Sunday, February 23, 2014

Old, older, oldest

The days, they blur together.

Today, I discovered a problem with the letter 'y' on my laptop. Do you know how many times you use the letter 'y'? More than you'd think. And now, the next time you go off a'typin' you'll be thinking about the letter 'y'! :)

The laptop isn't that old either, just old enough to be out of warranty - of course. I may have to fire up the old laptop I bought in 2005. I have nothing else and I refuse to buy a tablet - anyone's. I happen to like having a full sized keyboard to play with.

Old fogey that I am, I learned to type on a typewriter; a manual typewriter, with keys that need firm pressure to cause the arm to slam against the ink ribbon and print out a letter on paper. None of this namby-pamby 'touch' typing which has led to so many developing RSI. As an added bonus, we could be selected to try out the new fangled 'electric' typewriter' - that had a daisy wheel. I thought it was pretty 'wow' at the time. Actually, I still have an old portable typewriter my parents bought me after I wrote my first short story on my mother's old 1950s Remington (we still have that one, too.)

It's remarkable to me that the tablet is the latest iteration of communications technology. It hasn't taken long, in the scheme of time. We've had typewriters since the 1860s, but in my lifetime, typewriters are now antiques, I've not seen an electric typewriter for years, even desktop computers are being phased out. Now, we have tablets that are not only vessels for our words or art or music, they communicate with the world, with others who share our hobbies or professions.

What more will be invented? In what direction will multitasking communication devices take? More miniaturisation? The old Dick Tracey wrist unit? How will that affect authors or will we all be encouraged to use voice software, like Dragon - maybe someone's about to develop voice software that integrates the emotion in our voices as we dictate our novels?

Who knows? We are only ever limited by our imaginations.

Now, I have to work out how to get around the problem of 'y'.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Where did the year go?

One moment I'm preparing for Nano, the next Christmas/New Year is over and I'm back at work wondering what happened to the past two months. Apparently, there aren't enough hours in the day for me to do any the stuff I'd like as opposed to what I have to. It's all a blur. I probably need to slow down, smell the roses, put my feet up and do something other than be a government worker or carer, both of which take up enormous amounts of time. I should note that I resent neither, but it would be nice to have a few more hours in the day. Even now, the day draws to a close after another ten hours at work - budget constraints have meant no recruiting for positions of staff who leave. From a section of four this time last year, we are now... two - including the boss. Of course, the level of work hasn't changed and it must be done. Some days, I feel like there's so much to do that I accomplish virtually nothing - at least not that I remember. Since I haven't been fired yet, I must be doing something!! But... I've managed to read two books! Two! I know I shouldn't be excited about that, but I am. I've always believed that to write well you have to read, and read a lot; call it 'learning by osmosis'. Reading inspires, something I've been sorely lacking if my most recent Nano project is anything to go by. Next week, I begin two and a half weeks' leave, courtesy of all the extra hours I've worked over the past year. The decision is what to do: write, edit, read, research family history, watch some screen, along with clearing out the garage of the parent's house. Damn, but I'm tired. I guess I'll just wait and see.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Countdown to Nano

I thought I'd ease back into work - but it Murphy's Law stepped in and it's been a bun fight. Long hours to catch up on the work that should have been done while I was on leave, but wasn't.

Anyway, insert a whinge, a whine and a suitably grumpy tirade. All done? Then let's move on.

Friday sees the start of Nano, the National Novel Writing Month, an annual writing frenzy that the editors in all the publishing houses fear.

I have a title (Monarch, Tyrant, Slave), an as yet unnamed lead character and a scene and a half. Yeah, okay, I have three groups of people with competing ambitions and the question of how choice clashes with duty. After that, who knows what will happen?

It should be a fun ride finding out.

I suspect there will be thousands of people setting fingers to keyboard on midnight 31st October, anxious to get started; I shall not be one of them since I have to work on Friday (see above whinging) but I will be throwing heavy-duty word counts around. Well, I'm gonna join thousands of others in trying!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Awesome Lives Here!

New Zealand should put that on an oversized sign in every airport.

The scenery is spectacular, the food is amazing, the people are friendly, helpful and, well, awesome.

Fifteen days of travelling around this glorious country resulted in over eight hundred photos. Yes, some of them are less than useful, but that's on me - no faulting the landscape, I don't think there's an unattractive area in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

I've decided I really like campervanning and New Zealand is the perfect place for it. The roads are good and the holiday parks planted in just the right locations for some early morning photos - if, of course, you're an early riser like I am (my siblings, not so much).

We started in the north island, at Hobbiton - as you do. There are plenty of photographs out there of the set, but here's one I think a lot of people miss from the Green Dragon Inn:

It was on a pillar, near the second bar and the roaring fire. If we had a Green Dragon Inn near where I live? I'd be there most nights.

