Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bon Voy-a-gee 2008

This has been an up and down kind of a year... and, gee, isn't that always the way?

On this day, people reflect on the year almost done. Some will sigh over it. Actually, most will sigh over it - the good, the bad and the downright appalling. But I'm not going to do that. Tomorrow, we start afresh and look to the future. Not necessarily have a strategic plan because something will come along to stuff it up, but goals to achieve.

The most important goal, for me, is failure. Yeah, you heard me right failure, or more precisely, the lessons learned from failing. Once upon a time, it was a crushing blow, a rejection of time and effort and of me, personally. After my first rejection slip, I didn't write for more than a year. I only returned to writing when I couldn't not write.

I don't think failing is something that needs a lot of hand wringing and regret any more, but it does require thought on what can be learned.

Rejection for publication can be a good thing if you look carefully at why the piece was rejected and improve it, or seek an alternative outlet.

So, for the year coming up, I'm spending more time editing and more time sending stuff out. As for the rest, well, whatever comes my way, comes my way and I'll deal with it then. No more worrying about the might-have-beens and the things I cannot change.

It's not a so-called resolution, merely an attitude adjustment.

What thoughts do you have on the coming year?

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I hope everyone had a good Christmas; me, I'm dripping in smug.

I'm typing on my brand spankin' new curved keyboard. It's more ergonomically correct, the keys are smooth, it's spill-proofed and it's black. Oh, yeah. Got lots of added buttons - gotta love lotsa buttons.

In fact, I could sit here, typing away munching on chocolates (everyone deserves chocolate at Christmas) and sipping bourbon (my eldest sister is good to me). I could, but that would be ba-ad. Plus other loot... er, gifts.

Family have come and gone, are here, or will turn up in the next week so it's all good. Of course, that means mucho over indulgence for seven days more. Then I suppose I'll have to get some exercise to compensate.

Nah. I have a Tess Gerritsen to read first... and then January will be editing month. I plan to deal with the first book of the trilogy I wrote for Nano, and it's been an exercise in patience not to have at it early. It will be better for the wait.

I've also been working on a short story, but I'm having a spot of trouble with motivation. I have to have a reason for the alien intervention and I'm coming up blank. It will come to me - I hope - but I don't want it to be a metaphor, political or otherwise and that's what I've got so far. Nope, not going to do it.

Ah well, I'd best get back to the guests...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's good for you

Why red wine is so important at Christmas:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Trial and error

So I'm still trying out desserts for Christmas Day.

Today, I tried a recipe that looked delish from the beginning of construction to the very end: chocolate mousse.

The plan is to keep it in lined ramekins overnight, then pop the mousse out when it's set and place it in pre-baked brandy baskets and top it all with berry fruits and a Cointreau sauce.

Heating the cream went well, as did the blending of dark chocolate, a coupla egg yolks and butter into the slightly cooled cream. Folding in egg whites just made the stuff look ready to eat right out of the bowl.

sigh. The recipe didn't call for sugar; I'm guessing it - usually - doesn't need it. The problem? It said "70% dark chocolate or better." I chose the better... as in 85%. Yes, I see that wince. And you'd be right. A little too bitter.

Ice cream eased it, as did cream mixed with icing sugar and a small splash of vanilla, but nothing would save it for Christmas. Back to the drawing board and this time, I'll be using 50% or even milk chocolate...

Good thing I trialled it now rather than Christmas Day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Long ago...

Ah, yes. I remember it well; lying on the couch reading a book… when a knock on the door broke me out of Patrick Tilley’s world.

My sister came in, all bright eyed and eager. “You wanna puppy?”

I thought about it for a few minutes and her expression slowly dimmed.

“Yes.” Was barely out of my mouth when she grabbed my arm and off we went. “What’s the hurry?”

“I don’t want you to change your mind.”

I wasn’t going to; it seemed… right.

So she drove me to a friend of a friend’s house. And there, in the backyard, were half a dozen puppies gambolling around their mother. Some were white with red splotches and bits of black; some were more black with white patches. Two were black with tan highlights.

As I stood there, looking at the six-week-old cuties, one black and tan puppy came up and sat on my feet, stared up at me. Nothing for it, then. I crouched down and stroked the soft fur. The mother, mostly white, came over and gave the pup a damn good licking, as if to say, ‘now, you behave’. She then licked my t-shirt, gave me a look only a mother can give… and walked back to her brood.

Well, what could I do?

That was Australia Day, 1992.

I bedded my new companion down in a cardboard box in the laundry. To make her more comfortable, I wrapped the mum-licked t-shirt around a hot water bottle and tucked in a clock. She was fine, for a while, and then hours later set up to crying. Puppy. Crying. A heart-wrenching sound. I leapt out of bed at bugger o’clock in the morning. She was sitting on the cold tiles. I fixed her another hot water bottle and settled her again. Nope. Not fifteen minutes later, she was howling again.

At a loss, I opened the back door – in case she wanted to… go to the bathroom. Out she shot, into the darkness of the backyard. Remember, she’s a black puppy, so the night hid her. Once my heart settled back down I went out and called for her. Not a peep. Had she escaped? Decided she didn’t want me anymore? Wanted her mother who was miles away?

Nah. She came trotting back, a happy puppy from the side of the house. To this day, she’ll do her business out of sight of people, or turn her back – if she can’t see you, you can’t see her and she’s okay with that. It’s nice to get a house-trained puppy.

Right now, Saxon’s yet to arise for the day. As a grand dame, she takes her time; as a grand dame should. She still enjoys her walks up the street – albeit slowly – still bravely comes to me when I’m feeling pissed off and can still look at me as if to say ‘well?’ (…it’s my dinner time, it’s time for bed, for a walk, for you to scratch mah belly…)

She’s a little blind, has a bit of Arthur-itis, which I manage with medication, and follows me around the house. When guests come, she’s a little mournful at sharing, but bears up stoically. She also has the ‘hey, I’m sleeping here’ look if you wake her up before she’s done (so cat-like, but you didn’t hear it from me!)

And so, I wish Saxon a very happy birthday; she’s been with me a long time and I hope for time yet. She’s stays out of love for me and I try not to give her cause to reconsider. Saxon is the last of the litter. A gorgeous mixed breed pup with eerie intelligence, who can still makes me laugh at her antics.

I’m grateful my sister dragged me away from that book. My life would be very different if not for Saxon steadying my ship.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Coming around...

Some years ago, I studied history at University; it was, in fact a minor in my degree. For one semester, I did the Industrial Revolution and found it fascinating. There was plenty of information on how the Revolution changed the world - politically, socially, technologically... For my final essay though, I decided to write on how it affected the ordinary person and their way of life. It was a time, remember, when people walked off the land and into factories.

Unfortunately for me, my tutor downgraded the paper for 'being too specific' - he wanted something more general.

I've always thought myself as an 'old school' journalist; that is, I write just the facts without the colourful language of tabloid journalism Murdoch and owners of his ilk have introduced over the past few decades. To me, a journalist gives the facts, the reader makes their own conclusion and it is not the journalists responsibility to give them either a slanted story or an opinion.

I began writing press releases for a government department, and felt rather proud of myself for issuing information, not editorialising. Enter my boss who asked: "Do you have a personal objection to using adjectives?" So I had to add them in.

Cue today. I'm busily volunteering at the local maritime museum writing articles for the local paper. I did three today on well known ships of the area. And so I duly gave them to my boss. She had two things to say:

"Could you make them more specific?" and,

"I think you should put more colour into them, make them more story-like."

So it all collides, years later. I get to write specific stories about the local history of where I grew up. Can't ask for more than that.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

12 hours

What a difference 12 hours make!

After bemoaning the rain and wind and cool conditions of yesterday, this morning dawned hot with gale-force winds from the Outback! But, the winds are late. Windy weather usually arrives in October, not December, and then calms down for hot days.

The birds aren't having much luck flying - unless it's sideways - and I think some of my laundry is now gracing the shores of New Zealand. Bark from the tree out the back is stripping away like a peeled banana.

Some years ago we had winds so strong it took down power lines... and we were barbecue-ing for about four days. It was a convenient time to defrost the fridge.

So far, no brown-outs; the local electricity company has kept trees away from the lines. Ah well, if it happens, it happens.

Time to wrap prezzos for the prezzie run tomorrow - if it can all fit into the boot! A scenic drive to the highlands, lunch with sisters and a car stuffed with love; what could be better?

Friday, December 12, 2008


Summer? What Summer?

It's raining here again, which isn't a bad thing really. Although I would like to get out and mow the lawn. Ah, well. I'll just get to some writing instead.

Yesterday, two hundred plus people donned their Santa suits for the Santa bicycle ride... to the local pub. The rain held off, though it was overcast. The ride raises money for the area's bushfire brigade and I think they did well this year. Maybe next year, there'll be even more riders.

At the sound of the siren, warning of their approach, I grabbed the camera only to discover the batteries had died and I couldn't find any fresh ones in time. Funny how rechargeable batteries aren't as good as fresh ones. sigh Anyway, here's one from last year:

The kids along the road love it, especially the sweets tossed to them. The local economy loves it too. Can you imagine it? Two hundred Santas. In the pub for the afternoon!

I'd like to join them but... I don't have a Santa suit, nor do I have a bike. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I think it's time the Government announced that Christmas shopping two weeks from the day, be declared a contact sport.

