Saturday, December 31, 2005

Last Call for 2005

Today, apparently, is the day for reflection and renewal; reflection on all that you've achieved this year and renewal for everything you hope to achieve in the coming year.

Everyone makes 'resolutions' - and I'm no different - but how many actually keep them? I know I haven't, the bathroom scales tell me so and it wouldn't lie to me (damn it!). Starting the New Year with the best of intentions is fine, however by the beginning of February, I'm thinking just about everyone has forgotten their pledge or found it too difficult, too boring, too... whatever. One good thing about New Year's Resolutions is that you can always give them up for Lent.

And speaking of which, the latest catalogue for Woolworths Fresh Food has Easter Buns! Yep, the Hot Cross Buns are out there already - although they are not branded as such. I dunno: a fruit bun in a group of six/eight with a white cross on the top says Hot Cross Bun to me. What's up with that?

But I digress. Resolutions. Should you make them? In the moment, when the fireworks are exploding in pretty colours, people are hugging or laying a big, fat juicy one on someone, they're probably spoken with a great deal of honesty and energy.

Once the hangover clears, the OMG moment arrives. Witnesses will remind you of those ill-thought words when you least want them. If you're a person who sticks to your word, you'll give it your best shot. If not, it's 'was I drunk at the time? Then it doesn't count'. Especially if you've promised to cure your fear of heights by jumping out of a perfectly good plane with a backpack hopefully stuffed with a parachute, or that you're going to be nicer to your worst enemy, or, in fact, that you're going to cure any well-used and beloved phobia.

I will probably make the same resolutions I always make, but this time, I'd better stick to them - for health reasons. I'm not a spur of the moment resolution-maker, I think about it, plan for it and then try to execute the aforementioned plan.

Maybe this time next year, I shall be a svelte non-smoker; then again, I may still be an overweight smoker lamenting the lost determination - or dead. Who the hell knows? There are plenty of buses and knuckle-headed tourists out there to run me over.

Anyway, have a safe and enjoyable New Year, and watch out for people demanding to know what your resolution/s is/are. Just smile benignly at them: it's none of their business.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Visitations and monsters

Nah, not those kinds of visitation, but the ones I inevitably forgot about that happen at this time of year: the relos. Not just Boxing Day either...

I like my peace and quiet to do things I like, not be forced into by others. Good manners, however, prevail and for the past five days they've arrived, fed, been watered, had their children chastised in a variety of ways and gone their happy way, while I have just wanted to say 'clear orf and take your loud, obnoxious children with you'.

I confess that I have a neat game to play on my computer. One I've been waiting to play for some time. The problem has been that I didn't have the hardware to do it. With the post-Christmas sales, I went out early, spied my prey and hunted that sucker down. Handy-dandy screwdriver in hand, the video accelerator went in, system rebooted, game loaded and, mwahaha! Return to Castle Wolfenstein is up and running! (I also have Doom 3, but one game at a time.)

Sure, by today's standard their old and outmoded - hell, hasn't everyone played them and lost interest? Not me. Patience has been rewarded. I'm not paying a hundred bucks for a game, so I waited until both games were on special and scooped them up.

The graphics are terrific, the movements smooth, the movie cutaways are okay - I really don't need to see perfectly rendered monsters, I can create my own nightmares - and the missions are cool. Now, I only needed to find the time between visits of small people to be able to play. The games are unsuitable for them to even watch and I don't want to explain things to them. The argument about whether computer games encourage violence is not one I'm going to get into here, it would take too long.

So. Today, the last of my bulk visitors leave, without one niece who's with me for another week - she's twelve, she understands her aunt's need to kill things - and the peace and quiet should descend once more with the occasional admonition that we go to the beach, the movies, whatever. I can handle that, as long as I get to play.

Of course, I had to stop the other night, the music was too sinister and the monsters attacked rather suddenly. Creeped me out. I like that in a game.

The aforementioned niece is getting antsy. She likes to be with me, no matter what I'm doing. It's a sunny day. I think I hear the beach and the waves calling. BJ will have to wait a little longer before gunning down those nasty creatures.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The meaning of love

Before I race off and do the final Christmas preparations, I thought I'd share this with you. It comes from Adwoff, Nora Robert's bulletin board:

What does love mean?

Touching words from the mouth of babes.

What does Love mean? A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."
Rebecca- age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."
Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."
Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."
Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."
Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss"
Emily - age 8

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,"
Nikka - age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."
Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."
Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."
Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody; You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."
Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."
Elaine-age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."
Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."
Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." (what an image)
Karen - age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."
Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."
Jessica - age 8

And my personal favourite:

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."
Bobby - age 7

I think everyone should take Bobby's words to heart.

Have a safe and fulfilling Christmas.

Christmas Roast

It's going to be a normal Christmas. Ick.

At this time of the morning, it's usually just warming up. Not today. Nuh uh. Today is barbeque day. At 5.30 in the am, as the sun rose, it was already 30 degrees; celsius, not fahrenheit. By 9.00 am, 35 degrees. Humidity? 18 percent.

As a child, it was great. We would dash down the beach and stay until lunch, race home and feed, then return until the sun lowered in the western sky. Some days, we'd be home earlier to watch the southerly buster come through with strong cold winds. The next day, we'd do it all over again. Yeah, the halcyon days of my youth.

Now that I'm older, it's different. It's uncomfortable, energy sapping and worrying. Three states have total fire bans and fire watches. A dozen or more bush and grassland fires are burning already, with more to come as those psychological fuck ups look to appease their desire to see flame. If they chose winter, it wouldn't be so bad, but nooo, Summer; high summer, when the grass crackles underfoot, the sky is a painfully bright blue, the sun slowly spit roasting the pale flesh of office workers taking the day off. Now they come and play with matches.

I've been through fires. Three years ago we had a conflagration of epic proportions with gale force winds pushing the fire towards us. Yeah, we're on the beach, but when the tree in the front yard starts smouldering, you know it's going to be bad. It happened at Christmas and we were without power for four days. Two years ago, I was in Canberra surrounded by fires in neighbouring suburbs. The ash reached the coast some two hundred and sixty kilometres away.

We survived both fires with no damage; others weren't so lucky.

This country is one of extremes; a country where Mother Nature is guaranteed to remind you of who is in charge every single year. From the six month fire season, to the three month gale force wind season, monsoon season, storm season, droughts, floods, she can be a total bitch. And we love it.

Call us a little odd, but this Christmas, Mother Nature is going to kick some butt.

Maybe I'll go down to the beach after all. Later today, we have a severe storm warning with damaging hail and gale force winds. Gotta batten down the hatches, but I'll enjoy MN's largesse before the hammer falls.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Ho, ho... ho... huh... ho

You'd think I'd be nice and relaxed by now. The presents were bought a couple of weeks ago, wrapped last week, menu set this week and food list ready for tomorrow's made dash. I've been muscling up for the fight - it's not shopping, it's war out there - the elbows are sharp for the bumping of those in my way, the lip curl practiced for those who demand and apology. Hah! I've got it down, I know how to do the last minute shop. I've even practiced my deep breathing. Hoo, hoo, hee, hee, for when the doors open at six am.

And yes, nag, nag, nag, I've already advised to do things early, mea culpa. My niece came to stay this week and keeping a twelve year old occupied is task better made for those who started with them, not those of us who came late and snickered at the parental struggles.

I took her to the beach, fed her junk food, played board games, let her surf the 'net unsupervised, play music way too loud, watch unsuitable DVDs and let her stay up far too late. Oh, and allowed her to consume litres of Coke. Heh.

Of course, yesterday was the funeral for Keith, so she was left in the capable hands of her grandmother - who, by the way, raised six children, including a set of twins, all under the age of nine.

For me, it was a long and heartbreaking trip. Four hours drive there, an hour's service, half an hour chatting to relatives, turn around and four hours back. sigh

My niece, it turns out, needed the break from all the 'fun'. She had a relaxing day catching up with her e-mails and chatting with her friends about what she and I got up too. (They're all jealous, but she's said for years every one should have an aunt like her Jaye - insert warm fuzzies here.)

So, back to my point. I am behind in my Christmas preperations. But not for long. I shall tackle the shopping with my usual aplomb - see above - and be totally ready for the big day.

Boxing Day is D-day. By that I mean Dooms-day. My brother, his wife and two urchins will be here, as will my twin sister and her two and my younger sister and her two. Not bad? Uh.... My brother has the patience of Job. My twin can be argumentative, and my youngest sister is passive-aggressive and her two kids are monsters. My eldest brother is safe: he'll be in Denmark with his family; My eldest sister is staying away. And me? Oh, yeah, I'll be in the sanctuary of the kitchen, cooking up a storm. The family will be so stuffed full of food, there'll be naps all around followed by the invasion of the beach and I shall put my feet up and bless my good fortune to have them all.

I don't fight at Christmas. Hell, I rarely fight at all. It's just not worth it, now or ever. I'm not interested in the internal battles of others. It passes. I'll let them have their say, should it need to be said, and again, raise solutions that will be ignored.

Every family is dysfunctional, it's only a matter of degree. It doesn't have to spoil Christmas. You don't have to rise to the bait, or defend someone, or something - like a gift that drops like a bomb.

