Friday, December 23, 2011

All tuckered out

It feels like all I've been doing lately is working, hunting up furniture and putting the aforementioned furniture together... and doing Christmas shopping.

The new house is still full of unpacked boxes. I've yet to find a single day to actually get to unpacking anything but the essentials.

And now, I'm back down the coast for Christmas with those boxes still unpacked. I think I've driven nearly three thousand kilometres since the beginning of December; the car has been a real trooper with all the boxes and things weighing her down. Still, the muffler seems to be growling a little louder with every trip. She definitely needs some extra tlc over the next few days.

I've also been carrying around Lynn Viehl's lastest book, without managing to look at the first page. It always seemed I've have some downtime to read, but no. There's always been something getting in the way.

Tomorrow, I still have things to do to get ready for Christmas day and for visitors. But I'm carving out time, damn it! I've brought books with me and I'm going to read them - my visitors can look after themselves for a few hours. We are, after all, at the beach and lo, it is Summer!

Monday, December 12, 2011


It's been a tough couple of weeks, with a new job and problems with the townhouse we've yet to move into. Between commuting, working and racing down to the coast to pick up more stuff, I haven't had a lot of time to be online - no blogging from work, it's a secured location.

We've got a moving day... in the middle of the week, so I have to take a day off already.

I'm hoping that finally, finally, we'll be in the new place on the weekend. There's still so much to do before Christmas. I guess I'll be out hunting down the last of the prezzos this weekend.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

On the move

Okay, so I haven't had time to read, or do anything else.

Thursday afternoon - a quarter to five (end of the business day) - I recieved word that I'd found somewhere to live in Canberra; it's a rather nice townhouse. But I had 24 hours to sign the lease.

The nation's Capital, it should be noted, is a three hour drive away. With the aged parent, who isn't a morning person and packing up some essentials, we made the appointment at precisely 4 o'clock. I won't go into the all the nastie little details, but it took nearly an hour to complete the paperwork.

Of course, the Post Office needs three working days to sort the mail redirection and I won't be submitting the paperwork for that until I have the keys in my hot and sweaty little hand. Worse, my email account picked up a f*&$ing virus and I've had to write down and then delete all addresses. A group hug to all those who need to know will have to wait until I'm sure the virus is a gonna.

Getting an uplift of all the heavy furniture is the next project. I start the new job on Monday, so that's going to be epic. All I can say is that the Body Corporate had better suck it up and keep out of the way of the moving van.

So. Back to packing; I head back to Canberra tomorrow.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Over for another year

And so Nano is ending around the world for another year. Writers are squeeing over their 50,000 words and wallowing in the knowledge that they did the job. Some have done an outstanding job; others, not so much.

But now what? Oh, right: send it out to an agent/editor/publisher.

Three words of advice: Don't. Do. It!

While it's an achievement to finish the 50k, agents/editors/publishers around the world are also busy - buying up crates of their alcoholic beverage of choice in preparation for the influx of 'Nano novels'.

If you're not a fan of the Fake Editor Twitter, here are a few gems recently posted:

I have no fewer than 15 obvious books in my Inbox. All are just over 50k in length, all clearly unedited.

 If your query starts “Here’s the novel I finished writing last night,” it doesn’t matter what you say next. I've stopped reading.

 "Dear editor, please consider my fiction novel of 50,006 words that I swear isn't a NaNo book" doesn't inspire much confidence.

 “Look at me, I wrote a novel in a month!” No, honey. You typed 50,000 words in a month. Not the same thing.

The truth is in the last comment. Yes, you've written 50,000 words and that's great, but that's all you've done. 50,000 words do not make a book. It's three-quarters of a first draft.

The National Novel Writing Competition level of 50k was set as an achievable goal, a method to teach consistency in writing, a test bed to see if you've got what it takes to sit down everyday and write a minimum of 1,667 words. Using the word 'novel' is a bit of a misnomer, unless you're writing for young adults, and even then, writers like J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins produce books with more words.

I'm not criticising, Nano is a wonderful tool and I use it with ferocity. But I also know 50k doesn't make a book, it makes a damned good start on one. I write a minimum of two books at least 80k and if I have time, a third. I let them sit and then EDIT and RE-WRITE along with the bitching and moaning about why I thought that scene, that character, those conversations were a good idea.

People who finished the 50k deserve to celebrate - writing that much in a month is no easy task when there are so many other distractions and chores. Thousands of people have created new worlds, new characters, new stories to beguile the reader. If only we could harness such creative energy for other things...

December is a time for rest after the frantic race to the deadline, but it should also be a time for those who just made the 50k to examine whether the story is complete, whether the plots have been resolved and when the promise of the first chapter has been fulfilled by the last. And then finish it if not.

Me, I'm off to read a few books, like Anne McCaffrey and Lynn Viehl - oh, and do the housework that has been sadly neglected; and pack for the move.

Congrats to all who finished Nano, may it be the start of a long and productive career.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Counting down to the end

Here we go. It's the last day of Nano and I'm up early hammering the keyboard.

It feels like deja vu all over again. If I remember correctly - and I think I do - I was doing this yesterday, and the day before...

I'm onto the third book (Oracle 4), which I don't have a hope of finishing today because the first and second took longer than expected. I did write in Canberra, this book is flowing much easier than the other two and my fingers only cramped up a few times. The shoulders, well, I'll treat them to some down time tomorrow - I promise.

I'm not a fan of leaving a book half written, but other obligations, like shifting stuff, finding a place to live and starting the new job is going to put a stop to any concentration or writing for a while. Which is why I'm abusing the poor keyboard. The further into the book, the easier it will be to pick up the threads when I do return to it.

So, enough stuffing around on the 'net, it's time to pound those words out until the keyboard ignites from friction!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's the potential

We're in the last week of Nano, and most of us struggling to reach the goal.

It's not necessarily the 50K goal,  but the goal we set for ourselves. We're tired, we have other things to do, a month is too long, we are so over it!!

But should you feel that your entire manuscript - be it 10, 20, 30, 40 or 100k words long - is a load of over-dramatic, derivative twaddle, you need something to keep you going, something to encourage you to reach the end.

Well, there is one word to hold on to - no matter that you think all you've written is absolute crap; no matter that the family is pissed at you for spending all your time in another world, another land or another time, with other people, who are probably having sex or a fight to boost the word count; no matter that your work colleagues have given you the gimlet eye because you're verbalising Olde English/Magical/Alien dialogue under your breath - the word you need to remember at this stage of Nano is... potential.

Every first draft has the potential to become so much more.

But you need to write it first. It may be crap. It may be a little confused. It may need a serious rewrite. But the potential is there. What you've written so far is the first impression of an idea, and once out of your head and on the computer/notebook, it has potential. It needs more than the first rush of temper to write it down, it needs flesh on those bones, it needs emotion, soul. That can wait until December, for now the bones are the most important aspect.

November is about the bones, the structure, the basic frame of the work.

So, if you're thinking of throwing in the towel and calling it quits, think of the potential of your manuscript-in-progress; think of the ending you're nearing, and dream of what might be...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Moving on

I'm off to Canberra today, so I was up early to write before packing. A few hours later, I had nearly three and a half thousand words More than I expected.

The second book is going well, so well, I might sneak in a few extras once I get to the Capital.

I'd like to think I can find somewhere to live over the weekend, but the reality is, I don't think there's enough time before I start work in ten days. After that, it's all down to time management - at which I suck.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey was the first fantasy author I read. I fell in love with the Dragons of Pern and had to have the entire series no matter what.

The Crystal Singer was also one of my fav reads. I've read her work repeatedly over the years, and I found inspiration within those pages.

Anne, along with the late Andre Norton, sparked my imganiation to write on my own stories. I've never written of dragons, nor of telepaths or sentient ships. I chose my own worlds to build, but it is thanks to Anne that I first felt the urge.

Ms McCaffrey was a great exponent of paying it forward, guiding careers and co-authoring with Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey and Jody Lynn Nye to name three.

I always thought she should have been made a Grand Master of the genre years ago rather than in 2005 - but that's just me.

Today, an astonishing talent has passed and leaves the world poorer. But her body of work will live on.

As my Nano reward, I'm going to re-read her collection and appreciate her art all over again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nano done, but not over yet.

A mixed day today, of the good, the bad and ugly.

First, the bad and the ugly: I have a... let's cal it an aversion, to particular eight-legged beasties. I have no idea why I decided that spiders would be a part of this book, let alone giant ones. I think it was a subconscious thing, since they are, not complex, but a simpler organism to clone. (Long story.)

And so it came to pass that I had to do some in depth research on the little beasties. [Insert shudder and a quick glance around the room - just in case.] I doubt I'll ever be comfortable with them, and confrontation therapy is so not happening. But I did the research and that led to...

...the good news. Which is the first book is done. It's come in at 123,000 words, but I know there is some absolute tripe that needs removing and/or rewriting.

The important fact about finishing Nano, or any brilliant idea you might have for a story, is to sit down and write it.

I suspect too many people are concerned about numbers rather than the story. If you're involved in the story, the numbers will create themselves. Write. That's all you need worry about.

