Sunday, 29 November 2009

Nano - Day 29






The penultimate, and preferable number to be at: 48,333

Oh it was so sweet to pass my sister's total. I shall remember it for, well, minutes.

Nano - Day 28

Look, it's getting hard to keep up with everything I'm doing. There was no update for today. I think my Nano is not going to be won this year. But I must beat my sister.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nano - Day 25





Scared number: 41 667

Making a concerted effort. Not enjoying it though.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Nano - Day 24





Freaking number that rushes away as I approach it, even at a tiptoe. I think I should rush it: 40,000

Brain. Hurts. Must. Not. Give. Up.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Nano - Day 23






Stupid, unfeeling target: 38,333

I've reached the halfway point. The only problem is, the Nano is in it's last week.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Nano - Day 21





Exponentially accelerating number rising faster than the National debt: 35,000

Friday, 20 November 2009

Nano - Day 20

Coops:


Sister:

The dreaded number: 33,333

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Nano - Day 19

It's interesting to see figures displayed in different ways. These graphs prove that (a), I suck at this and (b), I'm losing.

Coops: 18,300


Sister: 29,091



Impertinent expectation: 31,667

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Nano - Day 18

Coops: 17,310
Sis: 27,214

Horrific number, forever staying out of reach: 30,000

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Nano - Day 17

Coops: 16,642
Sister: 27,201

Unlikely number: 28,333

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nano - Day 16

Coops: 15,413
Sis: 24,003

Needed to escape defeat: 26,667

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Nano - Day 15

Coops: 14,380
Sister: 23,260

Acceptable as a minimum: 25,000

Geez, whaddoya say. I suck at this.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Nano - Day 14


Coops: 12,509
Sis: 19,100

Inspirational number: 23,333 (Calculated by multiplying unobtanium with procrastination.)

Friday, 13 November 2009

Nano - Day 13

Managed to have a dabble with it today. Had to work out some accounting software and PDF conversions amongst other shit writers shouldn't have to think about.

Coops: 11,207
Lil' Sister: 17,467

Expectation/Demand: 21,667

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Nano - Day 9-12

Too damn busy to scratch my arse. Got the other project out of the way and I'm back to staring at my Nano screen.

Coops: 10,267
Sister: 17,467 (hah! Complacency dragged you back to my level girl.)

We aspire to: 20,000

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Nano - Day 8

Oh noooooo. Liddle Sis typed more words. I had a token stab.

Coops: 10,072

Little Sister: 15,032

Groan.

Sposed to get: 13,333

Nano - Day 7

Still banging away at words for someone else's pleasure. Be back at it soon. I hope.

Nano - Day 6

Got a job on. Not writing. Oh Shit, now the pressure is on.


Friday, 6 November 2009

Nano - Day 5

Tap, tap, tapping along. Bogging down, probably because I haven't got a place for the, (now dead), hero to go. Wherever he ends up will only bring bigger problems for him, that I can guarantee. At least I made the minimum for a change.

Haven't heard from little sister so she gets the previous count and a cackle from me.

Coops: 10,007
Sister: 12,041

The expectation: 10,000

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Nano - Day 4

Bloody hell, it's so hard when you have to play catch up every day. I need a buffer like the little sister has. With any luck she's tapping a dry well after the literary spurt. I've stopped practicing my commiserations that I was going to heap upon her when she lost.

My story is developing just ahead of the words I write. A frantic way of creating but ya gotta go with what ya got.

Coops: 8326
Sister: 12041

Words ideally obtained (as calculated by dry, unfeeling mathematics): 8333

Yeah, I know how close that is, and yeah, I could have bashed out a couple more sentences, but I'm determined to take the count at the same time every day. Usually as I crack a beer. Mainly cos I know not much else gets done after that. It has just occurred to me that I haven't informed little sis of this requirement. Bahahhaahhaha.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Nano - Day 4

Credit where credit is due, little sister is working full time and doing the Nano as well. Kinda makes her heroic catchup even more impressive. She zipped past me yesterday and I'm struggling to catch up.

