Monday, August 30, 2010


Monday. It's Monday already. On Wednesday, I drive up to Canberra to catch a flight down to Melbourne unspeakably early on Thursday.

And I think I've worn myself out already. The old 'I'm ready' and the 'I'm not ready' have been fighting so much I'm at the 'not caring' stage.

Still, today and tomorrow I plan to finish the synopses, edit the synopses, print six copies of the synopses and first three chapters - then worry some more. The Pitch is on Saturday, so I can enjoy the two previous days events - oh, and get in some genealogy on Thursday. Excellent!

The first place I'll be heading to is the Dealer's Room. Dream Called Time (weird title) by S.L. Viehl, is available from the Galaxy Bookshop who will have a table. YAY! Sure beats my local book store who said it wouldn't be here until October. Nyah, nyah!

So, I must away to work and suppress the squealy fan-girl moments. No doubt panic will set in eventually, followed by the 'get over yourself' chastisement.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Meanwhile, back in Hell...

I'm currently touring the Seventh Circle of Writer's Hell; such a fun place after the previous levels, which are:

1. Finding a story arc that will last 100,000 words;
2. Creating the characters that won't burn because they're cardboard;
3. Sitting down and writing the epic, no-way-it-can't-be-published tome;
4. Not being terribly smug about finishing the work and dreaming of bigger things;
5. Editing - nuff said.
6. Trying not to succumb to 'this is shite' and tossing the work, this is where Demons are wrestled;
7. Compressing 100,000 words into a few pages of a SYNOPSIS;
8. This is a secret level - I think it's the anxiety-ridden level of pitching to an agent or editor.

Below these levels are the Doors Of Fate:

Rejection 1 - Beyond this door lies the busy streets of giving up, there's so much more you could be doing, like a nine-to-five desk job and regular pay cheque;
Rejection 2 - Your own computer where you need to sit and revise, again;
Rejection 3 - The internet where you decide you'll post your work anyway, because obviously those pinhead editors and agents don't know a brilliant piece of genius if it smacked upside the head;
Acceptance 1 - A smiling agent who can sell your work if you adjust the manuscript to fit the genre, and the protagonist to be a bit more... sparkly, or sexy, or mysterious, or tattooed, or...;
Acceptance 2 - An office, with a contract set squarely between two slush piles;
Acceptance 3 - A crowd of cheering fans, holding out your book for an autograph, author peers applauding, film producers offering money for the rights, Hugh Jackman offering you the Hugo, the Golden Dagger, the Booker, the Nobel Prize for Literature... mmm... Hugh...

So, anyway, synopsis writing. In between writing the sucker, I'm trolling the 'net for hints. I've downloaded some articles, but I think it comes down to practice.

It's hot here on the seventh level, but I think if I keep sweating away at this last piece, I'll give myself the opportunity to hit the eighth level next week. And who knows? Maybe I'll face the doors and one will be open.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


While skimming the latest e-mail from Writers Digest today, I came across 4 Ways to Improve Narrative Drive in Your Story, by historical novelist, Sara Sheridan.

What leapt out at me was thinking of your story in a storyboard format, like a graphic novel, a comic book. I'm a visual writer, I see the scenes unfold in my mind as I write them, like a film. That means everything is written, even the stuff the readers doesn't need to know about. It's why editing is such a pain for me. What do I keep and what do I cut? What could I expand on and what doesn't quite fit?

But storyboarding... I'm not an artist - in no way, shape or form can I draw - but to create squares with a few words in them so I can visualise, or better yet, search the web for the images I need, that sounds like a plan.

According to Ms Sheridan, it's a great way to see if your story is balanced. Can you imagine a comic book with squares and squares of scenery rather than action or meaningful dialogue?

I can already imagine the opening sequence of my current WIP in comic-book format. It might seem like doubling my workload, but if storyboarding smooths out the rough edges, then it's another useful item in the writer's toolbox.

