Sunday, June 28, 2009

Clean up

I spent some time in the garden today. The compost bin is three-quarters full, which may prove to be a problem in a couple of weeks. It's winter, so the mulching will take longer. There's no real heat to act as a catalyst.

My hunt for brown compost has had the added side benefit of slowly tidying the yard of leaves. Of course, we've a gardener starting in three weeks and it looks like the garden will look a lot tidier. Kind of like cleaning the house before the cleaner arrives.

This afternoon, I was into the cupboards; anyone would think it spring! It's a good thing I did, the mouse problem I thought I'd solved, isn't. The little beggars have been coming through the back of one cupboard via the top of the insulated hot water pipe. Time to break out the steel wool.

Overall, a most productive weekend in cleaning and tomorrow I shall return to the computer to fix a book ready for posting on the Scribd page.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Sea

I'm over the book writing gig for the moment - I've got a few days before I plan to post a freebie book over on Scribd. So. I can't remember if I posted this before, but it made me laugh and I thought I'd share (again, maybe):

A number of primary schools were doing a project on "The Sea."

Children were asked to draw pictures or write about their experiences. Teachers got together to compare the results and put together some of the better ones. Here are some of the descriptions of "ocean life."

1. This is a picture of an octopus. It has eight testicles. (Kelly age 6)

2. Some fish are dangerous. Jellyfish can sting. Electric eels can give you a shock. They have to live in caves under the sea where I think they have to plug themselves in to chargers. (Christopher age 7)

3. Oysters' balls are called pearls! (James age 6)

4. If you are surrounded by sea you are an Island. If you don't have sea all around you, you are incontinent. (Wayne age 7)

5. I think sharks are ugly and mean, and have big teeth, just like Emily Richardson. She's not my friend no more. (Kylie age 6)

6. A dolphin breathes through an asshole on the top of its head. (Billy age 8)

7. My uncle goes out in his boat with pot, and comes back with crabs. (Millie age 7)

8. When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to cross the ocean. Sometimes, when the wind didn't blow, the sailors would whistle to make the wind come. My brother said they would be better off eating beans. (William age 7)

9. I like mermaids. They are beautiful, and I like their shiny tails. How do mermaids get pregnant? (Helen age 7)

10. When you go swimming in the sea, it is very cold, and it makes my willy small. (Kevin age 6)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Because you need to know

My sister sent me this and I had to share:


Do you have feelings of inadequacy?

Do you suffer from shyness?

Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. It can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Sauvignon almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had.

Stop hiding and start living.

Sauvignon may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use it. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare, and Naked Twister!


* The consumption of Sauvignon may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

* The consumption of Sauvignon may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.

* The consumption of Sauvignon may cause you to think you can sing.

* The consumption of Sauvignon may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

* The consumption of Sauvignon may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

Please feel free to share this important information with as many women as you feel may benefit!

Now Just Imagine What You Could Achieve With a Good Dry Merlot!!!

* * *

You know, I do love a good Merlot!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


The editing project is done and resting comfortably, but the surgery went well. I'll be assessing its condition in the morning, and then releasing the book back to the parent with some medication that will probably have side effects. I'm thinking check-ups will be needed.

And now, I shall treat myself to a freebie: Paperback Writer, aka, Lynn Viehl, has posted a link to a free book by Lara Adrian.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Endings

Sure, it's been two years since it was shown in the U.S., but I saw the documentary "Who's Afraid of a Happy Ending" last night.

An excellent program on the world of writing romance. It had interviews with the luminaries of the field, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber (knitting), Eloise James, Jennifer Cruisie and Kayla Perrin, as well as people in the publishing industry and what they're looking for. Also of note was the aspiring author, Kelly Boyce and her attempts at snagging a contract. From the look on the agent's face when she read out a prepared precis, I don't think it got picked up.

Anyway, the whole program was fascinating, with different book covers slide-showing as the doco moved from one part to the next. I was rather chuffed that Lynn Viehl's Dark Need popped up.

I was surprised by how many of the books I'd read, and that some of those books are on my keeper shelf.

One thing though: I noted that one editor called Kayla Perrin an Af-Am. I know it stands for African-American, but I thought we were beyond the ethnicity of a writer? I don't care what the heritage is as long as a writer produces a good read... or is that just me?

* * *

Oh, and I posted another story over on The Takeaway.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One more year

Hmmm... another year older and I'm wondering if I'm that much more wiser.

No? Okay, hand over the chocolate, nice and easy now, and we'll forget I ever mentioned it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Novel Vomit

I subscribe to Del Rey's online newsletter.