I'm actually writing a coherent story this year since SOMEONE complained bitterly that I was bending the rules in both the last 2 Nano's. The first one I wrote an Anthology of interconnected short stories. The second year I did the same but used pure dialogue. That was pretty hard.

Coops: 5774 (Almost killed the hero. Another few lines and he's a dead men. In his current form anyway.)
Sister: 8249 (Hope she gets complacent and slips behind.)

The average we need: 6667 words


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Nano - Day 3

I'm cruising along. Got lost in the story a couple of times, in a good way. Haven't had that feeling of immersion in months. I know the plot needs a lot of work but I'm hoping the depth is being hinted at enough to come back to me in the edit. This one is a keeper though.

I'm trying hard to separate the character from Sam, (Fatal Cure's hero), although I think they could be related. They'd hate each other of course. I hope this strings out to 50,000 words. Xmas would be so boring without something tangible to occupy me.

Coops: 4442 words
Sister: 6053. (I won't insult her by insulating any falsehood as some would do when under pressure.)

The average we should have obtained: 5000 words


Monday, 2 November 2009

Nano - Day 2

Got woken up about 8 times last night by the wife's phone. Problems at work and she's on call. The broken sleep drifted into full wakefulness at around 4:30AM with a dream about getting shot. That's when I had the germ of an idea. I actually got up and wrote it down. I thought it was important though I still don't know what it means but I'm sure the whole story hinges on it.

Over the course of the day other bits and pieces came together and the idea gathered momentum in exciting ways. I now have a beginning and the world is building itself around my dead-beat trucker, Todd Lucker. I'm still quite keen on the whole deal although details are bogging me down a bit. I need to keep it moving.

Found out the Nanowrimo site was overloaded and the start gun failed to go off because of that. The world hasn't ended and I'm away regardless.

Coops: 2840 more confident and purposeful words.
Sister: Haven't heard but will assume to worst and delete one word from yesterday's total. 1499 words.

The average we should have attained: 3333 words. Not great for me but better than 1499.




Sunday, 1 November 2009

Nano - Day 1

Bit confused. Where's the fan fare, the firing of the gun? I haven't heard from my little sister either. What the hell is going on? Did the world end while I was Internetting?

Well bugger it, there seems to be no point in going hard on this if no one else is interested. It doesn't help that I haven't got a plot, any characters fleshed out, nothing. No clue.

I picked out an idea at random from my slush pile. 'A Better World'. The file contains 6 hurriedly jotted lines but it brings back the idea clearly. Well, like seeing fog clearly.

I bashed and bashed the keyboard trying to find the story within. No joy yet.

Coops: 600 hesitant and awkward words.
Sister: A purported and unofficial 1500 HAND WRITTEN words. (does anyone really do that any more?)

The average we should have attained: 1667

We both suck.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The myth of perfect writing.

Working from home has a lot of benefits. I really appreciate setting my own hours, the air conditioner and the nearness of a fridge and toilet. All things conspicuously missing from the previous line of employment where I had to take orders, lift heavy things and dig holes so someone else could fill them in.

But the act of creative writing is not all tea and biscuits. There is a heavy downside. I find satisfaction in finishing projects. Construction was fantastic in this respect. Clear instructions with strict deadlines for completion. Raw materials arrive on site which we turned into structures. I also liked the problem solving aspect, the hard work and job satisfaction at the end.

Therein lies the problem. There is no ‘finished’ when it comes to writing. You’ll never submit a ‘perfect’ story or article. Each day I look back on previous work and inevitably start screwing around with tenses and phrasing. More descriptions and less dialogue here. Insert a missing link between scenes. That niggling inner editor never rests.

This is why you must take a stand and make submissions at less than 100%. I think I achieve 'excellence' around 90%, and really I can’t fudge that figure upwards since continuous improvement is what writing is all about. With a trillion ways to put words together and new ones being added every day, what hope do we have of reaching that misty pinnacle of literary perfection.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Nightmares

Nightmares. Most people have a negative association with them, but if we dig down to the root cause of our dislike; and dispense with the psychological mumbo-jumbo; we resent them because they scare us.

