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Hiveminded Episode 016

It’s the final day of Bec and Karen’s writing retreat (insert wailing!) and in this episode, we talk about where things are up to, how the week met (or didn’t meet) our expectations, what we learned from doing this and what lies ahead. Download the episode or listen using your trusty web browser (19:36 min). Show notes below.

And drop us a line and let us know what you thought of our mini-series and whether you’d like to hear more.

Bec and Karen recording this episode

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Show notes

Ang pow/lai see.

Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert).

Magic Lessons podcast.

Burnt.

Elizabethtown.

The phone call montage scene (which still irritates Karen to this day):

Bec’s post on The Faithful Writer conference.

Bec’s story about the pineapple tarts appears in this issue of Pencilled In.

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Hiveminded Episode 015

It’s Day 5 of Bec and Karen’s writing retreat, and today we have gone into the heart of Launceston to check out the Harvest Market and write at the library. In this episode, we update you on our progress, talk about the scenes we’re writing and find out more about Bec’s “squirrel” project. Download the episode or listen using your trusty web browser (8:37 min). Pithy show notes below.

Also, one episode to go! Tomorrow night is the last night of the retreat, so of course just in time, we now have a new iTunes podcast link

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Show notes

Harvest Market, Launceston.

Launceston library.

“How I went from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day” by Rachel Aaron/Bach, who talks about the time/knowledge/enthusiasm triangle.

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Hiveminded Episode 014

It’s Day 4 of Bec and Karen’s writing retreat, but we’re actually talking about Day 3 as we didn’t get to record last night. In this episode, we update you on our progress, discuss what socialising would have been like in the Regency period (and many thanks to all the historians and romance writers who blog about this subject; your research is invaluable), explore the topic of fulfilling your purpose in life and anticipate taking a very pleasant day off. Download the episode or listen using your trusty web browser (10:37 min). Show notes below.

(NB: Current podcast feed can be found here. We are working at getting iTunes updated.)

Show notes

Supper at the Netherfield Ball (Jane Austen’s World).

A clip of the supper scene from the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice (2:28 min to 5:25 min):

Dancing at the Netherfield Ball (Jane Austen’s World).

Dancing cotillion (this clip features the music of Mozart):

Queer Eye on Netflix.

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Hiveminded Episode 013

It’s Day #2 of Bec and Karen’s writing retreat—a very different day to Day #1 in a very different writing environment. In this episode, we talk about what we worked on today (and how that went), the historical precedent for writing in places with inclement weather, and why Bec was sent back to kindergarten when she was in Year 6. Download the episode or listen using your trusty web browser (10:04 min). (Yada yada yada still no feed; hopefully soon!) Show notes below.

Show notes

Nalini Singh is the writer at last year’s GenreCon who introduced Karen to the idea of the “squirrel project”.

An interesting post about Regency-era undergarments.

1816: the year without a summer. (This Wikipedia article about Villa Diodati has a bit about Byron, the Shelleys and Polidori’s stay, and their monster story writing adventures.)

Comic creators who live in Portland.

The Artists Way (Julia Cameron).

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Hiveminded Episode 012

Welcome to a very special episode—oh, hang on, we said that yesterday, didn‘t we; instead, that one special episode is turning into a special series where we document each day of Bec and Karen‘s writing retreat.

In this episode, we talk about Day 1, our current projects and how they‘re going and things we‘ve learned so far. Download the episode or listen using your trusty web browser (13:54 min). (Sorry! Still not in the feed.) Show notes below.

Show notes

Episode 11.

Scrivener (awesome writing software).

Taken Out.

If You Are The One.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg.

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Hiveminded Episode 011

Welcome to a very special episode of our podcast! It’s so special, it’s not even on our feed (erm, our SoundCloud sub expired and it’s not worth reviving it for just one episode). But ANYWAY! For once, this episode finds Bec and Karen on the same piece of landmass—the same room, even! We talk about our upcoming writers retreat (at Bec’s house), our “origin stories” as writers, we reminisce about good old Print Shop and the desktop publishing/home printing revolution, and we spill the beans about our plans for the week. Download the episode or listen using your trusty web browser. Show notes appear below.