Now, I shall wander away from the keyboard with vague thoughts on the book I'll start tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

100k and more to go

Finally, finally, a 10+k day. Which tells me just how difficult this book has been to write.

When you're struggling, you are struggling all over a book. It has taken fourteen days of toil and struggle and frustration and monumental cursing to reach a day were everything flowed nicely. I don't expect it to last.

Even those who plot will find sections of writing leads to the grinding of the teeth, the look around the house and think it needs cleaning, or the dog needs walking, or something, anything! to take you away from the torture.

It's about here I would suggest a fight, some sexual activity, taking or giving something from/to a character, or even wax lyrical about if you want to succeed at Nano, you need to get your butt into the chair and fingers onto the keyboard, but I'm just too shagged.

I guess the good news is that I've popped over the 100k mark for the book and the bad news is that it isn't finished and the end is nowhere in sight. The worst news is that real life is about to intrude and I doubt I'll get much more writing done. I'm pretty sure that packing up and moving an entire household will take most of my time.

I've done enough for one day and there's another one - day, that is - tomorrow.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

No one died today

So I promised my sister I wouldn't kill anyone today.

A difficult task when writing about Marines in combat, complicated by a vast array of ravenous, self-aware little horrors on an alien planet.

However, in not indulging in the high word count of battle, it forced me to think more carefully about the direction of the book rather than writing about wholesale slaughter.

I have found that there is more to this book than I thought. Ideas like 'why' and 'when' and the more intriguing 'consequences', the 'what next' of events.

I shall most definitely get to kill lots of things tomorrow, and that will take me over the 50k mark. And from there, it will be a twisting, writhing journey to the ending I have planned.

Time to end the day, it's been a long one.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The little things

I'm having dongle issues, so I have to rely on dial-up until the new one arrives and it takes an annoying and frustrating amount of time to even log on.

Anyway, I am motoring along with the book - and waiting for the Nano techs to create the word count meter.

I do not plot, so Nano is true pantster writing for me. Sometimes... I hit a road block, which I have currently done. So I've stopped for the day to allow the subconscious to come up with a way through.

It occurs to me that the subconscious is the best tool for completing a task like Nano.

With the rush of the first few days, we manically set fingers to the keyboard and write whatever pops into our head - be it structured by plotting, or free writing - and move on to the next scene. But... our subconscious tells us everything we need to know about the work.

Usually, it is little things, things we don't consider important until much later when we decide we are brilliant. Most of the time, that's absolutely true. We come up with genius phrases, intriguing clues, dynamic characters who start off as total wankers we want to kill.

As we begin the next slog, those 'little things' become important; that wanker of a character suddenly saves the day, or provides an important foil to someone we've created in their place. That genius phrase becomes integral to the overall theme, and that intriguing clue we were so chuffed about... leads absolutely nowhere, but excludes a suspect.

By the end of the first week, a lot of writers have decided, "nah, bored now... oooh, Rage has been released!" And their bright and shiny work remains unfinished. It's a shame. With a little intestinal fortitude and patience, the work could be completed.

There is always time to write. Always. The daily amount of 1667 isn't so much when you're in the depths of action, or conversation or describing an alien world.

The little things we think so unimportant at the beginning are our subconscious giving us the carefully planted clues tocontinue writing and finish the book, even beyond 50,000 words. But it has another name, one that is sometimes derided and disdained as foolish. Pay attention, because it is the reason we write, the reason we go on. It is... the Muse, and one of the most valuable tools in a writer's arsenal.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Done for the day

Stick a fork in me, I'm done for the day.

I didn't stay up late and start Nano at midnight, but I did find myself waking early. So. I've been at the keyboard since about six a.m with a couple of hours off throughout the day for breaks. It's now just gone 7pm, and I suspect the parent wants feeding. I'm also tired.

The total word count is 8260. As soon as the Nano site has a widget organised, I'll post it here for word count updates.

The death toll so far is one marine and one rodent. I expect the toll to rise in the coming days.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nano Eve

I didn't realise it's been over a week since my last post. Nothing to post about, I guess, although I could have gone on about the refereeing at the Rugby World Cup, Libya or the current furore over Qantas. I decided to keep my opinions to myself.

Anyway... I think I'm ready for Nano. I've got the first scene - which is nice and strong in my mind - and the characters, the scenery, a few villains and the end of the book. I'll find out what happens in between as I write.

What is it about? Well, I can only say it's set on an apparently 'empty' alien world during a galactic war; the combatants soon discover they're not as 'alone' as they thought.

As usual, there's no guarantee it will work, but the back-up plans for sequels are on standby. If it does work, then I'll get on with the rest.

Time to relax before the keyboard abuse.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Toy

My new toy arrived - a netbook.

Needless to say, I've been fooling around with it.

The keyboard is small but workable - the larger keyboard won't plug in, so I'm keeping it with the now offline laptop. It doesn't have a dvd player, but it does have a card reader. I treated myself to one long Star Wars marathon... yes, okay and played some of the pre-loaded games.

It also has three times the hard drive space for all those nifty programs I like to use and for photographs.

I will use the netbook for surfin' and keep the laptop as a stand-alone computer for writing; that way, I shall have to change computers to use the internet. Inconvenient, but it will make me think before surfing willy-nilly.

For now, I need to get back to the Nano stuff... or maybe do some more exploring.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

C'mon, I'll fight'cha!

Mmmm.... conflict; the element that keep readers reading. External or internal, psychological or physical, conflict - and the resolution - is central to any book.

No one wants to read about an ordinary day-in-the-life of the ordinary person on the street; an extraordinary day of an ordinary person, or an ordinary day in an extraordinary person, yes, otherwise, forget it.

Conflict makes the world go around, it gets people talking and thinking. No one but historians are interested in the pre-war talks between the Allies and Hitler. Hitler wanted a fight and he got one on a global scale. We're more interested in things like Dunkirk, the Battle of the Bulge, Midway, Pearl Harbour, D-Day, etc. If Hitler had said, "Yeah, okay. Just give me Sudetenland and we'll call it even." And been happy with it, the war wouldn't have happened (yes, right, someone else might have pull the trigger on the war, but that's not the point). If Napoleon had decided he had no interest in the rest of Europe, he'd be just another emperor of France. If Spain said to Queen Elizabeth, "You're a Protestant? Oh, okay, no big, carry on." What would she be remembered for?

Moving to fiction: Bilbo Baggins finds the Ring, hunts down Gollum and gives it back? Eve Dallas becomes a social worker rather than NYPD's top cop? Henry Jones, Jr, went into medicine rather than archaeology? Luke Skywalker stays on the farm, like his uncle wanted him to? Romeo and Juliet abide by their families wishes? Or my personal favourite, Honor Harrington contacts the peep ship Sirius and then lets them go to call off the invading force from Haven. The list goes on.

If done well, conflict creates the 'oh, shite' moment in the reader. Holly Lisle's Creating Conflict, or The Joys of Boiling Oil may interest you in creating conflict in your story.

But conflict isn't everything, you need strong characters. I can think of a number of books I've tried to read recently where the conflict was great, but the characters moaned, bitched and whined. I did not finish those books. I want strong characters put into awkward or dangerous positions. I want to feel for them, not roll my eyes and tell them to grow a spine. I want triumph over tragedy, justice for heinous crimes committed, vengeance taken after a struggle against the odds. In other words, I want a protagonist that's larger than life and an antagonist who isn't wholly good or bad but can legitimately justify their actions.

The Writers Digest article, How to Raise Your Characters Above the Status-Quo can help you flesh out a stronger character worth rooting for.

But for a quick character conflict, try thinking about your protagonist and what the worst thing you can do to them is. A doctor manipulated into killing a sick patient; a devout priest who is betrayed by his superiors; a politician blackmailed into betraying his principles (yeah, I know, they do it all the time, but...), a cop unable to protect and serve the innocent. There are plenty and the worse you screw up your noble character, the more interesting the conflict.

There are plenty of dilemmas you can toss your character into: ethical, moral, emotional, physical, pick one and run with it. If you keep the conflict in mind, you'll have a stronger story, one that can run the length of a book.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do you feel it yet? The slight increase in your anxiety levels? That more and more you find yourself catching your bottom lip between your teeth? The slight distraction and gazing off into the distance and wondering? The feeling that time is running out? That October is draining away like water through your fingers?

What's causing it? One word: Nanowrimo.

It feels like it's sneaking up from behind, still lurking in the shadows. The hazy ideas for a 50,000 word book are creeping into the dreamscape, vaguely recalled on waking; characters are still blurred, near formless, but waiting; landscapes as dark and mysterious as the world before sunrise; plots call out in the darkness, then run away, giggling, to hide behind the dreaded writer's block.

Or... maybe that's just me.

November 1 looms, crawling ever closer, unstoppable. In less than 20 days, thousands of people will watch the clock tick over from October to November and begin a month-long outpouring of words. Some, most, will not finish. The bright and shiny ideas will fall victim to excuses as plots fail and characters get bored. People will shrug their shoulders and walk away as newer and shinier things distract them.

But some will finish, bask in the glow of the achievement and then go on to newer and shinier things.

To help peeps in their pursuit of writing that book, Jordan E. Rosenfeld has an article in Writers Digest: 10 Ways to Launch Strong Scenes; or try The devil is in the details an essay by Craig Clevenger on about description.