Fortunately, I'm done. Now for the wrap and prezzo run to deliver.

* * *

I've been climbing the family tree again, and woe, discovered an alleged criminal. Why alleged? Because Abraham died in jail before fronting court of 'natural decay'. His son, Jesse, was acquitted of the crime of sheep stealing, of which they were both accused. However, Jesse got himself nicked by the plods the following year and transported to Australia for life. That was in 1832. He'd already spent six months in the pokey for stealing a shovel (six months - for a shovel).

By 1855, when Jesse died, he had land near the Lachlan River, cattle and horses. Back in England, Jesse's remaining sibling, Matthew was too old for a journey to the colony and sent his son instead to sort out the problem of Jesse dying without out a will.

Edwin arrived in 1860 with his wife and the few children who hadn't married - including my great grandmother. He decided to stay and so one connection to how we arrived is made. All because of a coupla dudes who couldn't keep their hands off a neighbour's sheep.

Now I'm going to hunt down the connections with the other side of the family. Will there be as much drama or simply a need for change?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Soul Keeper

Or...righty then.

To replace the short stories I didn't post during Nano, Soul Keeper is now up on Scribd.


Det. Kate Saxon is hunting her partner's killer. But in Kate's world, the line between life and death are about to be blurred.

It's longer than a short story and wa-ay shorter than a novel. Novelette, maybe? Novelling?


After a month - and a bit - of writing, I figured it was time to do some computer maintenance. I usually do it every week or two, but for November I didn't.

And woe... defragmentation took hours, hours I tell you! Once upon a time, I had a computer that had a whopping 25 megabyte hard drive. I could not imagine needing more and the defrag zipped through like a rat on crack.

But with the advancement of technology, hard drives became larger. I now have a 40 gig hard drive and the defrag is more like a rat on Prozac.

Before, I had no excuse not to write; yesterday I did. And what did I do with my new found time? I watched Mamma Mia! Finally. It's a bit of a giggle - who knew Meryl Streep could sing and Pierce Brosnan... not?

The effect was that I felt a desire to put on one of my Abba CDs. Yes, I have a four CD set from years ago, when they were considered daggy.

Now the beast that is my computer should be back to it's natural zippy self.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The hordes

I braved the ravening hordes today to finish off my Christmas shopping... and failed.

Mothers with their small children were out in force, with hard edged strollers and kids whose screams rivalled any police, ambulance or fire siren.

I even started early, but to no avail. Normally polite people suddenly developed fangs and demonic expressions and children showed off their dark sides by yelling at the top of their lungs because they wanted something off the shelves. When denied, they dragged the aforementioned item down anyway.

Feral eyed staff darted for cover, lest they be hunted down and questioned at length. And don't think the men were anything other than determined hunter-gatherers, with their lowered brows, protruding jaws and eyes that dared you to get in the way of their objective.

Nope. I'm never going into a toy store again.

Not that the others stores I visited were any different: mothers ignoring the plaintive cries of their offspring, staff in hiding, children running amok between shoppers, fathers doing their best to escape the family unit...

But when I dragged myself home three hours later, I discovered now have three, maybe four gifts to get.

I realise now that today was punishment for starting early, for not joining the human wave of panic a week before Christmas. One more day. One more day and I'll be done.

The next time, though, I'm filling up on red meat; raw. Then we'll see who has the baddest at-it-toode.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Nano ends

So, Nano is done for another year.

I stayed up until midnight to watch the countdown and to keep my nose in front.

This morning, I woke up late and felt like I had a hangover - aching head, dry mouth, eyeballs feeling too large for the sockets... and not a drop of alcohol involved. Damn it!

Today, I'm relaxing. I've watched American football for most of day, and loved it.

Tomorrow I'll throw myself back into it and post the story I failed to post in November (ba-ad Jaye, very ba-ad!) and finish the last of the Nano books.

I got jammed up on how the French dispose of nuclear waste... In January, I'll go back and edit it all, that will be close to 250,000 words.

But for now, rest, relaxation and a good shot of Sean Bean in Sharpe.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sara Douglass

Well, bugger.

If I hadn't been in my own little world, I would have known THIS!

I don't read Sara Douglass, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate her talent or her legion of fans who love her work.

You need to send her a supporting email at sde(at)oldlondonmaps(dot)com and lend an emotional helping hand.

One of my eldest brother's friend from his uni days lost his wife to ovarian cancer and I buy a daffodil in her memory every year. She was a lovely woman who was always interested in what I was doing, a delight to chat to on a number of subjects and had a witty sense of humour. Co-incidentally, her name was Sarah.

Send an email; show your support to Sara and let her know you're thinking good thoughts for her.

The last hours...

It's a shite and briney morning here for the last day of NaNo. The clouds of last week and the storms of the weekend have gone, leaving the fresh, after the rain perfume.

Sven and Oleg are ready to tend my every need on this last day as a make a last day dash for the finish... oh, wait... why am I madly writing on the final day when outside is glorious and I've accomplished most of my goals?

It's the 'most of'; I've got to finish the last book. And next year? The inner athlete is joining the inner critic!

Breath deep of clear air, hold on to your giblets and... write!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Dance

Here we are, in the last week of Nano.

I figure some people are saying 'ah, the hell with it' and going off to do other things; then there are more who are wondering if this month of torture will ever end.

Me, I'm currently the latter. I have abused the keyboard most dreadfully, writing with hunched shoulders and a manic gleam in my eye trying to squeeze out words.

Oh, yeah, this has not been easy, regardless of the word count. I've had days were I reached 10,000 words or more before the sun went down, and days were reaching 4,000 was a wretched struggle and I'd be trying to write late into the night.

It's been a month of resisting temptation, of not reading the latest books, of not watching the latest movies, of turning away from the family tree lest the fruit entrance me to linger and wallow in research. Of balancing time between this work and family, who have been remarkably patient with me. And of neighbours looking at me sideways while I try to discover how long you can fight with two swords without your arms dropping off on the balcony. (No, officer, I'm researching a book; yes, officer, I'll do it inside from now on...)

Every year, when I'm done, I swear not to do Nano again. And every year, in October, I get tackled by the plot bunnies, tickled until I give in and yell 'uncle!'. I'll call Sven and Oleg to assist and with renewed vigour, plunge into the murky depths of story writing. I'll swim around until the water clears and start paddling.

So, the last week of NaNo, where most participants will throw up their hands and give up and where happy dances are - as of today - being enjoyed by those canny enough, disciplined enough and persistent enough to reach the 50,000 word goal and beyond.

What will you be? A hand thrower, or a happy dancer?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, the pain

Banged into that wall at speed!

What wall? The one where you happily motoring along, writing up a storm and suddenly, your fingers go dyslexic and the keyboard feels like it's moving. That's when I know it's time to stop for the day.

I know it's an illusion, but the mind... she play funny tricks.

And then there's the internal debate: I'm a competitive person, but it's not necessarily good for me.

I've written two books this month, shouldn't that be enough? I mean really, it's about encouraging people to write and, for some, 50,000 words is a real challenge. Everyone who reaches that mark deserves their happy dance at the end.

But for me? I see those word counts rise and I can't help but match them. I've got to write more - and keep it readable. If I don't, that muse torments me; gives me more scenes, more dialogue (descriptions of landscape are absent), more adventure.

And so, I'm off to write the third book, this one in modern day Australia.

I think breaking out the metal studded whip and self-flagellating is probably easier than this.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Candy and thieves

Big day, yesterday, with the writing.

Candy scenes, lots and lots of candy scenes! An' that's thu thing, innit? The best way to enjoy your writing is to skip the boring bits and go for the action - not that I did, by the way.

I've spent the past few days building up to these scenes. The gradual (or not) increase in tension to get everyone where they need to be for the near misses, the disappointments, the misunderstandings. And now, the chase is on.

Of course, I've screwed up the time line something chronic, but it's all fixable during the editing. And I've got to find out travel times by coach and horse.

* * *

In real life, my cousin and I have been e-mailing each other about the family tree.

And S. had some disturbing news: that my grandfather's WW1 medals were sold at auction this year. What's so bad about that? They weren't sold by anyone in the family.

Some years ago, my grandmother arranged for the original medals to be copied. Each of her sons received a set with one genuine medal - an MBE, a Military Cross, a 1914-1918 medal and the Victory medal.

When S. contacted the auctioneers, she was assured by the company that they thought the medals genuine.

All I can do is get my brother (who inherited the M.C. from my Dad) to find out if it's a replica or not.

It's unspeakable if we no longer have Pa's medals and while I'd like to have a few words with the guy who sold them, he died in 2000. I know my Grandfather's probably having a few words with him in the afterlife...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nano blues

I must be meant to concentrate on Nano - which I have been, dutifully - because the novelette has a bit of a problem. I'm fixing it and trying to create a cover for it, but... I have a terrific photo, it just emphasises the wrong character.

I'm entering the worst part of Nano, the mid-nano blues. It's the time when you've been at it for fifteen straight days, writing and struggling as you begin to lose impetus and other distractions become apparent.

The dust bunnies have taken on monstrous proportions and are stalking each other. The carpet is beginning to feel like a gravel road. Your neighbours start calling because they haven't seen you for a couple of weeks. The grass isn't grass any more but a jungle where wild animals lurk and the dog is afraid to go out. And the laundry pile is procreating.

