Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Over at, their news site has announced some adaptations of books into movies/tv series/graphic comics.

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files is to become a television series, and if you look on the web, there are sites that mention all the goings on with that. I've read the first book, and I think I'd be interested in the series.

But what caught my attention, was the announcement of Anne McCaffrey's Pern series being developed for the big screen. Dragonflight was one of the first sci-fi novels I ever read. (My brother gave me this and Andre Norton's Moon of Three Rings; from then on, I was hooked on sci-fi.)

I'm thinking that with both these series, the film/tv makers are going to have to tread carefully; with the Pern books especially. They have been well loved since 1968 when Dragonflight first appeared. And, for all you writers out there, Dragonflight had its genesis as a short story. I, for one, am hoping they do an outstanding job.

The other news announced by is that Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series will be made into comic books. Dabel Brothers announced the the book back at the end of last year, but now, they have an artist, Brett Booth, how, thankfully, is a fan of the series. First up is, of course, Guilty Pleasures. Laurell's site has examples of Brett's work, as does Dabel Brothers.

This is something I'm gonna have to buy. I might not like the direction the series is heading, but the first five books are terrific; full of sass, action, suspense and dynamic plots. (I just hope I can get them here in Aus, rather than having to order them in.)

A preview was released last month in the first issue of Marshall, released on 26 April. I haven't seen it. Ain't no comic book stores within a hundred k of where I live. But, I'll hunt it down when I get to Conflux in a fortnight.

The comic of Guilty Pleasures is due to hit the stores in June with the two-part graphic novels available in January and July 2007. Hell, why am I telling you this? Go read the press releases!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

And speaking of names...

I have one more story to write for the marathon and while the stories are coming easily, the one thing that is not are the character names.

I've written thirty stories with an average of three names per story - some with more, but I ain't counting them; that makes ninety or more first and second, and nicknames I've had to come up with.

I've dipped into The Great Australian and New Zealand Book of Baby Names by Cecily Dynes - it has 10,000 names - and thought the rest up myself.

Luckily, there are also a number of sites out there to assist should you get stuck:

20000-Names has over that number; All-Names has links to name sites, and is probably a good place to start if you want something different or traditional.

It's actually fun to come up with names. Or perhaps 'fun' is the wrong word? It's more like, once I've got a picture of the protagonist in my head, the name arrives soon after. Sometimes it works well, and sometimes the names need a little tweaking to suit the plot. I'm rarely dissatisfied or disappointed, but it sure is nice to have some backup in case I have an empty-headed moment where no names arrive.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What's In A Name?

I gotta shake my head. Why does the media go all smug when celebrities name their children? Gwennyth Paltrow coped it after naming her daughter 'Apple', as if this was the first odd name ever to be given to a child.

Now, Gerri Halliwell has named her daughter Bluebell, Tomcat have Suri and Brangelina have Shiloh and the media go squirrelly over what the names mean.

Could it be - oh, the humanity! - simply a matter that the parents liked the names and that they didn't in fact, pore over Baby Name books, seaching for some deep, inner meaning?

Oh, and let's not forget the trend of naming a boy child with the maiden name of the mother.

There have been plenty of peculiar and original names throughout history - they don't have to originate from the Bible, or the Torah, or the Koran.

I'm sure there's plenty of more important things out there to report on than what a couple name their child.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My world, good and bad

Writing, to me, is personal; not 'if you hate thework, you hate me' kind of personal, but I'm putting a lot of effort into it; my worlds, my characters, my emotions, my creations.

It's a kind of therapy for me, and I'm relatively good at it and, hopefully, getting better at writing. Goddess knows, it's creative enough, though lacking the finesse.

I'm constantly amazed at what comes out of my head - maybe everyone should write, in whatever genre they choose; it would, at the very least, make the world a more peaceful place for a while.

Today, I wrote a story via a generator that seemed quite inventive, entertaining and heart-felt. It wasn't until after I posted the story on the Forward Motion story-a-day-marathon site, (I'm not linking for obvious reasons; you wanna know? Go there.) that I realised what it was: a memory, a metaphor for that living past.

What I thought was hidden, isn't. And now it's out there for all to see.

On the relief side, most won't realise what kind of story it is; on the 'oh-shit-I've-said-too-much' side, the theme is in your face.

But I won't delete it, nor will I step back from it, though, for me, the emotional consequences are only now being felt.

What writers learn to do is to put themselves into their stories, whether it is painful or not. The story may be a first draft - they all are - but the fundamentals remain: that authors must put themselves into their work for it to be effective.

I may look at the story again, maybe to put on the new site I'm thinking of; or I might not. Authors are naked beings: what they feel, they are trying to convey to readers, to invoke similar emotions, but sometimes, it's really close to the bone.

What I do know, is that some twenty years later, the memory I thought I'd come to terms with, still lives, still bites, still hurts.

And what shakes me to the core, is wondering what else I haven't truly dealt with. What else is going to come out of my head? I'll never stop writing, that is an impossibility, but sometimes... Do I want to be so naked to the blogsphere?

No. I want to understand myself. I want to write. I don't want to be so exposed to the 'slings and arrows of outrageous contempt'. I don't necessarily require validation for my work; it would be nice, but it's not necessary.

