Friday, June 30, 2006

Tragic loss to all

Jim Baen, friend, mentor, colleague, to many sci fi and fantasy author and publisher of many an outstanding tale, has died.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Snarkingly funny

I had all sorts of ideas for todays post, but the satire of the entity known as Auntie Evil Peril was just too good to pass up. Located at Smart Bitches, the post is in reply to the snarkers being snarked by someone who snarked and ran; and by a post by Karen Scott.

Satire, if done well like a recent post by PBW is wickedly funny and sharply pointed.

And while the post makes reference to a number of frequent posters at the Smart Bitches site, it's still enjoyable for the concepts contained. Here, then, is what AEP had to say about the latest down and dirty, blogfightin' bitchslapping fest:

Well damn. And just when the frustration of days of sitting on my hands while muttering the mantra “Leave it alone, do not fan the flames” had finally driven me beyond the point of no return. I was all ready to let caution fly to the winds and post my review of their review site of sites that review this morning. Owing to the tied hands, I had to type it with my nose and everything. Beaucoup snotty.

Then hopefully someone else would have reviewed my review, and that review would have been critiqued on someone else’s blog which could have been snarked by another writer on another forum. This would have been met by a flurry of outrage culminating with a poster who hadn’t read all the comments mistakenly calling the wrong poster a cheap handbag without matching shoes.

Then a group of anonymous writers of Barbara Cartland fanfic would have banded together, formed a blog called “The Vicariously Impulsive Runaway Gypsy Ingenue Nun-brides of Sheikh Rodrigo’s Uber-Snark and colonised the Isle of Wight. V.I.R.G.I.N.S.R.U.S. would have declared a pulchrocracy and given all able-bodied men between the ages of 25 and 45 peerages and six-packs. In the face of this new threat, Beth, Slayer of Foley, would have signed a battlefield truce with the Ladies of Lallybroch and re-enacted Culloden with Gaelic subtitles in Maili’s back garden.

SB Sarah would have kept her top-secret meeting with Mrs. Giggles in a shady bar in South America (Montana? - I don’t think so). As the mysterious “Read Barons”, they’d have taken off from a jungle airstrip in a modified Fokker Dr.I with secret baby wings and launched an aerial bombardment on Avon HQ. Their attack would have been backed up by ground forces made up of ancient half-naked vampire Roman warriors in teeny leather skirts awoken in the nick of time from their enchanted sleep by Snarkling Clean, Dear Author and the Book Bitches.

Meanwhile, resolved to go on the offensive, HQN and Zebra would have formed an uneasy alliance with seven (lookee: mystic number!) e-pubs and spear-headed a subliminal message campaign in ladies’ restrooms all over the world. But one of the editors with an ex to grind would play a double game and so the message, “Fabio is a dream-hunk. You want and need the burning love of DeSalvo” would be recorded backwards over an old copy of “Living on a Prayer” and played in men’s toilets in three American states and Botswana.

In the ensuing chaos, MJD and a team of fellow-authors would have pawned her diamonds in Amsterdam and used it to successfully push through emergency legislation setting out specific IQ requirements and/or other chosen standards for any potential reader. New experimental technology would have developed books that could give any unauthorised reader a graded series of electric shocks for each successive violation, from “frizzy hair” to “(femme) fatale”.

In the interests of literary freedom Candy and Bam would have modified oven gloves and earthing boots for illicit readers and sold them on the black market. Having made their fortunes, Candy would have self-published a series of photographic essays on tinned cat food and Bam would have retired to a secret underground lair built by aliens and grown giant hydroponic watermelons.

And now, my dreams are but ashes. *sniff*. But at least Harriet loves us all.

I've read this a couple of times and the sheer cleverness of it makes me laugh every time. This is true satire, this is what every commentator should aspire to, whether they are snarkers or not.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What hero are you?

Thanks to Gabriele over at The Lost Fort for this:

You scored as Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones is an archaeologist/adventurer with an unquenchable love for danger and excitement. He travels the globe in search of historical relics. He loves travel, excitement, and a good archaeological discovery. He hates Nazis and snakes, perhaps to the same degree. He always brings along his trusty whip and fedora. He's tough, cool, and dedicated. He relies on both brains and brawn to get him out of trouble and into it.