Like writing any book, this is the hard slog. This is where you grit your teeth and push on. Where you kill someone, have a couple get together, instigate a political crisis, all to move the book on, be it towards 50,000 or towards the end of the book.

If it's all planned, no problem, you've simply got to write the words. But for those - like me - who don't plan, the characters are beginning to sulk because nothing is happening.

That's fine for one of my characters, he's a patient villain. The more time the others waste, the more established he becomes. I'd love to have a confrontation, but it's just not the right time.

I think I'll have to hit the history books and see if there's a catastrophe I can use...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stop... Go... Grrr...

Well, that didn't go as expected!

I did nothing... I repeat, nothing, nada, zip and my favourite, bupkiss on my Nano books today.

I did do a lot of Christmas shopping and hunting down highlight tiles for the kitchen. I wrestled with traffic, with other's getting in early for Christmas. I fought for car parks with elderly drivers and laughed at them when I won and sneered at overpriced goods.

Bah, humbug!

And came home exhausted.

But all is not lost, for I finished off a novelette (do those words count?). I've yet to put together the cover art and convert it to .pdf, but that's for tomorrow. Then I'll post it on my Scribd page with links here and on the takeaway. It's just a li'l somethin', somethin' since I haven't done a short story this month.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One end; one beginning

I finished the first book today (Sven, Oleg and I are celebrating later), and started writing the sequel. I don't have a title yet, I'm hoping for something clever, or witty or something that spe-eeeks tooo meee. No luck.

This one is set in the Victorian era; an age of exploration and exploitation, of fabulous wealth and abject poverty, a crossing from agrarian society to industrial as people left the fields for the cities in search of better paid work.

I've prepared myself better this time with research on Cambridge University, what dissolves iron and how quickly, even the fashions of the day. I'll have to look up the Corn Law, factory conditions, manor houses and much more as I go along.

I'm glad the impetus is still with me, the second week of Nano is always the hardest. With the 'I've past 50k, take a day or two', 'are you sure about this, it's so much more work'.

Another clue for you: do not stop writing until November 30! It takes 21 days to form a habit, and if you want to be a writer, sitting your butt in the chair every day for a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand words is the best habit you can form.

I'm resisting going back and reading what I've done so far; I know some parts will garner a WTF? But other bits will surprise me. It's done and can marinade for a while.

Meanwhile, I have a tomb to open...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Focus and... ooh, shiney!

Another bright and early morning... well, not now, but I did have my butt in the seat, opened my database and yesterday's work at seven a.m.

What have I been doing the for the past hour or so? Okay, I'll 'fess up: I was surfing the 'net. And that can easily turn into a problem for any writer with access. It is so distracting (but then... I get distracted by encyclopedia - so much interesting stuff; usually right next to what I'm looking up and then there's more to see - and telephone books as a back up for names when I'm not satisfied with the baby name book I have, and...)

...right, you get the idea.

It's all to easy to think 'I'll just check my e-mail', but you've got reply and there's the Nano boards and your ongoing research - which can be a boon or a disaster.

Example? I'd written 60,000 words then looked up French Royalty and discovered that out of the centuries of Kings, I happened to pick the time where Henri III was duking it out with Henri of Navarre - oh and the Duchy of Burgundy wasn't a part of France then. Some might find such a thing distressing, but I don't, I had a good laugh. I mean, of all French history I chose that era? I can't have my heroine friends with any of them, so I'll have to rethink.

This kind of post-writing research can put a crimp in the work, but all of it can be fixed when editing comes around.

Hmm... I had a point when I started... Oh, yes. Another clue to finishing the 50k or, indeed, any book you're considering is to get rid of all distractions. Including the internet. For the time you've set aside to write, you have to be strong and not fiddle with other stuff.

Your work is the most interesting, the most important thing you can do at the time you're writing it. Don't bother with checking the word count until the end of your writing session. Focus on telling the story, picture it clearly in your head, like a movie. Let the words flow. Your typing speed matters not, get the words down and take pride in the effort when you're done for the day.

Okay. I'm off to kill a few characters. I wonder how I'll do it? Ah, war; so many ways to die...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Werkin' out

Well, I've head-butted the 50k and given myself a headache. Actually, this amount of writing can screw you up in a number of ways... but I get around it by... exercising.

Yes, the bane of all writers existence. Getting out there and pumping up those muscles, getting the blood flowing.

The fundamental rule of writing is to write. Obvious, eye-rolling, smirking. But this is a marathon writing session, for me at least. December I have 'stuff' to do so it's all about November and how much I can get done.

Having a zippy typing speed is all well and good, having a kick ass word count is great, but there's a down side to it, and it starts in the neck and shoulders.

You're advised to take breaks, every fifteen minutes, half an hour or so to stretch and walk and to make that next cuppa java. I do this, but I need more because the old brain? She gets a little foggy in the morning.

Of course, I live in a rather fabulous part of the world - in a Marine Park. White sandy beach, changeable sea, sun; where dolphins frolic early, Osprey glide, Pelicans and the Black swan paddle on calm days... sigh

Anyway, it's a great area to walk for an hour. And it clears the mind, because your imagination, while it pings off in all direction, still needs to focus and I abuse the poor pet dreadfully during November. Out there, the quiet noise of nature is relaxing and when I return, I can jump right back in.

I once saw Nano as an excuse not to exercise - it took time away from writing - but found myself more tired as the month progressed. So, I grabbed the MP3 player, stuck on a hat and out I went into the wide world for a much needed distraction. And when I did that, the word count started to rise again and the story flowed much better.

Speaking of which, it's time I wandered off. I have my characters right where I want them, but an hour's extra torture won't kill them... will it?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nano, na-yes!

And so I've passed the 50k point.

I wrote a little over 12,000 words today in a marathon session that sometimes dragged, especially when I saw how close I was to 50,000. It's like clock watching. The numbers didn't seem to count down as fast as I would have liked.

But I crashed through the barrier, tripped over the rubble and fell on the other side. I think I'll just lie here for a moment and catch my breath before I continue on the finish the book.

I have the characters right where I want them; now I can go ahead and torture them!

The best tricks to completing Nano are consistency and sticking to a schedule. To keeping your butt in the chair and writing. You've got to put yourself into the character and write what they do. Sometimes, it's easy and the words flow; other times it's like trying to loosen a rusty nut - not a lot of progress for all the effort.

You've got to keep at it, keep to your schedule, get into the groove and before you know it, we can turn you over coz you're done.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Screaming Halt

Ah, my bookends. Sven the beginning, Oleg the end and me in the middle…

Ooops, did I say that out loud? Hah. Well… um…. Right. Nano.

Okay, you’ve dumped the inner distractions, you’ve been writing like a spider on steroids and suddenly, a screaming halt is approaching.

Put your hands over your ears and close your eyes. Lie back and think of Sven… NO! think of ‘and then…’ or better yet, with your slowing scene, think of where you want that scene to end and work towards it. Too hard? I said not to think of Sven!

Your characters are talking with no end in sight? Throw in something controversial – a secret told, a comment overheard, a distraction (car accident, accidental phasor burst, a vampire appearing, a man holding a pizza box drops it in traffic and it gets run over) anything to take your characters out of their dead end conversation.

You’ve successfully trapped your characters, but what now? Nope, Sven and Oleg will not assist you with their rippling muscles, oiled bodies, distracting good looks and cunning minds… um. Okay. Moving on… You trapped them, but how would you get out? A sympathetic guard? A backpack filled with tools one character thought contained gold? A MacGuyver watch with a nuclear power cell? A lovesick werewolf desperate to impress you? Mmmm…. MacGuyver…

The great escape has occurred but what next? Keep them in danger; a shout from the battlements alerting the guard, treacherous terrain, injuries, a burning thirst for revenge. A shuttlecraft with its engines offline and the bay doors firmly shut. (Luuuke, use the force…)

Finally, they’re alone in the vast reaches of space, in the desert, hiding in bushland, out of the burning building, closed the door on all those obnoxious party-goers. Throw in sex. Yes, indeedy, you want a word count, this’ll get it for you… no, Sven and Oleg are busy for the next… 26 days! (Not now, Oleg, I’ll get the massage later.) A sexual encounter can happen for a number of reasons, but one of the best is the stress reliever, the affirmation of life after a near miss, the inability to reign in the lust. Of course, they can regret the incident later.

And with intimacy established, you can now separate your characters to get them to think on what they’ve lost, to plan how to get more of that… Sven… stop it… intimacy, because damn, neither of them realised how compatible they were. But what separates them? Social standing? Ideological differences? Family values? Best to leave politics and religion out of it, both are like Gordian knots and lead to info dumping.

Okay, take your hands from your ears and open your eyes, you’ve gone past the screaming halt. Look back. See that speck? That’s her, still yelling and that crowd around her? They are the Nano-ers who decided it’s all too difficult and are mesmerised.

You can finish, just keep ‘and then’ in mind and your imagination will take it from there.

Okay, Sven, you can stop doing that in about an hour…

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sven and Oleg

Some people have staggered starts to Nano; that is, they’re all ready to go and… stagger.

Why? Because the Inner Critic is also prepared and let’s rip as soon as you type the first, painful word.

The best thing is to get rid of the bitch and since she’s leaning over your shoulder, watching you type, it’s easy to get the two really big professional bookends… oh, you don’t know them? They are Sven and Oleg, Swedes, you understand, oiled muscles, tanned, tall, blond and well, you get the idea…. Mmmm… Sven

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. The Inner Critic. Sven and Oleg pick the whiney-ass up.