If your Christmas is like a combat zone, do something different: don't go to family, you're an adult; you can say no. And remember, "What other people think of you is none of your business." Be yourself, be calm and be grateful for your thick-headed, misunderstood, anger-provoking, funny, warm/cold, blind, silly, obtuse, exasperating family.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tough day

It's always tough when a loved one dies. Not passes on, or has gone to his great reward, but dies. I'm tempted to put something Pythonesque here, but it would be inappropriate.

Keith had been a great friend to the family; had, in fact, been my father's best friend since the two were in university together. My dad's been dead nearly fifteen years now, but Keith was still a part of our family. He was my eldest sister's God father.

As kids, we went around to his holiday place and had barbeques, easter egg hunts, beach parties, film nights and generally had the best time. He was always there for us. As he got older, we were there for him; painting his house, mowing his lawns, gardening, visiting for an old fashioned afternoon tea.

He'd send us post cards from exotic places and bring us trinkets and wonderous tales of his adventures. He always said that our family connection went back generations, was adamant about it, in fact, though I never found any connection in my research.

I have telephoned the rest of my family - my mother is just too upset - and we are gathering our resources to be at the funeral. And while no funeral is ever a good time, I fear that this will be the most hurtful since my father died.

I don't want to say goodbye to this wonderful man. I don't want to hear from others how wonderful he was. I want to hold the memories I have of him close and think that he is just where I always found him: sitting in his rocking chair, listening to classical music, dipping his oatmeal biscuit into his to weak and milky tea.

I want to sit next to him and listen to his stories again, to get those postcards and cheap trinkets. I don't want this hollowness, as if another significant part of me has been scoured out. I don't want this emptiness where Keith lived and breathed.

Maybe he's around and will stay to see us all, to make sure we're all right. Maybe he's with my dad, reminiscing about the old days; I'd like that, and I'll think of that. For now, though, I won't say goodbye, but I will say a blessing that his journey is safe.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bloody Preachers!

Right. I am not Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, or any other of those Christian religions that feel an obligation to 'preach the good word' to all those 'heathens' out there, ie, anyone who is not a Christian.

Why am I so pissed off about religion today? This close to Christmas? Because I am fed up with the hypocrasy of it all. Not just the consumerism, but the rhetoric, the deciding what is and is not acceptable to the Christian faith.

For example: the Harry Potter books and movies were branded as evil because of the use of witchcraft; The Chronicles of Narnia are being hailed as a parable of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is right! What gave the church the right to decide which kids book was the more acceptable? Oh, wait. I remember: these are officials in a patriarchal organisation who's personal agenda sets how every Christian should live their life.

Right then. Bitching over; facts time. Questions: What was Jesus doing with the loaves, fishes and water if not magic? Why was it okay for him to do magic and not pagans who had been doing for centuries? If Jesus had been a woman, would it have been more acceptable? Why do people accept the personal interpretation of another's words as gospel?

CS Lewis was not an overly religious man, and his stepson has come out and said the series is not the parable religious groups are claiming it to be.

It hasn't been released here yet, but I understand from other sites that the movie, while spectacular in its' special effects, takes on a preaching tone that is hard to swallow and has proven to be a disappointment to those who loved the books as a child.

I can't tell you how sad that is, nor how angry the religious zealots make me in their pontificating. The movie will be a hit regardless of who says what, if only for the special effects. But. It is a movie. For kids.

Let them enjoy it without the need to preach or convert or comment on the alleged religious aspects.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Seven Memes

At Holly Lisle's Pocket Full of Words, she has written of things 'seven'. I figured I would list my seven, so here goes:

Seven things to do before I die
1. Visit New England in the Fall and run around in the colourful leaves;
2. Publish a book and see it sitting on a shelf, any shelf;
3. Camp at Uluru and watch the sun rise;
4. Learn to snow/water ski;
5. Teach English to the young, since too many kids don't know how to communicate propertly;
6. Fall in love and be loved in return - self-explanatory.
7. Drive a Ferrari/Porsche/Aston Martin...

Seven things I cannot do
1. Maths - sheesh, and my dad was Maths teacher;
2. Explain how/why I know things - or how I reach particular conclusions;
3. Completely grow up - I love my comic and kids movies collections;
4. Paint - although two of my siblings can;
5. Surf - too fearful of the sea creatures with sharp pointy teeth.
6. Understand racial/religious violence;
7. Keep my dog with me forever, she's fifteen and I've had her since she was a puppy.

Seven things that attract me to my significant other
Don't have one, so I can't answer this.

Seven things I say most often
1. Can I help you?
2. Doood/Dooodette
3. Who's a treasure?
4. No.
5. Blossom/Petal
6. Good morning/afternoon.
7. Mwahaha!

Seven books (or serials) I love
1. Anita Blake/Merry Gentry series - Laurell K. Hamilton
2. Honor Harrington series - David Weber
3. Stardoc Series - S.L. Viehl
4. Valour's Choice - Tanya Huff
5. Sympathy for the Devil/Minerva Wakes - Holly Lisle
6. Donovan Trilogy - Nora Roberts
7. Path of the Fury/The Apocalypse Troll - David Weber

Seven movies I watch over and over again
1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy;
2. Appleseed;
3. Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick;
4. Starship Troopers;
5. Shrek 1 & 2;
6. Aliens;
7. The Incredibles

There are more books and movies that I re-read/see over again, but I don't think I'd be able to limit my answers to even ten. Why not have a go yourself? It certainly takes careful thought.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Hunting Season

It's that time of the year when the politicians ram through as much legislation as they can get away with, the television is showing re-runs of the most awful programmes, the weather is hot and humid, the shops are brimming with people and the mailbox is stuff full of junk mail. Ah, Christmas time, ya gotta love it!

The shop decorations have been out since the first of November with advertisements cajoling that if you don't buy this three hundred dollar present for your precious child, you're the worst parent in the world. Let's not forget the whining of children singing in your ears as you drag them from shop to shop searching for that elusive and perfect gift. Give it up. It won't happen. No matter how hard you try, you will never get the perfect anything for anyone. Close, maybe, but unless they ask specifically for something - and where's the surprise in that - it's a lost cause.

Bah, Humbug!

Yeah, but I'm dripping in smug at the moment because all my hunter/gathering is done. I can sit back and watch everyone else extend their elbows in a blocking move, lower the eyebrows in a threatening manner, growl and snarl as they reach out claw-like fingers for that last Barbie/Bratz/RoboRaptor/whatever before the other man/woman/demon gets it.

I've seen shelves denuded like the Amazon basin, trolleys smash like the Indy 500, weeping, squealing, screaming red-faced children, angry, frustrated, sweating parents and fear-struck, trembling clerks. I've seen catepillar lines of customers at checkouts with over worked and smoking tills. I've heard the tinny Christmas music repeated over speakers adding to the sense of quiet panic and the tantrums thrown by children as an anxious parent tries to put him/her on a red-clad, white bearded, obese stranger.

And there is still two weeks to go. The worst is yet to come, people. It's too late to be reasonable, to be organised, and you only have two options left: leave the children at home and go early or shop online and hope the stuff arrives on time.

Me, I'm one of those horrible, evil, self-satisfied planners. I have to be. I have five siblings, each of whom is married with two children. That's a lot of gifts. If I don't start early, I'm doomed to be inflicted with temper, with the urge to overspend, with the urge to just buy book/store/mall tokens. Can't... let... that... happen! People, I think, like to open presents, not envelopes.

I started early, had my list and began the hunt. Surprisingly, it only took me two days and every store had what I wanted. It doesn't always work out that way, but beginning early so you can relax at Christmas is, for me, the only way to go.

Sure, it upsets my weekend writing schedules, but some things are worth it. Nothing I've bought is the perfect gift, but that's not what matters. What matters is that I took the time to listen throughout the year to my relatives and their wishes, that I wrote it down, that I went out six, eight, ten months later and got what they wanted. The 'oh, how did you know I wanted this?' just adds to the sense of well being. I love my family and it is no big deal to remember what they've said throughout various conversations. It's the giving, not the receiving, that gives us that special feeling of love; that look on a child/teenager/adults face when they unwrap your gift and gasp in astonishment, surprise or wicked glee.

Selfish of me to enjoy all that; in fact billions of people around the world are doomed to suffer the same fate. Under all that sparkle, glitz and glamour of tinsel, baubles and Christmas lights, there is nothing more special than seeing a person glow, and yes, gloat, over a gift you've bought for them.

Remember that as you go out on the hunt and remember the same effort someone else has endured to achieve the same expression you're expecting. It makes it all worth while.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Oil for Food scandal grows

More allegations have been levelled at the Australian Wheat Board's involvement in supplying food to Iraq during the 1990s. The American CIA alleges that the money paid to middle-men in Iraq funnelled part of the $AUS220 million to Saddam's regime and to Palestinian suicide bomber families.

A judicial inquiry has been set up to investigate the allegations made, and I assume the CIA will produce the documents they say prove that the AWB knew of the kickbacks being paid to transport Australian Wheat to where it was most needed. Worse, that the Australian Government knew of the extra money being paid to facilitate the smooth transportation of our wheat into this very lucrative market.