Indiana Jones


Neo, the "One"


Lara Croft


William Wallace




James Bond, Agent 007


The Terminator


Batman, the Dark Knight


Captain Jack Sparrow


The Amazing Spider-Man


El Zorro


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

Who knew that reading all those books on history would result in this?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Animation with soul

Most people fall into one of two categories: those who hate (cannot understand) Anime, and those who love it. I fall into the latter category.

Watching it means thinking on a completely different level. There are no Disney-esque endings or characters for that matter. Anime is more about what isn't said, rather than the western version of handing the viewer everything on a platter. Anime is cartoons with deeper meaning.

One of my first memories is of watching Kimba, The White Lion and Astroboy. Astro was okay, but it was Kimba who caught my imagination - the tragedy of his situation, his aloneness even amongst his friends, his staring up into the clouds to see images of his parents, his loyalty, courage and integrity - it represented what I knew to be true.

Disney, in an act of sheer bastardry sought to put their own spin on it with The Lion King. Sorry, it was not even close to having the depth of character, wisdom and understanding of Kimba. And I really, really hate Disney for doing the movie. They missed the bloody point.

I've yet to see any Anime that is as vacuous, overly moralistic and twee as Disney. Anime has something to say, and it's audience has their ears open.

Sometimes, there is nothing easy about Anime. Neon Genesis Evangelion is as psychologically complex as you could hope (or fear), with it's metaphysical metaphors and esoteric thoughts; how many people understood the underlying concepts? How difficult did the creators make it for the audience to find those concepts? And the symbolism... There is nothing, nothing simplistic about NGE. And that works for other anime as well, even the more light-hearted ones.

Bubblegum Crisis, You're Under Arrest, Burn-Up W, DSA Mezzo, Hellsing, Martian Successor Nadesico... These are some of the series I have, and each have dark, emotional points. Some are psychologically cruel, others leave it to the viewer to interpret whether there is redemption. Almost all of them have thoughtful endings. Not, as in western media, an obvious or stock standard 'happily-ever-after' ending, but endings that make the viewer think deeper on the concepts presented.

And that's what I like about them: they do not spoon feed the audience, but give rise to thoughts when the program has ended.

Now I have Noir that is disturbing on so many levels. Like NGE, I'll have to watch it again to have a better understanding. It's not just the superb artwork in anime I enjoy; Anime is the thinking persons cartoon and thankful I am to those long ago afternoons watching Kimba's struggles, for that one white lion gave me an insight into human nature that all kids could benefit from if allowed to think on it.

Cartoons might be a great babysitter for parents who don't want, or don't care, what their kids are watching; Anime steps up and teaches not only moral lessons, but reflects a more realistic view of what life is about. No pap endings, no cardboard characters, no predictable plot lines.

There is, in Anime, a soul that exposes the ugly and cruel natures of man, but it also exposes what is good and noble in man - exactly what we're all about.

That's what I love about it, and regardless of the strange looks I get, regardless of my paltry efforts to try and explain it to superficially interested people, I'll continue to watch.

All I have to do is decide what next to buy.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

New Story Up

Saints and Sinners is up over at Jaye Patrick's Takeaway; I'm off to watch Noir.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Virus advertising

Heh. A bit of virus advertising: Alison Kent has an interview with J A Konrath. Konrath writes the Jacqueline 'Jack' Daniels thriller series.

I've yet to read one of his books - they seem to be singularly unavailable here - but they sound highly entertaining.

FYI, for those who don't know, 'virus advertising' is the new way of getting products out there using the net. There have been some highly successful campaigns using this method. The plan is to send an advert to people via email. Those people, if the ad is good enough, clever enough or funny enough, will send it on to others. The best part is that it's free for the advertisers, thus saving the budget of companies.

It works for authors, too. It's an evolution of word of mouth. I wouldn't have heard - or read the books of - a number of authors without the 'net, the weblogs I read; nor would I be able to pass those authors on.

