Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Parched vs Soaked

Well. That was exciting. I'm taking a second moment to post this quickly before a third thunderstorms drops on us.

The first, earlier this afternoon, pounded us with over an inch of rain and hail, causing the street drain to block with debris. That, in turn, causes our back drain to stop flowing (if anyone knows the physics of that, I'd like to know). That meant getting out in the downpour and clearing the street drain, then sweeping... yes, sweeping, the excess water down the driveway from the back of the house (when the the 'villas' behind the house were built, they redirected the natural drainage channel from the street through our backyard - the bastards - all with council approval); that I did during the lull. Then the second came rolling in like a freight train.

Heavy rain makes me paranoid. We've been flooded before during a freak storm; I have no wish to revisit that night. The local Council was supposed to fix the street drainage some two, three years ago. This year, we might get something done.

With the end of El Nino and scientists watching the Pacific temperatures for La Nina, we don't need a 'maybe'. If El Nino is dry, La Nina is the opposite. For ten years we've had drier than usual summers. No longer. This February has the rain gauge at over double the average and the trend is set to continue with good Autumn rains.

Tomorrow, if the weather clears, I'm out in the garden digging a channel down the side of the house; yeah, yeah, I should have done it before now, but Mo-om, there are creepy-crawlies and eight-legged beasties out there! I'll have to brave them (eep!).

Good news? I have plenty of adjectives to describe the event. Bad News? I can see another storm coming.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Um... yeah, well...

As I'm editing works and creating covers for the excerpts, I thought I might do the three books I did for last year's NaNo.

It is always a good idea to let your works settle before you go back to them; six months is good, three okay, a month if you have to. It's been two, so I figured I was safe to delve back into that world.

But first... I had to reconstitute them. As a measure of my progress, I write a file a day. Each file is named, Day One, Day Two and so on. When done, I have an exact word count to put into my database. On the downside, I then have to put the manuscript together by cutting and pasting.

So I'm happily doing this (although the novelty - hah! - wears off quickly) and what do I discover? Book three isn't finished. I wrote like I was possessed for three and a bit solid weeks and then stopped before the end of the month; before the final book was done! Something else possessed me, but I'm damned if I can think of what. There were no other files to add - not anywhere on my hard or thumb drives. Just Day TwentySix. Nothing else.

I left my protagonist hobbling through a jungle on crutches, trying to escape the armed enemy - she's gotta be pissed about that - and twelve thousand words short of the end.

I've stopped writing books before this because the story bored me, or I'd written myself into a corner; the former is always a good reason to stop, the latter, well, I'm still waiting for the solution. I can always go back and rewrite so it doesn't happen. But this is the first time I've left a book hanging for no reason I can recall.

I'm going to finish it this week, there's no reason not to - no reason I'll allow to stop me. Now, it's all about wallowing in writing again, so I'll set my editing and cover artist hats aside and get back to adventure... with a little romance thrown in...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Alone in the crowd

We've had a number of thunderstorms here over the past week or so and it's made posting difficult; I have a surge protector, but who wants to take the chance? Even now, the clouds are rolling in again, heavy, dark-grey, fat with rain.

Over the weekend there was a triathlon staged around the two adjoining villages. They were in luck: Saturday was rainy and Sunday showery, but the race was between the gushes from the sky.

Long, lean bodies clad in all colours of lycra swam the cool sea, cycled the narrowed roads and ran the beach-front footpath for kilometres; all in the pursuit of prize money.

Out for my morning constitutional, I heard the whine of the wheels cutting through the air and the occasional clap of sparsely spread rain-coated spectators. I silently wished them well, for it was a long and arduous journey, no matter the spectacular scenery.

Later, squads of athletes jogged past, on the other side of the road. No traffic - it had been stopped for the athletes safety - and I realised the oddity: they were silent.

They passed in groups, in couples, in singles, in sprints and slow, heavy strides, as if the end were near, though I knew it to be at least three kilometres off.

But the silence. No one spoke. There were no urgings to keep going, no friendly banter as one passed another, no dares, no curses, no lung-straining gasps. Only slap or thud of heavy feet on concrete.

The faces were red with effort, or pale with exhaustion, drawn with anguish or simply blank. Legs kept running, arms kept pumping, skin kept sweating and muscles kept working.

