Thursday, February 28, 2008


Had a storm come through at about 5.00am this morning. Lighting, thunder, rain, a weird buzzing...

After a couple of hours of boom, crash, flash, buzz, I got up. No power. Not a spark to be seen anywhere in the street.

Time to break out the camp stove. It was so overcast and rainy, I lit a couple of candles - thankfully, there were no mirrors; I'm not the most stunning of creatures first thing in the morning - and set about making a cuppa tea out on the balcony.

So I'm sitting there, watching the cars go by, identifying the make and models (something I did while growing up on a Navy base with ships and planes) and my eyes follow a rather natty Subaru Impreza and...

BANG! Shower of yellow sparks.

As I watched, the transformer attached to a power pole down the street exploded. Definitely a wow moment, and was the source of the odd buzzing noise.

Of course, we've been without power for a few hours, but... the sight of that transformer blowing, well, it will be useful I think.

I don't know what caused it; the last time I was around one that went bang, a magpie landed on the thing and following the bang a mushroom cloud rose while the body fell to earth - and that was some twenty years ago.

Some things stay memorable.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Every time...

I wanted to post something this week, the severe thunderstorm warning went off. Of course, Murphy's Law states that if you don't think it's going to be too bad, just wait until you're in the middle of posting something!

Life's funny like that; no point in messin' wi' it.

No big, I got a story done on the laptop, though that's another issue altogether, as in TV + laptop = not a lot of work done.

anyway, it's on time, for which I'm thankful. Hard Bounty is over at the Takeaway.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dis... traction

The words are coming slowly in this new enterprise.

I think I know what's wrong, and it's not the story: it's... rugby season. It's also cricket finals time, and since I love my sport, everything else has slowed to a crawl - book included.

Sure, I could turn the damned TV off, read the results tomorrow in the newspaper, but... no, actually, I couldn't. You only get to see something for the first time once. Highlights don't give you that adrenalin charge, that "Oohh, so close!" moment.

Yes, indeed, while I'm not writing, I like to watch what other people are doing, be it sport or in fiction or where-ever; here lies inspiration.

If you constantly write, you'll burn out and compose unmitigated and unforgivable trash. It could be fixed with hard work, but to me,that defeats the purpose.

You have to focus on writing, on creating the scenes in your head and then transfer them on to the page. The more concentration you use, the better the first draft will be.

This weblog, for example, is mostly written off the top of my head. I'm sure there are mistakes - no, I guarantee there are mistakes. But I'm not precious about it because some days, I struggle with what to write about. It's important, but not as important as getting a 120,000 word book as close to right as I can get it.

A couple of hundred words is child's play to write or edit compared with 120k.

So, I should get back to it, huh. There's a break in the cricket and the Waratahs have gone down to the Chiefs, damn it. But another game is about to start and the Indians are about to bat. Gotta go!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


So I've begun writing another book and found I don't know as much about my own country's idiosyncrasies as I'd like; much to my chagrin.

Oh, I know we're laconic, are masters of the understatement, brash, innocent, curious, excitable... but others are like that too.

But the language we use - and no, I don't mean swearing - I mean the comparatives:

She bangs like a dunny door; dry as a burnt chip (or a dead Dingo's donga); flat out like a lizard drinking; up and down like a bride's nightie (or fiddler's elbow); right as rain; fair go; a dog's eye (meat pie), frog and toad (road) and so on... is still a factor of everyday life. But these are not enough. I need conversational colloquialisms, otherwise known as Strine.

I set off into cyberspace to find what I needed. Not surprisingly, I found some. Australian Slang is a web portal leading to all manner of language sin.

Feather Foot's Aussie Slang page has a comprehensive list of colloquialisms which amused the hell out of me.

The Australian Slang Dictionary also has a comprehensive list which demonstrates the various descriptions of a single word, like 'cockie': a cockatoo, a cockroach or a farmer.

