Thursday, January 31, 2008

Up there, out there

Well, we're all still here, regardless of the doomsayers might want. There's no sign of the Blue-tongues, though - maybe the rough weather has them hiding out.

No photos either; the clouds obscured the sky and I couldn't find the tripod - no surprise there, that's what safe places are for.

I'm into the final edits of Demonesque, and yes, I've been doing this for a while, picking and poking and re-writing and... so on. Who knew I had so many '-ly' words to sort out. How many?

When I did a search and colour change, two and a half thousand. I thought I'd sorted it, but obviously not. Those adverbs are so easy, loitering about sentences, demanding payment for services rendered, the sluts.

I'm pleased at the lack of passives though, I think I've scared the off. Being non-confrontational, they cower at the sight of action. So. I'm nearly done.

So close, that I'm looking at sending stuff off to an agent next week. And since I've just said that in the public domain, I'll have to follow through. No wussing out. My expectations? Ahm... I'm sticking my fingers in my ears and I'm not listening! And you can't make me! La-la-la-la...

The work will be out, released into the wild to survive or not on its own. Sad, yes, exciting, absolutely.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Apocalypse... Now?

Not really, but tonight TU24, an asteroid discovered in 2007, will pass close to Earth. As close as 537,000kms in fact. Might not sound close at all, but it's considered a 'near-miss'. At 250 metres in diameter, it's a big chunk'a rock.

Better yet, it should be observable in the night sky, with a telescope - at least here - at about 7.30pm, which makes it around dusk. Where is it? Go here for a look at which constellations TU 24 will move through and when.

Apparently, TU24 will affect the magnetosphere. What will happen? Well... anything from radio interference to cataclysmic events - according to some sites.

Me, I'm grabbing the camera and hoping the sky will clear of cloud - and I'll try to find my tripod which I put in a safe, but convenient place, but can't remember where that is.


It's alleged that animals go a little... odd... when 'events' are about to happen. Animals head to the hills before a tsunami, panic right before an earthquake and so on. Saxon, my dog, did nothing but snooze as I wrote the above.

I heard some rustling near the back door. I looked left, but didn't see anything immediate. Figured it was a bird pecking through the dead leaves for insects... Nup.

This is an Eastern Blue-Tongued Lizard (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides) - a rare treat to see even in the bush. Last week, while mowing the lawn, I saw a small one in the garden but too late to get the camera.

So far, this little dude has headed for the back door three times before retreating when it saw me. Did I mention how rare seeing one was? How about... two?

As you can see, the one on the left is a near baby; the one on the right has raised up to intimidate the younger one.

It's great to find them in the garden - uh... yeah, I don't do gardening very much - they eat snails and slugs and ants other insects and berries. (The backyard is a veritable feast for them, plenty for all, so there's no need for bitching.)

And when the little one made a dash for the undergrowth, I lowered my camera and turned:
Yep. A third Eastern Blue Tongued Lizard, sitting on the freshly mown lawn - did it on Saturday.

The behaviour is odd: Blue tongues are mostly solitary creatures, only coming together to mate between September and November. But I figure the back yard is big enough for all three - I suppose there are probably more lurking in the undergrowth - but the habitat is just right for them and as long as they keep eating the snails and slugs and other insects, I'm happy to have them. Of course, I'll have to keep a watch when backing out and for the highly poisonous Eastern Brown Snake, for whom the lizard is lunch.

Animals behaving oddly? Yeah, but I'm not assuming the apocalypse is here just yet.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Ah, Australia Day. The sun is shining, the sea is glittering, tourists are smeared with white zinc cream across tanned noses, houses sport the Aussie flag, Haydos scored a ton in the cricket and the scent of barbeque is in the air.

Fifteen thousand became Australian in citizenship ceremonies across the endless summer lands, beer flowed, parties enjoyed and fireworks set off. The top gong - Australian of the Year - went to Lee Kernaghan for his charity work, rather than his contribution to country music - though that's what most Australians know him for.

Young Australian of the Year is Moto GP Champion, Casey Stoner. Of course, we Aussies love our sporting heroes.

Yeah, I know: Australia Day was yesterday, but I had some emergency baby-sitting to attend to and didn't get time to post this.

Still, it was a majestic day with the ferry races on Sydney Harbour and masses of people out and about wearing the flag or showing the flag from car aerials.