I'll scare up more articles closer to the starting line. In the meantime, I need to go and flesh out the Post-Its (TM) I've written. One line per book is great, but, I don't know, I think it needs more than a one line summation. They need...


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Really, Reilly?

I've been catching up on some reading, trying to downsize the ol' TBR pile - with limited success.

I'm onto my fourth in a week with a squillion to go. Why is it we know we don't have time to read, and yet continue to pile up the TBR?

Anyway, I read the Jack West, Jr. series by Matthew Reilly. My peeps recommended them, but after reading Temple, Ice Station and Area 7, I found it difficult to get past the eye-rolling.

Reilly writes fast-paced, action-filled books, but... also physically impossible things I found myself wincing at (a 747 on a runway can't neatly turn corners like cars can - especially at 140kph - without serious repercussions), there's a lot of loose writing (the passive sentences drove me crazy!) and not much emotional punch. He also has moments of pure genius. The Stonehenge thing in Seven Ancient Wonders was way cool.

If you can get past the wince-able moments, they're enjoyable reads. The action keeps you reading, the good guys up against impossible odds keeps you interested and the history/research is fascinating.

Will I buy more Matthew Reilly? I know what to expect in the books, there are few surprises and the endings are predictable. But that doesn't matter, it's the journey that counts, the adventure that sucks us in, so... maybe.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

When old tech dies

The mouse, she is dead.

No, I didn't kill it, the poor thing was poisoned - by leaking battery acid. It's my second mouse in a year. The first has a partial failure; the cursor doesn't always highlight a complete sentence - which is annoying as hell when I'm trying to move text. So I bought a new one. It has a smaller USB... thingy and the cursor scooted around the page like a puppy on sugar. Marvy! But why do I have a separate mouse at all when laptops come with built-in ones?

Let me take you back in time, time, time...

I learned to type on a manual typewriter. A Remington. At business college. If we achieved our speed goals, we were rewarded with time on an electric typewriter, with a daisy wheel. Oh, how my fingers flew across the keys! But time was limited. In those days, no one had heard of RSI, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Why? Because manual typing teaches proper finger, hand and arm position. You have to lift your hands and arms for the correct pressure on the keys. None of this touch-typing which later caused so many problems.

Anyway, when computers came in I had to have one, clunky keyboard and all. Then the mouse appeared. Frabjus Day! No more memorising the F keys! Then laptops arrived, smaller, more compact, but I liked the full-size keyboard, so like a typewriter.

When my Pentium kicked the bucket - salt corrosion did for the motherboard (coastal living is dangerous, don't you know, to things electronic) - I decided on a laptop rather than a new desktop machine. I took the laptop overseas, something I obviously couldn't do with a desktop. While it was great, I found the keyboard annoying with it's lack of keys I like to use and the in-built mouse which I found awkward.

I have a full sized keyboard plugged in to the laptop so I can type as fast as I like without having to search for the right key (typwriter trained, remember?) and I have a mouse plugged in because I like the way it feels in the my hand and I'm not cramped up trying to use a small square and accompanying buttons. I can't use it one-handed like I can with a separate mouse.

Making computers smaller isn't necessarily a good thing, but I have to move on or risk moving to Ludditeville.

All things must come to an end. The laptop's system won't take updates anymore, it's becoming as slow as molasses and the memory is 1.5 gig with an 80 gig hard drive that's near full; with what I have no clue, nor will I buy one - a clue that is. Keeping up with modern technology is fast becoming a chore and a necessity. I refuse to buy an I-pad, it doesn't feel right and typing is, well, slow.

Instead, next week the new netbook arrives. It's smaller than the laptop and nearly half the width of my keyboard, but I'm plugging it in. All I need now is a you-beaut, new-fangled mouse to go with it.

But first, I'll remove the bodies of the other two; reverantly bury them and say a few words over their mortal remains - or simply toss them. This current mouse - the first one with the vanishing, temperamental cursor problem - is pissing me off.

I think I'll have just enough time to play with the new tech before Nano.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

It's coming...

October, when a young writer's mind turns to... Nanowrimo.

In less than a month, thousands of writers across the world will lay fingers on the keyboard and deliberately abuse their computer. Characters that have nagged and niggled all year will demand on-page time, will audition for a role in a half-formed story line. Scenery is becoming clearer, clothes and weapons developing nicely. Plots are slowly becoming more solid, with endings waving from a distance.

In less than a month, thousands of writers across the world will lay fingers on the keyboard and deliberatly abuse their native language. Passive sentences will be shrugged off, flowery prose marveled at, end-of-sentence prepositions ignored. Cliches will abound, adjective abuse perpetrated and word counts hedged.

The bottom lip of Grammar Nazis will tremble, eyes will tear up and palsied hands will desperately point out the faults; all to no avail as ambitious writers crush the dessicated remains of style guides in the pursuit of 50,000 golden words...

...until obstacles block progress: A plot that doesn't stand up to 50k, weak characters, lack of committment, no time, can't find a suitable space, something more interestng to do, like... housework, watching the grass grow, painting the garage, golf.

More than ninety percent of those who start will fail to finish, will fail to find time during the day to write 1667 words. For every reason of failure, there are an equal number of reasons for success.

Nano is manic; a rush at the beginning, followed by hard yards and finally a rush to finish. It's frustrating, beguiling, exciting, tiring and temporarily corrupts the space-time continuum. But to reach that 50k mark, and beyond, to finish a book fills a writer with an overwhelming and addictive sense of accomplishment.

What more could you ask of a month-long word fest?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neighbours from Hell

I don't think I've ever been so angry for so long.

Being threatened with legal action over an issue thought dealt with came as a bit of a shock - but it is a neighbourhood association on the other side of the fence.

The tree was beautiful, it was strong and had, for twenty years, withstood gale force winds with barely a murmur. It wasn't yet full grown when the president of the NA complained about leaves marring the driveway to the townhouses. That was in March. I spoke with one of the residents who basically said, 'pshaw, don't worry about it. We have a gardener who can sweep them up.' Silly me for taking her at her word.

I should also note that I told the president why we didn't want to take the tree down: it absorbs a hell of a lot of water from run-off through our backyard; the natural drainage channel was changed when the bloody 'houses were built - the local council declined to accept responsibility. It gives us shade from the ferocious Summer sun and it was a gift from a now deceased friend.

Then last month we get a letter: take the tree down or we'll see you in court. Why? Because the roots of the tree allegedly bent the fence and are undermining the driveway. The fence was built crooked and there's no evidence of warping in the driveway. Two points I made clear in replying to the lawyers' laughable letter:

...we wish to remain on good terms with our neighbours and seek your urgent co-operation so that this matter can be settled in a fair and acceptable way to all concerned.

Yes, a direct quote. How can it be 'fair' and 'acceptable' and remain on 'good terms' when the NA says 'take it down or we'll sue' while disregarding our arguments? Worse, this is all about the president and her demands. Knowing all the residents, they are condemned by their indifference to the issue.

So we got a final notice: you have 21 days or we're going to court. Much as I would have liked to stare them down across a courtroom, the worry had a detrimental affect on the elderly parent's health.

The tree is no more, taken down yesterday and turned into woodchips. And as upsetting as all this has been, vengeance shall be ours.

We're going to plant three lovely deciduous silver birches. In a few years, the president can watch the leaves change to gorgeous autumnal colours - and then pile up on her doorstep. Every. Damned. Year.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Okay, now I know I've been watching too much rugby union (is there such a thing?). How do I know this? Well, I was watching an American football game and, once the running back was tackled, I expected a ruck to form... I'm just sayin'.

I've finally posted Huntress: Alone on Scribd.

And... I filched this from Jill Shalvis's blog because it made me laugh:

The Best Short Letters

Dear Noah,
We could have sworn you said the Ark wasn’t leaving till 5.
Sincerely, Unicorns

Dear Twilight fans,
Please realize that because vampires are dead and have no blood pumping through them, they can never get an erection. Enjoy fantasizing about that.
Sincerely, Logic

Dear Icebergs,
Sorry to hear about the global warming. Karma’s a bitch.
Sincerely, The Titanic

Dear Yahoo,
I’ve never heard anyone say, “I don’t know, let’s Yahoo! it…” just saying…
Sincerely, Google

Dear World of Warcraft,
Thank you for ensuring my son’s virginity.
Sincerely, Parents Everywhere

Dear Ugly People,
You’re welcome.
Sincerely, Alcohol

Dear World,
Please stop freaking out about 2012. Our calendar ends there because some Spanish dirtbags invaded our country and we got a little busy ok?
Sincerely, The Mayans

Dear iPhone,
Please stop spell checking all of my rude words into nice words. You piece of shut.
Sincerely, Every iPhone User

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Football heaven

I had a good sulk. With the help of David Tennant, Robert Downey, Jr., and Nathan Fillion, oh, and chocolate, I found my happy place again.

Of course, yesterday's opening season football match helped too. Although... what were the New Orleans Saints thinking?? No way that dude was going to make it through the line of scrimmage!

