Friday, December 31, 2010

Turn of the year

It's the last day of the year, when lots of bloggers reminisce on the year.

Yeah, not so much for me. The past cannot be changed and future is yet to be, so no New Year's resolutions either because of the variables likely to pop up and screw around with any future plans.

So. I will simply say that if your out partying tonight, stay safe and enjoy yourselves. Tomorrow begins a new year with unknowable potential. Once the hangover passes, it's a clean slate, with no regrets and plenty of energy to think on what's to come.

Let's hope 2011 is an improvement on 2010.

Now, I'm off to take the teenagers to the local carnival and water-slides; it's hot here and tomorrow it's going to be gruesomely roasting at over 100 degrees Farenheit. It's good to live next to a beach...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tour De Balcony

I tell you, the exercise bike is getting hammered. It's bad enough to over eat at Christmas, but there are still all those left-overs, and the food visitors bring.

But... the knee feels terrific; no more pain and I'll soon have stronger leg muscles to balance my carcass on. The arthritis isn't going anywhere, but it can be managed with more muscle support and an adjustment in walking style.

It's actually nice to have the bike on the balcony, overlooking the road and the beach. I can imagine I'm anywhere, like competing in the Tour de France or Giro D'Italia, and look at the people wandering by while playing the new MP3 player. I'll be back walking on that beach in no time - if it doesn't become too hot, of course. It is Summer here, but you wouldn't know it from all the rain.

Haven't touched a manuscript either, although I have been tempted. I'm trying to make it to the new year before throwing myself back into the work. I even have a new digital voice recorder to read the work into and check for anomalies. Now, all I need is to buy new ink cartridges and I'll be ready to go - regardless of the teenagers visiting for between two and four weeks, and the other little relatives coming to stay at various times during January. That's what we get for living next to a beach.

And if you're still reading, nip over to Pecked by Ducks and say some kind words; Marina recently lost her mother.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Blerk...

Blerk. Is that a word? It must be a word. It has to be a word, coz it describes how I feel at the moment.

Way too much eating and drinking. I made too much for just the two of us for breakfast and lunch and three for dinner.

I love getting into the kitchen at Christmas and everything worked! I know I'm not supposed to use new recipes for the first time on important occasions, but it worked!

Now, I have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow, for what we call 'Bread and Get It'. I put everything out on the table with bread and everyone gets their own dinner. We have peeps turning up tomorrow evening. Simple. Especially since I'm gonna be on the bike working overtime to compensate for the over-eating today. And I can do that while watching the cricket and the NFL - go the Cowboys!

I hope everyone had a most excellent Christmas, with or without the blerk...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all

Here it is, Christmas Eve.

Today, I have made half a dozen beds for visitors arriving over the next couple of days, washed the kitchen floor, done a couple of loads of washing, dusted, vaccuumed, shopped (twice), baked, made eight mini-trifles - two standard and six Black Cherry chocolate and fondled the presents under the tree. Tonight, I will make a peach upside-down pudding and a smoked trout salad (washed down with a rather nice Merlot).

Tomorrow, the real cooking begins - after I have trashed the aforementioned presents. We'll begin with Vanilla French Raison Toast, then mince pies, followed by prawn cocktails, roast chicken with all the trimmings and the trifles accompanied by a nice Sauvignon Blanc. For dinner, there'll be roast pork with potato and leek bake and green beans followed by the Christmas Pud my brother made for us and custard, and a Cabernet Merlot. After that... well... I'm guessing the exercise bike for an hour or so if I'm not too, ah, tired. And then I shall relax and think it fortunate this day only comes around once a year, while playing with the loot.

Actually, I have no idea if I'm getting any toys this year. I've poked and prodded and fondled and shaken and rattled, but none make any noise - damn it.

So. Happy Christmas everyone. Be calm in the face of the weird relatives, be understanding of the irritating children and be ferocious in protecting your own toys. Remember: all that happens this season is grist to your writing mill.

The Australian version of the 12 Days of Christmas:

Twelve possums playing,
Eleven lizards leaping,
Ten wombats washing,
Nine crocs a-snoozing?
Eight dingos dancing,
Seven emus laying,
Six sharks a-surfing,
Five kangaroos,
Four lyrebirds,
Three wet galahs,
Two snakes on skis,
And a kookaburra in a gum tree.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Tis the season...

Yes, a little writer's humour but it made me laugh. My sister mentioned it; a work colleague sent it to her and another staff member came in asking what they were giggling over. L. showed her. The reply? "So, what were you laughing at?" Which was even funnier to them.

Also on the giggle front is Allie Brosh's six-year-old view of the Nativity. All I can say is, 'poor Kenny'. I'm sure many a family has a tale of revamped Nativities.

Yesterday's Lunar Eclipse was as spectacular as expected:

Source: Gary Ramage, The Australian. My photos weren't nearly as amazing - the trees got in the way. Scientists say the colour is due to the dense atmosphere of the Earth; pagans will say it is a Hunter's Moon, or Blood Moon, where violence is sure to follow. A Solstice full moon is a Honey Moon and pagans pass around the honey cakes and wassailing - a ceremony of placing toast in a selected tree, as a representation of the Green Man, to scare away the evil spirits and pouring cider around the roots as a token to ensure a good harvest. 'Wassail' means 'good health' in Middle English, with the hope of a better year to follow.

And so, on to Christmas...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Long-range visitors

This is a White-throated Needletail, otherwise known as a Spine-tailed Swift. It is the largest of the swifts and we had a flock overflying the house this morning.

According to the book, What Bird is That? by Neville W. Cayley, they breed in Siberia, Mongolia and Japan making a migratory journey to the warmer climes of Australia during late spring and summer.

These birds rarely settle on the ground, preferring to eat on the wing and scoop water when they're thirsty. They're also harbingers of a change in weather. When I saw them, the sky was a clear, cold blue; now, a couple of hours later, it is grey and overcast. It's also bitterly cold, like mid-Winter.

I've never seen these birds here, which was why I was so interested in identifying them. They wheeled and whirled overhead, into a very chilly wind. I suspect they usually stick to the warmer inland areas, but the gale force winds have blown them to the coast.

They've come a long, long way for a summer holiday; shame summer has decided it's staying home this year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Which will you be?

A reminder that the Solstice and Christmas isn't about denying yourself (an e-mail from my sister, who might just be going to hell for this one; and since that's where all the fun people are, I might just join her.):

This woman is 51.
She is a TV health guru advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and ill health, promoting exercise, a pescetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets colonic irrigation and supplements, also making statements that yeast is harmful, that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and about the utility of lingual and faecal examination.


This woman is 50.

She is a TV cook, who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts.

So forget join a gym and eat more celery.

This Christmas, it's food and booze all the way.

And the only exercise you need is dancing and shagging.






I'd like to think I'd look more like Nigella Lawson by the time I turn fifty, but I fear I will more resemble the 'health guru' instead! Fortunately, I have plenty of time yet.

Just remember: this Solstice (Summer, like us down here, or Winter up there) and Christmas comes but once a year. Eat, drink and be damn thankful the relatives will only stay for a short time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Plan A moving alone

Yay! I'm done with the Christmas prezzo shopping. The menu is nearly done, too. We have been setting aside a dollar a week into a jar so we can buy the more exotic seasonal stuff without spending any extra. I'll be picking up the tiger prawns on Christmas Eve; I already have the pork for roast (love that crackling) and the chicken. I'm still thinking on desert and the wine and I'll buy the veggies later on in the week.

I'd be dashing around cleaning up, but whenever I do, Canine the Destroyer finds something else to chew - usually in a different room; and yes, I know he should be outside, but I doubt the neighbours would thank me for all the howling and whining and barking and general mayhem he wreaks. I'm hoping the plants will recover from being trashed...

So, the skirmish around the house starts on Tuesday after the Destroyer returns home.

We're going to have full house for a week or so starting Boxing Day, with the teenagers staying for month or so to lounge around on the beach.

I am determined to spend some quality time with my new toys rather than cater to everyone's needs, every minute of the day. So there. I'm just saying. Now, I have to go rescue the seat cushion from the Destroyer...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A pain in the...

I've been having a few problems with the internet connection, so posting might be spotty until the ground dries out - it only happens when we've had buckets of rain; go figure.

I have a new exercise bike; not new new, but new to me... actually, it's quite old. But. If it helps my poor, misaligned knees, I'm all for it - see what happens when you spend your younger years playing sport? The hockey field, the soccer pitch, it wears on the joints.

I haven't ridden a bike in years, but I'm enjoying riding away while watching the teev. And I'm sure the old buttski will get used to the seat... soon; please, make it soon!!!. Also that the jelly-leg syndrome once I'm done, will pass...

Yes, well, I'm sure it's all good for me.

So Writer's Digest have an article on 17 writing secrets. Every one of them resonates for good reasons. Of course, this close to Christmas, the Solstice and the New Year, writing isn't really on the list of things to do, but bookmark it anyway. New Year = New Goals.

Now is the time to think carefully on what those goals are going to be. And you have time to change them. I'm still thinking, but a plan is forming.

Work beckons; the last newsletter of the year for the moozeum and I think a retrospective is due.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Short and sweet

Prezzo run done and I now only have two more gifts to get - go on, hate me.