“You loser,” she says, struggling against strong arms, little legs running in mid-air, “you’ll never get this done!” She looks to the left with lust. “Are you Sven?” Then back. “You never do it right.” And looks to the right. “You must be Oleg.”

The boys stand her in a nicely aged wooden box, circled with time-darkened iron bands. “I’m telling you, you’ll be dangling participles in no time without me! And you’ll but up on charges of adverb abuse. And don’t get me started on commas or semi-colons! You’re useless, you hear me? Useless

Sven and Oleg raise identical eyebrows for permission to shut her in. Damn, they are fine looking bookends.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The Inner Critic. She’s still struggling, still ranting about 50,000 words being too much, and you, not good enough to make 10.

“Lock her up, boys.”

She’s shoved down and Oleg closes the box, presses down with one tanned hand, posed to display bulging muscles while Sven squats down, hooks the padlock, closes it with a snick. The Inner Critic can still be heard, but she not begging to be released and that she’ll behave, oh, no, it’s all condemnation and derision.

“Take her away. Far, far away.”

The boys grin. Dimples appear as they lift the box between them and wander away.

The Inner Editor watches from your other shoulder and attracts your attention by clearing his throat.

“Here, a plane ticket.” You hold up the ticket with pictures of magnolia blossoms, aquamarine sea and white sugar sand. “30 days. Enjoy yourself.”

He grabs the ticket and runs to pack his budgie smugglers. But he’ll be back by the end of the month. Alaskan Air ran out of ticket covers and borrowed some from Fiji Air.

As for the Inner Critic, it’s your choice to have her back or get Sven and Oleg to dump her into a volcano.

And now you’re ready. Silence, blessed silence waiting to be filled with music or nothing at all. The characters are waiting, conversations ready to be had, words ready to bring imagination to life.

Touch the keyboard and bring your story out into the light.

Nano isn’t about the perfection of sentence construction, the dynamics of a well-written action seen, or the cleverness of dialogue. It’s about getting the words down, more than 50,000 if you can manage it.

It’s writing the bones of the work, the infrastructure. And when December 1 comes around, you can be sure you have the solid foundation of a great book, your book.

Oh, boy. Sven and Oleg are back and don’t they look handsome?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

And so... it begins

Around the world, Nano-ers are busily abusing their keyboards and their characters.

Thousands of different worlds popped into existence in one massive spatial shift. Tens of thousands of people suddenly appeared out of thin air; wars are being waged, arguments had, action scenes started - or ended - births, marriages, deaths... it's all happening in Nanoland.

I got off to a reasonable start - what with family visiting and all - but I think I stuffed up the beginning. Oh, the salient points are there, it's just not flowing as well as I want it to. (Must have something to do with rambunctious children rampaging through the house - and who can blame them? - there are so many places for kids to work their imaginations on.)

Hmmm... I've just checked previous years starting days and this is one of the better ones. Maybe having the kids around helped! Who knew?

Anyway, I'm rolling along and expect a good day's writing.

Word count from yesterday? 6575. A good day's work.

Friday, October 31, 2008


The hours are ticking down.

Here, as I write this, there are five hours to go. Not that I'm going to start Nano on the stroke of midnight, that's simply inviting madness and some really screwy writing. But I expect to be up bright and early to start.

I'd like to say I have my schedule all worked out, but I have family visiting this weekend so I'm going to work around them. And I have cable, so a couple of hours - or more - shouldn't be a problem.

And there's the beach, too, for the kids so that equals more time.

I mean, it's not as if I won't catch up now is it? Most of my word count will be during the first week.

Let the games begin...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A major distraction

Just when I think I'm free of distractions for the month... J.D. Robb's new book, Salvation in Death is due out in a week.


What am I gonna do? I can't have Eve and Roarke and whomever running around in my head while I'm writing, I only have space for one author and that's me. But to wait?

Oh, 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'! I'm just going not look in the bookstores. Yeah. If I don't see it, it's not there, right? Right??

* * *

Anyway. I had an interesting e-mail today from a cousin. A cousin, I might add, who I haven't seen nor heard in a good twenty-five years. Yes, that long. My side of the family didn't really get along with them and when you leave home, there's no reason to contact people with whom you had a less than cordial relationship.

She's interested in my genealogical search, that was it. No 'hail, fellow, well met', no familial updates, just 'watcha got?' I think it's a cultural flaw in the family not to consider how much time has passed. Is that good or bad? In this instance, I think good... as long as no invitations come along. I hated being forced to be nice when all I wanted was to be somewhere else.

And that is the great thing about the internet and e-mail: you can chat about anything without meeting. You can be as formal or informal as you like.

Man. Twenty-five years. Well, I guess it's been a month for it given the couple of school friends getting in contact. I wonder if Karma has something to do with it?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Count down

Participants are being pushed towards the cliff called Nano, or NaNoWriMo (it sounds like a miniature rhinoceros).

For me, there's a hint of panic (I'm not ready!) and anticipation (come on, start, damn it!) The first chapter is swirling - though sometimes I think that's the drain it's swirling around - and I am ready to write; what comes after is up to the characters.

For those who need that little bit extra help, Paperback Writer has 20 hints for you. I'd like to add to number 19, the reminder of where you left off. When you finish writing the day before, stop in the middle of a sentence. When you're ready to continue, you can read back the previous paragraph to get an idea of where you were up to and finish off the sentence with a clearer idea of where you were headed when you stopped.

For me, I do take a coffee break, rather than water. It's too easy to have a water jug nearby and I have to physically leave the computer to make coffee. It matters not if I finish the drink, only that I have that small distraction.

I also have my essential books nearby: a dictionary (Oxford), a thesaurus (also Oxford) and a baby name book (for those irritating characters who don't want their identities known). A notebook and sticky notes are also important for the 'scathingly brilliant idea' for a future chapter.

I should note that I've already got the beginning and the end of the work. All I have to do is connect them via the muddle, er, middle. And I have the significant clue ready to write within the first three chapters.

The last thing to do is clear the desk... oh, and hope it all comes together by the end of the month.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The other challenge

Okay, the weekend is done. The kitchen looks fabulous with the new tiles, two of my sisters managed to get together for a gab fest and then the brother turned up. Much nattering away and catching up with assorted children.

And today, I finally caught up with my e-mails. I'm like others in prioritising which to read first, so I thought the Nanowrimo e-mail was a pep talk coming up to the actual day.

Well, roll me in the mud and call me a pig! How wrong could I be? An excerpt:

CreateSpace, an Inc. owned company, is generously offering every NaNoWriMo 2007 winner a "free proof copy" of their 2007 manuscript. What this means: A free proof copy of your manuscript in paperback book form–just by following the instructions below. They'll even cover the costs of basic shipping to you.


Once I got over the shock, surprise, greed, dreaming and all around squee moment, I got to thinking what this meant for the book I'm planning (okay, not really; I have the main character, a couple of villains, a hero or two, a situation, conflicts, some surprises, some history, language adjustments, scenery and an ending... um, is that a plan?).

Anyway, when I write for Nano, I look for areas where I can boost my word count. It's lazy and unproductive in the long run because the editing has to be more intensive to get rid of so many passive sentences and adverbs. It's straight writing without considering the after work. If I'm to use this freebie though, more care in the writing will happen.

The offer is good for six months - I still have to read the small print - and that's a time frame I can work with, but the more care I take in the writing, the less editing and reconstruction has to be done.

I'll have to take responsibility for the work, make it the best it can be; a shrug of the shoulders and a 'meh, it'll do' won't do this time around.

And so, I've found this year's extra challenge: write the book and sequel (if necessary) to the best of my ability using everything I've learned during this long apprenticeship. Because the other part of the e-mail says:

After you receive your proof copy, you can then choose if you want to make it available to the public at large—everything from showing up for sale on to complete invisibility.

It's a step up to be available via Amazon, and I don't want to stumble.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Since I'll be busily tiling and mowing and cleaning and dining this weekend with rellos, I thought you'd enjoy this:

A man in Scotland calls his son in London the day before Christmas Eve and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your Mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Dad, what are you talking about?" The son yells.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer." The father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Leeds and tell her."

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like hell they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this."

She calls Scotland immediately, and yells at her father: "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're both coming for Christmas and they're paying their own way."

Oh, and just fyi, some of my ancestors came from Scotland. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Me Casa

I've been busily writing away this week so I have something to post on the Takeaway during Nano.

It keeps wanting to expand into more than it actually is and I can't let that happen or I'll still be writing when Nano comes around in ten days. And to use this for Nano would be cheating.

I don't think I could expand it into a book, but that's just a temporary block. I'm sure I could write it out into 100,000 words or so, but I'm not going to; I have something else in mind.

It's also been busy around the Casa this week with some simple cheesemaking happening, hypocras simmering and recipe books scanned for Christmas. Friday, I'm trying to make some semi-fredo - just to make sure it works, you understand. Christmas here can get bitchingly hot, so a cool dessert will be refreshing. There will also be wall scrubbing because we are doing some tiling in the kitchen over the weekend.

For now, I have to wrestle some characters into submission...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hip, Hip, Hypocras!

To let my mind rest from thoughts of Nano, I've decided to start making Hypocras for the Christmas season.

