Showing posts from January, 2015

Doodling Up a Garden Path

Half the fun producing some of these sketches is, I swear, titling them. With Up the Garden Path I could mean that's what it looks like to me, or that's where I am leading you.
This was a super easy 'work' to produce. 
Start with the photo of a texture, this one is concrete. Unrelieved by cracks or weeds, but close-up. 
Finger-paint various colours onto it until it begins to suggest something to you. 
Strengthen tone here and there to accentuate the idea. 
Call it by a name, and give it its identity. Hey, presto. A garden path!

Colouring In - Selfie 1

Why did this turn out so good when all the other colouring-over-the-top-of-photos exercises either changed entirely, or became boggy swamps? 
Close up photo with large well defined areas easily negotiable by fingers. 
Not too many colours. 
No attempt at shading after the blue stripe along the nose.

Still Finger Painting

A few simple lines over a heat-challenged photo look surprisingly effective.

Doodling over the top of photos is my new discovery.

And I'm finding I love these light bright colours. Subtle just doesn't do it with finger-painting quality.

The Broken Pen

A doodle. A weird hand shape. I don't yet have any wherewithal (read: software) with which I can superimpose words on art.

Learning iPad

Getting to grips with my not new any longer ipad is easier with something else to learn than just the slips and slides.

First I tried Valiant Hearts, a game. A historical WW1 game. I soon came to the limits of my speed and am stuck on some level that requires a couple of fell moves I no longer have in me. A question of reflexes.

Next is the sliding blocks game Shades. I'm still learning from it but not much.

Moving on.

I wanted something that would give me some useful skill, apart from being able to work the ipad.

Hit on ProCreate finally. While not free, I've already got my money's worth in meditational entertainment. It's quite calming to spend an hour 'finger-painting' (that's what I am up to) and producing imagery.

The crying sky is my limit, as you can see.

Kosi Lionhair etceteras

How easy would it be if I could use my favourite crystal wand (Thank you Mullum Music Festival Tree Fairies) and saying Abacadabra *  ** **have the whole of the Kosi Lionhair saga so far installed on Wattpad. 
Investigated it yesterday, though as most of you will know, I'm not one of the faeries, only a behind the scenes organiser, and so "Wattpad, here I come!" means I get there maybe next week. I will let you know. 
What I did forget to mention to Saturday Sceners and the blog's regular readers, is that I have updated the Kosi Lionhair page so that you can read up and including last fortnight's instalment, 15: The Life Lottery Intake, here. 

The Alchemy of Dutch and English

Wee o wee ...
Can be translated as
Dear oh dear ...
Except that 'wee' means 'woe'

In my youth, when my mother said "Wee o wee ..." to some child, it meant "Woe betide ..." We all understood that "if I find out that ..." came after it without being spoken.

As some of us became teenagers, in Australia, we'd say the Dutch words using an Australian pronunciation, as she threatened a younger miscreant.

"Way oh way ..."

Someone else would pun

"Weigh the consequences ..."

if my mother meant her words as a warning. The Dutch version would be "Wee je gebeente als je ...."

If a thing was being denied the younger child, some wise elder child would say,

"Where there is a will ...." A call to revolt, if I remember rightly.

My poor mother never could say anything to one child alone until the bulk of us had left home.


My first stop for an old word is an old dictionary. Van Goor's Engels Zakwoordenb…

The First Paragraphs, Second Draft

The Carbon-knitter, The Medic & the Dog
The first sentence intro's the POV character. The first paragraphs set the scene and tell something of the characters. And yet there is still something missing. I'm talking about the plot, of course. My usual story, I'm being caught up in narrative. 
Arbie folded her knitting into its smooth leather bag, and held the mare’s bridle to lead her into the stone gateway. Ed tied the reins to the cart’s brake and vaulted to the gravely ground. Within the gatehouse tunnel every noise was amplified it seemed to Arbie, as Ed shuffled loudly to join her for having their names recorded.
“Arbie Carbon-knitter.”
“Edward Medic.”
After some discussion along the road earlier, they’d decided to name themselves after their work. “It will help get us accepted without the usual suspicions,” Ed had said. Suspicions meant the contents of the cart having to be checked, and the sterilised medic’s supplies being pawed over.
One of the guards flanking the cl…

Metaphors for Living

Kali, Christ, the Goddess of All, God, the Holy Trinity, Maja, Shiva, and all the others are metaphors for proscribing how to live a moral life.