Who'd a thunk? Advertising that's cheap, wide-spread and advantageous.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


This morning, the home computer had a hissy fit: failing to boot properly and when it did, the screen shook and it went into sleep mode to reboot again. This does not bode well for the story I'm to post this weekend nor the submission I was going to send off tonight.

Yes, everything is backed up, but without a computer the disk is just another drinks coaster.

I'll have to break out the repair software and hope it works, otherwise, I'll be without a home computer for a week; maybe, it being the end of the financial year, I should consider buying a laptop as my second computer...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Genre splicing

It wasn't too long ago that fantasy achieve it's own genre status. Remember? It was once known as Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Before that, it was simply sci-fi. The same can be said for the romance genre. Everything was chucked under that large, pink-frilled banner.

You can imagine the westerns glaring sideways and spitting into a convenient spittoon while pink-flowered regencies swooned and batted eyelids at the medievals and scottish. The contemporaries would be off to the side chatting with the suspense and in the shadows, over on the left, were the eroticas, slyly commenting on the physiques of the paranormals. Of course, the futuristics would be bored witless with the humours and the historicals would be trying to teach them all a modicum of manners.

It's different now. With so many categories, it's difficult to decide what to read.

Science Fiction has hard sci-fi, space opera and soft sci-fi; fantasy has standard, epic and series. And that's not mentioning science fantasy; a blending of the two... or six. You're average thriller could be a contemporary, or political, or legal or medical or police procedural.

As far as I can tell, only two genres have kept themselves together: westerns and horror - and I'm sure someone will tell me otherwise.

What this means for the writer is that work has to be genre specific, or an editor is going to toss it elsewhere because it doesn't 'fit' what they're looking for.

And you can't say it's a 'humorous geo-sociopolitical romantic suspense thriller set in a medico-legal frontier future, where erotic fantasies are historically based' either to cover your bases.

Somehow, you have to pick one genre to get a look in.

Do you blame anyone? Surely, to the Goddess, there has to be someone to blame for all this? The reader for sticking to what they like? The bookstore for placing the books into categories? The publishers for printing so many different books? The editors for deciding to accept only specific genres? Or even the writers for saying "no, it's not erotica, it's romantica." Eh? It's what? Another genre that doesn't fit anywhere else than in a new one? Or is it simply the evolution of an industry subject to the whims of the Information Age?

For an alleged intelligent, sophisticated society, replete with gadgets ostensibly to save us time, we're sure running around doing a lot of things other than relaxing with a good book. In fact, we're now looking quicker for what we like and we don't have time to browse for that gem. We want our fix. We want to find that fix faster so we can race home to enjoy it before the kids, husband, work, household chores, interfere.

So. We can blame ourselves for not being able to take the time to treasure hunt.

Genre splicing is another aspect of the society we live in; so we can find what we want faster rather than the slow, laborious choosing of something that might be good. We know our authors, we know their books and we know when they're going to be released.

What a nifty time-saving device categorising is. I'm off to read a paranormal romantic suspense now. I found it on the 'net and had it sent to me... to save time.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Feminism in Fiction II

Continuing on. Let’s take the written word.

I’ve read a number of books where the female protagonist has been mighty indeed.

David Weber’s Honor Harrington series is the stand out. Here is a woman who suffered the unwanted attentions of a male colleague and it affected her outlook on herself for many years. Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion was placed in an equally devastating position – that of losing her courage; the same author’s Kylara Vatta lost almost everything, S.L. Viehl’s Stardoc is denied humanity altogether. There isn’t enough room in one post for the all, but I’ll name one more: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is also coming to grips with loss: that of her humanity.

Which of these women do you most identify with? None, some or all of them?

Each has lost a lot All have suffered at the hands of fate. They are not unlikeable though they have traits that are… disturbing. Honor is a killer, Paksenarrion seems shy and confused, Kylara isn’t as devastated by familial loss as she should be, Cherijo’s personality is abrasive, arrogant and Anita is becoming a slut of a sociopath.

What makes them stand out is their foibles, their humanity. They are all well aware of their failings and yet can’t seem to shake them off. Of course, if they did, they’d not be as real. Each woman has an inner core of strength that the people around can’t hope to emulate, and are left only to admire. It makes them different, almost inhuman.