Hypocras is a spiced wine that can be consumed hot or cold and is good for you. Attributed to Hippocrates, it's first mentioned in texts in the 12th century. Romans also drank spiced wines. King Henry VIII also had some after his two hour breakfasts because it was reputed to aid digestion, though his had gold flakes in it.

A few years ago I was at a Medieval banquet where it was served. I could not stop drinking the stuff! And determined I would make my own. As with most recipes, it takes a little practice to get the ingredients and the timing right; it depends on who's recipe you're using.

It's definitely a love/hate thing - I think because cloves smell medicinal. Anyway, I've found a recipe using white wine that I'm eager to try. It's reproduced as it was written in 1596 so it will need some thought to translate. Who knew reading Geoffrey Chaucer would have any benefit at all?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jeez, you'd think those Nigerian scammers - and the others - would have enough sense to e-mail from the country they say you've won the lottery of. Today it's the British National Lottery and one million pounds. Yep, I could use it since I fear how far down my portfolio has plummeted. I'll be receiving my quarterly progress report soon. Problem is, the e-mail was sent from the Czech Republic.

Ah, well. If I believed the e-mails and they were true, I think I'd have won about 50 million by now.

An-ee-way. New story up on The Takeaway.

The next story is due in November and we all know what I'll be doing then. I'll try to post something, but I make no promises.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


While reading the weekend paper - as you do - I came across a list of words that are due for extinction.

These are words no longer used by people other than those who wish to show off, at least here in Australia. I've never heard of them, but does that mean they should be written out of dictionaries?

Skirr: the sound a bird's wing makes in flight.

Fubsy: short and stout.

Niddering: cowardly.

Caliginosity: dimness.

Embrangle: embroil/entangle.

Oppugnant: combative.

Fatidical: prophetic.

As you can see, not common. But if we'd retained words, writers like Shakespeare and Chaucer wouldn't be the torment they are today (and I wouldn't have such a hard time deciphering Medieval recipes). Then again, if you think of how large the Oxford English Dictionary is (20 volumes), how much bigger would it be if all English words were preserved?

The OED is updated quarterly with between one and two thousand new and revised word definitions. It is also the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language - which is why I use it.

The argument to delete certain words is a good one, but I can't help thinking some words should remain. Oppugnant is a great word, so is niddering. The others, well... I can see why they've fallen out of use. Perhaps the OED should produce a dictionary of deleted words. I'd like to have one and I'm sure many scholars would too, if only to see the genesis of the English language.

Maybe Bill O'Reilly could use them: "When writing to us, please do not be oppugnant."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And the winner is... Europe!

The Nobel prize for Literature goes to: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio!

Yeah, I have no idea who he is either, but I don't read 'literature'. Monsieur Le Clezio writes about 'the perils of modern life' and often deals with globalisation and the environment.

Of more interest is that the Nobel judges have, once again, been accused of an anti-US bias. Only three American authors have won the prize in thirty years. The Swedish Academy president Horace Engdahl replied to the criticism, saying American writers were too influenced by their own pop culture to be able rival Europe as the centre of the literary world. ABC

Whoa, harsh and arrogant. Alfred Nobel made no mention of the winner coming from 'the centre of the literary world' in his will that bestowed the $US2 million prize. He said: "to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency".

After reading Mr Engdahl's comments, I would suggest the Academy is biased, not just against U.S. authors, but any country other than Europe. It begs the question on what he would say about African writers, Australian writers, South American writers or Asian writers - since they're not European - or whether he thinks about them at all - since they're not European.

Is he saying that to win, you must be European and write about world issues in a literary style? Oh, no! That means I'll nevah win!!!!

While I deplore such a comment, the worst damage has to be to the institution of Nobel. The prize is held in high esteem; there is no greater literary award. Now, I think it's tarnished a little by the ill-considered words of an idiot, and Monsieur Le Clezio's achievement diminished. Two million dollars should ease the sting.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Um... No.

I unashamedly love my superheroes.

As a kid, I'd sneak my brothers Batman and Superman. They were so cool!

Once I could afford them, I'd buy X-men, Justice League with the occasional Avengers thrown in if the cover or series appealed to me.

There's something about them that interests me. On an intellectual level, you could look at the good versus evil, of people trying to accept they are different and fit in, or that the world simply needs heroes, to know that someone extraordinary is looking out for them.

Or it could be I just love the anatomically incorrect drawings of buff men and overly endowed women... Nah.

So. I've been buying comics for years. When the movies came along, I, with other fans, awaited the casting of them. And approved. Except for one.

I loved the Spiderman movies, the original Superman flicks and yes, Supergirl though the effects were a little dodgy. The first two X-men were great, the third veered so far away from the comics that I've yet to convince myself to buy it. Fantastic Four is up there, though Daredevil and Electra were meh.

Now I've just seen Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. is terrific but there's a problem. No, it's not Gwennie Paltrow - though she could have put a little more emotion into the piece - it's the very end.

I admire Samuel L. Jackson and I love his movies but there is no way, not now, not ever, I will every think of him as Nick Fury. No. Nick is a white dude, with grey sideburns, a buzz cut and rrriiipppling pectorals (he also looks tasty in a skin suit). He's a testament to middle-aged buffity-buffness; he's not Sammy L.

If there's going to be an Iron Man 2, someone is going to have to rethink that little piece of casting nonsense.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nano fever

Nano is like an itch.

It starts off as a minor irritation in late September, something you can ignore because there's other stuff to do that relates to real life. Then October arrives and the itch is becoming more noticeable. You find yourself zipping over to the site to have a look. Who's registered, is there anyone from your area, your writing group? Are there widgets to download?

But... you've got plenty of time to think about something to write. Then the itch worsens. Ideas float around, never settling, just taunting you with potential.

Come the end of October and you're snarling at anyone who asks about the blank expression you wear. You're constantly wiping away the sweat (at least, here Down Under where the weather is warming up for Summer), making notes, checking the coffee and snackage supply and warning people that during November, you are categorically unavailable.

On the 1st of November, bright and unspeakably early, you're sitting at the keyboard, fingers poised to write that great epic, ready to throw yourself into the maelstrom that is your own mind and let the words flow...

Unless you have The Blue Screen Of Death! Kidding. Once you start, it's scratching that itch. Doesn't it feel so good?

The first tip I have for you is about that blank page and how to overcome the panic of where to start.

Write: Chapter One.

There. No more blank page and no more panic. Need more to get you started? Okay. Start with a dramatic scene. You've been thinking about this for some time and I know you've got an action sequence. Start with that and go from there with a 'and then...'

After that, it's up to you.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Past, present, future

I'm back from my sojourn to Canberra and looking after the kidlets while their parents went off to Taswegia - otherwise known as Tasmania for the long weekend.

As usual, I bought the weekend edition of The Sydney Morning Herald and you could have knocked me down with a feather to see a woman I went to university with on the careers page. I mean... wow. This is a widely read newspaper!

She's the founder of Vision Walks, a bushwalking enterprise you can do at night to see what the Australian bush has to offer at night. Too cool!

It's a little odd to see someone you know in the public eye like that - especially when she and I played soccer together at uni and had some... uh... well, students will drink alcoholic beverages and get up to some shenanigans! But telling you more than that would only incriminate me.

It's all the more curious on top of the recent e-mails from high school chums. I can't decide whether it's just a 'this is how your contemporaries are doing', or fate saying 'pull your finger out and do something!'

I like to think it's the latter and with Nano only three weeks away, the book I have in mind is starting to gel. I have the opening scene with dialogue and the four characters involved. Good guys, bad guys and an ongoing plot line. Feels like I'm almost ready.

Sometimes, I guess, you need a kick in the right direction with a reminder of the past.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Giving up bad things

It's the Labour Day long weekend here and I'm in Canberra looking after C. and D.'s kidlets while they have a mini-holiday in Tasmania. I drove up yesterday and the countryside is really pretty early in the morning. Since it's Spring, sunrise means about 5.30 am. I left at just after six.

I confess I stopped, half an hour from home, at Mickey D's for coffee and bacon and egg muffin for breakfast. I am hangin' my head because, damn, it was good and I'm not supposed to like it. Is anyone?

Anyway. I'm driving along - it's a three-hour drive - over the mountains (okay, two) and thinking I could do with another coffee. Flat white this time, not a cappuccino.

Conveniently, there's another Mickey's out on the highway, another hour away - and according to the Government campaign, if you're driving long distance you should always take a break every hour or so to avoid fatigue: Stop, Revive, Survive. (That's my excuse an' I'm stickin' to it.)

On the radio, the day's horoscope is announced. "Gemini: it's time to give up something that's bad for you."

Well that could mean a whole lotta stuff and I ignored it. I pulled over, got my standard-size, extra-shot chap-a-kino, set it in the cup holder that's attached to the air vent and off I went. I'm zipping along the highway, obeying the speed limit and then... and then... and then... the cup holder broke.

After four sips. I nearly caught it, but I think that might have made things worse. Nah. It all missed me, but it sure didn't miss the floor. I had visions of white coffee streaming from the under-carriage and those behind me thinking I'd sprung a leak.

No more coffee houses on the way, either. sigh And it's all squelchy when I rest my foot. It was a definite mourning moment.

So, my daily horoscope? I'm giving up arising so early in the morning...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Top Ten characters

Empire Magazine has released its top 100 characters as voted for by readers.

