Showing posts from 2013

The Renovations Grind On ...

While my floors are being resealed I am living in my new back extension. No books, just the laptop and mobile. The modem working away in a far room. Everything but the basics are packed into the spare bedroom.

My house is 95 years old, old for this area which was settled in 1830s by cedar-getters. Forty years later the timber was gone and people started clearing the forest for farming.

The town began in the 1880s. My house was built in 1918, as a rental. The then owners lived next door, in the house still known as Cosy Corner.

Over the years that I have lived here I have had many visits of people who once lived here or had some connection with it. One lady (in her eighties at the time) came to ask for cuttings of the rose bush out front planted by her mother.

An elderly gentleman came one morning for a yarn. He was the baker's boy in the 1940s. He'd come to work in the dawn, harnessing up the horse, driving the cart round to the bakehouse and taking the bread around the town.

Biggest Thing in a Big Year, So Far

Excellent health has been my most unattainable precious attribute for about fifteen years now. Six years ago a doctor who shall remain nameless prescribed an anti acid for me to control stomach acid. Less stomach acid in its turn was to control the tendency of my stomach cycling through breakfast so fast that I'd be feeling shaky with a tendency towards fainting due to hunger, from about mid morning.

I remember asking why an anti acid and I remember being told "It's OK to do without the acid. We don't really need it." I accepted it. In those days I wasn't  paranoid yet. About seven months ago a young GP refused me the drug, quite correctly as it turned out, as the drug is not meant to be prescribed for longer than six weeks.

Which I learned from a different doctor. Also different in that he listens to his patients. The problems I have been having with my legs, facial muscles, nerve pain etc all point to nutrient deficiencies as a result of not much nutrient u…

Knitting Hands

My mother knits. Though she now knits nothing but striped socks, the whole family has garments left from when she still knitted jumpers, lace shawls, baby layettes, panne-lappen, dish cloths, you name it she would have a go.

She has knitted so much in her life that her hands seem to have shaped themselves for knitting. She casts on and off, and handles the needles (knitting pins, some people call them) the traditional Dutch way.

After she had a brain operation six years ago, it took her some weeks to retrieve the pattern of socks from her memory. Since that time her family calculates she has knitted nearly a thousand pairs.

She is slowing down now, but still producing about three pairs a fortnight. She has always knitted for family. And for overseas guests of the family. Christmas and birthdays. There are plenty of us. And for the various money raising stalls run by the facility where she lives.

Then she added knitting socks for a Domestic Violence Support Group, a whole class of Ind…

The Ort Bag That Was: A Knitting Project

This knitted cap, what in Australia we call a beanie, was meant to be an Ort Bag. Apparently an ort is the useless little bit of thread left after you have finished sewing something up. People save orts to use as stuffing, for example dolls legs.

The pattern was originally for tunisian crochet but I needed a quick project to experiment with tweed stitch. Pattern by Robynn-El Ross. It  was in a magazine in a waiting room. 
My bag/beanie is made with four pieces of knitted fabric, of 8ply yarn, each 21 stitches wide, length 4x the width.

You need two colours. I used two variegated colours per rectangle, resulting in a green-, red-, yellow- and blue-flavoured panel. For line 1 knit colour a, b, a, b, a, and so on to end, carrying the yarns at the back of the stitches. .........For line 2 knit colour b, a, b, a, b etc. again carrying the yarns at the back of the stitches. Both sides of the work will be the same. 
Sewing the project up can drive you a little crazy because it seems very co…

Celebrating First Times

Sixteen weeks after breaking my wrist I was finally able to resume this half-completed ceramics project. The width/height is fifty centimetres, the length will be about two metres. The sun shining over the local landscape. Mt Chincogan in the middle. The Mt Warning/Wollumbin volcanic plug in the left-most as yet unglazed tile. The Brunswick River estuary, Nature Reserve, mangroves and beach in the righthand unglazed tile.

The ten weeks since the cast came off have been a long sequence of private little celebrations of achieving this that or the other for the first time.

First time eating right handed with a fork.
First time brushing my hair right-handed.
First time driving again.
First time cutting up vegetables.
First time brushing my teeth with my right hand.
Etc etc

The break made me conscious of the amazing dexterity of our hands and wrists. How much we depend on them. How weak in comparison our non-dominant hand is. Before the accident I could lift a full kettle of water with my…

Canterbury 2100: Pilgrimages in a new world.

