Friday, September 28, 2007

Four Seasons

I've got peeps coming this long weekend and have been buzzing around cleaning the house and making beds... well, okay, I did get distracted which has put me behind, but it was all in a good cause.

It's always nice to play music when cleaning, but I'm afraid when Vivaldi's The Four Seasons doco came on the Ovation channel, I had to sit and watch Nigel Kennedy rub the snot out of his violin.

I love The Four Seasons. It's quite simply the most perfect piece of classical music to me, full of passion and nuance. I'm not high-brow enough to regale people on why it's so perfect, it just attracts my ear and I have to listen, have to wallow in the music, be serenaded by it.

My copy is on vinyl with a few Stradivarius violins and conducted by Christopher Hogwood; it's beautiful and it's been too long since I've listened to it. In those strings, all stress seeps away leaving contentment.

I have other favourites, like Mussorgsky's Night on a Bald Mountain and Tchaichovsky's 1812, but Vivaldi is special. I don't know why - maybe it's something in the 'mathematics' of it. All I know is that I cannot do anything other than listen whenever I hear it.

Now I'm behind in my housework, but I'm not bothered, I'll just do it in an hour or so.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bingle Jells, Bingle Jells

I took myself off on my weekly jaunt into town to do the shopping.

Once there, I went into K-Mart for some Aussie sweets to send to my brother in Denmark - sea mail closes next week. All thoughts of shopping shattered under the weight of what my eyes beheld: Christmas stuff.

Yep. I had to think of the date - September 27 - and there were the store clerks, loading up shelves with boxed plastic trees, chocolate-filled Santa stockings, gaudy decorations...

Personally, I think it is consumerism gone mad. We are three months away people! I don't need to see this now, it's Spring! The Wattle is blooming, all the flowers are blooming, the trees are waking up from Winter slumber, their leaves only just now poking through hardened protective husks and the night air still has a nip in it! I don't want to know about Summer heat, bushfires, sunburn, bushflies and prawns on the barby. Hell, we've yet to have the October long weekend!

What ever happened to stores setting up Christmas stuff on December 1? Huh? Huh? Well?

At the very worst, by the time the big day arrives, people are weary of it all, had all the joy sucked out of them by the constant onslaught of whiney kids demanding this, then changing their minds and demanding that. Then there's the Christmas music ad nauseum for three months; the hiding of presents bought in advance, the advertising campaigns that tell you if you don't spend a couple of thousand dollars on that new washing machine, lawn mower, vaccuum cleaner, push-bike, skate board, PS3, complete Barbie castle/house set, laptop, mobile phone, you don't really love your family.

Is it any wonder the crime rates skyrocket in December? People have maxed out their credit cards, got the wrong gift, forgot someone, opened the wrong present, the Christmas dinner sucked, the in-laws are assholes, the kids are obnoxious...

I'm ignoring it. I'm not shopping anywhere for pressies with their Christmas gear out already. Yes, I'll confess here and now that I started on the long list in August, tucking a few things away, but that is good economics. I don't need the irritating music, the pasted on smiles, false 'sales' or the trappings of Christmas - I'm Pagan, not Christian, and the Pagan Solstice is very much a low key event. The simple thankfulness for the harvest, not this all out money grab by retailers masquerading as 'seasonal good will'.

I have two words for anyone who thinks September is fine for Christmas junk to be out: Bah Humbug!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nano Nano

I received an e-mail from Chris Baty.

As soon as I saw the name, I knew. Yes, it's near time to sign up for this year's National Novel Writing Competition. Or should it be International? Then it would be INO, so maybe not... It just doesn't have the same ring.

Anyway... after last year's effort, I wondered if I would give this year a miss. 184k of words, nearly three books took a lot out of me, especially since I was working full time. But I figured, why the hell not?