And when they were gone, I wondered why these men and women pushed themselves so. What made them, in their camaraderie, continue on in isolation? These are elite athletes, pushing themselves to their personal limits of physical endurance.

I'd seen them practicing the week prior to the race, riding up and down our long street, always in groups, chatting; the same with the jogging. Friendly, supportive and urging their colleagues on, yet race day: silence. It was as if it were okay to be helpful before anything was on the line, but once that gun went off, it was each to his own.

Kind of like writing. As authors, we have a solitary existence - to write the best work we can - yet there will always be someone out there to help should we need it. Holly Lisle, in her book Mugging the Muse (free from her website and I recommend any who wish to become a writer get a hold of it) said: If short story writers are like sprinters, and the writers of novellas are like milers, then novelists are marathoners. The ones who write over 150,000 are the Iron Men of the writing world.

We have to keep fit to reach our milestones, and like those triathletes, we do it all in silence and we do it with the same focus. Of course, once we're done writing, we don't have a stinky, sweaty skin suit to wash...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

V-P Down Under

Warning: Rant Ahead.

Yessiree, the Vice President of the United States of America is on a three day visit to our shores.

That has meant three days of protest by the ill-educated, narrow-minded, anti-establishment, touchy-feely, anti-war movement. But there's plenty of angst to go around.

The VP has been given special dispensation for his Secret Service to carry guns (as if we're not good enough to protect a VIP)! The Harbour Bridge was closed without warning so the VP's motorcade could cross it (the worst thing that would have been thrown at him would have been harsh language). The resulting traffic jam pissed off an awful lot of Aussies on their way to weekend events. Then the VP, police and secret service boarded boats for a harbour cruise; the armed officers kept everyone out of the way, but the waves had windsurfers jumping into the water - and no, they weren't helped.

One appalling thing: Mr Cheney demanded that all the televisions in his suite be turned to Fox News - gaaahhh. He can't use the remote himself? How precious!

Yeah, yeah, he's the VP, but he's not liked here. He's a war-monger and corrupt (Halliburton, anyone?) and we don't understand why he's still in office.

However... And it's a big one. He, Mr Bush, Mr Blair and Mr Howard, among others, are absolutely right in their pursuit of war in Iraq. They may have gone in for the wrong reasons, and too early, but the fundamental aspect of that war remains: should the allies pull out, it is a victory for the radical fundamentalists who's prime objective is to rid the world of anyone not like them, and not willing to live under an oppressive, sick, twisted and immoral regime.

This war has developed into a war of attrition. For those weak-willed people who call for the troops to be withdrawn because too many lives (American) have been lost, the consequences will be the same war fought on American, English and Australian soil (though when it comes to world politics, we are but minnows) because make no mistake, these fundies want to kill democracy and kill those who support it.

There have been few terrorist attacks in the West because of the hard, determined work of intelligence operatives and local police forces. This war will not end soon (but you've got to wonder if the the fundamentalists keep blowing themselves up, they've got to run out of bombers sooner or later); it will be ongoing for years.

It's tragic that the lives of soldiers will be lost and families should mourn. But demanding the troops home 'so it doesn't happen to another family' emasculates what the soldiers are doing. It denies those sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives, the right to make their own choices; accuses them of making the wrong one - and look what happened when they didn't listen; they're dead, maimed or missing. Worse, it reduces their sacrifice for our freedom to nothing more than a 'mistake'; an accident because hey, they shouldn't have been there!

Do people want another 9/11, 27/7? Without those troops, without their fortitude, courage and willingness to protect the rest of us, Afghan women would still be stoned to death for showing an ankle, would still be dying because there's no medical help would still be without jobs, homes and be killed for being raped. (Where was Amnesty International when this was going on?); Iraqis would still be tortured under Hussein, the Kurds would still be subjected to genocide, would not have the right to vote for their own government, would not have new schools, roads, hospitals, infrastructure. All the things you don't see on the evening news because it's not exciting enough.

The troops are doing an excellent job over there, regardless of if it is right or wrong - they are doing what needs to be done.

We can only hope Mr Cheney wasn't serious about his 'first strike' on Iran idea. He'd better makes sure he has the appropriate armed forces (from wherever) to back up the all out war that would result.