What this has taught me is that I'm not alone. There are many authors who are putting themselves, emotionally, on the line. Most readers miss it, but the more astute... well, they see through the wonderful prose, the innovative ideas, the incredibly crafted characters and intricate plots to discern what is beyond.

I'm not naming names; like I said, writing, to me, is personal, and I'm not doing a dissertation on 'what the author really meant'. I already know; I've been there.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Expanding the world

PBW, that font of all writing knowledge, has a series of three posts on Story-to-Blog. It is not only worth reading, but also considering, as I am.

My stories may not win any prizes... yet... but to set up another linked blog with samples, is certainly a brilliant idea. My closest consideration to doing this was that the posts would be too long, so I junked the idea. The solution, of course, is simple: start a new blog with stories only and link the sucker to this one and that one to this one.

Jeez... If I'm brave enough to post my opinions on all manner of topic, I should be brave enough to put my work out there! And PBW's suggestion is just the focus I need.

People may not read them; or they might... er, will (I've yet to see a blog with zero visitors and zero comments - even mine, heh, heh).

In fact, when trying to think of what to blog tonight, I figured I might post the first sentence of a few of the pieces I've done for the Forward Motion story-a-day marathon.

So... come the weekend, I'll set up another blog with some fiction on it. As someone famously said (so famous, in fact, I have no idea who): You have no right to keep your imagination to yourself.

Ain't that the truth.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lightning, Stripping and the Oirish

Okay, yeah, I know Blogthings can, I suppose, be described as a monumental waste of time... but what the hell...

You Are Lightning

Beautiful yet dangerous
People will stop and watch you when you appear
Even though you're capable of random violence

You are best known for: your power

Your dominant state: performing

And if you have any doubt about the screwiness of the Blogthings quizzes, cop this:

Your Stripper Song Is

Closer by Nine Inch Nails

"You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you, you let me complicate you
Help me I broke apart my insides, help me I?ve got no
Soul to tell"

When you dance, it's a little scary - and a lot sexy.

I'm so proud... But wait; there's more...

You're 50% Irish

You're probably less Irish than you think you are...
But you're still more Irish than most.

And that's probably a good thing: my grandfather was Irish on me Ma's soide; and me great granda was Oirish on me Da's soide.

Ah well, back tuh werk...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Wonders of Blogworld

Blogging is a growing fashion trend; an accessory one must have to impress those without one.

Weblogs reach out beyond national borders to the international community. A well crafted blog educates, entertains and inspires. More and more businesses are entering the blogsphere to tout their wares on a more personal level. There's even a weblog that tracks the most popular blogs at Creative Weblogging, should you want to know what they are.

Average people - read "those not blogging - see blogs as online diaries; yet another arena for the populace to vent their spleen in a public forum. Sure, some are like that, but there is a whole new world exploding in cyberspace should you take the time to look.

Every manner of topic is explored, debated, commented upon. Teenagers chat about... teenage things, militarists talk about actions, present and past, writers explore their own world, there are political blogs, crafting blogs, porno blogs, puzzle blogs, publishing blogs, environmental blogs, space blogs, architectural blogs, numismatist blogs, medical blogs... and so on.

If you want to know something, it's out there; and not just informational web pages. People involved in the industry are blogging, about personal experiences in that industry.

Better yet are the teenagers who've taken to blogging. It's not just the angst-ridden years of hormonal upheaval. What has snuck in is an alternative to the piss-poor spelling and grammar of text messaging on the mobile phone. Finally, teenagers have their own forum to discuss what's bothering them rather than the quick:

WTF? NOYB, YKWYCD! or CUL8R,DV8 or PTMM?EG. Translation? See Webopedia which has a list. It's astonishing that a whole conversation can be had by nonsensical words. Of course, this has, apparently, led to a downturn in spelling and grammar levels. No small wonder.

With weblogs, free and easy to use, kids are now being more careful about language skills; their problems remain the same, but they have a much bigger audience to complain and bitch to; better yet, there's a large pool of people who can help them through the problems simply by posting a comment. Parents need not be aware of their children's woes (good, bad or indifferent your attitude may be to kids hiding stuff from their parents, it happens), but they can get help; or celebrate with similar bloggers - and they could be half a world away.

As a communications tool, it's like the new media in advertising: viral-ads. Everyone has one or more links to other blogs, who have one or more links to other blogs.

In this information age, a rumour, a joke, an ad, an issue, can swing around the world in seconds. There is no faster way to have a casual conversation with a stranger about shared concerns, hobbies or news.

Anyone with internet access can explore the world - and write about it.

It truly is a global village, and it's getting smaller...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fact and Fiction

Once upon a time, in a verdant land riven with strife, a man sat down and wrote an epic tale that has since developed into legend.

Once upon a time, in a land half a world away, a man, driven by the need to succeed, sat and wrote astonishing plays, sonnets and poetry that are still performed today.

Once upon a time, a woman, frustrated by her husband’s… idiosyncrasies, sat and wrote of the monster inside.

And once upon a time, a man, living in a cruel and bitter world, sat down and wrote about what lived in that darkness.

Closer to our time, a man threw in his job with the stock exchange and wrote of fantastic things, never knowing, at the time, what he’d unleashed upon the world.

Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote of Arthur; Shakespeare wrote of love, betrayal, redemption, murder; Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, Bram Stoker wrote Dracula and Jules Verne wrote Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

These five authors are representations of epic fantasy, romance, murder and tragedies, psycho-thrillers, horror and… science fiction.

The most important thing that can be said of these authors is that inspired generations of writers. George Orwell, Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Tolkien, Barbara Cartland, Dornford Yates, Edgar Allan Poe, Georgette Heyer, Dennis Wheatley, Anya Seaton, John Wyndham, Dion Fortune… the list is endless, for these authors inspired the new generations of writers, King, McCaffrey, Norton, White, Roberts, Weber, Hamilton, Laumer…, until here we are, today, with an industry Geoffrey would have goggled at and new authors coming into their own.

Thought, however, is a slowly evolving process. Yes, the first five are very well known, but what of those who immediately came after?

These writers of ‘fantastic’ fiction weren’t taken seriously until much later. Sure, they made a motza, but what use is reading about men going to the moon? Creating monsters? Or what lives in the dark and can feed on you? Or even what value forbidden love might be?

How about the Lunar landing in 1969? Genetic engineering? Spiritualist Churchs? Or breaking down the barriers of race, religion and creed? How about the inventions of the telephone, satellites, vaccines, not being ashamed of who you are, the acceptance of psychic abilities? Okay, the last is still not mainstream thought, but it might be… one day.

What all these writers have in common, whether it is recognised or not, is the progress the human race; they gave rise to curious scientists wondering if it were possible. And those scientists set about making fiction, fact.

The world of fiction has been responsible for an awful lot of inventions we have now. I'm not going to list them, jeez, it would take hours. The world of fiction has also been responsible for a lot bad things, too, and that would take an equal number of hours to list.

What is clear is that fiction has had a major influence in all aspects of life, from science, to medicine, to philosphy, to politcs, to family dynamics and faith. Anyone who denies this, never read a novel. Ever.

There is no end to what the human race can achieve, but the idea comes first.

As long as scientists have the visions of wondering how to create, our future is an exciting place; as long as writers have imagination, those visions can be fulfilled.

What price imagination? Why, anything we want it to be.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Immigration Woes II

Yesterday, I posted on immigration. Some might wonder at my attitude, so I thought I’d give you some examples from my experience as a departmental officer for immigration here in Australia.

The first, most heartbreaking case, was that of an asylum seeker from Bosnia during the conflict there. He did all the right things, applied through our embassy, gave his correct name, address, names of those who could vouch that yes, he was being persecuted. And he waited. And he waited and waited. Soon enough, the embassy sent him confirmation that not only had he been granted refugee status, but he would, in three days time, board a plane that would take him to Australia.

This guy was so happy, so relieved, that he went to church and gave thanks. And that is where he died when the building was mortared by the Serbs.

Second case, a family from Vietnam who paid people smugglers thousands of dollars to see them to Australia. They are immediately incarcerated in a detention centre until their identities and bona fides are confirmed. They had no papers, nothing to tell authorities who they are, but are adamant that if returned, they will be persecuted.

As it turns out, they lied: false names, false addresses, false informants who could testify. What they wanted was a better life; so called ‘economic refugees’. No country accepts economic refugees, it is up to the individual to find a way to improve their own lives, in their own country.

The family appealed, was rejected, appealed again, was rejected, had a final appeal and again were rejected. Then, they went to the media, pleading their case that they were poor, with no hope of ever getting out of poverty if they were returned. That they would be persecuted. The very fact that they went to the media guaranteed Ministerial granting of their application.

Can anyone else see the problems?

If they were so poor, how did they afford the people smuggler? If they were to be persecuted, why not give true names, true information to prove their bona fides? They weren’t poor, or persecuted, the lying fucks. And the Minister’s behaviour was as reprehensible as it was atypical.

How is it that a legitimate refugee dies before he can come here, and liars and cheats are allowed to cue jump and worse, get the Australian people to pay their legal fees at the same time?

Is it any wonder that the overwhelming majority of Australians, no matter what the poll, keep supporting John Howard’s strict immigration policy?

The bleeding hearts would have us close down our detention centres and open our borders. Well, they’re not so pristine themselves.

Every Easter (until this year when Baxter detention centre closed) the great unwashed would head out and protest outside the gates about the treatment of the refugees inside. (See yesterday’s post.) Australia does not detain refugees, it detains illegal entrants and asylum seekers until their statuses are determined.

One particular Easter, the protesters managed to break through the fence and release some of the detainees. There was much cheering and jeering at authorities over this triumph. Some of the protesters smuggled the inmates away.

Fine, the getaway worked. But once it had, the getaway drivers had no idea what to do. Some of the detainees were dropped off at the nearest town, others in the desert, only a handful made it to Adelaide where they were later recaptured. Why? They had no English, no food, no money, no accommodation. Most were damn pleased to be back in detention.

To this day, the behaviour of those protesters and the illegal immigrants/asylum seekers pisses me off. For the protesters, it was a lack of responsibility to those they helped escape, the stupid pricks. For the illegal entrants, if you break our laws, you can expect to be deported. For the so called asylum seekers, there are very few countries to which the Refugee policy can be applied. The Vietnam War is long over; Australia cannot interfere with another nations own policies, like China’s one child policy, so don’t come here expecting to have a passel of kids; as for other wars… well, wars end. If your side won, great, you’re a Displaced Person, not a refugee and you can go home. If your side lost, you’ll probably be granted refugee status.