It's been 220 years since Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet these shores at Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour to establish a penal colony, 107 years since the Federation of the states and it's also the 200th anniversary of the so-called Rum Rebellion where soldiers detained Governor William Bligh - yes, that Bligh - because he was too harsh and wanted to run New South Wales as a Penal Colony - what it was set up for - and to restore discipline. All Bligh sought to do, in both mutinies, was his duty.

Major George Johnston, commander of the Sydney Garrison, removed Bligh to resolve the crisis in administration and to preserve public order. He was the first to remove a Governor, a situation which arose two more times in our history. At Johnston's court martial, he was sentenced to leaving the army - a punishment seen as tacit approval for his actions.

So. A-day. Yay Us!

Friday, January 25, 2008


I have a bit of a countdown clock in my head at the moment.

Yes, Europe is still three months away, but it's not as far away as I think and I'm busily doing what I've never done on previous trips: planning and making lists. (Of course, lists are those things you leave at home and remember when you're at the shops.)

I have the passport with the ubiquitous awful photo that makes me look like my own grandmother, American money bought when the little Aussie battler was near parity, the Eurorail pass, car hire vouchers, airplane ticket vouchers, power converters, rechargeable batteries, money wallet, compact cooler and maps. What's left? Travel insurance, global roaming for the mobile, and internet connection for the laptop. They're the main things.

But... in reading PBW's post on GPS navigation, it made me think of the times I've travelled with only cursory glances at the map. I found some fabulous places unexpectedly: Hadrian's Wall - where I literally lay on the stones like a squeally fangirl; Tara, on a bitterly cold and sleeting morning, which still held that elemental mystery in the air; Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregan - my idea of heaven; the Vietnam Veteran's Wall in Washington, D.C... The list goes on.

So why did I spend all day yesterday plotting my driving route through England? Not just the route, but timing, mileage, stopovers and 'things of interest'.

I'm usually more adventurous. More "I'll start here, and finish here, and let's see what we find on the way" kind of traveller. I'm guessing that the route I've worked out will merely be the guideposts.

There's something intriguing about the road less travelled that, as usual, I'll find impossible to resist. And getting lost? All part of the fun.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hmmm? Anything?

Sometimes, life just gets really, really ordinary and leaves me with little to post about.

I don't know enough about the stock market to comment other than OMG!!!! I'm editing, so... blah; it's routine. Saw The Lost Book of Nostradamus last night and judged it to be a load of old cobblers and riddled with error - the doco on cuttlefish today was more interesting. The grass is growing after all the rain and the sun has come out to play.

The only thing of note is Lynn Viehl's quandary about whether to end the Darkyn series. My view is that she's the writer and it's up to her to explore her imagination - as long as Lynn shares the results, of course.

Other than that, I ain't got nufink.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Raining Words and Grammar

I like the the rain. While others grumble and gripe, moan and groan about how 'miserable' the weather is, I see it as just another kind of weather.

I'm more creative; although, that might have something to do with watching too much Discovery or History Channel.

Today it's raining. A soft, gentle rain that goes largely unnoticed - unless your outside - and it's Summer, so there's warmth in the air. *sigh* I can't decide whether to write or edit.

I have a scathingly brilliant new idea for a book, with a clear opening scene and characters. What I don't have is motivation, the 'why' of it. Chances are, the why will turn up when it wants to, but I wanna know now. There's nothing worse than writing half a book and discovering you're stuck because you have no good explanation for what's going on. Save the world? Nup. Not enough heroes. Save the lurve interest? Not caring at the moment. Save a future leader? Interfering in fate is bad karma; it's also been done.

So why would someone travel light years to a pokey little blue planet filled with humans? Can't think why they would - at the moment - which means I'm not putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) until I think of a legitimate and hopefully clever reason.

I guess that means I'm editing. Gotta dump the passive sentences, sort out the timeline, verify motivations and put in more description!

Description is my downfall, I think. I assume what I'm seeing is what readers will see and that's not the case. My first drafts are often lacking because I'm writing too fast. I wonder if I can train myself out of that? Or I should simply work more carefully at the second draft? Probably a bit of both.

Now, where did I leave John and Marcia - The Novel Crash Test Dummies?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Step lightly

Carbon footprint is the new catchphrase of the world; everyone is aware of it and there is a certain amount of shame attached to a large footprint.

Mine is going to jump significantly since I'm flying to Europe in May, but I can sheepishly say I offset that by having a low footprint anyway. Yes, I said that while covered in smug.