Yessiree, the VP is in town.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Somme Mud

I've just finished reading Somme Mud by EPF 'Nulla' Lynch.

It's the story of a lad of eighteen joining the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) in 1916 to go and fight the Great War. Private Lynch fought at Pozieres, Amiens, Passchendaele and the Hindenberg Line. He was wounded five times, but survived to be repatriated home in 1919.

As a war book, it is spectacular in it's description of war and what it does to ally and enemy alike, though by 1918, the enemy - as described in the book - were too terror-stricken to fight and too cowardly to run away.

The Australians themselves got on with the job; especially once they were under the command of an Australian. Aussie soldiers were larrakins and thumbed their noses at any officer who had not earned their respect. In some respects, nothing has changed in that regard.

My interest in the First World War began when I was studying history at University. I knew both my grandfathers had fought in France - one lasted a month before being wounded; his leg was amputated by an Australian doctor - and the other earned the Military Cross. What we didn't know was how he'd earned it.

FYI writers: you don't win medals in battle, you earn them. It is not a race, unless it is for survival.

Small case of indigression there, sorry. Um... oh, yeah. As a final assignment, we students could do a ten thousand word essay on anything from the Industrial Revolution onwards. It so happened that over the summer, I had my grandfather's first war diary fall into my hands and spent weeks transcribing it.

Here, then, was my opportunity to find out how he came to be awarded the MC, and why he never told anyone about it.

I hopped it over to the Australian War Memorial and spent many a day, from opening to closing, rummaging through original despatches, mission briefs, histories and information - I have never been so intrigued, impressed and saddened. I could hold in my hand despatches to the front-line troops that still had bloodstains or bullet holes.

I read tales of unrecognised valour, of tragic death, ferocious mateship and cruel misunderstanding; which is where my grandfather came into it.

The Battalion was pinned down by machine guns, holding up the advance, spitting death in waves of noise and burning metal. My Grandfather, Ted, got a bit fed up, gathered his platoon and went after the two perfectly placed guns. "Come on, lads," he yelled and off they went, his men following him with a cheer. Yep, right at the machine guns. He and his men sorted the enemy with bomb and bayonet. For this, he was awarded the Military Cross, the second highest award for valour; the highest is the Victoria Cross.

Un...fortunately, there were a lot of Aussies charging machine gun posts who'd been awarded VCs and the Brits decided that there were too many and downgraded many a heroic act to the MC or the Military Medal.

It's interesting to note that the Germans were very, very afraid of facing Australian troops because they did crazy things - like charging machine guns, like sneaking through the lines to 'acquire' german 'artefacts' (usually, it was via a dare, or a bet). And yes, my grandfather did that too - crazy bugger.
My next war reading is of Lt Gen Hal Moore’s 7th Cavalry action in Vietnam at Ia Drang. The movie We Were Warriors is based on Lt General Moore’s mission there. After that, it will be the enormous tome The Great War by Les Carlyon.

After all this reading, I’ll probably sit down and write another war story!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Works

I've posted two chapters of Huntress and extended the excerpt from Masquerade on my website. I spent the day working on them and covers, too. It just didn't look right to just have a highlighted title.

I figure they'll all have covers eventually, but for now, there some reading over there if you're interested. Watch it, though, Masquerade has some baaad language and graphic violence.

They are both NaNo books, so there will be some... awkwardness. If you see anything amiss, let me know so I can fix it; you can only read your own work so many times before you start skipping over lines.

More excerpts coming up...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


There's a new story up over at the Takeaway.

Not much else has been happening, I've been mooching in front of the Crime and Investigation Channel. Lots of ick there, but interesting and useful in writing about how to catch killers through forensics. I admit it: I watched Cops, too, and I've been wondering at the psychology of the cops and the crims.

The cops... some were like it was a... well, I thought there was some exaggeration of the events as seen by the camera and explained by the cops themselves. Yes, they have a difficult and dangerous job; adrenalin is running high, but sometimes it seemed... a little too Hollywood.

That might be just me, since I live in a country without a gun culture. More useful information, though, on what the cops were thinking, how and why they thought those things, too.

All grist to my mill.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I'm back from my sojourn and it feels like I've been away longer than three days.

That's probably due to how busy I was catching up with family and partying. And before that smug smile appears, no, I did not drink that much, because I was driving. Wanted to; didn't.

