sucking lemons

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Why, oh why, do people choose to perpetuate the *shit* that continues to pester us in the form of hoax emails?

Today I saw one that insisted that lemons have healing properties 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy… Why? Why would anyone even put that in an email in the first place? What is the point? Are they hoping to see if it will travel around the globe and make its way back to them? Is it the digital age’s version of “broken telephone”?

Who are these people who are so bored that they make up nonsense like that?

And people, please… wise the hell up!

They all sound the same. See if any of this rings a bell:

“This is the latest discovery in xxx!”
“The source is one of the (largest/oldest/cleverist) (businesses/organizations) in the (country/world)!”
“I heard it direct from my (uncle/best friend/fourth cousin twice removed).”

Here’s a hint. You can be guaranteed that anything with
– more than one exclamation point (“!”), or
– a claim that sounds too good to be true
is Not Legitimate.

So please, please do the world a favour. Bookmark the URL for hoax-slayer.com and if in doubt, check it out.

Or just do what I do and delete the damn thing.

Thank you.

Say Something

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I spent this morning chugging through the dozens of links I bookmarked over the last eighteen months to do with writing, editing and publishing. In a methodical, OCD-esque manner I organized them into sub-folders that will enable me to find what I need when I need it. My current interest lies somewhere between “Tips & Editing” and “Getting Published”.

There is so much information available on the subject it is hard to know which way to turn. After my morning’s browsing I came away feeling better, on the one hand, because I think I have made my decision on what my next step is.
On the other hand I was also left feeling a little distressed. It is all very well to write a novel – to sit down for months in a room, alone, and bang out a story on a keyboard – but at the end of it all something needs to be done to share it with the world. That is the whole point, isn’t it? This is where publication comes in.

My intention is to try the traditional route first:-
One: Find Agent
Two: Get Published
Three: Write Another Novel

However if the advice in cyberspace is anything to go by there is another step and it starts right now: Get Noticed.
I agree it makes sense  to promote myself and my novel at every available turn, and indeed I have made a start. I am on Facebook and Twitter, and of course I have this blog. Great!
I have only one teensy issue with this whole self-promotion business. I don’t know what to say.

I find myself at a loss for words, a disturbing malady for a novelist. Somewhere over the last year and a half a shift has occurred in my core. What I have to say, I want to say in a novel or short story. The need to share every random thought, feeling and aspect of life in a blog (or Tweet or FB update) has been replaced by something more focussed and long-term. After all, who really wants to hear what I had for dinner or what the weather is like in Brisbane? (FYI: sunny and windy.)

If you think it takes a long time to write a paragraph or scene in a novel, just wait until you see my hands hovering above the keyboard in front of the social networking sites. I started this post four times before it started to lead anywhere. For every update on Twitter and Facebook I have probably opened those pages almost ten times and not posted an update. I feel like a voyeur, reading everybody else’s stuff but saying nothing. I am a lurker.

So here’s a question: Is it better to have these web tools and not use them very often, or to simply not bother with them? My gut says that they should be used convincingly or not at all.  Am I the only one facing this conundrum?

So the witch is dead. What now?

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Oh My. What a world we live in. The world’s most wanted man is dead.

What are his hunters going to do now?  How many people will be out of a job, now that the search is over? They’re going to have to set up a support group for the poor fellas. Perhaps they will call it BLAH (Bin Laden Assassins Helpline). I’m sure G W Bush will be the first to sign up.

Don’t get me wrong – I was way out front of the masses calling for revenge for 9/11. What happened was just wrong and the deed could not go unpunished. I get that. But I do believe this is bigger than just one man. Do they really believe his movement will crumble without him? Surely they cannot be that naive. Perhaps I am wrong, though… my cynicism may be getting in the way. I hope so.

Back to the question, though: what now? Interestingly, there are plenty of other dictators and global bad-guys who still roam freely even though they have no earthly right to. Mind you, if my brief glimpse at the headlines this year are anything to go by, people are getting a bit fed up with them. I wonder if Gadaffi has a Plan B? You know – like when I grow up I want to be a dictator, but if that doesn’t work out I’d like to become a judge on Masterchef.

I think we should draw up a list of people who do bad things and send teams of badass soldiers after them to… oh wait, that’s already been done.