I think I'll go play with the shiny new toy, if only for the first three chapters. Maybe it will make writing the synopsis easier.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Now I can plan...

The Aussiecon program is now posted, so I can sort out what and whom to see. Go, look and be jellus!

There's the 'work' stuff, Pitching the Novel, Editing the Novel, How to Review, The Secret Life of Literary Agents, but there's room for the fun stuff, too, Why Australia is More Horrifying Than Anywhere Else - you know, our weather, the many poisonous and deadly beasties, Vampire vs Zombie Smackdown! - oh, yeah (I wonder if LKH will be mentioned?), The Baen Travelling Slideshow - ooo, shiny, In conversation with the likes of George RR Martin, Robert Silverberg, Kim Stanley Robinson, Jonathon Strahan, Seanan McGuire, Whores and Virgins - yes, well..., and who knew Mary Poppins was written by an Australian? I didn't. But do I want to know more?

Then there's the Dealers Room and Fan tables and Koffeeklatsches, I could go on - there's so much to chose from - but I need to stop being a squealie fan-girl and look at the program objectively.

And I need to get my shit together to take stuff down. Even if they don't look at the work, I'll count the convention a success if a) I get business cards, b) learn new stuff, c) laugh - it's all about having a good time as well as making contacts.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hung out to dry

For the first time in 70 years, we have a hung parliament.

Was it a result of Labor voters dissatisfaction? The so-called 'mining tax' and other disasters over the last three years? The brutal dumping of K. Rudd in June? Was it a change in direction for the Liberals? That the leader reflected a time under Howard when everything was just dandy and we were protected from international banking events?

Or was it that neither side projected strong enough image and policy to sway the voter?

I've always thought Labor made a mistake in giving the leadership to Kevin Rudd and Julia Gilliard as deputy PM. She had the credentials to move the country forward; K. Rudd was a diplomat who lacked diplomacy with his staff; who had some nifty ideas but executed them poorly and in haste; who gave his new ministers more than a year to adjust to their new portfolios before anything was done to actually govern the country. Julia would have kicked butt straight up.

So now we have the Greens Party, under the leadership of Bob Brown, who hold the balance of power in the Senate and has a member in the House of Representatives - he's also calling for proportional representation in the House to give his candidates a better chance at succeeding.

Personally, I loathe and despise a politician who will prostitute his ideals for power. A vote for the Greens meant a vote - once preferences are distributed - for Labor. It's reprehensible that a candidate can win most of the votes in an electorate, but still lose the set due to preferences. A party who hands over votes to one party, but says it will 'work with whoever is in government' isn't one that stands on it's principles.

A minority party does not express the will of the people, yet will use the balance of power to push through legislation reflecting it's own radical agenda. The Greens have held the balance of power before, much to the detriment of running the country by holding up legislation. Governing slowed down to such an extent that when they lost the balance of power, both sides - left and right - expressed their relief and they could now get on with it.

In the days of Senator Harridine from Tasmania, he held the parliament to ransom on a number of issues. Like... he would only vote in favour of legislation if Australia stopped providing contraceptives to certain third world countries, that promoting women's health included anti-abortion material. He was a man who didn't vote according to his constituency, but his own religious bigotry.

Now this. What will the Greens demand? More social justice? More money thrown at pie-in-the-sky energy boondoggles? Higher taxes on the wealthy to subsidise the poor?

I tell you, politics makes me crazy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

We choose...

Today is election day. Or, I suppose, Election Day! Yep, we go to the polls to decide who will be the next Prime Minister of this great nation.

Do we go for the first woman Prime Minister (not elected, but giving the leadership of the Labor Party after a caucus room spill - since they held government, she became P.M.) Or do we vote for a former Minister of the Howard Government - a near-priest and exercise fiend?

The current polls indicate a 50-50 split with many voters still undecided. There's no... enthusiasm like last time. The pith and vinegar flew in 2007, with spiteful remarks across internet sites. This time, not so much.