It was interesting to see the cousins who had travelled from interstate to be at Uncle's birthday party. I hadn't seen P for more years than I care to mention, and A-M is always fun. There were invites all round to visit, which, when the weather cools down, I shall duly indulge in.

I also managed to glean some information to research for the family tree (lies, I tell you, it's all lies!) but the rumours are more to track down - a Welsh connection.

The car has an extra 750km added to the clock and I've got some photos to sort out. All up, it was an exhausting, exhilirating weekend, but now that's done. It's time to get back on schedule and do some work.

Tomorrow - now that I've mowed the lawn, sorted through the dozens of e-mail messages, unpacked, washed, stared longingly at the books I bought - I'll be posting a story.

For now, I'm putting my aching feet up and mooching infront of the cable. Ahh, it's good to be home.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

In country

I'm heading out shortly for the three hour drive to Canberra. I'm there for the weekend visiting family.

I had hoped to have a story up by now, but life gets in the way sometimes.

I'll be back on Sunday afternoon and I'll post a story on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


As a writer, how responsible are you for your work?

Over at Spirits of the Damned this question has been raised in the LKH forum.

Laurell K. Hamilton, as you know, is the writer of the best selling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Merry Gentry series.

Originally, the Anita Blake series was a rollicking good read, filled with mortal and moral danger, mystery and suspense. Now, though, the series has descended into 'adult fiction'; that is, the books have more sex in them than anything else.

The once dominant and compelling male characters have been emasculated, there are more of them, any other female character is now an enemy and the whole series has devolved into such explicit descriptions of procreation that even the Happy Hooker would blush, if only because those scenes are written so poorly.

Gone are the crime solving, gone is the line between right and wrong, gone are any heroic figures to admire. Gone is any relevant plot.

Instead, we are subjected to male insecurity and metaphoric female chest beating and actual leg spreading.

As adult fiction, it's pretty appalling, insulting that such puerile writing is published at all under the banner of 'best selling author'.

On LKH's messageboard, Mary Sue-land exists. It is where no bad language can be used, no insults, no debate, no dissension is allowed. Only sycophantic cheers and milque-toast applause is allowed.

The most unfortunate and dangerous aspect of this is that the board is filled with squealing fan-girls who are underage. Thirteen-, fourteen- and fifteen year-olds who consider themselves 'mature' are reading this tripe and urging other, like-minded children to read the books.

Where is the responsibility to censor this readership? Is it with the author? Perhaps not. Is it with the board? Absolutely. It is definitely Darla's responsibility to protect those children and ban them from the board. Not answering questions about suitability for the under 18s in a timely fashion is a cop out, cowardly and suggest Darla knows the books are unsuitable. Hell, LKH knows they are unsuitable.

But what about parental responsibility? It is up to the parents to stop their children from reading porn. And while kids will always find a way, it is still the parents' responsibility to monitor what their offspring is doing or reading.

As far as I can tell, there is no safety measure on this messageboard to filter out paedophiles. Even if the rules should give people a clue as to what it's about:

This is a PG-13 board. We do have registered users who are younger than 18. We have the word SEX put in the megawords so most Nanny software should filter out the site and the board. However we are not the parents of these people and some folks under 18 do read the books. We also wish to maintain a certain level of respect for Laurell, her family and all others.

Keep all graphics to a PG13 level. Do not post pictures showing sexual interaction, sexual bondage, genital hair, nude buttocks (a g-string is acceptable), a woman's nipple/areole/pubic area, or a man's penis/scrotum. You may come close, but if it even vaguely appears to be showing, then it will be deleted. If you are in doubt, please PM a moderator and ask before posting the picture.

Keep all posts to a PG13 level. No posts about your sex life, hypothetical, fantasy or reality. No role playing or sexual interaction between users.

Certain curse words are automatically filtered out on this forum. Do not bypass that filter with alternate spellings.

This is from the 'rules', and in no way, shape or form, is this a 'PG13' rated board. Just from reading these rules, the board could be charged with 'assisting in the deliquency of a minor'. None of these rules are legally binding. Defending yourself by saying 'Well, I did post warnings' isn't a defence, it's a weak-willed excuse that won't stand up under litigation.