These two are the best. Now that I have my Strine in order, I can happily write away. This is actually the first book set in my home country. Bit odd that, but how many people really know their own country's idiosyncrasies?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Different Hats

To quote Yosemite Sam: "Sassen Frassen Rassen!"

I've just finished editing Demonesque and tried to delete 16k of words. I managed 6k.

I fear I'm going to snatch myself bald in frustration, but 129,954 words is still too long. While I'd like to go back to unilaterally hack and slash, that would not be conducive to a well-written story.

I'm going to let it sit - again - and concentrate on writing another. (That sound you hear is me gnashing my teeth, by the way.) I really wanted this to be ready to send out.

It's taking too long so I'll have to go with plan B. That is, drag out the post-writing plot and see where I can carve off 6-7k or more; break it all down into bite-sized pieces, aka, scenes, and see what can be dumped. I have an idea, but I don' wanna!

Okay, whine over.

One thing you have to be is profession in this business and the business is writing. Yes, the hard yards come when editing, but a professional focus must be kept. And if I'm foolish enough to smirk and be smug at how many words I can write for a book, then I deserve the hard time that follows for overstepping the mark. Mea Culpa in other words.

To that end, I need to forget about reading as a reader, and read as an editor. I need to focus, oh, and read and inwardly digest, Holly Lisle's article: Your Book Is Not Your Baby. That should shame me into not being such a sookie-la-la and get on with it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

M-m-more m-m-meme

I'm a curious creature and I love to read about other people (as well as listen in to their conversations) so I nicked this from Gabriele's The Lost Fort site.


What was the last thing you wrote?
“We know of your unhappiness, Shadrach and understand why.” It's the first line of a new piece o' work. Other than that, I've been editing.

Was it any good?
I don't know. Is it?

What was the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Umm... I think a story about the impending destruction of Earth, the evacuation of the planet and it's last defence. I wrote it - never finished - in my early twenties.

Write Poetry?
Used to.

Angsty Poetry

Favourite genre of writing?
Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy.

Most fun character you ever created?
Marquet from Demon's Gate. He's a selfish, morally bankrupt character who becomes a hero in an act of self preservation. It really pissed him off.

Most annoying character you ever created?
Rodin Clairmont from Anzac Ascencion. He still considers himself an only child in the Royal Family and treats his siblings accordingly. The hateful bastard!

Best plot you ever created?
Hmm... I like them all, but Oracle Betrayed remains my favourite.

How often do you get writer's block?
Every time a story line doesn't work. I think it's my subconscious telling me the concept sucks like a drain.

Write fan fiction?
No, I refuse to step into someone else's imagination unless asked.

Do you type or write by hand?
I type faster than I can write; and my hand writing is atrocious.

Do you save everything you write?
Yes. No idea is wasted, merely waiting for the right time to mature.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
Yes. See above answer.

What’s your favourite thing that you’ve written?
When I go back and edit, I usually come across something and I think, "Wow! Did I write that?" It gives me warm fuzzies.

Do you ever show people your work?
Yes, I have a short story blog and some free e-stuff for peeps to download.

Did you ever write a novel?
Yes. I'm currently working on number 16.

Ever written romance or teen angst drama?
Yes, romance. Five finished, two unfinished. I don't know anything about teenage angst. I wasn't allowed to be that way.

What’s your favourite setting for your characters?
On worlds I create and in peril.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Let's see: This blog, one new book, editing a book and a story for the story blog, so that's four.

Do you want to write for a living?
Yes, please. Although I did work as a journalist, I wasn't writing what I wanted.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I think my ears are burning. Yes. I wrote a short story for a national women's magazine that placed in the top ten. My prize was ten free Mills & Boon books. Yep, ears are all hot.

Ever written something in script or play format?
Yes. For a university assignment and for the Story-a-day marathon over at Forward Motion.

Do you ever write based on yourself?
Every character I write contains Essence of Jaye - the good, the bad and the downright ug-lee. The trick is to keep it hidden.

What character have you created that most resembles yourself?
Hard question. Every character has a part of me. Though since they are all sourced in my imagination...

Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I favour an appropriate ending. Whether it's happy, sad or a cliff-hanger is up to the characters. They're running the show. Mostly, they get a happy ending.

Have you written based on an artwork you have seen?

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
No. I write first, then edit. That way, my concentration isn't broken.

Does music help you write?
Yes, but curiously, I rarely remember what I'm listening to if I'm in the zone. I won't even hear the end of the music, just an echo of the music when I'm done for the day.

Quote something you’ve written.
Memories she’d suppressed kept bobbing to the surface. She could still hear the bellow of the captain over the storm, the cold slap of water in her face as it came over the side, the seawater smell of fish, the sharp sting of open blisters on her hands as she hauled in nets, the warm flow of blood, washed from chilled fingers by salt spray.

She stared down at her palms. The skin was smooth now; the magic had healed her. If only it could heal the internal scars. She had been the only female on board; cook, whore and punching bag. Slave. Six weeks at sea, two days off in the lock-up to stop her from escaping. For two long years.

(From Oracle Betrayed.)

And there you have it. The best thing about this meme, is that it made me think. Thinking is always a good thing. It's right up there next to writing. Have a go at it, you'll see what I mean.

I'm going to re-read some of my stuff...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The biff

I love movies that contain biffo; the better the biff, the better I like it.

Films like Aliens, Terminator, Blade, True Lies all hold my attention until the end credits.

I don't need intellectual moralising or to wade through 'literary' angst or follow 'a family's triumphs and tragedies spanning the generations'. Call me shallow but gak. If I want real life, I'll look out the window - or call my own family.

Anyway, I've just finished watching the Resident Evil Trilogy. Damn, but I love the fights and the icky zombies. All three movies have enough tension to focus my attention, gruesomeness to raise my squick factor and action to fire up the heart rate.

It's all escapism; not much of a plot required - though opinions may vary. But I love the above movies because they do have a plot and they get the creative juices flowing.

Just by watching RE, I have a solution to the problem of a book I want to write. The book has nothing to do with genetic engineering, or zombies or evil corporations. Nothing, in fact, to do with the films at all. But following the concept, the theme, I managed to have a light bulb moment, right in the middle of all that biff.

Inspiration can come from anywhere; for me, it sometimes come during the delicate dance of violence. And now that I've had my dose of the biff, I can get back to writing.

Does that make me twisted?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Scribd anyone?

Okay, I've post a story over at The Takeaway. It's not the problematic one - that's going to require some thought before I let anyone see it.

This one is longer than most, but it had to be. I'll be working on the problem child for the next post in just over two weeks - since I've been bad and didn't post last week.

Anyway, I thought I might open a Scribd account. The short story blog only goes so far in attracting readers and I can cruise around the site, searching for interesting stuff.

Lynn Viehl has a handy-dandy site and is a terrific mentor to the likes of me - although I have to admit, Deimos - it's in Lunar Marshall - still squicked me out. Astonishing idea, but ewww!

I'll give it some thought...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All in the view

I've been wrestling with a story all week.

The problem is perspective. It's a nifty story, but with telepaths, how much do you want to away?

If the story stands, everything is laid out and you know how it's going to end. Sometimes, that's a good thing; but it's something I try to avoid. Otherwise, there's no surprise for the reader and no urge to 'find out what happens next'.

If you know what a third person is thinking, it takes all the mystery away. So. What to do about it?

Do I split the story into two parts, which will make it longer? Or do I try to 'hide' some facet?

Much as I'd like to test the theories, it would also give away too much but I don't want to toss it into the 'too hard' basket. I think, though, I'll let it sit; do something else and let my subconscious and muse fight it out between them.

Either way, I plan to have the story up tomorrow... sometime.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I don't like plums

I often listen - in an abstract way - to other people's conversations. It's a great way to gain insight into characters. To wit:

Son, aged about eight: Oh, Mum, look, plums! Can we get some?
Mother: No, we don't like plums.
Son (disappointed): Oh.

And off they went.

I heard what she really meant: I don't like plums.

