty subversive teenage literature

For all my mopes there was a decent-sized review of EB in the Age today. Here is my favourite bit:

"Anyone wanting to have a go at Howell for writing dirty subversive teenage literature had better read the book to the very end ..."

Dang! I'm trying to write dirty subversive teenage literature!!

and this was nice:

"Everything Beautiful is bound to appeal to all the young girls who drink, sleep around, do drugs, and read.

(What is she trying to say? That they don't read? Or so few do that it's worth noting?)

It's funny, too because it's all about the content and nothing about style (or maybe the style - there is some, honest - gets swamped by the content. Or maybe that's just a YA problem - as in a problem of older people, possibly parents of wilful teenagers reviewing and not the target audience. (Though having said that, a young girl from Minnesota said EB was "boring and lacking in action for most of it" so maybe I'm better off if people get the shudders at mentions of pole-dancers and Jagermeister.)

Ack. It's all so subjective.