The difference is that prior to the book The Killing Dance, none of this would be an issue. But The Killing Dance is the pivotal book that begins the descent into moral corruption. It is the book where 'Adult concepts' hit full stride, but alas, it's too late for those under age readers; they are hooked, want more, and if the parents have read the previous books and allowed them to be read, they won't bother with the rest because 'they're probably all the same'. Way to lure the kids into reading pornography. How insidious.

So. Where do your responsibilities lie as a writer?

Personally, just about every book I've written has a sex scene in it. Would I allow any of my underage nieces or nephews read them? No, not on your life. They are books for adults and those scenes are there for a purpose (yeah, that's a snark), they progress the storyline (another snark).

Simply put: if you're going to be published, make sure you know your audience. Do not set up a message board that allows underage kids on - unless you're writing for kids - and then shrug your shoulders and bleat 'it's a free country'.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Do what he says

I know you've probably seen this before, but it bears repeating, especially in today's geo-political climate. It's not my religion or faith, but in this, it doesn't matter; it applies to all:

And it came to pass that God visited the Earth, and he did behold a series of billboard ads attributing to Him utterances of such banality that they would never pass His lips in a billion years. And it came to pass that God in His wrath considered a libel suit, but in the end opted simply to mount an ad campaign of his own...

If you didn't hear it straight from my lips, take it with a grain of salt;

I never said, "Thou shalt not think";

Okay, you've got multiplying down. Now, let's try replenishing for a while;

I don't care who started it! Just stop it;

If you seek to know my ways, read a damn science book;

You'd better have stopped fighting by the time I get back, or you're all grounded;

Six days? Yeah, right. I'm a scientist, not a magician;

If I wanted you to have seven kids, I would have given you a bigger planet;

You're not tracking those bloody footprints in here;

E=mc2. Yeah, that's one of mine;

You can have another kid when you learn to take care of the first one;

The dinosaurs didn't believe in you either;

Excuse me? Where do you see my name on the front of the Bible?

Only six thousand years old? Oh, that's a good one;

Just look at this planet! Do you expect me to clean this up?

I love Marilyn Manson, too. Maybe more than I love you;

Here's a clue: if they say they're doing it my name, they're lying;

I'm flattered you liked my book so much; now why don't you read something new?

Want to know how old the is? Ask the earth, not the Bible;

If you don't clean this place up, you won't get another millennium;

I like to kick things off with a bang. A Big Bang;

All this will someday be your children's;

There is no such thing as killing in my name;

Stop smirking, America, I'm talking to you, too.


I think it says it all, though no doubt fundamentalist would disagree ferociously, especially those who don't believe in evolution and who believe the Christian God speaks to them directly like some personal assistant. 1800 Oh, as if!

Monday, February 12, 2007


We've had some storms here over the weekend. Just when you think it's safe to turn on the computer, more rumbling, more lightning, more rain.

As with every storm, I keep an eye out for water flows - I don't want to get flooded again - and I make sure the lanterns, candles and gas stove are ready. There wasn't any need for them, this time, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. We're still getting rain, which is great. The catchment area got a nice dumping of water; another month or so of the wet stuff and maybe the government will stop sucking our local river dry to water the gardens of Sydney.

Not long ago, we were under bushfire warnings, and we prepared for that, too. It's just another demonstration of how extreme this country can be.

* * *

Got to see We Were Soldiers today. I've seen it before, but it always amazes me that Lt Col. Moore can stand there with bullets whizzing around and not get hit, while soldiers hiding in the grass on the ground die. He was a soldier who knew what he was about, yet he couldn't tell the powers that be what he knew of war - in particular, the Vietnam War - because he knew they wouldn't listen. All they saw was victory - ignoring the fact that the Viet Cong moved into the evacuated area. The parallels are there, but I'm not saying anything... except a muttering of history repeating itself...

I also saw The Brothers Grimm which was... grim; as the messages of their fairy tales were in truth. No touchy-feely about it. I'm glad Terry Gilliam emphasised that point; maybe Disney should observe and absorb.

* * *

I've also found and interesting worldbuilding site at Nation States. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to build a powerhouse nation. You can be a dictatorship, a monarchy, a democracy, anything you like. You can join the United Nations, vote on issues, join a region, play politics. I think it might be a good exercise for worldbuilding, but I'm still new at it. Who knows? I may yet rule the world, mwahaha!