Personally, I find nightmares are an underrated experience. They stimulate my imagination which is most helpful to a writer of Horror. I crave inspiration from any source, so over a period of several years I researched the subconscious, then tracked and recorded my dreams. Harvesting storylines and ideas in payment for the broken sleep and fearful awakenings being the goal of this self-experimentation.

I managed to roughly calculate the temporal origins of quite a few dreams. My brain seems to take around 3 days to mull things over before giving the bits it doesn’t understand to the subconscious. The subconscious has a quick look at these leftovers and weaves a fantastic story around them. Upon waking I quickly, (blearily), write down the feelings and sights; and, as they are not meant to be remembered, I also get a perverse pleasure from capturing them.

I read that it is rare to dream in colour. At the time I couldn’t say for sure if I ever had. I focused on this ability for a time and eventually found dull greens and browns coming through in my descriptions. Nothing vivid or outstanding unfortunately.

While I was immersed in my serial novel, Fatal Cure, you might think I’d be inundated by nightmares. I was dealing with creatures and situations that were fully intended to cause bad dreams in other people, yet I can only remember one occasion that it came back on me. That one solitary Zombie chase was nothing too special either. Just the usual irritating, frozen-legged frustration of not being able to run; the wild swing and miss that puts the soundly sleeping wife at risk. (So much for sleep’s paralysis that is supposed to protect her.)

Perhaps I used up all my fear in the telling. If that is the case I should write a story about being broke.

Friday, 23 October 2009

NANOWRIMO - 2009

It's here again! NANOWRIMO! Write a complete novel in 30 days! It's sort of like celebrating getting your face punched in, but hey, maybe you'll find you like the pain, or something.

Subconsciously I think I tried to duck it this year, but the emails and questions from past competitors has made me sign up again. This time I'm not in the middle of another project so I should fly through.

Yeah, right!

The NANOWRIMO is a fantastic opportunity to break through your mind-locking fear of potential defeat. Think your prose is only possible after deep reflection and meticulous organisation? (Or perhaps a little more procrastination?). None of that matters here! We can get words on paper without a single obstruction. No grammatical considerations, no spell-checks. You will be your own judge and your conscience dictates your honesty. No-one will even see what you wrote unless you want them to. Take this journey with your like-minded friends and change your life. Just do it. Even if you only get a single page done you will have achieved something.

If you need added incentive: I finished Nano '07 while working 12-14 hours, 6 days a week. In 2008 I managed to publish a chapter a day of my (free) online novel Fatal Cure on top of the Nano output. I'm not stating this as a hero as much of my Nano output was second rate garbage. But personal goals were met, interesting material and ideas were generated, and I'd like you to share the feeling of a cleansing mental enema too.

By the way this is a bullshit free zone. I don't care about your lame-arse excuses. Do it or don't do it, but I don't want to hear why you can't. That's between you and your brain.

Find out what sort of person you really are.

'Ave a go ya mug.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Writer Goes On A Journey

I've entered a competition online. Check it out HERE if you're interested.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Representing OZ

My South African neighbours say I am the epitome of an Aussie! Their perception must be skewed by movies and magazines as I’m certainly not the urbane, metropolitan sophisticate the majority of our country believes itself to be.

My attitude, behaviour and mode of dress would fit a ‘typical’ Aussie male yobbo really. I wear thongs, (on my feet), stubbies and a singlet most days. I drive V8 Holden’s and prefer to drink Bundy rum and Toohey’s beer. I drink too much of both and commonly use swear words as a descriptor. I believe I am honest, friendly and hard working.

Really, I’m a product of my environment, (unique, just like everyone else). The only time I intentionally inflate my Australian-ness is when a cute Swedish tourist says G’day. Disappointingly, unlike Paul Hogan, not many of us chuck shrimps on the barbie or wrestle crocs. Prawns usually are purchased pre-cooked and scoffed cold. Crocs are best avoided.

We’ve got dickheads here too, a percentage I try to exclude myself from. Before they outnumber the good amongst us I’ll take pride of our general acceptance across the world. We still enjoy the ability to raise a friendly smile in foreign airports when they see our passport’s origin. I dread the day our Aussie heritage is met by dislike or scorn.