When the Coalition of the Willing invaded Iraq, Australia had delivered, but had not been paid for, $AUS800 million worth of wheat. Iraq refused to pay, the new government refused to pay, the US refused to clarify the situation and Australia made the wheat a gift to the new struggling nation.

A lot of accusations are coming out of the US in regards to Australia's wheat export to, oh, let's see, countries targeted by American farmers. Preferred markets that Australia has a strong foothold in.

And I am really pissed at the US's accusations. When I first heard about this, I thought it was payback for the lamb incident where by Australia took the US to the International Court over tariffs; the US lost.

Then I read that while the US Government and the CIA are busily sling mud and accusations at us an international politics analyst, Dr Keith Suter, reminded people that it was a board who managed the oil-for-food program under the auspices of the United Nations. Remember that Kofi Annan's son is in trouble for his part in the scandal?

What toasts my buns is the fact that this board is made up of representatives from a number of countries, including the US, the UK, France and Germany. This Board knew what was going on, they managed the program, gave advice to those going in country.

I'd like to know where the accusations are against the board who facilitated and had full knowledge of the Oil-For-Food program. I want to know why the US is accusing the Australian Wheat Board of corruption when Australia had to rely on the recommendations of the Board for facilitating the food transfers. I want to know who from the Board is accepting responsibility for this cluster-fuck and I want to know why, given that the CIA has known about these allegations for some eight years, they chose to reveal it all now?

What is coming up that the CIA has to undermine the credibility of an ally to achieve the US's goal? Has to be agricultural and/or trade, doesn't it. Wheat contracts to Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel or somewhere else? Live sheep exports to Saudi Arabia, perhaps? Beef exports to Japan, maybe? How about sugar or wool?

The one thing we've learned is that the US hates to lose. At anything. To anyone. I can only think that the US will protect its interests, in regards to the Oil for Food scandal, in regards to WMD, in regards to its unfair global trading practices. But, hey, that's international politics.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Future magic

I filched this link from Holly's site, but it's apropros:

Astrology for Writers, Editors and Filmmakers

For November and we all know what happens every November.

gemini: eeegads you poor thing, seems the world is stacking up against you in so many ways. This too shall pass. Into every life a little rain must fall, etc. Chin up, out of this mess will come a better life, and a much more innovative approach to your writing. Spend more time alone now, it is the best way to bring up the new ideas.

December's prognostication is:

gemini: mid february will lift the cloud of frustration that has hung over you for some months. Huge challenges, no joke, have befallen your twisted path. If you can, wait until then to finalize contracts.

Strange, I do have a contract coming up, probably in February, if not sooner; nothing to do with writing. It has been frustrating trying fit into a proper writing schedule. Hmm... maybe things are about to change?

Friday, December 02, 2005


I wasn't going to say anything about this, but...

Today, at 9.00am Australian time, a drug trafficker was put to death in Singapore. Why does this rate a mention? Because Van Nguyen is the first Australian to have a sentence of death carried out for twelve years.

It has, according to the media, split this nation down the middle. I disagree. I could wax lyrical on the pros and cons of the death penalty, but the fundamental truth is: he was caught, he confessed, and he was in a country where there is a mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking.

The Singaporean government is using one side of the media attention as a deterrent to other would be drug mules.

Individual Australian Ministers are condemning the practice as barbaric, that no one should die for carrying drugs.

And this is where I disagree.

Van Nguyen was carrying 400 grams of heroin on his body. Apparently, that's enough for 20,000 hits. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's not the point.

Where is the outrage that the heroin, if it had arrived in Australia, may have been cut with a lethal substance? Where is the horror that Van Nguyen could have a killed a dozen or more people here? Why is this facilitator of death more important than the deaths of those addicts on the streets? I haven't seen any of these 'outraged' people helping those addicts, at shelters, calling for more to be done. I haven't seen any of them condemning the drugs brought in to this country.

What we have seen is so called 'safe' injecting rooms. This combats the problem... how? I don't see how it can give addicts a reason to give up. And I have seen drugs destroy people's lives.

So, no. I don't have any sympathy for Van Nguyen. What I do have is sympathy for his mother. One brother has been executed trying to pay of the debt of the other. And what debt was that? The brother was in debt because of... guess what? Drugs charges.

I applaud the government for doing everything it could to save Van Nguyen. I can only hope that other intended drug mules think again before deciding drug running is easy money. It's not worth your life, or the grief caused to your family.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm done...

...for. No, not really. Nano is over for me and I can only breathe a sigh of relief. One hundred and eighty thousand, one hundred and seventy five words. One and three-quarter books. Thirty days of writing with a full time job tossed in just to make things interesting.

Ker..iste! What was I thinking? The smug has leaked out of me and all I feel is tired. That will pass by tomorrow, I suspect, because the second book aint done yet.

I'd do more tonight, but hell, I'm typing with dyslexic fingers. It would be too ugly, and too much to delete. So I'm done. Calling it quits. I have my book done, the second one is a bonus. An interesting read so far, but unfinished. A couple of days rest, and I'll come back and finish it.

I'd like to thank the music of Mike Oldfield, Pat Benatar and Laura Branigan for getting me through the last week of writing. Without their emotional impact, I doubt I would have accomplished so much in such a short time.

So. I'm off to stare blankly at the television screen. Tomorrow, I shall read, or watch a dvd or two, shop, do the house work, or none or all of the above. Whatever I do, it shall be away from the book - although I have sneaking suspicion the characters won't let me.

Ah, well, such is the life of a writer.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Practical Magic

Science Fantasy. That genre that crosses the void between science fiction and fantasy. It joins the two in marriage and gives the reader a taste of both worlds.

It is the genre where magic happens in a technology world.

Once upon a time, the main genre was called, sci-fi/fantasy. The one genre encompassed both magic or science fiction, but not both. If you had a book of science fantasy, well you had to choose one or the other, you couldn't be both. If you didn't choose, someone chose for you.

Now that genre has split into two and face each other across an ever increasing void. I think some writers groups forget where they came from, writing pure science fiction or pure fantasy. (I'll just point out that all fiction is fantasy.) Some suggest that the twain shall never meet. You cannot blend the two genres.

Well, you can. All you have to remember is to be scientific about fantasy.

Of course it takes research to do this, but we also live in a world where practical magic is done every day. I don't mean card tricks, I mean spells and incantations.

It's been around for thousands of years by thousands of people, on every continent. And if you don't think it works, think again. I'll use Australia as an example.

Our indigenous population have the Kadiachi man. He is used as punishment and he doesn't have to touch the perpetrator to cast his magic. If convicted of a crime against the tribe, he will cast his spell. Word will get to the convict. If the Kadiachi man says in five days you will have a temperature, the convict, five days later, will have a temperature. If the curse says two days after that you will experience pain... and so on, it will happen. Why? Belief. Absolute, total, unwavering belief. I would say that the Christian Church has similar magic and before I'm accused of heresy, Christians pray and sometimes those prayers are answered. What is that if not magic?

To the fictional world, then. Magic within technology. We consider ourselves sophisticated, intellectual beings, and yet the idea of magic is not uncommon. Think you on JK Rowling's books. Magic is an integral part of the books. Okay, you say, but it's the suspension of disbelief. Is it, though?

Consider more closely the use of magic. Each character has a wand, speaks an incantation and voila. A spell erupts from the wand and does wonderful or terrible things.

A wand is a stick.

Nothing technological about it. Nope. It's an inert object.

A stick is a piece of fire wood, it's a tool for digging holes, it's a measure, it's a guide pointing in a particular direction, it's a weapon, a toothpick, a lever, a piece of art, it's part of a structure and a lot more. That's the physical.

On an emotional level, it can be whatever you want it to be. It's the memory of throwing it for your dog, it's the fingers you burnt while prying off the melted marshmellow, it's smacking your evil sibling and the tears that followed. Combine that with something as esoteric as magic, and you have science fantasy.

The magic comes from within. Point and flick with your stick and see what happens. Magic mixes with technology and out pops science fantasy. The genre that bridges two worlds.

It does need explaining. With the two, it is the science that has to be explained, and to explain the science, you have to explain the magic. It's not hard, just think of where the magic came from and that's all the explanation you'll ever need.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Speed Demon

I've had some comments - not here, elsewhere - on the speed at which I produce work. In particular, how I manage to write so quickly.

For example: this Nano challenge, I have written - from scratch, without plot or plan - 120k on the thriller Deception and 31k on the Science Fantasy novel SABLE. That's a big total for twenty-seven days of writing. And that is exactly how it sounds: Twenty-seven days of writing. No days off for good behaviour, no squibbing on the total or the writing, no shirking the muse because family came to visit. That's sitting down at the keyboard and pounding out the words, one after the other, no matter how late in the night.

That is how a book is written, with your focus on the story, on the characters and what their doing, on What Happens Next.

WHN is of paramount importance here. If you don't know where you're going with a book, it doesn't matter how fast you type, the words won't come.

Typing is a learned trade, but a practiced art. Like writing, the more you practice, the better you'll get at it; well, that's the theory, anyway.