I thought the kid loved them, and would now have to go without. Two things can happen: he will grow up and convince himself he doesn't like plums either, or have a secret longing for them. Either way, I thought the mother narrow-minded and selfish.

My mother hates stuffing, and yet, every Christmas, she would stuff a chicken for Christmas lunch.

This may only be food, but it's an indicator of how children learn to hate more than just plums. Parents have complete dominion over children; it is they who teach bad language, poor choices and bigotry.

Of course, as writers we construct evil characters from these types of conversations. We develop the reasons why someone as innocent as a child can evolve into a selfish, self-serving and sometimes violent bad guy. And it's usually sourced in the parents, in the denial of what a child wants or needs.

Heroes come from the same source; and in both cases, there is something inherent in the genetic make-up that resists the petty, the injustice, the cruel and accepts the affection, generosity and duty.

The genesis of our characters lie within ourselves, but are tempered with the traits of others. There's no better way to find those traits than to listen in to conversations.

Oh, and I love plums.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Summer? What Summer?

Now, you see? It's Summer. SUM-MER! So why is it 14 degrees Celsius and bucketing with rain?

I don't mind the cold temperatures - I'm a winter baby, after all - but I do mind having my work interrupted by the backyard flooding - twice! The current rainfall pattern is an inch an hour this morning, and on top of the rain we've had in the last week, it's no longer soaking in.

I've been out in mah wellies redirecting the flow of water, using a broom to sweep it down the driveway and hoping the new drains can cope. It's guarranteed the previous, single, inadequate drain would not have coped at all and the bottom level would be awash.

It's making me paranoid and I cannot work with one ear listening to the heavy rain, wondering if I should just check downstairs.

Ah, well, there's always tomorrow. Oh, look, the rain's heavier, time to go.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Yeah, yeah, I know. But... I haven't seen much happening. The edits are progressing... slow-ly and when my eyes are starting to squint, I stop.

Yes, it's still bucketing with rain - and, damn it, I polished the car last week - the grass is growing out of control and the laundry isn't drying any time soon.

Um... what else? Updated the family tree, found the other side of the tree but can't access it and stayed up much too late reading J.D. Robb (David Weber requires mucho effort, but I'll get back to it soon). I also solved the missing tripod problem: I bought a new one - of course, the old one will turn up soon.

And that's about it... except... ah... I forgot to post a story this week, so I'm working on that, too.

So, this week, not much has been happening; what can I say?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Rain, rain, rain

Wow. When La Nina wants to play, she really plays!

Yesterday it bucketed with rain, as in 156mm worth, or six inches. Me? I was stuck in traffic. A twenty minute drive - in dry weather - took ninety and as I'm crawling along the highway, I watched the under-road drains be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water, the frantic pulse of the windshield wipers try to keep visibility and listened to the local DJs tell everyone that it was raining, there was flooding and to stay at home.

Local farm dams overflowed, water washed across the roads, streets and parks flooded and... cars inevitably broke down. It was a amazing and I regretted not taking the camera with me. I was, after all, heading into town to get the car fixed. One of the brake cylinders is leaking - not much, but enough to fail the registration check.

It's been a good coupla decades since this type of weather has descended and it was fun, rather than scary. Though, once in town and watching the rain, unease crept in. For nearly an hour, I kept an eye on the rain. If it was like this at home, de house, she be flooding and my elderly parent would not be able to cope. My neighbour is a part of the local emergency services, but he, like so many others, was out rescuing and sandbagging. He wasn't home.

So, I went back to the mechanics - because I was late, they worked on another car - got the keys, made another appointment and headed home.

The rain eased off and by the time I got back to the Bay, had all but stopped. When I checked there was only fifteen millimetres in the rain gauge. No wrath of La Nina.

Today is sparkly. The sun is shining, the sky is painfully blue and the roads are dry. Gotta love a country of extremes. As the New Zealanders say, "There's no bad weather, only bad clothing."