The worst example of mocking our system is former Federal Labor leader, Mark Latham, suggesting donkey votes - that is, screw up your vote so no-one gets it - because neither side is worth it. Sanctimonious, petulant idiot. (He, too, was dumped by his own party as leader).

Australia has compulsory voting - one, I think of only two countries in the world. Everyone votes, no-one 'misses out'. Postal, absentee or polling booth, we have the facilities for all to have their say. And it's not about leadership. It's about your candidate in your electorate. Whichever party wins the most electorates, has the right to form government. The party elects the leader, and the party room decides the issues to stand on, through our elected representatives.

Democracy in action. While compulsory voting seems like an oxymoron, it works. No-one can complain about the result because everyone had a say. Your side might lose, but you were involved in the process. Okay, except for those who vote for the Greens; a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labor under a deal done for preferences before the election - a deal I think should be made illegal. If I want Labor in, I'll vote for them, none of this back room dealing to gain votes by proxy.

So. Who am I going to vote for? Well, we also have secret ballots. It's no-one's business who you vote for, so I ain't tellin', but the results should be interesting.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Surprise trees

Winter is sullen because gleeful Spring arrived today. Too warm for a sweater. The naked limbs of trees clack together in a warm northerly breeze like strips of plastic in bicycle spokes.

So I'm looking at the trees and thinking 'aw, they're about to burst into bloom'. Cue images of pure white blossoms and verdant leaves exploding from the buds. But... the closer I walked, the more a feeling of impending doom rose, until I stood almost beneath one of the trees. Those small, white globes, ready to unfurl dotted each tip without the accompanying hint of green. Those small, pale orbs ready burst bore an uncanny resemblance to something else I knew of; something that lurked in the garden. Under pots and wood piles. In dry gutters and buried in piles of dead leaves: spider eggs.

Off went the imagination, backpedalling as fast as it could manage. The film played out anyway; white pearls tearing open and a squillion dark spiders raining down on unwary shoppers below... skittering down unprotected collars, abseiling off fringes with legs spread wide, tickling across bared skin, nipping, biting with tiny fangs.

For a moment I paused - not just because of the traffic - and wondered where the hell the images came from. My favourite time of year slowly giving way to the warmer weather? My particular loathing of eight-legged beasties? Stress? Dunno. But writers can turn the most innocuous sights into whatever they want. Being botanically-challenged, I have no idea what those trees were, but I'll never look at them the same way again.

It's weird how the mind works when out hunting down groceries. Don't you think?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Strained patience

A little over two weeks to go until World con and there's still no program. I'm a just a wee bit annoyed about this. I want to organise a schedule for myself so I can maybe see other things in Melbourne. I've been patient, but... really? No program? What's up with that?

It could be my anxiety levels are rising - I'm trying not to poke and prod at my work, to fiddle and adjust and maybe delete or add. I have to convince myself it's not the end of the world if none of the agents/editors are interested, no matter that it will feel like it. I may have a hissy fit and readers on Scribd might just benefit...

It's been eleven years since the last Worldcon in Australia and it's a good time. I went in 1999 and felt overwhelmed by choice - gathered my wits enough to get a book signed by Elizabeth Moon, did short story critiquing with Gerald Nordley, saw some anime, heard Terry Pratchett (a marvellous speaker, but I don't like his books) however, the rest seems like a blur.

This time, I have a plan... which I can't implement without the damned program!

Sigh. I need to relax and plan my trip to the Victorian hatches, matches and dispatches to hunt down my Victorian relatives - it's an opportunity I ain't gonna miss. I'm flying in at an unspeakable hour of the morning and the opening of Worldcon isn't really until the afternoon. Plenty of time for lattes and research.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hyperbole and a Half

My new and favourite place to visit for a smile, a chuckle, a laugh-out-loud moment, or an OMG! cack-fest that will stay with me for the rest of the day. Yeah, sure I was working - doing research in fact - when I found it, although the 'how' and history that led me to the page currently escapes me...