Here's the top ten:

10. The Terminator
9. Forrest Gump
8. Han Solo
7. Tyler Durden (Huh. I had no idea who this was. Maybe I'd better see Fight Club)
6. James Bond
5. Dr Hannibal Lecter
4. Captain Jack Sparrow
3. Darth Vader
2. The Joker (Heath Ledger's version.)
and at Number One -

Indiana Jones! "He's Henry Junior! We named the dog Indiana!" Bwahaha!

I'd say they're all, with the exception of Tyler Durden, all worthy top ten characters, though I think Gollum should be there. His character and the technology behind his creation is simply amazing... my precious.

Each character has one defining moment that encompasses the whole personality. For me, it's like this:

10. "I'll be back." And he just keeps on returning. I remember thinking "What's it gonna take to kill this guy?"

9. "Run, Forrest, Run!" A testament to the idea that you don't have to be a genius, or especially talented, to be successful or happy.

8. What can you say about Han; a street smart, handsome, brave and lovable pirate with terrific flaws.

7. Don't know this dude.

6. "Bond, James Bond." As if it should be obvious who he is. The best parts of the movies are the gadgets. Gotta love 'em for all the political incorrectness of the rest.

5. Dr Hannibal Lecter. Didn't scare me in the book or the movie, though Anthony Hopkins cold emptiness was brilliantly portrayed. I guess it's the 'Chianti' remark that's most memorable.

4. Captain Jack Sparrow. The movies were okay, but nothing special. Johnny Depp's portrayal of a constantly drunk pirate was entertaining though.

3. "I am your father, Luke." Noooo-oooo! Wasn't Darth great? The simple ordinariness of evil. A dichotomy of good and bad. Everything he did was to ensure the continuation of the Empire and the stability of the galaxy, and yet... we cheer for the underdogs.

2. I've yet to see this film, so I can't comment.

1. Indy. A perfect character with good bits and flaws. If you look closer, he's a grave robber, stealing antiquities, but he has flaws we can relate to like his fear of snakes even after escaping the traps and poison arrows. Gotta love him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Just goes to prove: "Be careful what you wish for."

I could wax lyrical about the selfish, ego-centric and childish behaviour of both sides of the American House of Representatives - after all, when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold - but I'm restraining myself because I'm still gobsmacked at the on-going reprehensible attitudes and my temper has yet to subside.

So... the first sentence still holds true. There I was storing more stuff under the stairs. The box, square, the angle difficult, but with a little effort, I wriggled it in; and bashed my ring-finger in the process. I figured, "well, ow. That'll bruise." Then I had a look at the damage. Can you say... blud? Lots an' lots of warm blood.

Off to the bathroom and under a tap. It didn't hurt. Not even when I pressed down to stop the stream of red stuff to look. Kinda numb really, but I managed to cut a centimetre down my finger and another centimetre at a ninety degree angle, inconveniently, to the base of my finger. How do you wrap that sucker?

The cause? A square piece of glass from a picture frame that I managed to hit exactly on the corner. I haven't cut myself in ages so I guess I was due. And, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well!

* * *

Anyway. Something to give you a chuckle during these darkity-dark economic times sent to me by a sister o' mine:

All of these are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time considering how their online names might appear and be misread especially all in lower case.

Check them out yourself...

'Who Represents'
is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their website is:

'Experts Exchange'
is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at:

Lookingfor a pen? Look no further than 'Pen Island' at:

Need a therapist? Try 'Therapist Finder' at

There's the 'Italian Power Generator' company at:

And don't forget the 'Mole Station Native Nursery' in New South Wales at:

If you're looking for 'IP computer software' there's always

And the designers at'Speed of Art' await you at their wacky website

Monday, September 29, 2008


"Tis better to be silent and considered a fool..."

No, that's not it. Umm. Oh, yeah: "If you can't find anything nice to say, don't say nuffink at all."

So that leaves out politics of any kind, though I'm tempted. Sport didn't go my way this weekend, so that's out too. Writing? Nope, not going well there either. The state of the world's finances? What can I say about Corporate greed that hasn't already been said? What about where I live? Anything new? Well a house across the road was taken down to make way for a new one. Does that count? No, I don't think so either.

Hmm... Weblogs? I did find this, if you're willing to download buckets of megabytes of data on UFO sightings in the United Kingdom. More for curiosity than anything else. You either believe or you don't. Other than that, I've not seen anything to really grab my attention.

Movies or books I've seen recently? Umm... haven't seen any movies recently and I'm still wading through the J.D. Robb collection. I live in the country so movies are a matter of logistics to get there. Though I am sorry at the passing of Paul Newman. What a guy. Handsome, talented and one of the true success stories of Hollywood. And since these things always happen in threes, I have to wonder who's next.

I guess that means there's nothing to chat about. Maybe tomorrow will be different...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Care package

Hmm... the blogger's acting up and wouldn't let me access for a while.

Anyway... it's that time of the year for me to put together a care package for my brother and his family in Denmark. I get to fill it with goodies he might not be able to get over there.

Things like Caramello Bears - chocolate Koalas filled with caramel, mmmm - Cherry Ripes, Violet Crumble Bars, Clinkers, Milo Bars, Bertie Beetles, Ovalteenies and the Australian Icons... Tim Tams and variations there of, and Minties! Yay!

I can't help but feel sorry for countries that can't get this stuff, but I also can't help feeling smug because... those countries can't get this stuff. Hah.

So. I've put another story on over at the The Takeaway. It came out of a writing exercise. Hell, it is an exercise!

Now, I have to go and post the aforementioned care package. Yeah, it's September, but sea mail leaves next week.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Curiouser and curiouser.

I received two e-mails today from long lost school buds. One, I haven't heard hide-nor-hair of since that last day of high school; the other sent me an e-mail way back in 2002. Now, each send me a message... on the same day???

One is a 'hail fellow, what up?', the other is announcing a reunion for next year. I figure they're both connected, but arriving on the same day kinda creeped me out a bit.

A reunion. A school reunion. My immediate reaction is nup, no-way, nuh-uh. The last one I went to involved questions about marriage, children and jobs. If the answers weren't satisfactory, then they drifted away. Since I'm one of... I think two or three who never married, I so do not want to go that route again, as if your only value is wrapped up in relationships, otherwise, you're not worth talking to.

Then again, I also found myself at a table with old friends - and their spouses - having an uproarious time while other tables looked on with frowns of disapproval (I liked that bit.) Talk was of what we'd been up to and the adventures we'd all had, with a few 'do you remember whens' tossed in.

Should reunions be about how well so-and-so has done? Or the loss of someone? Or gossip? Do I want to 'catch up' with people I've not thought of, or seen, for years, to see how grey we've become, how middle age has settled on us?

On an intellectual basis, there are some buds I'd like to see, to chat to, to laugh with, but in reality... we didn't have alot in common then, less so now.

The reunion's just over a year away. I guess I've got time to give it some thought.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

When and where

I’m still working on individual character sheets (courtesy of PBW) for the novel to be written during NaNo.

So far, I still don’t have names, but more importantly, nor do I know when the piece will be set. I’m trying to decide between three: Medieval, Renaissance or Victorian.

All eras have their merits, the rough and tumble of knights and damsels, the refinement of artisans and the new era of science, the imagination and creativity of the industrial revolution.

Here are my brief thoughts.

A. Medieval: A time of turmoil. The church rules and heresy is usually accompanied by a rope or an axe. The economy is agrarian with the divide between rich and poor staggering. There are wars and not a lot of law and order. Travel was by horse – if you could afford it – carriage or cart, or on your own two feet. There’s the Black Plague, hard work, brigands, devout religion and fear. Social order is defined by the Lords who own the land and the taxes paid to the king. Only the highest class could read and/or write.

B. Renaissance: Everything is settling down after the blights. There are still wars and conflict between Henry VIII and the church. Still agrarian with lords and serfs, but there is burgeoning art and architecture, and a new middle-class too. Exploration of the unknown world is beginning with the advent of sail. Science is developing from alchemy. Very few could read or write and communication was by word of mouth.

C. Victorian: Modern warfare, sophistication and experimentation. The industrial complex is in full swing with the population moving off the land into the cities and factories. Mythology has given way to fact. Exploration is now of the past. New ideas of deportment and class distinctions, fashions. There are the mega-wealthy who live in mansions and the desperately poor who live on the streets or in pitiful one bedroom flats. There are newspapers, magazines and books. It is the age of the machine.

And I have other thoughts on each era. But the one question I have to ask myself is this: When would magic have had the most impact if discovered? A equals a nasty death by virtually anyone; with some serious torture if discovered by the Church. B. the same result. C. Well. The practitioner could end up in a circus, or exploited, or be sensationalised in the media, then disregarded as a sham.

I think I’ll have to do a bit more research on the eras. And on names. I have to find some appropriate names. This is the second most fun in writing – plunging into history and rolling around in facts. The actual story writing is the most fun.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


It being Spring, a little cleaning is in order. Cleaning, I might add, that should have taken place some… time ago.

Beneath the stairs has been a storage area since my parents moved into the house, um… a little over twenty years ago? Yeah, I know, but no-one – and I do have five siblings – actually got to it. Until now.

Now, I need the space and it seemed like a good idea… at the time. Man… the dust and cobwebs; a real big ‘ick’ there.

Under the stairs I found a couple of boxes. Inside those boxes were memories mixed in with old kitchen stuff; a pair of Russian tea glasses for example, bought for my mother for Christmas one year. Nearly a dozen soda bottles. Ahh, yes.

