(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Creative Mode

Though still suffering from my sinus infection and feeling as if I had coughed up the other lung, I did manage to get 1000 words of a first draft done.  All handwritten, as is my creative first draft method. We meet both characters mid-adventure.  I managed an introduction to our heroes and to get them into enough hot water that one wonders how they will escape certain discovery.  I have a new sidekick character.

The rest of the storyline is plotted, though I am sure it will metamorphose before my very eyes when I actually sit down and finish writing it.  My biggest fear now is that I will not finish the story in the allotted word limit.  When 3000 or over, a complete storyline (with background)  is much easier to write. A shorter limit of only 1000 or 2000 words requires just a snippet of an adventure… needing a lot more economy with words.

It is yet another story set in Ye Olde London Town, with Victorian steampunkish goodness… well hopefully a tinge of it. The competition says ‘open theme’ so I (again) hope that a steampunk genre will not be too ‘out there’, allowing the judges to look at the writing’s merit.

Wednesday night is the weekly Writers’ Race, so I am hoping to get another 1000 words down for the first draft by the end of it. I will leave editing until I am recovered… I think my brain is still a little addled; I so hope the story isn’t as well.

Creative Mode

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I am sitting at home, feeling sorry for myself. It is hard to concentrate and my head is ‘whooshing’.  Yesterday was a bad day. I finally gave in and saw the doctor who advised me that the sinus infection itself would have been enough… but I had to go and get a virus/head cold on top of it! I have two days of forced rest so could not go to earn some money. Something about being contagious … Thank goodness we have duplicates of some of our vital organs: lungs, kidneys etc, as I feel like I have coughed up at least one lung!

I am already bored. I have tried to watch some television. I usually enjoy Midsommer Murders or some Agatha Christie but have been having major problems following the story lines. Hence, little enjoyment there. I tried some of my favourite girlie movies; I even had problems concentrating on Jane Austin today.

I tried to draw something; my hand was shaking too much and the shape was all out of whack. Not happy. I tried to do some free-writing. Write everyday, they say. Even if it is crap, they say. I did manage a page of handwritten prose but I can’t judge whether it is crap or not, at this stage. But I just could not remember what the goal of the  heroine and her ‘sidekick’, so it sort of petered out… Could be interesting to read later. We shall see.

Sorry, that this is not sparkling prose with some deep and meaningful insight. At least I got some writing done.


Monday, July 29, 2013


Sunday was a day of mixed blessings. It was the warmest day we have had in over a month. It was a glorious 20 degree Celcius.  A slight breeze wafted in through the back door, skipping over the uncut grass bringing with it the heavenly smells of the cool earth and the smell of winter.  Somewhere, in the neighbourhood, there were sausages being cooked on the barbie. Somewhere someone was mowing and somewhere a garden was being tilled.

The breeze continued to sweep away most of the road noise so it was only just audible. The resulting noise of the  traffic, swished by in a rhythmic pattern, stopping occasionally so I could savour the still quiet until their return.  In the back yard, the birdsong drowned out the man-made noises. I counted three, four, five… no six different birds in all.

Several of the smaller birds played in the bottlebrush, skipping along the branches and chasing each other around the yard, only to fly off to the gum tree, next door. The ivy danced and shivered from their antics. The raven watched on in amusement, remaining aloof from the rabble.

Unfortunately, I was stuck inside for much of the days frivolity and splendour. My sinuses have finally announced that they are, indeed, infected and were intermittently showing me proof of such an existence. The pressure was enough to create excruciating pain for most of the day. When the medication finally did do me the honour of doing its duty, the sinuses began to behave themselves… for a short time at least.

Even now, I can feel the drumming of a burgeoning full-blown war about to erupt.

Pass me the tissues… and thar she blows!!!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tending the Words.

There was doubt that it was winter today. It was chilly. The sky was overcast and the wind was piercing. Most of the day was spent inside chatting with a dear friend of mine who popped in for a visit. I was supposed to be doing some sewing but spent most of it catching up with Holly, as it has been over a month since she has been able to visit. Too long.

I did manage read some articles on writing – interesting essays on some writing techniques, insights on self publishing vs. publishing houses, the problems with (and trends in) book covers (though these will be a long way off. I still l have to finish my book first… then find an agent, then find a publisher… don’t hold your breath. I’m not.)  It is both informative and encouraging to read the exploits, dramas and solutions to problems experienced by other writers and authors.

I am also on the lookout for some story ideas. Some sparks are there and I am just letting them mull over, but for now I am working on ‘learning more of the craft’ and increasing some skills…


Finally, I also managed to thin out some of my carrot seedlings. I probably leave this late but I really hate the idea of just pulling out negligible seedlings and throwing them of these were savable. The others were ‘barbie’ sized and effectively just green tops. (sadly).

When I garden, it reminds me of story ideas; if I try to pluck them out of my brain too early, they have not had time to ‘gel’ and just dissolve away. They need time to fester and grow, so that when they are extracted they will survive scrutiny and (hopefully) fall onto the page… well, sometimes they do. Wish they would do so more often.ut (even if it is on the compost). I usually wait an extra month or so, so that the little baby seedlings have usable ‘baby’  (or in this case baby baby) carrots that can be tossed into a stew or pasta sauce.

Tending the Words.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


hair july 2013Sorry. This won’t be my most erudite post, nor my most witty one.  The snot fairies have taken up residence and are having a party so I am feeling a little hazy today.  More steam inhalations for me later.  My wonderful husband is currently making fresh mushroom, shallot and sheep cheese toasty sandwiches for my lunch. Bless him. I did not have the heart to tell him that I should probably avoid milk products with bunged up sinuses and nose. But it will be yummy.

Good news. I did get my short story finished and sent off for the competition. As it was an electronic entry, I already have confirmation that it was received. That is one less thing to worry about. I still need to lose 160 odd words from my gaslight/gaslamp story though. Sigh. I think some of the back story (explained near the end) will have to go. Oh well, I can use it for something else in the future… Only you, dear reader, will know. 

