Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Out in the dark

I don't often see the unexpected in this quiet little village, but the other night...

Rain. Heavy, cold drops from a darkened winter sky sparkling under orange street lights. Flashes of lightning and the deep, dissatisfied rumble of thunder, though it's miles away.

Will we get more flooding? Will it snow? The bitter air feels like it, but we're at sea level. No snow, though I can... eh? What? No... way!

Across the street, sitting up, washing it's face. Dash a few metres, stop, wash, bound away into the undergrowth. Black tail all a bristle, dark grey body under the orange light. Head, small with pointed ears and front paws smaller than the back. A... squirrel?

I've been to the U.S. and taken photos of the black squirrel - so cute - a red one with tufted ears, sitting in a fir tree in Arizona, and been chastised by a grey one, recently, in England. I know what a squirrel looks like.

But I'm home, in Australia, and a long way from any zoos; a coupla hundred kilometres in fact. So what is a squirrel doing here? I went off to check my Australian mammal book - for when I'm out walking in the bush to identify species - and low, there is a picture of a grey squirrel! Colour me amazed. Escapees, apparently, live in deciduous trees in metropolitan Sydney, but that's about it; they're rare even in Sydney.

I'm guessing the rodents are moving south. While I think they're as cute as can be, they're feral and a problem for native animals.

I'm still shaking my head. What else is out there?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


PBW has begun a series of 'how to' for those Left Behind and Loving It.

Interestingly, for me, today's blog is on editing - and I've just finished a five hundred page edit on one of my wips.

Fortunately, Lynn recommends leaving the thing alone for a couple of days after the edit, which I will comply with. But I'll also start on another one using the plan listed.

The problem with editing is that it takes time and is nowhere near as much fun as the writing. It takes practice to get it right and it takes practice to stop worrying about a particular scene, character or chapter. I'd like to know if any other writers tie themselves in knots about it and how to let go...

Other things in the blog is a list of those authors joining in with their own post to help those of us who find something lacking in our own writing. I'm off to check a few of them out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moving forward

The five o'clock gong has sounded and it's time to put away imaginary things.

It's all so very frustrating and slow. I've done minor edits on the first four chapters and I'm working through the second (I'll probably finish the eighth chapter tonight).

What I'm not doing is going back. Like writing, once you start you don't stop until it's done. Move forward. While editing, have a notebook handy for, well, notes on things you're unsure about or changes.

Once I've done all the chapters, it will be time to put it all together again and read through. I figure that's when the inner critic will be loud in my ear. I have so-oo got to kill that bitch.

I did find I've used the word 'some' way too much: something, somebody, some. Now that I look at the word, it's weird. (Not like polydactyl, which is cool.)

There's something amiss and I don't know what it is. I can't recall who said it, but he 'skips over the boring bits' and that's what I've done in writing this book. So much has happened in seven chapters, I'm wondering if it's too much. But... I think I need to put in a few more descriptive phrases. Not alot, just a few to bolster the readability. I can't tell editing four chapters at a time and stopping. I'll need to look once it's back together.

It's time for a break and domestic stuff - getting away from the work is always good. It settles the mind to nut out what's wrong and how to fix it. At least in my world it does.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New things

I learned a new word today: polydactyl.

Isn't it cool? Poly... dactyl...

Sounds prehistoric; a new type of dinosaur maybe? Nup. It means having more than the usual digits, like people being born with six fingers or six toes.

I like to learn a new thing every day. Yesterday, it was my first three chapters... um... prologue plus two chapters, aren't as nifty as I thought. What I learned is that just about all my first three chapters aren't as readable as the rest. And I've been torturing myself over it. I can delete the prologue and the rest is 'okay', but once I get into the fourth chapter and beyond, it reads well.

I'll have to find some literature on how to write the first three chapters effectively.

Last week, I realised why I had such a problem with the 'annoyance and inconvenience' law passed for the Catholic World Youth Day: we weren't asked.