Friday, February 09, 2007


Okay, people, back to work, there's nothing to see; c'mon now, move along, you can't spend your time blog-serfin' when there are a myriad of stories out there a'waitin' your fine craftsmanship!

Yes, freedom is mine, but only until I sit in front of my fabulous workstation (and maybe I should take a pickie of it) and get down to it. Certain people in my sphere expect me to become a couch potato for a while - and it's an alluring prospect - but nothing gets done.

I'm going to keep to my weekend schedule and add almost full work days as well. Of course, I'll take the time outs - next week is the dentist, car registration and heading off to Canberra for three days; not much work is gonna be done during that time - but writing is a job too. It deserves as much focus as any other job.

It's the only way to form some sort of career out it.

I'm also due to post a story next week; I have to decide which one and work on it. In my February schedule are also posting excerpts of the books I've already written. I'll be working on those until I have excerpts posted of all of them.

My plan is to post the first three chapters of each - Note to self: gotta put more of Masquerade in. I'm going to try and make covers for them, too.

Once that's done and they've been read, YOU get to choose which one you'd like to read in toto as a freebie book.

I suppose that brings up the sticky issue of self-publishing, but I think this is more of showcase, rather than vanity press (I'm not paying for the privilege of publishing, after all).

That's my plan for the next month. The Future? She is a mystery!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I’d call it a ‘cross-road’ but there ain’t no going forward. This job is over; all that remains is tidying up loose ends.

I’m sitting here at the t-intersection with my feet up, enjoying the finality of a quietly closed door behind me. I know it’s quietly closed because there’s been not one whisper of what will happen once I’ve gone and there is the surprise of customers I won’t be recalled. And while I have my head cocked to hear that subtle knock to open the door again, I know it’s doubtful it will come; even if it did, I doubt I’ll accept.

There have been many omens today; omens I can’t ignore: there was the opportunity to farewell the post mistress who was so interested in the history of the place I grew up in. I had the opportunity to see my old house again (I’ve already wallowed in the memories and made peace with them); there was the fractious customer who comes in every three months to cause trouble – she’s sorted now, the completion of a sudden research project handed to me on Tuesday.

There was also (I say with no small amount of wickedness) the dream interpretation I did for the boss and my supervisor; one held up a shed that fell down around her no matter the support she tried, the other got lost in New York and was assisted by none other than Dolly Parton. The first one was easy; the second… well, my supervisor should look for assistance from an unexpected source.

Tomorrow is a half day for me: I have accrued the hours and while I could get paid for them, I choose to use them instead because I have a different focus now.

At this intersection, I have two choices: In one direction, there is the empty space of more nine-to-five work and the sameness that represents; in the other direction, is the lush forest of creativity and surprise.

There are no prizes for guessing which one I’ll chose. I already have a list of agents and publishers I’m going to try. I have a loose schedule for that and in the meantime, I have a bucket-load of short stories to submit – though I’m not confident; I don’t think I’m a short story writer, per se but I’ll give it a shot.

One thing I can say about departing is that I know I did my job, and did it well. Everything that was asked of me, I did, and more – as was instilled in me at a young age: if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, no matter what it is.

I like that.

Oh, and for those who think this is a disaster for me: there is no depression as losing a steady income – and I’ve been there and been really poor as a result – the only regret I have is leaving the increased amount of work to someone who was planning to retire (I was to be her replacement) and to someone who suffers high blood pressure. There’s no guilt, for this decision has nothing to do with me; there’s no sense of loss, for those with whom I worked were colleagues and not friends (and I know the difference) – and I can always visit; plan to, in fact, to take photos of the area.
I feel, in fact, mellow, accepting, reflective, relieved and a little smug – just a touch. I have time, now. I only wrote three books last year, and that was for nano, so on a yearly basis, my output sucked.

On the plus side, I have plans for more… now, where did I put that idea's book?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The first goodbye

Had a fabulous farewell lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Bay; paid for by the boss who'd come down from Canberra. It's rare to have a boss like that. Of course, he prefers the sea environment and relaxed atmosphere to the rush and heat of the Nation's Capital - who wouldn't?

Still no word on an eleventh hour proposal - those idiots above my boss just don't seem to understand the amount of work to be done, and while I'd like to keep doing my job, it ain't gonna happen.