And the Rubgy World Cup started. Yay! Rugby all day today!. The All Blacks didn't look too good - they won against Tonga - but I could see the flaws. If they want the cup, they'll have to play better. Best image of the day? Sonny Bill Williams changing his shirt. That is one fine hunk'a manhood. The crowd duly shouted and whistled their appreciation - at least, the women did.

Love those tight shirts...

On another topic, if you want some writing stuff, head over to Lit Reactor. If you give them your e-mail, they'll send you some free writing advice from authors like Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahnuik, Max Barry, Bret Easton Ellis and others.

I have to go and find some photos now for the cover of the next book. I'd like to be a better artist, but I'm not. Then again, it's all about practice.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Some days...'s better to stay in bed and away from people.

So last month, I took the car in for an expensive service. The following week, they replaced the CV boot - something important and to do with the steering, I believe - the week after that, they replaced the seals on the crank shaft... thingy.

Today, I took the car back so they could reassure themselves about the other, minor leaks.

Two words: 'gearbox' and 'clutch'. Yep. Need replacing. On Monday. What's another thousand dollars? Heh... heh. Hmmm.

Needless to say, I drove home swinging between simmering anger and a pitiful 'why me? Why now?'

The day wasn't even half over when I tried to log in to complete this new job application stuff. Nup. Not. Happening. A long phone call later and I'm in, only to find that, at the end of another two hours of answering questions and submitting information, I have to print out pages, sign and send them off.

The printer, bless it's black heart produced two out eighteen pages before informing me it had run out of ink. Fine. I went up the street for a catridge and was told they didn't have singles, would I like a double - and, gosh, I'd save money! Here's a point: if you don't buy it, you're not buying it; if you buy one, you're spending money. Buying two doesn't save you money because you're already spending more than you wanted to!

Also and including during my day, is the threatened lawsuit from next door's Body Corporate lawyers if we don't take down a perfectly healthy and water absorbing tree. Because they don't like the leaves on their driveway.

Then, even following the instructions on the pack, I overcooked the strudel.


I need to go huddle in a corner now, have some serious me and David Tennant time. I'll be okay with David. If I don't go anywhere, don't answer the phone, for the rest of the day, I should be fine... with the help of some chocolate.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Curse you, dangling plot line!

In doing another read-through, I found I'd left a character's fate unresolved. It never pays to assume the reader will know what happened. So I've been busily doing some adjustments and adding yet more words. It's up to approximately 95,000 - give or take a few.

Now, I'll do another read to see what else needs fixing. But, before doing that (letting it rest), I'm hunting around for cover ideas. Next week for posting? Or sooner?

Gosh, a writer's work is never done!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Two Woo-hoos

Woo hoo Wallabies!!! Tri-Nations champs for the first time in ten years! God, what a match! Outstanding play from both sides. Bring on the World Cup!

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system - and I've just finished watching the replay - I can also say, woo hoo!! Finished the line edits!

Another week and Huntress: Alone will be up on Scribd.

I've got to let the manuscript rest and then do another read through, tweaking bits and pieces. I've added some six thousand extra words to it and realigned the chapters. I need to make sure it's the best it can be before putting it up.

Until then, I'm reading/editing the next book. I don't know if I'll have a chance to post it before November. I have this new job come up, the move and I have to deal with the neighbour from hell, so I will be busy. I'll give it a shot.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I know it's been a week since posting; things like real life get in the way, especially things like the car needing a service, then coming down with a bad case of the oil leaks and something called a CV boot with a crack in it - all time consuming to fix.

Then there's the book to edit - of which I am now over halfway with an extra 5k of words added.

And other stuff. Lots of other stuff. More stuff than you can shake a Whippy Stick at. Family stuff, work stuff, census stuff and new work stuff. My days have been stuffed with STUFF!

Stuff it...

I'll stop griping now and get back to the edits before more stuff hits the fan. I'm gonna need a dose of Lady Gaga, Pink and Adam Lambert for this next bit...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moving on

I've been busy. Yep, even my unbusy bits have been busy. So busy, I've only managed to edit fourteen pages in a week! And no writing at all. Sigh

We're also looking at moving house. There's nothing wrong with this one, it's just a job came up in Canberra, and well... I'm not up to a daily commute of six hours - three hours each way.

But it's going to be nice to have a holiday house on the coast!

I'm trying hard to let go of the museum job; I want to e-mail historical pieces to them. I suppose I could, but I'm moving on and I have to let it go. They'll still get the book on Lady Denman. After that, no more... unless they make an offer I can't refuse.

And I should be editing right now, so it's time to get off the 'net, and get on with it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

All censused out

Generally speaking, I think I'm a little insane.

It has taken me three days to collect the census forms when it took me five to deliver them. Needless to say, the dogs are barking. I mean walking around is all terrible good for you, but I think there is such a thing as doing too much.

I'm sure it was that last little bit, the twenty or so houses to finish off the section. By the time I got back to the car, the feet weren't terribly happy; no, not happy at all.

Now, I have to make a list of peeps who weren't home when I called - and wouldn't you know it? They're all spread out over my area.

As a rule, people have been pleasant and agreeable; only one wanker who protested they never got a form. Curious, since I noted I put it UDM (under the doormat). I just know they're gonna be trouble.

It's also nice that people - read: the elderly - want to stop for a bit of a chat. Fortunately, we've had beautiful weather, so it was no hardship to sit on the stoop and gasbag for a few minutes, while the surf surged on to the sand, the dolphins played off shore and the Ospreys wheeled over head.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Clear as mud

Zero degrees here this morning. It makes it hard to leap out of bed and seize the day. More of a shudder and a shake and a run for the heater, since I left the window open all night. But, it looks like it's going to be another gorgeous day on the coast.

So, I've reached a part of the edits which makes me wonder what I was thinking. At the time of writing, it seemed so clear; but now... I feel like I've blinded myself with science. And if I confuse myself, the reader will be just as puzzled. Or maybe that was the point? A science geek talking to a military man; both equally clever, just in different fields. One trying to explain the transit corridors, the other needing to know, but not quite understanding.

It's understanding how a television works. Most people don't care as long as it works, but the repairer must understand the intricacies to know what went wrong.

I'm going to be adding pages to clear this up and answer others questions posed, all without infodumping - now there's a challenge.

I think I need coffee before I confront this.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What's wrong with this story?

" do not have a story until something goes wrong."

This phrase leapt out at me while reading Steven James' article, The 5 Essential Story Ingredients in Writer's Digest.

It's a simple phrase, and yet encompasses all thought processes when writing. It is the taking-off point of a story, the draw card for readers, even if it is only the promise of conflict. You could have the most perfect character (not a Mary-Sue) that readers empathise with, but until something goes wrong, well, the readers will close the book and forget about the well-crafted protagonist. Your plot might be a marvel, straight from A to Z, but unless it takes a detour into 1 to 10, who cares?

It also sneers at regimented structure. Plotters detail conflict while pantsters expect something to go wrong at any time. I remember writing a book where the protagonist avoided conflict right up until the last chapter and even then the antagonist basically did himself in. Fortunately, the computer crashed and it was the only manuscript that couldn't be saved. Unfortunately, I have a hard copy to remind me of that most egregious error. It wallows in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet as punishment. One day, I might drag it out and re-write it, with a lot more conflict.

In Holly Lisle's excellent Mugging the Muse, she suggest conflict on every page. It can be the standard action or it can be dialogue, but a conflict must be there to keep the reader reading. Sage advice, although I suspect you can stretch that out to every two pages so the reader doesn't exhaust themselves.

Real life is full of twists and turns, the good and the bad, and the unexpected - you story should be, too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Gritting my teeth and soothing the muscles

It has taken five days, but I've finally delivered all the census material.

And man, the feet aren't happy after pounding the footpath. The shoulders aren't happy after carrying the forms around. Further, the muse ain't happy with my lack of work. The ever-growing TBR pile isn't happy being unread. But... the bank balance is smirking.

I thought it would be easy; I've delivered stuff to a thousand households during the pre-Christmas sales, why should this be different?

Delivering catalogues didn't require me to chat to the residents, nor to fill out two different forms while standing there. Nor was I so exhausted at the end of the
day. (Of course, I didn't have a parent to care for, either.)

I'd like to think that now I can have a weekend, get some muse-work done, but I'm off to Canberra tomorrow for a job interview. Then museum work on Friday, family on Saturday and helping visually disabled peeps fill out the damned census form. After that, I get to collect the forms from Wednesday.


I just want to get back to the book. I want it posted. I want to start on the next trilogy and send off query letters to a few agents. I want a lot.

So, I'll reach for the patience - and the hot packs - and do the paid work first. The book will be done by mid-August. I am determined.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Word Count

I need to do more reading! I followed a link from Paperback Writer to Test Your Vocabulary.

I came up with 36,200 words. But I feel vaguely disappointed.

I suppose it could be because I'm tired from roaming around the neighbourhood for a pre-Census looky-loo; you know, who has scary dogs, locked gates, townhouses, empty blocks, etc. I'm delivering the precious cargo this weekend and it's best I get the knees back into walking mode before then.

A few years ago, it was easy - but time-consuming - to deliver junk... ah, advertising catalogues. Now, not so much; and the area is smaller but the knees are creakier. Damn the sporting endeavours of my youth!