Metaphors for living are all the ways in which we get in touch with our own minds; and more, according to Jungian psychology, the way in which we get in touch with the Collective Unconscious.

To me the Collective Unconsciousness refers to the archetypes we all have imprinted in our DNA. These archetypes influence everything we do, everything we think consciously and unconsciously.

To me the Collective Unconsciousness is NOT the magical space beloved of New Agers that connects us to everything, all and the universe; and is imagined to be an amorphous all-containing cloud-like entity.

My archetypal inner shaman told me this morning to get my house in order. She is not going to give me any more solutions to story-problems until I have fixed up the big important thing that has fallen from my radar.

It's a bit like fortune telling, guessing w…

Constructing a Story, Stage 2

I can only tell you about writing by telling you how it is for me and encourage you to think about yours. 
The full title, in fact, is: Constructing a Story, Stage 2: combining the elements. As I am a seat-of-the-pants plotter, stage 1 is always with me. Elements, bits, pieces and little jewels rise to surface of my mind and are stitched into the work as I think of them.

After some thought, I discovered that I often get newsflash-sized ideas for a story in the shape of bits of dialogue. I write them down, or note them into my iphone, or on old envelopes. These give me the characters and the narratives they inhabit and are the very first elements I have to work with.

Yesterday, obviously as a result of the inspirational decision to use the carbon-knitter as a character for my sortie into Verb-land, I started getting ideas for a story using her. She is a character I had previously got to know for an anthology I submitted to, and gained a place in. (see Canterbury 2100)

Some of the ideas…

Three Short Journeys into Verb-land

When reading #SaturdayScenes, I’ve been noticing more and more viewpoint characters being put through their paces in a passive way. So it began to seem as if more people than just me sometimes are confused about achieving and maintaining an active voice for their main character.
The agent provocateur, as I sometimes think of my main character. Someone like the carbon-knitter.
A sentence of the subject-verb variety. Active voice, simple verb, simple past tense. The subject is the carbon-knitter … the carbon-knitter is the agent/the actor. 
Half my battle is going to be all the different words describing the behind-the-scenes concepts. Even when the carbon-knitter, while still knitting, is embedded in a more complex sentence, she remains the primary agent.
The main actor is still the POV character performing a series of actions. Knitting, riding, walking. I read somewhere that this kind of sentence is normally used for exposition or narrative, because it seems to open a distance bet…

Structuring A World

I'm having a problem. It's the same one for most of my stories in that they are mostly set in the same universe and it's this universe that's in disarray. There are stories teetering on holes. Falling through gaps never to be seen again. Sliding through rents where they are not meant to go. Why? Why? Why?
OK, people say, that's worldbuilding. 
Worldbuilding is great. I love it. is the site where I sometimes go to be remininded by way of a check-list if I have covered everything. EG of the first check list : About World Building – What is worlbuilding all about? General links about the topic.How-To’s and Guides – Guidelines, advice, tips, tricks, and general articles on how to build worlds.Other World Building Resource Collections – Sites that collect world building linksSoftware and tools – A little digital help to assist you with building worldsMaps and Geography – Information on map-making, cartography, and the general geographic makeup of a conworldWorl…

Point of Disbelief

Everyone is keen to talk about the need of consumers of fiction to be able to suspend their belief in reality for the duration of the fictional feast. And this is achieved by good writing, good research of world-building detail and back story, and even good grammar, punctuation and spelling on the part of the fantastical world's creators.