I'm also dog sitting for a week or so and Canine, the Destroyer, is so far behaving nicely; he's collapsed on the carpet, 'zausted after the trip down and a walk. Hopefully, he'll settle down and not trash the veggie patch. I'm sure he'll find a way around the barriers I've put up.

Now, I'm off to finish wrapping, then putting my feet up.

Oh, and welcome to Australia, Oprah; have a time!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Window to the past

I admit it. I've been watching the Sharpe Series again. I wasn't going to, honest, but I saw a piece on Napoleon, with an actor reading from Captain Mercer, an artillery officer who wrote of his time during the conflict, and I had to revisit a more stark period in history.

The Regency era is noted for heroism and romanticism, with language that beautifully brushes over the brutality of war. The politics, the militarism, society, is all so different from what we have today. When aristocratic men bought their commissions, where noble sacrifice was the ultimate honour and ordinary soldiers were the 'scum of the earth', flogged or executed for misdemeanors and still fought for the King's shilling.

Life for ordinary folk was hard and brutal, poverty rife, and yet many men saw the army as a better option - if they survived the battle, then the loot was theirs to spend as they wished.

Even at the aristocratic level, women's rights were what their husbands gave to them - unless they were independently wealthy - and gossip was considered sport.

It's a fascinating part of history, of astonishing bravery. Standing in line, one-shot rifles facing an enemy in a similar formation, waiting for that bullet, the soldiers must have prayed very hard indeed for luck. It seems madness to march 'in good order' towards the enemy like that, into the teeth of cannon and hot lead. To be briefly mourned by colleagues and then buried quickly, without the accolades and respect soldiers of today receive was simply... the way it was.

The Industrial Revolution was yet two decades away (although some would argue it began in the late 1700s), classes were distinct between the aristocracy and the rest, politics was all about favours and royal connections more than what the politicians could do for the poor and the working class; and yet moves were afoot to change the face the industry even as class warfare was waged in Europe.

I suppose every 'Age' in history has its attractions for various reasons - at least, for me it does - but the modern era is more global and more difficult to distil because of the vast wealth of information combining to affect us all. Pre-20th century, individual nations' history is more easily understood because of the tyranny of distance and isolationism; post-20th century we are all interwoven politically, socially, economically, militarily - a global village where nations consult and act for a variety of reasons and makes the study of history that much more difficult.

History isn't simple any more, but for Richard Sharpe and those who, in reality, fought the Napoleonic Wars, his life is encapsulated by 'I do my duty, sir'. Concise and to the point. Not such a bad idea, even today.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Of droughts and flooding rains

It's so humid here, it feels like Queensland - and it's not. Thunderstorms, buckets of rain and, sadly, the cancellation of the Santa Ride.

While the northern hemisphere freezes, we have humidity and rain and flooding rivers; makes a nice change from heat and flies and drought.

I love a sunburned country; (one of the highest melanoma countries in the world)
A land of sweeping plains, (in the outback, you can see the curve of the horizon)
Of ragged mountain ranges, (which aren't so ragged really, being worn down)
Of droughts and flooding rains. (one or t'other, rarely in between)
I love her far horizons, (13,000kms of coastline)
I love her jewel-sea, (with the sharks, the crocs, the blue-bottles, jellyfish...)
Her beauty and her terror - (funnelweb spiders, taipan snakes, cassowaries, death adders, redbacks, stonefish...)
The wide brown land for me! (that's either the dirt of drought, or the muddy water of rivers in flood).

Two months ago, some of our dams were at crisis levels, as in less than ten percent full; now those dams are overflowing.

Here on the coast, we're getting a caning too. But at least we haven't flooded... yet.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Baking fail

With a freezer full of bananas, I made some cakes - yum...ee; they're back in the freezer now, three of them. I also made mince scrolls and mince pies; not so great.

This morning, for the first time in weeks, the sun is shining, the lorikeets are gossiping and the kookaburras are giggling and chuckling. I thought I'd make some banana muffins for breakfast.

Epic... fail. They didn't rise, they stuck to the paper thingies and they turned into nuggety, ah, nuggets. Tasted okay, but not what I expected or had ambitions for. I'll have to hunt around for another recipe. I'm a better cook than baker, but I think the more I practice, the better I'll become - I hope. Pastry is the bane of my existence, so hallelujah for pre-packaged stuff.

I'm wondering what else I can fail at in the kitchen? Time to dip into more cook books. At least, if these less than perfect results happen now, I can be reasonably assured Christmas won't be too much of a disaster...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Harvesting

The Nano stats are in and results are up across the board from last year. Just a sample: Of the 200,530 people who signed up, 37,479 finished as winners; that's 18.6 percent.

Nano remains as popular as ever, regardless of the the criticisms.

I'm still a little weirded out that it's December, that I need to get on with some prezzo shopping and some baking (I've found some new recipes to try out on my sister, heh, heh). I've directed my attention to the kitchen and the garden to renew creativity. I have so many chores to do that I neglected during November and being away from writing is as good as a holiday.

I cleaned out the fridge and freezer and found I had way too many bananas in the freezer. They'll go back, but converted into banana cake and banana muffins.

The veggie patch needs a ferocious weeding, but with all the rain (in eight days, we've had two were it hasn't rained), I'm finding other stuff to do inside. The tomatoes and zucchinis are pretty fab and I think the garlic and onions are almost ready. Potatoes are in there and I have some slow-growing, out-of-season, why-are-you-still-growing, brussell sprouts. Maybe they'll be ready by Autumn...

I still have a towering tbr pile, too. I need to whittle it down, and gee, I think I'll go do that while the bananas are thawing.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Fritzing

Internet is fritzing, and has been for the last ten days. All the rain we've had sinks into the ground and affects the lines - happens every time we get a lot of the wet stuff. In fact, it's so humid we have a misty morning. Noice.

Not so good for my patience and I usually just say 'to hell with it, I'll blog tomorrow'. And that, probably, has something to do with having a Nano hangover.

The creative well has run dry, also on the fritz - for the moment - not a short story or novel idea in my head. I can't even remember three-quarters of the stuff I wrote for Nano; but I no complain. It's there, written down and backed up, waiting for January.

In the meantime, I'm working my way through the TBR pile and out prezzo shopping. And this afternoon, I'm taking the aged parent to HP. Should be good.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Reward time

I had a nice sleep in after all the early mornings and late nights for Nano. Gentle rain on a tin roof kind of stuff. Fourth day in a row we've had rain, so November went out as it came in, with lots of wet stuff falling from grey skies.

Today, I am taking it easy - well, apart from work - and indulging myself with... Indulgence In Death by J.D. Robb. It's the first on my TBR pile.

I also have chores to do, but they can wait until tomorrow. Although, I think I need to get out into the garden for some judicious weeding; all this rain has made them run rampant. The first zucchini has been plucked and eaten and it was delish, and there are more - somewhere under the broad, spiky leaves. I think there are tomatoes, too...

At the end of Nano, I'm happy with the first and second books of Nano, but the mooze pulled a muscle during the third, somewhere in the middle, but recovered enough for the end. It's not the best stuff I've ever written, but I suspect when I come to do revision, there'll be lots of dumping and 'what was I thinking?', and 'oh, that's crap'. Not a lot of gems in the third book, and it started off so well.

But that's Nano. It's about writing the bare bones of a book, laying the groundwork of the story for examination and expansion later. But you know that - if you've done Nano or written a book outside of November.

The best thing about finishing are the rewards, and I'm now going to indulge...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Over and Done

Go me! I Am Done! Three books, four weeks, 30 days, etc.

Oh, and a package arrived today from Amazon... I know what I'm going to do for the rest of the week.

And then in January, I'll look these books over and start the rewrites, the revisions, the edits; in other words, back to normal programming.

For now, I'm off to play in the kitchen and have myself a celebratory drink. Cheers to all those who tried and succeeded, and to those who tried and didn't quite make it - you made the effort, which is a lot more than can be said for those who criticised or dismissed the project as worthless.

It's not. Its about the words, it's about the social networking, the interaction and improving your talents from last year, or developing them; it's about becoming a better writer.

Congratulations to all who participated.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Last gasps of a marathon

Another rainy day with the addition of wind - the weather, not mine - so I had a pleasant day's writing while catching the NFL football.

Read some Nano-hater stuff and blew a raspberry - some people just don't get it.

So, last day tomorrow. And the last chapter of the book. It could be 5k, it could be more, but it will be done.

For some, tomorrow will be a marathon to midnight, for others, they've finished and doing their happy dance; for me, it's another three books in the bag to sit and rest until revisions, rewrites and edits in January.

Not that I shall be doing nothing in December. I'll take a few days off to let the keyboard cool down, but then, it's back to editing previously written works.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Twelve k. to the end.

It's been raining here, so I wrote quite a bit today.

Some of it is a load of carp, but I think it has solid undertones. I'm slipping into passive sentences and repetitive words, and I think I've managed to mix up a couple of the characters.

But that's okay, that's what re-writes are for and expected this late in the month when the creativity well is at a low ebb.

Tomorrow I'll be aiming at finishing the story and writing an epilogue on Tuesday morning. Then Nano will be over. I'm looking forward to not facing the blank page every morning and thinking on what to write for the day.

For this day, I am done and in a position finish the book and I'm ready for a nice glass of anti-oxidants; that would be the Merlot.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Closing in on the end

Out of internet range yesterday and had a relaxing time of it babysitting a niece and nephew; and enjoyed the break, even as I wrote the minimum and then some.