I had my hair re-coloured today, so that has cheered me up a little. I tried to take a selfie to show the colour but I am not very good at taking them. You can’t really see the brightness of the colour either. In the end, I needed my hubby’s help, with my phone camera, so the colour would show with the flash. (still not very well though).  It is the same chocolate brown base, with red (almost purple) streak/highlights and  left my natural grey  streak there for the world to see!

And, for those observant readers out there.. Yes, it is a Karen Hallion t-shirt!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Too Much Information?

For a few weeks now, I have been battling either allergies (and resulting sinus infection) or a head cold. The sinus infection was the forerunner, as a cold would usually have started improving after the first three days or so. This didn’t. Though we have had a lot of rain (or possibly because of it- keeping the windows shut), the dust inside the house has been piling up.  Unfortunately, I am very allergic to dust (or possibly more accurately, the dust mites?).

I suppose I am lucky really, as a large number of family members get asthma. Allergies are very commonly associated with asthma, especially dust, pollens and cats.  I never had allergy problems with I lived in Queensland; it was after having moved to South Australia (driest state in driest continent) and experienced the horrendous dust storms we get in summer,  that I discovered my allergy to dust. Oh joy. (Insert dripping sarcasm here.) At least I don’t suffer from asthma. That is a bonus!

This week started out well. The cleaner (bless him) came and dusted. (If I dust, it always ends badly for me). I could breathe again… for a while.  My dearest husband had been airing a lovely, soft shag-pile rug out in the back yard… He finally brought it inside yesterday and dumped it on the floor in front of where I write. I could smell the dust that emanated from it. It swirled up and launched itself into my nostrils, burning all the way to the sinuses. Within thirty minutes there was itching, sneezing and ‘gooby’ eyes. He had forgotten to vacuum it! Argh!

Today I sit with a blocked nose, the mucus not making its mind up if it wants to stay snuggled in my head or roller-coaster ride down the back of my throat. Oh, joy. (more dripping sarcasm). Steam inhalations, sinus medications and self-pity… and sneezing… are the active words for today.

At least I got my short story to the final proof read stage. Hopefully it goes off tomorrow.

Too Much Information?

Thursday, July 25, 2013



Yes. I have been putting off on my rewrites and editing of The Soul Cafe. I did some weeding the the one of the vegetable plots (which is in a old metal bath tub), in the back yard. I replanted some lettuce seedlings and transplanted some kale seedlings, leaving a pot full of kale seedlings which still need to find a home.IMG_3221

After catching up on some television shows from earlier this week, I pulled out my story and promptly went into the front yard to do some more weeding; about two hours and forty minutes in total. Definitely got my vitamin D quota for the day.

I also managed some garden photography today. It was a beautiful sunny winter day; the first day in weeks it has not drizzled or rained.  My creative muse is sated so I am calm.

IMG_3234 IMG_3241 IMG_3251 IMG_3282

The day is not a complete loss though. The short story is not due til next week and I did manage to get the initial read-through and rewrite done at the Writers’ Race this week.  Another proof read now…



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I only do Eyes...

I have had a fascination for eyes for a very long time. As a child, I used to doodle eyes. I realised a while ago that, when I do a drawing of a face, I spend a lot of time on the eyes; if I can’t get the shape of the eyes right, then the likeness is not there. Many of us will look a person in the eye when we meet them. In photography,  a good portrait will have the eyes in crisp, clear focus. It draws you in and holds you.

The saying goes “the eyes are the windows to the soul”.  You can tell if someone is truly smiling by looking at the creases that form around the eyes; fake smiles (unless the person is very good at faking) do not usually have the tell-tale crinkles.  Eyes can sparkle when we are in love. (the pupil enlarges also when we are aroused). There is a lot we can learn about someone by looking at their eyes.

One of my favourite ink drawings is just ‘eyes’.  I used to run a SF fanzine, back in the late 80s and early 90s, this was the banner picture. It is still one of my favourite pictures.  This picture is available on t-shirts at my Redbubble shop.

When I have a craving to draw and I can’t think of a subject, I find myself doodling eyes. This is one of my ink doodles, studying different eyes and lid shapes, inspired by the many studies that Leonardo da Vinci did on various body parts.

As my long term readers may have gleaned, my alter-ego and part-time profession is an optometrist. I had not realised my fascination with eyes when I had decided to go to university to study optometry… but it all makes sense. Since late last year however, I have been off on stress leave, resulting from some issues at work. I have not doodles eyes for quite some time.

It had been painful to think about anything related to the subject of work but I am finally crawling out of my funk. Not long ago, I wrote a short story called An Eye for Detail,  now published on the Australian Literary Review website.  I had not intended to write it; I actually had another story in mind. But, as often is my imaginations want, it wrenched me in a different direction.

I had read an article on Jack the Ripper- I had not known previously that Scotland Yard had made an optogram ( a photograph that tries to capture the last visual image seen by a deceased’s eye before a violent death). An idea popped into my head. I had to run with it. I had no choice! Before long, I had a heroine who started out as an optician in the late 1800s. After some historical research, I had to make her an ophthalmologist or have reset the story a few decades later. This was not an option, as the story had to be set before the Jack the Ripper case.

At first, I was very apprehensive (and a tad anxious) in writing the story about the subject of eyes. In the end, it was my experience as an optometrist, that helped my descriptions and without it, the story would not have been the same. The process proved to be very cathartic and I am much happier about drawing eyes again … and about returning to work. Seven months ago, I would not have been able to pen this post. Without writing, I would be lost.

Looking back over the past 9 months, I have realised that, subconsciously, I have still been fixated with eyes.  My Logo says it all.