If you want a more accurate estimate of your household, go here and follow the links to the calculator. The best thing about this site is that it's BP. Yes, that's right, a petrol company. Finally, the petroleum industry and the car industry are seeing the light on emissions reduction - not that I can afford a hybrid car, but I use petrol with ethanol in it.


Writers Digest have a nifty article on blogging for those wanting to maintain or start. 20 Tips for Good Blogging gives you some handy ideas and guidelines for keeping that counter ticking over.

Also in Writers Digest is an interview with Tess Gerritsen for those interested. Follow the link. Amazingly, Tess doesn't plot her books which makes them all the more intriguing and well-crafted.


I'm back hanging around the family tree, seeing what drops out. My brother in Denmark is making headway, but still rattling the same branches I've already shaken. Still, he has some interesting extra information to follow up.

The more difficult being the corruption of names. Look for a Longstaff and not much happens; look for Langstaffe/Langstaff and out they pop. But where, in the miasma of different spelling, lie those belonging to the family? This is why secondary and tertiary confirmation is essential. I've already erred when it came to ancestors. I'm more cautious.

And it looks like that caution has been reward, with a maybe connected to David Tennant (BBC's Dr Who) and to a pauper Langstaff. David is the first famous person and John Langstaff the first pauper who maybe in the tree, albeit on a branch way back. Thrilling stuff, you know, if you find history as fascinating as I do.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


That was me yesterday, a real sook.

I went off to the dentist to get the broken tooth fixed; nuff said. Spent the rest of the day on the couch with a throbbing tooth and mouth from the... nah, I'll spare you the gruesome details. Painkillers only work for a limited time, but most of the tooth was saved. Yay!

Today, there is still no biting down - too tender, but I'm over the sookfest and there's a story over at The Takeaway should you feel inclined.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Evermore... than just entertainment

Rarely do I have the desire to re-read a book as soon as I've finished. Lynn Viehl's Evermore is one of those books that tempt me to do so - if only to find the clue I missed.

The Darkyn series is one of the better ones I've read - the characters stay true to form, as do the politics, the world building and the plots. There is nothing worse than a series departing from the expected and descending into a quagmire of politics or... something else entirely that relies on one aspect and nothing else (I think you know who I mean).

This isn't, quite, a review to lure readers in, but more a commentary on the techniques for writers, and I would urge any new writer to read the series.

The evolution of the characters is nigh on perfect as are the carefully hidden clues to the resolution. For me, the best part of each book is at then end and the 'damn, I missed it!' moment.

Of interest is the way Ms Viehl handles the series. If you've read the Stardoc series, you may have noticed the less than flattering reviews of Rebel Ice and yet, the genesis of the book lay in a previous one, in one small scene and comment made by Duncan Reever. The book, while different from the rest, perfectly encapsulated the answer and consequences. If readers picked up on that mega clue, the criticism would have been less and there'd be more sheepish 'oh, I missed that'.

So, too, with the Darkyn and Alexandra Keller's pursuit of a 'cure'. While Evermore relates the tale of Jayr, Seneschal to mac Byrne and her feelings for him, there's a lot more going on than unrequited love. Each book is a precursor to another one, not necessarily the next book in the series.

For example, Lord Locksley plays an important part in this book, and yet, Twilight Fall is released in July and Locksley's book follows that.

Nowhere does it say a series has to be absolutely sequential, just because readers are fascinated with a particular character. The underlying strength of the series is in Dr Keller's search for a cure and the evil Brethren. With both those elements, Ms Viehl can craft the stories of individual Darkyn around them.

Lynn Viehl has a planned route, with planned solutions, and writers - experienced and new - can learn a great deal about how to write a series from reading Darkyn and Stardoc.

One final note: Night Lost is my favourite in the series, but they are all worth five stars. I'll read them all again before the next one appears, if only to search for the hidden clues.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On again

I was going to write a post about my aborted effort in the garden, until I came across yet another bitchy argument about plagiarism.

Okay, look: there is no such thing as 'good' plagiarism. It is all bad. There is no such thing as 'who does it hurt? It's only a little bit'. It's never a 'little bit'. Why? Because you are stealing. Worse, it takes little effort to actually cite the source of the information and takes more effort to rewrite.

As writers, we spend hours, days, weeks and months creating a piece of work; to have it used without acknowledgement - our talent, our words - is theft, pure and simple. And I never, ever, condone plagiarism.