And that’s the problem. Most asylum seekers are Displaced Persons. The definition of a refugee is someone who cannot return home because they will be persecuted on the grounds of race, religion, politics or creed. A simple definition, but oh, so hard to prove; unless you’re a Caucasian from Zimbabwe, then I think you’re in. Anywhere.

It’s time governments stopped being so bloody politically correct in trying to protect the individual and returned to protecting the country.

In a fight between the rights of an individual to live in peace and the pursuit of happiness without persecution, and the sovereign rights of a nation to secure its borders and its citizens, the nation comes first.

If we are, indeed the global village, then it’s time for the ghetto down the street to clean up its own neighbourhood and stop demanding uptown ‘do something because you owe us’. Bullshit. You want change in your country? You change it. It worked for Corazon Aquino in the Philippines; it worked for the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran; it worked for Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union.

People power. Not whiny, selfish, narrow-minded, offended-at-rejection assholes who think it their right to shift to any country they like. Have the courage of your convictions and help your own people. It’s not up to Western, First World nations to interfere, regardless of what’s happening in Iraq today. It’s up to the citizens.

And it’s time the global village understood and accepted that, instead of giving in to the bloody sensitive flowers who are easily offended.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Immigration Woes

Immigration is firmly on the agendas of nations this week.

The US has announced it will build a three-layer, 370 mile fence, with a further 500 miles of vehicle barriers along it’s 2000 mile shared border with Mexico. President Bush will also send 6000 National Guardsmen to patrol the borders.

In retaliation, Mexico has threatened “it would file lawsuits in U.S. courts if National Guard troops detain migrants on the border and some officials said they fear the crackdown will force illegal crossers into more perilous areas to avoid detection.”

Over in England, Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has suggested that all foreign prisoners be deported no matter what dangers they may face in their home countries. This comes on the heels of a High Court decision to allow nine Afghans asylum seekers to stay until it was safe to return to their country. The nine, who hijacked a plane and brought it to England, in 2000, had their convictions quashed in May 2003 by Appeal judges on a technicality. From the BBC: “The three judges at the Court of Appeal said on Friday a mistake in directing the jury was the only reason the men's appeal had succeeded.”

In France a new immigration law that favours skilled workers over the unskilled has been passed in the lower house. The new law “requires immigrants from outside the European Union to sign a contract, agreeing to learn French and to respect the principles of the French Republic.”

Here, in Australia, any new Papuan asylum seekers will be processed off shore, as per the policy of the Government.

On one side of the argument, these policies are being seen as racist, xenophobic and an attack on people’s human and civil rights. On the other, these policies are being seen as security measures against terrorism, against criminal elements.

Let me be absolutely clear on one thing: asylum seekers are not refugees. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees sets the policy for who is and is not a refugee. Signatory countries apply that policy.

It remains a country’s sovereign right to decide who can and cannot enter the country. Refugee status may be granted, but another country can accept those refugees.

For America, besieged by vitriol and hate from Islamic fundamentalists and imported criminals, building this fence is the best chance they have of stopping the influx of illegals from Mexico. It is too easier a route for terrorists to enter.

For Mexico, they’re gonna have to suck it up and deal with their internal problems that lead to its citizens wanting to cross the border and not blame someone else.

For England, it is as Tony Blair remarked when the judgement on the Afghans was handed down: “an abuse of common sense”. As to deporting foreign nationals when their incarceration expires, is there some reason why a country should keep someone who does not respect that country’s laws?

For France, it is an attempt to lure skilled and professional workers to the country rather than illegal migrants who simply want a better life. France and England have already signed an agreement to stop migrants coming through their respective countries.

For Australia, it’s more of the same. Outrage that the government could be so callous as to refuse entry to asylum seekers and process them off shore. Approval that the Government enforces strict Customs and Border control.

Of course, Australia is a notoriously difficult country to get to. It’s a long way from anywhere, it has vast tracts of empty and dangerous land. Should you manage to get here illegally, you have to contact your particular ethnic community for help. And it is increasingly difficult to get that assistance. Jail terms, expensive fines and deportation are the punishment should you be caught helping illegals.

According to the United Nations, the world-wide movement of people is increasing as drought, famine, civil war or despotic rule, creates abject poverty, starvation, homelessness and hopelessness.

Are these five countries creating Fortress Europe, Fortress America and Fortress Australia or are these measures turning their backs on the humanitarian crises that are unfolding?

Is the answer to simply throw open the borders of countries and let whomever wander through as they please? Some more radical groups want this; are they wrong?

What is the solution to illegal migration? Even if we find it, will we be allowed to implement it given that the ‘politically correct, whiney-assed, new age, touchy-feely’ assholes of the world will cry ‘racism’ instead of ‘sovereignty’.

Egalitarianism is all well and good in theory, but for too long that concept has been abused by those would manipulate the system to their own ends. Action, whether it is right or wrong for lawbreakers, has to happen. From there, the evolution of laws will progress to satisfy not only the governments, but the citizens of the country. Illegal immigrants should not have a say in how or what those laws are.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Interesting articles

Have been posted on Backspace - the Writer's Place.

