Monday, December 29, 2014

Kosi Lionhair Page Rejigged

This is a photo from
The buildings of Parra7 reflected in the water they stand in. 

A couple of reasons decided me to rejig the Kosi Lionhair Page rather than start another blog.

1) The on-going problem getting good art,  I have to work on that but the Page needed to be changed now.

2) I rescued this story from a blog that wasn't working. It's like revisiting old unsuccessful territory.

3) A blog works in the same way that the Page works. A reader constantly has to scroll up and down to get to the beginnings of chapters. This is quite an old blog lay out. If I get a new one I may be able to link chapters within a page to their chapter names.

4) I want to leave all my publishing options open.

How I have changed the Page.

1) I summarized Chapters 1-10

2) I'm presenting Chapter names in the same order that the chapters appear.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Re-inventing Christmas.

Christmas Decorations in 2014
The austerity of the past few Christmases appears to be over with this re-invention of the Christmas ambience.

I always used to organise a real pine tree, real candles and all the decorations gathered over the eagle-chick's childhood years. And kept it up for for or five years after he left the nest.

Then I let it all go and for a few years had nary a pine branch, a candle or any bits of glitter.

I bought the lights this year. Impulse at Woollies. Was able to lay my hands on the handmade Christmas cards from previous years easily (without having to fetch a ladder from the garage, reach through the manhole into the ceiling cavity and root around for the Christmas decorations stowed there for the year), and added in the cards of these year pegging them to a bright cloth.

I love the little LED lights. Great invention. You can have bright and cheer without the worry of fires. Or extra heat. They reflect everywhere, multiplying the effect.

Christmas Day we joined the extended family for a wonderful dinner cooked by the middle pair of sisters, augmented by the older pair of sisters. The youngest pair of sisters helped set the table. The party played out over the deck and in the pool.

Today we had one of those uncomfortably hot and humid Boxing Days. Perfect couch-potato weather. That with the smoke in the air from a bushfire somewhere up the road led to having the air-con on in the daytime.

And watching TV communally. The cricket. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. And later laughing shamefacedly at the world's funniest home videos.

Special food this year was all bought in. Cooked sliced pork and smoked salmon. Quinoa salad with shaved coconut, slivered almonds and coriander. A lettuce and tomato salad. Blueberries. A selection of Turkish Delight for dessert.

Is Boxing Day a tradition through the whole English speaking world? Or only Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Kosi Lionhair as a Blog: Will I or Won't I?

A Pretend Picnic in the Tween House, Hen's Pocket Knife
Due to the difficulties I'm having finding solutions to seemingly intractable Blogger problems, and the time it is taking coming to the intractability conclusion, I'm thinking of converting the Page where I'm archiving Kosi Lionhair to its own blog.

Not all plain sailing.

First I will need to get art quick smart. IE before I start the blog. I always feel that I have wasted an opportunity for communication + if I post without a picture.

Second are decisions such as am I going with the set pattern? Or am I going dynamic? Obviously dynamic is the 'should'. People read on their phones. I don't know how, but I expect their eyes and fine motor skills are younger than mine.

Third is the kind of art I should hope for. Or make that, organise for. I'd love not to have to do too much thinking in this direction. Because thinking = time, no matter that I love making the art. I also made a choice. Writing it is. One thing I can do is re-purpose art already on hand. In the above case by taking a shot from Hezzie's story and transferring it into the Kosi Lionhair story.

Fourth, in conjunction with the above, is the increased knowledge I need in relation to size and dpi and resolution. If for example I ask various young people to produce some of the art for me. The previous thing I published is all wrong according to someone working in the field. I always want to ask, what field is that exactly?

Fifth. I don't really want to think up another consideration though I'm sure I'll find one or two. Time will tell.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

When Planning Goes Out the Door

I often wonder how writers who plan their days manage it. With the time for writing, eating, socialising etc in specific hours. The whole day is scheduled. How do they manage when inspiration hits? I wonder whether that time is also meted out, and the tap turned off when the hours are done?

Today was slated to be a day of housework. Not that I write these chores on a slate. More like an old envelope. A list of jobs to be done before Saturday. The cool weather after the storm. Perfect day for it.

The remains of the plague of Argentinian Scarab Beetles needed to be swept up, the ants trying to move indoors had to be vacuumed as well as the clots of dust and dandelion parasols lying about.

Ants all over the ceiling.
They have not accepted the new arrangements yet. 
I woke before dawn and spent the next hour planning the beginning chapters of a novel not-on-the-go. Why that one, I don't know. I'm up to date with my Saturday Scenes post. I'm needing inspiration on Old Gaunt, the prequel to Monster-Moored which is still with the beta-readers. The Owl project is in abeyance. What else?