I've been sorting through the photographs and pausing, remembering how and where I took each shot; needless to say, I've not been able to finish the entire lot. When I do, I'll post - there could be quite a few given the photogenic nature of the country. I'm also still sorting through my adventures, getting them all in order. When you're having a good time, no, a great time, every day is fabulous and runs together.

Maybe I'll be able to put together a better travelogue, once I've settled the squealie fan-girl moments.

But I'm already planning another trip next year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cover art... oh, shiny!

I've been looking around at some photos online for development into cover art. I didn't get very far... I found Street Art Utopia and spent some significant time wandering around the website. I confess I like art. I especially love art that makes me smile...
art that makes me think...
clever art...
art that makes me wonder...
and art that leaves me breathless with its' genius...
Street art adds to the cityscape, to our culture. It asks questions of the populace and demands to be recognised as more than graffiti. I may have to pre-order the book so I can admire the talent of all those artists. I could wax lyrical about the subject, present astonishing examples of 3D street artwork, but it's all really off-point to what I should be doing - finding some simple photos that I can use. But... you've got to admit, the artwork is amazing.

Monday, August 19, 2013


I'm not much for drawing. In fact, I'm pretty hopeless at it.

Fortunately, some bright spark went and invented the computer. From there, more bright sparks developed software to make things much easier to perform tasks. Originally designed to solve mathematical equations, computers can now do a wide variety of tasks, only limited by imagination.

Equally as fortunate, writing still remains the same; it's just the method that's changed. Like most people, I learnt to write with crayon, then pencil, pen, typewriter and now I use a laptop. I, too, am limited by imagination. It's a good thing I've been blessed with a rather active imagination, otherwise, I'd be doing something completely different.

I think everyone has an artistic side - it just appears in different forms: painting, sculpting, problem solving, speaking, poetry, sport, advertising campaigns... it all takes imagination.

Which brings me to drawing.

I'm trying to think of what type of cover to develop for the next book, Huntress: Besieged. Not draw, but haul in some freebie pictures from the internet and marry them up for some sort of coherent, clue-ridden cover art.

The plan is to post the book by the end of August. September will see me in New Zealand on a Lord of the Rings tour (yeah, go on, hate me, I don't mind) with a couple of sisters. Should be fun.
Found this. Nice to know a woman did it first:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A reminder of self

I was reminded, recently, that I haven't posted in some time... months, really.

Tru dat.

Too little time and not enough to say is probably closer to the truth.

The past year has been filled with work and family obligations, which has left precious little time for anything else. Working long hours and caring for an infirm relative meant making sacrifices, and I made quite a few, probably too many.

I didn't understand how stressful it's been, nor how unhappy choosing 'convention' over 'art' would make me; until last week.

And it all started with a thumb drive. A dragon thumb drive, given to me for my birthday. I have lots of little drives, filled with various drafts of books, research stuff, information about the most obscure historical things, family history; stuff I needed to rationalise. So I looked at my Homer Simpson thumb drive and there were all my drafts up to about 2010, including the very first multi-book series I wrote.

Once upon a time, when I wrote Oracle, I thought it was the best thing I'd ever written. Actually, it was the third piece I ever wrote. It took six weeks of 10-14 hour days to write 260,000 words; and when I was done, I celebrated with a glass of white and set it aside. Over the next year or so, I fiddled with it and then went on to write other stuff.

Last week, I stuck the drive into the laptop and spent the week - one hour a day - re-reading the piece. I made notes, inserted comments, corrected spelling, questioned motives, felt appalled that I could do that to characters! And I resented put it away because I had to get up early the next morning for work.

When I finished reading the work, I felt... happier than I have in a over a year. Should I ever get this work published, I'll have Holly Lisle to thank. Oracle was an experiment: do your worst to your characters, but give them a few candy events along the way. What it meant was what I call 'writing in a circle'. Give yourself a starting point - your characters are happy, or content and then take that happiness away from them. Plunge them into a situation that takes them out of their comfort zone, that takes away everything that is familiar. Expose your characters to what they fear/hate the most and when they are at their lowest, give them hope. Of course, it gets taken away, but if you balance the good with the bad, you'll write your way back to the beginning - where the crisis has been solved, your characters have a resolution but they are changed in a way they couldn't have foreseen when you first sat down to write.

A book in a nutshell.

Oracle needs a lot of work, using time and focus that I don't currently have. It's too big. But now that I've arranged what time I have accordingly, I'll be working on other books - the next two Huntress novels to be posted before the end of the year.

Blogging, however, will not be as frequent. I'm planning on setting aside time on a Sunday to update every week.

Working a day job is just that: a job to bring money in. Family is family and must come first. But my first love will always be writing; and when I'm away from it, I can feel my Self fade. I am a writer and a writer I remain.

Thanks, Marina, for reminding me and caring enough to ask if I was alright.