And there, grasshopper, is the secret to high word counts. Write every day until the book is done. Then you can take a break. Know What Happens Next, even if, like me, you're a free writer. Have, at least, a vague idea and hit the keyboard. If it doesn't work... well, it works for me, but if it doesn't, you can always go back and fix it at the editing stage. Learn to type properly. Not this hunt and peck method, that smacks of a lack of commitment and arrogance. Do it the conventional way before you do it the unconventional way.

By the end, you'll have your book; do your happy dance. (For some of you, do it privately, please?) Then let it rest. It needs it after all you've put it through. When it's matured and you've got some distance, go back and edit; that is another skill to learn.

Go, young Jedi, use the Force and create. With every word, sentence and paragraph you type, the faster you will go.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


For some reason, and I figure it is secret blog business, my last post went straight to archives.

I think, maybe, I was too quick to look at the post on my blog. I should have waited, but there you go.

And so it goes on

Oy, where does the week go? My last post was on Wednesday and here it is Saturday. Having too much of a good thing, I expect.

Oh, yea, verily, in the land of make believe, I do continue my journey.

FYI, here's an important fact about writing: do not rest on your laurels for too long after finishing a book. Have a time out, by all means, but keep going. If you're going to be a writer, then be one and break out the next book to write.

I've looked at the Nano site and seen many a wannabe author doing the hula, toasting one another, slapping each other on the back and generally celebrating the finishing of 50,000 words.

Can you see one eyebrow raised? Yeah, that's me, and the lip curl. It's probably churlish of me, but hey, 50k a book does not make. Novella? Yeah, but realistically, these are the people who won't succeed because the 50k is all the challenge they see. It's a great, almost compulsory starting point, but it's not the whole challenge.

Writers, write; wannabe's crow over the green bar and do no more. And that is a shame.

You'll note that a number of authors have hitched a second book to their profiles. These are the one's who take writing seriously. They finish one book and begin another.

Publishers, agents, editors want to know what kind of a track record you've got; whether you can be relied upon to keep producing. What are you going to say to them? "Um... no, not yet, but I'm sure an idea will come to me next November." Yeah, and they'll show you the door.

This is a money making business, people. Not for you, of course; let's face it authors, agents and editors make shit money, but for the publisher. You want to be a success, you've got to keep going. Eventually, if you're good enough, produce enough, work hard enough, have an enormous imagination and sacrifice enough virgins, you'll make it. Maybe.

So, while you're in a good mood from completing Nano, three words: Plot, Plan, Begin.

They are the words that will carry you through. Get into the habit of writing because your books won't write themselves, there is no book fairy, if you don't do it, no one will and finally - I don't know who said it, but it's brilliant: You have no right to keep your imagination to yourself!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

'Tis done

The Nano book is done. My challenge is complete and not without angst, girly hair pulling and swear words. It is 120k of first draft; some of good writing, some of it bad writing and some of it mediocre. No doubt it has plot holes you could drive a truck through, but no book ever written is a total loss. Re-written, yes, great gobs of it thrown out, but not a total loss.

If the idea is sound, it can be worked into a book; if the idea is unsound it won't progress no matter how much you try.

That should give hope to all those who want to write, who need to write. Those first few attempts, while exciting at the outset may not have had a workable idea, and so failed. Of course, motivation may have flagged into non-existence, too, thus scuppering the writer in his/her tracks.

What happens, though, if the idea is sound? For the writer, the idea won't go away, no matter how much your try. For those wannabes, the idea drifts into obscurity, never to be thought of again.

I know I've had some brilliant ideas, but didn't have the motivation to write them down. That is my loss, for they went away in a fit of pique into the universal pool of muses to sulk.

Now if I get an idea, I write one sentence down on anything I can find. The muse has a sense of humour and is continually testing my patience.

Every creative person has a muse who whispers in their ear. Some may not hear it, but others do. And not every creative person achieves public success. The private thrill of having a book written in enough.

This is my tenth book, but none have yet made it to publication. It's a tough world out there, with thousands of books being printed each year. Worse, trying to get noticed is like being one rice bubble in a bowl of many.

No matter how crackly you are with the milk of inspiration, you're still one of many other cracklies. (Huh. Strange analogy that. But it shows my point adequately, I think.)

Luck plays a big part, but so does professionalism. No fanciness with your manuscript, no diatribes on how wonderful the book is, no threats. Be professional, adhere to the submission guidelines. Make sure you find out everything you can about the publishing company you want to publish your work. Make sure it's the right one. Then cross your fingers.

Never stop writing. One book is fine, but publishers like to know they can rely on you for more work.

That's my next job: to get this manuscript, or another one I'm thinking of, ready to submit. It will take a while, but that's okay. Next year looms large, for it is the to get my work out there. Short stories, longer stories, books - out there in the world at large. I have enough of a back list to work with and more ideas.

Hopefully, 2006 will see me in print, not just excerpts on various sites.

Now, though, I have another book to write while NaNo is still on. That inner athlete won't quit and while she doesn't, neither will I.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I've managed to write myself into a rut. Not the kind of rut you'd expect either, but the rut of writing x amount of words per day and struggling with more.

Over the past three weeks, I've averaged out at between three and six thousand a day. I get up, go to work, come home and write for three hours. A good habit to get into... except when I want and need to write more.

My inner athelete accepted this challenge, but now is unwilling to be pushed beyond the pain barrier. She wants to watch the end of cricket, read a book, watch a DVD, take a break.

I don't blame her. I've been writing every single day and it's tiring; the constant focus and creativity wears on a body. No amount of cajoling and promises are working. Weekends are usually my high time for writing. 10k is common in one day, more when I'm in the groove. Not this weekend. I've barely done the same for two days. I'm close to the end, but picking my way through the ending choices is tough. And I still haven't decided which way to go to get to the end point I want.

Yeah, yeah, I should trust my characters to know what to do, but they're a little off stride too. I think they're just as tired as I am and I'm so not going to have an Deus Ex Machina step in. I need my characters to be honest with me and themselves.

And yes, its sounds like I'm talking about real people, because to me, they are real, otherwise they'd be two dimensional and that is death for a book.

I think I'll take a moment, an hour, and ponder the quandry.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Aiming for 'The End'

The problem with freewriting is knowing when to end the book. Sure, you look at your word count and think, "hmm, I need to kill someone." Or, "I need more sex." Personally speaking, yeah, sure, I do, but writing wise, we're talking about word counts. Pay attention. Free writing is a process by which you have an amorphous idea and run with it. You have no middle and no ending in mind, just a vague thought that the book will finish on it's own.

Hah! I have over 100k and have just killed off two more people. Jeez, am I blood thirsty or what? That makes five, no, six dead bodies on the ground. I have one accident, one assault and one near-rape, too. It's all go on the Deception front, but I now need an ending. Should I kill the fucker off? Should I have him duly beaten by the big, buff cop? Should I have him escape? Now that would be cruel, wouldn't it?

I'm in nowhere land with a number of solutions available. The perp has finally lost it, and if I go his way, more people are going to die. If I go the cop route, a kidnapping and assault ensue. If I go the 'accidental arrest' route, that lets the reader down, I think, because there's no real climax until the unveiling.

This is what free writing is all about: the uncertainty. I can see why Sue Grafton doesn't, or didn't plot, because the author is in the dark as much as the reader, and surprises always happen.

I think I'm just going to see what happens. After a bit of sex. In the book! Perverts!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The middle bit

Writers are often filled with a sense of urgency to get something down. They may have done all the research, plotted, outlined, spoken to their characters, worked out the structure, whether it will be first or third person, everything that needs to be done.

But when a writer finally gets down to it, there is that ever so slight tremble in the fingertips as they rest on the keyboard to start the book.

Many writers, structured ones in particular, will say that the hard work is over. There will be no hesitating because they have the guideposts already set. They know what is going to happen, are familiar with the whole book. And, I have to say, they are right.

It's not my style and each author has their own way of doing things. Mine is just as exciting as a structured authors. I don't know what's going to happen, the characters do what they will within the bounds of their personalities. For example, a church-going virgin, will not suddenly break into curse words and screw anything on two legs; a soldier will not suddenly toss his gun away and start picking flowers - unless it is a part of their personalities and the story has led to this point. But I digress.

A writer, poised to start the great work. If everything is set, fingers will dance across the keyboard in perfect step to the thoughts, the plan, the ideas. A frenetic pace, perhaps, or measured, in beat with music only the writer can hear. For pages, the prose will flow, the muse will dance and the writer is filled with a sense of purpose, with excitement, with pleasure.

But then: The Middle.

Where every author knows, is a place that can be as dry as a desert or as impenetrable as a jungle. The right words dry up or are blocked. The story slows down, is choked with unfortunate passivity, where action is an emotion, a thought, an intention.

We all know the beginning of the end is coming up and we can't wait. We all know the surprises coming up, the stunning conclusion, the gobsmacking climax is a few chapters away, but we must wade through The Middle. Have a place from which to set up the incredible, original, amazing End.

To get there, we must scale mountains, plumb the depths of our creativity, bash through The Middle.