Australians, as a whole, will bend over backwards to help out... if asked. If we're not, and assumptions are made, then we get all pissy about it. If the Government had asked us to welcome the pilgrims, we would have done so, like we did for the Olympics. But we weren't; we were told and laws put in place to ensure compliance.

This country was founded by convicts. People who had a natural resistance to authority... that hasn't changed. Not one jot. We made a hero out of the criminal Ned Kelly, after all.

I guess it just shows how blind our current government is to the Aussie way. Too bad the election is still a couple of years away.

I wonder what I'll learn tomorrow? And how can I use my new word? Polydactyl. What new things have you learned today?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Soon, my precious, soon...

Tor have announced a new webpage in conjunction with their standard page. is listed as a magazine and has blogs a community, news and short stories. Go check it out.

Also new is S.L. Viehl's Omega Games - though it's two weeks early - the next in the Stardoc series. I can't complain, but I can't remember if I have it as an automatic send from the Galaxy Bookshop. Guess I'll have to ring up and find out!

Next to toss on my TBR pile is Eoin Colfer's Time Paradox, the next Artemis Fowl book. This anti-hero filled the gap for me between the Harry Potter books and I love the series.

Coming up in the next couple of months, my books other to buy are: Rachel Caine's Gale Force next month and Tess Gerritsen's The Keepsake and David Weber's Worlds of Weber in September. All I have to do is eke out some time to read them.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm busily studying my editing books - it's like writing, I think, the more you do, the more you become familiar with the what-to-do's and the what-not-to-do's; and the grammar stuff and structure and stuff.

I have a professional qualification in proofreading and editing, and yet I find myself delving back into the texts - it's probably something to do with I'm okay with other people's work, but lack confidence trying to edit my own. Huh. Gonna have to build that bridge and move over it.

Anyway, Paperback Writer has the schedule up for her Left Behind and Loving It workshops starting next week. I'm pretty sure I'll garner some nuggety ideas on how to move around this particular roadblock.

In the meantime, back to it...

Friday, July 18, 2008

A few amusements

Not much happening around here, so I give you... this:


A newlywed couple had only been married for two weeks. The husband, although very much in love, couldn't wait to go out on the town and party with his old buddies.

So, he said to his new wife, 'Honey, I'll be right back.'

'Where are you going, coochy cooh?' asked the wife.

'I'm going to the bar, pretty face. I'm going to have a beer.'

The wife said, 'You want a beer, my love?'

She opened the door to the refrigerator and showed him 25 different kinds of beer brands from 12 different countries: Germany, Holland, Japan, India, etc.

The husband didn't know what to do, and the only thing that he could think of saying was, 'Yes, lolly pop... but at the bar... you know... they have frozen glasses...'

He didn't get to finish the sentence, because the wife interrupted him by saying, 'You want a frozen glass, puppy face?'

She took a huge beer mug out of the freezer, so frozen that she was getting chills just holding it.

The husband, looking a bit pale, said, 'Yes, tootsie roll, but at the Bar they have those hors d'oeuvres that are really delicious... I won't be long, I'll be right back. I promise. OK?'

'You want hors d'oeuvres, poochi pooh?' She opened the oven and took out 5 dishes of different hors d'oeuvres: chicken wings, pigs in blankets, mushroom caps, pork strips, etc.

'But my sweet honey... At the bar... You know... there's swearing, dirty words and all that...'

'You want dirty words, Dickhead? Drink your f***ing beer in your Goddamn frozen mug and eat your motherf***ing snacks, because you are Married now, and you aren't f***ing going anywhere! Got it, Asshole?'

.......and, they lived happily ever after.

* * *

Does anyone remember the Ladybird books from their childhood? I do, so I was amused to find this:

The Ladybird Book of the Policeman. There are other stories here too.

* * *

And one more:

Little Pecker

A five-year-old boy and his grandfather are sitting on the front porch together, when grandpa pulled a beer out of the cooler.

The little boy asked, 'Grandpa, can I have a beer? Grandpa replied 'Can your pecker touch you're ass?'

The little boy answered, 'No Grandpa, it's just a little pecker!'

Grandpa said, 'Then you're not man enough to have a beer.'