Show notes

Awesome gypsy wagons.

Varuna: The writers house.

“Cat among the pigeons” by Bros.

Print Shop.

Pokémon Go. (KB: I should add I’m not actually a Pokémon Go player.)

That beautiful story about the boy with autism playing Pokémon Go (Facebook link).

“How I went from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day” by Rachel Aaron/Bach.

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Hiveminded Episode 010

We made it to episode 10! Hurrah! For this ep, each member of the Hivemind talks about what they would bring if we were stranded on a desert island. Have a listen to find out what kind of island it would be!

Bec

Homogenic (Björk).

Pitchfork review.

Björk digital at Carriageworks for Vivid Sydney 2016.

My thoughts after seeing Björk in Belfast in 2008. (Sorry all the image links are broken—the legacy of a blog move I never got round to fixing.)

Song exploder.

Karen

The Blue Sword (Robin McKinley). Robin’s blog and Twitter. Wikipedia page.

The Hero and the Crown.

Beauty.

Rose Daughter.

Sunshine.

Guan mentioned that he started reading The Hero and the Crown because of this thread. (Real talk: eavesdropping on writers’ Twitter timelines about what they’re reading is the best book recommendation service.)

Guan

Little, Big (John Crowley).

Game of Kings: Lymond Chronicles #1 (Dorothy Dunnett).

I didn’t mention it explicitly, but I had Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic podcast interview with Brené Brown swimming in my head when I wrote my bit.

Similarly, Nobody Wants to Ready Your S**t (Steven Pressfield).

Upcoming

Goulburn Comic Con: Saturday 18 March, 2017 11am-5pm, Veolia Arena. Book/register for workshops (including Karen’s on comic scriptwriting).

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Hiveminded Episode 009

We welcome Kathleen Jennings back to the podcast while Guan takes a break. Kathleen talks about the YA book that all the booksellers are raving about: Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue; Bec reminisces and raves about the music of Ani diFranco; Karen finds lots to like about Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance; and the takehome point is that everyone should go to Genrecon.

Kathleen

Words in Deep Blue (Cath Crowley).

84 Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff).

Looking for Alibrandi (Melina Marchetta).

Tam Lin (Pamela Dean).

Riverdale on Netflix. Wikipedia page.

Archie Comics.

Black Books. Here’s a taste of Bernard Black’s customer service:

Birchalls.

Avid Reader Bookshop in Brisbane.

Pulp Fiction Books in Brisbane.

Kinkouniya in Sydney.

Gleebooks in Sydney.

Bec

Ani diFranco’s website.

Live at Paste: Since the US election results, I keep thinking of her song “Your Next Bold Move”, which she wrote during the George W Bush era. She plays it beautifully here.

I erroneously said in the podcast that it was Canon (2007) I listened to when I was in Malaysia, but it was actually her iTunes Originals Session (2008), which was so great because she also gave little intros to most of the songs.

Ani has such a huge back catalogue, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few of my favourites (but it’s by no means a comprehensive list; so much depends on my mood, and Ani seems to have a song for every mood …):

  • Dilate (1996)

    This whole album is just an epoch of my life—an impossible mix of quiet, dark, bombastic, angry, raw, beautiful, sweary and amazing. Probably one that would best represent the subculture of Ani fans in the 90s.

  • “Providence” from To The Teeth (1999), featuring Prince.

    Mood: antsy.

    Favourite quote:

    It’s a narrow margin, just room enough for regret
    In the inch-and-a-half between “hey how ya been?” and “can I kiss you yet?”

  • “Up up up up up up” from Up up up up up up (1999)

    Mood: quietly optimistic.

    Favourite quote:

    Half of learning how to play is learning what not to play and
    she’s learning the spaces she leaves have their own things to say

  • Revelling/Reckoning (2001)

    Probably my favourite of her albums.