The problem, of course, is that this type of competition speaks directly to my inner athlete and she's never been able to resist a challenge. The first year, 2003, it was a challenge to make the 50k mark - I thought that if I had an idea I would do it and that idea turned up on the first of November; the second year my aim was to reach 100k after which I kind of ran out of steam. By the third year, it was more about keeping up with Lizette Gifford, the master of Nano, from the Forward Motion site. Last year, the challenge was the books: whether I could write a trilogy in the time available.

I'm not being arrogant here, I have the advantage of being able to type at near 100wpm. But all that speed is useless if I don't know what to write. In previous years, I've just thought about it a couple of days in advance - not the best way to approach the challenge - and thrown myself into it.

On the plus side, I've had to focus on the work, steep myself in the world I'm thinking of and directing it onto the keyboard - an exhausting way to write. On the negative side, I can't see any problems with the work until months afterwards, and there can be plot holes a planet could hang in and disappearing characters. The worst of it is that I have to stop writing in order to sleep, eat, make coffee, all that mundane stuff that gets in the way of a good time.

This year, I'm going to try and crush that inner athlete; take my time with the work. I'm even going to try and have some plot notes sorted and I'm determined not to stray too far from the path. I've got a month to do that, and then, come November, I can see how quickly I can reach the... oh, damn... the bloody athlete's awake and limbering up...

Sign up is 1 October for pre-Nano activities. It might even be an idea to post snippets one day a week. Anyone else going to join the mayhem?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hill of Tara Doomed?

The Hill of Tara in Ireland is a place of myth and legend. It is also an archaeological, astronomic and cultural marvel; probably the best known monument of Ireland, like Stonehenge is Wiltshire. A most ancient monument.

It's a magical place, once thought to be the gateway to the world of the Faerie. It is an icon to fantasy writers, archaeologists, historians, mythologists, hell, the Irish. But it's now under threat. The Irish Government want to build a motorway through the Tara/Skyrne Valley to ease traffic congestion.

A group of well-known scholars are trying to stop this development and, according to Mythical Ireland, Charlize Theron is also on board to stop the development.

This group is trying to get the site on the World Heritage List and I'm amazed it isn't listed already.

I've been to Tara and it truly feels magical, like the warm standing stones at Avesbury, like Stonehenge, like the Field of Culloden before the damned-awful 'visitor's centre' was constructed and like the Rock of Cashel.

Even with the wind blowing and the sky spitting sleet, Tara felt... different as if it were encapsulated in a different world. And now, the Government want to destroy the very essence of Irish mythology.

To keep up-to-date on the fight to save Tara, go here. Tara is the most visible site under threat, but there are others in Ireland.

It would be a travesty to see such an historic and important site be affected by the trappings of modern society. The Irish Government need only seek an alternative route and a majestic, important site would be saved. Let's hope they see reason.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I must be moonstruck or something.

Yep, out in the garden again, ferociously attacking the bulbs of the White Ginger, clearing away roots and old leaves otherwise the stuff grows back. The dog - bless her communications skills - came over for a sniff, then widdled on a cleared patch. I had to agree, it's a shitty, back-breaking job and I'd been at it for a couple of hours. Time for a break?

The sun beat down, I was out of shade and it seemed like a good idea. But, no. I figured I'd just tidy up, oh, and tug out that last bit of root, cut off that last bulb, clear away the detritus, snip off a couple of branches of a tree whose name I don't know...

Good sense fails me sometimes. So here I sit, muscles hurting right down to my fingernails, face tingling with sunburn and paranoid I've picked up some tiny spider that's lightly brushing my skin under my shirt. I get manic about stuff like that; creeps me out and if I think about it too much, the job will only ever be half done.

Good news? I have a heap of greenery to cut down and a heap of busted bulbs - all off to the waste recycling at the dump. Bad news? I'm only half done and my zeal is waning in the face of physical torture.

It. Must. Be. Done. Or by Summer, I'll be back where I started with a large patch of White Ginger to cut down and dig out again. If I'd only left it alone...

