Sunday, July 30, 2006


Over at Paperback Writer Lynn Viehl has been hosting Virtual Workshops (and mag giveaways!) for aspiring writers.

Today's missive is on increasing your range as a writer. An excellent post, filled with ideas and concepts you might like to try. It certainly rang familiar with me.

It brought to mind that I'm not a one genre writer. I started with a romance - a bad one, thought not, perhaps, destined for the deep, fiery pit of oblivion. From there, I went to science fiction, science fantasy, romantic suspense, dark fantasy and back to science fiction.

No genre is beyond me. Why? Because as a kid a lived in a house filled with books. It wasn't uncommon to see one or all of eight of us sitting around reading. When we didn't know what a word meant, the catch-cry was "Look it up!". Yeah, we had two sets of encyclopedia and a dozen different dictionaries and thesaurus. There was always a source.

My parents read everything. Morning newspapers, magazines, and more genres than you can poke a Whippy stick at: westerns, romance, thrillers, mainstream, biographies, horror, kids books, adventure, humour, classics, the list goes on.

Our shelves were crammed with Zane Grey, John Buchan, Barbara Cartland (eek!), Georgette Heyer, Geoffrey Farnol, Leslie Charteris, L.M. Montgomery, J.D. Macdonnell, Louis L'Amour, Shakespeare, Shelley, Keats, Austen, Chaucer, Trevanian, P.G. Wodehouse, Ogden Nash, Heinlein, Welles, Verne, Oscar Wilde, A.A. Milne...

Of course, I didn't find their issue of the Karma Sutra until I was about sixteen and I thought: My God! No wonder they've got six kids!

I've always been a writer. I told stories to my youngest sister from age six, wrote my first complete story at age eleven (James Bondish, no less, though I'd never read Ian Fleming at that stage) and continued to write fiction even as a journalist. At no time did I give up reading, or writing. Fiction-wise, a complete novel didn't turn up until I was in my thirties, when I made time to write.

The stories never leave me; they are lurking in the shadows, awaiting a time I'll notice them.

Today, being a writer was brought home to me by my eldest sister. I was trying to explain one of the workshops PBW had on concepts and expressing a 200k book in 25 words or less. She waxed lyrical on the topic, then stopped, looked at me and shrugged.

"What do I know about concepts? I'm not a writer." She's right: she's not a writer, but she is an artist, a painter. A brilliant one if she took the time to put brush to canvas.

Maybe the difference was she looked at the pictures, studied them, absorbed the nuances, while I looked at the words and studied them, researched the meanings and understood a different concept.

Writing, to me, is a joy; not simply an expression of an idea. As long as I live, I will always be a writer. It's a part of me that won't die, even when I ignored it. It lives inside me, as much as an accountant dreams of numbers, or a scientist is enamoured by the need to know or an engineer needs to build.

It's nice to know there are other people out there with the same 'affliction'.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Die, -cal, die!

Nitpickery strikes again! Or, better put: Another of my bugbears!

As I've said, writers take responsibility for the English language and it's use - or abuse. Laziness is no excuse. Our job is tough enough without lackadaisacal attitudes towards the language we love.

I read the August edition of Writers Digest yesterday and was astonished to see the word grammatical. "What's wrong with that?" I hear you ask. Well, it's not really a word. It is a part of the group that 'ironical' belongs; another non-word.

Is there something wrong with grammatic or ironic? Or is the use of -cal simply idiosyncratic to American grammar?

I don't actually know. As I said in my last post, the English language evolves and it's a King Canute job to stop it. Nor should it remain static. If it had, we'd be speaking an ancient form of English that bears little to what it is today.

Then why point out these small, harmless breaches? Personal preference and a joy of the language I speak. Both words aren't used that much, but as an editor and a writer, the business is in the small stuff.

English, as almost any foreign language speaker will tell you, isn't the most lyrical of languages. It's complex - but not as difficult as Asian languages - it's colloquial - Australian, English, American, South African, New Zealand English all have dialects and accents. It's diverse and prone to diaspora.

One day, each of the countries above will determine that they speak English, and yet it will be like a foreign language to the others. Nothing will be able to stop it. Then again, we all may speak a langauge similar to that of Blade Runner.

I don't like the use of 'ironical' or 'grammatical'. To me, they are an error, disrupt the flow of words and, as an editor, I plan to cross '-cal' out wherever I feel it appropriate. If that makes me old-fashioned, so be it.