Maybe I should do the test again and include the words I recognise, but don't necessarily know a synonym for? Or maybe I'll just go read a dictionary...

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Well, Mother Nature did a good job of watering the lawn this week; all 200mm of rain since Tuesday. I don't think the veggies enjoyed though - a little too much of a good thing.

I finally finished the read-through edits of Huntress: Alone and now I have to find time to sit at the computer to do the corrections - including two scene re-writes. With my Census work, various work meetings and other obligations, it will be a close thing for the end of July. I may have to put posting the book back until mid-August. Not good.

Of course, blogging isn't getting the work done!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Leaking and HP

It's still raining, as in buckets of rain. I know it's buckets because I've emptied a couple from underneath the leaking roof. Why, oh why didn't we get it fixed after the last downpour? I guess it's like washing raincoats - you never remember to do it until you need them. And then you put them away with the promise to wash them the next time the sun is shining. sigh.

Okay, so Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was fabulous. Although it felt a little rushed, and some crucial, emotional parts weren't as obvious as in the book, I think for the younger crowd, they were handled well. I wanted to see a longer battle between Mrs Weasley and Bellatrix - I wanted Bellatrix to know and feel she was going to lose.

I hope the dvd comes out at Christmas - I'm looking forward to wallowing in front of a complete HP marathon.

Now, back to the edits.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

H.P. and a rainy afternoon

Today, we're off to see H.P. and wouldn't you know it? It's raining. We've been hanging out for it, but the parent doesn't like big crowds (hah!). Fortunately, the school holidays are over so the kidlets aren't going to fill the theatre.

I expect a lot of older people who have had the same idea will be there.

Has there ever been a more amazing phenomena than Harry Potter?

Friday, July 15, 2011


I spent the day training for the census collection. Fortunately, the area I thought I would have to do isn't as large as I expected. Should be fun - I'm not expecting anything out of the ordinary; the area is filled with holiday houses and retirees.

I have to admit I'm struggling with the book. I can't seem to carve out enough time to get a real shot at it. A couple of pages here and there isn't good enough. I need to edit chapters, or at the very least, scenes.

With the other obligations I have, finding time is a real wrestling match. I think I'll have to readjust my schedule rather than this ad hoc approach.

But on Monday; I've got peeps visiting this weekend, so off to do the housework I go...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Magic happens

It was the parent's birthday yesterday. I made cake. Mmm... cake. And a nice roast dinner with all the trimmings.

I also spent time fielding phone calls wishing her a happy 82nd birthday. She's still fit and healthy, the physio on Mondays helps a lot even if she doesn't like it much.

So, this afternoon we are going to settle back and watch HP P1, which she got as a prezzo, in preparation of seeing part II next week - the parent isn't a fan of crowded theatres - and I doubt we'd be able to get tickets anyway.

But first, lunch, then some magic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Census and sensibility

Not much happening around here - except for studying up on how to be a Census collector.

Yep, we all get counted on August 9 and I have a large area to cover. Plus I have jury selection coming up next week. Don't know if I can do both at the same time. Wandering around meeting the neighbours, or listening in on a criminal case? I want both because they're interesting.

I don't get why people try to get out of jury duty. Yes, it's an interruption to the daily schedule; yes, you see and hear about gory details; yes, you have to make a decision - or not if you're discharged. But I think it's something everyone should do, if only to see how our justice system works.

As for the Census, it's important too. Yes... another chore to complete, but compulsory and useful for the government to know population levels so they can deliver services. Anyone worried about privacy issues needn't be: it's all about statistics, not who you are. It's about X number of people living in X area and then the form is destroyed. Personal information is, if you chose, kept for a hundred years.

I hope more people chose to keep their information for the interest and research of people like me. Tracing the family tree is much easier if your ancestors were in the census.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A many-coloured thing

When editing, I use a few references, some old, some new:

The first is Patricia Holt's Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do).This is an absolute must for editing and I use ninety-percent of the time. The article is clear and informative, with examples so readers can see why a sentence is wrong or ill-considered.

The second is Holly Lisle's free e-book, Mugging the Muse. This book never goes out of fashion. It's full of articles detailing the road to publication.

Number three: Elizabeth Sim's 8 Ways to Write a 5-star Chapter One. I suck at first chapters - probably the first three chapters - until I get into the meat of the piece.I think it's the rush to get to the good bits, the manic writing to set the scene. Info-dumps used to be my starting point; now, I hope, not so much.

Finally, Chuck Sambuchino's Ten Tips for Building Your Writing Checklist which gives me more to be thinking of as I wade through the text.

I'm going through Ms Holt's article, which means my current WIP, Huntress: Alone, is now a many-coloured thing as I highlight bad words, or suffixes like 'ly' or 'ness', and the 'to be' words, like 'was', 'were', 'am', 'be', 'been', 'being' etc. Each category has a different colour. Every time I do this, I think I'm improving - and then I see how many words were replaced with lurid colour. Of course, I have to go back and change things because the heroine, Cambria, has 'am' in the middle of it!

It mean I have to pay closer attention to what I'm doing, otherwise, when I post the book, it will have that added colour to some pages. Once I'm done, I get to use grammar references... oh... joy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Weathering the storm

I'm still here, but work takes precedence.

Although with family visits and other stuff, it's a wonder I managed to read through five books in preparation for some indepth edits.

And now, the wind is howling and it's raining sticks and leaves. We're also experiencing brown-outs and the internet connection is dodgy. Rain and wind will cause it, and the wireless connection is also affected.

The next door neighbour is an SES volunteer and he's just raced off, so something's up. In between the raging winds and eerie quiet, the birds flit from one safe haven to the next, protesting all the way. Even the kookaburras sound a little hysterical - and I don't blame them. Watching the eucalypts bend so much is a little disturbing.

I'm guessing the inevitable will happen shortly - a blackout - so I need to check the battery life in the computer, break out the candles for later, fire up the kettle and drag out the camp stove. Ah, winter; gotta love it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Little Patch in Sun

I've been feeling a little stressed lately, for numerous reasons. Today, I decided to take a break.

Although it's winter here, the sun has shone down in all its fiery glory. I finally gave in to temptation and grabbed a book - Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews - and sat out on the balcony in the sun.

Time passed all too quickly. Magic Slays is an outstanding book that kept my attention throughout the afternoon. It's full of action, snarking between Kate Daniels and mate, Curran the Beast Lord as they come to grips with their relationship, and Kate's fear of discovery. I'm not doing a review, but I will say that the ending has opened a lot of possibilities for the next book - and one scary possibility that could have dire consequences. I certainly want to see how Andrews' handles the aftermath of the ending.

I have no idea when the next book will be out, but I'll be waiting. Time to treat the mild case of sunburn... damn it...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nekkid lawn

So, the gardener snuck in yesterday and set his apprentice to giving the lawn a buzz cut.

It's winter here, so the lawn hasn't grown much, but the aforementioned apprentice duly set forth to tame the wild inch-high grass - and carved a swathe through the pumpkins. By the time I actually lifted my head from the keyboard to look out, the area was nearly nekkid!

One lonely pumpkin remains, partially hidden by the compost bin. Worse, somewhere around the back of the garage - too many spiders for me to look - lives a family of bandicoots. Bandicoots love tasty roots, so the naked area now has cone-like divots and small piles of near-black dirt.

I imagine the small creatures are out there, right now, happily rooting around the lawn creating golf-cup sized holes everywhere now that their path is clear.

I shall do nothing to stop them - I suspect they're going after the snails and slugs while the Blue-tongued lizards sleep the winter away. (That, or the lizards are gone.)

Now I have an area to plant - if I can keep the bandicoots away. But what vegetable do you plant in Winter?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Working on the next three

Now that I've got some of those history pieces out of the way, I can continue to work on the next Huntress novels.

They're already put together from last November, so I can see how many words to delete or add.

Huntress: Alone has had a single read-through with notes attached for reviews; Huntress: Besieged is undergoing the first read-through and I've yet to get to Huntress: Innocence.

I plan to post all three by November, starting with H:A in late July, early August.

The books are about the titles - or is that me being too cute? Blurbs when I think of what to write.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Birthday week is over - and I enjoyed every minute of it; we (sisters, niece and nephew) should get together more often. (Maybe not the over-indulgence of alcohol, but I can now say I have tasted Moet and found it... hmmm.)

So I returned to the keyboard and work. Curious that over the past couple of months I've felt like I've been in a fugue state when it came to writing and editing. I don't know why, exactly - maybe it has something to do with the parent's illness and other concerns.

Today, at work, I was busily writing and researching a historical piece for museum. The time whizzed by, but I finally managed to finish - and wanted to start the next project. I have an ever-increasing list, of which most include tales of daring-do.

History is my refuge. Always has been, but until recently, I didn't realise how much. I've never found it stuffy or boring - that's in the way the author writes, or the teacher teaches. It's not just about dates - or it shouldn't be - but it's about the people and their affect on society, real and perceived.

Here I sit, in a small coastal town in Australia, yet where I live is directly connected to two of Britain's greatest naval heroes, Sir John Jervis and a young Captain under his command - none other than Horatio Nelson. Another connection is the Lady Denman ferry. It was built here, just up the road, and named after the wife of a Governor General, but more, Lady Gertrude Denman was instrumental in developing bush nursing in Australia, the Women's Institutes in England and the Land Armies of World Wars One and Two.