Oi... I'm going for a long, long soak, and not think about bashing bulbs with the mattock.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In the garden

And so I have spent time in the garden. Yesterday I mowed the lawn because today we were expecting rain. Today, after the rain, I attacked the White Ginger. It grows like Bamboo (which is a noxious weed here in Australia because it has no natural enemy other than a good dose of Round-up and heavy labour to dig the *&%@ stuff out), spreading out and notoriously difficult to get rid of. The wet soil made it so much easier.

This is unlike me. I am, and freely confess to being, botanically-challenged. What looks to me like a weed, may not be; what I think is pretty, might be a weed. I can remember plants that I think are interesting – for any reason – but unlike my siblings who can remember even the Latin names, dull, run-of-the-mill names go in one ear and out the other.

I love Daffodils and Snowdrops and Freesias but can only remember Babianas by thinking of them as Babylonias.

This year, the McCartney Rose is splendiferous. We’ve been lucky: at this time of year, we get howling sea gales and the blooms can’t hold on, scattering like snow across the street. We also get people stopping by for a cutting; some ask nicely and chat for a while. Others simply break off a cane and run for it. There are plenty of blooms for everyone, and I’m happy to cut some. But. According to an uncle of mine, the best growing plants are the ones that are nicked.

I certainly don’t begrudge the nickers; I’m of the firm belief that flowers are to be enjoyed by all as long as you don’t offend the owner of the garden.

I remember when I first lived in Canberra and the Daffodils came out. I walked down the street, heading into the city, and admiring the spring blooms. I came across a beautiful garden, with a low fence. The Daffodils were gorgeous with full trumpets and an alluring perfume. I looked left and right to make sure no-one was looking and then hopped the fence for a sniff.

I hadn’t checked hard enough and a middle-aged woman popped her head up from across the garden where she’d been weeding. “Excuse me?” She called.

Me, I was barely out of my teens and flushed scarlet with guilt and pleasure. “Ahh… just admiring your Daffodils.” I said hesitantly, expecting a serve of vitriol.

She pointed a trowel at me. “Well, thank you for that, but could you admire from the other side of the fence?”

I can laugh about it now, but then, I was mortified, simply… gaahhh. So I don’t begrudge people admiring the rose; nor do I bitch and moan about them taking a piece. It’s a beautiful rose, why not spread the lurve?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I haven't been cruising the blogosphere lately, I've been knuckling down and getting some writing done instead.

Over at PBW's site is a post called "Novel Outlining 101" that I thought I might try. Yes, I know I've constantly said I'm an organic writer, but it never hurts to try something new. Just to see if it works, or has elements that will help the sometimes rambling that I find in my work.

I have plenty of time to try it: Nano is still far enough away and October could be the test of this method if Lynn decides to go with the challenge. I've not had word on that yet, but it's a great exercise even if it doesn't go ahead.

Given that it's three weeks since the last shortie over at the Takeaway, I've taken the liberty of posting another.

Now, I'll get back the barbarian story...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh, how could you?

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over the past few weeks about endings. In particular, when the ending isn’t what the reader expected.

To name a few that I’ve read: Embraced by Darkness by Keri Arthur, For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison and Rebel Ice, by S.L. Viehl.

My fundamental criticism with the pissy readers who hate those endings is: What? You didn’t see that coming? Read the book again and look closer!

With all these books, there are threads, carefully hidden, that lead to the end. None of these authors ever do something without giving clues; it’s up to the reader to find them, because they are there. So let’s get to the flammable arguments:

EBD: Look at who Riley Jensen is and the problems she’s facing – the choice Jack gave her - and then think of who would be an ideal soul partner for her. Anyone we’ve seen yet? The ending was inevitable

FAFDM: What I like about Rachel is that she makes mistakes; reasonable mistakes. Sometimes the consequences are small and sometimes, they are catastrophic. It’s as if Kim Harrison, in plotting the book, has thought, ‘what’s the best that can happen from this boo-boo? What’s the absolute worst? Okay, we’ll go with that.’