Hyperbole and a Half, written by Allie Brosh, has some meaningful comics that illustrate cautionary tales in humorous ways. It's a blogspot that is, unfortunately, addictive.

Check out Bicycle for a post everyone must be familiar with from their childhood. Anyone who has a dog or a cat will cackle at Dog - not all pets are brilliant and clever and trainable, some you just have to love because... well, just because.

Then there's How A Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood. I'll stop now. You should go and read them.

I need to get back to work now and stop stuffing about. The minutiae ain't gonna write itself, you know.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Articles of interest

I can say, officially, that I've started my CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!!! Yeah, it's August, but if you see something a sibling, niece, nephew or parent might like... why not? I'm jes sayin'.

Anyway, Writer's Digest has a most excellent article on The 10 Commandments of Fiction Writing by Raymond Obstfeld. Number one is 'Take Yourself Seriously' and the reasoning will probably resonate with most new authors - published or not.

Number two, 'Act like a Professional'. This one should be obvious, but...

The next eight are equally as illuminating.

Also of interest in this edition is: Five easy tips to strengthen your scenes by James Scott Bell.

Found this too: Best writing advice in ten words or fewer and 11 Plot Pitfalls - And How to Rescue Your Story From Them by Laura Whitcomb.

So now, I'm off to watch the Ravens and Panthers... Yay! Football season!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Killing Place aka Ice Cold

I don't get the change in titles; one is as good as the other and it makes it a little confusing. But... anyway.

I finished Tess Gerritsen's The Killing Place last night. The blurb:

In Wyoming for a medical conference, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles joins a group of friends on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. But when their SUV stalls on a snow-choked mountain road, they’re stranded with no help in sight.

As night falls, the group seeks refuge from the blizzard in the remote village of Kingdom Come, where twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Something terrible has happened in Kingdom Come: Meals sit untouched on tables, cars are still parked in garages. The town’s previous residents seem to have vanished into thin air, but footprints in the snow betray the presence of someone who still lurks in the cold darkness — someone who is watching Maura and her friends.

Days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that Maura’s charred body has been found in a mountain ravine. Shocked and grieving, Jane is determined to learn what happened to her friend. The investigation plunges Jane into the twisted history of Kingdom Come, where a gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow. As horrifying revelations come to light, Jane closes in on an enemy both powerful and merciless—and the chilling truth about Maura’s fate.

In this next Rizzoli and Isles book, you can feel the merciless cold of deep winter, sense the threat to the stranded group from the shadows without knowing why and sympathise with Maura at being stuck with this group of group of people who are almost determined to be unhappy:

Handsome Doug Comley, the pathologist Maura meets up with, is a man who lives life to the limit, never believing things could go wrong; his daughter Grace, is a manipulative, pouting teenager who uses her parents' divorce as a stick to get her own way; Arlo, the food critic, perpetually hungry and his girlfriend, Elaine, who wants to have an affair with Doug and who can't make her own decisions.

In the throes of a personal crisis, Maura agrees to go on a ski-trip with this group, trusting Doug, even when she has doubts. She is the outsider, and the others agree with Doug to their peril.

Maura is presumed dead, but faithful friend Jane Rizzoli isn't so sure - even on the flimsiest of clues; Daniel, the cause of so much unhappiness and joy for Maura, resolutely secludes himself to grieve. I thought him a coward with his indecision over the relationship and the absolute conviction that Maura was dead.

And so the hunt for Maura is on. A religious cult, a boy in the icy wilderness, unfriendly locals, an empty village with dead pets, blood stains and eerie silence, all conspire to give the reader a bit of a chill (pun intended) as the story moves towards an inevitable and deadly confrontation.

The characters are well drawn, the situation realistic as Maura understands rescue ain't coming soon. The tension increases with every page as decisions are made that have consequences - good and bad.

Fans of the series will be entertained by this new book, but I was left with a few, unanswered questions. There are also some 'tells' about some of the victims, rather than 'shows', and I wanted the show, the proof. The confrontation with the cult's religious leader was a little strange, too, with a 'why did they do that?' thought.