    Mood: fun, cheeky, wistful, melancholy—there’s a whole sweep of moods on this double album (probably why I like it so much)

  • “Evolve” from Evolve (2003)

    Mood: scrappy.

    Favourite quote:

    It took me too long to realize that I don’t take good pictures
    ’cause I have the kind of beauty that moves

  • “Present/Infant” from Red Letter Year (2008)

    Mood: joyous.

    I love this whole song for its positive vibe and the love with which it was obviously written, as she works through body image stuff so she can be a good mother to her daughter.

The Decemberists.

Belle and Sebastian.

Little Plastic Castles.

Red Letter Year and “Atom” (5:26 min).

Jason Webley.

CSE Cooney.

Karen

Modern Romance: An Investigation (Aziz Ansari). (Audible link.)

Master of None on Netflix. Wikipedia page. Trailer (2:03 min):

(Be warned: the show contains adult content and swearing.)

Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden on Netflix.

Tinder.

Bone Swans: Stories (CSE Cooney) (Kindle edition)

Norse Mythology (Neil Gaiman).

Bridget Jones’s Baby.

What we’re working on

Kathleen’s Patreon.

Frogkisser (Garth Nix).

Light Grey Art Lab.

TOBEYOU exhibition.

World Faery Society: The Westbury Faery.

GoThereFor.com.

Joy Lankshear Design.

The Growth Group Notebook.

“The Swedish Method”: Peter Blowes explains how this method of Bible study works.

Facebook Live chat with Tara about The Growth Group Notebook.

GenreCon: 10-12 November 2017, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane.

Mary Robinette Kowal.

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Hiveminded Episode 008

We really do have something for everyone on this podcast. Guan brings a very convincing case for why everyone should see Magic Mike XXL, Bec fangirls about Margaret Atwood, and Karen reflects on Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes.

Guan

Magic Mike XXL.

Film Crit Hulk on Magic Mike XXL.

Channing Tatum dancing to “Pony”.

Step Up.

Magic Mike.

The Joe Manganiello “I Want it That Way” scene at the petrol station.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 1 and 2.

The Goonies.

Stand By Me.

Bring it On.

Film Crit Hulk on Bring It On.

Bring It On: The musical—“It’s all happening” performance at the 2013 Tony Awards.

“Can’t Stop This Feeling” (Justin Timberlake).

“Happy” (Pharrell Williams).

Phonogram (Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matt Wilson/Clayton Cowles). (Phonogram is one of Karen’s all-time favourite comics.)

The Great Wall.

Emotion (Carly Rae Jepsen).

“Friday” (Rebecca Black).

Bec

Margaret Atwood’s official website. Atwood on Twitter.

The Handmaid’s Tale—Hulu trailer:

“A freaky prediction about pigs in a popular sci-fi trilogy is starting to come true”.

“Sales of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale have soared since Trump’s win”.

“In Trump’s America, The Handmaid’s Tale matters more than ever”.

“Haunted by The Handmaid’s Tale”: Atwood reflects on the book’s longevity and her writing process.

Alias Grace.

The Robber Bride.

Karen got it wrong: it was Lady Oracle, not Surfacing.

Karen

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person (Shonda Rhimes).

Grey’s Anatomy.

Private Practice.

Scandal.

How to Get Away with Murder.

TED: “My year of saying yes to everything” (18:44 min). (I really like the idea of giving yourself 15 minutes of play.)

Dartmouth College graduation speech (24:01 min).

Excerpt:

