Thursday, March 29, 2012

I love you, internet. But it's complicated.

Do you guys remember libraries? They were those places where all the books were. Sometimes libraries smelled a bit weird and stale. There was this crazy secret code called the Dewey Decimal System, and Philosophy was at the beginning and History was at the end, and EVERYTHING ELSE EVER was in between them.

But sometimes your library -- either the public library or the university library -- just didn't cut it. Sometimes you wanted a tiny shining gem of information, and you couldn't shake it out of any of those books on any of those shelves.

I love books, really, I do. But when it comes to research, the internet is my friend. Sometimes it's my friend who talks utter crap, but it's still my friend.

Today I wanted to know what sort of car someone might drive in the 1920s. What was it called, what did it look like, and how much did it cost? Can you even imagine how long this would have taken with microfilm and periodicals? Thanks to the internet, I had this is seconds:

That's the love out of the way. What about the un-love? 

Everyone talks about the lack of references on the internet -- how do you know the information you're seeing is correct? -- and that's a valid concern. What's more valid, for me at least, is the distraction factor. Because while it only took me a second to find that poster about Daimlers, it took me at least an hour to get the hell off Words with Friends.  

Because sadly those words aren't the ones I should be writing. 

Do you still use libraries? 
How do you like to research? 
Do you ration your time online? Or are you completely undisciplined like me? 

Sunday, March 25, 2012


At first I was excited when the IRS said that I was a non-resident alien. I thought I might get a ray gun and a taste for world domination, like this guy: 

Invader Zim
But instead I got 75 pages of instructions for a 2 page form. Holy crap. Your sitcom writers weren't exaggerating, were they? It really is that awful. 

Next year, I'm going to a professional. 

In the meantime, I'm feeling a bit like this: 

And a lot like this (lyrics NSFW): 


Anything driving you to distraction this week? 
Or to drink?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Lucky 7 strikes again!

The Lucky 7 meme is going crazy at the moment, and I’m so on this bandwagon, thanks to M.E. at Breaking Fantasy. 

Here are the rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines as they are written - no cheating!
4. Tag 7 other writers and let them know

Line 7 on Page 77 happens to drop my MC Danny straight into the middle of Memory Lane. Or Flashback Alley. Which kind of sucks, because on the previous page there were 'splosions. So here goes: 

The wind picks up the dust and sand and breathes it in my face. My bare feet are covered in red dirt. The day is hazy. Cockatoos screech in the trees. 

The Three-thirteen had a name once. The old people say it like a curse. They push it out of their mouths like they don’t like the taste of it. Three short, mumbled syllables that sound like a mouthful of sticky rice. Three syllables that were a name once: Napranum. 

A black fly lands on my face. I puff breath out of my nostrils to shift it. It crawls over my lips, reaches the corner of my mouth and burrows for the moisture there. I spit it away. 

(This is 7 lines in my MS, and 7 when I typed it up into Blogger. The Formatting Gods have now decreed it more.)
Damn, I want to tag everyone with this one. So here are 7 people I've chosen at random: 

1. Lesann at, for sharing an awesome post on The Mutter Museum
2. Mark K at the DM's Screen - this is revenge for the Versatile Blogger Award, which I will totally get to, I swear! 
3. Miss Cole, at Miss Cole Seeks Publisher, when she's back from India. 
4. Marsha at Marsha's Musings, for being hilarious (and teaching me all about the weird people who hang around Walmart). 
5. Sarah at From Sarah, With Joy, and not just for the pictures of Chris Helmsworth she posted the other day. Not just cos of that. I am not shallow. Shut up. 
6. Caroline from Caroline Wilson Writes, because history is awesome, and fiction is awesome, and therefore historical fiction is awesome squared. 
7. And EVERYBODY else. Seriously. I want to read your 7 lines. Give them to me! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I wish I had a weather machine...and not just cos I'm evil

Wish me luck, guys! 

It's Saturday afternoon. I'm working tonight, I have Sunday off, and on Monday...maybe...a friend and I are driving up to Cairns to meet another mate for for a girls' road trip. Robyn at work said, "Do you mean a moll patrol?" Haters gonna hate. I'm not buying her a present. 

So, everything was going to plan. Until this: 

I live on the right towards the top. That's a cyclone over on the very left but I don't care about that. What I care about is the tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria (probably a cyclone in a few days) converging with the active monsoon trough and  dumping what meteorologists call a "shitload" of rain. Because once that happens, invariably this happens: 

Source: Townsville Bulletin
That's the national highway, BTW. So instead of heading up to Cairns to spend some quality time with friends and a few bottles of wine, I think I'll probably end up stuck at home watching the rain and wishing I had one of these: 

But hey, at least it's good weather for writers, right? 


What are your plans for the week? And what are your chances of keeping them? 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spell Check Fail

You want to be a professional writer? Then write like a professional.
Know the basics. 
Start sentences with a big letter and end with one of those tiny dots. 
When you've done some writing for a while, hit the button with the crooked arrow on it. This makes a thing called a paragraph. 
Oh, and don’t make stupid spelling mistakes.

Like this one, for example, from my work elevator.

I am severly severelly severoliry  a lot concerned.

Seriously, we trust these guys to install lifts? That seems like complicated engineering. I'm not sure they should be trusted to tie their own shoes. 

Not only can they not spell severe, they can’t even misspell it with any consistency. 

(Although, to be fair, I think a “sever cyclone” is what happens when a cyclone flings a piece of rusted sheet metal at your neck and decapitates you. Yeah, I think that’s a thing.)

Here are the words I usually screw up without spell check:


What words do you commonly misspell?