These types of newsletters are often filled with useful information and review of new releases. But with Del Rey - a subsidiary of Random House - there's an interesting sidebar: Analogy Overkill.

This month, author Kirsten Imani Kasai (whose book Ice Song is out this month) writes a small piece for Analogy Overkill called "I love you - you make me sick."

And, because the item isn't on the Del Rey website, I'm copying this from the e-mail. Better yet, Del Rey has given me permission to share, word for word, as long as I post this, too:

"The following material is being reprinted from the Del Rey Internet Newsletter. To subscribe to this free, monthly e-newsletter, visit"

Job done, and now to the article:

"Writing a novel is like vomiting. Long before the event, you sense that something profound is about to happen. The story curdles within you until you are forced to expel it, in great splashing gouts, upon the page. It gushes out, astonishing you with its power. It's noxious, mesmerizing, horrifying and fascinating. You feel revulsion and relief (“I'm brilliant! I suck!”). You don't remember eating carrots. Why is it always pink? Why must you always repeat the same errors, time and again? You know better. You should remember what happened last time. The soreness, the sickness and gruesome aftermath. It's a disaster, but then a pattern emerges from your effluvia — you can detach and objectify, see it for what it is. There is some twisted beauty in the whole event. Even if you are traumatized, it's finally over. You can think again. You are wonderfully empty and clean inside, if only for the moment.

Now, just as you'd grab a bucket and sponge, your finger hovers over the delete key, and you begin to clean up the mess.

When I upchucked Ice Song there was simply too much to be contained within the covers of a single book. Spillover was poured in a second novel, Tattoo, and so it continues.

I'm in the midst of a protracted viral infection. Sorykah's story will continue to infect me until it's been purged or jumps parasitically, via print and e-reader vectors, to a multitude of new hosts. Once transferred, you too will share my delusions and dream of forests teeming with monsters and mutants, black oceans choked with ice, hear the cry of a lost and wounded Wood Beast and feel a mother's urgency to reclaim what has been stolen."

Now, don't you feel better knowing your novel is the result of explosive, projectile imagination? snicker, snicker.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Global Village

It always interest me to find out where people come from who read my stuff. Is that vanity? Or curiosity?

With the advent of the internet, the world has become a much smaller place. I remember reading books B.I. (before internet), and imagining the author in the study, bashing away at a typewriter or writing long-hand; with male authors, they'd have the ubiquitous pipe in the corner of the mouth. I could see it all so clearly...

Anyway, after B.I., I began searching for authors and struck upon Holly Lisle's first site - it was the first time I actually contacted an author and I was thrilled. It was a real OMG moment. From there, it was Nora Roberts and others. The replies I received settled in my mind that authors were... friendly people and not how I imagined them: isolated, grumpy, or pompously protecting 'the work'.

So I've checked one of my pages - and I really must consolidate them - to see where readers are in the world.

Imagine my surprise by the less than typical countries of America, Australia, South Africa and England. Countries like... Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Bahamas, Kenya, Thailand, Lithuania, Dubai, Malta.

I'm absolutely chuffed that my stories are read world-wide, but it certainly brings the world closer together.

No wonder it's called the 'Global Village' rather than a Global state, or city or town.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eye, eye

I've been short-sighted for years - oh, yeah, chuckle, chuckle, like I haven't heard that comment before - since High School, in fact.

Anee-way, I duly took myself off to the opto-guy for a check up. Turns out my long vision is unchanged, but... OMG! I need reading glasses!

Well. Roll me in the mud and call me... dirty. Reading glasses.

I don't mind wearing glasses, they've protected me from potential eye injuries on a number of occasions, but now I'm getting a second pair for that close up reading stuff.

I'm also taking the opportunity to get some fashionable ones, half the size of my usual pair so I can look over them. My standard pair have been perched on my nose for, oh, twenty odd years (and odd they've been). I'll not be changing them, they're flexible, cost a bucket and still function - I'm not one for too much of a change, nor am I fashion conscious (a fact numerous members of my family will attest to).

Now I'll be able to read the fine print.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Remember the work

Popular authors often find themselves at the mercy of fans: Criticism on the direction of a series, illegal and sometimes horrible fan fiction, people wanting to know every jot and tittle of your everyday life, demands new for work as soon as possible, stalker-like behaviour...

Fortunately, that's not me... though I can dream...

But given the latest controversy over the train wreck of LKH and other authors, I found this timely quote from one of my faves, David Weber:

Keeping yourself informed of your readers' reactions is as important as remaining willing to listen to your editor's criticisms and suggestions. Ultimately, you have to be the final judge of what's going to be published over your name, but the day you decide your judgment is infallible -- that no one else has a critique or a suggestion which could improve your work -- you are no longer going to be doing the best work of which you are capable.