I can recall sitting near my Dad, in the kitchen on a hot Summer's day, as he poured in a little flavouring and then put the bottle into a Soda Stream – metal, in those days – and a ‘tssssst’ noise coming from it. He took the bottle out, and voila, fizzy drink! I have no idea what happened to the actual Soda Stream machine, maybe it’s hiding somewhere else in the house.

A heat lamp for when my sibs and I crashed and burned on some sporting field and needed some tlc for strains and sprains; still works, too.

Small toys that various nieces and nephews dropped through the steps, and a real treasure, wine!

Tragically, some of the corks leaked on the 1970s reds, but there’s wine from the ‘60s and one – I kid you not – from 1959; it’s some years older than me. Whether any are drinkable, I’ll leave to my brother/brother-in-law. There’s port, too. Unopened Hanwood and Galway Pipe, and a commemorative 1983 bottle, also unopened. Further rummaging revealed Black Douglas, Vicker’s Gin, Glennfiddich and still wrapped in paper, Dom Benedictine. There is also a mysterious substance in two cordial bottles – my mother thinks they’re home-made cumquat liqueur, but isn’t brave enough to try it; neither am I.

I can only think that since my mother isn’t a drinker – a sip or two is her limit – that the bottles have lain undisturbed since my father died eighteen years ago.

But, it’s all clean. Now, I have to vacuum and it’s ready for more storage – stuff that won’t lie about for another twenty years.

It’s good to de-clutter, to clear out stuff that hasn’t been used, and never will be used to make space available.

Hmm… try the wine or wait? Try the wine or… wait…

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And then...

Ideas arrive in their own time and at their own pace. Damn it! But there are ways around it, and around writer’s block at the same time.

No matter what genre you write in, the urge to write can be overwhelming, as can the frustration of not knowing what to write.

I like to play the ‘and then…’ game. It goes like this: take an innocuous situation. A young boy sits outside under a starry sky and watches a meteor flare. I ask “and then…” A number of scenarios spring to mind: does he hear a sonic boom indicating it might not a meteor after all but something more sinister? Does he dream of one day becoming an astrophysicist or an astronaut? I’m guessing the first, because the others have been done already.

The kid is sure it’s the beginning of an alien invasion, ‘and then…’ all the lights in the street go out? He has an asthma attack at the thought? He jumps to his feet and runs inside to tell his parents? The lights; more intriguing.

Now he’s frightened. He’s not afraid of the dark or he wouldn’t be sitting outside, but he looks back at the darkened house, hears his mother cursing – dinner was almost ready. ‘And then…’ another meteor flares, and another, another, until there are dozens lighting up the sky. Or he hears the jets from the local Air Force base take off, sees the landing lights strobe towards the mountains where the meteor fell. Or his best friends contacts him via the two-way he got for his birthday asking if he saw it.

Hmm… divergence. The first two can take the story in different directions. (And this is where plotting for me mostly fails.) The third slows the story unless the two boys become integral in saving the world. A hero and his side-kick, maybe?

Anyway… by playing ‘and then’ you can slowly build your story or you can build your plot by exploring which ‘and then’ has the most impact. You can also toss in a few curve balls later on. Who says the boy is human, for example; maybe it’s a sign for him to go to the rendezvous point for rescue. Or it’s a sign for his brethren to start revealing their true alien selves. Or a number of scenarios.

It could even be the beginning of a lifetime relationship between a boy and girl. Because you have the genesis of a story, you can choose.

‘And then…’ a simple idea became a book; I’ve been doing it a lot lately.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


When it comes to world-building, it’s the bigger picture that we see: the system and how many planets or what the main body is. Dwarf star, M-class, binary and so on. Then we get to the world itself: flora, fauna, atmosphere, land and sea masses, axial tilt for the seasons, how a moon or two will affect tidal shift. Then it’s down to the aliens or the characters and how they interact with their world, what they look like, the history, social and cultural structure, religion and its’ taboos.

But what about the micro-climate? This affects all characters whether they are modern earth, or an alien subspecies, or the eight-legged miniature dragon a boy called Henjak has for a pet.

A micro-climate can be as simple as the area between skin and leather jerkin, inside a domicile or how close the pet is to the ground in relation to its’ master.

If you bundle up against the cold with six layers of clothing to keep warm on a frosty morning, what about the pet you’re taking for a walk that is much closer to the icy ground. Your climate is warmth and comfort, well-being; the pet’s climate is chilled air reflecting off the ground and crunchy ice between the claws, unhappy without fur. Does your character even think about such things or is he/she feeling too smug about being outdoors getting some much needed exercise?

Further out from your own personal climate: how will the cold air affect an arrow in flight, if your walk is interrupted by the ravening hordes pouring over the hill toward your village? Or the fireball shot from a trebuchet mounted on the castle walls in a rain storm? Will hurricane winds be enough to subdue a tactical strike from orbit or will it cause a ten-fold debris field? Will the missile be blown off course and destroy the capital?

In War of the Worlds a simple virus wiped out the invaders. The Martians had advanced technology and weapons and yet it was the smallest thing that brought them down. In X-men and Heroes genetic alteration has global implications. At the battle of Stalingrad during the Second World War, thousands died because they couldn’t keep warm during the most bitter winter seen in decades. The Black Plague – both in the 14th century and 17th – killed so many because of a lack of personal hygiene. If King Henry VIII had eaten pottage – a porridge made up of grains - like the poor peasants, he wouldn’t have had digestive problems and become obese.

Micro-climates are just as important as macro-climates. Compromise a micro-climate and the results can be just as catastrophic as changing the macro-climate.

Most authors write about micro-climates without realising it. A character catches a fever is the most used; poison is another.

So when you’re writing, don’t forget the small stuff along with the world at large. One small virus, one fed-up and cold small dragon, can ruin your day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Half-assed democracy

And so I have done my civic duty.

I put my mother in the car and drove to the local primary school, had my name checked off and voted. I looked around for the ballot box and a helpful... helper directed me to a brown, non-descript cardboard box; with blue pen written on it. Here I could dump my oh, so valuable democratic vote.

A cardboard box that looked like it had been scavanged from the local supermarket. And blue pen. Stuffed to the gunnels with other people's democratic votes.

I didn't see any other boxes - cardboard or otherwise - and I have to wonder whether it was to be recycled. The only 'officials' I saw were marking off the names and when I looked at the lists, there were precious few signed off for the Ward.

In other government elections, both State and Federal, there are more people with badges proclaiming officialdom, tall white ballot boxes with someone standing guard.

Not so today. That box was disappointing to see. The lack of officialdom disappointing too, even as the people handing out their candidates 'how to' forms were as enthusiastic as ever.

Voting is compulsory here, but the ballot box presented to us today would, in no way, take all the votes. I can only hope that honesty and fair play are adhered to. From what I saw, there's too much opportunity for the incumbent to... influence the count - and it is his ward.

I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Thursday, September 11, 2008


And here I thought the local council elections were going to be deadly dull and boring.

Nope. The mayor's wife has had a few things to say that do not cast her in a good light. Abusing the volunteers of your rivals, in public, does not win you friends and makes you - yet again - a laughing stock. Nor has the mayor, for that matter, pressed his cause:

"However Shoalhaven Mayor Greg Watson said he “didn’t see anything”.

“I wasn’t aware of what happened, if anything happened at all,” Cr Watson said.

He said allegations of abuse “sounds like a political stunt”.

“It’s of no interest to me personally.”
(South Coast Register, 10.9.08)

His wife verbally abuses people and it's of no interest to him? It's witnessed by a number of people and yet he describes it as a political stunt? His political group is also in trouble with the Department of Local Government for distributing false advertising information - which his wife approved. He's also accused of threatening legal action against a community newspaper, accused the local paper South Coast Register of bias against his political party and used an emergency siren as a precursor to a patently false advertisement. And that's just in the last week.

It might be a small area, but I also noted the nastiness creeping into the American presidential campaign. You'd have to be brain dead not to get the inference when Mr Obama spoke about "put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig". Anyone who heard Ms Palin's joke the previous week would see Mr Obama's comment as insulting and sexist. Is this a mis-step? And why is slamming the critics of the comment when he repeated it? He could have used a number of other metaphors. I think he should fire his speech writer. It was neither witty nor clever.

It's like a Miss World competition; Mr Obama wants world peace by talking people to death, and Mr McLain's going for Miss Congeniality with his charming affability. I had no idea a Presidential campaign was about popularity.

Where are the policies? The solutions? The progressive ideas? Where are the genuine efforts to solve problems without taking a swipe at the other side? A true candidate would have these, and not worry about the small, inconsequential and, eventually, irrelevant stuff like who looks prettier together.

After this weekend, I'm over politics. It's too much like cats fight in a sack.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Caution: spleen venting

What is it about politicians that they have to spout lies and half-truths to get elected? What is it about them that they have to whinge and gripe and groan about the unfairness of media exposure?

Our current mayor is a perfect example. The last time I saw such tripe was... hmm, last election.

None of the bad stuff that's happened over the last four years is his fault; but every damn good thing, he'll take credit for. The guy only got in via preferences from his nasty little cronies.

And cronies they are given I spent a couple of months going through the council voting trends; there's a lot of block voting going on. The mayor, of course, denies caucusing - that's deciding how to vote before the meeting.