RI: The reasoning behind this came in an earlier book – a hypothetical comment becomes reality. How else were Duncan and Cherijo to handle the issue? Yes, it was a book that might not have been written as being too hard or too controversial, but it was also too much of a delicious ‘what if’ to pass up and I loved it.

The questions are, I suppose, how far can an author take a beloved character without the character becoming a Mary-Sue? What more can an author do to a character and keep the series fresh? I would say that once an author has to ask these questions, it might be time to end the series and go on to something new.

The first trilogy I read where a main character disappeared was W. Michael Gear’s Web of Spider. Shocked I was, shocked, I tell you. I didn’t want to read anymore. Books were supposed to have happy endings weren’t they? Well, no, and I read the other two books to see what happened. The trilogy didn’t quite have an atypical happy ending, either, but it was appropriate. And that is staying true to the reader; fulfilling the promise made at the start.

Real life has tragedy and trauma, mistakes that have dire consequences, quirks of fate that make us smile; novels have them too. They must or Mary-Suedom takes over – not a happy place to be.

Should readers have input into a series? No. Should authors listen to the complaints of readers? Only if those complaints are grounded in fact and fans have genuine concerns. Hating one book and bitching about it is not enough; there’s usually a good reason why the author wrote the book that way.

There are, of course, exceptions and we all know who I mean. That sort of arrogance and contempt for readers can only be dented via poor sales and even then I have my doubts.

We all know of characters whose demise has upset us. As long as the author gives clues, albeit hidden, the departure is solid and while readers can vent their spleen over it, nothing should change. Patricia Cornwell did that and readers were disgusted. Justifiably so.

Before readers jump on the band wagon and trash an author, or a series, for killing off a beloved character, they should think about why that character had to die. If you look at JK Rowlings’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, for example, the deaths of a number of well-loved characters was stunning, but I thought it represented the uncertainty, the randomness of war where heroes and innocents can die, regardless of how good a person they are, and enemies can escape without a scratch.

It’s ultimately up to the author to manage the series – not the reader. If done well, even those who bitch and moan will return… just to see what happens next.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Reading, Writing, Research

I'm trying not to use the internet on the weekends to try and reduce my broadband bill. With all the research (unpaid) I'm doing for this political organisation, the bill seems to go up and up.

Of course, if I'm on the computer, I have to check my e-mail, check out other weblogs and websites I like to go to, so the research is on top of that. There's so much interesting stuff out there, I can't help myself - I'm so easily distracted by new things...

On the plus side, staying off the computer gave me time to catch up on a leedle reading - and rugby union and rugby league and Aussie Rules and cricket and baseball - and generally relax.

Keri Arthur's Embraced by Darkness was just as good as the previous four and is stacked next to the others, though she mentions on her weblog that some readers are unhappy with the ending, I thought it appropriate. My personal opinion is that some readers should read books beyond the surface. Nope, no spoilers here. Maybe I'll write a post about that.

The only complaint I have about Rachel Caine's Thin Air is that I'll have to wait for next August for the next one! This series is such an interesting and refreshingly new concept. I already had an interest in weather, but this puts a new spin on how it happens and it's so well-crafted... sigh a year is a long time, damn it! I'll have to pick up the Morganville books to read.

Now I'm onto Kim Harrison's For a Few Demons More and the first chapter is a cracker! I'm aware of something... awful happening (see? No spoilers) but I'll wait and see if it's appropriate. Hmmm, I think it isworth a webpost on endings.

I'll have to finish it before I do the short story post this week; then there's the barbarian story I'm working on for the webpage - it's longer than I expected, but that's good - and, if PBW has her October Challenge, I'll need to jot down some plot points for that too, then, of course, it's Nano in November and I'll have to think of something to write for that.

Gee, who knew it was the busy season for writers?

Friday, September 14, 2007

I name thee…

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor;
Richman, Poorman, Beggerman, Thief.

As a child’s rhyme, it’s okay, but there is more to the words used in various games.