I’m sure many Australians would be highly embarrassed to have me as their benchmark. But with such a wide range and mixture of personalities and cultures here, any debate on the subject would be futile. Therefore I discard further opinion and accept my neighbour’s nomination.

I’ll stand up to be counted.

One True Aussie.

Friday, 9 October 2009

I just did something disgusting.

You know your oven? You know the grilling tray up top that NEVER gets taken out? Well, I took ours out.

Freaking Hell!!

The foul mess didn't get shoved back in (but the temptation was strong). Instead I stripped the oven down to its undies, chucked everything in the dishwasher, and slapped that 'pots and pans' setting hard. (This is the setting that etches our glasses so I figure it's powerful enough for the job.) I slam the dishwasher door walked away, well pleased with our civilisation's time-saving appliance.

Cycle finished. I expect to see sparkling clean shelves and a spotless tray.

NO.

OK, so it's been a while, maybe it just needs another go. Slammed the door again and made it redo its thing.


Opened door. Quickly reevaluated to reach a conclusion that the tray was not going to be cleaned in this manner. A fucking Robo-wash at an engine reconditioner's shop may not have had any luck either.

So I scrub it by hand like the OLDEN DAY PEOPLE had to, with the accompanying sloshing of hot, greasy water down my front cos the fucking thing doesn't fit in the sink properly.

At least I know it's good for another 2 years now.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Submission frustrations

I was once told, (by an editor), that: ‘You have too much invested in your submissions if you can’t stand to wait a year or more for a reply’.

Damn!?!? Well, yeah, I DO invest a lot of myself in my work. If I didn’t, what would be the point of sitting here joining words together? (And deleting most of them again.) I pondered this industry attitude where submissions are reduced to brightly coloured shapes that must fit well-worn holes.

At the end of my think I still feel a year is an excessive length of time for a publisher to sit on a manuscript.

As I understand it, a single editor glances over each new submission. He or she may not quite love your story enough to publish it as is, nor will they necessarily feel they have an obligation to follow up with the author.

I welcome myself to harsh reality.

How is a writer to succeed? Pure chance must play a huge role when you are faced with a single person’s opinion or mindset. We toss our manuscripts at the publishing world’s cyclone and hope it lands on a desk whose editor just got laid, has had a coffee and feels OK with the world.

Many publishers I submitted to were clearly overloaded. Some indicated they wouldn’t be able to respond to submissions for weeks or months. But in their search for polished gold they continue taking on more ore.

How many dusty gems sit right now in their unread slush piles?

Few publishers have a definite acknowledgment structure for submissions. It’s left to the author to judge the amount of queries to make and when to pull their submission. But you will soon run out of reputable publishers by irritating them with your needs.

Yes it was quite a hard think I had. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the points of view here.

Eventually, feeling my enthusiasm gradually wind down at the utter lack of communication, I self-published. The instant response from the public forum was incredibly gratifying. Honest opinion, praise and criticism abound on the net.

There’s no real point to this post. I’ve tried very hard to edit out the whining. (Took a while.) I know our selfish human natures play a role on both sides of this haphazardly erected fence. I made my own gate. Some are content to wait at the door.

All I’m really after is the briefest reply from those who control the market. ‘Yes, we like it’; ‘No, it’s crap’; ‘Needs work along the following lines...’. Give me some feedback so I can edit, delete or move to my next project.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Karma

I would like to quantify my belief in Karma. Mainly for people who stand back and smirk at my espousal and think I’m a hippy throw-back. I realise I talk about Karma a lot. I really do believe in its Positive and Negative charges, hopefully in a most rational way. (For anyone looking to induce religious connotations here, I do not believe in a higher being; my belief is in our inner selves. Take responsibility for yourself!)

My belief is simple yet has a complicated classification. Let’s start with the supposition that everything we do has a consequence. Whether those consequences are good or bad is weighted by our previous actions to some extent. Though, annoyingly, not always. There is an esoteric randomness that makes scientific dissection of this subject useless. Speaking philosophically is a better way to understand such a thing.