A writer must stay true to the story and the characters. No writer can afford to allow the nigglers and snipers to influence the work. But, and it's a big one, when hordes of fans tell a writer there's something wrong, that writer should pay attention.

Editors, too, should have a say in a writer's work; they are, after all, there to help make that work the best it can be.

You can't be precious about your work, and if you are, then keep it in a drawer to take out and gloat over every now and then.

Me, I still get a little bent out of shape when I receive stuff back - I mean, if I think it's perfect, why can't anyone else? Okay, that's the initial response and I'm learning to reign in the resentment...

It doesn't stop my consideration of proposed... adjustments, some of them... ah, most of them improve the work, though it remains my choice whether to accept the changes or not.

Bottom line, I'll be keeping the Big D.'s words in mind so I don't fall into the trap of believing my own P.R. - that way leads to deliberate, self-involved failure.

Monday, June 08, 2009


I've currently got stuff in my head that I'd rather not have, thank you very much.

Angels and demons, in fact. No, not Dan Brown; I have no interest there. It's the book I'm editing. And heavy going it is, too.

No names shall I mention and the angels and demons bit is all you get. The stuff I'm talking about is all the other work I've done on this piece, the grammar, spelling and formatting, then getting into the nitty gritty of the content.

A typical edit, but when done for the day, I pick up a book to read, to enjoy and all I'm thinking about is 'oops, needs a comma there', or 'wait a minute, didn't that character go somewhere else?' or 'nope, wrong word', or 'spell check that', 'fact check here', 'new subject, new paragraph', and so the list goes on. No writer produces the perfectly constructed book. What hits the shelves is the best the writer and editors can do.

Reading led me to both writing and editing. I do not want them to meet. I do not want editing to impinge on my enjoyment of reading for pleasure. Writing and editing, sure, they can become best-buddy-pals-digger-mates. But the analytical side of me needs to stay away from the creative side.

I thought this editing job - done as a swap - would be at a similar level as my own work, but it's not. The time and concentration the book requires has tempted me to give up on it, send it back with a few comments, but a promise is a promise and I shall carry on. It is, at least, a way to teach a new author what to watch for and how to write. I do not touch style or content - that's not my job at the moment, but it may come later.

All I will say is: when you send your work to someone, make sure you read through it and make sure it's the best you can make it. Your work, your time, is just as valuable as the person's who will edit it.

There. Rant over. Was that too much? Jeez, I need coffee... and chocolate. In no particular order.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Here's a question for you, apropos yesterday's post: Should authors defend their work?

My personal answer would be... no. Why? Because the work should speak for itself. A writer's work should encompass whatever might provoke discussion with a plot line that justifies it's inclusion. But there are some things that shouldn't be in a book.

I will agree that in a previous LKH book, the sexual torture of a young boy added to the work, that readers knew the perpetrator should die a nasty death for the action because it was unconscionable within the framework of our current societal morals.

The current controversy is the illegality of the scene with the sixteen-year-old, and whether it contributes to the story itself. I haven't read the book, so I can't comment other than to say such a scene must serve a purpose and not be simply for a 'controversial' element.

Many, for example, laud Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code as brilliant and intriguing, except... it's poorly written and has other flaws.

J.K Rowling is a master of the Tom Swiftlys and, in later books, suffered from a need to make a story as long as possible.

I don't presume to compare Laurel K. Hamilton to Brown and Rowling, far from it - Hamilton is in a league of her own for narcissism and Mary-Sue-ism - and yet all three have written works that have elemental controversy:

Brown for daring to write that Mary Magdalena was more important to Jesus than the Vatican would like Christians to believe and J.K. Rowling for writing about witchcraft, magic, and inferring it's okay to have some. Magic that is.

These two issues created discussion and argument, brought into the light those issues that many see as sacred cows and not to be trifled with. Each generated an industry of tours, fans and yet more discussion.

All I can see of LKH's latest 'cutting edge' scene is outrage, disgust and offence; not intelligent discussion of important issues. To me, it's indefensible as it adds nothing but titilation to those interested in such scenes.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Train Wreck

The train wreck that is Laurell K. Hamilton continues...

This week sees the release of the seventeenth Anita Black, Skin Trade. Most reviews are either scathing or troobie-gushing.