Ticker, Taylor, Soder, Saller;
Rickman, Perriman, Beggman, Theiss;

Tucker, Tyler, Schroder, Chalder;
Reichmann, Merriman, Bridgman, Weiss.

A list of occupations has segued into a list of names, which is entirely what can happen over history. In the nineteenth century, literacy skills were not as they are today and priests marrying couples rarely asked how names were spelt; thus corruptions of the original through phonetics.

Not all names were accidentally changed. As we know, many kept the names of their occupations because it was easier: John the Clarke, Eric the Forrester, James the Cartwright, Frederick the Gardener, Paul the Miller, Lucius the Priest, Richard the Walker, and so on.

What was easy then is not so easy now. How often have you struggled with what to call your magnificent, heroic and clever protagonist? What name would fit? How, out of the millions of forenames, do you fit one with the millions of surnames?

You don’t want a disaster like, Sunny (or variations thereof) Day, Penny Lane or and you don’t want to attach names to occupations like, Joe Death, the Undertaker, or Doctor Pirahna the dentist (this one is true, he was my dentist as a kid); you also don’t want names, that when taken with another – like in marriage – they’re humorous, for example: Jo Bannister marrying Mathew King: she becomes Jo King. So not funny. Even double names can get you into trouble: Marta Thicke marries into the chicken empire of Legge’s and she becomes Marta Thicke-Legge.

And never, ever, forget about contractions. Can you imagine some young, buff guy, by the name of Pitt, having a father called Cecil? What’s Cecil going to be shortened to? Hmmm?

Your names must reflect at least some of the character’s personality. I don’t mean like Ridge, Thorne and Brook Forrester – they’re not as natural as the names suppose (what were those writer’s thinking?). Male names should be strong, but not ridiculous; female names can also be strong, but not overpowering, and feminine.

The solution, if names don’t just spring from your forehead like Athena fully grown, is threefold: first, get yourself a baby name book, and second, find an old phone book. Both will solve your problems. The third is to go to name sites, like: Think Baby Names. The page will also give you links to other sites.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spiteful hypocrits

I was going to do a post on character names, but I was so incensed at the news that I had to vent. Here goes:

Like a lot of people, I was looking forward to what General David Petraeus had to say about Iraq. And, like a lot of people, I was appalled, nay, disgusted at the mealy-mouthed criticism levelled before Petraeus or Ambassador Ryan Crocker had a chance to speak.

And that was nothing compared to what came after, with Hillary Clinton euphamistically calling Petraeus a 'liar', with her 'suspension of disbelief' comment.

It's bad enough that the Democrats used a decorated soldier for target practice, it's worse when a man who has only ever done his duty is used for political mileage and as a photo opportunity for certain candidates to further their ambitions.

It matters not what Petraeus' politics are; it matters that he's done what was asked of him, as have 160,000 plus other troops on the ground in Iraq, and to snarkily snipe at the General, snipes at them all.

There's no 'good job, we'll try and get you home soon', no 'you fight for the freedom of all', no 'we're gonna send you help', nor are there many news item on the construction of schools, hospitals, roads, infrastructure, security, good relationships with the locals. It's all about alleged and false atrocities, accidental killings, ineptitude, bad planning, needless casualties, poor decision-making and the fundamental wrongness of being there in the first place.

But what were these politicians thinking in the days immediately after 9/11? Did any of them say 'oh, well, that hurt, but we'll let it pass', or 'gee, I really think we need to reconsider our foreign policy'? Nope. It was 'who has done this?' and 'we need to kill the muthahs' and 'no one kicks our butt on home soil, we're gonna sort you out!'

What morally corrupt, self-aggrandizing, disrespectful and arrogant people they are! It is politicians who start wars, but it is the soldier who fights and maybe will die for the mistakes politicians make. To insult and demean a professional soldier when they demanded the report in the first place smacks of hypocrisy and spitefulness. Worse, I'm sure Petraeus knew what would happen when he presented his report, but he did his duty anyway; he took his responsibility to his troops and his area of command seriously, when Congress was determined to find fault with anything he had to say.