Did I read at breakfast? I don't recall.

I knew I shouldn't sit down in front of the computer because I'd start writing. I folded washing. Vacuumed beetles. Vacuumed ants from overhead. Dusted corners and shifted a set of shelves. Earned myself a cup of coffee.

I knew I shouldn't sit in front of the ... but I did, coffee in hand. I knew I shouldn't start writing so I read everything I have already written of the this novel not-on-the-go. A couple of times admired my own writing, tutted over the need for some serious editing. Lunchtime passed without my notice.


A friend arrived to ask about rain gauges and how to record. I photocopied her a couple of charts. after she'd gone a realised how hungry I was. More sitting down. I started writing the new beginning chapter of the novel not-on-the-go. I don't even have a working title for it yet. Or rather I had one that didn't suit. Wrote. Two thousand words.

Had to stop or miss my walk. Dark coming on. Need for food prep. Eating. Watched a rerun of The Vikings with that haunting music and the impossibly blue-eyed Australian actor as Ragnar Loftbroggen.  Emails. This.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reviving Kosi Lionhair

When I posted the first instalment of Kosi Lionhair on #saturdayscenes I didn't make any changes from its previous incarnation. Then I reread the rest of the material. for future Saturdays, you understand. I remembered the difficulties I had with the plot. And remembered that I was unable to finish it ...

It was so long ago that I've lost the sketch-portrait I made of Kosi.

Kosi Lionhair began life about five years ago when I thought to expand the envelope, and write a novel in instalments and blog them, journal style, in the voice and POV of a young girl. Naturally writing into the universe I am still discovering, of the Australia Archipelago, a bunch of islands where once was a continent.

This particular story starts in one of the old cities with most of its buildings now with their feet in the tide. (the 'now' being in the present time in the story, 2210+/- AD).

So after I retrieved this one from the various files and after re-reading everything, I first straightened out the convoluted event horizon. I imposed a simplified plot adapted from the various aspects and decided I would need to toss quite a bit.

Well no I usually don't trash very easily. The detritus is sitting below the red line, waiting to be looked at with the Holmesian magnifying glass.

These days I do Scene Maps. A table, across the top 1) Name and number of scene, 2) Plot/Timeline 3) Observable actions 4) Observable emotions.

A couple more columns specifically for the particular story I'm working on. For Kosi Lionheart I'll be thinking particularly about 5) Technology because a large part of the story takes place in a spaceship, and 6) Politics because the powers-that-be of the day need to be convinced to allow Kosi and her friends to return to Earth.

EG of first row of Scene Map for Kosi Lionhair:

Observable Action/What’s New
Observable Emotions
1, Kosi Lionhair

Starting in Tween house for linear. 
Peering thru louvres;
13 is for eating birthday cake, picking your proper name & going outside on your own
Complained about her father
Scrubber to take out smells in the air
Tween houses for illegal children held in reserve against disaster. 
“These days, the Life Lotteries target the families of the government’s enemies.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Distracted is not the Same thing as Distraction

Ha ha, I apparently was so distracted getting the Owl Project ready for its launch, I practically rewrote my first post about it.

No, I won't post that nestbox again.

Perhaps a cute owl this time ...

Boobook eyes by Ross Hollands

However, I hardly touched the subject of owls today, preparing instead a story for submitting it to a Ticonderoga Publications Anthology.  

>>>>> And it's away. 

Maybe tomorrow, after I have unofficially launched the owls into the ether, I can get back to Monster-moored. 

The day after that, the 18th, is the National Landcare Conference and at high noon I'm told is the official launch of the Pozible/LandcareNSW Environmental Collection! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Life as an Owl Nestbox Procuror

I've been reading the Queensland Writers Centre Magazine about getting distracted. How to stop yourself not writing 3000 words by the end of the day. Of course, reading about getting distracted is allowing yourself to get distracted about getting distracted.

I had the latest draft of my novel Monster-Moored 80% done when I was asked to help with the Nest-boxes for Owls project, a crowdfunding campaign on the new Pozible platform, their new partnership with NSWLandcare.
Owl Nest-box

How could I refuse? We were one of 15 such projects in Australia, to be launched on the Landcare Anniversary day, in Melbourne ... always considering if we can get it together by then.

This was about a month ago. I learned about owls for the first week, sourced owl images. I just knew  that was going to be the hardest part. Ha ha.

I studied up on the Pozible requirements for the second week. Sourced Owl images. Still the hardest part.