I only do Eyes...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


All is not lost on the competition entry front. I have been reading articles on dealing with rejection and acceptance of stories. One recommended keeping a record of where stories are sent and whether they are rejected or accepted. I was pretty happy, as I have been doing this since the beginning of the year.  I have also kept track of when it was sent and any copyright agreements that may exist for each entry.

One thing that keeps coming up in most of the articles regarding rejections, is the recommendation to note the rejection and then send the story to the ‘next’ place. My story Second Chance was sent to a magazine competition back in April. I did not get accepted and strangely for my first real rejection, I was fine with it. (though this could have been as I did not actually get a rejection letter – just not a ‘you’re a winner’ missive).

As there were no restrictions on my copyright and the competition has no restrictions on stories previously sent to other competitions (which some competitions do), I decided that I might try out the recommendation and resubmit the story to this competition.  With a final spell check, a format change (always check the competition requirements!) and reprint, it is now ready to go. My records have been updated. This is the first time I have resubmitted a story.

Ironic that the name of the story is Second Chance. 


Monday, July 22, 2013


I just can’t concentrate to write today. I have vague ideas running around in my brain but it will not let the words string together in any form. There are too many things happening in real life today and I am not well. I have possible flu and my migraine has returned… It looks like the 1500 words per day will be read ones, not written ones today.

As far as the fourth short story for this month,  this may not happen unless the muse hits me with a vengeance and I can get it completed (and polished) in two days.  However, unless I can get a good story and polished prose, I won’t enter it into the competition.  C’est la vie.

This week I have been reminded how precious friends are and how heart-wrenching it is when confronted with the reality that sometimes there is nothing we can do to help them. I have seen peace and acceptance in the face of an unchangeable fate. I have seen love and friendship poured out from so many. This puts things in perspective. If I don’t get the story done, it is inconsequential in the full scheme of life. There are more important things to be concerned with.

For all my dear readers, go and hug your loved ones. Tell them how much you love them. Spend quality time with them, and treasure it. We never know how long we have with them.


Sunday, July 21, 2013


When I am sad, I write. When I am happy, I write. When I am not well, at least I can still write (most of the time).  I have been inspired to write over the past few days. I had originally planned to write a (under 3000 word) short story for a specific competition but, as usual, my brain had other ideas.

A germ of an idea was sparked by a simple comment on a television current affairs show. I could not control it. Within the hour of the Australian Writers’ Maketplace Online Writing Race, I had a story outline and one of the characters outlined.  (It gets me motivated!) I wrote almost 3500 words in two days (though we have had appointments, a birthday party and now I am unwell today).  The first draft is done for The Soul Cafe. Let’s just say: Don’t drink the coffee. Tea is safer.

The problem? Well, it is not an end-of-the-world-as-I-know-it problem but it is an inconvenient one. This story is too long for the competition (due on 26th July) so I will have to write another one in a short time, if I am to have an entry for that one. It is, however perfect for another competition due at the end of the month which has a twighlighty-zone theme… and with my current flu and migraine addled brain, this short story should fit the bill.

will wait until I feel better, and my logical brain has returned, to edit it. I think that is a safe idea. I just hope it is not too awful when I do review it.  I do however have to try to corral my thought together in a vain attempt to see if I can create another short story idea (then write and edit it) in the next four days, so it will be ready in time to post it.  This could be a good exercise in writing to a deadline.

I will let you know how I fare.


Saturday, July 20, 2013


I am trying to find patience and peace this week.

I am waiting. I am waiting for my muscles and tendons to heal, following my fall on Sunday night. I had a therapeutic massage today and am feeling a lot more relaxed. I can feel the improvement in the muscle tension I have been feeling all week. I was b#@*dy lucky that I did not damage my hip joint, nor fall directly on my coccyx and either bruise it or cause a slipped or bulging disc. Thank the Lord! So now I wait for everything to heal so I can feel human again.

I am waiting. I am waiting for word on a friend. News I really don’t want to hear but we all know is inevitable. I am waiting so that finally I let myself go and cry buckets. All I can try to do is be supportive. The emotional tension is building and I have not been the most patient of people, this week. I apologise to my family here, in public. I am sorry.

I am waiting. I am waiting for the weather to dip out of the severe weather warning range.  The winds have caused trees and branches to fall on the road (and in some unlucky cases – cars). Some areas have has hail and (I believe) sleet. Yes, I do love the cold weather but I cannot do the necessary preparation work in the garden, so I may have a chance at planting some fruit trees this winter. The ground is currently too wet. Not that I can do it with my shoulder, back and hip injuries right now. So I wait for drier weather and my body to behave.

I am waiting. I am waiting for my alternative-ego-part-time-work anxiety to subside so I can work my full days again. This has been a slow process. I am told that this is ‘normal’ and I am doing ‘very well’. There are still places I cannot return to, for fear of … well, fear itself really.  Enough said on this matter. So, I wait.

What I am not waiting for this week, are words. With so much going on, I have a lot of emotions, ideas and issues colliding in my brain. While the words may not be the most eloquent, nor the easiest to write, I write. It is carthartic. Sometimes I think it keeps me sane. So while I wait for the rest of my world to sort itself out, I will continue scribbling…

and wait.


Friday, July 19, 2013


Winter has finally really set in. I am happy. My dear hubby is not. I love the cold weather, especially as it has life-giving rain for my garden and for the city water reservoirs. Being an ex-farm girl, I am always keeping an eye on the reservoirs and water tanks. Old habits die hard especially in South Australia where we have some of the driest country in the world.  

fireflyA few days ago, I showed pictures of some of the wonderfully warm winter woollies knitted for me, by my friends. I wanted to mention this one too but could not find a picture to do it justice. I have now found one! Let me introduce to you my tailor made Firefly hat in my favourite colour – purple. I just had to buy an appropriate t-shirt in purple to match! I am also looking for purple army pants to complete the ensemble.