A little later Grandpa lit up a cigar. The little boy asked, 'Grandpa, can I have a cigar?'

Once again, Grandpa asked, 'Can your pecker touch you're ass?'

The little boy answered 'no,' again.

Grandpa said, 'Then your not man enough to have a cigar.'

A little later, the boy came out of the house with some cookies and milk.

Grandpa asked, 'Can I have a cookie?'

The boy asked, 'Can your pecker touch you're ass?'

Grandpa replied, 'Hell yeah, my pecker can touch my ass!'

The boy replied, 'Then go fuck yourself! Grandma made these for me.'

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Overturned and underwhelmed

Finally, common sense has overcome elitism in that the recent 'annoyance' law has been overturned in the Federal Court.

Two university activists took the NSW Government to court over the law, claiming it was unconstitutional to infringe on a person's right to peace protest.

Of course, in a smug rebuttal, NSW Premier, Morris Iemma said: "Two words have been struck out - the words 'and annoyance'".

And while all this bullshit is going on, a vandal has written Ratzinger Rules on one of our war memorials. The Pope belonged to a paramilitary organisation in Germany during the Second World War.

There's nothing like a religious circus to piss off the natives: Sydney CBD is currently experiencing gridlock as thousands of pilgrims head to Darling Harbour for the opening ceremony. As for ordinary commuters on their way home from work, well, tough shit. It's not as if your every day lives are anywhere near as important as the Bible-thumping, hallelujahing, devoutly-religious, god-botherers good time.

And let's remember, peeps, not to cause any inconvenience to the speshul pilgrims. Gee, only another week of this to go...


There are some interesting items in SciFi Weekly this... er... week.

Buzz Aldrin has a go at science fiction authors, blaming them for a lack of interest by young people in space. Huh. Bit of a lame argument that, given the quantity of scientists out there who name reading sci-fi as an inspiration.

Marjorie M. Liu has an interview about her new book, Iron Hunt.

I also had a 'cool!' moment as a remake of Survivors is ready for the Teev. I loved this show and still remember parts of it even though I was only a kid when it first aired in the... er... 70s.

There's also lots of stuff on Dark Knight, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and other items. But you can go and look for yourself.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Movie Meme

Oooo... meme! This one from Scribblings of a Madman:

This is Entertainment Weekly's list of 100 Classic Movies of the past 25 years. The rules: Bold the movies you've seen, underline or *asterisk* the ones you plan to, strike out the ones you HATE and refuse to watch ever again.

... P.S... for those of you who, like me, didn't know how to strike out something, here's how: <> strike out < / s >

Here's the list:

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)

3. Titanic (1997)
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
5. Toy Story (1995)
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
9. Die Hard (1988)
10. Moulin Rouge (2001)
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
12. The Matrix (1999)
13. Goodfellas (1990)
14. Crumb (1995)
15. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
16. Boogie Nights (1997)
17. Jerry Maguire(1996)

18. Do the Right Thing (1989)
19. Casino Royale (2006)
20. The Lion King (1994)
21. Schindler's List (1993)

22. Rushmore (1998)
23. Memento (2001)
24. A Room With a View (1986)
25. Shrek (2001)
26. Hoop Dreams (1994)
27. Aliens (1986)
28. Wings of Desire (1987)
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
32. Fight Club (1999)
33. The Breakfast Club (1985)
34. Fargo (1996)
35. The Incredibles (2004)
36. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
37. Pretty Woman (1990)

38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
39. The Sixth Sense (1999)
40. Speed (1994)

41. Dazed and Confused (1993)
42. Clueless (1995)
43. Gladiator (2000)
44. The Player (1992)

45. Rain Man (1988)
46. Children of Men (2006)
47. Men in Black (1997)
48. Scarface (1983)
49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
50. The Piano (1993)
51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)
53. The Truman Show (1998)
54. Fatal Attraction (1987)
55. Risky Business (1983)