Then started learning how to make the recommended 2 minute video. The hardest part.

It was meant to be 2 minutes long and it is not.

iMovie was meant to be intuitive and it was not. I had some lessons, thank you LR.

Spent all week on it and then some.  It was meant, to my ideas, to have owls hooting but it has not. Owls do more hissing than hooting and the calls are difficult to insert in the clips.

Now I am typing in the dark, practically. My movie must be uploaded onto Youtube before it can be embedded into my campaign on the Pozible site. Easy lemon squeazy, says Youtube.

First I had to discover that I have a channel courtesy of +Google and didn't need to sign in or dig up my little used password. So, the uploading is in process. A draft has been saved. Processing is taking forever. Is there something wrong with its format?

The platform tells me that: Your video has been queued and will be processed as soon as possible, And it says keep the page alive.

You mean I can't walk away and find a jumper and cook my dinner?

The deadline approaches!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Not Enough Weeks in August

You can tell I've had a super busy August by the dearth of posts. The first week of August was all about learning about Owls.

Oops, that was meant to be a secret. I wasn't meant to let the owl out of the bag. Or should I say out of its nesting box?

Got one of those now, from Hollow Log Homes, just in time to be included in the start of the campaign.

Nesting Box for small owls and other hollow-nesting species

The second and most of the third week were about studying how to put together the campaign. Lots of study of the different Pozible campaigns. Why they succeeded. Why some of them didn't make it. 

The rest of August went in trying to catch up with myself and making a start on learning how to put the video together. Finally I located someone who offered to teach me the nitty gritty. We started this morning, full of good intentions. 

Spent a fruitless three hours with our techie hats on. The upshot of it all was that video shot on iPhone 4 will transfer to iMovie in widescreen format only. 

It's back to the drawing board with only a few days before the campaign is due for vetting by the two sponsors. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My New Techie Hat

Finally I've been able to provide myself with a techie hat to accompany my posts on my trials and tribulations using technology.

I made this one using Procreate on an iPad, and had a lot of fun finger-painting it. Procreate is one of the few programs I've ever come across that lives up to the 'intuitive' label. I will even go so far as to say that it was relaxing to sit around and do a bit of unimportant fly-by-night creativity.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pride Goeth Before the 11th Percentile

A friend told me about brain training quite a long time ago, a couple of months at least, encouraging all and sundry into it.

[There was an image here of a cutaway head with a brain inside it, I couldn't make it stick]

I thought, why I would need to do anything like that with everything I am already doing? Blogs. Writing. Landcare funding applications. Learning fungi names. etc.

Recently, sitting around, I needed something. A puzzle. When I had a PC I would turn to the Mah-jong. I was seriously addicted to that. It is unfindable on Mac. Too hard to download without a crossover software which are difficult to use in themselves. no more Mah-jong.

I was going to use the time I spent on the game, on the fungi collection. But I'm bogged down where the collection is concerned. It is unwieldy now, too many records. Not enough categories. I've researched databases without finding anything appropriate.

I signed up with out of sheer frustration.

Did the baseline test.

My scores range from 11% to 33% for my age group.

Obviously a lot of room for improvement!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Trouble with Formatting Pages

I've reverted the page Monster-Moored to its draft state. I can't make the formatting of the successive Saturday Scenes work. They scramble when the page is opened, so that paragraphs are lost from the top and tail, sometimes placed in the middle of other areas.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

While I am Editing

One of the most difficult things while editing is to stay on task! Here I am catching up my blogs. Yesterday I was gardening.
A Spiky Spider to get distracted about. What a beauty! 

The other day I took a couple of hours out to shift my worm farm into a place more amenable to running out into the weather with a few vegetable scraps.

A semi-final edit doesn't require much of the world building type of creativity.
It's more a case of re arranging scenes for a better run up to the dramatic unfolding.
Inserting an explanatory sentence here and there to make plainer your story/premise/character's journey.
Re seeding clues where needed, or seeding them.
Rewriting a bit, or a lot, of telling. To show the character's actions and visible proof of emotions.
Always deleting empty words.
And always and always checking spelling, punctuation and grammar.

A Balloon of Hot Air is a metaphor
for a story of empty words
I have only come to understand the problem of empty words since beginning to come to grips with the Showing vs Telling Edict.

Chatting on, such as on a blog or in a face-to-face social situation, we use a lot of words empty of meaning to smoothe our listeners, to signal things about ourselves IE do we care about social niceties, or are we rude? And we place-hold, as in keeping the conversation going while we think what next to say. Because we're always thinking on the hop, as it were.

