Showing posts from 2014

Kosi Lionhair Page Rejigged

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.

Re-inventing Christmas.

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 …

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

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 t…

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.

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 pro…

Book Cover, Monster-Moored

The novel is still with the beta readers, but the book cover is ready to go and I can't wait to show it off.

Tardi Mack is only barely himself when visualises himself in the last scene of the novel. Wind and waves are the same. Even his surfboard is more real than ... 
No. He refuses to think into that direction. Slop slop. He moves his feet to stop his toe-roots growing into the ground. 
He must move on. He must leave the valley if his transformation is to mean something.

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 straightene…

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 ...

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!

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.

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…

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.

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…

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.

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 tes…

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.

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.

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.

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 s…

Vege Brag

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…

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.

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 ...

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 ave…

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 h…

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

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 ever…

Sunset Photo


Sunset in the Byron Shire

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:

Distraction, the Number One Hole in the Road


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:

This is a first try. There are probably dozens of things that can be improved. I'm seeing for instance that the ban…

Knitting Noro and Knitting Nice

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 yar…

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.

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 ... 

Monster-MooredChapter One: Tardi PossessedTardi 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.

Writing a Synopsis

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, wa…

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, req…

Miss Marple Scarf


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, publishe…

Taking up where I left off ...

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 sto…