Writing isn't everything, nor is it the be all and end all. Three days to go. For those short of 50k, it's time to man up and do the rest. Mean of me? Why... no.

Sure, I have an impressive word count, but I worked hard for it. I sat down every single day and wrote. Just like, mmm... less than twenty percent of the people who signed up for Nano.

One thousand, six hundred and sixty-six words, every day for a month. Not such an impossible task. It's not.

If you want to be an author, it's less than what you should be doing, every single day. The majority of people who don't finish find all manner of excuse not to write. Even those who complete the challenge, find a reason not to finish the book, or who see their accomplishment as a book.

But then, Nano is also for those who want to see if they can write 50k. And I'm not disparaging the success of those who complete the challenge.

Unfortunately, some of those writers - for some reason - believe that 50k is a book. It's not. Three quarters of book, but... not a book.

For those who do Nano, December 1 is not the time to have a squealie fan-girl moment about how brilliant they are completing 50,000 words and immediately send it off to a publisher or editor. If you feel the need, STOP!

The last thing these hard workers need is to be deluged by writers who have just finished three quarters of a book and think it's fabulous and ready for publication. It is, at the basic level, a first draft; the bare bones of a book in need of editing and rewriting.

Let your work rest. Enjoy the month of Christmas and all that comes with the season, but let the work rest.

Come January, re-evaluate what you've written and decide whether it's worth sending off. Distance will give you a chance to forget what you've written and you can go back with a fresh, critical eye.

Nano, for some, is seeing whether they have what it takes to write the 50k; for others, it is a genuine attempt at writing a book, testing whether it is what they want to do on a professional level. For the editors and agents, it is three months of hard slog and rejection-slip sending; it is time taken away from true gems.

So. This last weekend, throw the relatives out of the house, determine to finish the book regardless of protests that you're not good enough, it's a waste of time or to get a real job.

This is the greatest challenge: can you or can you not, write a book? Will it be of any great moment to you if you don't finish? Or is it a hobby? Simply something to pass the time? To write 50k words and discard them? What is your choice? To be an author or dismissively write the words and reject Nano as too easy?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Noooooo!!!!

Okay, so much for melodrama...

Losing a day's work is annoying in the extreme. How I managed to end up with two different file names with the same text, I don't know; but it happened. And I backed up, right before opening the file I needed. I think I screwed something up during the construction of the validation file.

I've made notes on what I remember and will have a shot at reconstructing the scenes later, like maybe December.

I'm not looking at this as a disaster, but an opportunity to improve yesterday's writing during the re-write.

Sure, I could weep and wail, protest the injustice of it all and, gnash my teeth, beat my tiny fists on the ground... actually, that sounds tempting... but I won't. I'm a growed up, machure enuff to accept that which I cannot change - the loss of the file. I can, instead, move on and not worry about it until I get back to it.

Bugger it!!

Moving day for dogs - a cautionary tail

Sometimes, with all the writing I'm doing, I need a break; one that usually involves a snicker or two, or a good laugh.

So, if you need something to giggle over:

Read this.

Or you could go over to Jill Shalvis' blog and watch a baby Panda sneeze. Who knew such a small creature could make such a noise?

Now, I need to go make some words, or this book will never be done.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One word after another

Day 24. Not so long to go and I have a need to stop. A thought that no one would blame me this late in the month. I've got the 50k and more, so much more. It's not that important, I've completed the challenge.

I'm tired, my fingers ache and the laptop is warmer than it's supposed to be. I can shut down for a day, can't I? Say I'll write the rest of it later? Like, oh, January.

But, no. If I do that, I'll change the context, it won't flow - and I've done it before; the book read like two different ones.

So, I'll plug away, one word after another, one sentence after another, a paragraph, a page, a scene, a chapter.

And this time next week, I'll be done. Whether this final book is, well... I don't know. But I'll write until it is done. Then I can rest - and catch up with all the chores I've neglected.

Weird. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

1111 posts

Hmm... this is the one thousand, one hundred and one-ty one-th post.

It's also late in the evening, and I'm tired. I have six and a half days to go to finish the book; taking into consideration that writing will probably not be happening while babysitting two small, excitable children; five and a half if I count the afternoons lost to work - which I don't because I can catch up if the story goes well.

And at this stage of the game, it's a very big 'if'. I paused tonight because I'm not entirely sure of what happens next - always a bad place to be.

I guess with a good night's sleep and no football to distract me, I might come up with something nifty. If not...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gendering

I'm trying to build in some extra time before the end of Nano, so I'm working my ring off.

This challenge is no longer shiny, but hard work and not only changing the gender of the main character, but the POV is proving much more difficult than I expected. I'm only a little over a quarter done with this one, with eight complete days left.

I've also decide to split the book - no, not like the first two - this is more half one character, half the second character and another change in POV.

All I can do is follow where they lead and hope it all works in the end... which is closing in fast.

I'd like to ask where November went, but my keyboard would be only too happy to tell me, and using harsh language to do it. It's going to have to suck it up, because tomorrow, more is coming.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fruitful

The veggie patch is exploding with green and yellow; green tomato plants with their bright yellow flowers.

I have green tomatoes that are slowly turning to red. I'm finally keeping an eye on them and hadn't realised that, with all the rain, the plants would take the opportunity to run amok.

Even the Brussel Sprouts plants have huge leaves on them - love my Brussels, but it's supposed to be too warm for them; but I ain't telling them. I have towering onions, a spread of potatoes, one carrot - I think - some garlic, snow peas and small zucchini (courgettes). There are other things growing, but until I see what, I have no idea.

I spent some time plucking weeds out of the patch and come December, it behooves me to make a serious effort on those weeds - they are taking up resources.

I'm rather pleased with it all. Last season, I planted crops to revitalise the soil, without expecting produce - and that's exactly what I got, nuthin'. But the soil this year is marvie. The roses and camellias attract the bees and they get a side order of veggie flowers. Me, I get the beautiful flowers and product from the garden, or at least I will soon.

With the garden, so with this last book. I had a good, long day of writing. Hopefully, tomorrow will be equally as fruitful since I ended mid scene.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hard Yards

Not the best of days for numerous reasons. None of which I can speak to.

So, ten days... nine days to write another eighty or so words. Ten k a day, with one day spare. Yeah... no. I'll come close, but not finish the third book.

It's one I delayed writing because of, well, poor planning really. The first book could not be completed in under 150k so I split it, added more words.

Planners, plotters and outliners don't have this problem, it's all laid out, so my frustration levels are rising, because outlining doesn't work for me; I've tried it on numerous occasions. I guess I just don't have the discipline for it. At least until after I've set down the first draft.

The breath of the final day is beginning brush the back of my neck and I know, as the day draws closer, the more temperamental I'll become.

There is no shame in not finishing this book on time, I can complete it in December, but it means extra work and pushing back the relaxation stuff.

November is tough, but continuing on into a second month would be brutal. There are enough days to gamble with, to do some power writing, but it's a last resort. Some days are diamonds, others are complete bastards, but the reward at the end is... magic.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The second ending.

And so, I left off wondering how I was going to write an extra 30k to make up the rest of the book. I figured I’d leave it short, work in a few extra scenes in the re-write and edit. It’s exciting finding out the characters story as they go, but it has its pitfalls as well.

I envy the structured writers, the plotters and outliners, otherwise known as architects. They know what’s coming up and can write the book from there; it works for them. Not so much for me. I’ve tried it and found the story deviating after the third chapter or so. The ending was the same, but the journey was completely different to what I planned. sigh

To the rescue, the subconscious. It is a wonderful thing. It works on a different level, and in secret. I never know what it’s going to come up with and by morning, I had the solution – I had, in fact, already set it up, I’d just forgotten in the mad rush to get the other scenes down. I should make notes as I write so I can refer – she says in a ‘do as I say, not what I do’ moment – to the reference points without pulling my hair out in frustration.

It’s great. Now, I just have to write it, because I cannot jump scenes either. No writing scenes and then fitting them together – that sounds an impossible task, and yet I know writers who do exactly that. I’m a sequential, organic writer.

Writing a book means riding the rollercoaster: torture your characters and then give them a rest before torturing them again. I’m currently in the valley, but it’s time to climb that hill again and hang on.

Then I can get to the book this one delayed. A complete change of perspective and characters and worlds, but the same universe. This is a story I'm looking forward to.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Discoveries

Well, I guess that proves it: it takes more than two days to write a battle scene. I ended up with a body count of more than a hundred, but less than two hundred.

I also discovered a nastiness.

It's funny how you're typing along to what the characters are doing and saying, then come to the same, shocking conclusion they do, when they do. And that's what I love about organic writing: the discoveries along the way.

There is no way I could have come up with that solution if I'd planned it - and, of course, it made a bad situation worse for all involved.

After this book, I think I'll give my characters a rest for a while, at least until the end of the month, heh, heh.

More fighting tomorrow, but on a different battle field. I think I'll wrap this book by the end of the weekend. Yay!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Up the count

Oh, boy. I spent today raising the body count and writing fight scenes. It kept the word count rolling, but it's strangely tiring.

Writing sex scenes or fighting scenes is always a good way to lift the count; the sex, not so much in the second book, the fighting, buckets of it. I managed to wipe out 100 people today, which is quite the accomplishment, I think.