I'm an Oxford Dictionary woman. I'll use Macquarie for Aussie authors and Websters for Americans, but if I can get away with it, other tiny, harmless 'errors' will be snuffed out - hopefully, like the abuse of '-cal'. Because one small breach can lead to dam-busting. So I'll stick my finger in the hole for a while.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Grammar... again

Chip-spitting again; and I'm sure I've mentioned this before.

I've been trawling the various e-zines looking for a home for some of my list of short stories. At the websites, there are examples of shorts on offer, just so you can see what type of stories they're looking for.

It is, of course, a little distracting: some of those stories are, well, wow! And I, like any other reader, get involved with interesting reads. Can my work compete? Yes. So, what's my chip-spit?

Then/than. Two simple words that can get me hot under the collar.

Yes, gentle reader, a published work use 'then', when 'than' was the correct word. "Rather then do it..."

Let me clarify: 'then' means 'at that time' or 'next'. Go over to for a nice list of uses for the word as an adverb, noun, adjective or as an idiom.

The appropriate word here is 'than'. It's a conjunction, a qualifier, used for unequal comparison. Faster than..., better than..., worse than..., more than... See the difference?

We learn our first language from our parents, siblings, from family. How they express themselves when we are learning language skills affects how we are able to communicate later in life.

I imagine accents have more to do with idiosyncratic dialects than formal language lessons. This is how colloquialisms arise - in any language set, but especially English; it's a constantly evolving language.

If it is evolving, why am I being so pedantic about then/than? Because the words aren't interchangeable. It makes me shudder to think that such abuse of a perfectly good word should become de rigueur because writers couldn't be bothered to check their own work, to research appropriate use of a word. Worse, editors don't fix the error either. And, unfortunately, I'm seeing more and more of this same abuse.

And for those of you who argue that that's the way you've always done it, that doesn't make it right, okay? Do not trust your spellchecker, read your work with red pen in hand, and stop sneering at the other authors who use 'than' and not 'then'; they are right, and you are wrong. Get over it and move on to the correct way to use the English language.

Remember: writers aren't simply expressing an imagination; writers are teachers, too. Teaching those who read their works how to construct a sentence, a paragraph, a scene, a chapter, a whole book. Teaching those who read their works all about how to murder someone and get away with it, how to make love, to fly - atmospheric or in space, how to plant a garden, how to sculpt, to argue, how to have relationships, how to be an enemy, to drive a race car. There is no end to what a writer can teach.

And that includes bad language skills. Take pride in your work, damn it, and get it right! If in doubt, look it up!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Treasure Hunts

Not your average every day giveaway. Over at Alison Kent's site, you have to go hunting if you want to have a chance at winning one of Alison's books.

It's the week of the Romance Writers of America's National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Lots of people are going - lots of people are not.

For those writers who aren't attending, your attention is drawn to an online workshop courtesy of PBW... again. Go on over and do some learnin'. For those who are already in the know, you can still mine the information for what you need.

Elsewhere, romance authors are packing up and heading off. One interesting feature of the convention is the 450 authors who are signing books for charity. The 'Readers for Life' Literacy Autographing aims to raise $US450,000 for literacy programs.

If you've got the books, they've got the authors: from Shana Abe to Rebecca York and the 448 authors in between. Go to the site to check out where, when and who.

Should be interesting, given the disaster last year was...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New toy

Yep. I've got a new toy. I'm no Luddite, but I am a little slow in picking up new technology (must have something to do with the expense).

A Jump drive. Sometimes known as a stick, thumb, 'store 'n' go' and a number of other, drive.

At 256mb, it's not the biggest portable drive, but who the hell needs gigabytes? I've downloaded ten books and four years worth of story-a-day marathons on it and I've still only used a quarter of this mighty drive. Heh.

Why have I purchased such a thing? Because sometimes, my day at the office has no work and I must look busy. What better way than to look absolutely focused and busy as editing various works-in-progress?

Yes, it's cheating. Yes, I'm getting paid to do a particular job. Yes, most employers would be pissy about it (but only if I get caught). Yes, it's morally reprehensible for me to do my own work and get the government to pay for it when so many others are so needy. I've heard it all before and agree.

Or I once would have. That avenue leads to stress and I've had enough of that. I'm not going to badger people for work until I'm weighted down with new duties. I've been there and done that too.