The men are there, oh, yes indeedy, but they are not an integral part of the stories. They have supporting roles; important roles, but supporting nonetheless. The women stand on their own.

What makes these women different is their willingness to sacrifice all for the cause. Honor becomes a mother, and yet is still willing to go out and fight a war even though she knows she might not come back. Anita is willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good; that is, protecting humanity from the creatures of the night, no matter what flavour they are. Cherijo will be a doctor to anyone, friend and enemy alike and will do anything to save a patient, even if it means her capture, mutilation or death.

If you haven’t read any of these, do so. They are terrific examples of heroines in fiction. They also demonstrate that it’s okay to have affection, even love, for a man without losing that which makes them heroic.

The lesson in this? When you are writing a woman protagonist, give her great things, but as always… make her suffer for it. Remember “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. In other words, for every admirable quality you give your characters, give them something opposite: A compassionate killer, a sometimes suicidal doctor, a human vampire killer, a militaristic trader. Then give them a reason not to be that way: love, faith, duty, anything that causes, at the very least, internal conflict.

If you can do that, you’ll crack the code on the perfect protagonist – male or female.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

You know if you're driving too fast when...

Yeah, I'm sure my dog, Saxon, knows how this feels on occasion. But, she's a trooper and I don't usually go the fang as much as I used to - unless I'm late for work (or my idea of late. Goddess knows, I'm there before everyone else).

I got this from Jill Shalvis's site.

Oh, for those who don't know 'fanging', that's the sound the car makes as it goes by if you're standing still on the footpath.

Feminism in Fiction I

I went to a number of panels at Conflux that dealt with the portrayal of women in fiction.

This includes Anime/Manga, novels, movies and television series. One of the best questions asked was who would win a fight: Ace, from Dr Who, Starbuck, from Battlestar Galactica or Rose Porter, also from Dr Who. The winner, hands down, was Ace. Why? Because she took on a Dalek with a baseball bat and won.

Lt. Col. Sam Carter from Stargate SG came in for quite a bit of discussion; she is alternately reviled and admired. She’s a strong woman character who not only has brains, but courage, loyalty and human frailties. It is the affection she has for Jack that causes her to be the object of disgust by some fans of the series.

Aeryn Sun, from Farscape, too, is subject to eye-rolling because of her relationship with Crichton.

There are only two women in popular series who escape this: River from Firefly and, of course, Xena. Although Xena was portrayed as bi-sexual.

Most of the discussions wound around the characters, not the why. People kept coming up with more characters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow, from the same series, Uhura from Star Trek, Captain Janeway… and so on.

I’m going to give you my thoughts on this:

All of these women are strong, powerful, intelligent, loyal, courageous and determined to win. They are also subject to the emotional pull of a man (or a woman) and that, in some fans eyes, diminishes them.

Sam, Aeryn, and River are emotionally close to men; that doesn’t mean they cannot stand on their own though. Hell, River kicked the snot out the Reevers; Aeryn was a Peacekeeper and Sam is still a soldier.

Starbuck drinks, smokes cigars and sleeps with loose men! She’s the best pilot, can take a beating and keep on tickin’. Does this make her any less feminine? I don’t think so: she can match it with men and that, more than anything else, is what the unreconstructed sexists cannot forgive.

Take a close look at the books you love that have a woman protagonist. You’ll find the majority are (at least the ones I read), kick ass women who don’t take any shit from anyone. Even the romances. It’s interesting to note that not many authors will actually have a woman protagonist save her man – it is still the other way around.

Gender issues are still a long way from being equal – even the strongest female protagonist has a man by her side (one might even say they are ready to step in if the woman gets into any trouble).

There is nothing wrong with being emotionally involved with a man; it does not diminish a woman whether it is in fiction or reality. The key is not to fail at that last hurdle; when you are writing your kick ass heroine, remember that she is powerful, and has been strong for three hundred-plus pages.

Don’t have her fail – fail in that she has to be rescued, either physically or emotionally. If that happens, then you’ve failed in your duty as a writer to fulfil the promise at the beginning of the book.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy Birthday to...