And that is one battle. Tomorrow, the world, the werld!!! Mwahaha!

Yeah, it's been a long day when you start channelling your villain.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Visitations

Had siblings around for dinner tonight. Although they live in the same geographical area, they rarely catch up - shift work the main culprit.

So we ate good food - well, a slight variation of Jamie Oliver's Pear and Walnut salad with baked fish and chat potatoes with sour cream, followed by profiteroles - and drank our beverages of choice.

All that meant was excellent conversation as we watched a repeat of the Eagles v. Redskins, and a lower word count than I wanted.

But... family is more important than a stinkin' word count. Besides, I'm up to a critical point and multi-tasked - chat and type. See? It is possible to engage in conversation and still get work done.

Of course, I've consumed way too much alcohol, so the editing of the work should prove iner... intris... interesting. Damn, i can't believe how long it's takin... taeken... taken me to 2 w rit e this!

Time fer bed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tightening the screws

Still going along nicely, although I do wonder how I'm going to escalate the conflicts. The more the merrier, is not what I have in mind and I'm trying to avoid the large scale, full on battles. I'm aiming for sneakier route, but I fear it will fail.

How many wars have been avoided by the sneaky side? Or have the minor skirmishes merely built up the body count over a longer time scale? I think I have a kind of amorphous idea, but the execution, well, I'll let the characters do what they must.

A personal war is more intriguing than bit characters fighting and nothing is more personal than loved ones moving closer to the flying bullets.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Middle ground

The end of week two and now the hard work begins.

Writers are weary, wondering if their stories will hold up and reach the 50k. The sleepless nights, the frustration of managing to get computer time, the getting back into the story after work. So many things to make a writer wonder if it's all worthwhile, worth the angst.

And we're only halfway.

The answer is 'yes', it is worth it. It's worth delving into your imagination and finding out what's there; it's worth writing those things down, to see if you are really capable of reaching the target within the designated time limit, worth the pride you'll feel when that blue bar changes to green. And it's worth knowing that, after a month of endeavour, you have a first draft.

You cannot edit what you have not written.

Whether your work, as it stands now, is a load of carp, or the most brilliant thing you can compose, it's still there, ready for the future.

It's time for the hard yards, the toughest week of all. When you feel you've done enough, you've given it your best shot, your story just isn't working for you and you are really tired of it all.

Are you a writer, and plough through the middle of the book, or are you going to come up with all manner of excuse to justify why you're not a writer and think 'next year'?

Writers write; so take a deep breath, stop today's work in the middle of a sentence and carry on, one day at a time, one word at a time. You'll get there, you just have to have faith. In yourself.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sniping sentences

Tough day in the trenches. I couldn't break in to the White House, no matter my research. But I can change that in a rewrite.

I also had a visitor so I spent my time sniping a sentence here, a paragraph there. It's hard not to be rude and say, 'hey, I'm writing here!' Given the research didn't give me what I wanted, the breaks helped in coming up with an alternative solution.

So, I happy. Tired, since it is late, but happy. I think I'll have to kill a character tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.

Stop sign, or at least, give way

Sigh. I've suddenly found myself bogged down with research... damn it. As you can imagine, it's slowed my word count down considerably, but I need the information, I can't just put: insert information here, because it's integral to the storyline.

It happens. Running around the White House might be a small part of the story, I haven't decided... or the characters haven't decided yet. This is not a modern day tale, but one of the future, so I think I can fudge a few things, but not a lot. Not unless I add more security and try to bust through it. And my Encarta Encyclopaedia doesn't contain enough information. (What were they thinking to stop online updates? To get rid of Encarta at all? It's brilliant!)

Ah, well. The level of difficulty depends on me and how hard I want to make it for myself. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

Back to the grindstone.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cataloguing

I had a productive day. Just not necessarily on the second manuscript. Nope, I was the moozeum today working on the catalogues. Now, after seven months, the online shop is open for business.

I just have to make some adjustments to make 'em look real noice.

As for writing, well I think I've screwed around enough with the build up to the real action. The characters want to get into it and I've decided to let them, but in an orderly fashion, like the catalogues. I have to go through the numbers, set the scenes, the dialogue - and not skip over anything, just because it's not as interesting as the rest! - the characters. Oh, I think someone's got some whoop ass coming at them!

It means I'm looking at a big word count tomorrow, at least I hope so. Roll on 100k!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And now, the next one

Phew. The first book is done and I've continued the story in the second - the rebellion is gathering momentum and I figured I'd split it all into two.

A good thing I change my mind yesterday while thinking up the end of the previous one. I'm guess lots of action - with a tragedy or two tossed in, but I don't know, the characters tell the story, I just type it up.

I have to say, though, I'd forgotten how tiring all this is; maybe that's why it's once a year - to give you time to recover.

I must away to my bed, perchance to dream of revolution and justice for all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Perspective shift

Week two and tiredness and frustration drags at the creative process. Real life has a way of interrupting the mooze. Still for all that, I'm heading into writing the last chapter or two tomorrow.

Then it's onward to the second book and a change of character and perspective. Damn but that's a challenge.

Tell me why I decided to do this? Oh, right; because sometimes I think I'm more clever than I actually am and this is my comeuppance. I'll probably change in middle because it's just too difficult.

Or I could change it now and no one would be the wiser; but don't tell anyone...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Wearing down

Today didn't go as well as I expected. Sure, I managed a cool count, but in stops and starts - not the best way to write.

But... that's the thing about writing books, some days are diamonds, some days are coal, but both serve a purpose.

Anyone who thinks this is easy, has never written a book. It's tiring after the mad rush of the first week. I can see from a number of boards that people have stopped after they reach the 50k, an achievement in itself, but then what? Is the book complete or was this just an exercise to see how quickly 50k could be done.

There's also the usual cheating, which serves no one. I guess with the growing popularity of Nano, that was always going to happen - at least I've managed to move past my outrage. And people are too polite to call those alleged writers on their scores of 70k in a day, or 200k, yeah. No. Bullshit. Just... bullshit. There. I said it. Nyah.

I guess I'm grumpy. It's taking too long to get where I want, but the hard yards come before the rolling around in joyous violence and bloodshed. Timing is everything and, like the character, I can feel time is running out. I see that as a positive. Twenty to thirty thousand words more and this book is done.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Lightning strikes

Awesome storm this afternoon! Scared the tripe out of me.

Lightning happens in micro seconds and the only clue I had to a near strike, was the click, or snap, then KABOOM! I think it hit next door, since they have a towering aerial sticking up. It was that close and it's happened before. The scent of ozone blended with that of the sea. Unusual.

We lost power for about thirty seconds, but it didn't matter, the Dallas Cowboys were a long way behind and painful to watch.

So. Nano. Moving along nicely with a third 10k day for the week.

I love it when a story comes together, especially when a murder and coffee are involved. Heh, heh.

More storms are forecast for tomorrow, so I have a fully charged laptop and surge protector.

Write on!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Climbing the dizzying heights of Nano

I have climbed the first mountain: that of reaching the 50k mark. And it feels good. But... this is no time to rest on a laurel, wherever she might be...

Ahem. Anyway. The big battle scenes are some 30k away. For now, it's the build up, the machinations, the careful stepping and revealing of lies and traitors, all to reach the pinnacle and then tear it all down.

But I'm not there yet. Since I promised myself a candy scene, I had a girl fight instead. Dem fists, dey did fly. I also introduced the inevitable moral quandary: the potential sacrifice of one for many. If I work it right, some of the many will, tragically, not survive, but the one will. I mean, it's a little unfair to kidnap someone for the purposes of selling them so others - who haven't earned the right - can have the future they've always dreamed of, but never worked towards.

Maybe I'm just being mean. But hey, the characters are telling the story; I'm just along for the ride.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The continuing grind

Nearly at the BOOYAH stage, but not quite. It's just too damned hard to type while upchucking. Who knew?

Better today and I had a lot more fun. The book is finally starting to roll and I'm beginning to resent having to stop for things like, oh, bathroom breaks, eating, and the bane of my existence, sleep.

Still, it's going well and it's time I posted an excerpt, but not tonight.

Tomorrow. Much violence to be had, vengeance to wreak and consequences to write. Rebellion is brewing and the result will be dire. Who will live and who will die, I wonder.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Chucky day

I managed to write the minimum today, in between upchucking and napping. I guess I ate something that really didn't agree with me. Now, I'm sore and sorry for myself - yeah, that violent.

Nothing stayed down, not my morning cup of tea, not even water. I should be better tomorrow, at least I hope so.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Slow Down

Yeah, bit of a draggin' day today. I didn't start writing until after lunch because of obligations in town that... well, Murphy's Law tends to pop up, doesn't he.

Too much of standing in lines at various shops, waiting nearly an hour for an appointment and generally holding up my day and completely destroying my schedule.

But, hey, life... happens. I'm glad I managed six k. but now, I'm retiring for the evening. I have work tomorrow, so I need to get in as many words as possible in the a.m. before the museum stuff takes me away.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Another day, another...

Mm, not a good start to the day, managed only five hundred words before taking off for a physio appointment. I got me a dickey knee and having someone twist and turn and try to tie you into a pretzel to test various ligaments - when your knee hurts already is no picnic.