Six hundred years ago Geoffrey Chaucer created one of the first great works of English literature about a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims traveling to Canterbury.
A century into the future, Canterbury is the new capital of an England struggling to rise from the ashes of the 21st Century. A nuclear-powered steam train is stopped on its journey toward Canterbury by a massive storm.
The waters rise with the storm's fury. The lights on the train dim. In the saloon car a coal stove is the only source of light and warmth until the passengers, these modern-day pilgrims, begin to tell their tales.
They are from every kind of background telling each other tales high and low. The Metawhore tells of her love. The Tingler makes his living frightening people young and old. He tells the tale of a Hangman. Stories of the Calamity follow, and the way the Mincer-men survived.
You’ll read stories about Plague Babies, Moon people, ghosts, glowing men. Llygers from Whipsnade roam that coun…

Formatting to Build Up Suspense

As I just said on Google+ the news of the day is that it is raining here, after 46 days without a comprehensive drop. IE only 4.5 mm exactly 1 month ago.

True, it is winter.

True, winter is our dry time.

But still, we were in a wet year. By 28th July 2013 we had had 2 metres of rain.

Then ... nothing.

The trouble with that scenario and the increasing carbon dioxide in the air due to global warming, to use its honest definition, when CO2 acts as a fertiliser - is that trees grow lots of fuel. Central Australia is much greener now, we know courtesy of one or another satellite.

The Dry after a big Wet there are always very hot and destructive bush fires.

Much of the Australian bush has evolved to handle regular burns. But even the Australian bush is killed by a cyclonic fire. Not to mention all the animals that die.


Above is the strategy of formatting to increase suspense. Formatting directs the speed of reading by taking advantage of the physical movement of our eyes as we skim al…

Writing Science Fiction: Strategies Two and Three

This 'thing'reminds me a lot of an organically designed grown spaceship. That blurry, slightly out of focus front viewing bubble.

I can't remember which movie I saw it in. One of the Star Wars franchise with an underwater scene perhaps. 
The background is suitably wild and weird. If you can't pretend it is lying in water - it being impossibly clear -  think of the ship as resting on a ledge on a cliff. 
The metallic carapace is mostly out of the picture and we have to imagine its shape. Long and sleek? Or bulging with more of the observation extrusions?  
The crew I found in a different scenario. Cold. Dank. A long narrow cave. That didn't hold them back. 
They explored outside, suitably suited up. They got lost. Stuck. They starved. And died. Their bones ...
 The shape of the bones suggest various physiologies. Alien of course. Well, alien in relation to humans. 
The two largest bones have almost spherical ends. The being was two-legged? 
The spherical bone-ends …

Revisiting My Game-of-Thrones Thralldom

In company with the many many people waiting for the sixth instalment of George R R Martin's The Song of Ice and Fire series, Winds of Winter, I'm spending time in Westeros, that is,  where at times I have fun on a couple of forums, though I am still unable to furnish my identity with an avatar.

On these forums I learned of the various tasters available, apart from the chapter about Theon at the end of A Dance with Dragons.

I read the Tower of the Hand on

I follow The Race for the Iron Throne by Steven Attewell on

Occasionally I visit the HBO Game of Thrones site.

Broken writing wrist = broken writing practice

As well as everything else still going on, renovations, life, living etc there's a broken wrist at the end of my right arm. The reason I fell was pinched nerve in my back.

Resulting in not much sitting, and not much writing. Just a four fingered hippity hop with my left hand and one finger of my right hand. Just keeping up with email, Landcare things, a tiny bit of writing to the tune of two hundred and fifty words a day, if that.

This is the first time blogging since it happened. Next time, maybe tomorrow, I will spend time on the Online Writers Workshop. Unfortunately I can as yet not use the mouse therefore no links.

No photography, nor the plaster nor the pain allow me to turn my wrist.  Therefore no recording of the stages of the build. No fungi photography. No craft photography. No insects and spiders as I see them.

As well as no links, I can't do sustained photo fetching to the blog. One is easy. This one because I knew exactly where to look for it.

This one represent…

The Old Railway Viaduct Model of My Writing

What remains of one of the local railway viaducts. A rustic picture, you may agree. No trains have used these tracks for about fifteen years.

Lichens discolour the edges of the timbers. The giant screws holding the railway sleepers (cross-bearers) onto the beams are rusted solid. The rails themselves are rusted.

You'd be taking your life into your feet, crossing it, it is so rickety. And worse, brown snakes (aggressive and venomous) live along the span.

The timbers of the foot of the stanchion in the creek are about the only bits that look halfway to sturdy.

Beyond the viaduct the landscape is wonder-fully green. I can see tobacco bush, camphor laurel and even some yellow which is probably the introduced senna. All these are major weeds.

My writing habit is as rickety as this bridge at the moment.  My personal viaduct, the build, renovations, builders, are taking my attention. Good weather, ie winter sunshine, tempts me to be out in it. Without any writing implements.