I'm currently bashing away at that Middle. Eighty-five thousand words later, and I'm up to my waist in emotional, psychological and worrisome Middle. It's not something that 'will pass'. I have to fight for each paragraph, for each sentence, for every, single damn word. It doesn't have to be perfect, I can edit later, but the ideas, the form, what I'm trying to say must be right, or I'll not know what I meant to say.

I could throw myself upon the mercy of structured writing. Beg forgiveness from the muse of convention, plead for the demon Freewriter to let me go. But I won't.

Part of being a writer is the constant learning curve. For every writer, no matter what they write, writing is an ongoing learning experience, be it creative or not. This is part of what being a writer means: to push further than you think you can. To grow, to experience, to understand and to feel accomplished when you've discovered something new about yourself and your writing.

Middles: the most challenging of all, and the most rewarding.

To quote best-selling author, Holly Lisle: Writing. It's one damn word after another.

And that's how you get through the dreaded Middle.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Inside the bad guy's head

As NaNo progresses, I'm finding all sorts of things about my characters. This marathon, to me, is all about freewriting; that is, not having a recognisable outline to follow, just some ideas about characters. If you know your characters, everything else follows.

It's been an interesting ride to watch these people who've come out of my head, but I wonder if authors are sometimes a little psychotic.

To write well, or even great, you must get into their heads and see things from their point of view. Sound odd? It probably is to the population at large, but an author has to get in touch with 'The Dark Side' to create not just the moral, upstanding, heroic person, but the evil psychopathic enemy, too - unless the story is deliberately structured that the bad guy isn't an integral part of the book, or is better served as an ideology (see Tolkien).

I'm still unsettled by yesterday's writing, though, because of what my bad guy did. Sometimes, I think authors have to be brave to write what they do. Not because of controversial ideas, but personally brave; to write what disturbs them, upsets them, or pisses them off.

I had a scene where my two protagonists finally get together and make love. That was fine, but with the Stalker nearby, the act was going to have consequences. I'd forgotten that the characters were in charge of this book and were going to act accordingly; and he did.

I spent alot of time wrestling with the first scene; a slow word count, deleting because it wouldn't work, or the motivation was wrong, but finally got it right. Yay, happy dance. Then came the dark cloud and I had to walk away from the keyboard as I realised what had to happen.

In what non-writers would call some seriously fucked up thinking, I couldn't stay away. I had to write it down; and did, with fingers flying over the keyboard. One serious assault of my lead character - okay, let's not be squeamish, it's a near rape scene, with accompanying violence. Shocking, devastating and... right.

And when it was done, my hands were shaking, hell, I was shaking. I really wanted to write a happy scene after that, but I couldn't think of one and it would have been wrong of me. So I finished the day's work on a really nasty scene.

More fucked up thinking: I slept really well after that. I won't revisit the scene until it's time to edit, but it's a good piece. It fits in with the book and the characters. Now, we get to the aftermath. I have to get this right too, or readers will see it as false, or superficial and throw the book across the room. I don't want that. I want readers to hurt, to ache, to be furious and hoping for appropriate vengence and a just end.

Authors must step out of their comfort zones to portray truth in their novels. Not your truth or my truth or an amorphous universal truth; the truth of the novel.

And sometimes, that means getting in touch with your inner psychopath.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Death of the Sickie

We regret to inform you on the recent death of the sickie.

Unfortunately, for those out-of-touch union reps and the Opposition Laborites, the sickie has been dead for sometime and it is the stench of the rotting corpse that has awoken you from torpor.

Most industries are more flexible than the hardline enemies of Industrial Relations reform realise, or even want to know. If you are genuinely sick, you get to a doctor and get your medical certificate. If you are just looking for a day off, why, lo and behold that's what flexible working hours are all about.

Remember flexi-time? Yes, boys and girls, it still exists.

What the reforms are trying to do is untie employers hands so they can get on with negotiating a better deal for the employees and the company. It works both ways, do you see?

Ninety-nine point five per cent of employers aren't the mongrel dogs that the unions would have you think. Most employers just want to get on with business, and make money; that's why they're in business to begin with.

Employers are not there to coddle lazy layabouts who, when roused, bitch about their allowances, their holiday pay, their wage, their Union-given rights to work in an ergonomically-correct, equal opportunity and equitable work environment. And that includes personal well-being.

We are a long way from the 1860s when Labour Day was fought for. We are a long way from the oppressed worker, we are a long way from the halcyon days of unionism. Less than twenty percent of Australians belong to one. Surely this is significant?

I'm not saying we don't need them; we do, otherwise we really would be at risk. It is the union reps who study and understand the laws, so as to negotiate individual and collective workplace agreements... but JESUS get a grip, would you?

This is not about the undermining of individual entitlements! This is about the restructuring of them; giving the employer and the employee should he/she wish to do so the opportunity to negotiate on some rights and entitlements. This is not about stripping employee rights as the current media campaign would have you believe, and I would take issue at the misinformation being bandied about by the unions and the Opposition, that is commonly refered to as a 'lie'. The current campaign would have you believe that we are heading back into the Industrial Revolution, and work for thirteen and fourteen hours a day for a pittance. Here's a clue: some people do. They're called sweat shops. Go after them if you've got so much money to waste on lying to the public.

As for everyone else, most people are happy, or at least content, with their working environment. This change will not affect them.

Some people may be affected adversely. Show me legislation that doesn't affect someone adversely. The difference is the affected employee can choose not to work for that company; the affected person can choose to move on. Or, the affected employee may decide to accept the shitty workplace agreement, and keep an eye out for a better job.

In the current climate, there are plenty of jobs available.

And the unions should be negotiators on those jobs, not bloody namby-pamby squealie girls who protest anything to do with change that they haven't mooted.

Grow up people, the good times are here regardless of what those campaigns are saying. Get informed, stay informed and you won't lose out.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What does it take?

Our Australian Navy has registered 1,800 patrol days every year from Cairns in Queensland to Broome in Western Australia. The protect our northern border and it is not enough. That's not a criticism of the Navy, nor indeed our government. It is a testament to the vastness of our continent that we just don't have the resources or the people to cover such an area.

This gap in our security is a cause for alarm for the obvious reasons. However, I could write a book on that. That's not what this post is about.

It's about the rare Patagonian Tooth fish and other endangered species poached from our waters. Last Friday, the Federal Court acquitted fishermen on the charges of illegal fishing. The men, a Uruguayan, three Spaniards and a Chilean were caught with over a million dollars worth of the fish, obviously in Australian Territorial waters, yet because the Navy didn't catch them in the act of pulling the fish out of the water, they've got away with it.

What did the court think they were doing? Giving the fish a guided tour of the oceans of the world?

It's also of concern the increasing number of Indonesian fishermen being caught in our northern waters. Again, we don't have the resources to catch these blighters.

Now, the bleeding hearts will comment that these are poor men, with no education and little resources to improve their lives. Bullshit. The Indonesians have a grape vine to rival none and the Australian Navy has been doing this for thirty or forty years. These people know what their doing is wrong, they just don't give a rat's bladder.

The Opposition Leader is pushing his billion dollar plan for an American-style Coast Guard. We don't need it. The legitimate fishermen of the north have warned that they will take action. Not a bad idea given that the northern shark stocks - fished for their fins alone - are facing annhilation. Worse, these illegal boats carry chickens for food with the real risk of bird flu.

Something has to be done about these people and their boats. This year alone more than 200 illegal fishing vessels were seized.

Australia has the toughest Customs Act in the world to protect our native flora and fauna, and yet, these pricks are fishing our waters as if that is of no concern, and the stocks belong to them. Well they don't, and the fishing is of concern. One day soon, some local fisherman is going to say enough, and blow the fuckers out of the water. Maybe that is the only deterent we can rely on.

Jail doesn't work, confiscating and burning the boats don't work. Maybe more direct action needs to be taken. Australia has to come up with harsher methods if it to save it's fish stocks for the rest of the world to enjoy. If local fishermen join the effort, then we will have more resources for patrols and local knowledge to hunt the bastards down.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Getting into the slog

I finished the weekend at 41k and some extras. I have written, over the two days about 21k. And yes, it was tough. The hours slipped away while I struggled with words, with scenes, with what happened next, with the damn characters themselves.

The amount of words written give lie to just how difficult it was. There isn't really an outline for this book and I haven't looked at the cards. I will, but later, when I do a reverse construction as a precursor to editing. I just can't set a book up that way (probably why editing takes so long, too). But that's the way I work.

My characters are growing, kind of in synch. The more evil the bad guy, the more genius the protagonist and the more nasty her childhood. The lurve interest is just there, not developing much, except for the ubiquitous emotional growth. I think he needs more; he needs something to get him going... and I have just the thing, mwahaha!

Okay, so I'm slogging my way to the 50k point, but that won't be the end. The end will be when the book is done, hopefully by the time 1 December comes around.

My aim is another 4-41/2k tonight and again tomorrow. I'll be able to relax once the objective has been reached. So, to horse...

Sunday, November 06, 2005


The book is humming along, although it's been tough. Like I've said, this is outside of my usual genre so I was writing in fits and starts.

At the beginning of the middle, things began to flow. So much so, that I had to write a scene that didn't come into it until about four scenes. But I had to get it down. It was so totally evil.

