Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No superheroes here please

Yes, well, that didn't work at all.

I really, really do not want a 'super hero' ending to this trilogy and that's exactly where it was heading. Sigh. Guess I'm deleting five thousand words or so and starting again.

And that's the problem. I've been rushing... again. Before I can write 'The End' on this piece, I have to finish it appropriately. Yes, with the death and destruction and the resolution of misunderstandings and the solution to the trilogy-long issue, but without the Ex Deus Machina leaping to my rescue.

I don't need rescuing, damn it, I need control and focus... and something really sneaky. Something a reader will not see coming.

This, of course, is part and parcel of life as an organic writer, although I assume it happens to writers who outline as well. Even when planning a book, I'm sure some writers suddenly strike a problem with the end and it has to be rewritten.

I gotta wonder though, how other writers of fiction involving people with... different abilities, be it vampirism, lycanthropy, psychic-ability, whatever, get around the lure of superheroism. Or do they just ignore it, not think of it, deliberately avoid the issue?

Characters must stay true to themselves regardless of the internal/external conflicts, the plot must unfold in a logical manner and so the end must be appropriate. Nope, I don't want my characters to join an amorphous organisation dedicated to the protection of humanity. That is just sucky. I even know where it came from:

My cable television decoder died and, while waiting for the new one to arrive, I mourned the loss of the programs I'd missed. Including Torchwood. In re-reading what I'd written, I found I'd put the line "We are outside the government... Definitely an eye-rolling moment and the catalyst for me dumping the five thousand or so words I'd done.

It was a cop-out. I'm so anxious to get this done and be ready for the short story gig, that I just wanted this book finished. I'm ashamed of that. It's a great trilogy and I treated it with less respect than it deserved. No wonder my mind gave me something so... ewwwie, cliched and downright laughable.

So. I shall think more on it and be more professional. And I'll come up with a wow ending, too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not the End

...and I said, "What? What?"

When I opened this last book for editing, I thought 286 pages a nice length for a novel and proceeded to hunker down and... well, edit.

But... (insert ominous music) at the bottom of page 286, the story ended at the cliffhanger finish of the scene! Egad! The book is... unfinished. I have no idea what I was thinking. Not for the next scene, but in not finishing the manuscript.

I'm still kicking titles around, too, for the trilogy itself. I should pout... but I need to complete this book before the Story-a-Day marathon begins later on this week, and so have no time to sulk... damn it.

I'm not sure how long the piece will be, but I've given myself another, hmmm, forty pages to wrap everything up. Death and destruction, emotional anguish, a triumphal return, the solution to a misunderstanding and a happily evah after. All I have to do is write it. Ten thousand words or so in three days? Oh... two, since the outside world will intrude on Wednesday.

Yeah, go ahead, chastise me for ellipse abuse, but ellipses are useful... don't you think?

Now... to work.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Brr, it's a bitey and windy Autumnal... nay, Winter's day. Near gale-force (poor Gail) winds actually, that nips at any exposed flesh.

And that makes it perfect for staying indoors, all nice and toasty warm, and werkin'. And so I have been. I'm on the last of eight books I've been reading through and making editorial notes on.

Of course, it then struck me to wonder how much note-taking is enough? The current set are about half a page - double spaced - for each book. Some are minor, like re-checking eye colours (okay, that's pretty major, not minor). Others are things like checking topography, increasing the length of scenes and adding descriptions. All in an effort to make a readable book, more readable.

Well, yesterday, I was reading the paper - as you do - and came across a book review on procrastination. I can't remember the name and I'm too lazy to go upstairs to check, okay? But if you wanna know, I find it...

What struck me about this review is that goes into detail about the whys and wherefores, in particular, perfectionism. Ah, yes, the idea that It Must Be Perfect before anything else happens.

I think everyone has heard of someone else who's worked on a book for years, usually the writing of it, without ever publishing it because it's just not right yet. And it pains me to admit that I'm probably suffering from the same malaise.

I'm scrubbing and polishing and note-taking on my books to make sure they're as perfect as they can be, and still wondering if they're at a publishable level. Sometimes, not such a bad thing - like when I discovered I'd changed two characters around in a sequel - but not always a good thing, either.

What am I going to do about it? We-ll, I'm undecided, actually. Recognising you have a problem is the first step, right? And I suppose the second is to do something about it... post something on Scribd or is that a cop out? You tell me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lest We Forget

Today is Anzac Day.

On this day, way back in 1915, Empire troops landed at Gallipoli, Turkey. Over the ensuing months, thousands died. Most were British, or Canadian, or Indian, but for Australians, this battle marked the first time a large scale Australian force engaged the enemy in the service of the Crown. (It is agreed that a force of about 20,000 went to South Africa over the course of the Boer war, but this fight was the first for Australia following Federation.)