Of the three, Nelson is the most famous, but his career was guided and shaped by Jervis. Lady Denman is near forgotten, but she was instrumental in advancing women's rights on a global scale.

Much has been written about Nelson, but precious little on Jervis and Denman. In their time, they were dynamic, influential and hardworking. Jervis, for example, was recalled to command the Channel Fleet at age 70. He saw it as his duty, poor health or not.

I'm hoping to redress their vagueness in current history - at least in a small way - and use their virtues in my own writing; I think I already do, given my life-long love of history.

The past holds a wealth of inspiration from those famous and not-so-famous. To step back in time, is to step into the future, for heroes and villains abound. Every one a gem to a writer.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Family time

Yeah, not much happening around here; I've been focusing on family. Denmark family visiting and an 18th birthday family event this weekend. There's also two sister's birthdays, another niece and a nephew. (Neph and one sis done today.) And the ongoing parent health focus. Fortunately, the parent is now having more good days than bad.

Oh, and other work/edit stuff. Not so much. It's winter, and that means hibernating in front of the computer. (When I'm not having near anxiety attacks over how much rain has fallen. The backyard is so soaked, the grass moves underfoot! I swear, the next house I live in will have a proper drainage system.)

So, off to Canberra tomorrow for party time and visiting more family. And shopping. Mustn't forget the shopping.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

29 ways to creativity

PBW has a list of 29 ways to stay creative:

1. Make lists.
2. Carry a notebook everywhere.
3. Try free writing.
4. Get away from the computer.
5. Quit beating yourself up.
6. Take breaks.
7. Sing in the shower.
8. Drink coffee.
9. Listen to new music.
10. Be open.
11. Surround yourself with creative people.
12. Get feedback.
13. Collaborate.
14. Don't give up.
15. Practice, practice, practice.
16. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
17. Go somewhere new.
18. Count your blessings.
19. Get lots of rest.
20. Take risks.
21. Break the rules.
22. Don't force it.
23. Read a page of the dictionary.
24. Create a framework.
25. Stop trying to be someone else's perfect.
26. Got an idea? Write it down.
27. Clean your workspace.
28. Have fun.
29. Finish something.

(Shamelessly copied text): If you're looking for something to blog about, copy the video and the list, bold the items on the list that you're already doing, cross off the ones that don't work for you, and star the ones you'd like to try.

Here's my meme version of the list:

1. Make lists.
2. Carry a notebook everywhere.
3. Try free writing.
4. Get away from the computer.

5. Quit beating yourself up.*
6. Take breaks.
7. Sing in the shower.
8. Drink coffee.
9. Listen to new music.
10. Be open.
11. Surround yourself with creative people.
12. Get feedback.

13. Collaborate.
14. Don't give up.
15. Practice, practice, practice.
16. Allow yourself to make mistakes.

17. Go somewhere new.*
18. Count your blessings.*
19. Get lots of rest.
20. Take risks.*
21. Break the rules.*
22. Don't force it.
23. Read a page of the dictionary.

24. Create a framework.
25. Stop trying to be someone else's perfect.
26. Got an idea? Write it down.
27. Clean your workspace.*
28. Have fun.
29. Finish something.

Go on, do your own list. I guess I have some things to change

Friday, June 03, 2011

Damn You, Autocorrect!!

I actually have autocorrect on when I'm writing; now, I'm going to reconsider.

It's all the fault of DYAC. It is a site I found via the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. If you want a laugh, and I mean a serious crack up, DYAC is the place for you.

And I warn you, do not read this at work - people will stare. But worse, anyone who has autocorrect on their phones will immediately recognise some of the hilarious text conversations.

I have to say that trying to remember my bookmarks has been an opportunity to dump some sites and find others. DYAC is one I'll visit frequently, just for laughs.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Fed Up

...with the freezing of Google Chrome. I don't know why it kept doing it, but I finally dumped it for Firefox. I did try a number of fixes, including at least two virus hunts - all failed after I did routine maintenance and started up the search engine again.

The only problem was the loss of all my bookmarks [insert much cursing] and I have to remember them and re-bookmark; I'm sure I shall fail.

Now, I shall get back to the remembering.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I've upgraded my wireless broadband, and received a Pendo Pad as a bonus. It is evil. EVIL, I tell you.

While playing around with it, I downloaded a couple of games - and then... it was hours later. The old "I'll just finish this level..." gambit. I am now addicted to the 'jewels' game; all those shinies and explosions, and whirling jewels. O_o

I need to focus on writing. So...

Woman's Arse Size study...There is a new study about women and how they feel about their arses...The results were pretty interesting.
30% of women think their arse is too fat. 10% of women think their arse is too skinny. The remaining 60% say they don't care, they love him, he's a good man and wouldn't trade him for the world...

And now, back to writing the last story for the marathon. Phew.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Three Hour Tour...

I've had a busy few days.

The moozeum has an exhibition opening on Friday and one of the co-ordinators damaged an ankle and hasn't been able to do much; so, for some insane reason, I volunteered to help out. Sheesh.

Anyway, I was invited to a photo shoot bright and early on Saturday morning:

Hmm. Up before sunrise for a morning out on Jervis Bay. The photo shoot was for a local dolphin and whale watching company. A group of us boarded a fast tourist boat to scoot around in. This boat has the photographers aboard.

It's been years since I was out on the Bay and it was a beautiful day to re-acquaint myself - I've also never been beyond the Point. Fishing inside the Bay seemed a much safer option in a little runabout.

So off we went, across the Bay and out past Point Perpendicular - a name that speaks for itself and continues the Australian tradition of stating the bleedin' obvious:

Once you get to the Point, you can see the rugged coastline. Shelves of slowly eroding sandstone all the way with large chunks of rock littering the sea floor and towering cliffs. Abseilers love climbing up and down because of drop and the many handholds. Curiously, I didn't see any seabirds nesting in cliff face.

Of course, that might be because the Navy uses a part of the penisular for target practice.

And... since this was a dolphin and whale watch tour, and... since it is the start of the whale watching season, here's a whale:

A humpback whale, in fact, travelling north to the Great Barrier Reef for some R&R. They sometimes get a little confused and end up in the Bay, rather than continuing up the coast. But it's nice, safe harbour for the smaller whales. This one is moving in a circle - either to get away from the boat, or to come around and give us another look; I vote for the second. Overall, we saw five of them and a playful pod of common dolphins. The dolphins were too quick for the camera, unfortunately.

I don't think I've ever had three hours pass so quickly. And if I get another invite, I'm there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of cake and wine

Fortunately, I wrote my story this morning - thank you, Marina, for the inspiration.

A friend of my mother's, Ld, called up last week and said the third of the triumvirate, Lr, was heading this way for a Garden Club Reunion.

Now, all three have been friends since, ah, the late 1950s, so it's a long time friendship. Due to retirements, each moved hundreds of kilometres away.

Ld said to expect them on Monday. I made cack... sorry, cake; chocolate, in fact. ("Lr doesn't dobought cake," my mother said.) And so, we waited. No sign of them - and no, Lr isn't the kind of person to ring and say they'll arrive on such-and-such day at such-and-such time. I also arranged for a wine salesman to come on Wednesday, figuring 'if not today, the friend will turn up tomorrow.'

Tuesday, and we finished off the cake, made another. And so, we waited. No sign of them - and no, we didn't know where they were staying, nor their phone number.

Today. I made a nice butter cake, with cream and chocolate frosting - urg, licking the bowls gave me a monumental sugar rush. And we waited - my mother happily watching the television, me, curtain twitching. Two o'clock came and went, then three. I asked the parent whether she'd like to come into the other room to wait. I kept watch on the door while printing out some old photos for her, and we chatted. Finally, four o'clock arrived. My mother gave up and went back to her room, since the wine man was due at 4.30.

And lo, the weary travellers did turn up - at a quarter to five, while I'm sipping a rather bland French white.

The wine man wasn't sure whether to arrange another day, or stay and listen to the reminiscing. I urged him to stay and he settled back, occasionally pouring from a new bottle, that we briefly discussed while the other conversation continued. Lr's husband chimed in with comments every now and then about the wines he wasn't tasting.

Lr and husband declined coffee and cake, and stayed barely an hour. They left with promises of long letters. The wine man stayed another fifteen minutes or so, since he had another appointment.

I bought some rather nice Aussie wines, the story is written and all is right with world after my time with various wines - and there's still cake.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Name lag

I'm halfway through the marathon, and I've finally resorted to the baby name book.

Seventeen stories so far, with an estimated 51 characters, and just over 40,000 words. Why, if this was NaNo, I'd be well on my way! But, I digress. The stories have no fewer than three characters in them each, and that is a lot of names to come up with.

Sure, I could jumble up the letters of simple names to come up with fanciful ones, but, like any marathon, the middle is where you drag and you wonder why you bothered. In fact, I think I've used a couple of names twice, but I'm not re-reading to find out - that will come later.