I am a minion now. And they (the government) needed someone to fill in the gaps of duties. I do that. They just didn't reckon on getteng someone who would do the work quickly and efficiently. Blah, enough of that.

I'm going to take my work to work and still be there when required. My writing is important and I'm tired of coming home too tired to do it, so I'll take it with me.

High dudgeon, high horse, justifying myself indeed.

Must be a hangover from the face ache of yesterday.

Today, not so much sheer, bloody agony from the tooth. (It must have heard my conversation with the dentist on extraction and decided to behave.) A good dose of hypocras helped, too - it has cloves in it. Let's hear it for ancient remedies!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Not a lot of extra news around the place, what with the Israelis and Hezbollah trying to show each other who has the biggest penis, and I don't feel much like hunting stuff down.

I'm tired of the rain - it means hucking the leaves out the drainage system the Council says is fine - and I've got a wicked toothache that won't be fixed until next week.

Needless to say, I feel like locking myself in my room with a good book/dvd, a giant bottle of painkillers and having an industrial sized mope. Can't though. Gotta werk so I can afford the dentist. Blech...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Going to Market

I have a reasonable selection of short stories and novels I've written.

On the advice of an editor, I took myself off to the markets. You know the one: it's down on main street and it's called Ralan's Webstravaganza. It's wonderful. Full of noisy marketeers and hawkers and entertainers and grifters, resplendent with the gawdy and the beautifully coloured tents, with people presenting their wares, some tacky, some funny, some long, some short, some flash and some immaculately crafted as to have stall holders falling over themselves to have.

For me, a newbie, this market is confusing, astonishing and awe-inspiring. I feel like a country bumpkin come to town. I've waded my way through less than half the market, peeking into anthologies, e-zines, podcasts, and book publishers and I still don't know where I am or what I'm doing.

I'm trying to look at my own wares to sell and wonder which market goes with which product; whether my work is good enough, original enough, well-crafted enough. I'm expecting some outright 'no's', some curious looks, some interest, some blankness and, hopefully, some smiles and welcomes.

Here, in my own little world, it's safe, with no pickpockets, no glares, no nasty comments, but it's also familiar. Out there, in the market, there's a whole lot to see and do and buy and experience and, ultimately, learn.

So far, I've taken baby steps on this journey to this new and magical market place. Now, it's time to explore.

I'm determined to be accepted here, find my own niches and expand my horizons. It's going to be tough, but I think I'm ready for this. Who knows? You may see my work coming to an anthology, e-zine, podcast or bookstore near you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What the F...?

I'm amazed, nay, gobsmacked at the depths some District Attorneys will stoop.

If the shit falling from a great height over FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina wasn't bad enough, there is this and, just to confirm - though the BBC is a well-respected organistion - there is this.

For four days FEMA screwed around, 'umm-ed' and 'ahh-ed' and made excuses about what to do in the aftermath of this mighty storm. People, as we saw on the television, were left to fend for themselves; to find food and clean water as they could, most stole it.

Doctor Pou, and others, did the best they could under atrocious conditions, especially when the power went out. What do you do with the critically ill/injured who can't be moved, but the water's rising? Do you allow those patients to drown slowly, simply because some asshole in charge - who wasn't there and remains safe hundreds of miles away - believes all life is sacred and no situation warrants an easy death? Or do you make the tough decision based on what you know, at that time?

Hindsight has 20-20 vision, and all the armchair critics have come out to play: "They should have done this, or they should have done that." But they weren't there, didn't go through the disaster that was Katrina.

All the good works of those doctors and nurses who didn't abandon the patients will now be ignored, invisible against the wrath of a state government hunting for scapegoats.

I have no doubt that in the days ahead, someone is going to come out and say: "See, even while the city suffered, we still managed to maintain some sort of law and order and those who committed crimes will be punished."

Are they going to go after those people who had to, gasp, steal food and clean water to survive? Have they prosecuted the rapists of Superdome yet? The child molesters? The looters?

Well, FUCK THAT! Prosecute FEMA for gross incompetence leading to the deaths of hundreds, prosecute those responsible for the non-maintenance of the Levies, prosecute the President who did Fuck All while patting FEMA on the back for doing a good job, for knowing they were doing nothing, for refusing immediate international help.

Doctors make difficult decisions every, single day - in normal weather; what moral horror did they go through knowing their patients were going to die slowly, painfully, in the humid heat, without relief, because of incompetence and indifference?