Still, he worked at the problem and now I have to teach myself a new way of walking. Hell, I did it as a kid, how hard can it be now I'm all growed up? :)

So, because I was quietly pissed off, I came close to killing of characters I'll need later. Yes, the tragedy of it all would boost the book, but... we needs 'em, we wants 'em and they were saved at the last moment.

I just know I'll have to rewrite that entire section, because Nano, you know, is all about writing and not looking back - that way lies madness.

I hope tomorrow will be better, I'm still waiting to get into the groove.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Plodding along

The end of another long day multi-tasking. I know it's time to stop because my fingers are getting confused and I keep going back to correct hte simplest of wrods.

It feels like I've been wallowing in this part of the book forevah, even though the parts are necessary to set up the next scenarios.

The characters are getting way too settled. Tomorrow, it's time to take them out of their comfort zone and se how they react.

Tied up

Another early morning, but I suppose I should rescue my characters. I've left them out in the cold, tied up. In the mountains of Texas. In Autumn.

It's the best way I know to keep a story going: Leave your characters in an unfortunate situation and mull overnight.

I expect they have something to say about it...

Monday, November 01, 2010

A slow jog to start

Okay, I'm done for the day.

I started off at six a.m. and struggled to write a thousand words in two hours. Then I realised tea just wasn't going to cut it and made myself a large mug o' coffee.

It took a while, but the word count slowly rose in fits and starts. The hardest was the first line. I wanted it snappy, to draw the reader in, rather than boost the word count with passive sentences and extra words.

I'm hoping the magic continues. Tomorrow I come to the end of my dot points and from there, it's all about what the characters do and say and when they do and say something.

Should be a hell of a ride!

Oh, and to the Dallas Cowboys: MAN UP!!! I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zero hour approaches

I can feel the countdown to Nano. Be it in thinking about the novels I'm writing or the simple idea of Nano, it's all in the back of my head while I'm doing other stuff. "Like sands through the hourglass..." the time is trickling away.

Anxiety levels are rising for those who still have to come up with something to write and the anticipation is palpable for those who know exactly how it's going to go. I have a foot in either camp. Will it work? Will the books be worthy of the characters? Have I taken on too much, again? Will the keyboard survive?

Come midnight tonight, I'll be snoozing - I just don't have it in me to stay up to start Nano; finish it, yes, but not at the beginning. Sleep is important. Sleep is good. I like sleeping. But... I'll be up at sunrise, pounding away at the keyboard like thousands of other nano-ers around the globe.

That's rather amazing when you think about it. A hundred thousand plus people, all not talking - a wave of silence circling the world, bent over keyboards and writing the most incredible stories. An infinite well of creativity tapped for a whole month. Muses of all shapes and colours, spread out over continents dictating terms to writers. Ships of aliens, bouquets of romance, beds of erotica, holsters of westerns, shadows of horror... a flood of prose gushing from the imaginarium of collective consciousness... O_o

Okay, obviously I haven't had my morning coffee. I'll just, you know, go and make one, get on with thinking up something for the third book...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spiced wine-ing

Hypocras making day today. The spiced wine needs to mature before Christmas and I'll be busy next month.

I have a nice, mellow Cabernet Merlot, with berry and plum overtones, that I'll heat to steaming and to which I shall add cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, honey, brown sugar and cardamom pods. Then I let it cool, strain out the debris and bottle.

By Christmas, it will have a full-bodied, syrupy and subtly spiced flavour - just the thing for toasting. And it's good for you: red wine has anti-oxidants to hunt down and absorb free radicals.

Henry VIII had a glass or two to help with his digestion. His breakfast lasted two hours and he tasted every dish laid before him. The 'left overs' were given to the lords and ladies, then any remains went to the staff who prepared his meals. They, at least, preferred to survive on pottage - a dish made of grains soaked in hot water - and had more roughage in it than Henry's meals. The king became obese and suffered for it, probably causing his death, although he also suffered from a continually festering leg wound.

Henry's hypocras contained goldleaf flakes, mine does not. Some recipes also call for ambegris - icky stuff from the intestine of a whale that's been regurgitate. All I can say is: "Oh, the horror!!"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hatin' on Literature

Not even the most famous authors in history write the perfect character.

For your entertainment - and so you know some books considered literary classics and that are also taught in schools can have... execrable characters - I came across a list of:

The 50 Most Hated Characters In Literary History.

Some will surprise you, others will have you nodding in agreement. Most you should know.

The list mixes hated with love-to-hate characters and if you consider closely, you can see the whys and wherfores, understand the motivations and actions of those characters.

It's worth thinking about as Nano approaches. Are your characters 3D, or cardboard cutouts? Have you set up a few mistakes or an epic blunder for them? Is your antagonist evil because you said so, or because of a genuinely held belief?

Or are you going to make it up as you go along and fix it later?

Yeah... me,too...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nue Nano

Thursday is my 'in town' day, when I do the shopping. So there I was, wandering through the clothes racks, trying to come up with a solution as to why people would buy such unattractive apparel when... light bulb moment, out of the blue and totally unexpected.

Just to be annoying to those people about to plunge into the NaNo challenge, I now have the beginning, POV, characters and plot for book Number Two, coz, ya know, everyone has nearly an entire novel appear in their mind when standing in front of ugly blouses.

If I stood in front of the matching, equally unattractive skirts and trousers, will the third book show up?

I guess I'll have to wait patiently - the muse has, after all, been pumpin' iron out the back and is anxious to get started, she'll think of something...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bath Time

While it's probably not polite to take a photo of something taking a bath, the opportunity proved too tempting. This is one of two Mudlarks who took time out of their busy schedules of chasing each other and catching bugs to bathe. The pair do this at about four o'clock in the afternoon while the weather is warm.

The garden is full of birds, lorikeets, Rosellas, Wattle Birds, Willy-Wagtails, even the Superb Blue Wren drops in for a snack of catepillars, mosquitoes, moths, ladybugs, etc. They spread the seeds, protect the veggie patch and provide an early wake-up call, or entertainment with their colourful plumage and play.

I'm not usually a garden person - too many spiders for my liking, but they are a part of the eco-system, so I let them live - however, with the warm weather and rain, it's all lush and bursting with flowers; I'm hoping for a bumper crop of... anything. I'm not holding my breath, I've had flowers on the tomatoes all winter without fruit. I think they need more time in the sun.

Like a good story, in fact. During Nano, writers will put the words down, but any work produced will need time to mature. We plant the seeds of the story in our imaginations. We let it gestate, then the story sprouts. Under care, attention and the watering with a fertile mind, the work grows. Eventually, under our watchful gaze and ink-stained fingers, the flowers come, the fruit appears and the plant completes the cycle. For within that fruit are the seeds of future work, be it a part of a series, or a stand alone.

So spend time in the physical garden and relax, watch things grow; or spend time in the metaphysical garden and grow a book.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weathering

After ten years, New South Wales has been declared drought-free although some areas remain at risk.

This is excellent news for farmers and, just as importantly, food prices which should start to decline as the massive crops are brought in.

Also announced is that the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is at its' highest level since 1973 - a big wow! there - at +25. What that means is above average rainfall, or the La Nina effect.

The weather will become more humid and the temps at night remaining higher with the cloud cover.

It also means... more 'pideys in da house. Spiders, it seems to me, don't like wet or damp weather, preferring - like any self-respecting beastie (unless you're a duck) - to be indoors when it rains. Red-backs, it should be noted, love damp places, so it pays to look in and under damp things before picking them up.

And... since I've already had a near miss with a baby Huntsman and a black spider, it means spraying the post box. I'm still squicked out by the Huntsman; they can grow to the size of a toddler's hand, fingers an' all.

It also just happens, that the weather will play a part in my upcoming Nano novel, because La Nina also brings cyclones (hurricanes in the U.S., typhoons in Asia). While most people don't really consider the weather, other than hot, cold, wet or dry to decide what to wear, it's important to consider trends when writing in fictional worlds.

Weather happens: it affects your characters, their actions, the consequences, dialogue, the society on a local and maybe a global scale. It might also create a solution to your characters troubles, or make them worse.

Remember, along with a nifty, if inappropriate sex scene, weather is great for the word count.

Now to ward off any eight-legged beasties with the Baygon...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Archive Opting Out

I don't think I'm happy.

I've just received notification from Scribd about their Scribd Archive program. It's not an invitation to join in, it's up to me to opt out.

It used to be that people asked before interfering with a person's work, not so much any more.

I post my stuff to be free. I've opted out and I'm hoping it stays that way. But if anyone finds they have to subscribe to the Archive program for a fee, let me know and I'll shift everything to somewhere else.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Huntress: Unbreakable posted

After much angst, hand-wringing and lip-chewing, Huntress: Unbreakable is up at Scribd. Now I'm off to relax - read a book or two - and then prepare for the word storm that is...

NANOWRIMO.

I'm still note-taking, not plotting; bullet points, not outlining.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

I took myself off to see The Girl Who Played With Fire this morning. Yeah, a foreign filum.

Interestingly, a number of critics have said the first film was better; I disagree. I've read the books, and the first, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was slow and in need of a good editor. The second was action all the way - and so is the film.

I think the problem was that protagonists, Lisabeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist, don't get together until almost the last scene.