Any war that goes on longer than the public expect will be unpopular; but anyone who thinks an immediate withdrawal of troops will solve the problem will find they've lost the war and given victory to people who will see America's defeat as a mandate to wreak more murderous havoc on the West. Iran will invade and begin snatching up the satellite countries to create a nice big Islamic state.

The Democrats should think about that before they slap at the messenger and decide isolationism and xenophobia is better than being a good global citizen. To break trust with your own military, is to break trust with your allies.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Colour, texture, flavour

When it comes to food, I can be pretty squeamish: mushrooms (icky fungus), spinach (tastes like dirt, barf), oysters (gag, snot on a half shell), any kind of offal (oh… puke), asparagus (urk), beetroot (blech)… I know I’m not alone in finding some morsels too revolting to eat; it’s a personal taste thing. I just don’t like them.

Yeah, obviously I’m a philistine when it comes to gourmet which is probably why I have no plans to visit France.

Of course, there are the usual gastronomic reasons, like… frogs’ legs (shudder) or snails (OMG-hand-me-the-sick-bag!)

One person’s perfect meal is another’s ‘I’m getting a hamburger with fries’.

Now, at last, comes news from the aforementioned France, that they are finally banning the capture and consumption of ortolan because its been hunted to near extinction. Never heard of it?

Well! An ortolan is a small songbird that is cooked and eaten whole; bones an’ all. Just pop that little sucker in and crunch down, no gutting, or filleting necessary.

Gastronomes are furious at the French Government finally cracking down on legislation introduced eight years ago to protect the little bird. They’ve even brought in reinforcements to catch poachers and restaurants serving the meal.

Most famous of those indulging, is Francois Mitterrand who chowed down and concealed ‘his head beneath a napkin in the traditional manner’.

According to yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald: “Some say the napkin helps the diner savour the aroma, others that it is intended to conceal his greed from God.’ The more pragmatic say eating ortolan is a messy business and who needs to see that?

On the other side of the argument (gotta be fair here), one leading chef, Michel Rostang said: “I find it sad that we can no longer serve ortolan in France, or woodcock for that matter, while it is still possible to eat the latter in restaurants in Britain, Spain and Belgium.” Another chef – who remains nameless – said: “It is part of our culture which is disappearing”.

Me, I’m thinking it’s a good thing. Songbirds, for f*** sake!

Of course, it nicely segues into world building, don’ it, and the creation of what characters eat. Many a fantasy or science fiction writer creates what to eat, and how much of a squick factor to incorporate. I’m not that brave, yet, so I put in the usual meat and three veg – different colours, textures, flavours – or shipboard rations. I’m not a fan of ‘recycled’ food, though I can see its value and don’t dismiss the possibility of using the idea.

It comes down to what kind of an environment you’re writing in: what sort of atmosphere – is it rich in oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, methane - the geology – does the planet have a core of iron or not, is it a ‘new’ planet, how much water is there, land masses, ice mass - and soil composition –what microbes are there, is there grass or trees or moss mounds- that decides what food grows and flourishes.

While I’ve read a number of books where food is only referred to, I think it’s important when constructing your world that foodstuffs are written about. Not the history of the food… I mean, have you ever read of characters eating Lobster Thermidor and chatting about the rumour it was Napoleon who named it? Of course not. That’s not as important as the reader knowing what Lobster Thermidor is – and how tasty it is.

Just a reference is needed unless its origins come up in conversation. Why would it? Because some characters are going to demonstrate their superiority to a perceived lesser character – gee, doesn’t that sounds like the French.

Colour, texture, flavour. Kind of says it all.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


And it's only the beginning of the Rugby World Cup. But... Mo-om I had to stay up late an' watch the Wallabies play Japan... I had to!