Compare that last paragraph, to it below without its empty words:
Chatting on,... on a blog ... a face-to-face ... situation, we use ... words ... to smoothe our listeners and to signal things ...IE do we care ... social niceties, or are we rude? ... place-hold ... keeping the conversation going .... Because we're ... thinking on the hop, ...

There are probably more words we can do without, to get the meaning.

In a story words need to forward the action, describe the characters and the scenery. I read somewhere that every word in a manuscript should generate imagery. What do you think?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Vege Brag

Vegetable Harvest
Winter where I am in the Byron Shire, is mild enough most of the time that with a bit of water added, it's possible to grow a good selection of vegetables. This haul is from the day before a frost.

Three kinds of kale; of the three lettuce sorts, this one is the oak leaf variety; two parsleys, though I only eat the flat leaf variety; of the two sorts of chives in the garden this is the ordinary one, and a dozen cherry tomatoes.

Interestingly though, the frost this week took out only the vegetables growing at the edges of the beds. The curly lettuce suffered as did the Scottish kale. The flat leaf parsley may recover. The curly parsley is fine. The garlic chives are fine, the ordinary parsley didn't like it. The baby ginger plant didn't like the cold and will probably turn up its toes. (Die.)

The rhubarb is still thriving. A new crop in my yard, the plants are only small yet. I don't expect to eat them until summer. The cherry tomatoes grow wild through the yard. A few of the more exposed plants are frost blackened. Most are okay.

I'm hoping that my newly planted spinach survived. They look all right.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Shortest Walk in Town

My shortest walk takes me down the street I live on to the newest landcare site; along a walking track and past another landcare site, over a foot bridge, through the carpark next to the town swimming pool; along a main artery into the 'business district', over a road bridge, back into my street and home.

The drive next to my house where I begin nearly everyone of my town
walks. The left border is planted out with native vegetation. To the right
the timber for the front porch awaits the return of the builders.

 I cross the street to the foot/bike path and turning my face into the
afternoon sun, walk to the newest of our Landcare
plantings at the end of the street. 

The Landcare site with Mullumbimby Creek below, through the young trees.
The new plants are in the foreground, heavily mulched with camphor laurel
wood chips. The river here is part of the Marine Estuary Park as it is tidal.
Low tide at the time of taking the photo.

From the planting site I walk along the newly concreted footpath toward where Saltwater Creek crosses the path to converge with Mullum Creek (local useage) to the right in the photo, behind the trees. The last house in the street is just out of sight to the left. 

Another Landcare planting to the left of the path. The native trees are between three and five years old. We had some good years with lots of rain when they went into the ground. The dead trees at the back (on the creek bank)  are the camphor laurels, a common woody weed. We poison them and they die over time providing roosts and perches for local birds in the meantime. To the right of the path are weeds weeds weeds. We're not allowed to touch them. I walk over the footbridge over Saltwater Creek.
From the footbridge I turn left and walk through a gravel and grassed
car-park next to the town swimming pool, closed for the winter. (with temperature
of about 3 degrees forecast for tonight the water will be pretty nippy)
I turn left again onto a footpath and road bridge. The tree is a Firewheel Tree.
The Saltwater Creek road bridge. This is the footpath. The road
makes a dogleg up ahead before it runs into the shopping street. 
Saltwater Creek from the road bridge. It is still low tide and
hardly a dribble of water can be seen here. We in our
Landcare group are proud of this section of the creek.
Both banks have riparian forest growing along them. The
planting to the left is fifteen years old and even  looks like forest. 

From here my walk is about another fifty paces before I turn left again into Whian Street, where I live. Another twenty meters and I am home. As I said this is my shortest walk. Not for exercise, but to check on the new Landcare site. Or to see various places where fungi might have come up after rain. Or to get a breath of fresh air when the weather is wet or too windy to go far. Or to check the tide. Or to get an idea. Or ...