56. The Lives of Others (2006)
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)
58. Ghostbusters (1984)
59. L.A. Confidential (1997)
60. Scream (1996)
61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)
63. Big (1988)
64. No Country For Old Men (2007)
65. Dirty Dancing (1987)
66. Natural Born Killers (1994)
67. Donnie Brasco (1997)
68. Witness (1985)
69. All About My Mother (1999)
70. Broadcast News (1987)
71. Unforgiven (1992)
72. Thelma & Louise (1991)

73. Office Space (1999)
74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
75. Out of Africa (1985)
76. The Departed (2006)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
81. Moonstruck (1987)
82. Lost in Translation (2003)
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
84. Sideways (2004)
85. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
91. Back to the Future (1985)
92. Menace II Society (1993)
93. Ed Wood (1994)
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002)
97. Glory (1989)
98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

Oops. Less than half. A few of my favs made the list, like Aliens, Terminator, Glory and The Incredibles, but there are quite a few missing, too. No X-men, or Armageddon or The Day After Tomorrow. No Kill Bill, Charlie's Angels, Three Kings or Jarhead. Or others I could mention.

Who made this list anyway?

Friday, July 11, 2008


I can't help myself. I just have to ask: Is this the end for Torin Kerr?

I hope not. I really do. Tanya Huff's Valor's Trial doesn't end in a cliffhanger, that would be fine, but ends... well, there could be more, or it the series could stop. I hate that in a series. I don't want to make my own conclusions. Remember Total Recall by Philip K. Dick? Not the movie, the book! That ending both annoyed and intrigued me. Took me days to settle.

Anyway, it's a great read; and, like Lynn Viehl's Stardoc and Darkyn, David Weber's Honor Harrington and Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion, well worth re-reading.

To the book: Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is returned to her battalion and that battalion is sent into action against the Others. In a flash of light, the battalion and the Others are gone. The Corp believe them dead, the public believe them dead and irritating Katrien reporter Presit a Tur durValintrisy believes them dead; Torin's lover Craig Ryder (who speaks like an Australian) doesn't.

Torin awakes to find herself in an underground prison with other marines, all of whom show no inclination to escape. But Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr isn't going to accept there's no way out and with friends, old and new, she's going to bust out of prison, taking her Marines with her, or die trying. What she doesn't know is that a successful escape may end the centuries-long war.

I like a kick-ass heroine and Tanya Huff's Torin Kerr is just that. In this book, the body count is high but not without reason. And the enemies are hidden: one is the struggle Torin has with herself, against the need for violence the need to give up and the need to get the hell out. The other... would be a spoiler.

There's also a part that's reminiscent of The Chronicles of Riddick - a favourite movie of mine.

The writing is terrific, you can almost feel the hopelessness of the other prisoners, the pointlessness of orders from officers who don't know what else to do, and the frustration of Kerr at those orders. You can feel Kerr's resistance to more violence, too, even when you want her to punish wrong-doers.

But it's not all grit and determination in the face of overwhelming odds, there's humour, longing, fear and mistrust, too. The characters are sympathetic and well written, even the aliens, the world-building is just enough and Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr right out of a Boy's Own.

Which is all why I don't want this series to end too soon. I. Want. MORE! Please?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bits and pieces

Corporate entities must be desperate.

I was in a major chain store this morning and saw - after rubbing my eyes and checking again - Christmas lights for sale. Yep, a reindeer and sled neon light set.

It couldn't be a post-Christmas sale thing, it's Ju-ly, but I can see people buying them anyway. It just kinda sucks all the joy out shopping pre-season. And yes, some might think, 'ha! Christmas in July!' Or not. Me, I just sneered and moved on.

* * *
And did buy myself some dragons. A nice couple of Knights. They almost look as if they could replace the knights in my Imperial Dragon chess set, except they're the wrong colour.

I also picked up a CD. Will Martin's debut album A New World. He's a New Zealander, but I shan't hold that against him. He does a fabulous version of Over the Hills and Far Away. If you've seen the Sharpe series, you'll know the song. He also sings So Far Away, a song that Amici Forever do on their album Defined, which is, to me, the ultimate soldier's song; well, that's how I hear it.