The affidavit posted on the CBS site makes for some dry reading. Taken as it is, it's damning; there is no mention of the electricity going out, the lack of staff, the rising water and temperatures, the conditions of the patients, the stench of death, fetid water, spoiling food, unwashed bodies, of desperation. Nope. Just the facts.

I really hope sanity prevails in this case, but I have my doubts given the glee with which the charges were laid. Someone, apparently, has to be responsible, and it looks like it will be the doctor and nurses.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Same ol', same ol'

On the heels of Alison Kent's questions about preternatural romantic fiction, comes another blast for... historical fiction.

Over at Vanessa Jaye's weblog, she has posted a diatribe on the subject. Though long-winded, it makes for interesting reading.

It kind of makes you wonder what is happening in the world of publishing when favoured genres are beginning to suffer from blandness. Is it the authors, lacking in creative juice? Is it the editors, who are unable to find the true gems? Or is it the publishers who are trying to squeeze as much profit out of concepts that work; a kind of production line of similar products?

Stephen King once wrote that he wasn't going to write horror anymore because it was too hard to scare people. As a master of the genre, he would know. He also wrote that if his stories didn't scare him, they were unlikely to scare anyone else.

I don't read horror, but his comments are still relevant. If an author doesn't feel the pain of heartbreak, what's the point? If an historical romance is historically inaccurate, what's the point? If there are too many cliches why was it published. If tired subplots are being used ad nauseum why would a reader bother? They wouldn't, obviously.

It goes to the paranormals, too. Vampires aren't people, they are not funny, so why write as if they were?

Regency, Medieval, Vikings, Scottish subgenres cannot be politically correct, filled with sex, giggling females, or manners that don't match the time period. Similarly, writing the same book over and over again with a change in names is just as bad and treats the reader with contempt.

While it is true there are some wonderful period romances out there, they are becoming harder and harder to find; the weight of formula books is crushing the life out of them.

An author's greatest crime is to cheat a reader of the promise; the promise of a great book, filled with romance, history, characters the reader can love and return to. Perhaps those formula authors should get back in touch with what obsessed them about writing, re-ignite the passion for the work rather than writing stock standard books.

When it comes to writing, money ain't everything - it's the work that's important. An author should be able to revisit a book written twenty years ago and still be proud of it.

Are you proud of your work? Does it still affect you as much now as it did when writing it?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Story time

A new story, Crown Imperial, is up over at Jaye Patrick's Takeaway. It's a little bit longer, but I'm considering developing this one into a book.

End of the Vampire

Over at Alison Kent’s blog, the question of vampire fiction has been raised and whether its’ time has come, and why there aren’t more darker vamp fiction. Vampires, after all, are ostensibly, evil, blood-sucking creatures who will steal your soul. So why are so many preternatural books written in a light, humorous manner?

Sure, we have Laurel K. Hamilton (and look what happened there), JR Ward and Lynn Viehl, but dark fantasy are few and far between.

You could look at it purely from a surface perspective: people like to be amused, and will support the ‘under-dog’ against perceived corrupt authority. Add that to the enormous market of romance and if your book is well written, it will be a seller.

That’s the simple explanation. But there is a more complex one: That of sociology.

Jim Lee, he of Marvel Comics fame, once said that the X-Men were a conglomerate of marginalised minorities; those who were different in a world of established mores. When you have a society that dictates what is acceptable, the unacceptable is reviled and discriminated against, no matter how powerful they may be as individuals.

Bram Stoker created his Dracule as an evil creature, bent on the destruction of human souls – look no closer than the Bible for that metaphor. The vampire represented the corruption of all that is good, the physical embodiment of a satanic minion.

The vampire is seduction, temptation, sensuous pleasure – and we all know that the biblical result of succumbing to that is the loss of soul, the loss of ascending to heaven, because the victim has indulged in a selfish need. The sin of Lust – and, hell, far be it for anyone to have lustful thoughts!

Within romantic fiction, without lust, there is nothing; without conflict in a novel or a worthy hero, a plot that grabs your attention, a villain you hate, there is Holly Lisle’s How To Write Suckitudinous Fiction. What a lot of readers love is the Bad Boy. Oh, yeah. The guy who we know we shouldn’t go near – he’ll break your heart, he’ll destroy your reputation, he’ll make you an outcast in your close knit community, he is baaad for you; but, he makes you feel oh, so wicked - again, indulging in lust, and if your lucky, greed.