The green w…

Stage III Has Begun

Renovations are in hand, despite the rain. Again. Showers.

Thirteen concrete pads with steel stirrups for timbers were poured today. The backyard is a swamp due to all the to-ing and fro-ing with a filled wheelbarrow. I stand on the back step to look at it all.

The old part of the house sits, and will continue to do so, unfastened on its stumps, as shown. Builder tells me that come a cyclone I'll be safer in the new annex than anywhere. We're joking of course. The annex will have one wall mostly of glass.

Writing today was at breakfast, in my scrapbbok. A scrap of the work in progress. And now, this blog post.

The rest of the day went in admiring the progress and the process, bits of cleaning up, bits of knitting, sorting stuff to keep, stuff to be tossed, stuff to be taken to the opportunity shops ...

There will be sorting forever, probably.

And now this is being typed with one finger, due to a large cat claiming a lap, the laptop relegated to the footstool.

The aforesaid ca…

Writing Science Fiction: A Strategy

Diatribe: what I started to write about the craft of writing but deleted. Started again. See previous post.

We will look at the word without referring to the actual meaning. 'Dia' when it is part of dialogue means a conversation between two people. 'Tribe' could refer to the whole lot of us, our tribe. Therefore 'diatribe' could mean a conversation among the whole lot of us.

What I just did was to make up a new meaning for the word. This is a favourite strategy of some writers. Science fiction writers more often than others but I will always remember the combination of such a rejigging, and its combination with a cliche in Vernon God Little by DCB Pierre. One of my all time favourite books.

In that novel 'a paradigm shift' became a 'power-dime' the ability to change powerfully through being able to use a powerfully-turning dime (ten cent coin) to turn on.

Online dictionaries gave me these meanings:

Paradigm shift:
a change in basic assumptions


Learning the Craft of Writing

Someone asked me the other day how long it could possibly take to learn to write, in that tone of voice which said it should really not be taking you (that's me) as long as it has.

What could I say? That it takes as long as it takes? That I was late getting started and am slow getting along? That it will take me for the rest of my life? That I got good at essays but I'm still learning to write fiction?

All the above and some more. Learning to write probably takes about ten years. The same amount of time as in former times it took an apprentice builder, carpenter, knitter or weaver to get to journeyman/woman stage.

Ten years -- a long apprenticeship followed by four or so years working for a boss before the craftsperson got their ticket and could set up shop for themselves.

Learning to write well takes practicing your craft everyday for the rest of your life.

But crafts have been downgraded. We think we can press a lifetime of experience into one year. We think we can learn ev…

Renovations Are in Hand ...

...but everything else is slipping through my fingers. This blog for instance. All week and all month I think of interesting topics, titles and fragments of ideas to blog. But I'm not near the computer. I might have my putty knife in hand to 'pack' (that is the term, I believe) imperfect seams between new upright interior timbers and old once-exterior chamfered weatherboards. 
Or I might be stripping back a door. This one used to be the door between my living room and latticed verandah. It will be the door from the hall into the new bathroom. It is a non-literary work in progress.

 I'm going to be trying something new (to me). Writing a couple of posts at the time and having blogger feed them out to preset dates. We'll see how that works.

Stories I'm Living

This morning I counted up all the stories (things, projects) I'm involved with or in at the moment. Thirteen!!! Far too many, I know. Top of my list were the two crit groups, one online and in the raw. Probably at the top because today is the in-the-raw meet and I still need to prepare something. My conscience pulled them to the fore.

Next were the two W-I-P I'm working on. One that I'm having critiqued at the Online Writers Workshop, so it's an edit. The second work is a first draft. I'm writing fragments, where and when they appear in my mind. This is where serviettes, old envelopes with shopping lists on the front and dockets from the hardware store come into play. 
Ceramics, I took home two half tiles, 30 cm x 15 cm each to paint up during the week. Three coats of orange. three coats of yellow. The design is the sun shining benignly over the local landscape, the work to be mounted above the roller door into the garage.

The Build, as I call it, where as Admin, I…

Not the Alien You're Thinking of ...

I've been calling my alien 'the monster' to signify how different it is from that other extremely well-known alien. Hence Monster-Moored.

The second reviewer of my Online Writers Workshop submission, Chapters 1-3, asked a handful of questions about the characteristics of my alien though he called it a 'mysterious alien entity'. Enough that I went searching back for my first notes.

First on the computer. Documents. Spent a couple of hours searching through what seems like everything I've ever written. Relabelling. Reformatting files and directories. A good clean-up. Finding amazing stuff I'd forgotten I had. Or I knew I still had, but not where.