Want some examples? Really? Oh, okay... these are from

The five star ratings -

"I don't think she can go wrong with her books , all of them are great and i just enjoy the character creations, backgrounds and personalities that just make the characters come alive in each book!" Heather

"This was just one more amazing story that Laurell K Hamilton has written. I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this book and it did not dissapoint [sic]" Allan
After reading Skin Trade today, all I can say is ... Wwwwooooowwwww. (And I mean that in a good way.) There will always be a few out there who hate the way Laurell K Hamilton writes. It may be because they don't like the way her characters change (some that her characters change at all) or they don't like how her character deal with emotional issues or they don't like the pacing of her novel. I for one love the series." SBranchFlemming

And the one stars -

"Skin Trade" has a few moments of potential brilliance, but their presence only makes this sad drippy swamp all the more desolate. Disgusting, boring and frequently laughable." E.A. Solinas

"i've had enough. i have flushed enough of my hard earned dollars down this hole and i will not waste another cent on this series. in this book the sex isn't going on for pages and pages...the monotonous conversations and descriptions are.....blah blah anita's so scary...blah blah....she's so powerful....blah blah everyone wants her.... if the intention of the author was to make me despise the heroine then she has succeeded." Athena Silverwolf

"As far as I'm concerned, this series ended about 5 books back. Somewhere around book #10, this series started dying. What happened? This started out as a great series and I couldn't read the books fast enough. Now it's just dribble and pornography." D. Williams

And there's more, so much more - and little of it good. And I also note that not one of the five star reviews mention Anita, a thirty-something, having sex with a sixteen-year-old boy. Apparently, it's okay because a) it's legal in the state of Nevada, and b)The Mother of All Darkness, took Anita over to do the nasty with the boy.

I'm sorry, but... no. On so many levels, no. As a writer, there are simply some things you just don't write about. Ms Hamilton could have shown it as torture and had the heroine struggle and defeat MoAD, to resist an almost pedophillic situation. But she didn't. Instead, she showed Anita as a sexual predator; hell, you might even border on accusing Ms Hamilton of the same thing, because this is her fantasy novel.

However, I think the scene is much worse than that; I think it's the writer's own need to demonstrate how 'cutting edge' and 'controversial' she is. Given that most readers see the parallels between the characters and the writer's life, it raises some disturbing questions.

I have read a number of books in this series and thoroughly enjoyed them. It was cutting edge, original and had a fine moral conflict. But from Narcissis in Chains, the series has descended into poorly written pornography (not the erotica LKH claims), scant and unresolved plots, the emasculation of every male character, the demonising of any female character and books in dire need of a good editor - even a mediocre one would do.

Do I have a solution? Youbetcha! Edward should slaughter them all, including Anita. Or, more realistically, the vast popstar crowd of squeally girly-men Anita sleeps with should die, leaving the Vampire Hunter without solace, abandoned by the humans and a return to deeper thoughts on her actions - this time with consequences.

I'll leave you with one last quote from a review that sums it up:

"While Hamilton sprinkles in some metaphysical disasters and supernatural threats to keep things interesting, most of the book is long chapters full of bickering, whining, and Anita proving that she is the Biggest Toughest Strongest Butchest Macho Man ever to squirt testosterone out her ears." E.A. Solinas

Monday, June 01, 2009


I took today off from blasting away at the keyboard (and yet... here I am, blasting away) composing short stories or anything else to do with writing.

Instead, I took myself off to a Home Composting Course.

(Insert crickets creaking.)

Yep. Composting.

Now it just so happens that I'm a climate sceptic - one of the growing number of people who don't believe climate change is man-made, but a natural cycle of the Earth's weather systems. It's not an argument I'm getting into here, though.

But my attitude does not mean I'm reckless about my local environment. Far from it. I recycle what I can, walk instead of using the car, turn off environment-friendly lights when not in a room and generally try to limit my carbon footprint.

I've done some composting, but it's not been as successful as I'd like.

Any member of my family will tell you I'm botanically challenged - I can't tell a weed from a, well, plant and I rarely remember the names of the blessed things anyway.

Shoalhaven City Council, however, is the first local council in Australia to offer this course in composting. And for a variety of reasons: it limits the amount of garbage heading for landfill, reduces the impact on the environment and saves ratepayers money in garbage collection.

Off I went. I learned lots, too, about what can and cannot go into the compost. Meat is a no-no, but I already knew that. What I didn't know was the amount of newspaper and cardboard, onions and citrus skins can go in.

Now that I have a new kitchen tidy for scraps and a large compost bin - both free with the course - I'm looking forward to putting the theories I've learned into practice. Maybe I'll even make a veggie patch - save some extra money there too.

Alas, tomorrow it's back to the writing gig, or more precisely, some editing I promised to do.