We all know about Nora Roberts versus Janet Dailey (or, 'she who shall not be named' over at ADWOFF, Nora's popular bulletinboard), now it's Cassie Edwards and Signet publishing versus everyone else.

However, there seems to be some confusion about what is plagiarism. If you go to Smart Bitches, there's a comparison of some of the work involved.

I've read some of it and while it's similar - anyone can see that - it's not plagiarism per se.


/playjriz/ (also plagiarise)

• verb take (the work or idea of someone else) and pass it off as one’s own.

— DERIVATIVES plagiarism noun plagiarist noun plagiarizer noun.

— ORIGIN from Latin plagiarius ‘kidnapper’, from Greek plagion ‘a kidnapping’.
From Ask Oxford

To take someone else's work and rewrite it, does not fit into the definition of plagiarism. What the Smart Bitches have posted does not constitute plagiarism. What Ms Edwards has done is unethical, immoral and just plain stupid, but not illegal and is a way around that most heinous of accusation levelled against any author.

I know it's not a popular attitude, but the fact remains, unless you are taking parts, word for word, without proper acknowledgement for the author, there is no plagiarism involved.

If rewriting was classified as plagiarism, then all that school work you did falls into the same category, unless the school has paid up on the copyright of the text used.

It's such a lazy and useless thing to do: and you will be caught out. What the hell is wrong with your own work? If you're a creative writer, then you write creatively. Theft ain't creative.

To reiterate: if you take the exact words of another author and publish it under your own name, you are guilty of plagiarism; if you rewrite the piece and publish it as your own work, you're unethical and should be ashamed of yourself, but it's not illegal.

Cite other authors work and you can't go wrong.

And if you want to avoid the kerfuffle going on, re: Ms Edwards, then don't write with the other author's book right next to you; it smacks of malicious intent.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Bone Garden

I've just finished reading Tess Gerritsen's The Bone Garden. Much as I'd like to compare it to her other work, I can't, because this is an historical piece. And what an excellent piece of work it is.

As an insight into 1830s Boston medical practices, it is gruesome, colourful, terrible, horror-filled and amazing. The setting could easily be England during the same period, or France. The book also touches on the attitude towards immigrants, particularly, the Irish.

It begins in the current day with the discovery of an old skeleton in a garden by the new owner of the house. From there, the reader is plunged into the 1830s where a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to protect her dead sister's newborn and survive the depredations of the time, while hiding from a most brutal killer.

Ms Gerritsen is highly descriptive of the medical practices which today fill the reader with revulsion and astonishment that one simply act - that of doctors washing their hands - could have saved so many from a drawn out and extremely painful death.

What I like about Tess Gerritsen's books is there is no guarantee of a happy ending; not in this book, nor in previous works. The ending stays true to the tale, to the characters, because in life, sometimes there isn't a happy ending. That's not a clue, by the way, merely an observation since I've read all her books and have them on my keeper shelves.

The only hint - if you can call it that - is the killer isn't who you expect, though the clues are there if you look close enough.

Tess Gerritsen weaves a tale of expectation; and you follow it all the way to the end only to find... well... you're wrong about the perpetrator.

To me, they're the best kind of books.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Well I can safely say I've been slacking off.

I've been catching up on some DVDs - my way of avoiding the screaming hordes of brain-dead tourists and their filthy and dangerous habits - with the likes of Serenity (I so want Joss Whedon to make another series), 7 Seconds (meh), The Bourne Collection (sigh, how can I not watch all three in a row, hmm?), and an old classic, but a favourite, Kiss Me Kate (Howard Keel has a lovely voice and Ann Miller is one of the best dancers I've ever seen).

I remember the re-run on teevee from when I was a kid and I've always remembered Keenan Wynne and James Whitmore Jr. singing "Brush Up Your Shakespeare".

It's curious what movies I remember from Saturday afternoons. They always followed the English Football or the wrestling. Films with Doris Day, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Stewart Grainger, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Kathryn Grayson, Richard Burton... the list goes on. I think it may have been some of these movies which inspired me to write; that and all the filled bookcases in the house. We had barely a room without books.

I remember dragging out my mother's old Remington typewriter at the age of eleven or twelve and laboriously searching out keys, punching them to create the words. It took me a whole weekend to write twenty pages of James Bondesque adventure. I'd never read Ian Fleming at that stage, I had read Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew. I even vague remember what it was about... or at least the ending; the hero and villain died and the world was saved, though in truth, I was pissed at my siblings for nicking off with the pages and handing them around to each other - the work wasn't finished, they had no right, blah, blah, blah. So rather than a happy ending, I wrote death and destruction. Pre-teen angst, you know.