You and I are close friends now, reader, so you know how I feel about writing. Writing is the hum. Writing is laying track. Writing is the high. Now imagine that hum—that high—that track to be laid is behind a door, and that door is five miles away. Those five miles are just writing crap and doodling and trying to have an idea and surfing the internet and hoping like hell not to get so distracted that you give up. Worse, those five miles are lined with brownies and cupcakes and episodes of Game of Thrones, and Idris Elba waiting to talk to only you, and really good novels to read. Every time I sit down to write, I have to mentally run those five miles past all of that to get to that door. It’s a long, hard five-mile run. Sometimes, I am almost dead by the time I reach the door. That’s why I have to keep doing it. The more often I run the five miles, the fitter I become, and the fitter I become, the easier the run begins to feel, and the less fresh and exciting all that stuff on the side of the road seems. I mean, how long has it been there? More important, as I get fitter, I can run faster, and the faster I can run, the faster I can get to that door. The faster you can too, writers out there. When you sit down to write every day, it becomes easier and easier to tap into that creative space in your mind. The faster I can get to that door, the quicker I can get to the good stuff. Behind the door is the good stuff. So when I reach the door and open it, that’s when my creativity clicks in and that special spot in my brain starts working, and I go from exertion to exultation, and suddenly I can write forever and ever and ever and ever. And then suddenly someone opens the door and asks if I want coffee or water. And I’m five miles away all over again. I grit my teeth and try to smile and say, “No thank you. See, I have coffee and water both already right here!” And then I start running that five miles all over. (Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes, chapter 14.)

The Book of Ecclesiastes (ESV).

Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott).

What we’re working on

World Faery Society: The Westbury Faery.

Goulburn Comic Con (Saturday 18 March). I’m running a workshop on comic scriptwriting for beginners. Come!

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Interlude: Scrappy Little Nobody

Circumstances conspired to keep the Hive Mind from recording this week: Bec was overseas and in transit Monday and Tuesday, and it was Chinese New Year over the weekend (meaning we all had family dinners to attend). So this time, we’re doing something a little different: one Hive Minder (Karen) is going to rabbit on about something she’s enjoyed recently in prose. Enjoy!

Karen

I’ve been listening to Anna Kendrick read her memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody via Audible. As Bec mentioned in an earlier episode of our podcast, “[Audible is] the best way to read when you’re doing other things”, and I totally concur: I really love that I can “read” while doing such mundane things as cooking, vacuuming, ironing, stuffing envelopes and even walking to school at pick-up time. Audible even makes me look forward to doing housework because I can dive into the book I’m currently reading.

Back to Anna Kendrick. If you don’t know who Anna Kendrick is (and part of me cannot believe you wouldn’t know who she is), she is an American actress and singer best known for her work in Up in the Air (for which she earned herself an Oscar nomination), Pitch Perfect 1 and 2 (and 3! ACA-AWESOME!), Into the Woods and, of course, the Twilight movies. (She was the best thing about the Twilight movies, IMHO. Don’t believe me? Watch her wedding speech in Breaking Dawn:

Told you.)

I don’t normally read celebrity biographies—even for celebrities I love—but I had to make an exception for Anna Kendrick. She is one of the only actors I follow on Twitter—mostly because other actors are boring and she is far from boring; she’s witty and interesting and also extremely funny. When I heard about her book, I knew I had to read it, but when I found out that she reads the audiobook, I knew I definitely had to have her read it to me.

(If you want to know what she sounds like, you can listen to an excerpt here:

Or visit the publisher’s site and scroll down to “Hear an excerpt”.)

(Incidentally, a decent chunk of the book was read while driving back from the Blue Mountains with some friends, who enjoyed hearing Kendrick read the book to them as much as I did. One of them even decided to track it down later when she had to leave my car.)

Scrappy Little Nobody is a “collection of humorous autobiographical essays” by Kendrick that recount the story of her life from her beginnings as a child actor to her first ever Broadway appearance (for which she earned a Tony award nomination) to her move to Los Angeles to try and break into the film industry to her present career (well sort of). I found it interesting not just because origin stories for creative people always fascinate me (and I find it amazing that Kendrick knew what she wanted to do with her life so young and gave it all she had, succeeding despite the odds [with much family support, of course, though I must admit that the thought of one of my daughters moving to a strange city at the age of 17 to try and make a career in acting, knowing no one and not going into a standard job, totally freaks me out]). But I also found the book interesting because Kendrick’s wonderfully quirky personality shines through on every page. For example,

There was a small window in my early childhood when I wanted to be a doctor. This was inspired by my pediatrician, a relatively young man whom I called Dr. Handsome. I had assumed this was because his name was Dr. Hasen or Dr. Branson, but I recently found out his name was Dr. Ritger, so I guess I should have just died at age four when I decided to call my physician Dr. Handsome without so much as a pun to justify it.