So. Fourteen more stories to go and I'm hoping for some easier prompts. I think I need to watch some sci-fi, or read a fantasy book to get the creative juices flowing a little better. Some stories just arrive, waiting to be told; others hang on to obscurity until you pry them loose.

I want the former, but it feels more like the latter. Ah, well, tomorrow is a new day, just waiting to be explored.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stop, go

Well, that little experiment failed utterly.

I figured I'd reduce my time on the internet and limit my book readin' in an effort to boost my concentration on writing and editing and creative stuff.

What I found was that staying off the 'net gave me more time to write, but reducing my novel reading also reduced my creativity. Worse, I began to have editing issues, wondering whether something was right, when I knew it was.

I have found that, if I watch a movie, the imagination sparks; if I watch the news or documentaries, or sport, empty-headed blandness is the result.

All I need do is read what I've written for the story-a-day marathon to see the best stories have been written after watching something fun.

I have felt vaguely lost and out of sorts, as if something was missing. Now, I know what it was: the imagination of others.

So, while I'm writing these stories, I'm also working on my historical piece for the museum, a book I promised a beta reader some time ago, and, in my spare time, I'm going to find something to post - it's been too long and I need the adulation of my fan... If I still have one.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Spoons and garlic

Writing a short story every day does have it's interesting moments; starting with the prompt.

It takes a while for the issues - theme, character, where, when and an important item - to jell into a cohesive idea for the beginning of a story, but there is always something I bumped up against later on.

For me, this is about free writing from the prompts, but I have to wonder where some of these ideas come from.

I thought today's story fine at the time, marinating my heroine in a vat of crushed garlic to escape the villains. But then an important question arose: how do you get rid of the garlic smell?

And off I went to research appropriate methods. Ah, the wonders of the internet.

Colour me surprised by the answers. A stainless-steel spoon rubbed on the garlicky area? Wow, I'll have to try that one, but not appropriate for the story. Personally, I'm not using coffee (it's precious to me), or lemon juice (what if I'd cut my finger chopping the garlic?)

So I found my solution and carried on. It has taken me nearly ten days of writing to complete a story I really like. Since I'm writing thirty-one, that means a month of work for three worthwhile stories.

Not much of a success rate, as it stands, but I hope to improve that number.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Word up

Okay, I'm over the rush of triumph from yesterday's news, and it's back to work on the marathon.

It's day three and I'm one story behind. Worse, or better, depending on how you look at it, the two stories written so far are fairly long. It can't possibly be a hangover from Nano, so I guess the stories just need that long to be written.

I'll have to work harder to catch up. Like Nano, I prefer to have extra work done - just in case I can't write on a day or two.

There are plenty of generators to chose stories from. The Seventh Sanctum is my favourite. It has plenty of variety and complexity.

Time to write another - maybe not so long, with a little humour? Joss Whedon suggests at the darkest hour for a character, to have something funny said or happen. I'm still working on that.

Monday, May 02, 2011

O BLah

For too long have we seen pictures of Muslims celebrating the deaths of so-called 'infidels', of Jews and of victims of suicide bombs.

Now, it's our turn to celebrate.

I've been watching Al Jazeera and listening to a man who interviewed OBL (I didn't catch his name). He said that with every success, OBL became more vain, began to believe he was a new Messiah.

To me, he became a coward who believed his own press, who sent brain-washed people out to kill innocent people with only the promise of better things in the afterlife and for no other reason than they believed in different things. For ten years he hid - some hero - spent time in caves and on the run, but always with a 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude.

What he has caused to be done in this world is abhorrent; all the murders, the violence, the terror. All because the Saudis didn't want him to go after Saddam and chose the U.S. instead. All because he thought he single-handedly defeated the Russians and therefore Moscow. Thought himself special enough, he could destroy the U.S. and Washington. Yeah, not so much.

The fundamentalists will turn him into a martyr and continue to kill in his name. The West will continue to fight and kill the fundamentalists in the name of justice.

But for now, the scum-sucking bottom-feeder is dead.

Osama Bin Laden, is now O BLah.

Marathon time

I am back from sunny Canberra, and missed the rain on the coast.

It feels like I've been away for longer than ten days, but we had a good time.

I spent some quality time at the National Library fondling century-old documents. I love history, especially touchable history; snuggling up to Hadrian's Wall, walking the WW1 battlefields, kissing the Blarney Stone, touching Roman antiquities... or is that just me?

I'll get over the squealie fan-girl in a moment.

So. It's time for the Forward Motion story-a-day marathon.

I've written half a story so far. I spent yesterday morning cleaning up and the other half driving with the end-of-the-school-holidays traffic (unbelievable amount of idiots out there) that added an extra hour to the journey.

I confess to being ill-prepared to write. The first story the generator came up with seemed like a good idea at the time, but now... not so much. It might have been because of tiredness, but I shall persist and finish the story and another later today.

A good shot of caffeine should help the neural synapses spark.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Today is ANZAC Day. It is a day of two halves: the Dawn Services around the world at various points of military import, and the afternoon games of AFL, NRL... and two-up down the pub.

The morning is for commemoration; the afternoon, for celebration. One for death, one for life.

It sums up the ANZAC spirit, where we will lower our heads to think of those who fought in foreign lands for freedom and never returned; then, it's a wake, the telling of tales of battles long won or lost and keeping the memory of fallen mates alive.

At the end of the First World War, the discussion turned to reparations and the punishment of Germany.

President Woodrow Wilson (who won the presidency on the promise not to enter the war) advocated generous terms for reparations. In a moment of supreme arrogance, he said to Australian Prime Minister, Billy Hughes (who once punched out a heckler during a campaign for conscription and was as aggrieved as any Australian over the catastrophic losses), "But you only speak for five million people." The offended Hughes snapped back, "I speak for 60,000 dead. For how many do you speak?"

There is no hierarchy on who lost more, every nation involved lost too many due to the military incompetence of those in charge. If Douglas Haig had actually seen the ground on which he sent thousands to fight, he might have developed a different strategy. But he didn't, content to stay at a chateau behind the lines and study out of date maps.

It is the bravery of those men who did their duty, even knowing it meant certain death, that we commemorate today. The sacrifice is not forgotten. As the warriors of all wars are honoured, we salute those who are still in the field, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in East Timor and elsewhere.

And thank them all for their service.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Far and away

And... here I am in down town sunny Canberra. Okay, not so much 'down town' as in out in the 'burbs.

Good Friday traffic from the coast would have tried the patience of a saint; I settled for grinding the molars as cars consistently slowed to take in the mountain view, or slowly edged around corners that don't need it, then accelerated so no-one could overtake. sigh A three hour trip took four-and-a-half hours - and most of the traffic was going the other way, ie, down to the coast.

I'm here to do some Denman research at the National Library, then take in the new exhibitions at the War Memorial; I haven't been since completing my final year History extended essay way back in 19**. This weekend is also Anzac Day with commemorations around the country.

I can also find stuff to make my aged parent's life much easier - stuff I could not find in a rural shopping hub. I guess for specialist stuff, you have to go to a major city.

I don't think the library will be open tomorrow - shame that - so... I shall just have to shop. No, don't try to stop me, it must be done or I shall be bookless; and what a tragedy that would be. This is, after all, a working holiday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Just another scam, ma'am

Cool! The laptop has booted perfectly for two days in a row!

Still, I got another phone call from a company claiming to be an outsourced computer maintenance group while wrestling with the problem. I think that's four this year.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not turning on my computer, logging on to the internet and giving remote access to a complete stranger with an accent I can barely understand. Especially when the name of the company calling is garbled, with only the word 'Microsoft' clear. I have defeated the virus causing problems, reset all my security - which is now legion, cleared out junk files, defragmented the drive, backed up and sorted out the Black Screen of Death from a software download. I don't need some putz to then tell me I have the same problem as three months ago.

I don't know which is worse: Nigerians telling me they'll give me a percentage of a deceased estate - if only I would help them get the money out of the country; French/Canadian/Cameroonian e-mails telling me I've won the lottery in Spain, Holland or the UK, or sub-continentals with poor English skills wanting access to my very English laptop.

The tragedy is that many people will believe the scams, will send money to help out a Nigerian, will send their bank account details on the promise of wealth, and who will give these people access to their computers and find their identity or banking details stolen.

The solutions are to delete the e-mails and tell the callers you're a computer technician or there's one in the house and you'll just go get them. No one should be asking for remote access to your personal computer unless you absolutely trust them.

I'm sure this won't be the last time they call, but the next time, it will be.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Damn you, Murphy!

Still having problems with the computer.

The last thing I want to do is buy a new one, even as I know this laptop is considered ancient at five years old. (But the rapid turnover of technology is an argument for another day.)

Fortunately, I haven't lost anything. Everything has been backed up, a lot.

The Forward Motion story-a-day is coming up from 1 May and my schedule is tight enough. Still, Murphy's Law dictates that any annoyance you have, will worsen the closer to a deadline you are.

And it does no good to try to outsmart Murphy, he'll only sneak up behind you.

So. Time to reboot and hope the fixes have... ah, fixed the problem, or try fix number four...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

BSD, or, WTF happened to the laptop???

I have been suffering from the dreaded Black Screen of Death.