The first is by Dr Stephen Hendlin, Ph.d., titled: No Success Like Failure. It gives a brief description of why writers sometimes never make it. It makes you think; okay, it made me think.

The second article is by author JA Konrath, he of the Jack Daniels fetish, and is on what you can do to make your book signing an outstanding success, or, as successful as it can be.

Mr Konrath also has an interesting post from Monday that bears reading. FYI, I think the e-mailer was simply looking for an excuse not to succeed - see the first article I mentioned. It's unfortunate that the writer also tried to lay a guilt trip on Mr Konrath, who genuinely tries to help aspiring writers.

As a number of published authors will tell you, take this advice, or not; this may or may not work for you; find what does work for you. Simple. Blaming someone else for your own inadequacies is tacky.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I'd like to say it's half-time at the story-a-day marathon over at Forward Motion and break out the oranges, have the coach present a scathingly brilliant game plan and to nod sagely as if it all made sense, but alas, it doesn't work that way.

Yes, it's fifteen stories down with another sixteen to go, but there is no way-station to rest my weary muse and imagination.

The overwhelming majority of my stories free-writing; that is, I'm not using a generator to give me my characters, where the story takes place, an important item or what must happen in the beginning, middle or end. No. This year, it's all from what surrounds me, what creativeness I can raise from the mundane, and that is hard.

Not impossible - at least, not yet - but difficult. On the plus side, it's a challenge and that's what the marathon is all about: challenging yourself; to try something new, or different, to become a better writer.


The story generators are my back-up, my safety net; so far, I've used them for three stories.

Some of the fifteen bear closer scrutiny; I think I have some gems there for novels, others are... well, shite... but the kernals of ideas remain, one day to be nurtured, watered, weeded and re-written. Or not.

Only sixteen to go... woo-hoo. (Note to self: sarcasm doesn't get the work done.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Deep Breath

This is the title of an Alison Kent I read recently and thought I'd do a review.

Georgia McLain, treasure hunter, is desperate to find the evidence that will exonerate her father in a scandal that saw him sent to, and die, in prison. Harry van Zandt, SG-5 operative is also hunting for the same evidence, but for a different purpose.

When Georgia is blackmailed by a man holding her brother, and others, hostage to team up with Harry to find the evidence, the race to find the treasure begins.

This is the first of Alison's that I've read, and I liked it. For those who like their plots hot and their heroes even hotter, this is the book for you. Harry is a well-rounded,gorgeous alpha male with problems and the beautiful Georgia has her own hang ups. As with most romances, it's about the relationship first and the solution second. Alison weaves a tale of hot sex and wicked deception with a fine hand.

And although I would have liked to have some examples of Georgia's treasure-hunting exploits, the lack doesn't detract from the story. Both characters show grit and determination in seeking out what they both want; but what they need is each other.

The secondary characters are also well-crafted. Finn, Georgia's brother, for example, has been created well enough for his own story. And the villains of the piece, are as sinister and calculating as you'd expect.

A wonderful book, filled with adventure, betrayal and sex. Everything a successful book needs to garner more fans. Alison has created a significant series, and Deep Breath is just one, of hopefully many, produced from her fertile imagination.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Faulty logic

I blog hopped today and found myself over at Holly Lisle's place. She has a link to an ex-Air Force surgeon, Major General Vernon Chong, USAFR, who has written a letter on the war. It's a long rant, so be warned.

I'm going to state up front that one writer's opinion Holly's, will not make me not buy her fiction or read her blog. Every one's entitled to speak up; just don't expect others to agree.

This letter, though... the more I read, the more I thought WTF? This man may be an ex-member of the defence force, but he sure has some faulty logic. For example:

2. Why were we attacked?

Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms.

No, your foreign policy, exploitation of third world countries and refusal to negotiate fairly with the rest of the world, is to blame; nothing else.

...We would of course have no future support from other nations, for fear of reprisals and for the reason that they would see, we are impotent and cannot help them.

I'm astonished at the lack of faith and committment to the US here, and the fact that the general sees the US as 'impotent'. FYI? We can help ourselves, thanks.

...They will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, one at a time. It will be increasingly easier for them. They already hold Spain hostage. It doesn't matter whether it was right or wrong for Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Spain did it because the Muslim terrorists bombed their train and told them to withdraw the troops. Anything else they want Spain to do will be done. Spain is finished.

This is an outrageous statement. Every nation has the right to vote for whomever they wish, just like the US. Muslim nations want to be left alone without the interference of the West. On a business level, they need us as much as we need them. As the for comments about Spain, that is reprehensible. Spain has not given in to the Basque Separatists, nor will they give in to terrorists. Don't blame a nation for one man's decision!

The General goes on to predict France will fall next because it has a population that is 20% muslim. Does the General think that every one of those 20% are radical fundamentalists, dedicated to the downfall of the West, too?

If we can't stop the Muslims, how could anyone else? The sheer bloody arrogance of this statement appalls me. It is not now, nor ever been about stopping the Muslims. It's about treating them with the respect they deserve and an understanding of their faith and they way they do business - which is not the American way.

So, how can we lose the war?