It has been a rough few days, emotionally. As usual, I am using writing as a cathartic tool and am basing one of the characters in my next short story The Soul Cafe on my friend. He is the one character that knows everything that is going on and ends up helping the ‘innocent’ in the story… Today, I told him of my plans and he liked it, especially in being the one who is in the know.  For me it is something to remember him by. I hope I do him justice.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Wednesday was a crap day. It started out promising; I managed a final ‘just-in-case’ edit and two paranoid spell checks, of my latest short story The Feline Principle. I managed to get it tucked away snugly in an envelope and off to the post office to find a new home. Hope they like it. After yesterday’s frustrated efforts with a multitude of teeny missed spelling mistakes, followed by today’s polishing, my brain was basically fried.

I am really starting to hate smart ass computers that keep telling me what to do… Though the spell check is useful (if it will only stay on English English, not American English!), the grammar check is getting really annoying… No! I WANT that sentence to be that way – for effect! Damn it! I am allowed to be creative!!!!

So the brain was squish. We visited the library and had a short walk for some R and R, some vitamin D and exercise then returned home to enjoy the chocolate hedgehog (slice) from Michelle’s bakery. I settled down to some internet socialising and bam!  A friend who has been very ill has been given only a very short time… I am still in denial and feeling like I will wake from a bad dream any minute. To compound the issue, another childhood friend of mine is suffering from cancer (and has not much time) and my husband’s grandmother passed away, last month.

There has been lots of reminiscing and soul searching today. I can just pop on a feel-good Rom Com and forget my troubles but my friends and their close ones do not have such a luxury.  I feel like an interloper, afforded a glimpse into another’s world, but at a loss at what to do. I cannot enter but just keep watching from the sidelines.  I will endeavour to ‘be there’, to provide support but in the end I am just a visitor who does not want to wear out their welcome.

Yesterday someone posted a meme: “In life it is not where you go – it is who you travelled with”. This could not be more true. Thank you my friends, for allowing me to travel just part of the way with you. I am honoured.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Cause, not just a Name

I had been pondering what to write about today. I have done several posts on writing recently, as it has become much more than a hobby, over the past year. I keep to organised schedules (except for when I fall and injure myself!), I keep this blog as another writing outlet (and practice) and I have sent assorted stories out to competitions (which is getting less scary each time). Today I wanted to write about something different.

It has been some time since I have raved on discussed a meaty subject here. While procrastinating and trying to decide on a subject today, I found this article about Justin Timberlake and Take Back the Night. Apparently he has a new song out called Take Back the Night, which has the same name as the activist group Take Back the Night that endevours to bring awareness and give a voice to those who are victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence and date rape.  The the group has been around since the 1970s, with the Foundation being a charity since 1999. There are several points of interest in this story:

  • An amicable conclusion to what could have ended in a court case on copyright of the name

  • copyright laws on Song and Book titles

  • a public apology by a male celebrity which will hopefully raise public awareness about both the group and their cause

Firstly, according to the original article by The Globe and Mail,  Take Back the Night had threatened to sue the singer over the use of the copyrighted name for his song.  It quotes his apology in which he admits that he did not know of the group’s existence and supports the group. The foundation has accepted his apology. It seems that all involved have learnt value things in the incident: Justin Timberlake has been made aware of a group fighting against abuse, voilence and rape; Take Back the Night  has decided to focus on the mission and raise more its visibility and raise more awareness. I for one, did not know of the groups existence until just over a year ago, when a friend of ours marched in one of their rallies.

Secondly,  this whole situation could have deteriorated into a legal scrum with the lawyers winning in monies spent on both sides. From my understanding, it was originally a copyright issue. Looking into this further, here book titles cannot be copyrighted. THere is also precedence in the US for a similar situation  with song titles (anyone remember Barbie Girl by Aqua?). There is also allowance for parody, editorial expression and satire, counted on so often by Youtube users.

Thirdly, a public statement from a male celebrity can reach different ears than may have normally listened to the message. A good thing has come of an unfortunate incident. I am proud that both parties have been responsible and understanding in the situation. For me, I take home the message that should be the most important: In the US, 1 in 4 women are victims/ 1 in 8 men are victims. (It is not unreasonable to surmise that statistics could be so horrendous in other countries as well). This should not happen. All of us need to be aware, to speak up and not tolerate it!

As a child, I was a victim of domestic violence (thankfully not sexual) and of emotional abuse as an adult, so this is a subject close to my heart. I have had several years (and a loving second marriage) to come to terms with the damage I suffered. I can only imagine the horrors of those that have suffered sexual abuse! No one has the right to treat another person in such a way. We ALL need to support the victims and hopefully prevent such atrocities occurring in the first place. Stand up. Be counted. Take Back the Night.

A Cause, not just a Name

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pain and Loathing

For the past week, we have had a partial blockage in the bath pipes, not so much as to cause a major problem but it does mean we end up with a few centimeters of water in the bath when having a shower.  Every night I have been warning the rest of the family to be careful not to slip and hurt themselves…

You guessed it. Sunday night I slipped, wrenched my shoulder, twisted my back and hit my sacro-iliac joint on the edge of the bath. Soon I will have massive bruising that any SCA heavy fighter would be envious of.  Most of the day has been spent with a fuzzy brain due to painkillers…

Sunday was my ‘day off writing’ and I was jumping out of my skin, itching to get back to it but I did need the time for the words to settle so I could get a refreshed look at it for editing. Strangely, I had been looking forward to doing some editing on Monday. While not my favourite part of the writing process, it heralds the completion of a story and the satisfying feeling of accomplishment. As a result of the injury, I did not manage to do any re-writes and am left with feeling  frustrated instead.

My dear husband was not surprised by this at all. He realised many years ago that I get grumpy when I am not creating something – whether it be writing or drawing. It was difficult to concentrate on polishing sentences while on the recommended painkillers. I must insert apologies here and now – if this post is too ‘blurry’; I am writing it in between doses before my head gets too fuzzy again.