ME!!! Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday dear me-ee... Ha-aappee Birthday to me-ee!

Yep, it's that time of the year where, for one day, there is no guilt about what I eat or do. This morning it was Belgian waffles with mandarin slices and Chantilly cream; mmm... delish. Usually, I have pancakes with fruit and yoghurt, but a) I couldn't be bothered making them, and b) the local shop didn't have any either. So it was waffles. So sad, too bad... heh.

The whole idea of birthday's I think is becoming lost. Yes, it's an alleged special day filled with prezzos and good wishes, but the celebrant can feel overwhelmed by the attention, make themselves sick on all the sweet food, and have to be nice to relatives who give gifts but who otherwise wouldn't talk to you in a pink fit.

Let's not forget the cheek tugging ("My, haven't you grown") by corpulent, red-faced aunts, the slaps on the back guarranteed to dislocate a vertebrae or two by robust, pot-bellied uncles who eye you with a gleam in their eyes, the grandparents smelling of lavender or old spice watching with love out of faded eyes.

Then there's the other side. When no one remembers. Eek! Those insidious thoughts appear: why hasn't anyone remembered? Am I that forgettable? Does no one care?

My elder brother has never recovered from turning forty some five years ago; he gets real snarly if you should dare wish him a happy birthday. A present? Only if it is a long held wish or want of his.

My eldest sister has plans to go to Paris for her fiftieth; and so on with my siblings.

I'm thinking, "why wait to go to Paris?" and "Geez, pal, grab the presents and run!"

My birthday is all about me: what I do to celebrate, if I celebrate at all. If others wish to join in, they are welcome, otherwise, I'm gonna choose what I eat today, be it fattening, soaked with cholesterol, terribly good or bad for me. Today, I'll choose what I do... okay... outside of work.

The result of all this is that I have the birthday I want, not what others want for me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Pillow Talk...

or Why is there Sex in My Fantasy." This was one of the panels I went to. Of course, it was a full house.

On the panel were romance writer, Valerie Parv, dark fantasy writer, Stephen Dedman, erotic fiction writer, Elaine Kemp, and chaired by sci-fi writer, Russell Blackford.

The panel didn't, per se, answer the question, but waxed lyrical on the topic of writing sex scenes in general.

The majority of the discussion dealt with so called 'women's fiction' and it's effect on world sales - which is enormous. The 'fantasy' part dealt more with sexual fantasies than the world of fantasy.

No fantasy novels were mentioned, and Valerie read an excerpt from a friend of her's manuscript that sounded to me like it needed a damn good editing! Which just shows that a writer should always read their texts aloud to test for inconsistencies, for readability, and for complexity.

As to why there is an increase of sex in fantasy novels? Well, my humble opinion is that more and more readers expect their fantasy books to be created as close to reality as possible. Yes, magic happens, no, it doesn't need an intensive explanation as to why magic happens. Yes, the plots are brilliant, the characters well-crafted; yes, a writer gets to torture those same characters. But. If you're going to torture them in interesting and creative ways, those incidents have to be written to impart to the reader how, well... torturous the situation is. Equally, if your characters are going through the bad times, the good times have to be written with the same emotional impact; and that means the sex, too.

I don't think it's a societal thing for writers to have their characters engage in intimacy, it's a humanity thing. Everyone gets it on with a partner/s. And in this new century, readers are more discerning, more mature and more willing to accept that that's what happens between to people. They want their fantasies as true to life as possible, even in a fantasy arena.

If you have a male and a female in a story, sexual tension is going to happen. (Yeah, sure, if you're writing gay fiction, male-to-male, female-to-female stuff happens too.) Just because you're writing in a particular genre, doesn't mean intimacy doesn't happen. It does, but writers in the past have glossed the events over. While that has long been acceptable, I think readers want it all now, not the euphamisms, not the closed door or fade out, they want everything.

The most informative comment came from Elaine, the erotic fiction writer, and was the most helpful:

"Books should be written on a one-third/two-third ratio: for every action sentence, write two descriptive sentences while that action is happening." This has, apparently, worked for her, as Ms Kemp has just sold two erotic fiction books to publishers in the U.S.