Friday, March 9, 2012

The WIP: A disturbing foot fetish (and a philosophical question)

Does your mood influence the mood of your writing?
If you’re happy can you write yourself sad, or vice versa?
Here is a bit of a scene I wrote last week when I was so sleep-deprived it felt a lot like drunk. But not as fun. I think I overdosed on weariness. Usually Danny, my angry bunny narrator, is full of bluster and bad manners, but not last week. Last week he caught my tired.  
So much for catharsis.
Also, I don’t know where the foot thing came from. A part of my psyche best left buried, I think.

Some background: Eleven is an underground bunker, and it's right on the front line of a war. 


I close my eyes and think of escape. 

I think of home.

I can smell it: red dirt, mangroves, solwota.

The fingers of my left hand find my knee, find a tear in my fatigues, find a loose thread and worry it. My right hand finds my left hand, my left wrist, my watchband, the cracked face of my watch. I scrape my thumbnail across the glass: flick flick flick.

The squeak of boots on the floor.

Boss Doc slides down the wall beside me, his shoulder jostling against mine. He draws his legs up and rests his elbows on his knees. He smells of sweat and blood and antiseptic.

“You okay, Danny?”


I try not to lean into him. I try not to lean away.

Flick flick flick.

Boss Doc sighs. “My back’s killing me.”

Eleven shudders and sighs under the barrage. The shockwaves resonate up my spine and lodge in the base of my skull. I close my eyes and frown. My anger will keep my body together, even though on days like this I’m sure I’ll die at Eleven and they’ll bury me beside the Wall.

The worst thing I ever had to do was put a foot in the incinerator. It got left behind in the surgery, after the guy died. He was an engineer, and he got caught in a turbine. Anyway, don’t care, wasn’t my foot, but I found it too late to get it buried with the guy. He was already zipped into his heavy-duty black plastic bag, already lying in a hole in the shade of the Wall. Guys wearing masks were already shovelling poison earth over him when I found the foot.

How much of a guy is a guy?

Jesus, Boss Doc said when I showed him the foot. Just put it in the damn furnace.

It smelled like a barbecue, and that was the worst part. My stomach growled even though I knew what it was.

How much of a guy is a guy? How much can you take away before the human being is gone?

Sometimes, when Eleven is shaking down to its bones, I tell myself that I’m just bones and blood and flesh and nothing else. If I’m nothing, maybe the universe will overlook me. Sometimes.

Other times I remember my family, and I know I’ll fucking die here.


What are you working on this week?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I've been tagged...

...and then released. But it’s okay, I hardly felt it. I’m oblivious. Like this guy:

An oblivious tiger
Side note: Do any of us really believe they don’t notice it?

Tiger 1: Dude, where’d you get the massive collar?
Tiger 2: What collar?

Anyway, thanks to DG Hudson at Rainforest Writing for tagging me. Here are the questions DG asked:

1. How long have you blogged?
Since 2010. You’d think I’d be better at it.

2. Do you have a pet?
I have a yellow lab called Cleo, and three cats: Simba (rescued by a friend), Sam (rescued from the police station) and Grub (rescued from the gutter). I also have a frog that lives on the windowsill, a newly hatched batch of geckoes, and three recently-evicted possums: Sid, Nancy and Johnny Rotten. Johnny Rotten still breaks in every night to steal bananas.

3. Do you like film noir?
Only in small doses. I like that all the dialogue is subtext, but my brain hurts if I watch too much black and white. I’m a Philistine.

4. Do you pick male or female protagonists the most when you write?
At the moment, male. I have no idea why. Except my shiniest new idea has a female protagonist.

5. Which female actor in LOTR would you want to be if offered a part in the movie?
First I thought Arwen, because she got to spend a lot of time with Aragorn. Then I realised that was shallow. So I’ll pick Eowyn instead, because she got to use a sword and kill a Nazgul. Girl power!

6. Which male actor in LOTR would you like to be if offered a part in the movie? (This is assuming Makeup and Costume can do miracles?)
Sam, because he was an awesome character, and The Shire is also my spiritual home. And I think we’ll agree that Makeup and Costume for LOTR did do miracles! 

7. Where do you write?
Usually in my study. But sometimes at my dining room table. And sometimes in bed. A lot of time at work. Wherever I can, really.  

8. What beverage is beside you when you’re writing?
Is it daytime? Then apple and raspberry cordial, or, if I need the caffeine, Pepsi Max. Is it night time? Hello, wine.

9. Do you listen to music when writing?
All the time. iTunes is my friend.

10. What is your favourite city?
Melbourne. No, Istanbul. No, Port Vila. No, Salzburg. Don’t make me choose!!!

11. Is there a phone in your writing place?
Yes, my landline is in my study, and I have my iPhone with me all the time. If I don’t, I start to get separation anxiety.

And now I get to tag 11 people! Here they are:

Rebecca at Rebecca Kiel
Marsha at Marsha's Musings
Michael Di Gesu over at In TIme
Pauline from Pauline's Prose.

And here are the 11 questions my victims blogging friends have to answer:

1. What is the one book you couldn’t live without?

2. What can you see out your window at the moment?

3. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

4. What fictional character would you most like to marry?

5. If ever a fictional villain was going to win, who would you want it to be?

6. How many types of cheese can you name off the top of your head?

7. If you didn’t want to be a writer, what would you want to be?

8. Can you play a musical instrument?

9. Do you own a Kindle or a Nook or any sort of e-reader?

10. If you do, how many books do you have on it?

11. You just got published. In a glowing review, someone calls you “the next [insert famous author name here]”. Which famous author has to watch their back now you’re on the scene? 

Even if I didn't tag you, feel free to answer any of the above questions! 
I am particularly interested in number 6. 


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