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

Saturday, August 31, 2013


There is a lot to be said for organisational skills. It can drastically effect the result of very important things as well as apparently insignificant things. Right now I am not too impressed with myself. I am typing very carefully while waiting for my nails to dry.

I should have thought about it a bit more carefully as I also have to wash my hair tonight. It has to be tonight; tomorrow is the Annual Costume Ball. If I wash my hair tomorrow, it will be too clean (ie. slippery) making it harder to keep my wig in place.

Now I have to wait until my nails first dry, then for the polish to harden enough that it won’t be smudged when I wash my hair. I have the sinking feeling that I will have to redo them tomorrow morning; all because I did not slow down, think and organise myself first.

On a less trivial note, I should have organised myself earlier in the week with regards to my writing. A deadline was looming, at 5.00 pm Friday, for emailing a short story competition (that has quite a good prize pool). Word count was 1500-3000 words.  As regular readers have gleaned, I have had writers’ block this week, s0 I decided to resubmit one of my previous stories. Easy, I thought. It was for a 2000 word limit and I usually write fairly close to the wire. Friday morning I pulled out the story and … it was 1000 words only!

After a short panic and grump at myself for having not checked earlier (bad organisation on my part), I found another short story in my stash that was suitable. Saved! It was emailed and acknowledgement received.

Currently my husband is furiously handsewing his headwear for the Ball tomorrow night. I had strongly suggested (several times) that he start making the hat a week ago.  I am ignoring his puppydog eyes. I will not be sewing it for him. (I already given in and did some earlier.) It is now up to him…

Besides I just painted my nails and they are still drying.


Friday, August 30, 2013


The real definition of Prudence is: leaving the room when your husband is trying to learn to tie a turban and has only one day to master it. It is also a good idea to leave the room at the first sign of ‘the sighing’ which is then quickly followed by ‘the grumbling’…

Back in front of my computer now, I am still trying to avoid his querying eye. Last time I tried to give him advice on costuming, it was followed by glares and episodes of long, awkward silence.  I have learnt my lesson; I sit and try to look very, very busy (writing is a good excuse). I do not look in his direction. I do not offer advice and I make lots of cups of tea.

My own trials today involved hot gluing long stuffed material tendrils into a small confined space. I have several new minor burns to attest to the task. All will be revealed later. As usual the costume is being kept a (semi-)secret; it spoils the fun and the ‘ooh-ahhh’ factor on the night of the ball, if everyone has seen the costume before hand.

It must also be noted that my husband’s definition of Prudence is: leaving the room when your wife is trying to hot glue long stuffed material tendrils into a small confined space. It is also a good idea to leave the room at the first sign of ‘the sighing’ which is then quickly followed by ‘the grumbling’…


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Almost Spring

What a glorious day!

I woke to cheery sunlight; a welcome change to the past week’s winter chill and rain. The doors and windows were flung open to allow the soft breeze entry.  The smell of fresh cool earth and freshly mown grass accompanied it.  Spring was in the air. A hint of wood smoke mixed with a lunchtime barbeque of sausages reminded me that the vestige of winter lingering.

It was a beautiful day to be in the garden, something I have not been able to do with the recent weeks of wet weather. The sun’s rains were warming and welcome. For the first time since early autumn, I was able to garden without a coat for warmth. I finally managed to repot some Tuscan kale seedlings that have been awaiting my attention then rescued a massive carrot which had grown longer than the pot’s height and was trying to push itself free.

Bees buzzed, busily gathering from the lavender, nasturtiums and daisies. Birds sang and chased each other through the trees and fossicked in the lawn (hopefully ridding me of some of the curl grubs I am dreading have taken over). I counted at least five different bird song. The resident crows sat on the fence surveying their lands and watched me work in the back yard.

It was evening before the chill started to return, finally necessitating the closure of the doors and windows followed by warming cups of tea. Only now, the clean (and dry) clothes were retrieved from the washing line as spits of rain began to bounce off the metal verandah roof.

Tomorrow we have more of the same. I love Spring.

Almost Spring

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In Praise of the Hot Glue Gun.

One of the most useful in the world of costuming is the hot glue gun (if you don’t count Duct tape). With just the application of heat, the cylinders of thermoplastic adhesive melt effortlessly oozing their contents onto the chosen receptacle. The resulting (reasonably quick drying) glue can be applied in long strips or small beads.

The gluegun is so easy to operate and there is no training and little skill required. You just pop a solid stick of glue into the ‘gun’, wait for it to heat up then push the stick so it passes through the gun and melts – ready for application. Aim and click! The main downside is the production of fine strings of glue (which dry quickly) and waft in any available breeze. Much in the same way as cobwebs they can attach themselves to all and sundry. Fortunately these webs are easily removed from unwanted surfaces.

There are not many things that cannot be co-joined by this wonderful invention. Today was the turn on metal and leather and cardboard.  It is perfect for gluing trim onto hats, securing them (almost) permanently. The resulting bond does not require further treatment to cure the adhesive and the glues fumes are less toxic than many others so do not have special requirements for disposal.