Hmm... anyway, back to Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Bitey weather here today; normally, the temps in the low to mid- teens (Celsius), but today, it barely reached nine degrees. Oh, and the rain. Not a lot, but constant. Overall, one might say a miserable day; not me. As Billy Connelly says 'it's not miserable weather, just different.'

So I fired up the laptop and then left it alone to watch War of the Worlds, yes, Tom Cruises version (he plays a shocked - if initially cowardly - survivor really well, followed by one of my favs, Mr & Mrs Smith. It has all I need: Explosions, sex and misunderstandings.

The delivery man also turned up so I have Tanya Huff's Valor's Trial, the hardback, two weeks early from Amazon and so I don't have to wait a year for the paperback. Whoo-hoo!

The bitter weather is set to continue, but there's nothing like curling up in front of the heater with a good book... except curling up in front of the heater working; yeah, I'll send out the last two tomorrow.

We've also had a change in the wildlife cavorting around the backyard. The blue tongues are hiding, probably because it's cold and they're cold blooded, but I did notice some new, small diggings. I figured it was another rabbit (last year's died under one of the camellias), but... it's not. The droppings are different.

According to my Park Ranger brother, it's a Bandicoot! I don't know what type because they're nocturnal. I shan't be hunting for it either; I like indigenous species living in the backyard. Rabbits are feral.

So... work... or book? Work... or book? No contest really...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Good, bad and definitely ugly

I stumbled across Jim Butcher's Livejournal page today. Yes, I know, I'm supposed to be working on my submissions. I have no excuse. I am not worthy... yadda, yadda, yadda.

Anyway, I've read exactly... one Dresden File book. I did not find it inspiring and I can only vaguely remember it. But, and it's a big one: Jim never gave up and now has a series and the television series. Good for him. And I mean that. Determination to succeed should be rewarded.

I'm sure you can think of a number of authors whom you thought were so-so. Your choice, my choice, no big.

The journal, however, is a testament to good craftmanship. He has a number of posts on how he writes; his own how to that might start a newbie writer off. He has also posted bad reviews, something you don't see very often.

In this age of instant comment, writers - I think - have to be aware of the good and the bad. Not everyone will fall over themselves to read your work, not everyone has a good/bad response to your work. But it does pay to keep in mind what reviewers say about your work.

Jim has posted one in particular dealing with the workings of a gun. Jim got it wrong and the reviewer pointed it out. I imagine it's a mistake Jim won't make again (free dig here) unlike Laurel K. Hamilton who doesn't read reviews at all and wonders why so many people hate her books.

The point is that none of the negativity has Jim throwing up his hands and deciding not to write any more. Writing is a constant learning curve and no one expects to be absolutely perfect on their first go - at least, they shouldn't. Your very best work is the least any editor expects. And while you're going to get bumps and bruises along the way, if you absorb the lessons, there's only one way to go and that's to improve.

Jim's advice doesn't work for me. I'm not that organised and if I used his recommendations, I'd never start a book because I'd be - as they say in the vernacular - over it before it began. That doesn't mean it won't work for others.

I may not appreciate his books, but I do appreciate the help of a published author.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Feel free to ignore the rules

Hmm... it occured to me that it was time again to be submitting.

I'm not as thick-skinned as that guy who submitted his story a thousand times before being accepted for publication. Each rejection stings, though the more I collect, the less I feel the impact.

What isn't quite right for one publication, maybe perfect for the next. The difficulty is finding that outlet.

I've spent a lot of hours using, visiting websites, downloading guidelines. I'm astonished at how many stillcomplain that submitters don't pay attention to the guidelines.

One of my rejection letters thanked me for adhering to the guidelines. I thought it strange; after all, don't all new writers worry over whether they've got their submission absolutely right?

Apparently not, given the amount of pleas.

My question has to be why new authors wouldn't pay attention? Is it that they're out to gather the rejections slips for bragging rights? Are they so nervous they skimmed the guidelines? Or is it simply a case laziness?

Why send a sci-fi story to a fantasy magazine? They're not the same, nor is a fairy tale hard science fiction.