And who is the ultimate Bad Boy – or Girl? Why, something that may kill you for sport, something that will live much, much longer than you – sin of envy here – something that takes you out of your comfort zone, rings your bells with one look, is stronger than you, faster than you, challenges you and all your prejudices. That is something worth reading about.

The vampire, or shapeshifter or whatever has been previously represented as inherently ‘evil’ tempts us as nothing else can. We want to experience what it would be like and then return to our normal, safe lives. And that’s why preternatural fiction is so popular.

Breaking down the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ is easy, especially if you’re looking for the deep, inner meaning of the genre as a whole: we all want a happy ending.

Is it on a downward slide? Yes, I think so, but I also doubt it will go away. The same was said of historic and regency fiction, yet both sub-genres are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, thanks to the brilliance and professionalism of a few select authors.

Preternatural fiction is here to stay. It will evolve and go on – there are too many fans out there for it not to. And I, for one am glad.

The more humorous stories may decline in favour of more dynamic and dangerous fantasy, and that can only be a plus. For that, we have the three authors I mentioned to thank.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

First Class Disaster

My youngest sister and her kids came to visit today and S. asked me about my writing - as she is wont to do. I told her about my list of short stories and my rejections, but she was more interested in any more books I'd written.

It's nice to get support from family, but she's only read one. One she thought was great and had been written, oh, some ... years ago.

She wanted to buy it, but I had to refuse, because of copyright issues.

Why did S. want to buy it? So she could put more (actually, some) sex into it.

I also refused for another reason. It was my first - sigh. Yep. The very first book I finished writing from beginning to end.

I can remember being so damned chuffed. I had tried for years to write a book and mostly managed only halfway before I chucked it in.

A year overseas taught me many things, but I came back, sat down with a glass of chateau del cardboard and wrote; for three weeks of ten hour days and bashed at the keyboard to create a story of love, adventure, danger and romance.

And it sucked. Majorly. In a huge way. Gobsmackingly sucked like a vacuum cleaner.

Aww... It did, really. I sent it to my romance writing teacher, all filled with smug and achievement and she sent it back with... disappointment. Oh, she was polite, but she sent her reply via an audio tape and I could hear it in her voice. I still have that tape, but I've never heard it all the way through; I've never re-read the book, nor have I re-written any part.

First books are, by their very nature, awful; and anyone who says not is a liar. I'm not talking about first books published: Maggie Shayne wrote eight before publishing, S.L. Viehl wrote some thirty, even Nora Roberts is embarrassed about her first book.

But first books have something about them that can never be re-visited: they are, for the above writers, First Class Disasters.

What does that mean? That those authors never gave up, that they saw, within the cliches, the stilted dialogue, the exaggerated heroes and heroines, the kernals of talent on which to build. They understood that writing is an ongoing learning process, that to succeed you must learn to fail. And know that it's okay to do so.

My first book taught me these things. It taught me an even more valuable lesson: that I can write a book of two hundred pages. Since then, I've written nine more, including a trilogy done in six weeks and together makes up nigh on a thousand pages.

With each book I learned to craft the story, the characters, the dialogue, the world building better, more creatively.

What do you now think of your First Class Disaster?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Globalism of another colour

I found the author Dan Simmons site via a brief comment Holly Lisle posted on her own site.

And yes, I've apparently come late to the party. The, er... piece that Dan wrote was posted back in April and the following letter makes some, um, statements of a most informative and perhaps inflammatory nature; certainly, it makes for interesting and disturbing reading. The vision of the future is at once depressing and outrageous, but how far from the truth is it?

What caught my attention was this: “How, we wonder in my time,” he said softly, “can you ignore the better part of a billion people who say aloud that they are willing to kill your children... or condone and celebrate the killing of them?" and this: ...with your love of your own exalted sensibilities and your willingness to enter into a global war for civilizational survival even while you are too timid, too fearful... too decent... to match the ruthlessness of your enemies.

Everyone, deep in their hearts, have a fear of another world war, and yet it seems we have been fighting one for some time. The only difference is that the media has become more focused on it - and are reporting from the wrong angle.

The outrage of kidnapped Israeli soldiers by known terrorist groups; the shock of over two hundred Indians dead in the train bombings; the twisting anger as more and more troops are killed by 'Improvised Explosive Devices' rather than direct fire; the disgust at the murder of innocent Iraqis simply because they don't worship Mohammad the way another group does, the list goes on and on; And then there are the anniversaries of terror: London, Madrid and New York.