If sex in fantasy is an inevitability, which I think it is - though only where appropriate, writers are going to have to get used to the idea of creating those scenes.

The best suggestion I've heard to get over the squeamishness and uncomfortableness of writing sex scenes is this: write the most wicked, blatant, full on, sex scene you can think of and repeat writing a variation on the theme until you're comfortable with it.

As a last comment on the topic, one panelist put it this way: "if it doesn't arouse me, it won't arouse the reader."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm baack!

What a weekend! I'm back at work and I'm exhausted. Doesn't feel like I had a long weekend at all; dashing from one panel to the next, getting books signed, chatting to people, all that driving...

The food at the Medieval Feast was delicious; so much so that I'm going to hunt down some of recipes, especially the Hyppocras - that was mmm....

Most of the panels were interesting and informative, but some, like the Choose your Monster, were highjacked by existentialist assholes who discussed 'the monster inside' instead. I don't give a rats bladder if authors are 'expressing their inner demons', that's not what the panel was supposed to be about. The interview with Arthur C. Clarke was equally disappointing: he sounded exactly like he was, old and a bit vague. The best part of that interview was his reply to getting ideas. "I just lie down until they go away."

And if I hear the word 'trope' again, I think I'll have to hurt someone.

I picked up a lot of Australian fiction, in novels, anthologies and magazines, so I'm going to be spending a lot of time reading them - when I'm not watching the anime I also bought.

The international guests were great: Steve Jackson, Joan D. Vinge, Ellen Datlow, Jim Frankel, Jonathon Hardy... I saw 'em all. The Australian guests were equally erudite, Sean Williams, Dan Abnet, Trudi Canavan, Kate Forsyth, Valerie Parv, Lucy Sussex, Queenie Chan, Sean McMullen, Jackie French, Marianne de Pierres...

I'm going to post what happened in some of the panels in later posts. But for now, I need a nap...

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Off to Conflux 3 bright and early tomorrow morning for four days of panels, shows, speeches and general sci-fi/fantasy stuff. Oh, and the Medieval Feast on Saturday night. Woohoo!

I'll be listening on the interviews with Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury; attending panels with Tor editor, Ellen Datlow, listening in on Publishing Myths, Dark Fantasy, Villains and Heroes, Worldbuilding, Choosing Monsters, Blogging and the Spec Fic writer, the State of Sci-Fi and Horror fiction, Sci-Fi Women, Movie Tie in work, Publishing 101, the Best in Anime, Anime in Feminism and lots of other stuff, including a mass signing by various authors.

Entertainment at the Feast is going to be the Sydney Stage Combat School. Of course, then there's a party at the pub.

I figure that by the end of this long weekend I'm going to be toasted, roasted and exhausted.

I am hoping to be able to post while I'm there, but I'm not holding my breath, so I'll just make notes and post next week.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dark Need

The third in Lynn Vieh’s Darkyn series is just as good, if not better, than the previous two.

So hot it’ll make your ears burn with a plot that that is darker than the other two, Dark Need has everthing: murder, action, lust, betrayal, lies, half-truths, and a dynamic ending you should see coming, but don't.

This is my favourite so far.

Detective Samantha Brown is working a homicide case where the ‘murder’ weapon has the name ‘Lucan’ inscribed on the back. In fact, every victim had a connection to Lucan’s Goth nightclub, Infusion.

Lucan, assassin to the Darkyn High Lord, sees in Samantha a woman he once loved and lost centuries ago; he is determined to make Samantha his kyrya, or human wife. She is resistant. When tragedy strikes, Sam is more determined than ever to hunt down the killer and enlists Lucan’s help. The need for vengeance fades away under the primitive attraction and overwhelming lust.

Added to the mix is Lucan’s plan for his arch-enemy, Michael Cyprien, the hero of If Angels Burn, and his sygkenis, Dr Alexandra Keller; then there’s Sam’s stalker who arranged for her near murder some years ago, that left her scarred physically and emotionally.