More than the Somme, Gallipoli represents a 'trial by fire' for the ANZACs. Yes, we lost the battle, but out of failure came the image of the laconic, irreverent, courageous Digger.

For many years, Anzac Day meant watching old men march and reminisce, of watching two-up games, of standing around in cool weather and wondering when I could go home.

Since University and discovering the citation of why my grandfather was awarded the Military Cross, that attitude changed - as it did when I found relative who rowed the troops ashore on that dark morning so long ago.

Today is different. We have found the HMAS Sydney, sunk by the German raider Kormoran and missing for sixty years; we have discovered a mass grave at Fromelles of Australian soldiers killed in action and soon to be identified and honour; and we celebrate the courage of SAS trooper Mark Donaldson, VC, the first Australian soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in forty years for outstanding bravery in the face of enemy fire in Afghanistan.

But today we not only remember those who fell during conflicts throughout our history, we also think of those still on duty in combat zones in distant lands, doing their jobs with humour and determination and continuing the image of the laconic, irreverent, courageous soldier.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The long of it...

I've been busily reading through/editing books this past week - more than half a million words, or five books. Which is why I haven't been around much. I didn't want to read through one, then go back to the beginning, so I continued reading the trilogy, correcting as I went, then a duology, and today I'm back to the beginning for a final check.

It's hard work, enjoyable, but hard. All those characters, the dialogue, the situations kept in the back of the mind. Reading as if it a movie was playing, stubbing my toe on the the little things like eye-colour or name changes.

Still, it's all practice and it's all a learning curve. Rare is the writer whose first book is published, rarer still is the author's first book who scales the best seller list... but it's good to have ambition!

I don't think any writer will say they've perfected their craft - and that's what makes this endeavour attractive: there's always something new to learn.

And now... back to the salt mine... Oh, and I still don't have a title for the latest Nano! It's beginning to piss me off...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What to post?

Yep, I'm busily editing various books, thinking about covers and wondering which of these epics to post as a freebie...

Maybe I'll just stick the titles into a hat and pull one out.

Curiously enough, I still don't have a title - working or otherwise - for my last Nano. I've got to come up with something soon or I'll miss the free publishing over at Create Space.

Something to think about... in the meantime, back to it...

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Over on Genreality, Lynn Viehl has a post about writer's groups and her experiences with them.

As I read, I tried to recall whether there were any writer's groups around here - I live in the country, on the coast, where retirees spend their kids' inheritance by buying over-priced near or above million dollar homes. Blech.

Anyway. I riffled around in the dungeons of my memory and came up with a weird recollection. I was editor of a country newspaper at the time. Most of my staff were the advertising side of the paper, with a sports journalist, a news journalist, a cadet and me.

Everyone was busy so I sent myself out to cover a kind of coastal writer's gathering. They got together once a year to chat, to read from their works and to discuss it. But promote it? Hell, they invited me!

A more recalcitrant bunch of writers I never want to meet.

I walked in with camera and notebook. Every head turned to glare at the interruption - not that they were doing much. I tried my most charming smile and announced who I was and what I'd be doing, but would keep my intrusion to a minimum. I didn't see any welcoming gestures. In fact, I heard some distinct sniffs.

Gamely, I did my job: taking photos, asking a few questions which mostly went unanswered or were dealt with in the vague way embarrassed people replied. People turned away from the camera, spoke in soft voices to each other, but not to me. Me, they mostly ignored.

It's the kind of job every journalist hates: talents who prove extremely difficult.

As I left, it occured to me that these writers, um poets actually, didn't want publicity. They were happy within their clique; content with the trust and accolades of their fellows - no critiqueing here. They published, yes, but self-published and only gave the booklets to their comrades or family. And that was enough for them.

Not for them them any popularity outside the clique - that would be bad - happy are these big fish in a small pond. And good luck to them, they got their wish: the story was so thin it went from a proposed page three to less than a quarter of page ten.

I suppose they're still at it. Retirees, taking the plunge to write some truly awful poetry and having polite friends applaud them (though probably for bravery rather than content).

In the end, Lynn is correct: the internet provides a much more useful medium for writing - the hows and whys and whats and whos. You can always find someone with whom you share skill level, genre and hopes.

I really, really hope that in my Autumn years, I shan't find myself in a group of people listening to bad poetry or works of fiction and have to applaud.

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple...

Friday, April 10, 2009


Fill-'em Up Day.

Oh, yea, it's Good Friday and the beginning of the School Holidays so teeming throngs of tourists have descended. All the camping areas, caravan parks, hotels and rental houses are stuffed to overflowing.