In this second instalment of the Millenium Trilogy, Mikael investigates the deaths of two of his new colleagues who are about to go public with a sex trafficking story that involves highly place people, and Lisabeth tries to clear her name of the murders. The trail leads both to the mysterious Zala, albeit via separate paths.

I only had one problem with the film and that was whomever did the subtitles, missed a few - one critical to the story.

It's not for the faint of heart, either, so if you're squeamish about violence or a gay sex scene, this isn't the movie for you.

I'll be watching the final instalment, though; the makers have done an excellent job on sticking with the book (which made it easier to follow, in spite of the lost subtitles).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Progress

Finally. The computer edits are in. All I need do now is create a cover and do a final read through. Then it will be posted.

The pre-note taking is progressing on the the first Nano novel... they're currently scattered about the house, depending on what I'm doing at the time inspiration strikes. I'll have to collect them, orga...n...ise... I'm beginning to sound like a plotter.

Fortunately, the notes are of different sections of the book, candy scenes. I get to connect them during the maniacal writing sessions.

Next up, the database. This contains the word count for each day, a rolling total, page counts, averages, current word count to target word count - and, occasionally, the word counts of challengers. Why? Probably because I need to get away from the lateral thinking to the logical.

During Nano, I will sometimes bang into a plot hole. Thinking about how to get out of it immediately may not work, but changing focus to something entirely different can allow the subconscious get on with working out the problem while the conscious mind is focused on another task. If that doesn't work, a long walk is needed.

So, once I've posted Huntress: Unbreakable and set up the database, I'm free to continue note-making and indulge in a few books or DVDs. I didn't actually plan on having a week off, but I'm sure I'll think of something to do while waiting for November 1.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Got Cake?

Aaannddd... just in case you missed it, Hyperbole and a Half blog presents the evilness and ingenuity of a child in: The God of Cake.

Jeez, my parents would have tanned my hide! But then, I was brunged up propa...

Wake up call

Rainbow Lorikeets, it should be noted, love chattering to each other in loud voices, like kids in a school yard.

My neighbour puts out native bird seed for their breakfast and dinner. The air is then filled with the noise of feasting Lorikeets, all trying to shout down the next bird... for a couple of hours.

And at six a.m., I'd like to take a shotgun to them. I'm so not at my best when brought out of a deep sleep by screeching...

However, the early mornings aren't wasted. (I'm the kind of person who, once awakened, is awake - no dozing here.) It's two weeks to Nanowrimo and already I have the first scene of the first book I'll be writing. My subconscious is slipping into Nano-fever and producing stuff at unspeakable hours of the morning. So it doesn't fade away, I've resorted to... gasp, squeak... writing notes.

Yeah, an organic writer making notes. Fortunately, there's no right or wrong way to write and the notes will help. I'm still putting in the edits and don't want to be distracted by what's next.

To that end, I need to get back to the mind games.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shite and Briney

Six a.m. The rain and too much thinking has conspired to awaken me and keep me awake. I am not soothed by rain on a tin roof, it's loud and obnoxious. La Nina is in full swing, heading to rage.

With Nano coming up in a couple of weeks, I've got a bad case of hmmm-I-must-write-that-down-itis. A syndrome which has no compassion for the time. A lot of writers get it I believe and the only cure is to write the book - or take drugs.

So, I'm at my desk, beavering away (yes, I know I'm on the 'net, but I have the manuscript open and ready to put in the edits). A hundred pages to go and I'm coming up to an emotionally difficult part of the book. It's made me a cranky-pants around the house, because it's a part of the book that must be there. Sigh.

The day is brightening from dark to gloomy and it's chilly, almost back to Winter, except for the dampness. Time for a latte! And words, plenty of words.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bargain hunting

According to Publisher's Weekly, e-book sales jumped 172% for the month of August and are up nearly 193% for the year. I'd say it's a growing market, wouldn't you?

Maybe the Little Aussie Battler has something to do with it. With the Australian dollar nearly reaching parity with the American dollar, buying books from overseas is suddenly a hunt for the best bargains.

Gotta feel sorry for the tourists in Oz, though. A paperback here costs between $15 and $19 - and I've yet to hear a reasonable argument for it. The old excuse of 'we import them from the US/UK' doesn't work now, and hasn't for some months. Booksellers who boosted their prices during a currency crisis a few years ago, failed to drop their prices when the dollar recovered lost ground and then some.

I don't want to send my money overseas, but t's cheaper for me to buy from someone like Amazon and import it myself, than buy from a local store. And I have more books on the way. Hah!

And gee, Christmas is coming up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mockingjay

The Hunger Games Trilogy requires a lot of post-reading thought to decide whether you love it or hate it, or even whether it’s an appropriate young adult series or not. I can’t say that about most books I’ve read and I like thought-provoking books. These books are dark, heart-wrenching and brilliant – but I speak from an adult’s perspective, not a young adult.

In Hunger Games Katniss Everdeen plays and wins – at costs known and unknown to her as she becomes the face of rebellion. In Catching Fire, she plays again, but ‘winning’ comes at a different cost, a greater one, when Peeta, her companion in the first Game, is captured by the evil Capitol. And in Mockingjay Katniss is consumed by the machinations of others and her own guilt (whether deserved or not).

This last book has been criticised for its lack of character development, for its disappointing epilogue, for being depressive, for a whole host of reasons. But for me, it was all appropriate. The horror of brutal oppression and war is bad enough for adults, for professional soldiers, but for a teenager? It’s even more tragic. And in this totalitarian world, the terrorizing and torture of the districts is heinous. It is worse for the teenagers who must accept that they will have to kill or be killed and accept the consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives. For Katniss it goes deeper as she is the face of the rebellion, a pawn in the machinations of others, a tool in the pursuit of power.

And Katniss is near destroyed by it all. She is not permitted to enjoy her revenge on those who used and abused her. Worse, she is punished for it, although if she’d spoken up, maybe things would have ended differently.

Katniss is cunning, petulant, impulsive, selfish, obstreperous, frustrating, indecisive and narrow-minded; but she will sacrifice everything for those she loves, she will protect strangers, beguile the enemy and gather allies to the cause. In short, she’s a teenager. She knows she’s not heroic, but she’s portrayed that way and she cannot escape what others are determined she do. Only once does she feel the power she has over others and even as she understands it, it’s taken away and guilt takes its place.

This is not a perfect book. There are events I found unnecessary to story or character development, one event in particular that served no purpose, even as I understood the reasoning behind it. Without that scene, Katniss had a shot at, if not happiness, then contentment as they rebuilt their lives. The issue of presidents Snow and Coin also raises questions. We know Snow is evil, but again, without a particular scene, it didn’t matter to Katniss whether Coin would make a better president, but Coin takes that extra, unnecessary step and Katniss and her family pay for it.

These books are filled with metaphors and themes from life and they refuse to shy away from the issues of PTSD, of heroes dying needlessly, of villains escaping true justice, of actions and consequences, and what happens to combat soldiers when the war is over.

The trilogy may be a young adult book, but it deals with very adult concepts and there is no escaping the underlying themes. It is no wonder that this is one of the most talked about books of the year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

In a dystopian future where the Capitol rules, the twelve impoverished districts are required to send two teenage tributes to the Hunger Games - a fight to the death in an arena of the Gamemaster's making to entertain those living in the Capitol.

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have thwarted the Gamesmaster and won the Hunger Games, much to the displeasure of President Snow. Katniss has found herself as the figurehead of brewing rebellion and Snow wants her to quell the subversion. Katniss, however, inadvertently becomes the touchstone of revolution, sparking more violence.

As punishment, two victor tributes from each district must compete again in the arena as part of the Quarter Quell, the 75th anniversary of the Capitol's triumph over the districts.

Katniss and Peeta survived the Games once against those of a similar age; can they survive against those with more experience and maturity?

Suzanne Collins has done a brilliant job with this trilogy. Katniss and Peeta are written well, with all the impulsiveness, emotional confusion, courage and self-doubt of teenagers. Mistakes are made, consequences are dire, but in this brutal future, hope remains.

Like any teenager on the cusp of adulthood, Katniss gets bent out of shape when she's not told of the plans older, supposedly wiser people have for her. She's justifiably furious in parts, petulant and spiteful in others.

The new arena is a wonderful, frightening construct, designed to kill, maim or send the tributes insane. To Katniss and Peeta, the other tributes are crazy and Katniss learns what true sacrifice is. She is the face of the rebellion, the favourite of the Capitol viewing audience, the enemy of President Snow because of one act of defiance.

She is the Mockingjay and she will learn what that truly means.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Tomorrow, when the war began

I took the teens to see Tomorrow, When The War Began. It’s based on the best selling series by Australian author, John Marsden.

The story revolves around a group of teenagers who go camping in North Queensland for a weekend. When they return home, they find everyone incarcerated at the local showground and that the 'Asian Coalition' has invaded Australia.

This isn't a Disney-esque series or film, it's real, sometimes violent and heart-breaking. There is nothing patronising about the situation or the way the characters react, especially when it comes to moral dilemmas. A lot serious, a lot Australian, it has moments of humour. The film suffers from a bit of newbie acting in parts, but overall it is a brilliant local production, one I hope does well in the overseas market.

Each of the characters will appeal to the teenage crowd - adults don't appear much in this. When they do, the tension ratchets up until you're leaning forward in your seat, wondering what the teens are going to do against armed soldiers.