Nobody ever wants to talk about that moment in a story when a character and or reader comes upon their point of disbelief and has got to be written through it. 
Is that even necessary, I hear you say. Most stories are closed systems of belief after all, and it is the writer's responsibility to make sure story-logic hangs together from the get-go. No character, in for example, The Lord of the Ring needs ever to doubt the world he is in. 
Even such a modern day story as The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Stephen Sherril (2002) and reviewed here, is a closed system of belief. Every other character accepts the minotaur as one of them, if a 

What's in a Name?

As I begin to spruik my novel Monster-Moored, people are starting to ask me ... Why Tardi Mack?

What kind of name is that for a hero?

I live in a Rainbow Region, where hippies settled after a Woodstock-like event.

Since the Nimbin Festival people have made up new and meaningful names for their new babies, a custom that will continues into the area's future.

Tardi's mother, a Stormy-daughter, wanted her baby to be called Trader. Stormies respect traders.

Tardi's father, Herm, couldn't spell in his excitement, and mangled the name on the birth announcement form.

Tardi himself changed it to something manageable as soon as he could read and write it.

Herm used the brand of his first truck as his surname. At first to distinguish himself from all the other Herm's in his family, then from pride in his business, TLF&EC The Local Freight & Eventing Company. Eventually everyone forgot he had a 17-letter Greek family name.

Tardi never knew it.

Writing Who You Know

Am I suggesting what you suspect? Writing your father brothers sisters mother aunties and uncles? Friends? Am I saying you serve up your nearest and dearest, slightly disguised, on a plate? 
You know them better than you know yourself? (Time to post. Blogger is beginning to cramp up. I was going to add in an image. There's refusal somehow.)
I was a young woman once. I remember what it was like. In my younger days I often cast myself as a devil's advocate to someone's angelic exhortations. Yes, I am a bitch at times. All giving me plenty of material to write young women like Rowan, an antagonist causing much grief among my beta-readers.

How would I write a man? Nalbo is a few years older than I am. The way I sometimes feel, I might as well be old. He's human. I'm human. I've given him some of my stubbornness to contrast him with Cele, his wife best friend and partner in their project. She is also me, though she's better looking. She's young at heart most …

Found Objects: Feathers

Everywhere I walk, I pick stuff up.

Every little thing represents an idea.
Even the red prince. 
Though I put him up in a tree to fade away ...

All the feathers I'm finding these days will belong to a character I'm filling out with detail. He started as a skinny Second Husband but is being groomed to fill a much larger role. As a Second Husband he was able to be a Scholar. He picked linguistics for his studies so he could still be of use and his people set him and his scribe onto detecting? 
Because things are getting away from them. Toh are being murdered. So what, say the police. You want to know how many murders every year? But the Toh know there's more to it than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The different pieces of evidence left at one of the scenes point to a frightening scenario they would prefer to sweep under a carpet. They send the linguist to find the truth. 
From there, back to the feathers. As I picked up maybe the fifth, the idea for the Second …

My Walk ... To Palm Park

It's been a day to regret not being outside every minute with the sun shining clear and bright, yet not too warm.

Part of my town walk goes through Palm Park. When I step out I turn right and enjoy the avenue effect of my neighbours' kerb plantings.

I cross the road, which is on a low levee. This road dog-legs around the busy Post Office and takes 13 school buses to the stop behind the Post Office and everyone else driving straight into the back roads going west, hence it's busy about twice a day. 

We've turned left and are walking along the footpath beside the end of Burringbar Street which, two blocks back is the main shopping area. However, we're walking west, towards the junction of the two main streams of the Brunswick River. 
Most palms in the Northern Rivers region were planted in the 1970s to 1980s when people went crazy about palms. Palm Park originates from then too. Several species of the mainly introduced palms, eg Cocos Palm, became popular with our wild…

I Sit on my Back Deck

I sit on my back deck
Clouds lour and glower gray and grey
the soft air is still Its touch reminds me of the flavour of boiled water

A breath of coolth My head hair lies unmoved, so sheer an air lifts the fine furze along my arms.
An airy freshness remains

The bare earth in the bush house smells
of fungi furiously drinking
molecules of moisture that hardly reach that far.  An earthy mouldy fungal frenzy
Should I mist them?