Friday, June 27, 2014

My First Posting to #SaturdayScenes

(Obviously need a pic here, or the Saturday Scenes graphic. But another first was retrieving the pic below from dropbox. Me oh my)

First scene from Monster-Moored for #SaturdayScenes
(Google+ doesn't let formatting through, will have to dust off my HTML for bolding and paragraphing)

1. Tardi Possessed
Tardi stopped paddling. He sat up on his surfboard. He imagined his legs hanging in the sea, shark bait, and hurriedly compared the distances from himself, a dot in the bay, to Cape Byron in the southeast, the Quarry Lane ridge, and Mt Chincogan in the north.
He slid into the water and checked the undersea to the blue limits of his goggle-augmented sight. No, there weren’t any large grey marauders anywhere taking an interest in him. If there were, Polk loved to say, nature would have its way. No use agonizing over your death by shark before the fact. For a top surfer, Tardi remained stupidly frightened of white pointers. The local sharks, grey nurses, were micro-chipped with human aversion technology.
Up for a breath.
He duck-dived to get an accurate fix on his position. The Twin Camel Humps, the stony hillocks that once were signposted as The Pass were below him. Dragging his board along by the leg-rope he swam to the ocean-side of the Humps where a sunken prawn trawler lay.
He’d paddled out to check the weird new coral. Just the thing for an under-wave shot for the video he was putting together for his application for the Virtual Surfing job. Which he needed for rent money. Which he needed to move out of the depot. It’d been eight years since Steve’s accident and his father would probably never forgive Tardi for his part in it.
His stroke became erratic as he remembered the disaster. 
Concentrate! Get out from under the old man’s rule and you won’t need to remember it all the time. He glimpsed the silvery clumps out of the corner of his eye. The silver coral grew in a squared pattern – ten rows of the clumps – over the wreck’s upper flank. In a pattern at all, they had to have been seeded there.
Up again for a breath of air.
He checked the sea surface for triangular fins. The east was too bright to see much with the sun still only a couple of hand-widths above the horizon. He turned in the water by sculling with his hands and kicking with his feet. The coast was dark blue and rumpled with hills. The surface of the sea was like a bronze mirror. No wind. No swell either. His surfboard only moved because he came near it, troubling the water.
He squeezed his eyebrows together to adjust his new live-mind goggles for magnification, took a deep breath and dived to the limit of his leg rope. The early sunlight trembled through the glassy green-blue water and reflected off the barbs, is what he called the silver coral’s trembling hair-like structures. He decided that the sun’s rays glancing over the hairs caused the shimmering-net effect people told him about.
Up again.
Another long look in every direction over the water surface.
His surfboard lifted a centimeter or so.
He counted seconds, hanging in the water. Twenty.
The board lifted again.
Cooler water from the depths raised goose bumps on his legs. It’s the swell starting. Get on with it.
grung grung grung grung grung grung
A vibration. He sank to hear it underwater.
Rung grung, rung grung, rung grung.
Sounded like an engine. Nothing to see yet. He trod water against the increasing strength of the swell. Could it be the Virtual Diving Boat? He grinned without letting water in. He wouldn’t mind a ride after he got his sequence. He kicked upward to contact the driver.
The water trembled, he with it, the boat was that near!
The white keel cut through the blue underwater morning, straight at him.
The stupid diver! He sculled frantically down and backward.
The boat lifted over a final little swell. Crashed onto his surfboard.
A force clad in a million bubbles punched him backward, toward the wreck. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spoiler Alert for "A Feast for Crows"

Still re reading the GRRM series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Started on A Feast for Crows this morning. The Prologue introduces a mob of students studying to become maesters at the Citadel in Oldtown. Or not, we have to suspect in the case of Pate, the viewpoint character.

He is, after all, one of the Pates made famous on where a contributor thought of all the characters called Pate (there appear to be six or seven) as cannon fodder. Not that the originator of this theory used those words. I can't remember her/his exact turn of phrase.

If you've been to you'll know the impossibility of finding that comment again. It's a complex and densely written into site. I like it and even have an avatar that I confess I use but sparingly. My haunt tends to be the heresies.

One negative of being a writer is that I can now never read a novel and not be studying how the author solves the problems I encounter while writing. This morning I particularly noticed how GRRM ties descriptive passages (narration) to the viewpoint characters.

I quote, "He has a mocking name for everyone, thought Pate, but he could not deny that Marwyn looked more a mastiff than a maester. As if he wants to bite you." p9 of my 2011 paperback edition. Paragraph then goes into a more extended description of Marwyn the so called Mage without further reference to and by Pate until two paragraphs later. An informative conversation by the students about dragons and dragon-glass candles follows. Pate asks about the use of a candle that casts no light.

The italics are GRRM's. When I first read him, I thought they were a good way of indicating thinking. I did it too for a while, IE italicising thought. It raised the ire of many a reviewer. It seems only GRRM can get away with it. I don't know why.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Disappointment, Searching, Searching, Frustration and ... *&^%!!

Pair of Coprinus-like delicates, R de Heer

My fungi collection is getting so large, with over 300 species and 1800 photos, it is quite unwieldy to navigate through. Every time I put in new records, there's miles of scrolling to do.