Sarcasm aside, I have a couple of serious thoughts on this whole situation.
The first is that I find it really difficult to celebrate a man’s death. It is one thing to feel a certain grim satisfaction when a monster is brought to justice, but to throw a party and go wild with elation just seems like bad karma.
The second thing is that despite my mocking comments above, I have every respect in the world for those who have put their lives on the line for the last ten years in order to right the wrong that was committed on 11 Sept 2001.

Well done – you did it.

Now, about Mugabe…

Entitlement

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The first draft of my novel is done. Two days ago I wrote “THE END”.

How did I feel? Exhausted, to be honest. I did about 3 days’ worth of work in one and it took it’s toll. My head was sore and foggy from being so deeply “in character” for the day. And then I had to go to work and teach people to Rumba for a few hours in the evening. Phew!

Yesterday was different, though. I woke up, poked The Husband in the ribs and said, “Hey, I finished writing a novel yesterday!” It felt great. Still does.

Now I just need to print it out and read it to see if it makes sense. I’m excited about that. I’m excited to edit it and rewrite and make it better. Because once that is done I can send it off and see about getting it published. Being as patient as I am (?!) I’ll see how that goes and if the traditional route doesn’t look promising I will go with e-publishing. By all accounts, that is the way of the future. Who am I to rail against progress? Best I look at buying an e-reader sometime soon.

I see only one cloud on this bright new horizon. Before it can be called a novel, it needs to be called… something. As in: Up until now it has been saved in a folder on my laptop called “NaNoWriMo2010”, because I started this particular incarnation of it for last year’s NaNoWriMo contest.

But “NaNoWriMo2010” is not a good title for a book – at least, not this particular one. Fiddlesticks. Five months of writing and I still haven’t happened upon a suitable title for it. I’m not good at titles. Never have been. I don’t particularly like any of the titles of my short stories. Hell, I even battle to title my blog posts… and between you and me, I even hate the title of this blog! I eventually just settled on it because if I waited for the perfect title the blog would never have been born.

As much as I would like other opinions for a title, though, I almost feel that would be cheating. I need to do this myself.

Oh well, nobody said it would be easy. Wish me luck. At some point I’ll let you know what I come up with. I will probably title that post, “Let the Hindsight Begin”.

The ostrich effect

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Many years ago I heard a piece of advice that I really liked, so I took it to heart. I stopped reading newspapers and watching the news on TV because it was just so very depressing all the time. Who needs that in their life? So my philosophy became: If something truly important happens in the worlds, someone will tell me about it.

It works well, too. I haven’t missed anything important. I found out soon enough about the big things: Princess Diana’s death, the 9/11 attacks, the New Year’s Day tsunami, Berlusconi’s antics and everything in between. It is impossible to live in the world and not hear about these things.

And today I was reminded why I don’t read or watch the news. During my lunch break I read an article about a woman who was accidentally injected with antiseptic instead of anaesthetic in her spine during childbirth. Her nerves are fried and she cannot hold her baby. They don’t know what her prognosis is, but it appears to be getting worse with time, not better. I spared a moment for the poor young woman and closed the magazine. Then I idly clicked a link to an online newspaper. The trial has ended, of a man who threw his own 4-year old daughter from a bridge (apparently to hurt his wife…!!!) – he is going to jail for a minimum of 32 years without parole. Frankly it makes me wish for the death penalty.

The point is… Holy Crap, people!!! What kind of a world is this where things like this are going on all the time? Isn’t civilisation meant to improve the world?

I dunno, folks. I think I might just stick my head in the sand again and go back to being informed by one-liners on Twitter and newspaper headlines on bus shelters. ‘Cos I don’t think I’m tough enough to handle the whole truth.

If you poke it, does it move?

Still on my reclining chair, I’m waiting for The Husband to bring back Indian take-out, and I have one-and-a-half scenes left to write to finish the first draft of my novel.

Life is good.

In fact, it’s hard to come up with interesting blog posts when life is this good. Hence the cyber-silence. OK that’s an excuse, I know. I haven’t been reading blogs either. Too busy writing, and teaching people to Foxtrot, and sewing. Oh yes. Lots and lots of sewing. I’m in creative heaven.

One of these days I’ll show you what I’ve made. Pillow covers, skirts, dresses, tops… or at least one of each. Next up: a full-size quilt. But not until the first draft is complete.

Meanwhile, my dinner has arrived.

