Showing posts from 2012

Getting Ready for Self-Publishing

I’d be lying if I told you how well I planned the way to get published on Amazon’s Author Central
Despite reading several accounts by others of their experiences, backed up by intricate instructions, as well as a community education course on How To Publish an eBook, presented by Russel Lean, I had to work through my usual impulsive false starts, and ditherings wondering where to get started, how to get started, what to do first, last, in between, etc etc.
While dithering, I explored my options for the production of a book cover and wrote promotional blurbs without giving too much of the story away. I started thinking about the photo to go into my bio.
And I thought about my bio. A lot of writers have a lengthy list of interesting jobs they’ve done, with which to explain the passing years. From memory, it seems I have spent years in the dole queue listening to a whole lot of amazing stories. Grist for the writing mill, as the saying goes. Plus, with my as-yet lack of published materi…

The Usual December Situation

By December it is all but impossible to get involved in a long anything - story planning, 100 000 word draft, or a 40 000 word structural edit. I'm back with a short story that I began early this year, though I'm finding that at 32 pages even that is not short enough not to suffer from interruptions.

However, one of my resolutions for this year was to get/have something published. And this story,
The Harrowing, will be it. Self published at that. Accompanying it will be the story of how I negotiate the self publishing process made possible by, the biggest market in the world.

The Harrowing is a science fantasy, one of those mash-up categories. Not elves and wizards therefore not fantasy. Not entirely in the world of possible, therefore not entirely in the realm of science fiction. The world is a fictional water planet where the viewpoint characters are attempting to resist an alien takeover.

The clash-of-civilisations theme has turned out be the one I return to again …

Donald Maass, I'm Hooked.

Rewriting is the name of the game. Writing and rewriting the Lodestar Series, I stuttered to a halt again. I feel because I didn't leave enough time between the prognosis and the beginning of the new effort.

My mind telling me I wasn't ready. Lodestar Series needs more creative surgery than I could generate in the ideas department. I felt depleted in that area for that story.

Looking about for something inspiring to help me produce a work I can be proud of, I came across Writing 21st Century Fiction: High impact techniques for exceptional storytelling by Donald Maass.

Printable checklists of 21st Century Tools are available on the Writers Digest website, which is a great help. I feel so good about these Tools that I intend using the checklists for everything I've written, one story at the time.

At the moment, I'm having another go at my novel Monster-Moored which, at approx 100 000 words, I thought to be more do-able with the season of cheer fast approaching. I'm …

Lodestar Series Edit

Sue Woolfe, on page 1 of her The Mystery of the Cleaning Lady, described the process of writing a novel perfectly for me.

"...she stumbles around not for months but for years building something, let's call it an igloo, from the inside only, and out of the oddest of blocks - ice here, but over there bits of wood, bits of metal, glass, ribbons, thoughts, air - without knowing if it will hold and, worse, being unable, for a long time, to go outside the igloo to look at what's been made."

I took my igloo, The Lodestar Series, or rather the two novella-sized instalments that I thought were complete, Part I Ahni SkinGifter and Part II Srese Kerr to Laurel Cohn, local editor, to find out what my igloo looked like from the outside.

It turns out that there is still a lot of work to be done to make the Lodestar world accessible to readers. While I was happy with the report, it took me a couple of days to overcome my dejection at obviously having to do these same two parts tha…

Space Prison by Tom Godwin

Space Prison by Tom Godwin (1958), are words engraved in my brain. My first real SF read.
At thirteen I had my appendix out in a cottage hospital in Glebe, Sydney, Australia. In those days, an appendix operation scored you ten days in bed. After my third or fourth escapade out of bed, the matron came to tell me ‘in no uncertain terms’ – she did not want again to hear of me setting even one foot on the floor while I was in her care.
The kid’s ward had four beds, two kids and an old wooden wardrobe filled with linen. My co conspirator across the aisle had his broken leg strung up in the classic cartoon style, and for weeks already. He was bored.
My mother was desperately ill in the same hospital. I wanted to escape into a good book and not worry. But books for Rita wouldn’t have been on anyone's to-do horizon. 
The hat shelf in the cupboard in our ward was stuffed with lairy yellow paperback books, my co conspirator said, seeing them each time a member of the staff opened the cupboar…

Life As She Lives It

The old shed, on the left, is gone and a new garage is in the process of being built. My job for the weekend was to water the new concrete slab daily, to help it cure.