I loathe days like this. There is a burning desire to create something, to wrench it out of my imagination and share it. However, the words slip from my consciousness before I can trap them on the page.  I want to write. No, I need to write!

In the end, the best I could manage were some possible rewrites.

Pain and Loathing

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mutually Beneficial Winter Warmness

I have a friend who loves knitting. She is very deft at it and loves knitting for other people. This is wonderfully beneficial arrangement, as I am hopeless at knitting. I tried once, well twice actually.  Back in my high school days, the girls had to take Home Economics. (We actually caused a stir in our year, as one of the boys took the class as well. He wanted to be a chef. He was an absolutely brilliant cook!)

As part of Home Ec, we had to learn to sew (easy, peasy! Mum taught me to sew when I was a child), to cook (grandma took care of that one) etc… and to knit. I knitted one roll neck jumper; it took me all term to make it. It was huge! I was told that I had a ‘loose knitting tension’. I tried knitting another jumper, a few years later. Same result. I kept them for the day when I was pregnant (mum said never to get pregnant over summer – the heat kills!). Ha! They were even too voluminous when I was nine months pregnant!! Both jumpers got donated to the Salvos in the end and I gave up attempting to knit.

Wind back to almost the present day: Last year my friend Cheryl asked me, quite out of the blue


“How long is the Doctor’s scarf?” followed by “What are your favourite colours?”

I answered: “varies but could be up to 15 foot long” and “purples “(of course). A few weeks later she presented me with my purple and blue Doctor Who scarf!!  I love my Doctor scarf; it is soooo warm and wraps around my neck 2-4 times, depending on how cold I am. I am tempted to make a whole purple/blue toned Doctor outfit to match!

More recently my friend Cheryl asked “Do you have any really interesting knitting patterns I can try?” I remembered seeing a ‘brain beanie’ on the internet and mentioned that. She was intrigued (but I think she thought it weird, not having ever seen one). I searched my computer and trolled the internet, finally found a pattern and sent it to her.

Today I got presented with the following amazing piece of fun! (and it is really warm). Brains!!!!  - providing me with more little grey cells.

Brain beanieJust thought I would share!!!

Mutually Beneficial Winter Warmness

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Distracted but productive.

I was going to do some artwork. Saturday afternoon was earmarked for more scribe work (calligraphy and illumination) but I got sidetracked. I had messages from the regular attendees; a sister’s birthday and a trip interstate with the family. Not a problem. I would sit and do some work on my own and see if anyone else lobs in, as it was open house today.

Ah, then it rained. With the moisture level through the roof, there was no gilding going to happen. I did get out my nib pens and brushes but got sidetracked … again.

I sat listening to the relaxing rhythm of the raindrops as they hit the verandah’s metal roof. The back door was open and the fresh breeze was soothing. The moisture in the air  allowed me to breathe fully for the first time in weeks. (dust allergies = sinus blockages). The passing cars lifted the water off the road, making a wonderful sound.  Several birds in the back yard, all with their individual voices provided an entertaining chorus.

I sat quietly. No television. No music. Just the birds and the sounds of water. Words crept into my thoughts. I just had to write. So here I sat, chillin’ and writing (first draft completed – within word limit).  Sigh.Heaven

Distracted but productive.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rewrites and Revising the 'Big Bad'

Over the past week I have been working, on and off, on a short story that is due in just over a week. Originally, I had planned it as more of a gaslight/ gaslamp (steampunk with supernateral elements) genred story. However, I could not get a handle on the motive behind the original undead Big Bad (BB) for my story. I had the what and the how, and tentatively the who, but was struggling on pinpointing the why. The story was going nowhere. Fast.

Finally, I decided  that the supernatural BB had to go. I realised that if I made the BB a scientist, I could still use my planned plot device.  I traded gaslamp for “straight” steampunk  and voila!  Suddenly everything fell into place – the new who, the what, the where and finally… the why!  Motive, means and opportunity!

Unfortunately this meant I needed to research three different main things/ideas before I could write (and have facts correct). Ugh. Three hours of research later, and I was writing up a storm. The only thing that has slowed me down, over the past two days, is the feeling that I am fighting a virus or sinus infection. I now just have the final two scenes to write and then comes the editing and polishing.

So the moral of the story is that, even when something is planned, I should be flexible to change as it may just get me out of my funk and provide inspiration and more fun!

oh! During my research,  my steampunk scientist craving for Victorian knowledge was satisfied. I  found an internet site with .pdf scans of actual historical documents – papers presented to the Royal Society (in my case 1862). There is so much information I can now use to start off so many mad scientist hokey research stuff… oh bliss!

The abstracts and research articles are catalogued by year.

Have fun!!!!


Rewrites and Revising the 'Big Bad'

Friday, July 12, 2013

Procrastination and Working on 'That Novel'.

I have a first draft of the first chapter of one of my ideas for a novel. I have not visited it in a few months, as I have been concentrating on short stories. This is both good and bad.

This is good (in a roundabout way) as I have been busy writing short stories (and doing commissioned artwork). I am completing an average of four short stories a month. (I know this may not be a lot for some but for me it represents consistent writing and a daily routine is forming!) This includes the original spark of an idea, rough plotting, writing, re-writing and editing. What is even better is that all of these stories have been submitted to competitions and not left to sit in  the bottom of a drawer, never to be read again.

The writing has been a good learning experience and I am sure that, when I do get back to the novel, I will have a lot of rewriting to do; I can see changes in my writing even over the past few months. Though I won’t get a lot of feedback from the competitions, my confidence has increased and I am playing and experimenting with more ideas than I would have six months ago. Getting shortlisted in the Australian Literature Review competition and being published online was a bonus and really lifted my spirits!