Again, the answer is simple. We can lose the war by "imploding." That is, defeating ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose, and really digging in and lending full support to the war effort. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. If we continue to be divided, there is no way that we can win!

And still, the US fails to recognise the enemy. It is not in a person, people, nation or army; the enemy is in an ideology that the American way is good, right and everyone should be forced into complying. If not, you are the enemy.

This is war! For the duration, we are going to have to give up some of the civil rights we have become accustomed to. We had better be prepared to lose some of our civil rights temporarily or we will most certainly lose all of them permanently.

Given the way Representatives are presenting bill after bill undermining civil and human rights - See Bill Napoli, see the debate on Roe vs Wade - Americans shouldn't worry about giving up civil rights for the duration, they'll be taken away long before this war ever ends.

The letter goes on to complain about the criticism of US forces for prisoner abuse. Suggesting that it's okay because these were the 'same type' of people who tortured civilians for Saddam Hussein. The 'same type'? So, because they were middle-eastern in appearance, they can be tarred with the same brush? Does this mean that America no longer believes in justice? That they no longer need the perpetrators, simply someone who was there? What a mockery! Blame your media, blame the world's media, hell blame those dumb-ass soldiers who did it and took pictures!

And finally, name any Muslim countries throughout the world that allow freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, equal rights for anyone -- let alone everyone, equal status or any status for women, or that have been productive in one single way that contributes to the good of the world.

Islam isn't about materialism. Islam isn't about the mighty dollar or commercialism. Islam is not about a global view. In relation to the above comment, Islam is about living in peace with the neighbours, it's about living within the means produced and the tenets of Mohammad. It's about giving to the poor, embracing difference, supporting the weak and creating community. Sound familiar? Oh, FYI? It was the Muslims who saved art, medicine, agriculture and architecture for the world during the Dark Ages.

Democracies don't have their freedoms taken away from them by some external military force. Instead, they give their freedoms away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece. Maybe the General has an insight into his own country after all.

The General then goes on to compare the US to Rome.

I'm sickened by this self-aggrandizing, ignorant, inflammatory piece of propagandist shit. It's full of half-truths and outright lies, demonizing all Muslims, as the Viet Cong were demonized during that particular war. America lost that one, too.

This kind of bullshit is lethal. Instead of urging Americans to understand, to listen and understand what the other side is saying, it says: "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out." As if dialogue and negotiation is just all too difficult.

You wanna win this war? Then look to your own policies, see how they affect other nations, see how greedy your politicians and business people are in stripping the third world, see how your dealings disadvantage every other nation but your own because you threaten embargoes for non-compliance. And when you see what is truly happening, and why, then, maybe, your government will be ready for peace.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Hah! No, not me, not yet. Thought I'd give a signpost to a brilliant post by PBW. It's all about how writers would write rejection letters. Go. Look. Laugh. And fear not an editors rejection.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Music remembered

I could have written a post about the miners in Tasmania, but I think that's been covered ad nauseum. I could have written about the loss of one of our leading journalist, Richard Carlton, but that's too close since he was an integral part of my degree. All I'll say is that he was a hell of a journalist and in inspiration.

No. I shan't write about those two major events. Instead... something else.

As you know, I'm writing a story a day for the FM marathon. So far, I've beaten my ears senseless with Mike Oldfield, Shawn Colvin, The Pretenders, Fleetwood Mac, Robbie Williams...

Music engenders in the writer, a certain mood conducive to the production of a certin type of story. After eight stories, I could see a similarity appearing that I didn't want, and can edit later.

But tonight, I wanted something different, and boy did I find it!

Rummaging around in the dungeon, I found some music gems I simply had to play again.

First up was Sky. Anyone remember them? I found an album that went even further back: Bo Hansson's Lord of the Rings soundtrack, from, oh, I think it was the seventies. Now I have playing in my ears the most precious gem of all. An album that no matter how long ago I played it - and let's not get into that - each note, each song, each emotion is remembered: Mike Batt's Tarot Suite.

These three albums are absolutely perfect for me to write to. Mike Batt especially because I remember writing some of my first pieces to the soundtrack and those stories had something special; not enough to send out, but... something.

Gosh, what a blast from the past. I'll probably be hunting for my Alan Parson's Project albums next...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Waiting for Manners

My mother has a saying laced with sarcasm: "It's nice to be expected... and not arrive."

I've always loved that, because it's a not-so-subtle dig at other people's... dubious behaviour.

Friday, I spent an hour online waiting for an overseas family member to come online and who failed to do so, even though it was pre-arranged. It's Sunday night, and there is still no word from them, not an e-mail, nor a Skype icon.

It's a special day, today in Denmark for my niece. She's being confirmed (and what's up with that? Is it that until she has a Confirmation, she's nobody?). It's a big deal in Denmark and we wanted to give her a special call from Australia. Not to be. Their computer remained off.

Such behaviour pisses me off, but I'll forgive them because they're family. My brother, he'll have an excuse but I'll know that he's busy, or forgetful, or closer to the truth, that he simply didn't have the heart to tell us that junior didn't want to talk to us. Others, though, are not so fortunate.