Let’s start with something small. You’re late, though you stop to hold a door that may have closed on a person behind you. Instead of contributing to this person’s Negative charge you allow them to continue on unchanged, or perhaps they may go out of their way to help another in a cumulative remembrance of the Positive act.

Yes, I know this example should be covered by common courtesy, but humans are naturally selfish creatures and we need prompting at times.

Each time we go the tiniest bit out of our way to assist another person I believe we take on a Positive charge. This charge can be negated by a smile; a thank you; or the start of a relationship. Karma is balanced.

Some of you will have raised eyebrows. Some of you will be still with me. If you like, Karma can also be called ‘basic decency and a wish to cause no harm’. Karma is a shorter handle for me.

Then we diverge to the smirking and elbowing of peers at the less understood part of Karma.

The unrewarded accumulation of a Positive Karma charge.

Example: Every time you secure a loose shopping trolley, or pick up a piece of glass from the beach you accumulate Undischarged Positive Karma. There is no-one watching, maybe no-one would ever have been affected by your act, but nonetheless you have acted Positively and may benefit. (I’m not sure you’re allowed to be consumed by hatred for the person who smashed the bottle or let their trolley roam free. Maybe this explains why many good acts go unrewarded.)

OK. Rewards. We are not allowed to expect a reward. Positive things may happen because we act selflessly, but if we contrive to do good deeds all week and then expect to win the lotto we’re bound for disappointment and depression. Therein lies a Negative charge that can be passed on in much the same way as a Positive charge.

You do not have to strive to emulate the Dali Lama. Just do good occasionally at a time you would have done nothing. From there it’s between you and Karma.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Fatal cure is FINISHED

My first serial horror novel ‘Fatal Cure’ has ‘THE END...FOR NOW’, typed on the last page. It is a complete novel, though I deliberately left it open for a sequel. Mainly because Sam’s character has proved to be so much fun to torture.
While I originally had a fairly finished draft to work from, I let the steering wheel go and sat back with the passengers a few times on this ride. Letting the designated guided tour get hijacked and become a mystery flight opened Sam’s troubles into a world of pain. I went with it and let random inspiration dictate the story.
I allowed this to happen figuring the car with no brakes will reach the bottom of the mountain the same as the one carefully navigating switch-backed curves. Maybe it will be on fire and unrecognisable, but that too is a good analogy for publishing in a serial format.
Constrained by self-imposed deadlines to prevent readers disappearing in droves, I published earlier than I would have liked on several occasions, (late), with my reader’s anticipation in mind. All avenues were not explored as I normally would.
And yet I think the end result is acceptable.
To me in any case.
I have thanked everyone who contributed to the project with suggestions, criticism and encouragement on the Serial Killers blog. I do so again here as you, my readers, are the reason I write. Sure, I did this for myself as well. I was unwilling to risk wondering for the rest of my life, ‘what if I wrote that novel?’, but the satisfaction is in entertaining you all.
If you haven’t started reading the story you can start from HERE. Please Bookmark me in your favourite News Reader and spread the word to your friends if you enjoyed my style.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

More Charitable Than Thou.

I’m reading Jeremy Clarkson’s book ‘And Another Thing...’ and reached a section about the charity bashes he attends or is invited to. He said, while looking around at the waiters, bands, caterers and entertainment, he wondered how much it all cost. After making enquiries as to how much money actually made it to the charities, the answer was disturbing.

‘Not a lot’. Most charities get a mention in the paper or a tiny percentage. It’s almost as if rich people use the charity as an excuse to have a party, get themselves some publicity and raise their self-esteem in regards to their philanthropy.

Personally, I believe the Karma of public giving has already been balanced. Nothing has been banked. Sometimes the accrual falls short. If the giver receives more benefit from the act than the charity itself, it’s a pretty poor reflection on that individual, (or company), whether you believe in Karma or not.

We’ve managed to bypass the guilt-tripping, holier than thou, door-knocking, telemarketing annoyances who wait until you’re sitting on the toilet, or engrossed in work, to interrupt you with tales of woe. They still waste my time, (although I’ve stopped answering calls that aren’t on our pre-approved list), as we won’t give money to these collectors anymore.

