27 November 2009

Friday stuff and items

1) It's cake season in the House of Onion at the moment,* and even though the Cake-maker Extraordinaire flies (waddles?) with a different flock these days, she's still exerting her influence around here.

The Cake-maker-in-Chief recently discovered an unexpected envelope in her in-tray. At first she thought it might be a surprise book contract, but no. It was a recipe and an instruction about whose birthday said recipe would suit. The recipe included the preparation of sugared rosemary. Yes, dear reader, sugared rosemary. Who thinks of these things? It also featured oranges asimmer, hazelnuts aroasting and Grand Marnier aplenty.

We are delighted to inform you that the Cake-maker-in-Chief executed this recipe with SUBLIME results. SUBLIME. Wish you were here.

2) It's also the busy season. There are still 11 books to go to the printer from the House of Onion before Christmas. (Hoo boy - that looks really scary in print, so we're just going to make the font really tiny.) Clearly the only thing to do is watch YouTube videos, like this one:

via Bookshelves of Doom

3) And it's ALWAYS lolcat season**

*Isn't it always.
**In the interests of fair and transparent representation of the House of Onion as a whole, we need to note that E - of E-cake fame - does not find pictures of cats with poorly spelled captions amusing.

26 November 2009

A shiny new thing

A centre for books, writing and ideas, to be exact.

The Wheeler Centre: Books Writing Ideas*, to be even more exact.

Launched today, may it live long and prosper. Maybe we'll see y'all at an event there sometime soon.

*A sneak peek reveals it has Florence Broadhurst wallpaper on the stairwell walls. Nice touch, eh?

24 November 2009

This and that

Last week was filled to the brim with thises and thats and all kind of hats. Okay, that was a moment of poetic licence. I don't believe there were any hats. Though there definitely should have been.

Here are some of the thats.
1: Meetings, meetings, meetings.

2. Cake.

3: Planes, buses & automobiles.

4: Hot, steamy Sydney.

5: A whole day of lively discussions at an in-house editorial conference* that featured Sydney Onion colleagues, structural and copy editing workshops from delightfully clever freelance editors, a fascinating author-editor talk and a cookbooks session that had us completely engaged despite it being the very end of a long day of lively editorial discussions. (Did you know you shouldn't fry your onions in Extra Virgin olive oil? Regular old olive oil is much better, apparently.)

6. Pork Belly and Creme Brulee.

7. This.

8. This.**
9: Lightning, thunder, rain.

10: Flight delays, flight delays, flight delays (adult beverages).

* Thanks to AN for her brilliant editorial-conference wrangling, and to AL, N'OS, LG, SB and JV for generously visiting their knowledge and skills upon us.

**Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, as a sun-protection device, didn't work nearly as well as a hat would have. Did you know you shouldn't fry your Onions out in the sun for too long in the heat of the day without properly slip, slop, slapping?

18 November 2009

All quiet on the Onion front...

Well, not so quiet really. Rather busy with all the wrangling.

But, as ever, we made time for cake. And, in honour of the birthday Onion, it was an E-cake, full of chocolately goodness and swarming with summer berries. Nom. Nom. Nom.*

Unsurprisingly an E-cake is not much like an e-book at all, and definitely more pleasing to the taste buds.**

* Happily we also discovered iced e-hole items in the kitchen for later consumption.
** Much kudos to the Cycling Cake-maker who prepared the cake at home, packed it snugly into her bike panniers and navigated the smoothest path to work, all with great success.

11 November 2009

Breaking news: Regulatory regime for books to remain unchanged.

This just in from Competition Minister Dr Craig Emerson:
The Government has not accepted the Productivity Commission's recommendation to remove the parallel importation restrictions on books.

A victory indeed!
Thanks to the fantastic array of talent on the boat for keeping their nerve, for backing their judgement, for their sure and steady sailing.

We've had a lot to say about this issue. All that remains to be said is...

10 November 2009

Magic beach

Melbourne is currently... well, unseasonably warm is a gentle way to put it.

Our big old terrace copes reasonably well with the heat, but some of the rest of us do not.

One Onion spent a large portion of yesterday teasing us with photos of the cool rippling water lapping quietly at the beach where she was, and we weren't.

But she's back in the office now, so sucks to her ass-mar.*

Now we are all gazing longingly at the beach where she was and now isn't, and where we never were - and we want to infect you all with that longing.

Don't you wish you were here...?

* Apparently, unseasonal heat brings out the mean and begrudging in us.

06 November 2009

Friday stuff and items

Here are some things that are going on around the House of Onion today:

1) A blurb is being written for Lord Sunday, the last book in the epic Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. But how to whip up a frenzy of excitement without GIVING ANYTHING AWAY?

2) The covers of the Little Else series are being tweaked to get the colours of the three books in balance so they have the same ‘weight’ next to each-other on the shelf.

3) Huge and unwieldy (but exciting) test proofs are being checked for The City, a new picture book by Armin Greder. To varnish or not to varnish? That is the question.

4) Our 2010 publishing list is being discussed with our Rights & International Sales Director in preparation for the Bologna Children's Book Fair (Just quietly: it's awesome, she's awesome, and we are geniuses). On the other hand, piles of manuscript submissions from the Frankfurt Bookfair are threatening to swamp us.*

5) Our February New Books brochure is being sent to Booksellers. February, already!