My sister, for example, has been trying - subtly - to move her housemate on. The housemate is a woman who complains alot: about El's Paganism, music, food choices, lifestyle choices, every-bloody-thing, yet is happy to pay a pittance as rent. (Hell, I pay more and I'm looking after my aged parent!)

Anyway, a friend of El's came around last weekend and the two got to chatting. While El was sitting not five feet away, A. said to D. "I'm so over living with other people." Bad enough, but what came next was astonishing. She's moving - yay! - to another city - bigger Yay! - and is moving into a flat that has a rent six times what she pays my sister. Concerned, my sister suggested she share the flat, to which A. replied: "Oh, no, I can easily afford it."


It would do me no good to be outraged - my stress levels couldn't take it - this is El's problem, but jeez! What the hell is wrong with people? Where have all the courtesy gone?

To hell with being offended if a man opens the door for me, I say 'thank you' and leave it at that. Men can offer their seat to me, touch the small of my back and guide me through a crowd, pay for dinner and a movie if they've invited me out and I won't get my feminism in a knot; it's simple courtesy.

But women. Watch out for them, for they'll still be smiling when they spit in your eye. Should I have the misfortune of meeting A. again - and yes, I have met her - the cold, arrogant politeness my mother taught me, that I don't get to use very often, will come to the fore.

I'd say A's a bitch, but so's my dog, and Saxon's got better manners.

Common courtesy costs nothing, but gains you much. The next time you open your mouth to say what you really mean, think about the consequences, maybe you'll moderate what you wanted to say and keep a friend; and maybe you're still an unevolved fuck-knuckle who doesn't give a shit.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Language skills

Ah, life with the English language! It can be misinterpreted, misunderstood and misplaced. Here, for your entertainment, are some... shall we say, twisted definitions?

Abdicate: To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
Account: A countess' husband.
Accrue: The people who run a ship.
Acoustic: A stick used to play pool.
Arbitrator: A cook that leaves Arby's to work at McDonald's.
Asset: A little donkey.
Atheism: A non-prophet organization.
Avoidable: What a bullfighter tries to do.
Benign: What you be after you be eight.
Bernadette: The act of torching a mortgage.
Boss: Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.
Burglarize: What a crook sees with.
Cannibal: Someone who is fed up with people.
Classic: A book that people praise, but do not read.
Clothes dryer: An appliance designed to eat socks.
Coffee: A person who is coughed upon.
College: The four-year period when parents are permitted access to the telephone.
Committee: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.
Counterfeiters: Workers who put together kitchen cabinets.
Derange: Where dee buffalo roam.
Divorce: The future tense of marriage.
Eclipse: What an Italian barber does for a living.
Egotist: Someone me-deep in conversation
Feedback: The inevitable result when a baby doesn't appreciate the strained carrots.
Flabbergasted: Appalled over how much weight you have gained.
Flatulence: Emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
Gossip: A person who will never tell a lie if the truth will do more damage.
Grandparents: The people who think your children are wonderful even though they're sure you're not raising them right.
Grocery list: What you spend half-an-hour writing, then forget to take with you to the store.
Handkerchief: Cold storage.
Hangnail: What you hang your coat on.
Heroes: What a guy in a boat does.
Hors d'oeuvres: A sandwich cut into 20 pieces.
Impregnable: A woman whose memory of labour is still vivid.
Independent: How we want our children to be, as long as they do everything we say.
Myth: A female moth.
Negligent: Describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
Normalize: 20-20 vision.
Oily: The opposite of late.
Opportunist: A person who, when they fall into a river, starts taking a bath.
Paradox: Two physicians.
Parasites: What you see from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Pharmacist: A helper on the farm.
Primate: Removing your spouse from in front of the TV.
Professor: Someone who talks in someone else's sleep.
Psychologist: A man who watches everyone else when a beautiful girl enters the room.
Recliner: Mom's nickname for Dad.
Relief: What trees do in the spring.
Rubberneck: What you do to relax your wife.
Seamstress: Describes 250 pounds in a size six.
Secret: Something you tell to one person at a time.
Selfish: What the owner of a seafood store does.
Skeleton: A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.
Subdued: Like, a guy, who like, works on one of those, like, submarines.
Sudafed: Bringing litigation against a government.
Tomorrow: One of the greatest labor-saving devices of today.
Toothache: The pain that drives you to extraction.
Vegetarian: Old Indian word for bad hunter.
Wrinkles: Something other people have. You have character lines.
Yawn: An honest opinion, openly expressed.

I suspect some people, simply don't have enough to do with their lives if they're creating these. Then again that's what writers do: manipulate the language for our entertainment.

And I've got to say, the list is pretty snicker worthy!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's all go here at Casa Del Patrick. Between my day job, the story marathon, vet visits for my arthritic dog and looking after an aged parent, I'm not having a lot of time left to do anything else - like read.

But I no complain. The first is frustrating, the second exciting, the third worrying and the fourth... hmm... interesting. Parents have such wonderful tales to tell about their formative years... They're an inspiration. While I'd like time to squeeze in a book or two, this month that aint gonna be possible.

Oh. Weekends to ask? Well, that's shopping, housework, visit from the sister. All up, I have Sunday morning free and that is for sleeping in or surfin' dem cyberwaves looking for treats. And I'm not a night owl.

Curiously enough, I like it this way. I like order; chaos makes me crazy if there's too much of it.