Tomorrow, When The War Began got the big thumbs up from the kids and me. It's an excellent movie.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Teens in the crib

I've got teenagers in the house - I'm borrowing them so the beach doesn't feel so neglected while I'm editing. Actually, I buggered my knee and walking for any distance is a challenge (but the teenagers make a good excuse).

But I'm still editing. It's taking time because I keep getting distracted. You know, by the teens, by the teev, I mean... by the TBR pile and so many other things that conspire against me. (Teen one needed help on 'creative analysis of a metaphysical poem'.) Colour me bug-eyed. We didn't do metaphysics when I went to school. There's also the Cold War essay. But then, my niece is exceptionally clever and loves homework - teen two, not so much.

I think I'll be done by the end of next week. I had a scathingly brilliant idea for the cover - but I think I've forgotten what it was. Maybe I made a note somewhere...

Back to work. I'm taking the aforementioned kiddos to the movies later this afternoon - teen one I think loves homework a little too much and needs time away from it all.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Time shift

Sure, doesn't everyone enjoy getting up an hour earlier?

It's that time of the year when the winter season ends and summer-time begins: Daylight Savings (which is really weird, because we get the same amount of sunshine, so where's the saving?)

I remember as a kid DST lasted for three months. Then some bright spark shifted it four and following our Olympics it's now six months.

I'm still getting used to getting up, bleary eyed, and noting the time is an hour later than I'd like - then there's the staring at the ceiling when I go to bed because I'm there and hour earlier.

Sigh. This, too, shall pass...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Death of a Great

Bernard Schwartz has died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 85.

I remember him with fondness - he was an actor I crushed on, many, many people crushed on him.

Who is Bernard? Trivial Pursuit players know, but his stage name is Tony Curtis.

I loved his movies. Suppose They Gave A War and Nobody Came?, The Persuaders with Roger Moore, Some Like It Hot weirded me out a little, Taras Bulba, The Great Race, The Defiant Ones... so many great films.

The black hair and mischievous eyes, buff bod (when he was younger).

His daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, says it perfectly:

"My father leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings and assemblages. He leaves behind children and their families who loved him and respected him and a wife and in-laws who were devoted to him. He also leaves behind fans all over the world. He will be greatly missed."

I know I'll watch re-runs of his movies on the teev.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kudos and Krims

Okay, colour me impressed.

With the Aussie Dollar nearing parity with the American Dollar, I thought I'd order some books from Amazon - coz, you know, books are way cheaper over there than here. (I refuse to pay $AUS46 here for an imported hardback.)

I decided to order Warriors edited by George R. R. Martin and has stories in by David Weber (squee!), Carrie Vaughn, Diana Gabaldon, Naomi Novik, David Morell, S.M. Stirling, Robin Hobb, the list goes on... and Tanya Huff's The Truth of Valor.

Amazon e-mailed me to say I could expected the books...mmm, sometime in November (sea mail). They would be my reward for finishing Nano.

Except... Warriors turned up today - two weeks after I ordered it. WOOT!! And I live in the country, so it would have taken a couple of days to get here from the nearest major city, Sydney.

The book and postage and handling cost me less than $AUS30.

* * *

Not so impressive, is the phone call I received today regarding viruses on my computer. The heavily-accented Indian woman told me to turn on my computer so they could search for the aforementioned malicious virus. What? I figured the next demand would be for me to turn off the firewall.

When I asked how she knew my computer had a virus, she said an international research group had been compiling information from my area, but would not tell me how she got my phone number, referring to the international group again.

On what planet does anyone think letting an unknown group into a personal computer is a good thing? And why would they think I'd blithely give them access? Security for my computer is my responsibility. I have a firewall, I have anti-virus software. If I want it sorted, I'll contact a local computer expert, not some amorphous overseas group.

I wonder if this is a new scam to invade personal computers for the purpose of identity theft, account details and passwords. It's certainly more brazen than the Nigerians.

I declined her invitation - next time, should they call again, I won't be so polite.

And I'm getting more than a little pissed off at people cold-calling me. I'm on a 'do not call' register, damn it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Planning stage

Winter is having one last hurrah before the weekend. Then it has to stop and wait for next year.

Daylight Savings Time begins on Saturday, or early Sunday morning, whichever you prefer. A lost hour somewhere in the night, temporarily taken and returned in six months. I think there might be a story in that...

And since it's been chilly today, it was nice to be warm inside, working away at the edits. Only another fifteen thousand words to find and Huntress: Unbreakable will be done; then I can prepare for Nano season.

I'm thinking another Huntress or two to wrap it up. I'm not eager to see it go on and on. I haven't thought of an ending yet, but it will come to me. Eventually. I hope. At the moment, I can see a sort of solution, but can't quiet see how it will work.

I have time yet to jot down a few notes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Patience

It's been slow going today on the edits.

I know writers are supposed to be able to work through anything, but waiting for the plumber simply broke my concentration. Every time I focused, I thought I heard them pull up. What is it about expecting people that interferes? I had one eye on the work and the other on the door; one ear listening to the dialogue, the other on the traffic outside.

Of course, if I slipped up the street, that would have been when they arrived; even going to the bathroom was fraught with... um, the expectation of a knock on the door? Yeah, TMI. Forget I said that.

It never does any good to ask what time they'll arrive, either - I don't think tradesmen work that way, although some do. "Will you be home all day." Seems the stock question. And since the tap's been leaking for a while, the only answer I could give was 'yes'.

And now they've done the job and gone - the wallet much lighter - I can concentrate again.

Waiting for tradesmen is one of life's little trials.

So, while I'm doing the edits, story lines for Nano keep popping up. I expect it to get worse as November draws near. Which means I need to get back to it and indulge in a little overtime.

Bee sluts

Ah, Spring; when a young writer's fancy turns to anything, but sitting down and doing the damn work!

The sun is shining, the weather is mild and flowers are busting out to attract the first bee that looks sideways at them.

Bee-sluts, every one of 'em. And you can see why:

The bush rose, growing tall and gathering in bunches so the bees can look up their stems, and then check out the innocent, butter-yellow petals.

The white camellia, all pretty and virginal, luring in the bad-boy bee with the promise of seductive perfection.

The pink camellia, new, fresh and oh, so feminine in its coy, just opening to the world. Probably as bad as the white camellia.

All in the garden, all wanting carnal relations with the bees. See? Bee-sluts, desperate for a bee to walk all over them, to be covered in... pollen, then go back and brag to their fellow bees.

Yeah, I can imagine it: graffiti scrawled on the side of the hive, 'for a good time, check out the white camellia', or 'free nectar over at the bush rose!' 'the McCartney Rose wants you!'. And down at the bottom, where the 'in' crowd avoid, another sign: 'Coming soon: veggie patch delights'.

And before you know it, the cycle begins. Again.

Yep, Mother Nature is hosting a season-long party, and not a regency prude amongst them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jennifer Rardin

I was shocked to read this week that urban fantasy author Jennifer Rardin died. A few days before, she'd posted pictures, looked and sounded as happy as a lark; then, the post announcing her passing.

The Jaz Parks series might not be on my absolutely must re-read shelf, but they are entertaining and I thought she'd have a long career as a writer. Each book was better than the previous one...

Maybe I'll re-read them after all, as a tribute to an author who was taken from us too soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where I'm at

I've printed out Huntress: Unbreakable, with the plan to read through and do more edits some time in the next week. This week I'm so busy, even my unbusy bits are busy.

At 74k, it needs more. Not plot, I think it has enough, but descriptions - which I'm not so good at - and dialogue. I'm looking at adding another 6k, which may or may not be possible. Damn, but I need some beta readers.

Then it's trying to work up an appropriate cover. Nup, nothing springs to mind. I'm sure something will occur and there's the wonderful world of free photos out there.

Maybe I should get one of my talented sisters to design something for me?

Anyway. Huntress: Unbreakable should be posted within the next month. And then... and then... it's Nano and the writing of another Huntress book!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In an oppressive, dystopian American future, the twelve Districts must send two ‘Tributes’, selected by lottery, for the Hunger Games – a brutal competition where the winner is the last one alive. Tributes are between the ages of twelve and eighteen and sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place.

Life for the Everdeens in District 12 is a constant battle against starvation, and Katniss provides food and money through illegal hunting in the woods. She is certain she will die in the Hunger Games – some tributes have trained their entire lives for the Games, are stronger, bigger, smarter than Kat and the District’s second Tribute, baker’s son, Peeta.

Katniss is aware the Games are for the televised entertainment of the decadent Capitol, and the mental torture of the other districts. As the Game continues, she begins to understand that she may have a chance after all.

While this is a Young Adult novel, Hunger Games will capture the imagination of older readers. Suzanne Collins has created a nightmarish future of hard-scrabble survival for the Districts as a reminder of who rules the country of Penam following a rebellion seventy years past. It’s a brutal life for all except the citizens of the Capitol.

Katniss displays all the emotional insecurity of a teenager and has a belligerent determination to do the best she can, even pretending Peeta is the love of her life to ensure the support of ‘sponsors’ who send gifts into the Games. The consequences of which will, I’m sure, be explored in later books.

The characters are well-crafted, the world-building is excellent and the political system disturbingly real.