But that doesn’t make us miserly, skinflints and hard-hearted bastards. We aren’t.

For all its faults, my Wife’s employer, a major Australian-owned company, has a system for donating that can be taken directly from an employee's pay. Better yet, they vet the charity to make sure the money goes to the right place. And amazingly they match employee donations dollar for dollar. Sometimes two for one.

But armed with this fact I still have to face down the dubious or outright scornful collectors leaving our doorstep empty-handed. I don’t even know these people, and I don’t know what they get out of making me feel like a child murderer. For argument's sake, so what if I am lying? That’s between me and Karma. Where’s the percentage in bringing their charity's name into disrepute with snide remarks?

We are completely fine with our level of support to the extended community, and we get offended at some charity's unprofessional volunteers. These tin-rattlers have had a crash-course in ‘bunging on the guilt’. We got a good one recently. “So you don’t care about brain damaged children?”

Answers to questions like that is nitrous to the engine and I’ve found revving up their self-righteousness doesn’t get them out of our yard any quicker.

I have a new strategy to avoid fist fights. I give them the Wife’s employer’s number, and ask them to add their charity to the approved list. Then I put it to them directly. Which is preferable? A double donation into a charity's bank account or ten bucks right now that has to make it past a collector’s conscience.

Stop. Stop. Stop. You’re bashing the keyboard to tell me a few things about tar and brushes.

GUARANTEED delivery of a donation or POSSIBLE filching by the ‘carton of beer for my trouble’ collector. Do the math.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

How to write - Part 2

Writing fiction successfully – What’s it all about?

I define ‘it’ as extracting an idea from one’s head and forcing it into words that must line up in orderly rows on a page in such a manner that other people can understand the information contained therein. And be blown away by the result.

Didjagetallthat?

Personal attempts to fulfil the above are difficult to break down, so good luck getting anything useful from the following.

I relate my methods neither as advice nor enlightenment. You’d agree if you had the opportunity to check out the haphazard and unprofessional way I peck at the keyboard, offhandedly playing a game on a social networking site at the same time, or ducking out to dig a hole. Take what you want from my opinions here but if you expected a foolproof formula backed up by rigid discipline as my Grand Plan, forget it.

I take breaks. Removing myself from the story from time to time is an important part of writing. It’s not due to laziness or the result of a short attention span. It’s amazing what the brain comes up with by itself when you stop trying to force it. Theories abound about this phenomenon and I’ve picked a couple that suit me. We’re all different so go ahead, choose different ones.

(Deadlines really balls-up this essential requirement.)

How about 'Inspiration'? Halfway through mowing the lawn can be an awkward time for the Great Idea to happen, but breakthroughs should be written down immediately. You’ll hate yourself later if it evaporates un-noted. So what if you get grass clippings all through the house and the neighbours scratch their heads because your mower sits idling unattended for 20 minutes? What price can you put on Literary Nirvana?

(Until the edit. That’s when you’ll find the paragraphs refuse to mesh, and the tenses are all wrong. By the way, if you’ve ever experienced the loss of an idea because of your own laziness I can commiserate.)

Then there are the exceptional days. Unnoticed, darkness has descended and you’ve edited an inconceivably crappy bunch of words into a remarkably readable paragraph. That’s right; sometimes a day’s work will result in one, single, usable paragraph. Hopefully you’ve also jotted another bunch of junk below it for tomorrow’s repair session.

And you might have a headache.

Beware the generically offered ‘Secrets to Literary Success’. I know the people selling this crap are rich and successful. Look who’s throwing money at them. You, Dummy.

It’s the bunch of worthless, shitty platitudes you purchase that annoys me. I’m convinced that there is no secret. You CAN seek advice from many sources and build a support base of intelligent people, then use your mind to create new worlds by actually typing words on the screen. Or you could try whinging a lot and write nothing at all.

Harsh? Yes. True? Absolutely. Unnecessarily arrogant? Maybe.

Writing is an intensely personal, human-spirited endeavour. There is no 'wrong way' if the end result is pleasing. Find YOUR way.

