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


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


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


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-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.


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


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...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Work and Play

I think people design conventions to squeeze as much energy out of participants as possible. Not that it's a bad thing, of course, it's been highly entertaining.

This morning I started with The Problems with First Contact with Sean McMullen, Dave Freer and Mark L. Olson. It was more a comparative argument, for example, using the affect colonial explorers had on Pacific Islanders as an example. Then there was Editing the Novel, an hour-long explanation of how professional editors deal with manuscripts - not much new there - followed by Has Hollywood Sucked the Vampire Dry? Marianne De Pierres, Lara Morgan, Kirstyn McDermott and Catherynne M. Valente dissected the genre at large - and not one mention of LKH.

Catherynne, I think, summed up what's wrong with the supposed 'kick ass heroine': "Screaming is a poor character trait." Yet, a number of popular characters seem to let rip with an ear-piercing wail.

The Secret Life of Literary Agents wasn't so secret; bottom line: research the agents and abide by what they want you to do in the submission process.

At last, mid-afternoon came along with Norman Cates' WETA Digital Presentation. It was just so totally AWESOME!!! Norman gave us an insight into how those amazing effects are made on Avatar, LOTR, The Lovely Bones and others WETA has been involved with.

The final event on my schedule was a Boxcutters podcast conversation with Dr Who writers, Rob Shearman and Paul Cornell, and John Richards. A very funny end to the day.

Tomorrow, the Convention comes to an end, but still a full day. I am so looking forward to the Vampire vs Zombie Smackdown! Not sure who I'll be supporting - they both have big 'ick' factors.

Tip of the day: really make sure your takeaway coffee lid is secure (how can it happen twice??)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Lots of shinies...

Today started off with Copyright in the 21st Century, although it was more a discussion of copyright, with examples, than the future of copyright. Cory Doctorow, Patrick Nielson Hayden, Andrew Adams, Ian Nichols and Bill Sutton were as bracing as a shot of espresso in their discourse.

I now have a list of books to hunt down following The best SF novels you have never read; whether I can find them, well, I’ll be haunting the second-hand bookstores. Authors like Kevin Brockmeyer, Peter Watts, Raphael Carter and Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair.

Then it was on to How To Pitch (without the option to pitch anything, so there went that plan). Penguin editor, Ginjer Buchanan, Agent John Berlyne, Simon Spanton from Gollancz and writer Rowena Cory Daniels laid it all out in the simplest terms possible. It was nice to know exactly how to pitch and that I’m on the right track. All I have to do is hunt down the submission requirements.

I met up with Emeraldfin (from Pecked By Ducks fame) and Drama Duck *waves* and we took ourselves off to The writer and the audience: online interaction and public personae. With social networking, I figured it was important to differentiate between public profile and private life – and to avoid one leaking into the other. Who knew Peter V Brett was an introvert? I can totally relate.

The final event we went to was Writing in Trilogies with Trudi Canavan, Fiona MacIntosh, Russell Fitzpatrick and Glenda Larke. Of interest was the difference between agent/editors in Australia and the US/UK markets and what they want from new authors – and the reasons why. For example, if you can write a trilogy, here in Australia, it’s considered a good thing because it shows consistency and that, as a writer, you’re capable of finishing what you start. In the northern hemisphere, you’ve got to sell the first book before the next two are considered – which I imagine makes the job of getting published that much harder.

A most instructive day. Even had a bit of a one-on-one chat with Ginjer Buchanan - although I think she wanted to be left in peace since she was on her lonesome. No badgering on my behalf, I just asked how she liked Australia.

Oh, and my tip for today: always make sure the lid on your takeaway coffee is secure.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Ooo, shiney! Ooo, kitty! Ooo, is that...?

I’m ‘zawsted, positively wrecked. And it’s only day two.

Day one was me awake at 4.30am, running around making sure I had everything for a 6.30 am flight to Melbourne. Then, locating the hotel – close to Spencer Street Station, cool. Ibis, for those who care and they were nice enough to have a room ready at 8.30 in the am.

So. I dump my gear and go off exploring. And did way too much of it; about five hours worth. The knees weren’t terribly happy with me by the time I sat down. Anyone who’s had knee problems will know what I mean when I say they were twitching.

First up, Minotaurs in Space Helmets: using myth in science fiction. For most of it, I thought I’d dropped into an alternate reality – lots of existentialism. But two things resonated: that Norse mythology doesn’t have dark-skinned gods, nor to African mythology have white-skinned deities. The other thing was the similarity in primitive myths, but if you ask about ‘foundation’ myths, as if there’s something lacking if your culture doesn’t have one, then one will be created – true or not. It bears more consideration.

If You Wrote It, They’d Never Believe It was also interesting, if only because one of four panellists turned up. Jonathon Walker, a WorldCon newbie, did an admirable job keeping the crowd entertained, while constantly glancing at the door hoping, nay praying someone else would arrive.

After that, I considered myself trashed and went back to the hotel for an early night.

So, today. The knees seem fine, but I know they’re lulling me into a false sense of security. I started the panels with What We Publish followed by Keeping Pace: maintaining momentum and The Baen Travelling Slideshow (with Prizes!) I really enjoyed it – especially grabbing two cds of books I haven't read yet. The awkward moment came courtesy of David Freer whom Toni Weiskopff announced was now an Australia citizen. Dave felt the need to lean over the microphone and say ‘G’day’... poorly. The Americans cheered and applauded; the Aussies sat in embarrassed silence.

It’s a cultural thing.

Last thing of the day was an entertaining hour of In Conversation with Seanan McGuire and Catherynne M Valenta.

It’s been busy and a lot of fun. So since I manage to hunt down (and I do mean hunt, I can’t tell you how many bookstores I searched) a copy of S.L. Viehl’s Dream Called Time, I’m going to put my feet up. Gotta 'nother busy one tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Last minute

I'm printing stuff - synopses, first three chapters - while trying to remember everything I have to take with me. So of course not only is the laptop making strange noises, I'm about to run out of ink. *sigh* I might have to finish printing in Canberra.

I know I'll forget to pack something - doesn't everyone? - but anything I do forget, I should be able to buy in Melbourne. I have a mental checklist which I know I'm suppose to write down. It's busy up there in my head, with visions of the last WorldCon I went to, the weather, what clothes to take, not forgetting the mobile phone recharger or the camera or the wireless thingie, recalling the lecture on safety since I'm there on my lonesome, planning the drive, wondering if I've got enough money, the panels I'm attending, who to see, what-to-do-when-to-get-there-did-I-pack-the-alarm-clock?

Life's full of challenges, both great and small. I need to relax, but it's a bit early for a glass of vino. Deep breath. Okay. I'll be posting while at WorldCon, and if I remember the camera lead, posting some photos, too.