Yep. Saw the All Blacks (Lew... oops, New Zealand; damn those Muppets) spank Italy, 76-14 and then Ozralya put Japan through the blender, 91-3 (yes, that's ninety-one to three); after that, well, England, I have to say, played pretty poorly for their 28-10 win over the USA. To me, that was a win for the Eagles. England, after all, are supposed to be the defending World champions. Didn't look like it to me, no matter how scratchy my eyes felt.

Well, the games didn't finish until the wee small hours; tonight's no different with four matches. The last finishes at, oh-my-god-that's-early, 6.00am. Fortunately, from then, Fox Sports are repeating the games.

My quandary? South Africa versus Samoa at 9.00am and the New York Giants versus my Dallas Cowboys at 10.00am. What's a fan to do? Yeah, yeah, record one or t'other, except I don't have a recording device. Flicking over during commercials sounds good, as does flicking over between the NFL quarters and team changeover.

Sigh. I'm guessing I'm not going to get a lot of sleep while the World Cup is on; but... who needs it? I'll sleep when it's over. Bwahaha! I love my football!

Saturday, September 08, 2007


While out on my morning walk - sans mp3 because it went pfft, that's right, pfft - I thought about the submission I'm writing. I really need to get rid of it, but the volume of information and informational sources are daunting. It would take some organisation to meld into a coherent and Minister-worthy report.

I'm wandering along, admiring the Bay - as you do - when into my head popped a scene: smoothly muscled barbarian, chained and angry, forced to kneeling on a flagstone floor by some nattily dressed guards; the king, resplendent in royal robes and pissed at being interrupted sneering at the aforementioned barbarian.

All dark and sinister thoughts of politics fled from the light of creation. For the rest of my walk, I thought on the barbarian: why was he there? What was his name? How had he been caught? And the king: What would he do? Why was he sneering? Why was he so pissed? And yes, I answered those questions and more; built the scenario in my head, the motivations, the consequences, the hopes and intentions of all the characters.

Once home, I set to writing notes and the first page. Then I stopped.

The submission. Bah. I could do... it... later? Nope.

And with that, the intruder story was set aside. No-o-o-ooo! Yes. In re-reading what I'd composed, it occurred to me that while the story has merit, oh, yes indeedy, it has an initial element of sameness, of a lack in creativity in the crafting. It began like most of my stories, and, to my eye, showed absolutely no advancement in learning this craft; no intricate and imaginative thought to the word selection, nothing to lure the reader in. It began, in fact, in cliche; nothing to lure the reader into the rest of the story.

So, I'm back writing the submission and will continue on it until it's done early next week. Then, by golly, by crikey, by jingo, I'll get to the story and finish it, hopefully with more flair than it's showing so far.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Money or Love?

In the past two weeks, I think I’ve been offered a piece of about $500 million if only I’d hand over my banking details.

Today, three more arrived in my e-mail: one about the assassinated deputy governor of Baghdad, with a hidden account – $30 million – a deceased foreigner in Burkina Faso whose money can only be taken out under the radar of the UN - $15 million – and 850,000 euros in the London Million International Lottery though the office is, apparently, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Fasa with an e-mail address in France all because my e-mail address was selected in a world-wide lottery.

I must, of course, keep these financial dealings confidential, or risk losing it all. I think I can cope with that; it’s only fake money.

* * *

I went to a job interview a few weeks ago and had a good time of it – I don’t really stress out at interviews anymore (I’m looking for something, and they’re looking for someone suitable, no big).

So earlier this week, I got a phone call telling me that I was unsuccessful by one place. Regrets all round, ‘we’ll keep you on our file in case someone doesn’t want the job’, yadda, yadda…

Yesterday, I told my parent. She stared at me, outraged: “What? How could there be ten other people better than you?”

Sometimes, all it takes is one instinctive, off-the-cuff comment to make you feel the love and the disappointment vanishes.

No amount of money can buy that.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Time vacuum

The problem with being so busy is that I've not time to do any reading... and three more books turned up in the mail this week.

No time for reading also means no time for writing, either. Well... no fiction writing. Political stuff, yeah, but none for the sheer pleasure of putting words down from my imagination.