I’ll catch up with y’all later…

I’d still rather be here than anywhere else

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It’s late afternoon and I sit in my recliner, in my lounge, in my house at the beach. The sliding doors are open to allow a sea breeze to cool things down. It was 29 degrees with 85% humidity at eight this morning and it’s only grown hotter as the day has passed.

I’m not doing nothing, though. Not sleeping, or watching TV, or just staring out at the ocean. Although of course when I do just stare out at the ocean, know that it is considered to be work. Because hey, I’m writing a novel, remember? It is absolutely essential to stare into the distance for long periods of time. One has to think in order to write creatively. Daydreaming is a required activity.

But I did that this morning. Since lunch I have been hammering away at the keyboard in search of my daily word count – at times, even successfully.

However, I am having some trouble concentrating.

Because north of us the biggest, baddest cyclone the world has ever seen – or so they would have us believe.

Image from weatherzone.com

Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Yasi is being compared with Katrina. They have pretty much evacuated the north of Queensland and reckon that the bitch is bringing winds of over 300 kph and up to a metre of rain. You must know there’s gonna be trouble when you can start to measure the rainfall by the metre!
And I haven’t even mentioned the storm surge yet.

Thankfully Brisbane is safe from this one. But the poor people north of us… as if the floods of the last month or two weren’t enough!

So yes, it’s hard to concentrate. I have a friend who lives near Mackay – south of where the cyclone is expected to hit, but with a width of 500km you can bet your ass they’re going to see some pretty bad wind at the very least.
It is worrying.
And it is disturbing.

But I still would rather live here than anywhere else.

Pray for the people in the north of Queensland. They’ve had a rough month and it’s about to get a whole lot rougher.

I think I hear the old man snoring

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Friday 7 Jan - King Tide came over the wall

You may have heard it’s become a little wet in Queensland, Australia.

The floods have worked their way gradually southwards over the past days and now Brisbane is no longer just under threat. It is in the thick of it. The Brisbane River burst its banks today. This is it. The dam they built to save the city after the Big Floods of 1974 is almost 200% full and the floodgates are open, with more water pouring in at the same time. Word of the day is “evacuation”. Our most precious personal belongings are packed in a bag and ready to go.

Just in case.

For our household it is an unlikely scenario, but we have to wait for Thursday’s king tides to pass before we can breath easily again. It turns out there is a down-side to having an uninterrupted sea view!

Supermarket shelves are empty. My pantry is stocked with baked beans and spaghetti. I hate baked beans.

I pray that having to eat baked beans is the worst I have to face in the coming days. For those in places like Toowoomba, Gympie, Dalby and now all along the river in Brisbane it is much, much worse.

Please spare a thought for all those Queenslanders whose homes have been swallowed by the floods, and for those lives lost. Say a prayer for the angels of the emergency services.

And let us hope that the rain stops.

Nearly there

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So anyway… the NaNoWriMo thing did not quite go as planned. The target was 50,000 words. I got to 21,482. Yes, I missed by miles.

BUT…

I wrote twenty one thousand four hundred and eighty two words in 30 days. Less than that if you take the time I spent trying to first rescusitate my dead laptop, and then replace it and restore my last good backup. Fortunately after spending so many years working in I.T. I had a good recent backup so I did not lose too much work. Only time. A few days worth, in fact. And when you’re talking of a target of up to 2,000 words a day well you can see how easy it is to fall behind.

So no, I didn’t ‘win’ NaNoWriMo.

But I did write almost half a novel. I figured, then, that I would just move the deadline to make it a tad more practical and attainable. Like, say, the weekend before Christmas.

So that’s what I’ve done. I even have a little graph and spreadsheet thing tracking my progress so I can see how I’m doing, because that was the thing that got me motivated durig NaNoWriMo. Seeing the word count climb on a daily basis – in fact, on an hourly basis, because the software I’m using to write the novel (yWriter5 – check it out, it’s great!) has a little daily report that breaks it all down into hourly chunks. So rather than have this monstrous goal of 50,000 words, all I need to do is reach 500 in an hour (or 350, if I’m having a good day).

Fascinating stuff, I know.

What it means, though, is that the blog is going to continue being neglected. So if there’s anyone out there who still visits this place occasionally… well thanks, and sorry – I won’t be around much.

What can I say? I have a novel to write.