Once I decided that I'd be better off with a database program, in which I could then also record notes about the fungi, I assumed I'd be able to download MS Access. I used that program about fifteen years ago and thought it would come back to me despite ongoing improvements. I began with watching some YouTube training videos.

Discovered along the way that MS Access can only be used on Mac platforms with Windows installed as well.

Too difficult.

I was disappointed to say the least.

Started researching my options. The Cloud seemed to be my best bet. Signed up on a couple programs to try them out. This one was too difficult. I want a relational program but I don't need all the math. That one wasn't as intuitive as it said it was. It seemed to be using a different language from everyone else. Another wasn't professional enough. How could I trust them with my data when I'm not comfortable being in the cloud as it is.

It seems I'm having to be a regular Goldilocks about database software?

The search continues.

Sunset Photo

Higher resolution version, R de Heer

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunset in the Byron Shire

Sunset with Wollumbin, R de Heer

One result of the Sangeang Api volcano eruption recently was this gorgeous sunset in the Byron Shire.  The camera is looking to the north. Mt Warning/Wollumbin can just be seen sticking above the gap in the ranges. 

I quote from WIKIpedia, "Mount Warning is a volcanic plug of the now-gone Tweed Volcano located in Australia, 14 kilometres west-south-west of Murwillumbah, in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, near the border with Queensland." 

The hills nearer at hand to the left are the Koonyum Range, the escarpment formed by the eroded shield-eruption  of the Tweed Volcano. The cliffs are rhyolite, rock and soil are basalt.

To the right is the nearest low range that ends in Mullumbimby's own landmark, Mt Chincogan

The photographer herself is perched on a high bank above the road circling Hospital Hill, intent on not slipping down the already dew-wet grass. 

At the top of the hill is this object, part of the town water supply, decorated in the usual exuberance:

Artists Unknown, Photo by R de Heer

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Distraction, the Number One Hole in the Road

Spore print of an unremembered fungus fruiting body

The last three blogposts are nice examples of what I'm allowing myself to be distracted by from writing. There's other off-line stuff happening too. My mother is in hospital 45 minutes away by car, so there are hospital visits to fit in.

I'm organising a Fungi Workshop for World Environment Day, which is to take place on Friday 6 June, 2-5PM. I'm trying to finish off the renovations. IE he spare room, which still has to be painted. It's empty, that's as far as I have got. 

Yesterday I read DM Cornish's explanation for not being able to continue with his WIP and it resonated. Rang like a bell, in other words. I've been sitting on 50 000 words, about halfway the draft (Monster-Moored) for about two weeks. 

I finally figured it out. Like DM Cornish is stuck because he fears to write "the moment/scene in ECONOMOUS that motivated me to start his story in the first place"; so do I fear to write the scene in which Tardi Mack has to face his Point of Disbelief. 

It's halfway the novel. Crunch time. An important scene. I keep thinking how it wasn't that important before. What happened? A rewrite is what happened, I tell myself again. A chance to make the story stronger. Just do it. It's not that easy, I complain. 

There is nowhere to go once you become conscious of your unconscious strategies. I will get back to it. 

DM Cornish wrote The Monster-Blood Tattoo series known as The Foundling series in the US and Canada. A wonderful if dark story supported by Cornish's own illustrations and a well-

hanging together transmogrification of English requiring a large appendix, but such fun. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Designing and Constructing Book Covers

There is plenty of material everywhere once I started to search. Not all of it helpful but we all need to run with what suits us best.

I have had a go at doing my own.
It is what it is. An amateur's work. It isn't getting the look-ins.

So I searched first for people doing for me. If I want good surreal art, available on it'll be $100 to $250 and that in US dollars.

But I could only budget for that if I was publishing a novel, for example. For publishing short stories, I need to find another way. Came across Joanna Penn again. She has a fabulous website with much wonderful advice. I had it in my bookmarks. How often do we look at those after you have a few dozen?

Saturday it rained. After a spent an hour or so at the Mullum Big Picture meeting, I went home and using MS Word produced the following:
Book Cover Prototype 1

This is a first try. There are probably dozens of things that can be improved. I'm seeing for instance that the banner across the middle stops too soon, When did that happen? That the title is too near the top of the banner, my byline too near the bottom. Not where I put them. 

The bit of (actual) batwing on the right hand side is a placeholder. For to have a figure in the foreground, I do need an expert's help. The Creative Penn gives me a list of sites where I can get such help. Everyone writing about book cover design warns against using MS Word's fonts. Obviously the above are. Placeholders? Maybe. 