I'm looking forward to the time off, actually. I've worked a year without a holiday and I need one. The occasional day off is fine, but it's not a sleep-in-watch-a-dvd-read-a-book-or-do-nothing kind of relaxing time.

I've set myself a month to brood... er, relax before my amazing CV goes off to a number of industries. It will also give the powers-that-be time to reflect on their disasterous decision.

During that month, I'll lay off any kind of work to catch up on dvds and books for a week, then dive into writing - got an idea brewing - and editing and sending stuff off; get back into the rhythm of sitting in front of my computer and working.

Friday will be a half day for me - with the second goodbye, a morning tea. Yay! Let's hear it for cream cakes! And if the... insert rude word... don't arrange it, I am walkin' outta there. Okay, no I'm not, I'll just keep doing the database building project that was given to me today.

Two and a half days to go...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Not so ordinary life

Sometimes in life, nothing happens; in fiction, everything happens.

I've been busily working away at editing my 2003 Nano Huntress to the virtual exclusion of all else. Yeah, sure, I had my eldest sister visiting for the weekend, but she had schoolwork to do and the best way to get siblings to do their work is to do some yourself.

I've reached the end and found some problems. In particular, the rush to finish it - anyone who's done Nano knows all about rushing - one fundamental problem arose: that of a lack of description.

As the author, I can easily picture the book in my mind; others will not. Ergo, the next read through will be looking at the descriptions, what can be improved, what has to be put in!

It reads remarkably well - I am damn cruel to my protagonist, Cambria, but what does not kill your hero/heroine makes them dangerous to be around.

I once read that to make a believable character, you must put them through unbelievable things; situations where a normal person would probably give up, but an extraordinary person would grit their teeth and carry on. I've read a number of books like that: the early Honor Harrington, the first five Anita Blakes, the Stardoc series. All the characters get the shite kicked out of 'em, but they keep going because to fail means... disaster; not just for them, but the population at large. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who have the same motivations.

I've heard authors snickering over the awful things they're doing to their characters, and be cagey on how they get their characters out of impossible situations. It's a part of what makes being a writer so much fun.

It can be pretty amazing when you set up a casting call for characters, explain what's going to happen and have a number of them present themselves for murder-death-kill, emotional and physical torture, adventure, travel, the chance to play with weapons, to handle love-interests, all to get into print.

Okay, eventually into print. I'm putting Huntress aside for this week, then going through it again on the weekend. I'm hoping to post an extended excerpt next week on my website if you're interested in reading it for pleasure, for critiquing, for suggestions.

So, how are your own great works going?

Friday, February 02, 2007

And there it goes

January is done for and a new month begins.

Those wicked IT people in Canberra have blocked my access to the wild, carefree lands of blog. Now, I have to work for a living, and, by golly, that's what I'm doing.

The bosses keep giving me 'little' jobs to do that take me hours - as if I don't have enough to do in the week left.

Okay, whinge out of the way. Time for a bit o' history:

This beautiful ship is the Duyfken. It sought shelter in Jervis Bay on Tuesday after the open seas turned reallyrough and didn't leave until Thursday. I took this photo from the boss's window that overlooks the bay.

The original Duyfken (little dove) sailed from Indonesia in 1606 looking for gold and trade. Under the command of dutchman Willem Janszoon, they bumped into Australia instead and became the first Europeans to map a part of this continent. This ship marks the beginning of Australia's recorded history.

The replica, which you see above, was built at a cost of $3.7 million in Fremantle, Western Australia.

The website, Duyfken 1606 Replica Foundation describes the materials as: Duyfken's hull is European Oak from Latvia, her sails and rig all natural flax and hemp. She was built and fitted-out in Fremantle using "plank-first" construction. Fire was employed to bend the hull planks and inside frames were added afterwards. The hull was launched on 24 January 1999 and she was able to sail for the first time on 10 July 1999. Soon afterwards, work began to prepare the basic ship for the Chevron 2000 Duyfken Expedition.

How amazing that such a small ship could sail from Europe to Australia? This replica did the return journey in 2001.

We were fortunate to have the ship in the bay; Jervis Bay was not on its list of ports of call.

And on Thursday, I watched it sail out of the heads, but it was too far away to photograph. Maybe it will return one day, and I can get a better shot of it.