Many of them have brought... boats. Well, I suppose they would given it's the coast and on the shores of Jervis Bay. And I have to note that on the way back from work today I saw a car parked outside one of the rental homes. A yellow car, low-slung, sexy, sitting with a come hither look about it. A car that rarely graces this area - a Lambourgini.

Around holidays, we get Beemers, Mercs, Jags, Porche, the occasional Rolls Royce or Ferrari, but Lambourginis? This is the first I've seen. I hoping to see a lot more of it... I wonder if the owner will mind if I just... touched it a little, drooled a bit, gazed longingly into the front seat and dream of it (with me in it)?

Makes me ask: Crisis? What financial crisis?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Choices, choices

Since the Story-a-day marathon isn’t too far away, I thought I’d zip over to the Seventh Sanctum to check out the generators.

I discovered… the History Scrambler! I may have to use this, I’m afraid. It takes figures of history and changes their… character. Here are ten that I generated:

Jane Austen – Witch (It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be bespelled into choosing whomever I please as a wife.)

Carl Jung - Computer Simulation (So that explains it!)

Ulysses S. Grant - Sexy Bishounen (Uh, oh, that creates all manner of possibilities.)

Boudica - High Priestess (Well, as leader of the Iceni…)

Cleopatra - Action Heroine (I figured she was already, but a different kind of action what with Marc Antony and Julius Caesar all over her like white on rice.)

Beatrix Potter - Stereotypical Romance Novel Heroine (Um… Her life’s story already reads like a romance novel.)

Eleanor Roosevelt – Biker (Yo! Ted! Show us yer wheelie!)

Saint Dominic – Wizard (Bwahaaha! Oh, the irony!)

Agatha Christie - Vampire Hunter (Whoa, cool! Agatha would thump Anita and slaughter her hisem!)

Paul Revere - Exotic Dancer (Lends new meaning to “The British are coming!” Oh, wow, did I say that out loud?)

There are many more generators that can inspire a short story. The problem is what to choose.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Change out

And it is with a sense of relief that Daylight Savings time is now over. I don't object to a change in time, but I do object to it being six months long! And so does my dog. Anyway, it's the perfect time to check the smoke detectors and change out the batteries.

But now the cooler weather is beginning to settle in and the creative juices are stirring. Hot weather just makes me go 'blah'.

It also means that the Forward Motion story-a-day marathon is coming up in three, short weeks. Woo hoo! Along with the Nano, this is when the muse cranks up and spits out some real gems. And since I missed it last year due to being out of the country and having a damn good time, I'm really ready for some obscure prompts to puzzle out.

The best part is the store of shorts I'll have in first draft format. The worst, or ferociously challenging part is the total concentration the marathon needs because you have to write a complete story. That's beginning, middle and end, with character development, plot, dialogue, twist, everything a book has except in miniature. And do it every day during May.

The best place to find prompts is The Seventh Sanctum. It has some marvy eras mixed with odd ideologies, philosophies and people, in any number of genres. It's pure challenge.

Thirty stories in thirty days. Kind of like a manic Nano really, so how can I resist?

Saturday, April 04, 2009


The on-going war with the mice took a... weird turn this morning.

The trap I set earlier on in the week went off, and when I looked, there was a mouse, struggling for freedom. I know I should have dispatched the little beggar... but I didn't. And yes, I felt guilty about that.

This morning, when I went to remove the remains, no mouse could I find. I spoke with the aged parent and she said 'what mouse'? Nope, she didn't move it.

Before you think the mouse escaped, it couldn't given the metal bar across it's back. The traps I use are uber-strong - as my swollen thumb can testify after being caught when I accidentally set the thing off.

Oh, did I forget to mention the trap is missing too? Yeah. I have searched high and low, moved furniture around but there is no sign of the mouse or the trap. I am running out of places to look. The mouse must be dead, but I cannot, for the life of me work out how it moved the trap as well, caught as it was.

I'm guessing it's one of life's little mysteries - until the scent of death permeates the house, that is...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Judge and jury...

It's been a stressful week, and it's not over yet. I'm not talking about it either. So there. Nyah.

This afternoon, I have the dubious honour of judging a local photography exhibition on local photographers favourite holiday snaps. I know what I like, but I'm not sure that should be the only criteria for making a decision and it's been a long, long time since I did a visual arts unit at University.

I suppose I should look at the subject - whether it's framed or not - the colours, or not, contrast, shading, emotional response, the artistry, any blurring (deliberate or not), whether I recognise the place of the photo and other stuff, in conjunction with meaningful discussions with my fellow judges.

I'm totally impartial in this. I don't know the photographers, but I have travelled. Maybe I won't be so impartial if someone's been where I have...

Anyway, I'm hoping it will cheer me up.

There's also a new story over on The Takeaway.