Water and sky in their unchanged state are from ; the batwing is my own photo.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Knitting Noro and Knitting Nice

Strips of lace knits, by R de Heer
A few years ago, when we still had a craft and yarns shop in our town, I became obsessed with the colour play possible in the mixing and matching of Noro sock yarns.

Unbeknown to either of us, JL and I both knitted on the diagonal all that winter. We told each other that we were knitting. What we were knitting. How relaxing it was. How good it felt to watch TV and still produce some thing worthwhile.

I did mine in strips with a comfortable width (about 20 cm/ 8 inches). My intentions at the time, I seem to remember, was to use all the possible openwork and lace stitches in my extremely old knitting dictionary, and use them on the diagonal.

The rules we set ourselves!

I started with socks I now recall, completing just one of the pair. My mother knitted two pairs of socks a week, every week at the time. She kept the whole family including 14 grandchildren, and 6 great grand children in socks, as well as the monthly street stall run by the facility she is in. There was no point.

The yarn shop shut down, I settled down to the renovations at my house, I broke my wrist etc etc. No knitting for the whole of that winter. This winter, though, I could hardly wait. And since 2014 is the year that I finish projects, I thought I'd get out the strips, whatever they would turn out to be.

I'm planning a long vest. I'm knitting the yoke now, then sewing or crocheting the pieces onto it.

I ordered a final (hopefully) skein of Noro yarn online. While I waited for its delivery, I sewed in yarn ends and I got to know the strips again. The glowing colours. The stitches I used. The problems I had with turning the direction of the slant sometimes, on the right in the pic.

Plenty of questions were raised by knitting lace stitches along the diagonal -- the oblique openwork stitch became vertical as seen on the left in the pic. Some stitches couldn't be done at all, the continual increasing on one side, decreasing on the other, threw their patterning in complete disarray and led to lots of frogging as you northern hemisphere knitters say.

I've got the whole lot hidden under a couch cushion as my cat Maggy loves to knead and nest among new knits.

For your interest:

Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary, 900 Stitches and Patterns for knitting, crochet, patchwork, jacquard, afghan, fork & technics. Translated and adapted into English (from French) by Margaret Hamilton-Hunt, 1971.

Prices at the time: USA & Canada $1.98; UK 75 NP; AUS & NZ $AU 1.50.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Stage 2 of Rejig

New banner pic is courtesy of a site of free stock photos, and the kindness of the original artist for posting it up to be used by all and sundry.

I don't remember where I got the original pic from, The Hot Sun, and that was the trouble. It may have been copyrighted, and apart from that I'm seeing that red hot sun regularly now, applied to different stories.

The self-shadow, in the field, taking natural images. I'm still looking for an easy-to-learn photo amending program to have a go at producing my own book covers.

There are a range of cheap book covers available, but not cheap enough that I can afford to publish short stories using them. Nor are they really what I like.

I think it is becoming a case of DIYing, although the various professionals warn against that, saying that it doesn't convert into sales.

It's a quandary.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stage 1 of Rejigging My Blog

Stage 1 of rejigging my blog is putting up a page dedicated to posts about Monster-Moored with a sample ...  


Chapter One: Tardi Possessed

Tardi stopped paddling. He sat up on his surfboard. He imagined his legs hanging in the sea, shark bait, and hurriedly compared the distances from himself, a dot in the bay, to Cape Byron in the southeast, the Quarry Lane ridge, and Mt Chincogan in the north.

He slid into the water and checked the undersea to the blue limits of his goggle-augmented sight. No, there weren’t any large grey marauders anywhere taking an interest in him. If there were, Polk loved to say, nature would have its way. No use agonizing over your death by shark before the fact. Tardi remained stupidly frightened of white pointers for a top surfer. The local sharks, grey nurses, were micro-chipped with human aversion technology. Up for a breath ....  

read the rest of this chapter here on the Monster-Moored dedicated page. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Writing a Synopsis

Storm Front over Cemetry
This pic is for the novel I'm trying to finish this year, Monster-Moored. In lieu of a surfer on his board I give you this snap of a storm front arriving. I'm still organizing getting some art.

I've been writing seriously for fifteen years this year and I have just achieved what I think is a good synopsis after composing hundreds of the contrary little critters.

Up to now I have tried to make do with summaries of facts. It never worked. Always too long, too much like writing the book again in short hand.

What is the use, I used to rail, I'm writing the book to find all this out.

This time, after some suggestions by Jeff Vandemeer in his Wonderbook, (link is to the Amazon sales page) I composed a net of connections between characters and saw finally what kind of story I was writing.