6) A picture-book text is being wrangled into shape with an author who's roaming the country (last week in Western Australia, next week Queensland), a co-author, an editor and a designer in Melbourne, an artist in London, and a ticking clock...

7) And, it seems, the passive voice is being revelled in.

Here are some things going on in the wider world today

1) There seem to be a lot of gluttons for punishment out there participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Lili Wilkinson is, for one. And Justine, Scott and Maureen are offering tips. Good luck one and all!

2) Ang Lee’s taking on another sort of crouching tiger. **

3) Bookshelves of Doom uncovered something too disturbing for words. Seriously, go here at your peril.

4) In the same theme, Cakewrecks has discovered a whole new genre of birthday cake. Some good and some oh so very bad.

5) Karen Healey is revealing the secret to being published. As workshopped by a distinguished panel of authors, editors, publishers and experts.

6) And Kate Constable is sharing the love for ballet books. Hitch up your tutu, tighten the ribbons on your pointe shoes, pull your hair into a bun and pirouette on over to tell her which ones were your favourites.

* Oh no - that publisher is drowning, not waving!
** Richard Parker may well be slouching at his end of the little boat, but will there be dragons?

04 November 2009

My kingdom for a horse

Whether or not the Melbourne Cup is really the race that stops a nation is up for debate.
But one thing that's guaranteed is that a large portion of the population of Melbourne came into contact with at least one of these things yesterday:

  • champagne
  • sour glances from old timers at the TAB
  • chicken sandwiches
  • sunburn
  • sore feet
  • barbequed meat
  • fascinators
  • Bart Cummings's eyebrows

So in celebration here is a list of horsey books*:

1) My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
All the horsey girls in school raved about this one, which was an immediate turn-off for at least one Onion. But contrary to expectation, it turned out to be not insipid at all. It's all about boys and ranching and the big Wyoming sky. And barbed wire. Barbed wire is bad. But all's well that ends well (after almost ending very badly).

2) The Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce
Everyone on Billabong station eats, sleeps and breathes horses. They are the lifeblood of the big Victorian cattle farm, and anyone who can't ride gets scornful looks and very short shrift. (Unless, of course, they are brave and quick learners.) But of all the horsiness in all the many books, the moment burned in our memories is when Norah's beloved grey pony Bobs dies in her arms - having been ridden literally to death by the hateful city cousin Cyril (boo, hiss). Oh, Bobs, faithful and valiant to the end.**

3) The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell
This and Black Beauty are the only books actually from the point of view of the horse on this list. (Although the Silver Brumby's not in the first person... snort, whinny.) Who didn't want to be a wild brumby running free in the mountains? Although, come to think about it, maybe not so much with all the fighting to protect your mares and foals from other scary stallions.

4) These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
When Laura becomes engaged to Almonzo Wilder, her ma asks her if it's really Almonzo that Laura loves and not his beautiful horses (particularly the matching brown Morgans, Prince and Lady). To which Laura responds that she couldn't have one without the other. There are sleigh rides and buggy rides and taming of wild colts aplenty in this the last of the Little House on the Praire books. (Can we also just point out that this is the cheesiest cover of this book we've ever seen. Where is the one with the horse and sleigh?)

5) Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Surely nobody needs a reminder about this one. Suffice it to say: *Sob* Ginger *Sob sob* (What is it about horses and dying?)

6) The Good Master by Kate Seredy
Cousin Kate from Budapest is headstrong and disobedient and has a desperate love of sausages. But there's nothing like a bit of responsibility and the love of a good horse to tame a wild child. The scene when Kate is given the beautiful and spirited Milky for her very own (after she'd learned to ride on 'Old Armchair'), is funny and warm and touching and... and... I can't tell you how much I love this book.

7) Horse Crazy! The Complete Adventures of Bonnie & Sam by Alison Lester & Roland Harvey
Horses! Best friends! Adventures! Who could resist? Alison Lester knows all these horses personally, which is why they feel so real. There is an unconfirmed report that the editor of this book keeps a bucket of chaff under her desk, just in case.

Are there any horsey books you love (or hate) that we've missed?

*Caution there are spoilers, but most of these are classics and we reckon there's a statute of limitation on spoilers.
** And here we pause to remember Tamburlaine, ridden to death by Dominic, the intense, proud boy who loved him (confirming to his family that he was indeed A Difficult Young Man).

02 November 2009

Fictions on the Field II

Oo look, we're instituting a tradition. It counts as a tradition if you've done it once before, right?

Horses you would bet on if the 2009 Melbourne Cup were...

a Sherlock Holmes mystery:
  • Harris Tweed

a Wordsworth poem:
  • Daffodil

an AA Milne poem:
  • Changingoftheguard

a biography of the Kennedy clan:
  • Newport

a Melvin Burgess novel:
  • Shocked

an episode of CSI/Bones/Law & Order/City Homicide etc etc etc ad infinitum:
  • Crime Scene

a piece of government legislation:
  • Alcopop

a Dodgem Car ride:
  • Leica Ding

an ancient civilization characterised by an autocratic ruler with a yen for the arts, engineering and military-led expansion:*
  • Roman Emperor

May your bets be fruitful, your sweep-draws be lucky, your champagne be chilled and your fascinator firmly attached.

*If it were an Asterix comic on the other hand, you certainly WOULDN'T be betting on poor old Roman Emperor.