There is, of course, the occasional day off, but that, too, is planned. Jesus, I can be anal, can't I. Anyway, today I sent off an application to attend the Medieval Feast at Conflux 3. At conventions, they're pretty popular, so I'm hoping to get a ticket. Yep, singular. Just me. And I can misbehave as much as I like, mwahaha!

In the meantime, I have a story to write. I think this time, I'll go the superhero route, with a few detours on the 'super' bit. I'm turning this into a comedy. I fully expect after the story is done, that inspiration will hit for the next story. May is a long month, so the creative juices had better be flowing. I don't want to rely on the story generators, but I will if I have to - they're such fun.

Hmm... what's a good name for a superhero with no idea?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

OZ words

Just like the competition the Washington Post holds, so do we Down Under enjoy a good word game. For these, only one letter is changed. I wonder though, do you have to be an Australian to understand these?

billabonk: to make passionate love beside a waterhole
bludgie: a partner who doesn't work but is kept as a pet.
dodgeridoo: a fake indigenous artefact.
fair drinkum: good quality Aussie wine.
flatypus: a cat which has been run over by a vehicle.
shagman: an unemployed male roaming the Australian bush in search of sexual activity.
yabble: the unintelligible language of Australian freshwater crustaceans.
bushwanker: a pretentious drongo who reckons he's above average when it comes to handling himself in the scrub.
shornbag: a particularly attractive naked sheep.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Off and Running

Over at Forward Motion it's the Story-a-day marathon.

Yep, that's writing a short story every day. For me, anyway. There are four levels to choose from: Apprentice (10 stories), Journeyman (15), Master (20) and Insane (31). I fall into the last category.

Why? Because, on a fundamental level, I cannot resist a challenge and push myself. I also think it has something to do with the structure. You have 31 days to write 31 stories. They can be via a story generator, or not.

Before you think this is easy, think again. When I first decided to do this challenge back in 2003, I'd never written a short story; never thought I could... they were too restrictive. I'd written books. Whole 400+ page books. How could I possibly have a beginning, middle and end in less than ten thousand words? Or five thousand words?

I pushed myself that year. Pushed hard to achieve the covetted gold pip. Not for me the silver or bronze, I went for gold. And did it, too. The stories... well, they need work. Not much, but they do need it. Better yet, they can be edited down for flash fiction, edited for the size they are or expanded to build novels out of.

Since then, I have done the challenge to boost my store of shorties. This gives me a cache to dip into for submissions. I knew one day I'd be ready for that step, and if that day ever came, I'd better have a good store to choose from.

So, I'm off and running. Two stories done. Not the most cheerful creations, but each has a kernal of solid writing, and that's what's important. You can't edit what you haven't written. You can't submit what's not there.

All I have to do now, is think of another twenty-nine stories to write!

Monday, May 01, 2006

They're at it again...

Yep. You'd think that after the debacle of last year's 25th anniversary bash of the Romance Writers of America, they'd become more temperate, if only to spare themselves that kind of public embarrassment ever again. Nope.

The RWA has sent out the ratings for the first round of judging for the RITA awards. Again, they have embroiled themselves in a public conflagration. I just gotta shake my head.

For an explanation and for comments, go Alison Kent's page, or Jamie Sobrato's page since she is the subject of the... er, 'judging'; and for a bitingly witty comment on the whole situation, see the incomparable Paperback Writer and her SOILS (Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene) entry.

My own thoughts, after I stopped rolling my eyes, are these: Women like to read romance, otherwise, it wouldn't be so popular. Now, here comes the tough bit, so prepare yourselves. Believe it or not, sex between two consenting adults... happens. It happens every day, whether the couple is married or not.

The judges, it would seem, don't want any books where it happens outside the alleged 'sanctity' of marriage. Obviously, in the modern era, the twenty-first century, they would prefer to hold on to their puritanical moral rectitude and deny that.

Erotica still doesn't have its own award, yet it's a growing area of romance. If people didn't like reading the stuff, they wouldn't buy it. We have gone beyond what happens behind closed doors, stays there; the readers want to be voyeurs (though I doubt many would admit it), thanks very much. We want the nitty-gritty, though not in stark, mean-spirited euphimisms, but real-life emotions and appropriately named body parts. It's a part of life, damn it - and occasionally, a learning experience. We want steam, we want sex, in our romance and our lives.

There are, of course, books out there that have the fade out as the door to the honeymoon suite closes. Fine. Read them if that's what blows your skirt up. But if this is the kind of book the judges want to see more of, then it is the death knell for romance books as a whole. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle and readers will not forget the sex scenes beautifully crafted by Nora, or Alison Kent, or Maggie Shayne or Christine Feehan or Rebecca York or a squillion other romance writers we've read; we'll simply continue to write our own if need be, and share the books their in.

It would not surprise me if the RWA membership roster started dropping with this latest insult to women and the fiction they read. Hopefully, the public condemnation of the judges, their bias, their prejudice and their rating system, will serve as a wake up call. Otherwise, more and more writers will refuse to enter their books and the RITAs will become an insular, self-serving, body corporate smug-fest, rather than celebrating Women's Fiction.

And FYI? I'm off to Kent up my work. (see Paul Darcy's comment on PBW's site.)