In the end, Maura is changed, both physically and emotionally. How will she deal with it all? I guess we'll have to wait for the next book.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Final edits on Demonesque are done. Now it sits and I obsess about it. But I'm not falling into that trap - if I constantly poke at it, keep changing things, it will never be ready. As long as the first three chapters are as polished as I can get them, I'm happy... but another read-through can't do any harm, can it?

Next up, the first three chapters of Knight Stalker and, if I have time before September, another book I've yet to choose. Oracle, a sci-fi, maybe; I like that one. Or Anzac Ascension, also sci-fi, that one's cool, too. Masquerade, a murder mystery...

Urban fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi and murder. Too much? Too frantic in my offerings? Do I just take one and tell of the others, or show the others? Mention I have stuff on Scribd?

Maybe I should just relax and get back to work. At least I'll have more than one ready, should and editor or agent have a squealie fan-girl moment and demand everything I have.

I can dream, can't I?

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Search

It's taken me a little more than a week, but I finished Nora Robert's The Search.

It could be the timing, the inability to read nice, large chunks, or a number of other reasons, but... I didn't like the hero, Simon Doyle, and the dog training reminded me of the loss of Saxon, my own pooch. But mostly it was Simon.

I despise men who think it's up to them to make the decisions for the little woman - no matter how independent she is, or able to make her own damn decisions - because he knows what's best. No. On so many levels, no. I'd probably kick him to the curb before the relationship had a chance to evolve; and he didn't evolve as a character.

The 'this is my house, you're just living here' isn't a good sign for the future, even as he 'allows' Fiona to clean his house. I found him quite obnoxious about it, and a hundred other little things.

On the positive side, the story lines of canine rescue and Fiona's surviving a serial killer is well researched and interesting. The dogs are great and training techniques valuable to anyone who has a destructo-dog or canine-the-destroyer type. The villains are villains with no redeeming features - I had to wince at the wiping of everything on the mobile phone - brutal and, well, serial-killer-like.

The final confrontation between Fiona and the man who wants her dead is brief and lacks emotional punch; and while she and Simon go after the killer - Fiona, because she needs to end it, Simon because he wants vengeance and to protect Fiona - her only satisfaction is the villain is caught. Simon got the better deal. (Shoulda set the hounds on 'im.)

The Search meets expectations, but doesn't exceed it - there are better Noras, like High Noon and Blue Smoke.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Cats and mice

So, the mice have returned. I'm guessing the garage is too cold for them - and they probably ran screaming from the package of poison I tossed into the middle of their village up in the rafters.

I think we've caught six so far, but I don't know, since I told my SIL I didn't want her to lay traps over the weekend because the remains would stink up the garbage bin.

"Don't you just toss them up the back of the garden?" Was her question. "No." Like I want my veggie patch to stink of rotting flesh and have maggots and flies buzzing around. As usual, the SIL disregarded my wishes.

The only food they have is what's in the traps. I have no idea how they're getting into the house, but we don't have any problems in the other seasons. So traps. Snapping in the middle of the night and bodies removed before I get up.

I think I need a cat. If nothing else, a cat would provide endless entertainment:

Then again, a cat would go after the blue-tongue lizards; and then the snails and slugs would return. And they'd eat my veggies because I don't like to use chemicals and the cat would eat them, be poisoned and die. No more snow peas for us.

No cat. But I had a good laugh at the vid.

I'll deal with the mice - if they still live - after the rellos have gone. Thankfully, that will be tomorrow and my stress levels can drop. sigh I think I'll watch it again...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Family feuds

I'm trying. I really am. But sometimes, all family does is raise your blood pressure and stress levels. And I'm of the considered opinion that only family can tie you into a pretzel.

Either their mood isn't conducive to humour and fun, or I feel like I'm running a Fawlty Towers hotel. Even taking refuge in work wasn't effective - outside the house or my own editing.