At first, Lucan is irritatingly arrogant and determined to have Sam, no matter what her feelings on the issue might be. Sam, of course, while attracted, resists him and his alluring powers, but only for a while – it wouldn’t be a romance if they didn’t come together with some explosive passion.

Both are emotionally damaged, almost without hope at ever finding love. It's a long road to redemption for Lucan, he has been shunned by his own kind for centuries. As a hero is nasty, indifferent, selfish, charming, sneaky, clever and determined; Sam is also determined, but she is lost, heroic, confused and guilt-ridden.

I think the only disappointment was the homicide case. The clues led straight to Lucan, and no other suspect was ever contemplated. As a cop, that makes Sam a pretty poor one, even with her 'special' talent. Sure, these books are about the Darkyn, but they're also about those who are drawn into their world.

This story has an excellent end that was foretold in Private Demon. As with all of Lynn’s books, the reader must be aware of the ongoing plot issues that span books to come.

Dark Need, while satisfying in itself, is a harbinger of dangerous times ahead. Now all I need is for Lynn’s publishing company to get the lead out and fast track the next one.

Dark Need, a Signet book, is out today. Go get it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The... other blog

Okey dokey, I've set up another weblog that will contain stories and excerpts from works-in-progress. Nothing today, just an introduction.

Tomorrow, the first story will go up at Jaye Patrick's Takeaway.

The good side is that it will provide me with a forum for the work - I don't expect too many comments, given the plethora of weblogs out there, but if I get one, it will be worthwhile; on the bad side, it's yet another bloody username and password to remember.

I already have four e-mail accounts and a squillion registrations on various sites I visit, now two weblogs. I'm gonna have to keep a book of them all!

I'm going to select an appropriate first story. Probably one that's already been read via the Forward Motion web site, but that's fine. This is for a wider audience.

Friday, June 02, 2006

It's Raining...

Yeah, sure, I know, if you have to talk about the weather, there's nothing going on. But...

It's been raining for most of the week. It's the 2nd of June and my area has already received double the long term monthly average. How much is that? About 60mms or two and half inches - for the whole month; so far, the gauges have filled to 130mm in two days and it is still coming down.

I've worked out that since Monday, when it started, we've had over 173mms of rain or seven inches. A good soaking rain - Autumn has been colder and drier than usual; and there in presents the problem: if you have dry and brittle ground, the water simply runs off without penetrating.

Since it has been raining for so long, the ground has had the opportunity to soak up alot of water; it's taken three days for the local creek to start running, for example. Now, we come to the next height in the raised stakes. If we have too much water, we are gonna flood.

I live in a coastal community, but the creeks in the surrounding areas, are behind all the houses. Oh, and in building some of those houses, the natural drainage channels were diverted away from the new houses near the main creek and toward the old ones nearer the coast.

I can't tell you how pissed off I am about that, because a lot of that water comes through my backyard. I have an irrigation pipe through the back and a small drain that is usually good enough. Since the local council approved a drain out the front that doesn't meet flood standards, and had the water channel diverted, if the street drain blocks up with debris, our back drain fills up and overflows. It's right outside the back door - no steps, just the door.

About the same time last year, we had an astonishing storm that dumped buckets of rain. It was too much for the drains and we ended up with the bottom story flooded. Complaints to the Council have resulted in buck passing.

Sure, it was a 'once in a century' event, but, damn it, it happened and I want it fixed in case another one happens (as events like this usually do regardless of 'expert advice').

For now, the drains are holding, the creeks are holding and it's still bloody raining! Of course such extremes always brings Dorothy McKellar's quintessential Australian poem to mind; in particular:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It is... done.

The Forward Motion marathon... she is done and now I have another thirty-one short stories to add to my cache. This is the fourth year I've done this particular marathon and I can see improvements in my writing.

I have a bundle of a little over a dozen stories that can either be expanded into novels, or cleaned up for market. The others, well, they will sit for a while and meditate on what's wrong with them. Once they know, they'll let me know, and I can work on improving them.

And there is the attached weblog I'm planning on setting up this weekend for show and tell (still gotta think of a snappy name for it).

In the meantime, I'm going to kick back and read a book or two, or maybe three...