Forgetting to write what I should have. The article in another of my stories. Mea culpa.

I printed some out and bull-dog clipped it together. Earth Fall, the beginning. Enough material for a whole other novel. A prequel it will have to be, to Monster-Moored. I remember now that ten years ago when I first had that ide…

When Renovations Stage II are the Story

When renovations are the story, I am Admin. I do the maths, the banking and the diary. RH is Project Manager, builder, carpenter and ditch-digger. I have the last word on spending.
The new-bathroom-job began with RH ripping old lining, floor and ceiling from the veranda storeroom. Re-engineering the support structure. The house is nearly a century old and was built of local timbers. Not all of them have stood the test of time.
When all was revealed, AB, plumber, came in for the underfloor work. He was at first taken aback by the standing water under the house at ground level – it was the month of big rain – but was soon dressed for the operation. He installed a couple of temporarily lidded entry points for sewage and some taped-up outlets for water. He and Admin discussed mixers versus ordinary hot-and-cold taps and the quality of various makes of toilet pedestals. Afterwards, Admin hared off to the local second-hand building supplies. She inspected various models of vanity basins,…

Editing, Once Again

There always comes a point in rewriting when I think I’ve achieved the elusive quality of good readability, when there is nothing left in the work-in-progress to remind a reader that that is what they’re doing … reading. That’s when I head-up a draft with the fatal words, ‘Final Edit’.
And that’s also the point when a good critique will inevitably throw my plans into disarray. I’ve rewritten Monster Moored more than a few times now, attending to structure, story flow, characterization, sentence sequencing and a host of other detail, and was in the middle of what I thought would be that final rewrite.
Then I was tempted by the possibility of a critique or two after I rejoined the Online Writers Workshop (OWW) and discovered I still had some points in my quiver. I submitted Chapters 1, 2 and 3.
The excellent critique of them stopped me in my tracks. I’ve done no further rewriting. Not of Chapter 21: Tardi at the Depot, where he faces his father, nor of Chapters 1, 2 and 3 because I n…

A Free Read, Science Fantasy

The excitement over at Smashwords continues. The same week that I published, they had their Free E-reading week, with however many authors (self included) signed up to allow their work to be read for free.

This worked very well for me, since I hadn't grasped the coupon system yet. That first week I had three books 'sold', and the samples downloaded twice.

This may not sound a lot, but to me it's pretty exciting. At an e-publishing course I did a while ago, the presenter said frequently that it takes a slow start to gain momentum. We shall see.

Now I have the coupon ... KQ48G ... with which you will be able to get The Harrowing for free until the 30th of April. Just clicking on this, The Harrowing will get you there. 

The Harrowing, ePublished -- Hooray!

The Harrowing
This is it, epublished. 
At Smashwords.

Available in a variety of formats as seen below: 
FormatFull BookOnline Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser)ViewKindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps)

Words 2: Tags, Labels, Keywords and Search Terms

They might almost have been model for the 'spider bots' -- merely bits of programming, I understand -- crawling through the web to find the things required.

Everything typed into the google box is a search term. The spider bots take it and try to match it as closely as possible to whatever presents itself.

On this site, IE blogger/blogspot, searchable terms are called labels. Whatever label I set for this blogpost will appear at the bottom, check them out. ('Thommo' will be one of them, making it easy for his owners to find his guest appearance on this blog.)

In the HTML programming behind the scenes, that you can access by clicking on View on the browser menu bar above, and running down the pop-out menu to View Source, click on that to see the code necessary to bring this article up on your screen. Searchable terms are called 'keywords'. Smashwords uses 'Tags' for the same thing. 
Tags are the final component I need to marshal to be able to publish my…

Gathering the Necessities ...

... to publish on

I imagine much the same process as for other platforms.

1) Author bio and photo - see my About Me page. I'm particularly happy about this photo. A friend helped me after I took about 103 half and quarter shots the long-arm way. IE attempting to photograph yourself by holding the camera facing inward at the end of your arm.

2) The ISDN number - which I need if I want Smashwords to distribute my book to such publishers as Apple. When I googled "buy ISDN" an agency in Australia came up. I'm extrapolating that there will be agencies everywhere --Turkey, Russia, Indonesia -- wherever you live.

3) The "back cover" blurb for The Harrowing, as follows:

The Harrowing is a science fiction/fantasy meld, a tender love story from Seven Seas, a water planet. Most of the Nan are winged and roost on tall stone pillars rising from their sea. Only the brood-fathers return to the sea, there to raise the young.

Crash-landing, the aliens must gain…