My second outdoor job is to shift my fishponds.  They are too near the build. I'm halfway emptying the second bath - I use old baths. Cane toads tend not to be able to jump into them.

Standing around now are six buckets, two crates and a watering can all containing various bits of water plants and a few fish.

While I bale the contents of the second bath into the first, every time I need a bit of action. It's good to have an outdoor thing to do to get me moving.

Because I am also doing a final draft on Part II of the Lodestar Series, part of a submission to an editor. Eighty thousand words by the end of the week as well as the whole series' plot outlines. I've decided to publish the first two parts soon.

And added to which was the Adult and Community Education course on e-marketing I signed up for a coup…


Memories may be other than visual imagery. Gerdientje by W G van de Hulst (date unknown. My copy is the 11th edition) is one of the stories that gave me several imaginary kinaesthetic, or physical, memories. Caused, I guess, by my ability at the time to imagine myself in Gerdientje’s skin.
I have a very clear feeling-memory of being in one of those old Dutch kast-beds, lying in the comfortable dark cave-like interior. Warm under the blankets. Seeing out past the half-open cupboard door to the glowing wood heater in the living room. I’m quite certain I never had that experience in real life.
Another is me-as-Gerdientje knee-deep in the cold water of a lake, pulling at a rowboat and her father at the point of drowning. When I think of that incident, I feel the water cold around my knees, the stiff cold workingman’s clothes her father is wearing. The tremendous pull against my puny strength of the sodden clothes. It is as if I am there in the dark wind, being her.
Read more ...

Words: Rive

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1964) one of my very favourite books, RIVE means to Rend, cleave, wrench away or off or from, strike asunder. Split. Make by splitting.

Surprisingly, it is the root of the word RIVER.

Gives you a whole different idea of what a river once was thought to be. As if the bed of the river, and the difficulties of movement through a landscape made up of RIVEN-apart mountains, were more important than the streams forming those landforms.

Adding RIVER to various words we get river-horse, riverside, riverless, riverboat.

RIVULET and RIVERAIN or RIVERINE are derived from RIVER. Second generation words as it were. Though RIVULET, a small river, may derive more directly from the Latin RIVUS.

REAVE and REIVE (committing ravages, carrying off by force, forcibly depriving etc etc) are in some dictionaries held to derive from RIVE. Making a delicious irony of the REAVERS in the film Serenity slaughtered by the female fighting machine, RIVER.

Alas, it is not …

Story is the Journey

Last night on The Book Designer I read about ten blogs and the reasons that they are successful, and promptly tripped into the hole yawning always before me.

I'm sure everybody has a pit of despair about their shortcomings. This morning I climbed up out of mine and I did a reality check. It became an audit of what this blog is about.

The title, up there on the flank of that angry star, could just as well have read "Story is the journey."

The journey along the staging posts of the craft of writing. Whatever is necessary to get the story on the page, be it virtual or be it hard copy. A never ending learning curve.

And this blog is a journey through my fellow writers' stories. My gleanings, through book reviews, of their solutions to writing problems I meet, and therefore you might meet.

The stories I have met and made and am still making part of me is another journey. This one without an end other than the obvious one featuring the dark scythe-wielding antagonist.


Lodestar Series Incrementing Slowly

Hard to believe I posted a version of this up more than a year ago. This is different but the same. Another edit. The story of a writer's life. It's a free read. 
1: Sard Sard strode through the pastel yellow arch out of the Nest. He needed the roiling colours of his envy and disappointment and anger. Because how come Srese won the contest when he was always the better producer? He wanted reds and blues and greens storming along the corridor walls alongside him. Where were they?