I shouldn't care about this. The more rejection of ill-advised submissions, the better are my chances since I'm rather anal about getting it right. If I'm going to be rejected, it will be on content, not layout or whether it fits the parametres. Okay, forget I said anything. Feel free to ignore the submission guidelines, and don't worry, I'll be happy to take your place.

I'm now going to match stories to magazines - I think I'll send out five initially, see how they go.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

This and...that

Inspiration can come from anywhere... lucky for me!

So far, I've found inspiration in the California Wildfires, the program Future Weapons, a gardening program, Mythbusters and, though I'm loathe to admit it, Robert Mugabe.

These are widely different subjects, but when writing, everything has potential.

Take a weapon of the future. It looks so cool, has all sorts of new fangled technology and is accurate without the collateral damage we see in the wars of the past - and present. But what if we took that technology one step further? A genetically encoded snipers bullet with an integrated tracking system: no more misses or near-misses. A bomb that went exactly where you want it and not accidentally into a public market.

The garden? New poisons, plants that grow larger than expected through mutation, plants that heal one species but kill another (yeah, I know, there are probably squillions of plants that do that already, but I'm botanically-challenged, so it's new to me), sentient plants, and so on.

Mugabe? (ick) How to kill the s.o.b. or how to keep him in power - and the reasons why. Extrapolate to encompass a whole planet, or an end game. What would be the end result should his evil rule continue? A country without citizens? A country with distinct classes: the rich and the slaves?

And that's the good thing about being a writer. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

* * *
Twilight Fall by Lynn Viehl
So I read a few chapters and then wondered if perhaps Lynn was channelling Angela Knight so... descriptive and brash was the text. Like Evermore, some of the scenes are not for the faint-hearted, but it's only a small part of the plot. And what a plot it is.

I found the new elements intriguing - though they could have been foreshadowed in previous books (damn, I'll have to re-read the series to find out) - and entirely in keeping with Lynn's habit of dropping clues in the books that came before.

The ending is a corker! I didn't see it coming, and maybe I should have. After all what else could be appropriate (but I have my own ideas on that, which will remain unspoken).

I shan't go into the details, they remain the same for all the Darkyn: single human female is attracted to a vampire ("We are vrykolakas, not vampires.") Otherwise known as the Darkyn. The exception to this is Evermore. But each woman has something about her... something hinted at... that makes the change to Darkyn possible. In an ongoing plot line - something else that is given less importance in this book than the main plot, Alexandra Keller is searching for the answer.

Twilight Fall continues the story in a different way and opens all manner of possibilities, but it is still highly entertaining and leaves the reader fuming that it is January 2009 before the next book, Stay the Night comes out.

Sigh. Well, we can console ourselves with Omega Games, the next Stardoc which is on shelves next months. I really, really hope it's the first week of August. But in the meantime, I'll re-read the Darkyn. One, because I need to find the clues, and two, because it is a series worth reading over and over again.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Well... the first story sucks. It always sucks as far as I'm concerned, but this is suckier than normal. I don't even know if it has any redeeming features.

The one I'm working on now reads more like an abbreviated book and I don't need that given the books I've already written and need to work on to send off.

Yep. The Muse is back in town and ready to rumble, demanding new stuff, ignoring works-in-progress and not caring a jot. That'll teach me let her out on her own.

I don't suppose it's a bad thing, either. After concentrating on so much other stuff, it's nice to get back to the fantasy worlds. And that's the thing. For the whole of May, while travelling, not one story idea popped into my head. Not. One. And I didn't notice!

That is scary in itself, but I still didn't pick up on it when I came home. Nope, just spent time showing off photos and compiling logical stuff into a database. For most of June, I've been doing this project and it's finally done, but still no ideas, even though I planned a month-long write-fest.

It's one of my worst nightmares to think my imagination might fail me, that years of hard work and the helpless need to write was... gone; stolen while I busy elsewhere. I trusted that ideas would always be there for me, that all I had to do was listen to a conversation, read a book, watch a TV program, or even stare at strange clouds and the spark would be there; the kernel of an idea would coalesce the bloom into thousands of words.