It is definitely one of those things that sends a chill of fear down the spine. The white cursor arrow adrift in a sea of dark grey, like a lost glow in the never-ending night. Fear for all the work I've done this week. Gah!

I did a back up two days before the gloom arrived, and had an automatic download the morning of the big black - and that's what caused it. The f*&£$9 download.

The worst of it is wondering if you'll ever get Vista back, the thinking of the work lost, the inability to go online... and spending hours patiently watching the computer operating system search for the key to unlocking the madness.

Okay. I didn't watch, just set the system running and went off to visit with family - but it did take hours.

Finally, after, hmm, six hours or so? I came back and there was Vista, sitting innocently on the screen as if it hadn't caused me twenty-four hours of angst. The first thing I did was back up everything again, then run Spybot S&D as an administrator, then the anti-virus software and finally, searched on-line for a solution should it happen again.

All I can hope is, when I shut down, everything will boot cleanly tomorrow. At least all my important files are copied to an elsewhere should the worst happen.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Close encounter with ick

Summer time is over and the clocks have gone back; trouble is, I'm still waking up at the same time, except it's dark.

This morning, I don't think I mind too much.

It's a rainy morning, and a heavier burst of showers woke me. I'm one of those people who, once awake, cannot go back to sleep, or doze. I've just got to get up. So, I rolled over and reached out to the lamp - it still being near dark and all - and stopped a couple of inches from the switch.

The mind just does not work well before six a.m. In the pre-dawn gloom, I'm feeling like an idiot, with my hand stretched out to the lamp, trying to work out what the hell that darker patch is on the shade. Touch the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb and that's the size of the darker patch.

Discretion being the better part of valour, I rose and turned on the overhead light. Yeah, a spider. Hairy, with it's legs curled in camped out on the lamp shade. Watching me sleep. Plotting. Planning. Waiting...

Now I've squicked myself out. The spider is still there. I backed away, out of the room for my morning cup of tea. I know I sprayed for bugs, but I guess it's super-spidey. I figure I'll get paranoid about it later, when my thought processes become more focused.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What? Again?

I don't know anyone who's been called up for the jury pool and I thought I'd done my bit way back in... 2006? So, when I saw a letter from the Sheriff's Office, I had to think back to whether I'd done something nefarious (love that word: ne-fare-ious).

Nope. Damn it, nothing criminal at all to warrant a summons, but an alert that I'd been added to the jury pool - for a year. Again. Am I lucky or wot?

The first time was an attempted murder case - and I was all set to do my civic duty (and pay attention to the finer details of how a legal case is presented, you know, for research purposes) - but we were discharged after three days due to a witness opening his big trap about a previous incident. Me, I'd already condemned the accused purely on the police evidence already presented. Oh... wait. I was supposed to withhold judgement until the defence had finished? Well, the accused was convicted a year later, so the defence must have been weak.

Anyway. I'm interested in how the process works, as well as studying all involved - including fellow jurors who, at the time, seemed quite... listless and uninterested in the proceedings, unwilling to create much of a discussion in the jurors' room. But I chatted away, explaining my thoughts on the case and lo, interest increased.

I wondered, though, whether they were trying to think of ways to be excused - isn't that what most people do? Sure, it's an interruption to your own life, but it's not just about doing your duty as a citizen, it's a fascinating insight into the legal system a lot of the population don't see, or try to avoid because it's inconvenient.

I'm rather excited about being a juror again and I solemnly vow to study the evidence before me, without fear or favour, and reach a verdict I believe is true.

And then file the experience away for future use...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three lights out

Over the past week, we've lost three leading lights:

Film legend, Elizabeth Taylor. Liz won two Oscars and was named as the American Film Institute's number seven on the list of Female Film Legends. Her career spanned more than fifty years and she starred in films that were truly epic: Giant (1956), Cleopatra (1960), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), and so many more. As an actress, she brought glamour to screen, as a private person, she worked diligently on social issues, like AIDS/HIV and transcended the scandals that surrounded her. She leaves behind a portfolio of impressive, timeless work.

Diana Wynne-Jones, author of Howl's Moving Castle which was made into a gorgeously rendered animated film by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Her fantasy works have influenced many of today's writers, including the brilliant Neil Gaiman. She will be missed.

Geraldine Ferraro, Democratic congresswoman and the first woman vice-presidential candidate. She was a staunch supporter of women's rights and broke through many gender-based barriers and stands as an icon for those rights.

These three women all blazed their way through life and work with determination and enthusiasm for their chosen trades, regardless of hardships. We can all learn something from their lives and careers, and, if nothing else, never forget what they achieved, nor the influence they've had on generations of people.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Out with old, in with the new

Monday morning and there's finally the chill of Winter in the air. The humidity of Summer has been swept away with the rain and I'm feeling like I'm getting on top of things. Who knew a two-storey house could hold so much crap? (Family, don't answer that!)

And while I'm gleeful at the slow slide towards cold nights and fresh days, I seem to have misplaced my Winter woollies; I put them away before the shifting of stuff and can't quite recall where I put them...

Seems like a good opportunity to buy new.

Speaking of new, we have a new State Government. Australians are notorious for voting out governments they feel have been in for too long - I don't think it has anything to do with political leanings, just that it's time to give the other side a go. Sixteen years is a long time to have one party ruling.

The tragedy is that former Premier Kristina Keneally was sacrificed by the Labor powerbrokers - the third time a woman has been handed the poisoned chalice of power. Carmen Lawrence of Western Australia and Joan Kirner of Victoria were both given the leadership when there was no hope of their party winning another term. During Keneally's fifteen-month tenure, at least twenty state members decided to retire or not contest this election; a clear signal they thought the seats unwinnable - or rats leaving a sinking ship (the cowards).

NSW Labor politics has become known for using the halls of power for their own purposes rather than for the people and has tainted even the Federal Government. The backlash against the Left became apparent very early on but not even the pundits could have predicted just what a landslide win the Coalition would achieve.

Will it make a difference? I hope so. I'm tired of Sydney-centric politics, of the country being abandoned and infrastructure left to run down. Hopefully, the new conservative government will be different and be proactive in solving the mess that is New South Wales. If not, then we'll have to wait for the Left to get it's house in order and have another change of government.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earth Hour

Tonight, at 8.30 pm, we're turning off our lights in support of Earth Hour.

It all began in 2007, in Sydney, with more than two million people switching off lights and lighting up candles. Businesses also got involved. Since then, Earth Hour has gone from a local event to a global one with 128 countries joining in during 2010.

Started by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour seeks to bring attention to climate change and our role in it, but their over-arching mission is to 'build a future where people live in harmony with nature'. (A noble, but ultimately impossible goal, unless repressive population control is introduced on a global scale.)

When we turn off the lights tonight, we won't be thinking about climate change, but an hour's worth of lighting we won't be paying for. (Reading by candlelight is hell on the eyes.)

I think Earth Hour still has a new and shiny sheen to it. An hour by candlelight instead of electricity also has a romanticism. Sixty minutes is long enough for people to know they've 'done their bit', but not so long as to be irritating. And while the website urges people to keep the lights off for longer, their call comes across as vaguely Luddite-ish.

But my question is this: candles emit smoke from the burning wax, if everyone in the world returned to the days of candles, what effect is this having on the environment?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I'm sitting here with Abraham Lincoln's quote running through my head: "It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

There are so many things I could comment on, given the current geo-political maelstrom that's going on around the world, or Mother Nature being pissed as, but a lot of blogs that I read aren't stepping into that minefield and nor will I.

Given that, there's not a lot going on. I continue to get the house in order - once the strained muscles ease - and continue research into the historical book I'm working on for the local museum. Real life has put fiction on the back-burner, much to my annoyance - oh, that and the printer running out of ink; again.

I'm slowly adjusting to the new rhythm of the house following my mother's illness. New schedules, medical appointments, travel, etc. have, temporarily, put the kybosh on things I used to do. Of course, she says with a smug aside, the new 42 inch television isn't helping. Who doesn't want to see Matt Damon, or Hugh Jackman on a bigger screen, or enjoy the fabulousness of LOTR EE up close and personal?

Yes, I suppose it is work avoidance and I should be focused on work, but I think I'm over the squee-ing and the "ah, crap, look how much stuff I still have to do". Stuff gets done in it's own time. And now, it's time to get on with it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not toasting St. P.

St Patrick's Day... Woo hoo... not.

I don't think a Christian fundamentalist's deliberate destruction of a sovereign nation's religion should be celebrated, especially the religion kept the peace for thousands of years.

Yet, in today's climate, fundamentalists - from a number of religions - still seek to suppress and crush anyone not adhering to their own brand of 'religion'. In a psychological sense these fundamentalists would be described as cultish, not religious, for their constant refining of their interpretations of what is written in sacred texts. But anyone who suggests such a thing is threatened with death for heresy, for daring to question a leaders devout words.

Yeah... no.

A deserving religion demands it be questioned and supply truthful answers; a worthy religion is felt in the heart and resonates. A true religion isn't about whether its' god is the only true god, but about faith to oneself, god and the universe that surrounds us. And a good religion doesn't inflict itself on others, nor does it forceably convert, destroy other religions or seek to subjugate people.

But then, what are the chances the boys from South Park are right and the answer is... the Mormons...?