Wow! I am still agog over the insight provided by a simple diagram. Monster-moored is not at all the story I thought I was writing. I believed that what turned out to be the major theme, was a minor chord at most. The monster in the title is competing with at least three other characters for the major character's attention. The flavour is still science fantasy, as nearly all my stuff is, but the theme is love in all its guises.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Re reading A Song of Ice and Fire

This week, while visiting and needing a book to read, I caved in and picked up A Game of Thrones, the first instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin, thinking that since I had the series at home I needn't worry about not being able to finish.

It's been about three years since I read this instalment and I am amazed at the things I am learning for the first time.

So far I've picked up a couple of new facts (or facts I don't remember) per chapter. In the prologue it's mainly been sensory details. 'The soft metalic slither of the lordling's ringmail'; 'The taste of cold iron in his mouth gave him comfort'; 'His face pressed hard against the trunk of the sentinel.'

Having read the series at least twice before and being obsessive about the TV series, this is the first time I'm reading without the pressure to resolve the suspense of the next thing to happen.

I'm finding that reading the whole story, all the detail, requires a different pacing, a different way of seeing the text. Spending more time on each sentence is allowing me to pick up the small groats of information that add up to the complex whole picture, and I'm appreciating GRRM's writing all over again.

On page 8 of my paperback copy (Cover is brown with the dragon's head, published in 2011) I learned about the Other's armor for the first time. 'Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.' I find this last sentence especially, very evocative, and surely would've remembered it if I'd read it before?

I'm shaking my head over the fact that I must've just glossed over this paragraph upon my first two reads! What else did I miss?

This, of course, is the reason to keep books beyond one reading. Every so often I meet people who never re-read, they say. Hard to believe, though I'll grant you that few stories have the strength to support more than one reading.

Thank you RH, for the wonderful bookshelves you made me!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Death to Sentences?

Yesterday I picked up a book to read that I bought in a yard sale. (In Australia normally called a garage sale) Published in 1984.

I read the author's note. Quite interesting. Studied the diagram of the ship, quite interesting. Started reading.

About halfway down paragraph one I had to stop to catch my breath. I looked for the punctuation to tell me the end of the sentence. None.  And not until the end of the paragraph?

As a first sentence, even a first paragraph did it grab me?
Couldn't make head or tails out of it. It goes on and on and on. In fact, I stopped to count the words. 

One hundred and forty five words in the sentence, and the first sentence of the book at that! Am I reading that book? No way Hozay. 

While in my apprenticeship of learning to write, I was advised to use no more than fifteen words in a sentence. Certainly the first sentence. I recommend that number when I review other people's work. 

I always wonder whether in the good old publishing eighties, publishers used to think an author would know their job by the time they'd been published half a dozen times. A couple of times I have come across books that seem like first drafts. The quality of the writing does not improve. There are dozens of things in it that aspiring authors are warned never to have appearing in their manuscripts. 

I don't recall people thinking this was pulp fiction. I do recall people raving about these novels, how good they were. At the time I was reading Alexander Kent's nautical war series. I found them as satisfying as reading science fiction as, for an out and out land lubber like me, they needed the same kind of strategies to get meaning. For example, put your curiosity on hold, you will learn/understand what something/jargon/seagoing term mean in the goodness of time. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Taking up where I left off ...

Photo by R de Heer

A while ago I was in a discussion about taking up where we left off in relation to writing projects after a number of years. 

Yes of course you can, I said with ignorant bravado. I'm having a go at that.

I'm working on a short story, SG, at the moment. Its working title. (I tend to initialise titles to get short file names.) 

I wrote it originally in about 2008.  Characters might have been a little sketchy. The premise was such a good idea. I spruiked it around with nary a nibble. I put it to bed, a problem child. 


A work opportunity came up for a feisty heroine in a 'different' fantasy.

All good, I thought. I've got such in SG. I'll dig them out and refurbish a bit. 

Transgender him to her. Make her a mover and shaker. Explain the scenario more clearly.

So far I have I had to re-imagine her point of view.

The premise was probably too obscure, and had to be reworked.

I had to activate my character's emotional intelligence. Showing requires it. Her stomach rumbled. Gas. Nausea. Telling often ... well ... tells what the character is feeling. She felt sick.  

I had to add joining bits, cut out useless frills -- she is meant to be feisty after all -- delete all the words not relating to imagery or action. 

Only the idea had stood the test of time, and that because it was fantasy. Science fiction dates. Premises get overtaken by scientific progress. 

What's this all to do with the image of the galls on the leaf? 

There's a story inside each gall. Isn't that enough?