It is bad because, well… I haven’t written any more prose for my novel. I have, on occasion, written down some notes and have discussed characters. So, if I want to make myself feel better, I have done some work on the novel; just not written any story line.

Recently I found a link to an interesting blog article that is great for kicking the procrastinating writer in the bum! (A warning for those who don’t like colourful language but it is the actual point that counts!).” How to push past the bullsh*t and write that damned novel”  has made me think that I should pick myself up and do some more work on That novel! He makes it sound so easy.

Procrastination and Working on 'That Novel'.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Encouragement and Results

Yesterday was my second time attending the Writers’ Race, now held as a FB event by Australian Writer’s Marketplace Online. This week was hosted by Christina Brooke, a writer of Regency romances. Each week there is a different Race Captain – usually an author. It is a place to be encouraged to ‘do something’. You choose the task for the hour-long event. Some do research, some sketch out plots and some write part of their novel (or start a new one). The choice is yours.

My mission (which I chose to accept) was to re-read and re-write the introductory scene of a short story I started last week, entitled The Feline Principle. I have been in a bit of a funk and have not been able to write a segue scene.  Part of my mission was to try to jump that hurdle and get on with the rest of the story.

Having like-minded and encouraging people online is actually a great help though there is the temptation to have a bit of a chat online instead of writing. However, in both ‘Races’ I have gleaned useful help and encouragement from these chats on the side. One of the conversations was directed to our resident-writer-for-the-night; does she organise and pre-plot her books or just write whatever comes to mind.Though another writer online plans everything and has done so for upcoming books in her series, our Race Captain admitted that she has only a rough outline and just writes… This was a welcome revelation to me!

Regular readers may remember a battle of words I had with a past short story that I tried to write by plotting everything ahead of actual writing, in Bogging up Holes and Pulling Teeth. I have vowed not to do this again! (I do have a rough outline of what I think may happen but am now resigned to, and accept, the fact all may not actually end up going to plan!)

Okay, I know that both free-writing and planned-writing are valid methods however it is a very different thing to hear  a published author say it directly! It gives me permission to write the way I find most useful to me, without feeling the guilt of following my muse. I think this one thing spurred me on to tackle that hurdle and get the next part of my story done. Though I only achieved a few hundred new words, I did manage to rewrite and add a couple of paragraphs to what existed and write the beginnings of a new scene.  I have set myself a goal of trying to write another 1000 words today…

Let us see if my imagination will play ball!

Encouragement and Results

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Last night and today were mainly spent doing housekeeping – in both senses of the word. Today was cleaner day with dusting, bathroom, vacuuming and washing the tile floors. It was also sort out website and internet stuff day.

Firstly spam. I hate spam. Every day the spam grows in my comments section. This is why I have been moderating comments. I have spoken to my friendly house elf… um IT guy… um hubby, who has advised me that I can add a spam filter. I am leaving him to deal with that. Delegation! So to you spammers, ha! Foiled again (I hope).

I have also been trying to increase my internet footprint. Having been working with the public  for over 25 years in my initial profession (in my alternate life), I know the value of marketing your product. Now this applies to my writing (and art). I must admit though, it feels very strange marketing myself.

I started with my proto-website which was a quick slap-dash affair, just to get something out there. This has now been replaced with this site (which is still under construction, so please forgive me). Concurrently, I started up my first blog Off the Artboard at blogger. This had two ‘pros’:

The first was to practice my writing – everyday! I had set myself this task in an effort to practice my skill at writing and to get into a routine of doing so. Since then, I have read many articles on writing, by both scholars and authors, most of which extol the virtues of writing – anything and regularly. Most days I achieve this goal. (tick !)

The second was to possibly get my name out there so that one day, when (hopefully) my great opus or that book ™ is completed, I may have made some contacts or, more importantly, have some readers that would recognise my name and possibly give that book ™ a read. One can wish!

Recently, I have been finding more articles on this subject. I see blog after blog from authors , publishers and editors recommending things like blogs (tick), websites (tick), Facebook (tick) and twitter (now succumbed . Tick) to interact and get to know our readers. (Ah, another thing I learnt many years ago, in my other life – communication!) Links can be found in the info  bar under the banner picture. Feel free to share, share, share!

This morning, my dearheart (and resident IT guy) helped me through the minefield of forwarding/reposting (?) blog entries so I won’t have to do it manually. Some sites however have not been friendly in this regard (not naming names… ugh), so I will still have to manually add links on some. Hopefully this post will forward to twitter and google+

I have also added other methods to follow my blog, both here and on my original blog site Off the Artboard. May I draw your attention to the column on the right ?

If you have made it this far, thank you!  I am now off to try to write and discuss some artwork for a friend’s upcoming book.

Have a great day.




Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rewriting and Polishing.

Over the weekend, I did a couple of tidy ups for the short story (based on the topic of the id) I know I said I would take a break but it kept calling to me. My proof reader tackled it twice and took out some of my excess commas (I always have excess commas!), spotted some typos and pulled me up on some tense changes.

Monday was final polish day for the story. At 958 words, Awakening is about half the allowed length but I am satisfied with this. This story was an experiment, a study on someone who suddenly is experiencing new sensations for the first.  The whole thing hinges on a ‘what if’ scenario.

With the last (?) version printed, a final, independent proof read was done. Why is it that when all is spell checked and grammar checked, there is always one or two doubled-up words or mixed tenses lurking? So… after another final edit and proofread, I think (and hope) it is finally all done.  It has now been electronically submitted according to the listed requirements. I only hope I have done enough re-writes and polishing to allow it convey my idea to the readers!

This is the stage of writing that seems to take the most time. Occasionally, there are only a few sentences to restructure; usually there are many that I  fiddle with, sometimes until I want to pull out my hair! Polishing is simultaneously enjoyable (as I see the final story take shape using nothing but a collection of words) and agonisingly frustrating (trying to get those pesky sentences to sound right, conveying the intended meaning/feeling/atmosphere … with using nothing but a collection of words!)