That, in truth, is what I like about NaNo, there is no set format as long as you get to the 50k mark. After six days, I've hit 34k and it's going more smoothly.

I've never been comfortable with starts, it always seems to stilted. Of course, I can go back and edit later.

For now, I need some sustenance before heading into the afternoon's session. No more fooling around online, checking sites out and generally goofing off.

Those words won't write themselves.

Friday, November 04, 2005

And we're off

I've been pretty busy the past few days, with work and with the Nano, but I think I'm off to a good start. I have just over 14k for three days work. Not up to my usual manic standard, but I do have a job this year.

It's unfortunate that there are also the usual wankers out there posting unreasonable totals and flat out lying. This pinheads are usual young adolescents who think it's funny to fuck up the statistics and people's aims to accrue a legitimate spot on the leaders boards.

I'm not so pissed off about it as I have been in previous years because I just cut them out of my calculations. I can see who the honest writers are, and it's not those who cheat and post that they've virtually written a book in three days. No, I'm sorry, that's just not happening.

Many writers are trying hard to get the work done and it's pitiful that there are others trying to take away that achievement.

There's plenty of time for the genuine participants to get going. Many already have, me included. I love this challenge, and this weekend, Forward Motion is holding a marathon. It will have these word fests every weekend until the end. It's a great mechanism for people who need that extra push to do the words.

For me, it's the extra push to get closer to the end of the book, as long as I can concentrate on it. Of course, real life has a habit of getting in the way, but I'm going to do my level best not to let it. Hah!

People should know not to contact me during November, it's just... wrong, and I'm not in the best moods when interrupted. Still, I may venture a conversation or two, decide I'm done with them and get back to it.

That's a writer's life. Focussing on the book, not necessarily live people. Ah well, we're an interesting breed, otherwise, what on earth would you read for entertainment? The newspaper? The TV guide? Your kids' homework?

From Nano, can sometimes come great things. I hope so.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Today is Melbourne Cup day. A public holiday in Victoria where it's held, and a virtual afternoon off for everyone else. It is truly the Race that Stops a Nation. It is also, arguably, the toughest horse race in the world.

Race horses from around the world come here to compete, to win the tri-handled trophy and five million dollar prize. They come from Ireland, England, New Zealand, Japan and the great Godolphin stable.

History was made today, by an astonishing mare: Makybe Diva. The greatest horse the southern hemisphere has ever produced, and I include Phar Lap in that. For the first time, a horse has won the Melbourne Cup three years straight.

Think Big was the last horse to win it twice and that was back in 1975/76. Thirty years on, the Diva has taken it for a third time. A feat that shall remain unparalleled for decades to come.

All hail the Diva!

(Shame I didn't put any money on her... not even in the office sweeps.)

* * *

Okay, accolades aside - and I'm still staggered by that triumph - today also marked the beginning of the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo for short.

As you can imagine, it was a tough day to get anything done. Work, horse racing sweeps to organise and trying to get a few words down on my new book.

Most of what I've written has been after work, and for that I guess I should thank Daylight Bloody Savings. I've been sitting here typing away on a murder scene while the sun is still in the sky. Now it's going down and I have just over four thousand words. Not a bad start, but there is a long way to go. I have no doubt there will be a lot of frustration, but if I keep my mind on what's going on, I shall be fine.

The only trap I see is to get to involved in the killer's head. He's a twist fuck, but aren't they best? All reasonable and calm, charming and charismatic, I like him. I'm having problems with my other characters though. For some strange reason, I identify more with the killer than the catchers.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing. I'll post something soon.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ready, Set...

It's almost 'Go' time for Nano. There are a lot of nervous people over at the Nano site; those for whom this challenge is their first. For me, this is the third and I'm still nervous.

Various worries have surfaced again: do I have enough scenes for a book, is it interesting, will I get stuck, can I do this with a full time job? Of all these, it is the last that concerns me the most. The first two Nano books were 120k and 160k respectively, but I had time, I wasn't working. Now, I can see the challenge will be getting the minimum done during the week and 20-30k done on the weekends and another 10k done on a planned day off. Say an average of 25k, that gives me 100 plus an extra 10 for 110 and 2k every day of the week for a total of about 154k. Meh. That's a book.

I'll also have to consider that my contract ends on the 22nd; and that gives me extra time should I fail in getting the daily counts done.

One might wonder why I am worried. As I've said previously, it's not the 50k that's the challenge, but the writing of a book, in toto; that's the challenge. I fully expect a book at the end of the month. I also have to consider other pesky interruptions, like family dropping in for a weekend visit, or even a day. Yeah, I can afford to lose a day, or even a weekend. The problem is: I don't want to. This is my one yearly challenge to write a book; practice makes perfect and I'm still at an apprenticeship level. Writing is one of the longest apprenticeships around.

Some writers are blessed with spectacular talent; I have above average talent, but that does not mean I can expect a contract at the submitting of a precis. Oh, no. It's an ongoing process, this writing business. Any writer worth their salt will tell you they are constantly honing their craft, constantly searching for a better book, and that, dear reader, is why you go out and buy a particular author. Because they have spent years practicing and improving. That's what I want to do.

And when Demonesque, or Oracle, or Gateway, or Banker's Trust hit the shelves, they will be the best I, or an editor, can make them; and that you'll want more.

So roll on Nano, I'm ready!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tempus Fugit

Yeah, times flies. Nano is getting close and I'm not as prepared as I'd like to be, or, to put it another way, I may well just dive straight in and see what happens. Creative, undisciplined minds are like that.

I'm trying to get through my TBR pile, so I won't have any distractions. I still have two David Weber's, one David Drake, and two Peter Fitzsimmon's to go. I aint gonna make it, so it's a choice for what stays on the shelf until December.

We're also heading into Daylight Savings time so my internal clock is going to be fucked up; royally. I'm going to be tired and grumpy and sooo not wanting to do 'real' work. Gad! Getting up at what amounts to 5.30 in the am is not my idea of fun, even if I'm going to bed an hour 'earlier'. I'm not a morning person. It will take me a month or so to adjust. So much for managing NaNo with Daylight Savings. Sigh.

My act is just going to have to get together. Motivation is the key, but with that comes the peril of stress-related problems; and they are painful. Maybe I'll take up meditation, tai chi, or Valium.

This book is coming out whether I like it or not... and I do. It's not a namby-pamby, telegraph everthing kind of book, it's a watch what the villian sees, fear what the protagonist fears, and follow the clues if you can. I'm doing this for one reason: predictability sucks.

I posted a large section of a book for critique to Forward Motion and got complaints of not giving enough clues to what was about to happen. Someone wanted to stay in their happy place. Well, nuh-uh. I write what I want to read, and I want to feel chilled, I want to feel that hot/cold of 'oh, jesus'. Yeah, that's what I good book is about, I think. But I'm not cheating, either. No Deus Ex Machina. It's all there for you to work out.

And if interested, I'm going to be posting here and on the Nano site for anyone who wants to read the excerpts.

Three days and counting...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Where's the shame?

The Bali nine are getting increasing media attention because of the AFP's letters to the Indonesian police.

One, Renee Lawrence is suing the AFP because their information could lead her to the death penalty. Apparently, it's okay for her to try to import heroin, but it's not okay for the AFP to protect the rest of us from that import.

The others a similarly scrambling to cast blame everywhere except where it truly belongs: with themselves. Okay, so they are young, does that mean they have no personal responsibility? Does that mean they blame others for their own actions?

Not in my book. I have personally seen the result of chronic drug use and I have little sympathy for those who think to earn cash as a drug mule to bring that shit into my country. Every one of them knew it was wrong; knew what the consequences would be should they be caught. Did they pay attention? Of course not, it wouldn't happen to them. Or, it wouldn't have happened if those evil protectors of our country hadn't betrayed them. The bastards. Imagine the local constabulary doing their job? How could they? Couldn't they see the Bali nine were only trying to earn a little cash?

I don't think I'm being harsh, either. Those idiots were caught with the stuff strapped to their bodies.

And for those who believe the AFP should have stopped them before they left Australia, how could they? The nine had yet to commit a crime here. Maybe they should have waited until they returned to Australia, ladened with narcotics? The original crime was perpetrated in Indonesia, not Australia, hence it is the Indonesians responsibility.

I lack compassion? Nope. How many drug addicts die from overdoses every year? How many could have died if the nine got through? Why are the officials the bad guys in this? At least the Indonesians are trying to stamp out this kind of crap with deadly sentences. At least they stopped a shipment from reaching our streets.

Australian officials pass along information to a lot of governments, including the US, who, if memory serves, also has the death penalty, though not for drug running. Should we not send them information because of that?

Yes, the parents are pissed at the Australian government. Yes, they are fearful for their children. Yes, I'm sure they have a lot of support. But why are they blaming the government for their children's actions? Why didn't they speak to their children about this? Family dynamics are complex, but it's a shitty way to discover love for a child, or the error of your ways. I see no embarrassment, no shame in the eyes of the parents, nor the faces of those caught, no sign of culpability or remorse. These people were caught with the stuff strapped to their bodies. I can only assume the ranting and raving are because most people realise they are not going to get away with this.