He stopped.

The Nest doors soughed shut behind him.

The walls, what he could see of them, were grey. And all the holos, one on every block-end, were extinguished.

Some kind of power cut? I don’t think so, he said. He stepped back seeking the comforting painted story on the Nest’s doors with his fingertips. A fill layered into the dark green paint made the bas relief trees. A rectangular brown roughened area signified a door into a tree trunk. Zoya, the kiddy-carer regularly pasted the profile of a differen…

Remi by Hector Malot

The events in the month of April when I was eight years old are not as momentous in my memory as the story I read for a week, every lunchtime after the meal until it was time to go back to school. (In the Netherlands in those years school children generally went home for lunch.)
The neighbour’s where I had that meal that week had an old copy of Remi by Hector Malot (translated into Dutch from French) leather-bound in old green. The pages were thick and yellowed, fluffy from use at the edges.
Remi, at eight years old, discovers he was a foundling when the man he thought of as his father sells him to Monsieur Vitalis for forty francs. M Vitalis was a street performer, we would say now, who owned a troupe of animals. Remi helped care for them and learned to take his part in the performances. After the death of his master Remi has many more adventures finally to find a home, and be re united with his lost original family.
A few years ago I found an English translation/adaptation, by Consta…


This story is about the way we/people accustom ourselves to our loss of hearing. If it is a gradual process, we don’t notice it. We merely and often unconsciously adapt our lifestyle. Friends and family often do notice the changes, but not the reason for them.
A lot of people need to begin wearing spectacles between 45 and 55 when their eyesight begins to be affected by aging. The same process affects our hearing. Listening to loud music and films, being around heavy machinery, shooting, hunting and explosions generally, also have the capacity to damage human hearing.
My hearing loss is probably due to loud music, heavy machinery and a few explosions. I did first start to notice it in my forties, when I couldn’t hear the words in a song on the radio. I forgot there was a time when I might have heard them and learned to enjoy the music without the lyrics. It wasn’t such a big deal to me, I’d always enjoyed instrumental music more and anyway, I said to myself, if you want the words, get…

Learning to Read: Het Lees Plankje

Desperate to get an illustration of the object itself, I tied my computer into knots several times. It's still frozen several layers below this one and it refuses to let me close it. Words will have to do this time, and if you are totally interested check out this link, where is a nice pic of one.

I learned to read on a ‘leesplankje’. Aap, noot, mies were the first words. Aa p was printed under a picture of an organ grinder’s monkey dressed in a little red jacket sitting on a house gutter.
N oo t was under a walnut against a blue background.

A tabby cat sitting on a cream gravel path with grass and a paling fence in the background, represented m ie s, a popular cat’s name at the time ... read more

Hooray for Hearing Aids

It’s day 3 of my life with hearing aids. So far, it’s like having my own SFX streamed into my ears, similar to sitting in the dark and hearing the crystal clear soundtrack of a movie.
Except that I’m sitting on my terrace, writing by hand – a power cut has stopped me vacuuming, an Essential Energy cherry-picker truck and crew are out front replacing the cable between my house and the power supply.
I don’t mind. I will enjoy the sound scape. It is Friday, AM, a busy day. Before, I’d hear an undifferentiated cacophony of industrial noise emanating from Tyres and Batteries in the second yard from mine.
Now I can hear every wrench clattering to the concrete floor. The compressor chugs non-stop. The continual hiss-and-clack of the compressor-powered tool to loosen nuts and tighten them after the wheel is replaced. Air released from a tyre hisses out on a descending scale. The jack-on-a-trolley is dragged from one car to the next. There’s hammering on the wheel rims. The finished wheel-and-…

Salting in the Detail

As well as 'seeding' plot starters for the eventual working out of larger ideas, a story teller needs to 'salt' the text with information necessary to a reader's understanding of the world that the story is set in.