Like it? See - How to Write - Part 1

Thursday, 29 January 2009

A dissection of Xmas and Birthday presents.

Gifts are a haphazard affair these days. The things you receive, even from friends and family, come from a skewed perspective of what the giver imagines you’d like. Back when you were a child, you could demand gifts with exacting specifications and omit this guesswork, but we are less inclined to do this as we get older.

That is, most of us don’t.

As the years have progressed and the truth of ‘it’s the thought that counts’ finally penetrates the hardest of heads, gifts become more meaningful. They now show if the giver hasn’t got a clue or is incredibly insightful.

This year I got lucky, (in a tangible, gift-wise sense), with my Birthday and Xmas gifts. I don't remember greeting any of them with ‘What the fuck is this?’

(As an aside, I lump these two, significant occasions together, having been cursed with a birth date at the beginning of January. I’ve suffered from ‘combined present syndrome’ all my life. Anyone with a December/January birthday knows what I’m talking about.)

Alcohol flowed freely from all who know me well. (My new mate, Bob the Brit, sent a bottle of Gueuze Giradin 1882, black label beer from England at enormous cost.)

Spirits and beer are always well received. You should make a note of that. Now, please.

I received clear beer glasses after whinging to a friend about not having anything suitable for my beer reviews, and they were wrapped in a very nice Chevy T shirt. (That shirt may soon become a collector’s item if they go into receivership like they keep threatening.) Best of all not one paisley-patterned, puce coloured skivvy was received. (And a quick reminder to everyone not to send knick-knacks. Our next move is imminent and your cooperation is mandatory. With the exception of books, which I am still addicted to.)

My In-Laws stand out as the type who remember your likes and dislikes, and ensure a gift has meaning. For some reason they ignore the cost of postage and have forgotten the ease of lottery tickets and gift vouchers. They like to surprise people with actual items and I got some real clangers.

One of them was a 'Sexy Lady Car Air Freshener'. The obscene kind that will get you punched in the face by a feminist. Now, I look for inappropriate stuff like that, but you never see it in Supercheap or Autobarn. By the way, the Monaro is supposed to smell like fuel and oil but I’ll dangle her from my mirror until a female cop pulls me over and tears it off.

I mean the deodoriser.

Talking of cops, I got a speeding ticket. And I also got a shirt from the In-Laws. Huh? The two incidences meet up when I dragged my feet down to the station to absolve my sin whilst wearing the aforementioned shirt. I’m in total ignorance of the error about to be made. You see, the shirt reads ‘I am the Stig’. (The In-Laws must have remembered the race-car driver from the Top Gear show I like.) Anyway, I approach the glass door, checking out my well-muscled reflection, and only then do I see what I am wearing. In a cop’s eyes that particular combination of words changes to ‘I’m a dickhead, please punch me in the face’.

Thankfully it was lunch time. The lazy bastards actually lock themselves away from scumbags like me for a couple of hours.

I scarpered, and that shirt is now designated ‘wear at home only’.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Multiple Submissions

I recently had a horrible feeling. I wondered if I’ve been doing the right thing by adhering to publisher’s guidelines too strictly all this time. And I wondered if I might be harming my chances of being published by doing so.

In the beginning I sent my submissions out into the world, to carefully chosen publishers, in the formats they wanted, and then waited the months they stipulated.

Nothing would come back. Not even a form letter of rejection.

So, I’d question its worth, as you do, edit the story and send it somewhere else.

Nothing.

It got to the stage where a rejection email would get me as excited as winning the lottery. Sort of.

I guess I don’t have the experience behind me to take silent rejection in my stride. I need feedback. I know what you’re thinking, and it crossed my mind too. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I’m the guy clutching his wonderful, dog-eared book of crappy poems, who won’t admit they’re garbage.

I don't want to be that guy. I also don’t want to be the guy struggling to carry bricks when a wheelbarrow is close by. If there’s a better way of doing something, I wanted to know about it.

I joined a very useful writers group. On the Internet as I don’t live in Metropolis. I seem to have lucked out with this forum. The one I latched onto actually has active members who want to help. Better yet, some of them have the backgrounds to give proper answers to my stupid questions.