Now I know that not to be, quite, true. But it's like coming back from ill health or memory loss. I can't force it; I can only wait and give it a prod every now and then.

What I want to do is bring all that focus and concentration to bear to bring it all back, but all I get is fuzzy images and pauses. Great. Big. Pauses.

But now the Muse is back. And you want to know something? While writing this and the story, I realise I've finished the story. Everything a reader needs to know, or to assume, is done. Yes, it could be longer; yes, I can expand it, and yes, a reader would be pissy about coming to their own conclusions, but it's done. So maybe the malaise is passing.

I think I'll go read a book to find some inspiration.

For those of you in America, Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Outrageous assault

On the right to protest.

The Grand Inquisitor, aka the Pope, arrives in Australia for World Youth Day soon and the NSW Government has seen fit to slide in regulations preventing the local citizenry from ‘annoying or causing inconvenience’ to those involved.

Police have stated that ’organisations planning to campaign during World Youth Day events they need to have placards, banners and T-shirts pre-approved or risk losing their protest "rights" - even those groups representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.’

Under whose definition ‘annoying’ might be isn’t clear and thus paves the way for wholesale pandemonium. Why? Because Aussies don’t like laws that are petulant, disrespectful and unnecessary.

There’s also the caveat of shielding His Nibs from ‘things that might offend the Pontiff’s eyes’. What? The homeless? People abused by the Church? Poor fashion sense? A beautiful woman? How precious can he be?

And here I thought he was for all Christians, not just those who worship at his feet with glorious adulation.

Repugnant, draconian and unnecessary, critics say. President of the New South Wales Bar Association Anna Katzmann said on the ABC news service, “They are repugnant for two reasons. First of all the Government has by-passed the normal parliamentary scrutiny that would be available if they were introduced by an Act of Parliament. Secondly they are an unreasonable interference with people's freedom of speech and movement."
In the Sydney Morning Herald today, a poll lists 90 percent of voters as against the new laws – and I’m one of them.

Were does the government get off suggesting a law needs to be introduced to stop people from ‘annoying’ a select group of radical fundamentalists? If they’d done nothing, the populace would leave the Christians alone. Instead, anyone wearing a t-shirt or waving a banner deemed annoying can find themselves arrested and fined $5500!

To enforce the law, the local State Emergency Service and the Rural Fire Service have been empowered to detain those deemed causing an ‘annoyance’ to World Youth Day participants.

As a way to cause resentment, the law is outstanding; and provocative. Given the Aussie way of mocking those in authority (Australian troops in WWI were described as lacking in discipline for failing to salute superior British officers – one wag reportedly said: “when I see a superior officer, I’ll salute him!”) the result may well be mass protests and ‘annoying’ t-shirts.

There is nothing an Aussie likes more than taking the Mickey out of someone and there is no better target, nor one more deserving, than the Church.

Here's an example of what might be considered 'annoying' in a t-shirt:

(The t-shirt reads: The Pope touched me - curving over a map of Australia - Down Under - with a finger pointing up to South Australia.)

It’s all even more outrageous when you consider the people of New South Wales handed over $95 million dollars for the event, that there will be unprecedented road closures, that the Sydney racing industry had to be moved to allow the Pontiff and his followers space and will lose money hand over fist because of it, that Catholic paraphernalia will adorn public places, that the transport system will be gummed up by obsequious youngsters and that the law covers about 600 spots around Sydney.

So… who, exactly, is being inconvenienced and annoyed here? Why, everyone in Sydney!

There is no reason to afford the Pontiff special treatment, because he ain’t special. There is no reason to shield the man from the realities of everyday life here in Australia. There is no reason to offend the majority of the population. There is no reason to annoy or inconvenience us.

And there is absolutely no reason to introduce regulations that infringe on a person’s legitimate right to protest.

To quote Dom Knight from his blog: …there are few things more annoying than a law that says you can't annoy people.

As far as I'm concerned, if you don't like our laid-back ways, our occasionally irreverent humour, our welcoming ways: stay in Rome with the sycophants.