I was struck by the following example of salting in George R R Martin's A Storm of Swords (Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire Series).

In one of Arya's sections, starting with 'She was grubbing for vegetables in a dead man's garden when she heard the ... ' comes the line, "Two miles upstream," said Tom. "A league at the most."

Yes! I knew a league was two miles. Or rather, I used to know and had temporarily forgotten. There is a lot to know in the world. I was glad to learn it again, because my idea of the distances in the story were getting a little screwed up.

In amongst the mainly non fiction research reading that I am doing at the moment, I am still reading the Song of Ice and Fire. Not just because there ar…

Serendipity in Research

The story I'm working on needed some serious research. The chemistry of Life. The formation of planets. Possible accommodation on the Moon and Mars. These gave me the grounding for the world I was 'building'.

A negative side to basing a story-world completely on known scientific facts, is the narrowing of possibilities as a result. This is probably one of the reasons I normally write in the science fantasy genre. Wikipedia gives a nice discussion of the science fiction/science fantasy conundrum.

Writing essays back in the days of my tertiary education years, I'd use the material in the recommended texts and find my work lacking oomph. I'd hie back to the library (actual books and journals) in those not too far off days, and I'd browse. Usually not in the area under consideration.

For example, for an essay was about Australia's relations with Asia, I found some excellent supporting material in Nineteenth Century Biographies. If my foray into the esoteric an…

Back in the Boat

Back in the boat on the river of life and not just drifting either sees me having another go at a short story. I have a four week slot. For a title I'm tossing up between 'The Weight Distribution Process' and 'EVA Module 5'.

Reading-wise, 'winter is (still) coming' and George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is being re read. I missed out so much the first time around, reading in my usual fast chase after the plot. 
Added to which I have finally acquired a Kindle, and am for the present reading the ebooks which I had been storing on my Mac. Best Horror Collection by ASIM is my present in-between read. 
The Kindle is, so far, a great way to spend the odd ten, fifteen, twenty minutes that are an invariable part of modern life. My mother tells me that in the olden olden days when her mother was a child, those ten fifteen minutes would be spent knitting socks and socklets onto stocking legs (that took longer to wear through). Each girl in the fam…

Immersion for Learning

My immersion in the A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin continues. While sick with the flu for the last couple of weeks, it was wonderful to be able to spend most of the time reading the various instalments as they came to hand. The local library with the first three, the bookshop with Parts Four (cover illustrated) and Five.

Reading and re reading. I think I mentioned in my previous post how for my first read I skipped through a Part to follow particular characters. In Part Two there are at least ten protagonists.

The above strategy made it easier to enjoy the story as Martin meant it to be followed, the second time through. With the third and fourth re reads, I finally got the stage where I could begin to appreciate the various aspects of writing craft that I'm always on the lookout for.

Such as world building. The action in A Song of Ice and Fire ranges over a hugely detailed world but Martin does not do info-dumping, the bad thing that some writers do to get detail ac…

Immersion Reading in The Song of Ice and Fire

Following my enthralment to the TV series Game of Thrones (and this is not the second series which is playing as of now in the US) I began, as soon as I could get my hands on Part One, reading A Song of Ice and Fire, the books that the TV series is based on.

The illustration is of Part Two, a brick of a read of 873 pages that will not let go. Never in my life have I read one series so constantly and for so long. I think I'm in my third week of close attention to Parts One, Two and the first half of Three. Which is only half of the whole.

It is probably possible to read a book right through. I haven't found it the best way for me. With twelve or fifteen viewpoint characters, I quickly started leafing through the book and getting continuity of each character in turn, or each couple of characters. For example, it was fairly easy and propitious to read Sansa's story and Tyrion's at the same time in Part Three, first half.

There's no problem yet in reading Daenerys'…

I'm Celebrating a Little ...