I put to them the query of making multiple submissions. Does it increase my chances or is it the anathema publishers warm against.

Unsurprisingly the answer is ‘DON’T’.

The question arose from trawling the Internet and finding a few writers’ blogs encouraging that very thing. ‘Flood the market, someone will pick you up, and screw the rest.’

Common sense, and empathy for an editor’s workload, already told me it would only piss them off to finish their vetting process, accept a story, and then get a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ from the writer in return.

Mind you, it’s good to have my belief confirmed by industry professionals. I’d hate being the only one still standing in line while everyone else has used the side door and are already inside.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Fatal Cure Update

I'm really, really sorry to do this again to my Killer Serials - Fatal Cure readers. I said way back in January 2008 that I wouldn't change previous chapters, or bugger up the continuity, or force readers to back-track... but... I had to.

To avoid a spoiler situation I'll only say Chapter 83 has been altered to make what happened to Sam much more traumatic. I didn't think it felt right even while I hit the publish button the first time and I usually hold off until it does feel right. But it had been three days since the last episode and I feared losing momentum, which is hard to come by at the moment.

While I don't expect forgiveness, you have to understand how fluid the story is at the moment. I have no notes, no draft, and only a partial idea of how this thing ends. (And I only got the idea for that ending in the last few weeks.) Really I could hammer away at Sam for years but I don't want him to get stale. If I finish this series and move on to another project I might have the inspiration to do a Parasite sequel some time in the future.

I also intend, (later), moving the story one chapter at a time to my WordPress site which will involve a heavy edit. You are reading a fairly polished draft, but it is still a draft. It is also full of experimentation with words and ways of implying moods which may not have come across as I need them too.

Please keep reading. I promise not to screw around like this too much and I'll always let you know when I do. This is a once a year event so far. Think how my poor sister must feel. She has to edit this stuff.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Voluntary donating made easy.

Recently I’ve had discussions with several fellow bloggers about simplifying the way people can show their appreciation and give feedback for other peoples work. People rarely leave comments. If they like something, maybe they’ll come back, if they don't, most likely you’ll lose them for good.

Then there are the polls. A lot quicker and less personal, for the visitor’s convenience. And still possibly ignored by more than half your traffic.

Lastly we have our hopes set on the ‘donate’ button. But the happy reader, intent on gratifying your need to eat with their hard-earned cash, has to run a gauntlet of checks, fees and restrictions. How many of them give up before completing the transaction because they have second thoughts about giving up personal information? A fair few.

People are lazy. Myself included. If something is too complicated we’ll do the thing that’s easier, like nothing at all. But what if we had a uniform, global system of credits or tokens that could be used anonymously with a single click? And what if those tokens could be exchanged for cash directly to and from our bank accounts with very low fees and very few restrictions. I think we’d have a revolution of paid services on the Internet.

Here’s how I’d like it to work. Say I go to a site, like I did late last year, to get information on how to get the lid off my toilet. I get the info, and I’m ecstatic. The guy who sat down and wrote the ‘how-to’ deserves a reward. He’s possibly saved me from breaking my dunny in a fit of wrenching and screaming and kicking, and I want to thank him with a few cents. I click on his ‘Reward My Brilliance’ button, (or some such wording), and instantly donate a credit or two, and then I move on to ‘how to fit a supercharger to my engine’.

Before you start yelling "tight-arse" at my stingy gratuity, have a think about the traffic on your site. You might have a lot of advertising but is anyone clicking those adverts? I bet they aren't. Wouldn't you rather a much higher percentage of the people who visit your site deposit one or two cents directly into an account that you have complete control of? I bet you would.

Want to make it easier? Make a subscription to your site cost one cent. You could also implement the opportunity to contribute when downloading something from your site.

Surely no-body minds shelling out such a pittance to support the sites they find entertaining or informative. Even a kid, or a broke writer like me can find a few dollars a month, or less, to show several hundred someone’s that you give a shit about what they are doing.

If there is something out there I should know about, point me at it.

Please don’t mention the site that lets you Pay your Pal. They suck.