Watching old movies brings that back to me, but with an adult's view. The movies are the same; my appreciation of them is different. Then, I was intrigued by the hows, the whys and the whos, now I have a better understanding of the talents involved.

It all goes to the writing and that watching movies, or reading books is a more subtle form of research.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Okay, yes. I've been slack. Nary finger to keyboard to create anything, although I have loaded up some files and software.

But it's post-season! How can I not sit for hours in front of the teev and watch those buff bods bash (oooh, nice alliteration!) each other? Everyone needs downtime, even if it means getting up at six am to watch.

I'll be doing the same next weekend when my Cowboys take on the Giants; I gotta feel sad for the Steelers though, what an effort!

I've also been watching the cricket and I'm not happy at the Indians bitching. In no way is poor umpiring decisions Australia's fault. Yes, there's on field sledging, and yes, the Aussies have it down to a fine art, but racial slurs are never acceptable - from either side. It made a tense situation worse that exploded after the game with one side attacking the other's integrity.

Not on chaps, it comes across as sour grapes and is really disappointing after such an excellent and intriguing match. The result was in doubt until the last ten minutes. It's been years since the Aussies were so challenged.

Anyway, onto the next test match - hopefully by then, both sides will have calmed down.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Note to self: do not, repeat: do not screw around with the internet settings on the computer - ask a professional.

I figured I could attach my new shiney toy to the internet via the router. Sure, the program asked me to change and adjust a few things, but they seemed so minor...

Yeah, right. Anyway, I went back to the original connections and it's staying that way.

The new toy has Spider Solitaire.

As you know, spiders and me? No. Not friends, no interest other than to either kill or leave well alone.

But this game; so-oo addictive! It got me to thinking that if I just reverse those moves, try it this way, all will be well and I'll win the game... Hours later, I'm still playing, trying to lift the 30% win ratio, with two suits.

The thought occurred to me that this is what writers do: tweak it a little, backup and re-write that last little bit; wonder whether it works better. No? Well, go forward a couple of moves but change that bit... and so on. If you do it often enough, you'll either never be done, or you'll win.

How's that for a long draw of the bow to join writing to an addictive card game named after a creepy-crawlie?

One thing that these games do is increase the brain power through problem solving; like those Mensa tests. Gymnastics for the mind. (But that's my excuse; and I'm sticking to it!)

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Ooooo, shiney!

My problems are solved. What problem? Oh, the one where I take lots of photos scooting around Europe (and my nephew's confirmation in Denmark) and running out of space on the photo card, the one where I have bucket loads of research, but I type faster than I can write long hand, the one where I'd like to sneak in to the story-a-day marathon and the one where sometimes, it's a glorious day and I'd rather be outside on the balcony writing than staring at all my reference texts.

Yes, indeedy, I've taken advantage of the post-Christmas sales and bought myself a notebook for less than $AUS600. And now, I'm a mobile writer.

It's not flash, just functional - it's hdd has a bigger memory than my desktop - and I can download photos to my heart's content. I can also keep up with the blog, once I get the hang of smaller, flat keyboard. All that will take is practice with the notebook at an angle.

And now that I have a shiney new toy, I'm going to play with it...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Who knew that the New Year's Eve fireworks was a competition?

I didn't, until this morning when I flicked on the news and it was all about who had the best show. 'Course, Australia led the way, but the newsies missed the most amazing sights of all.

At 8.30pm, there's a show for the kids so they're not up wa-ay past their bedtimes. This is the show I watched since my interest in watching ten minutes of televised fireworks at midnight is... oh, about... hmmm... zero.

I was staggered to see first, the three-dimensional boxes explode white into the sky, and then gobsmacked at the 'S' sigils in red. What an astonishing accomplishment by the world-renowned Foti family. How difficult was that? The timing and chemistry of working it all out? And you can bet I've been thinking about it - no answer yet.

I also saw the towers in Hong Kong light upwards in various colours - a definite 'woo hoo' moment, and the one from China.

This morning, the London and Edinburgh displays were shown. My conclusion? Someone should invent smokeless fireworks. The Brits did well - although the display was designed and executed by a Frenchman - but a lot of the Millennium wheel was obscured by smoke.

I haven't seen the rest of the world yet - no doubt I'll see highlights.

Anyway. Welcome to 2008; may this year be more fortunate for us all.