That kind of voting becomes apparent in the ease with which his lordship voted. On some issues, he could lodge an opposing vote, assured that his cadre would see the issue through.

The worst of it is he could wiggle through again with preferences. I sincerely hope not, otherwise, the waterfront will be blocked with six and seven storey buildings - a result of his group voting on a particular building against staff recommendations and against legal advice that's going up in the neighbourhood.

I'm not against development here; but I am against no consultation with the residents. This is a quiet, family orientated tourist area. Come summer, the place is packed with caravaners, campers and families. But in the winter, only those of us who live here wander the empty streets - and that suits us fine.

Erecting multi-story buildings not only reserves the view for those who can afford it, but ruins the laidback, relaxed atmosphere which is why people come here; a fact the Mayor denies.

I genuinely hope he loses the election; both as mayor and as a councillor. The man has dubious connections to developers, ignorance of what the people want, and is just plainly an asshat. He's a liar and a cheat, but a brilliant details man. We don't need the likes of him, we are fed up with the likes of him, and I hope defeat is a truly bitter pill for him.

Maybe then the Shire can get back to being run properly: the council made up of the people's representatives, not the developers yes men.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Politics... pitooie

Well, it's a busy week - politically speaking - here in Oz.

Last week, the deputy grand poobah of NSW, John Watkins, resigned. Then grand poobah of NSW, Morris Iemma, resigned yesterday and there's a cabinet shake-up which will be announced on Sunday; West Australians go to the polls to elected their grand poobah with the current Labor Government there in trouble and there are two separate elections for former ministerial seats in NSW and South Australia. Next weekend is the local council elections - and I'll be voting for someone other than the current manipulative, arrogant Mayor (much as I'd like to vent my spleen with harsh language, this is a public forum).

In a week, the whole face of local and State politics will undergo a radical shift. It will also indicate how the people of those States involved view the Federal Government - and current polls suggest not very kindly. Two State governments, the Northern Territory and West Australia have gone to the polls early, something Australians see as cynical and opportunistic. NT Labor came exceptionally close to losing; WA may well be lost for Labor.

With one political disaster after another, Iemma and his treasurer Michael Costa, are gone now, but the problems remain. Worse, these are the same problems that Iemma took over from previous NSW Premier Bob Carr, who jumped ship early amid congratulations and severe back patting. Iemma was left holding a poison chalice.

But... he did little or nothing to fix the rail system, hospital waiting lists, education, roads, traffic, presided over cross-city tunnel that is sucking taxpayers dry because too few people use it and many other failed-to-solve issues. The now former treasure said this morning that NSW is basically 'insolvent' with revenues collapsing, budget blowouts and money squandered as if the people of NSW have bottomless pockets.

In two years, New South Wales Labor will go to the next election with two newbies: Nathan Rees and his deputy, Carmel Tebbutt. The tough decisions he's going to make will not enarmour him to the people. Times are tough already.

Mr Rees has already sacked Iemma's 'strategic' team and has said he won't be influenced by factions. So not true. Any Labor leader in this country is leader only at the behest of the factions who support them. Withdraw that support and you're gone, as Morris found out yesterday.

It gets worse. Mr Rees was was chief of staff to the convicted paedophile and drug offender, former Member of Parliament, Milton Orkopoulos. What does Rees know about that and what else is he hiding?

The only bright spot in this whole political mess is that Quentin Bryce, former Queensland governor, lawyer, academic, sex discrimination commissioner and child-care campaigner, became Australia's first female and 25th Governor General - the direct representative of the Queen in Australia.

Let's hear it for Grrl Power!

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Queen

I'm reading J.D. Robb. Yes, all of them and in order.

There's something compelling about them. I don't know what; maybe it's the intricacies of crime-solving told smoothly, sometimes with humour.

It's all the more amazing when you consider that J.D.'s alter ego, Nora Roberts - the undisputed Queen of romance - doesn't use an outline or character profiles. She also writes in sets of three. Three J.D. Robb; three original Nora's. And is a year ahead of the publishing schedule.

In a reply to a question (19/9/2007), Nora said:"I don't do outlines, but I figure if a character doesn't surprise me or go in a direction I might not have planned, they're not real enough--for me or for the reader."

I am in awe of such a talent, but I think I have a clue has to how she does it - over and beyond the sheer concentration it must take to hold all that information in mind. Am I going to share? Well, not yet. I'm nowhere near the master she is. Hell, I'm barely a neophyte at this writing gig. But if my theory plays out, I'll tell.

What I can say is a number of writers 'how to's' are finally beginning to gel. If I can wrap my head around it all, then maybe I'll have the answer to why my stuff isn't as good as I want it to be. And that will be so-o cool!

Maybe it is as easy as A.B.C...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On the other channel

I want to comment on Sarah Palin and the on-going 'controversy' so much it hurts. But... I won't. Nut'in to do with me or anybody else.

There's a new story over on The Takeaway though; if you're interested, that is.

Now, back to the plot...

Monday, September 01, 2008


Today is a mild, almost warm day. An excellent start to Spring.

I spent the weekend away from the computer - didn't turn it on at all. Instead, I scooted off to the southern highlands for some window shopping and lunch with a sister. Very relaxing.

Yesterday, another sister visited and I just had to make chocolate cake. She has a new toy, a laptop, so we played.

Overall, it was just what I needed. No worries about lack of progress in plotting, no guilt at not putting fingers to keyboard.

And now, finally, the cobwebs are cleared away and I'll be posting a new story on the Takeaway, which has suffered from lack of attention. That's for Wednesday. For now, I have a story to edit.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No good deed...

The more I think about this next project, the more frustrating it is.

I've been kicking around a few ideas with the thought 'no good deed goes unpunished' in the back of my mind.

I've been looking over a character sheet, trying to list a few things without much success. No name, no physical description, no birth date or astrological sign; no partners or parents or history. I have an occupation, a talent and an opening scene with dialogue that keeps changing. That's it. But I've started with less.

Okay, I've got a villain, of sorts; an amorphous, strident, spoiled, briefly glimpsed, villain.

It's as if this story is holding back until October 31; that it doesn't want to be told until someone presses the start button on Nano. For once, I want to be further along than just a thought when I start.

And before anyone suggests it, yes, I've tried the interview technique as was met with resolute silence - from every single character I could come up with.

Sounds like writer's block, but it's not. It's all there, the flashes of insight, the brief sounds, half heard questions of dialogue, the colours of magic...

I'm slowly - oh, so slowly - building the picture, but it's two dimensional yet. It needs to be three dimensions, with depth, vision, and full blooded characters I can torture for four hundred pages or so.

The difficulty, I think, is reconciling a protagonist who has the ability to both harm and heal with the same hand and at the same time. Cryptic, vague. No good deed goes unpunished. Magic has consequences. Modern, ancient or fantasy world? A mixture?

I'm gonna have to give it some more thought, coz, damn, it's a good idea!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Agents and... stuff

Writer's Digest has an interesting article on 10 Tips for Querying an Agent.

I figure the tips also work for international peeps. It's all just good manners, co-operation and common sense - which sometimes, doesn't seem so common.

There there's the article on 28 Agents Who Want Your Work. Kudos for them putting themselves at risk of being dumped on from a great height with thousands of queries.

Maybe the tide is turning and the publishing industry has finally wised up that if they don't make time for new authors, they'll end up not having any at all.

* * *

I mentioned in a reply to a comment that I didn't have an idea for Nano. The Muse - in her infinite wisdom (ha! Suck up that I am!) - then proceeded to deliver an interesting image; one where good equals bad and vice versa.

I've been trying to nut out the specifics. The image won't leave, I suspect, until I have worked it out. But brick walls are so uncomfortable to bash your head against.

The details are slowly seeping into my thick skull, though. Maybe there is something to this careful plotting thing... I'm waiting for the elegant twist at the end, though.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A dark and stormy...

Ah... Spring!

The Wattle's in bloom, the scent of Freisias drifting on a mild breeze and the McCartney Rose has more buds than a beer factory; you know, that beer, which smells of yeast and beer and hops, only it's a flower...

Last week, the Bulwer-Lytton winner was announced. It's a competition of "wretched writing", sourced in the paragraph by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, in his book, Paul Clifford (1830).

The infamous paragraph?

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

This year's winner is Garrison Spik who wrote: Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."

Dunno... There are some absolute howlers this year. Like the winner of the Detective section:

Mike Hummer had been a private detective so long he could remember Preparation A, his hair reminded everyone of a rat who'd bitten into an electrical cord, but he could still run faster than greased owl snot when he was on a bad guy's trail, and they said his friskings were a lot like getting a vasectomy at Sears.

Or this one, from the Adventure category:

Leopold looked up at the arrow piercing the skin of the dirigible with a sort of wondrous dismay -- the wheezy shriek was just the sort of sound he always imagined a baby moose being beaten with a pair of accordions might make.

My favourite? Runner-up in the Spy category:

The KGB agent known only as the Spider, milk solids oozing from his mouth and nose, surveyed the spreading wound in his abdomen caused by the crushing blow of the low but deadly hassock and begged of his attacker to explain why she gone to the trouble of feeding him tainted milk products before effecting his assassination with such an inferior object as this ottoman, only to hear in his dying moments an escaping Miss Muffet of the MI-5 whisper, "it is my whey."

Go on, go and have a laugh!