Obviously, the violence is escalating with no resolution in sight. The West continues to apply western philosophy to an Middle-Eastern problem, the United Nations continues to descend into ineffectualism and fundamental radicals are becoming more fanatic in their gleeful efforts to destroy western interests.

The problem is, and has always been, religion. Ever since the first man said to his neighbour, "my God is more powerful than yours and I'll prove it by killing in his name", the world has seen more deaths to worship than anything else put together. The Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Burning Times, World War II, the Cold War, the eras of persecutions of Jews, Christians, Indigenous populations, and the list goes on throughout history.

What they all have in common is ruthlessness and the ideology that 'God is on my side, so I must be right'. What the perpetrators fail to see is that it is really, "I am right and if you disagree I will kill you." God, of whatever flavour, has nothing to do with it.

Worse, in all the pre-eminent religions of the world, are the lies perpetrated to maintain or create the myth of rectitude. The Bible has been rewritten many times to reflect current desires, and it was translated from ancient texts; who knows what the original said? Especially in light of the Book of Judas being found and disregarded, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, of which parts have been translated and suppressed by the church as blasphemous.

The Koran too has been twisted to suit modern needs. A Jihad, for example, could only be called by all the Imams and only to protect the Holy city. Now, that term has been hijacked to serve the purposes of any Imam who's pride has been offended.

The sad fact is that no one can criticise another's religion without the wrath of fundamental belief falling upon them by the 'righteous'.

All organised religion is, these days, is an interpretation of sacred texts designed to protect and legitimise those in power. Nothing more, except that 'grass roots' soldiers are willing to die to protect those assholes because that's what they've been taught. 'Holy Father'? 'Inshallah'?

We need to relearn the lesson that appeasement doesn't work, nor does moral outrage, or United Nations hand-wringing. Statements like various Governments condemning the bombing, the violence, the murder, the kidnapping... do nothing. They are merely words without force, without effect and without hope. They are lipservice to soothe the masses whose only job is to smugly portray themselves as fine, upstanding, moral and civilised global citizens, pooh-poohing their aggressive heathen neighbours.

Does anyone look at their religion and question it any more? See what is wrong with it and argue? It doesn't look like it and the tragedy is that lack of interest is going to kill millions because we failed to learn from history.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


It works on the subconscious, I'm sure. Rejections, the good and the bad. I've been lucky, I've had some terrific rejections (is that an oxymoron or what?).

Two more turned up from Shadowed Realms, an online flash-fiction e-zine that deals with the darker side of life and people.

The editor, Angela Challis, was kind enough to give me pointers and advice on how to improve my writing. That, of course, will always take away the sting of being rejected, especially when the letter includes advice to send the two stories to overseas markets.


I have a confession to make.

The kind of 'dark' fiction the magazine is hunting for isn't my genre. I get that now. When I wrote the two pieces, I was sure it was just right. It was the mood I was in. If I'd looked closer, neither story had that... emotional bite. That sudden, dramatic, breath-taking moment required.

That is not to say either story is bad, just wrong for that particular market. The confession part is that I knew they weren't right - at least on a subconscious level - and I sent them anyway.

I think there is something comforting in sending work to home-grown markets first. You know, it's better to be rejected by the familiar than a big, bad, bruising stranger of an overseas market. Of course, that could simply be a figment of my imagination - or a hierarchical perspective of the publishing industry, both here and overseas.

Actually, I'm pretty sure it's because Angela sent a kind and helpful letter, where an overseas publisher simply said, "Nuh, not our thing." They were more polite... okay, it was 'not a good fit for our anthology'.

The upshot is that I didn't focus on what was required enough; and I should have. Although why I've been submitting to such markets when I know damn well it's not my genre, I have no idea.

The best thing I can do now, is thank Angela for her time and effort and search out more appropriate markets for my work.

Well now...

Being pagan, this sort of thing appeals to me. Of course, items like this - I'm sure - are designed to make a person feel smug. I do and I doubt there's a bad thing in the Celtic Horoscope that would come up. It's all about balance, with each other, with the world, with nature.

You Are A Fig Tree

You are very independent and strong minded.
A hard worker when you want to be, you play hard too.
You are honest and loyal. You hate contradiction or arguments.
You love life, and you live for your friends, children, and animals.
A great sense of humor, artistic talent, and intelligence are all gifts you possess.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You know you're being pretentious when...