Whichever emotions rule this process at the time, rewriting, editing and polishing are the most important part of the evolution of my ideas into the final story.  In the end, it is worth it to have blank pages turn into a finished story I am pleased with. I am still surprised every time that  I wrote that!

Rewriting and Polishing.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Finally, the secret project can be revealed.

For the past few months, I have been working on some re-enactment group (SCA) award scrolls for two locals who stepped down as the King and Queen, this weekend. I have been posting pictures of bits and pieces, as they were being made. The hope was that the recipients would not be identified (at the time) so it would be a surprise. (I hope it was – I was not there to find out, unfortunately).

The scrolls were original designs based on a few Book of Hours from the 15th century. He had a penchant for ferrets (his nickname) and she adored squirrels, so I searched illuminations (and some tapestries) for period representations of the animal. I did the same for the ferrets.

eva0613I then searched for photos of the couple so I could paint a miniature of each on their individual scrolls. I made them A4 size for two reasons:

1. I only had 2 months to do them, as some of the relevant information had not been finalised before then.

2. the two ‘pages’ would be closer to the actual size of some Book of Hours, of the chosen time.

The pencil sketches were inked over, using a nib.  After a few days of drying, I erased the pencil. Next was the calligraphy which I find the most difficult – trying to get all the letters even! Finally, the fun part – painting! I painted the background with a blue-grey gauche. Gauche was also used to paint the flora, fauna and miniature.

With the weather being so wet, I had to forego using gold leaf and painted the gold acanthus leaves and highlights on the fruits and the miniatures.

I was informed that they were handed out, this weekend… so now the big reveal:



The crosses are where the red wax seals are applied (two on each).

Now back to writing.

Finally, the secret project can be revealed.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

9 Hour Marathon

Something lighter today! This was my weekend off writing!

Saturday was the ‘quick-clean-up-as-we-have-visitors-over-this-afternoon’ rush. I just hope we remember where everything got hidden , I mean put away!  It was the monthly AD&D roleplaying marathon day! You know, the old tabletop version with books and dice and miniatures and stuff! For the past ten years, we have played a house rules game of a different system. Now it is back to my roots with AD&D.

I started roleplaying in 1979 (I remember the old blue box and red box), back when any form of roleplaying was considered weird and nerdy. It probably is still but I don’t care! It taxes my little grey cells – gets me thinking outside the box, thinking on my feet (or my bum on the seat) and solving problems on the spot!

We have started using version 3.5. It is a bit confusing. The last time I played the system was version 2 (for about 4 months); most of my gaming or roleplaying in the 80s and 90s was good ol’ AD&D.  (I still have the books!) Some of the rules have changed a bit. DD miniature

I even pulled out our old miniatures. 25mm high. We have so many that we had to stop buying them back i 1997 as we had too many unpainted ones (and still do).  I am playing an elven rogue (not a thief!) and found an old Middle Earth one to paint up for her. Gosh, the memories.

I wonder if any of the paint is still usable?

We had a great time; a nine hour marathon this time! Good fun. Good food. Good company.  It gives me time to recharge my batteries for next weeks work schedule!


9 Hour Marathon

Saturday, July 6, 2013

To boldly write what I did not plan to...

On Friday I sat down and intended to do more work on the story I started at an online writers’ group on Wednesday, as mentioned in Writers’ Race. It has been a busy week with regards to writers’ groups this week – two in two days! They were worth it though, as some fun ideas were born as a result.

At Thursday’s group, some story  topics were mooted for upcoming meetings. One of them was ‘The Id’. Visions of  Forbidden Planet popped into my head. (I have not seen that movie in years!).  I didn’t think much of it, as I was now on the waiting list and not likely to be at a meeting where this short story topic would be shared. Well, I was not consciously thinking about it.

Ah, where was I?

On Friday I sat down, intending to do more work on the story I started. It didn’t happen and this is a good thing.  Let me explain.

I had managed  500 (ish) words so far on The Feline Principle which is intended for an upcoming short story competition, due later this month. Though I have a rough plot, I could not get the words to behave. I started writing randomly, in an effort to get the creativity going. I could not stop thinking about the id.

I googled id - “the creative, dis-organised, instinctual drive with no moral judgement.” Three words stuck in my imagination: The pleasure principle.  From there, my mind raced. How would someone react if they were only driven by their need to experience pleasure? Why would this happen suddenly to an adult? What would be the consequences?

By mid-morning I had a hand-written first draft of just under 1000 words. By lunchtime I had typed it into Scrivener, resulting in my first rewrite. I then printed it out and did a quick edit, rewriting a few sentences. My proof reader has done the first read through. The next step is to leave it at least a day or two and revisit it for a fresh proof read and the inevitable edits.

But what to do with it? I tried something new in how I wrote this one and, surprisingly, I am reasonably happy with it.

Ah, serendipity is such a wonderful thing!

To boldly write what I did not plan to...

Friday, July 5, 2013

First Impressions.

On Thursday, I finally mustered up the confidence (and guts) to attend a local writers’ group. I have been intending to do so for most of the year but had always found an excuse.  As my regular readers will know, it took me a while to gather up the courage to finally send short stories to competitions and risk the prospect of rejection or ridicule.

I have taken that hurdle in my stride now but that just involved posting (or emailing) my work off to faceless people who would not comment back if I did not make the grade anyway. This was relatively safe compared to personally fronting up to a group of strangers, and if accepted, to actually read  my work out,  opening myself up to the risk of direct and immediate of rejection and ridicule.