I stay...

The breeze returns strong enough that mid-height
leaves and branches move.
A coolness spreads through the yard.
Twenty thirty feet up, palm fronds frill and fritter. Eucalyptus branches sweep and surge.

The stillness again …

I forget to breathe …

The moment passes as someone at the tyre shop two yards over, beats on a recalcitrant tyre, and my neighbour on the left shouts for his dogs to get from under his feet.
A car passes out front.

Then ...
a rain drop on my face ...

Then two, five, a splatter 
all over the page. 


We all have these moments when we sit around, waiting f…

Paper-based Reading versus the Other Process.

I forgive you if you're thinking what an old has-been topic this is. For you, maybe it is. Some of my readers continue to live in a present where Kindles are little used because paperbacks are readily available, for 50 cents, at every yard, garage and op shop sale.

I've read half a dozen novels on online/offline on computer screens, but finished my first Kindle-formatted novel last night. Or maybe it was formatted idiosyncratically. Probably I shouldn't judge Kindle by this one representative.

Though I will trick Monster-Moored out with page numbers when I am that far.

The Kindle experience gave me no page numbers. Instead the Kindle-program (on my iPad) recorded my reading progress with percentages, and estimates as to how long it would take me to finish. For example about 80% through, it gave me 1 hour 33 minutes.

Of course I started wondering how many algorithms the software had beavering away just under surface of words and sentences. What multiples of readers did the…

About the Organisation of this Blog

This blog post is purely me thinking through the blog re-jigging process and the results. 
While re-organising the 'labels' section, I lost some of the specificity possible with an anything-goes system of up to a hundred labels but the long tail of one-time posts on the many topics wasn't helpful to anybody, least of all myself.

Specificity in this case is out-weighed by easier usage, I'm hoping. I've ended up with about 43 labels in three loose groups.

First level elements are the ones we start with. Ideas, which are headed as "Ideas: where from". Bricks such as words, sentences, punctuation are listed as-is ... For example "words", "world-building".

There is of course a fair bit of overlap. "Worldbuilding" can thought of as an element as well as a process. "Writing" can be an activity, a craft, or the putting-together-of-all-the-other elements.

Second level elements about the processes involved in writing a ficti…

Revisiting an Old Blog Posting: Characterisation

While I'm going through my old posts and labelling them again using the new scheme, I'm finding posts that I don't mind being reminded about, such as this post (October 2010) on the characterisation of Tardi Mack, hero of the Monster-Moored Series.


I was again trying to pin down my ideas for the Monster-Moored series, “once and for all”. How often have I already thought those words? I re-realised, once again, that my stories always start with a character. Tardi Mack, in this case.

And so, to be able to hang a plot onto his life, I need a character arc for the whole 500 years. That number is merely a reminder from me to myself that to fit in all the territory I want to cover, the saga needs to be longer than just a couple of generations. That’s the plan, as Summer says to Mal at the end of Serenity. Though I’m still learning the trick of spinning a long life thread.

For the Tardi/alien mental relationship in Part I (Monster-Moored) I went back to William Sargant’s litt…
Atul Gawande Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance 2008 Profile Books London.

This is a repost from a few years ago, but there aren't many weeks that I don't try to be a 'Positive Deviant' .... see below.
The sorting trolley at the local library can be the source of good reads without having to go to the shelves. When I’m in a hurry, must not tarry and cannot not allow myself to get sidetracked, I stick with the sorting trolley. There will be the usual squad of noirish detective fiction. The odd sf and fantasy. Literature. And a few non fictionals. Like this one. Better: a surgeon’s notes on performance.
I opened it a quarter of the way through, my usual check, and began to read. Page 65, the chapter heading was Casualties of War. Why soldiers refused to wear their goggles and that the reason for the increasing eye injuries. I glanced back at page 64, where a section conclusion said, Ask a typical American hospital what its death and complication rates for surgery were …