My mother recently told me a story of her childhood in pre-WWII England. She mentioned her friend Maggie who worked in an Antiquarian Bookstore in London and although Maggie didn't last long (she knew nothing about old books), she was delighted with the couple of old men who would frequent the store and tell each other jokes... in Latin.

They'd roar with laughter, explain the joke to Maggie and be on their way. Maggie, of course, wouldn't get the joke because it had to be told in Latin to be effective.

While amusing, it's pretentious to do such a thing, but I found myself doing something similar down at the cop shop.

There, on the wall, is a large display of emergency services badges from all over the world. It's an impressive collection and it took me some time to read through the various police, ambulance, fire and protective services crests.

One caught my attention, especially the motto. The Western Australia Police Negotiator badge. It's motto? Cacoethes Loquendi.

And what does it mean?

Well, given that Cacoethes Scribendi (Roman satirist, Juvenal) means "an incurable itch for scribbling", the motto surely means "an incurable itch for talking".

Is this pretentious or an in-joke because not many people speak latin any more? (Actually, the 'pretentiousness' comes about because, damn it, I couldn't keep my mouth shut and had to share the mirth - well, hey, it's a good in joke! Not surprisingly, my colleagues at work didn't get it. Sigh.)

I wonder how many other mottos, of companies, of families, of organisations have hidden messages and sly comments?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Snicker worthy

I'm a little late to this party, but it's still worthwhile. Go to POD-dy Mouth for a run down of random notes to authors.

It is definitely snicker worthy and a reminder to writers to check their work.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Don't you just want to run away?

Work and family can, and is, such a chore sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, I love my family, nuts, assholes and all, but sometimes, I want them to leave me alone to get on with my own life. Work is... work.

Yesterday, I was having coffee with my mother, awaiting the arrival of my eldest sister when one of my uncles and his wife stopped by the cafe table. This is a man whom I haven't seen since my father's funeral sixteen years ago and have had no contact with. It was as if because my mother married into the family, once my father was gone, their obligation was over.

Now, he was all 'hail fellow, well met'. I actually thought, 'oh, shit, it's Uncle D'. The same thought I'd had as a kid because he was such an asshole. His wife, my aunt, is a much better person and I think it has been her influence that has turned his head around. Okay, that and the death of another brother two years ago.

The third fourth brother, B., didn't talk to D. for six months over that. Why? Because B. was pissed at the funeral notice P.'s ex-wife put in the paper and refused to go to the funeral.

What's up with that? You don't go to your own brother's funeral because of something printed in the newspaper?

Anyway, D.'s wife has convinced him that it does no good to hold grudges, because if someone dies, that's it, there is no recourse, no forgiveness, no final words of redemption. Me? I'm of the opinion that you either like someone, or you don't. It would be hypocritical of me, say, to go to the funeral I neither liked, nor respected - which is why I didn't go to my grandmother's funeral.

I actually wanted my aunt and uncle to simply go. Not because I don't like them - I am underwhelmed with indifference - but because it's wasn't me they should apologise to for their behaviour, but my mother. None was forthcoming anyway.

This ontop of my eldest sister's breast cancer scare. We are still awaiting final results. I don't need or want a relative from the past to 'chat' and think that as absolution for decades of misuse and neglect.

I am currently hosting my twin sister and her children this weekend too. They are all wonderful people, but what it does is take time away from my writing schedule, because as most will know, you cannot write if there's a thirteen year old or a five year old demanding attention.

I'm single, sans children. I have spent years searching for peace and direction and have finally found it.

No longer do I appreciate noise and the busyness of other people's lives; I like my quiet and my space. For the past ten days, that has been denied me.

I won't say this weekend has been a write-off, I enjoy my family's company; but sometimes...

...I simply want to walk away.

Friday, July 07, 2006


All week I've had people lookin' over my shoulder while I trial this new financial system - if they were expecting praise and adulation, I'm the wrong woman to ask.

So far, all this new system has managed to do is double the work load by having to input invoices in twice and the reports? We're gonna have to guess until we get used to it. Yeah, you guessed it: NOBODY BOTHERED TO WRITE A FUCKING MANUAL!!!

I hate that kind of arrogance. "Oh, just ring me if you have any problems..." What a neato idea! Except she's going on holidays next week and refuses to suggest anyone else to help should it all go pear-shaped.

I've been exploring the system... er, no, actually, it's the test system which is a little different from the live version; happy day! A new bunch of codes to learn.