I'm celebrating a little with a couple of days of catching up with mail, blogs and real life after finishing my latest draft of Monster-Moored, my speculative fiction novel set in a 22nd century Byron Bay and hinterland. It will be the first part of zig zag sequence taking us all over the country, or as it is in the novels, all over the Australia Archipelago.

In Thrall to Game of Thrones

In between writing these last couple of weeks I've been enthralled with, or more honestly, in thrall to Game of Thrones, the TV series on DVD. A smash hit by all accounts, and I can understand why. Ten hours of suspenseful story with a host of brilliantly acted characters of all ages. I'm sure it's possible for anyone to relate to someone in the story.

An adult fantasy series (of novels) A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin (1996) is set in a medieval style world where winters and summers last longer than one year, and are of a variable pattern. If pattern is the right word.

Australians should be able to relate to the weather really well. We have variable weather. So does the Game of Thrones planet, but more so. The Stark family, one of the Houses, with the majority of viewpoint characters in Series One, has as their motto, "Winter is Coming".

This story has everything: action-packed politics, sword fighting, war, fighting, and everything that goes with …

The City and The City

Synopsis from Wikipedia:Inspector Tyador Borlú, of the Extreme Crime Squad in the European city-state of Besźel, investigates the murder of Mahalia Geary, a foreign student found dead with her face disfigured in a Besźel street. He soon learns that Geary had been involved in the political and cultural turmoil involving Besźel and its twin city of Ul Qoma. His investigations start in his home city of Besźel, lead him to Ul Qoma to assist the Ul Qoman police in their work, and eventually result in an examination of the legend of Orciny, a rumoured third city existing in the spaces between Besźel and Ul Qoma.

Events take place in the cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma which are cities very nearly superimposed on one another but which are perceived as two different places, with the help of a secret power called Breach. 

Citizens must not see, unsee - or rather see and then ignore - anything in the other city whether it is a building, person, car and car accidents, even if they occupy the next co…

Rejigging Monster Moored

I'm finding the most difficult thing while supposedly cleaning up a story for eventual submitting, is not to start any new threads.

I think it must be that I have a short fuse for boredom, and reading and correcting a manuscript for the so many-est times gets plain boring.

And so I have already failed this important step in my attempt to make Monster Moored a better story. My beta readers marked up the areas which needed more explanation and I was well on the way.

However, one of the suggestions was to have the monster eat someone, as in consume bloodily. This is not an easy matter, I found. The only ones in the surf with Tardi at the time of the the monster's manifestation were Polk, Tardi's best friend, and Threen, Tardi's secret love. (You understand I couldn't have the monster eat Threen!)

So, OK, it's easy to have the monster seize Polk and chomp into him. It's not easy then to write Polk's demise forward and backward. His end has to have some eff…

Still writing

The calderafungi at

Draft one and notes of and on the new as yet untitled opus miranda

The eventual short story

The slight rejig of Monster Moored, preparations to submit it some time in April


Learning Scrivener


Finalising house renovation plans, choosing bathroom tiles, paint, a new stove, etc

Walking, going right now, as soon as i post this, it is 5.34 PM here despite what it might say at the top of this post.

Reading, a History of Ash by Mary Gentle.

Euphoria and Depression

Euphoria and depression go hand in hand as we, if we’re so inclined, pass around the circle of life. 
First I had one of my euphorias. It was probably brought on by a year’s worth of stress. The last straw was being unable to force myself to have a viewpoint character doing physical violence to other characters in a story I was writing.
A fine insight you might say and I will agree with you. Another was the instant understanding of the difference between writing from the head and writing from the heart. A good story is under construction as a result.
But how does euphoria follow from that, you're wondering? I don't know. In three percent of us it does apparently. I go into a cognitive dissociative state, a trance, and my unconscious generates extreme bliss. With no help from any drugs. 
But the higher I go in the euphoria, the deeper the depression afterwards takes me. And where the euphoria was a wonderful eight day event with two or three days to recover, the depression is,…