Still, I got plenty of work done. Cut six thousand words with more to follow, so I'm on track for 120k. All it took was reducing a character to a bit player.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pod Slurping?

It raised my eyebrows, but it's the Macquarie Dictionary's word of the year. Apparently, it's: the downloading of large quantities of data to an MP3 player or memory stick from a computer.

Who knew? Not me, but then I'm an Oxford girl (I think my British roots are showing. 'scuse me while I tuck them away). The Macquarie is Australia's dictionary, full of colloquialisms as well as standard words, but it's always interesting to see what new words are turning up, like -

Informania: the tendency to give immediate attention to incoming messages such as email, text messages, etc., resulting in constant distraction and a corresponding drop in the recipient's attention levels and work performance. And we've all seen, or know someone who does this.

Floordrobe: noun Colloquial (humorous) a floor littered with discarded clothes, viewed ironically as a clothing storage system. [floor + (war)drobe]. Huh? You mean I was trendy years ago?

Man flu: noun Colloquial (humorous) a minor cold contracted by a man who proceeds to exaggerate the symptoms enormously. 'Nuff said.

Arse antlers: plural noun Colloquial a tattoo just above the buttocks, having a central section and curving extensions on each side. Ahh, now I have a name to go along with 'butt floss'.

Fauxtography: noun the manipulation of photographic or video images to convey a false representation of events. [faux + (pho)tography] Plenty of that going on around the web.

Nerdcore: noun a subgenre of hip-hop music characterised by subject matter considered of interest to nerds, such as technology, politics and science fiction; geeksta rap. Also, nerdcore hip-hop. [nerd + (hard)core] I like that, "geeksta rap". Now they have their own genre.

All of these definitions, and more, can be found at the Macquarie Dictionary site. Go. Have a giggle. Now, back to werk.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Slash and burn

This final edit is time consuming, but I'm persevering because I know it will be worthwhile.

Checking all the -ing and -ly words is teaching me to look closer at sentence structure while also focusing on readability. One thing I'll have to teach myself now is to not have the tv on while I'm doing this on the laptop! The first pitfall of moveable writing I've discovered thus far.

But I've come up against a more serious problem: size. I have to cut another sixteen thousand words. As far as I know, no publisher is going to take a first novel at 136,000 words. More words equals more paper, more ink and more time on the presses, which equals more expense.

Hmmm, deja vu moment.

Anyway, I have to cut scenes. But what? The exploding plane? The jail abuse sequence? Some of Drega's cruelty? Sex scenes? What? It's like trying to nail jelly to a tree!

This is going to take some careful and creative consideration, 'cause, damn it, I don't wanna do it!

Well, tomorrow's Superbowl day, so I'm having the day off; maybe something will occur to me while I'm munching popcorn, drinking caffeine and cheering on the ******* (don't want to jinx either side).

Friday, February 01, 2008


I'm having an attack of nerves. Is it good enough? Will an agent like it? Have I done enough? Who the hell do I send it to? How do I choose?

This point that I'm at, this juncture in time, is something I've been working towards for years. There's something unnerving about sending off your written work for complete strangers to judge. And this is the true test.

I'm trying not to metaphorically hand wash with worry, but I'm standing on the 'do or don't' precipice. Where one more step forward will...

*sigh* Every published author goes through this. Every published author worried. Every published author had something rejected. And yeah, I've had the last.

I like to think I've progressed since then, that I've worked harder, focused more, created better and made my books more readable.

I've been doing this for years, taking one step at a time, improving until I'm at a stage where I think my work won't be dismissed out of hand for poor grammar or jumping timelines or changing hair/eye colours.

Getting online was the first step to overcome chronic shyness and I think it's working well. It took a dare from Sheila to post stories - the next step - and I think that's gone well too. Forward Motion taught me to write short stories; Nano to write books and various other websites, school courses and books to edit.

Is there a longer apprenticeship? Or one more worthwhile?

It's time to get back to the final edits. Then onto the writing of query letters and synopis... synopsi... synopsises... um... yeah, you know what I mean.