It’s a rare book that will keep me up to wee hours. It’s even rarer for me to keep thinking about a novel. This is a masterpiece that wrenches an emotional response from the reader. The ethical and moral dilemmas Kat faces are heart-stopping.

Suzanne Collins is an author to watch. This is a book I recommend to anyone.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Diva-dom

A new book is out on the 'net about a certain author.

Here's the blurb:

Ever wonder what it is like to work for a Best Selling Author? Ever wonder what it would be like to be their assistant? Melody and Miriam had been friends for years after first meeting at a science fiction convention by accident. Miriam was a author and in need of help. Melody was in need of a job. When Miriam offered Melody a job she took it. What could be better for a bibliophile than working for an author and a friend? It was the start of a ten year odyssey as Melody helped Miriam move from paperback original author to hardback and #1 Best Seller. They navigated the tricky waters of the publishing business together, learning about all aspects of the brutal world of publishing. Unfortunately, along the way, Miriam fell victim to the many traps of fame and fortune because the diva ate her.

And here's the link to: The Diva Ate Her

I'll leave it up to you to decide whom the famous author is...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ahoy! Me Hearties!

Ahoy, ye scurvy dogs!

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day, which means poor English grammar and syntax, arrrr...

So, a quick lesson:

Ahoy! - "Yo!"
Avast! - "Check it out!"
Aye! - "Yes."
Arrr! - "That's right!" (often confused with arrrgh...)
Arrrgh! - "I'm VERY miffed."

Pirates drink tankards of ayel (ale) or rum, eat without using cutlery, don't brush their teeth (they rinse with the aforementioned ale or rum, and use dirks or boucans as dental floss) and personal hygiene is a personal choice rarely taken - unless tossed overboard, and few pirates could actually swim.

As a bit o' history, the pirate speech may have been heavily influenced by Cornish and the West Country dialects. Like a lot of dialects, distance and time changed the language

ITLAPD was created in 1996 by Cap'n Slappy and Ol' Chumbucket, alias, John Baur and Mark Summers.

Go and check out the ten top pick up lines on ITLAPD for inspiration.

Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hyperbole

All I can say about today's Hyperbole and a Half, entitled 'The Party' is... bwahahaha!!!

Damn, that cracks me up!

O_o Work? What work? I'm having a weekend in Canberra...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

E-haa!

E-book sales up; mass market down.

According to the Publishers Weekly June Sales Report, e-book sales rose a staggering 204 percent while mass market paperbacks dropped nearly 15 percent.

At Random House, profits doubled in the first half of the business year with a 300 percent rise in e-book sales - helped by the international bestsellers of Stieg Larsson. And Borders has announced a drop in sales from bookstores, but a rise in online orders.

Other publishers have also reported increases in online and e-book sales.

Customers are moving to immediacy with their reading and publishing companies are cashing in - those who have recognised the shift in customer trends, that is.

The e-book publishing industry allows for profits on all sides: cheaper production costs for publishers, larger income for authors and cheaper, faster receipt of books for customers. But negotiations are still on-going within the industry on how to divide the incomes. And while those negotiations keep the lawyers busy, customers are happily downloading and reading the latest in books.

Everyone but readers are playing catch up, mainly because they are the driving force behind the industry. So many books are published each year, that readers can be more discerning in their choices - and it is that choice, e-book or traditional, that dictates the direction of the industry. And the direction is electronic.

The paperless society is on its way.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back in the trenches

Right then. I've spent the weekend editing Huntress: Unbreakable.

By golly, it has some dark moments and I wonder what black mood I was in when I wrote those scenes. I'm not deleting them - they portray a character who never had a moral compass; there are equally dark exploratory scenes and scenes of redemption. Thankfully, I came across some amusement, too, but I think it needs a hit or two more of Joss Whedon-ness. Oh, God, oh, God, we're all gonna die? Heh, heh, I love Firefly.

Does the end fulfil the promise of the first book? Yes, although some peeps might not think so and I've left the option open to write a fourth book or more. Nano, anyone?

For now, I'll set it aside for a few weeks and work on a couple of others. I'm not very good at queries or synopses and I need the practice. I also need to pack this lot off to agents - bidding war anyone? Hah! Kidding... sort of.

I need to work on something else, so... I'm off to work on something else!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Storm Troopers

A Jedi and someone lining up for the most excellent coffee. I'm also guessing that in a galaxy far, far away, even Storm Troopers need caffeine.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Carving and trimming

I guess it's better to write too much than not enough. Apropos the editorial panels I attended at Worldcon, I know I need much harsher editing on the books I intended to pitch (no pitching allowed, dammit!).

The panels emphasised the potential of an author, not necessarily perfect grammar and spelling, but I can't help but disagree. As an author, you need to make your manuscript as perfect as possible, as well as have a story with potential.

Perfection isn't attainable, but making your manuscript the best it can be, is attainable.

Now I have to go off and carve out 20k on each manuscript; simply tightening the language - getting rid of adverbs, for example - may not be enough. I'll have to trim off a sub-plot in each, shorten paragraphs and sentences, maybe delete a character or two, all without messing with the over-arching main plots.

Doable. Must be doable, actually, if I'm to submit to an agent.

And at least I won't be padding the work, but making it more concise with some judicious line edits.

Sigh.

Dream Called Time by S.L. Viehl

This is the final book in the long-running series about the bio-construct, Dr Cherijo Torin.

Cherijo is shocked to discover she is missing five years of her life to an alternate personality, the aggressive, knife-wielding Akkabarran, Jarn. Worse, she is heartbroken that her husband, Duncan Reever, loved Jarn, not her and that daughter Marel mourns the loss of Jarn.

What’s a bio-construct to do but leave love behind and jaunt to a Rift in space that catapults her and the crew back a few million years?

Then everything she thought she knew about her father, Maggie and the black crystal changes.

This book is action-packed from the first page. I might even say ‘manic’ as the end of the series closes in. Cherijo is slowly regaining her memories of the fateful day she disappeared and why Jarn appeared. She’s also dealing with the rejection of Duncan, the distance of her daughter and Xonea’s obsession with her. The rift ship and intriguing crystal also needs resolution and when Maggie turns up to warn her not to go on the mission, Cherijo tells her where to go.

Cherijo turns to medicine when her private life falls into a heap – an alter-formed Hsktskt, PyrsVar who wants to return to Hsktskt form, presents a unique challenge to her.

Throughout the series, Cherijo has been physically and mentally tortured – how much can an immortal bear without going mad? Quite a bit, although a lot of the pain is through memories and realisations, of putting the complete story together.

I dislike Reever, since he is the cause for the majority of Cherijo’s anguish. He’s had plenty of time to learn human emotion, and he turns into an SOB in this book, too, but I guess you don’t get to choose whom you love. His one redeeming feature is that he stood by her, but even that was for selfish reasons.

The ending was appropriate and tied up all the threads: who her father is, who Maggie is, the secret of the black crystal and how to get rid of it.

The book keeps moving, with carefully laid clues, and after nine books of adventure, emotional distress and physical torment, Cherijo deserves the peace she finds.

I doubt Ms Viehl is finished with the Stardoc universe, it's too well formed and has the most interesting characters.

This is most definitely a re-readable series and worthwhile for anyone who enjoys medical science fiction.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

De-conning

Home at last. The South Coast area got wrecked by near cyclonic winds on Saturday night. Driving down the mountains I saw the trees and branches littering both sides of the road. Obviously, the SES crews worked hard to clear the debris and re-open the roads, but the street lights are still out - all darkity-darkness. And I thought the excitement was northern Victoria with the massive flooding. I've spent some time today cleaning up the backyard and mourning the loss of my newly planted tomatoes.

Worldcon was great. Even though not one of the works I voted on won any Hugos; but Seanan McGuire won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author. I was so intrigued by Rosemary and Rue, I've ordered the books - since I couldn't find them in any of the book stores I visited.

Best moment of the Con: listening to John Berlyne of the Zeno Literary Agency speak of all the right things I've done so far. Confirmation, really, that I'm another step closer to publication.

Worst moment of the Con: Having the opportunity to ask Ginjer Buchanan of Penguin, USA, a question and having a total brain freeze; I felt like an overwhelmed fan! I finally got the question out and tried to ignore my burning ears. Lovely woman didn't bat an eyelid at my sudden silence.

Awed moment: the WETA digital presentation. Their artwork and CGI is amazing; I wish I could do stuff like that, but given the amount of work, I shall simply admire from afar.

Most fun moment: the Baen Travelling Slideshow - maybe because I picked up a couple of book covers and CDs with buckets of books on them. I don't when I'll have the time to read them all!

Metaphor moment: the Vampire versus Zombie Smackdown! I had no idea that vampires were a metaphor for the elite class, shape-shifters were the middle class and zombies were the proletariat - the unwashed, uneducated masses. My argument? One wooden stake and it's over for the vampire; but it's not even an 'owie' for a zombie. As for metaphors, well, I don't look any deeper than whether a story is entertaining or not.

Quote of the Con: Cathrynne M. Valente - "Screaming is a poor character trait".

And so the convention is over. I really hope it won't be another ten years before it returns, but I fear just that given all those countries vying for the privilege. Then again, it might give me the opportunity to travel to other countries to attend; and maybe as a guest if I work hard enough and I get published.

I left the convention feeling more optimistic, more determined and more inspired to get it right. I've even worked out what to write for Nano...