With my husband, as moral support, I fronted up at the meeting room and opened the door. Unfortunately the first words uttered were “sorry, you are not on our list. We have a waiting list. Did you ring?” I almost lost it then and there. I was crushed. (The website did not mention waiting lists, nor having to ring to book – though I had tried to ring for info and no one was home-  and welcomed new members) I felt like an small bug being crushed underfoot. I wanted to slink off and return to my comfy little hovel and remain a hermit for the rest of my life.

Luckily, my saviour sat in their midst. “Visitors! let them in!” With a (I am sure obviously) weak smile, I (and my bodyguard) entered and hid down to the opposite end of the table. Here I found friendly, encouraging fellow writers. It was the day to read short stories  inspired by the month’s set themes. Most were good with one poem being quite entertaining (and not just because it was in a speculative genre!).

I met three or four quite lovely women and there was even an unexpected famililar face! By the completion of the meeting, I had been invited to other groups (one unfortunately too far away) and there is a possibility of starting up a speculative fiction writers’ group in the area.

There is a great deal to be said for first impressions. Luckily, first impressions are not always a true measure of things. Thank you to those lovely people who made me feel welcome. Without you I would have not even entertained the idea of returning to the group – or any other writers’ group.

First Impressions.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Writers Race

On Wednesday night, I attended my very first Writing Race, hosted by the Australian Writers’ Marketplace Online (of which I am a member). This is a one-hour, self directed writing session where goals are stated at the beginning of the session.  This was the first time I had managed to join a session, though I have been planning to for some time.

My plan for the night was to get a start on a new short story The Feline Factor. I have 2000 words to finish this one… I think! Nope, it was 1500-3000 words. Bonus!  I had done a little research on superstitions about felines and on differing cultures views on them, which has been bubbling away in the background for almost a week now.  For the night, I was hoping to get a rough plan of the plot and possibly some paragraphs down.

An hour later,  I managed over five hundred words ( after editing about 75 along the way), one fact checking and three gratuitous uses of the thesaurus! A new character decided to walk out of the fog by the second paragraph (inconsiderate!) and the feline remained a little shy for three paragraphs longer than I had originally envisaged.  But I am  now armed with a partial map of the Thames dockside and a duffel bag smelling of fish. 

All in all, it was a useful exercise as I have to get that elusive opening scene out of my head before the rest will flow. I am planning on attending next week’s race as well. Good habits, an’ all that.



Writers Race

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


We all live to deadlines. Things at work that must be finished. Projects that need completion. Appointments that must be attended on time. In my case, there are also stories that must be posted, artwork commissions that must be posted and blogs that must be written. The challenge is to prioritize each item in its true order of importance and not get side tracked on those things that can be postponed.

Today, I have an appointment that must be attended. There is no option there. I have painting that ideally should be finished this morning if it is to make the post in time for a looming deadline. I also have another emergency appointment that must be attended later today (there was only one time available). This is essential for my health and pain relief or I will not be able to complete my projects for other deadlines.

So dear reader, please forgive me for a late blog post today. I do like to get it out as early as I am able for those readers in my timezone to get it on the same ‘day’ as those in the northern hemisphere.

Today, I managed to finish off some gold detailing on the background of some gauche miniatures. When they are finally dry, they will be packaged up for the weekend.

You can now follow Off the Artboard at blogger or on my website. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Website... she is broken!

My website is having major renovations, so apologies to anyone trying to access it. The monkey slaves say it may be a day or two...

Painting days.

Taking a writing break day this afternoon. My 'alter ego' had a half-day working this morning; I came home to homemade lunch (thanks to my wonderful husband), a nice cup of tea and 85% dark chocolate. (Well, a couple of cups of tea actually.) 

The back door is open and there is an absolutely glorious breeze wafting in. There is the earthy smell of the wet garden and deliciously cool air. Somewhere in the area someone has their wood fire going. I can hear the varying voices of at least four different types of birds as they play in the bottle brush out back. The sun has finally chased away the fog, of the past few days. I love this weather. It recharges my batteries. 

Once caffeinated to an appropriate level, I took to my painting again. For my new readers, you can read more about it in Painting Prose, Been Painting and Fashioning a Scroll and a Short Story. I find the painting relaxing and perfect for when I am trying to let research and plot ideas to just percolate through my subconscious, allowing the words to form on their own accord. 

Last night, I managed to apply most of the gold for the acanthus leaves and did some shading. Today I will inspect the damage, as the light was fading last night. Today I tackled the miniature (portrait). This is for a 'peerage' scroll for a historical re-creation group that I have been a member for almost twenty years. I have only added part-pictures as I do not want to preempt the surprise of those receiving it!

I will post full pictures when they have been handed out.  Just some pretty gold filagree type fine painting to do on the minature and it is done!

The Fallout...

Well, An Eye for Detail did not win the Australian Literature Review Short Story Competition but I am pretty excited that they thought it good enough to get onto their shortlist of just six stories! Can't rest though. I have at least four stories I want to write this month and have already started researching some tit bits for it. I am sticking to my preferred genre again and I have a basic plot all... well, plotted out. This time some superstitions are being made use of... 

I am mulling over some characters at the moment. Should I have a hero or heroine? I am also toying with some ideas, for other short stories, about uprooting some of them and transplanting them in the colonies. Hmmm... that could cause a few feathers to be ruffled in the case of some of my characters. They won't like it at all. There will be some major obstacles to overcome. I wonder if I can work it?

Today I was working on totally revamping my website which needs some zushing up. Luckily I have a live-in-IT-man on the ready. Both of us have had a frustrating day as something that I thought would be easy, obviously isn't. I think we may actually have a compromise that could work. Phew!

I have also been putting off something that I swore I would never do! I have been reading more and more about having to connect with people as that is the modern thing to do. I have finally and, I must admit was almost dragged kicking and screaming, to start a twitter account. Most likely this will be an intermittent thing and will be there as an alternate contact point and for occasional announcements. https://twitter.com/katdb42

On a lighter note, the fog here was amazing this morning and hung around until well after 11.30 am.