Next week, I'm hoping that will change. This submission I'm doing must be done by next week and I'm determined to meet that deadline - good practice, d'ya see.

On the downside, it's all a bit complicated with legislations, planning policies, LEPs, REPs and SEPPs, Council briefing papers, staff briefing papers, development applications, community consultation submissions... well, you get the picha. Gathering all the information into one document is, to be frank, daunting.

Ah, but next week... next week this will be done and I can relax and watch the footy, or read or write or, damnit, all three! (I'm such a crazy, wild person!)

It's all a matter of time management and in the future, I'll not be volunteering to do anything more than the media stuff. Someone else more familiar with the information stuff can do it; or our objective will be achieved. No sense in nagging the Ministers.

Rachel Morgan, Joanne Baldwin and Alicia DeVries will just have to wait a few days, I guess...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Ah, can't you just smell the linement?

Here in Australia, the Aussie Rules and Rugby League seasons are heading into finals time. I'm not that much interested since my teams, Richmond in the Rules, finished stone-motherless last and St George, in the League, finished a little further up the table. Either way, they ain't participating in the finals.

There's also the Premier League soccer in England, though I don't think I want to talk about that since Man U are having a less than stellar start.

The Rugby Union World Cup starts this weekend, and while I'm hoping for the best, I doubt the Wallabies will do very well given their idiot, blind and lazy head coach.

On the plus side, the American Football also starts next week. Yay! I'm looking forward to a cracker of season from my boys... the Cowboys that is. Go Dallas!

I love the uniforms, all those tight buns and muscled legs on display. Well, hey, I'm not dead yet, and I like a perv as much as the next woman, thanks.

In the meantime, I've been watching the pre-season games and the College football. As a pre-cursor to the season, it didn't give me much, but the College games were impressive, especially the size of the crowds.

While in the US a few years ago, I tried to get to an NFL game, only to be told that they were sold out...sigh. It was probably a good thing: every city I went to, the home team lost!

One day, when I grow up, I wanna see a live game.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A brave new world

I didn’t go near the computer yesterday: no surfing, no music, no writing, no editing, no research, no e-mailing, nothing.

Every time I saw the computer, I was tempted, but… no, not enough to make me turn it on.

Why? Because sometimes you need a break, be it enforced or not. I decided I needed a day off and sat down in the morning to a M*A*S*H* marathon on the teev. In the afternoon, I went to my niece’s, um… third birthday party and in the evening, I read more crime short fiction.

This morning, I’m more relaxed than I have been in a couple of weeks. It makes me wonder about the Internet and how much stress it contributes to daily lives.

Why, I recall [insert image of an oldie in a rocking chair, gazing off into the distance] the days before the web explosion. When I picked up a telephone to talk to someone, or wrote a letter or postcard. There was none of the immediacy of today; none of this ‘reply now’ business.

It gives rise to the question of how much technology influences our lives and how fast. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s great, if in small doses.

I wrote a essay while at university on ‘Futurology’, that is, a prediction of future technology based on the evolution of current and past standards. When I look at it now – and I wrote this ten years ago or so – it is woefully inadequate. What I saw then for the future, is passé now, and my predictions were based on twenty and thirty years in the future from centuries past.

What does this all mean? Well, for sci-fi writers, it means their imagined creations are fast becoming fact and that will have to think harder on keeping the ‘fiction’ relevant, in keeping the fantastic away from the fact. It means technology is developing at a faster rate than ever imagined. What you buy today is obsolete tomorrow.

The consequences are far reaching in many arenas, from global warming, to bed warming. And it’s a constant source of amazement and intrigue for me; and also worry that I won’t be able to keep up.

Who knows where we’ll be in ten years or twenty? Or what we’ll be doing, what kind of toys we’ll have to play with, how fast communications can travel or on what, cars, aeroplanes, how you listen to music, watch entertainment, work?

It’s a brave new world every day.