(I’d be interested to know whether people who read the book in print still hear her voice in their heads as they read.)

One of my favourite chapters in the book is the one where she talks about her first ever serious boyfriend, Landon, and her eagerness to be “normal” and have a “normal” relationship:

After a satisfactory couple of months, I felt more committed to this “dating” experiment and started subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) making a bizarre coming-of-age checklist. Had I learned nothing from my beads and lipstick penpal episode? It was mostly stuff I’d seen in movies, and I knew it was stupid, but every milestone gave me a sense that I was approaching normalcy. Nothing in my life was going especially well at that point, but if the guy I was seeing burned a CD for me (check!), it felt like I was becoming a standard American adult.

She then goes on to outline some of the other items on her checklist right down to the stereotypical relationship break-up.

The book is also peppered with interesting stories and anecdotes from the different things Kendrick has done throughout the course of her career—for example, what it’s like to work with George Clooney, the miserable conditions during the filming of the Bella and Edward wedding scene in Twilight: Breaking Dawn, what award shows are actually like behind the scenes (and the truth behind what it’s like to walk the red carpet), and that time Zac Efron threw up on her during the filming of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. I liked learning more about her body of work as I was only familiar with a fraction of it, and reading the book made me go off and research some of the more obscure parts she has played—for example, Camp, where she sings Stephen Sondheim’s “The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company as Fritzi and completely kills it:

(I so want to see Kendrick sing more Sondheim.) And her bit with Neil Patrick Harris and Jack Black at the 2015 Academy Awards (which I unfortunately missed that year—boo):

(It starts about 3:08 minutes in.)

There is also a very tongue-in-cheek bonus reading group guide at the end for those who like to talk about the books they read with other people. And the audiobook comes with a downloadable PDF containing photos contained in the print book—like Anna as a toddler or the time that Warner Bros hired a private plane to fly her and Ben Affleck back from the Oscars to set for the filming of The Accountant.

Overall, I really really enjoyed the book (and Kendrick’s reading of it; there is nothing like having Anna Kendrick yell in your ear!) I loved learning more about Kendrick and getting to know her better as a person. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to be quirky and weird, but had come to accept herself just as she was, without feeling the need to tailor herself for other people.

But I did feel that the last quarter of the book ran out of steam a little—perhaps because Kendrick didn’t have the freedom be more open and honest about things that have happened in the recent past as she is still young, working and living her life (and still needs to be able to get on with and work with other people in the film industry). The chapter titled “Fake parties I have planned with the detail of a real party” was amusing, but probably could have been cut as it dragged the narrative down somewhat. But I hope that means that there will be more books from Kendrick in the future, regaling us with more wonderful stories of her life and career the way that Carrie Fisher did.

Let me finish by showing you a clip of Kendrick as a 13-year-old, singing “Life upon the wicked stage” with a troupe of underwear-clad chorus girls:

She is just amazing.

Bonus: what I’m working on

In our last episode, I mentioned the storytelling workshop I ran for the Sydney Comics Guild camp. That was a couple of weekends ago and I think it went well; at least three people came up to me afterwards and told me it was good.

The camp itself was great: everything was quite laidback, there was a lot of time to get creative stuff done (so I actually managed to do a big slab of writing, working on one of the short stories I keep talking about), I did a critique session with a comics creator who seemed to find my feedback and advice helpful, and I attended a workshop on professional business coaching for creatives, which was quite fascinating (though a lot of it focussed on visual arts and art licensing, which I knew nothing about). (Incidentally, this article on how Beatrix Potter invented character merchandising is a fascinating look at a time when art licensing was not a thing and Potter pretty much made it into a thing.)

These next couple of weeks are going to be a bit insane as there are a lot of things happening and not a lot of time for creative work, but I hope I can keep at it in the cracks. Wish me luck!