This kind of shit happens all the time in a regional office: central office are so determined that this is going to happen, they are forcing it rather than listening to the people who actually have to use this shite. Double regional office's work load? Well, it's not as if there's much else to do down there on the coast; in the sunshine, with its mild temperatures and stunning scenery. Sarcasm can truly be dangerous don't you think?

Anyway, we have decided to rebel in our own way. That is, to accept everything the 'consultant' has to say and work around the system so it fits in with our purposes, our workload and our own perfectly effective and efficient standalone computer system, while still sending off what central office demands.

Hah! We already have plans, little ones yes, but we are a service provider, and by the Goddess, we are going to provide our services without inconveniencing the customers by pissy little add ons and time consuming receipting the way Canberra want it. Nuh, uh.

And now, [insert sly washing of hands] the consultants are gone. Left us alone, disappeared from looking over my tension-filled shoulders and I can now relax.

It's been a long and tiring week and it's almost over. Sometimes, this office work is a real drag. I have got to get published so I can start working for someone I like and respect: the reader.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Yep. It's the End Of The Financial Year and it's a sucky time to be dealing with financial programs.

I've just spent the past two days learning a new system that isn't quite ready. The people in Canberra simply haven't 'got around to it'. The Canberra office can get around that shit; we can't.

We are a regional office of four staff, catering to a population of over seven hundred who want to pay their electricity, car rego, licences, land rent, water, etc and we've been shut down while learning this system.

And we can't use it, because 'it's not quite ready'. Don't know when they'll sort it out.

"You said it would be up on Monday and we'd be able to use it."

"Yeah, well, we were busy."


"Yeah, it's the end of the financial year, you know. We've got accounts out the wazoo."

"But you haven't even changed over the bank accounts. That was supposed to be done last week!"

"Hmm. Was it? Don't remember that. I'd better speak to someone... er... She's down there training you. You'd better talk to her."

"When. Will. The. System. Be. Up?"

"Oh, well, Wednesday? No... gotta another section to deal with... How about the end of the week?"

"No, unacceptable. We have customers wanting to pay bills. Being shut for two days is enough."

"Hmm. Well, whenever, I guess. I'llgetbacktoyousoonbye." Click.

This office has been ready for the change of financial systems for some weeks; we even reconciled the last five years worth of transactions when the Canberra boffins couldn't. We. Are. Ready.

So what the fuck is up with Canberra? They've known about this for months. It was simply a case of transfering or copying the system used on Christmas Island, and they're still mucking about?

It pisses me off the way central office treats the regionals. Happened when I worked for Immigration, too, except I never treated regional staff with disrespect. I watched others do it.

Now, I'm on the other side of the fence and I don't care for it. No point in getting stressed; there is nothing I can do about it - and I sure as Hell won't be apologising to the customers for Canberra's fuck up.

Some days, I really don't need a 'real' job. I'd be much happier writing the day away. Unfortunately, that doesn't pay the bills. Yet.

One day. Soon. Really. This working for other people sucks.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

One more


That about sums it up. Blah.

One last assignment and I'm done with the Professional Editing and Proofreading Course. Yeah, I've been avoiding this one - hell, I'm a professional avoider. In this instance, I don't know why. One more effort and it's done; what's to avoid?

Finding differences between Australian English, English English and American English, that's what. Twelve of 'em!

Okay, there's the 'our', 'or'; the 're' and 'er', 'ise' and 'ize', 'eck' and 'que', 'ough' and 'ow'; plus a myriad of expressions: torch versus flashlight, boot versus trunk, chips versus crisps, prawns and shrimps, biscuits and cookies. But what are the most common?

For both the editor and writer in me, it's important, but the slacker wants to know 'who really cares?'

Ah, the duality of man's (or woman's) nature. I'm one of those editors who likes to see everything is perfect, that goes to the writer as well. Then there's the country you're writing for: gotta get that right too.

English, no matter where it is written, is an ever evolving language and no-one can hold it back. From the cultivated aristocratic English to the colloquial slang of poverty, it's a language that is ever expanding.

What is right and what is wrong? While English evolves, it still retains it's rules - and there is always an exception - and somehow, I have to find the idiosyncratic aspects of three variations.

Oy. Just thinking about it is giving me a headache. Oxford, Webster's and Macquarie are my guides - they are the quintessential dictionaries of each nation.

Ack... now I've just got to put them all together and let 'em fight it out.