It's sad that they won't get the opportunity to learn from this monumental mistake. If not the death penalty, then an extended stay in prison awaits the Bali Nine. And I cannot, in all honesty, feel sympathy for them. The best thing that could come out of this and the Michelle Leslie case, is that young Australians learn not to take or use prohibited drugs in South East Asia. The consequences will be catastrophic, not only for them, but their families as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Seven Days

It's a week until the madness of Nano begins. I've no doubt that there are people who are feeling just a might anxious. I know I am. I still have a bit of world building to do.

Yep, world building. It's all very well to write this book sans outline, that's doable; it is not okay to write without having some idea of what your world looks like.

I need to find things like weather, topography, recreational activities, abnormal psychology, firearms, and a few other things I'm mulling over.

Being a freewriter doesn't mean I'm lazy. I prepare as much as possible for challenges like this. If I don't know my world, my characters, their motivations, how it starts and where it finishes, things will very quickly fall apart and be disjointed. That makes editing a real bitch.

By researching the topic, you can avoid the hunt for information while you're writing. I have to be prepared for this book, it's out of my usual genre and I'm going to hard pressed not to incorporate any mythology, any science fiction or supernatural aspects. It's a straight up thriller. To avoid that trap, I have to steep myself in this real world.

I have my protagonists - the secondary characters will appear as needed - I have my end game, I have main events. How they join, how they interact, that's the challenge. That and writing until it is finished. I don't know how long it's going to be; my second Nano finished two chapters into a second book. I don't want this to be a tome, I don't want to end up with 200k, that is too long and I'd have to spend a lot of time taking stuff out. There will not be a sequel, it's a stand alone.

So, I'm almost ready. The world building is going well, the characters are at the starting blocks in my head, ready to play. What more do I need? The patience not to dive into this before November begins. The best thing about the wait is that the story, the images I'm getting, is becoming more solid and that can only be a good thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A cliche of characters

I've been surfing online for books, since my local stores are lacking in anything resembling what I'd like to read. When I've read the blurbs, I'm appalled at the cliches describing books.

To use the romance genre as an example:

Regency: Heroes are dashing, rakes, arrogant; heroines are ravishing, virginal, haughty, respectable, or spoiled.
Paranormal: Heroes are brooding, dangerous, dark; heroines are determined, passionate, feisty.
Medieval: Heroes are ruthless, arrogant, reckless; heroines are passionate, proud, pampered, feisty.

You get the idea, but with one caveat: all the men are alphas, as are the women, one way or another. The behaviour of these characters leave a lot to be desired and are in no way a reflection of current day people. I know, I know, that's not the point; when it comes to romance, it's the ideal, the fantasy that attracts readers. The more the merrier, it seems, an echo of when men were men and women knew what they wanted. But...

Dream Mountain puzzled me because the hero is such a prick. The Carpathian series pisses me off because they're about domination and taking choices away. Anita Blake is, so far, about moral decline. The historicals and futuristics where control over a woman is paramount. I could go on. But I won't. The point is, these books are popular. Do modern day women want to dominated in such a manner? How can this be called love? Where is the equality? How can women give up so much and the man so little? Am I wrong in thinking that love, and yes, marriage, should also be about partnership? I'm not talking about wanky 'metro-sexuals' - what kind of a word is that, anyway? - I'm talking about the fantasy ideal that women want to be controlled via sex. They don't. Or, I should qualify, I don't.

I'm aware that it is fiction. I'm aware that people love these books. I'm aware that writers, good ones, write from the heart. I'm also aware that reading material can influence people. For example, the court case that involved best-selling author Patricia Cornwell.

Good, bad or indifferent, writers have a responsibility when creating characters that they be true. Readers have a responsibility to understand that it is fiction.

Regencies, Scottish, Viking - historicals, have little basis in fact. Most marriages then were for convenience, not love. The paranormals? Hmm... I don't think vampires or werewolves are nice creatures, but some women like the edge of danger, you certainly know you're alive if your lover can rip your throat or heart out in the throes of passion. Futuristic ones, or the ones I've read, are basically regencies of the future. I won't be reading them anymore.

The books I write, the dark fantasy, the sci fi, the science fantasy, now that I think about them, all have an equality in them. None discriminate between the sexes. Each hero and heroine is as capable as the other, each rely on the other to survive. Partnership. A happy medium, I think, and I'd like to see more of it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Roasted Grammar

Gotta love a good bit of argy-bargy, and over at Smart Bitches there's a long argument involving grammar. Sara Donati also gives a bit of history on the English language. Let's remember that it is an amalgam of other languages that was then mixed with peasant commentary. The language is versatile and flexible, but it is also the most mongrel of all the languages.

For my part, the language grows more complex. To give you an example: the Americans use the Webster's Dictionary, the English use the Oxford, and we here in the land of Aus use the Macquarie Dictionary. I don't know what other English-speaking countries use, and I don't care unless called upon to edit work from there. There will be endless arguments about the correct use of words; for some aspects of grammar, it is simple and straightforward. An example, the confusing in the use of its or it's. It's is a contraction of it is. That's is a contraction of that is. Who's is a contraction of who is.

Actually, if you really want to know this stuff, find yourself a book on grammar. Better yet, lobby the government to reintroduce grammar into the English curriculum. It's a kind of hobby horse, but I'll say it again: we are raising a generation of illiterates who won't be able to communicate properly. They don't know how. I'll leave it with a final comment that the above problem is one reason why I became an editor.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I don't mean Darwin, but personal evolution; self-growth, self-actualisation and all those other 'selfs' that sociologists love to fling about.

It occurred to me that growth, soul growth, happens without conscious thought. How do I know this? Well, I was doing my latest assignment on my Diploma. The assignment is on electronic publishing. That led me to how long I've been using the 'net, and how long I've been apart of the Forward Motion community. From there, I realised how much I've learned while there.

Writing is not an easy thing to do, but I can look back at the beginnings of my posting work and see how much I've learned. From head hopping and rushing my work, I'm now circumspect in scene writing and slower in consideration of why something is where it is and how it works in with other scenes. All of this wasn't really thought about, just watched for. Now my writing has a better flow.

Same thing for editing. I'm more focused, more evolved in what I'm looking for. Others, I know, appreciate the care I take with their work.

Life works the same way. Sometimes, I think we learn through osmosis. We absorb information every day and when someone asks about something, we know. Some of us may pause and wonder how we know others simply accept it.

I'd like to think most people realise this, but I know it's not true given the selfish behaviour I see.

Evolution, personal growth, professional growth. If more people thought about their own philosophies and how they interact with others, we'd probably live in a happier place. Maybe it's because of the aging process, but I don't think so. I think it has more to do with how introspective a person is; I think it has to do with what kind of emotional roller-coasters people have ridden during their lives. The steeper the hills, the lower the valleys, the more evolved people become. If you don't have any rough rides, how can you appreciate the wonderful ones?

Think about that the next time you're tempted to bad behaviour.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Director Who Films Your Life

Ever thought about who would play you in a film of your life? No? Well, cripes, aren't you boring? How about the director. Sure, everyone wants Angelina, Ashley, Jennifer, etc. or Brad, Colin, Dwayne, whomever as the stars, but what about the director, hmm?

Had a happy life? One filled with action or humour or lurve? Here's a quiz you can take to find out.

Roger Corman
Your film will be 51% romantic, 25% comedy, 48% complex plot, and a $ 37 million budget.

An action-complex tale about a complex character that is you. Corman was responsible for a very early Jack Nicholson film, 1963's The Terror (Francis Coppola was associate producer), filmed in three days! The actor who plays you will emote complexity like Jack ... maybe Christian Slater or Gwyneth Paltrow. Also, Roger filmed the original Little Shop of Horrors film -- which in the 1980s was the basis for a hit Broadway musical and another film. All his films were shot for mere thousands of dollars, sometimes completed within the week. Roger knows talent, and knows how to keep costs down with complex stories such as your life story. His versions of Edgar Allen Poe stories are considered classics (The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum), and also directed Deathsport and Bloody Mama in the 1970s. Oh, yeah, man, this guy will make your film a cult classic!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 24% on action-romance

You scored higher than 19% on humor

You scored higher than 75% on complexity

You scored higher than 45% on budget

I like the complexity part. No one's life should be simple. Okay, Paris Hilton excluded.

Here's the link if you want to find out who would direct your life's movie:
The Director Who Films Your Life Test

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I love word games. And since I haven't anything else to write about at the moment, perhaps you'll be as amused as well:

Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.
A backward poet writes inverse.
A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death.
A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
oes the name Pavlov ring a bell?
Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead giveaway.)
Time flies like a arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.
In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.
She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.
A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.
He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
Every calendar's days are numbered.
A lot of money is tainted - It taint yours and it taint mine.
A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
A plateau is a high form of flattery.
A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.
Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.
Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
Acupuncture is a jab well done.

Some days, I just can't help myself.

Monday, October 17, 2005


I was reminded, today, that summer is on it's way.

It wasn't that the sun is getting up unspeakably early, it wasn't the feral hoards of tourists, or the sickly white stick figures baring all down at the beach. Oh, no. It was a mosquito big enough to carry a small child away.