The saying that guests are like fish, after a couple of days they go off, is a truism I shall hug to myself during those dark times of 'oh, no dinner/lunch for us, we're going out' while said meal is being cooked. The long, disapproving silences, the argumentative answers to questions... ad nauseum.

It's the headaches, the stress, the sleepless nights, the wondering why the hell they won't damn well talk to us like members of the same species, let alone family.

Still, only another three days to go. In the meantime, I'll try and remember why... um... family matters. And try not to bemoan, bitch, rant, rave and otherwise pop a cork.... sigh

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Rowan Dietrich grew up on the streets. Now she's out to start anew, find a job - and keep her identity as a Kyndred secret, as well as her ability to "dreamveil" herself into the object of others' desires.

But Rowan isn't using her gift when world-class chef Jean-Marc Dansant is stricken by her beauty and strength. And when dark secrets from her past threaten her new life and love, Rowan realizes she can't run forever...

This is the second Kyndred novel, an off-shoot of the successful Darkyn series. In Dreamveil, Rowan Dietrich arrives in New York, passing through on her way to a new job, a new life in Boston following the events in Shadowlight. Things go awry when she crashes outside of Jean-Marc Dansant’s restaurant. Jean-Marc patches her up, and insists she stay, that he’ll give her a job and an apartment. Rowan agrees, but only for a while. Readers of Shadowlight will know of Rowan’s almost casual talent in the kitchen and her reasons for leaving Atlanta.

Rowan is drawn to Jean-Marc, to his mastery of French cuisine, but then... she meets Sean Meriden, her nasty, aggressive, and oh, so attractive neighbour. Her confusion is complete. How can she have the misfortune to go from one doomed relationship into double the trouble?

Both Meriden and Dansant are equally compelled and compelling: Meriden, a roughly-spoken, irritable snarler with a clever, bad boy attitude and Dansant, who uses food to seduce, soft spoken intelligence to woo – how does a woman chose between two men who attract her for different reasons?

This is a worthy sequel to Shadowlight with Rowan’s talent more a background to her human foibles – until the dreamveil shows her the truth of her relationship with Sean and Jean-Marc. The clues abound and carefully constructed, woven seamlessly into the story until the climax.

Even the villains of the piece are well crafted: not wholly evil and with their own reasons for wanting particular outcomes; although those outcomes mean the end for Rowan. The final confrontation is pure Viehl as Rowan comes face to face with her past in an effort to keep her future.

The main characters from Shadowlight make a cameo but critical appearance. While not important toDreamveil, it provokes questions for the story arc and increases the tension.

I really enjoyed this book and loved the solution to Rowan’s relationship issues. Another resolution I didn’t see coming – and should have. I liked the focus on the relationships rather than the awesome talent. The dreamveil has it's place, but not until Rowan decides it's time and uses it for herself, not others. This is definitely one for re-reading.

Frostfire, the third in the series is out early next year and fans are treated to a taste at the end of Dreamveil.

A dark and...

It was a dark and stormy night... No, really! It was dark - coz it was night - and it was stormy, with a howling, intermittent gale and sweeps of heavy rain and hail rattling against the windows; bright flashes of lightning and disgruntled thunder mixed in with pounding surf made for an interesting dark and stormy night.

We're promised much of the same today. Fortunately, we didn't lose power.

I also managed to catch a mouse. I thought it the smart bugger that's been plaguing me. Five minutes after setting the trap - again - snap! one less rodent. But this morning, the second trap lay empty of peanut butter without going off. I guess I caught the dumb one.

The rellos arrived yesterday - a couple of hours early - before I could get the parent ready. (She doesn't like that and it tends to increase her stress, which leads to... well, she doesn't like being caught off guard.)

They're here for a week. Needless to say, work has ground to a halt; but I have high expectations that some will be done because I can't see them mooching about the house - there's lots to see and do that I've already seen and done.

For now, I'm getting back to the review I'm trying to write, before the relative arise for the day...