Every Australian knows the song Redback on the Toilet Seat, but this was a jumbo jet mosquito! At first, I thought it to be a Daddy Long-Legs spider, all legs and attitude. It crouched there with spindly legs looking up at me from the rim.

Okay, I thought, just flush that sucker away and get on with it. Hah! One flush and it flew up, hair-thin proboscis out and ready to do battle. Missed, though, and I heard that sucker hum, a low, threatening sound. I'm gonna get the fly spray to it. No way am I waking up in the middle of the night with that stuck to me.

It also reminded me of what else is here to harm the unwary. With the warming temperatures and rising humidity, true spiders are starting to be active. The Funnel-Web spider, the Redback spider, Wolf spiders, Trap door spiders, White-tailed spiders and Huntsman spiders. Snakes, too; the Red Belly Back snake, Brown snake, Taipans, Death Adders. All are coming out to play with the ignorant.

The warming waters will soon attract the sharks, the jelly fish and blue bottles.

Oh yes, there is much to watch for in the Summertime that has nothing to do with salt rash, sand in your togs and sunburn (slip, slop, slap, people).

Reminds me of that song, Austraylya, it'll killya, that lists all the things in this Great Suthen Land that is potentially lethal. Hah! I love it here, man-eating sketos and all.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Prince of Denmark

Congratulations to the Crown Princess and Crown Prince of Denmark on the birth of their first born, a son. Mary and Fred are, not surprisingly, happy, proud, pleased at their boy. The majority of Danes were positive the baby was going to be a girl and thus create a constitutional crisis. Our Mary had a boy and avoided the political morass. Now comes the speculation of the baby's name. Christian - the traditional name - is the front runner followed by Frederik. Both are good names, but what about an Aussie connection?

Prince Macca? Trevor? Davo? Prince Wally perhaps? The Danes have a sense of humour, but I don't think any of those names would garner any support. Heh.

The family will probably be known as our Mary, Fred and Chris, or Fred junior - probably Freddo, given the Australian habit of abbreviating names.

No doubt the Danes, whose party instincts rival the Aussies (I know from personal experience) will be toast the baby for some weeks yet. Onya Mary!


And speaking of princesses, the TV program, Australian Princess is flagging the ratings race. One wag from the Sun Herald has suggested that the Republican movement could view that as support for their cause. Hel-lo? Could be that Australian audiences are more discerning than their overseas counterparts and view this program with disdain because it's full of shit? That it's positively awful? That it commercialises the 'fairy tale' of Mary meeting Fred in a bar in Sydney? Jeez, Louise! How fatuous can the television industry be?

The Joe Millionaire, Survivor, The Mole, Big Brother, and the rest are worthless. Who gives a rat's bladder that Joe Millionaire isn't? Who the toughest castaway is? Who the bastard is who's mucking up the challenges or how prurient and licentious the housemates are? What social value do any of them have? None I can see, and I don't think titilation is an acceptable value for our kids.

So. Australian Princess will either serve out it's time and never be seen again, or be cut (oh, please, oh, please, oh, please). I know who is the weakest link and I know what my vote will be: the off button.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Muse Muscle

Not to think about something, but the muse that sits behind you, urging you on to writer brilliance. Every writer has a muse, be they real or imagined. A muse is someone who inspires you, tosses you the bone of an idea and sits back to slyly watch your confusion, your puzzlement, your pause, interest and then frenetic pace as you plunge that bone into the plot pot and make a feast for the senses.

There's one rule: don't piss your muse off. Do that, and you're doomed to either mediocrity or, worse, no words at all.

My muse sits behind me, sometimes smirking, sometimes serious, always nagging. She is changeable. She is sometimes a Greek Goddess, sometimes a black-clad Goth, sometimes and arse-kicking biker chick, sometimes a chic business woman. She appropriates characters, interjects with dialogue, smacks her forehead when I get it wrong, puts a light bulb above my head when she gives me an idea. She is friend and foe, sage and savant, lover and lout, but she is always with me.

People often ask writers where their ideas come from. Well, my answer is the Muse. I don't know her name, I don't need to. She's observant, blunt, caustic, humourous, impatient and ever so willing to plunge into my stories to interfere, to boost, to guide the characters in whatever direction she wants. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it's always entertaining.

We work together, she and I, to create. I guess you could say she's the brains and I'm the brawn, after all, she's an amorphous being who happens to have some terrific ideas. And I, I have the fingers on the keyboard.

All I have to do is listen. Writer's block isn't a problem. A blank page can be cured by the words "Chapter One". She curious enough to come over from the snack bar and have a look.

My muse and I are a team. Why not go and listen to yours? You might be surprised by what they're trying to tell you.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Writing Styles

With the National Novel Writing competition coming up soon, weblogs are abounding with advice on how to complete the challenge. I'm not linking them because the majority say the same thing I do: sit down and write. Simple, no frills advice.

The minimum to complete the challenge is 1667 words a day, five, six pages. It's not so much, if you've got a great idea, all your plot notes in order, your outline completed, your character interviews done and your research next to you for quick reference. Or... are you an 'organic' writer?

I came across this term a few days ago and wondered, yet again, why people are so determined to create a name for a group who sit outside the box.

An organic writer is one who starts with an idea and runs with it; who sits down at the keyboard and gets the words down, in order. They let the characters take them on the journey. I'm an organic writer... mostly. Here's how it works for me:

I get an idea. I let it stew for a week or so, write down a note about it. I'll spend time dwelling on various aspects of the book: the main character, other characters including the villain, the plot, the end, the beginning, whether there will be an intimate scene, how to kill someone, how a character escapes, weaponry, clothes, scenery, dialogue - I listen to other people's conversations for nifty sayings - weather, and so on. Each aspects comes to me like an excerpt from a movie. My job is to transcribe that movie onto the page, which is why, when I get these flashes, I'll jot them down to remind me of what I saw in my head.

Okay. When I feel ready, or the workings of the book get so overwelming that I must write, I will sit down and do so. The whole story is arranged in my head and out it comes. Most authors will tell you that they have characters living in their heads, but the pressure eases when they've been evicted onto a blank page.

So what does all this mean? It means that I don't have a lot of discipline until I actually sit and write, then I can write for fourteen, sixteen hours - with regular breaks to satisfy the Occupational Health and Safety gnome of my conscience - and write the first draft in a short amount of time.

How short? My first book - don't ask, it was appallingly dreadful and I keep it as a reminder of where I started and how much better I am at this - took me three weeks of fourteen hour days to write. It was 90k. Demonesque, last year's Nano, is 122k; the Oracle Duology is 280k and took me six weeks.

This method works for me. I would like to write three books a year, although I'm capable of more. This method doesn't work for everyone. Plotting is hell for me because it captures my creativity and cages it on the page before it's ready. When I have tried to plot, the book has deviated from about chapter three and that's an end to the plot notes.

Whatever you are, structured, organic, anal or free-spirit, the point is to actually put your bum on the seat and write. Your schedule doesn't matter, I don't think as long as you get the work done. Of course the challlenge of Nano is to guide you into a scheduled existence and into a routine. It's worthwhile. If nothing else, by the end of November, you'll have a book and you'll know what you like and hate about writing.

Sacrifices of the few for the many

Death and destruction, murdered civilians, suicide bombers, accusations of brutal tactics, complaints that America is losing the war in Iraq, that the death toll is too high, that the Coalition should leave Iraq to the iraqis and let them sort it out themselves.

Where, amongst this vitriol, is the good news? Where, amongst the sneering isolationists, is the proof that the invasion failed? Where are the "ordinary Iraqis" protesting the invasion? Why haven't they demanded the withdrawal of troops? How much damage have the Americans and her allies done to this country?

Well, it's all here, actually:

Baltimore Sun

The next time some whiney-assed, ill-formed, holier-than-thou, hippy wanna-be demands peace in a warring country, remember that sometimes war is the only solution; that peace is always bought at a price; that out of the blood and tears, sometimes comes happiness and contentment; that you cannot defeat brutal insanity with kindess and flowers. The sacrifice of a few should be worthwhile for the benefit of the many, otherwise, what has it all been about?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Red Cross, Double Cross

People across the globe donated millions to the Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In an age of media, we all saw the devastation wrote by the storm and sympathised with the victims. We put our hands in our pockets to help. Where is that money now?

Larissa Ione is spitting chips about the lack of help from the organisation. And rightly so. I have noted that many webloggers are not publicly stating they will not support the Red Cross in light of this and the debacle following the 9/11 attacks. It's a sad indictment on an organisation that does so much good in the world, that it has made so much money vanish.


Update on my NaNo preparations: I've now done twenty five plot cards courtesy of Holly Lisle's wonderful site. I've not done plotting like this before, and I'm finding it tough. I'm a linear, organic writer, so this is definately outside my comfort zone. But, you've got to challenge yourself every now and then, just to see if you can.

I suspect I'll be falling over myself in anticipation for November. I can't stop thinking about the book, nasty scenarios keep popping up, conversations are in my head, appeareances, histories, motivations, everything I need to write this book... and I can't start it. Yet.

November will come soon enough, so all I can do is make this plotting and associated notes, the best they can be before the starting guns goes off. I know I'm not the only passenger in this ship, let's hope it doesn't sink.