Best of all, the resulting joins (or decorative beads made by the glue itself) is paintable! A bonus when costuming. Downside? I really don’t want to think what all those chemicals are doing to the environment.  A quick bit of research revealed that there is some research on lactic acid polyesters and soy protein in place of the current polymers. I hope this does eventuate, then both the costumer and Greenie in me will be very happy.

In Praise of the Hot Glue Gun.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It was another long day of sewing.

After some spiritual nourishment, I had returned home had some physical nourishment and started the next round of costume making. Today I was concentrating on the crowning glory of my (now reassessed and re-designed) costume for the upcoming Australian Costumers’ Guild Annual Costume Ball.


I have attended every Costume Ball since they have been held in South Australia.  Each year, we have a masquarade (Parade, if you prefer) showcasing some of the most spectacular costumes made by Guild members, ranging from novice (new to costuming) to Master class (experienced) costumers. There is also the workmanship competition where the quality of making of the costume is judged. Again there are novice, journeyman and Master levels in this competition; new costumers are judged separately from Master level. Last year my husband entered his very first competition with items from his costume he wore – his mask and belt accessories for Malfotto. He won his first award (Proud wifey moment!)

This year I am not entering the Workmanship competition; due to health issues I will not have my costume completed in time. I will have it to a wearable (alternate version) state… if I keep sewing…

A hint of Sunday’s work…

I spent a hour or two chasing up millinery wire as I ran out half way through  my allotted project for the day. Finally (and thankfully) I found some at Dragon’sblood Creations (owned by a friend of mine). I also did a lot of turning things inside out, stuffing things with hobby fill and handsewing. There will be painting and more handsewing to come. More on this after the Ball.


Sunday, August 25, 2013


I have come to the conclusion that I can not be all things to everyone. I can only do two impossible things before breakfast (not ten!) Though I would dearly love to attend more events such as this weekend’s Vintage Fair, I have had to say no (even to a free ticket) as I need some time to recharge and spend quality time with my family.

Saturday I was indulging in costuming, making more costume items for the upcoming Costumers’ Ball. I managed to complete the overskirt. I cut, frayed the hems (decoratively), sewed, gathered and sewed again… nine metres of material for the second ruffle for the overskirt. I sewed for seven hours. I now need a break!

Ideally, I need to make a new corset and make the hat for the outfit. I have one week to complete it. I also have one week to finish a short story for a (potentially well paying) competition. I want to make it a well written, well thought out story that has a chance of impressing the judges. I also do not want to end up stressing out over the next week, so that I will not be able to enjoy the Ball.

So on Saturday I also did some reassessing. I have decided that time with the family and my writing will win out this coming week. Though I am looking forward to the annual Ball, I will not be entering any competitions next weekend. This time I will attend solely for pleasure (and making a fool of myself on the dancefloor).

As a result, I have decided that I will forego making a new corset; I have one I purchased some time ago that will suffice. While it won’t be as fitting to the overall concept of my originally planned outfit, it will complete it to a wearable state. I will complete the hat. It is an essential part of the costume. This will leave me most of the week to finish writing, edit and polish my story but also give me time to spend with my family.

Life really isn’t easy. I have been spreading myself too thin, for too long. It requires constant assessing and reassessing of what is most important against what is desirable. These days I find myself not only editing my writing but also editing the demands on my time. Maybe one day I won’t feel guilty about putting the needs of myself and my family first. I think they are all worth it.

Hug someone you love today!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hobnobbing... or not.

It was a dark and stormy night. (well, it was!) Thank goodness the air conditioner was working in the car because it was a bl**dy cold night as well. We found ourselves in another suburb, in the dull half-light of shadowed buildings, rattling on the huge glass doors. They were locked. We were only thirty minutes early. Traffic had been surprisingly swift for such ratty weather.

After negotiating the door situation I managed to gain entry; it would take me a while longer to thaw out now I was out of the night chill. There was a sea of faces with small cliques of friends and colleagues chatting away excitedly. I took option #1 (which successfully got me through most of University) and claimed a seat in the back row.

It was my very first venture into a Writers’ Festival. I have never attended any writers gathering and I had absolutely no idea what to expect of it. As one of the short story competition entrants, I had been invited to attend the opening ceremony for the Salisbury Writers’ Festival. Here I was; didn’t know a soul. Thank goodness I had my husband for moral support as I am not adept at mingling in a crowd of unknown faces.

The event was officially opened by the local Mayor who was keen on fostering writers (good woman) The Guest Speaker was Dylan Coleman, author of Mazin’ Grace based on stories from her mother’s childhood growing up on an Aboriginal Mission in the 1950s.  The second anthology of  Write Now was launched; a collection of local youth’s photographs and stories. This is sponsored by the Adelaide University and can be found online.

Finally the comments from the judges on the poetry and short story competition were read out. I found it heartening that it seems there were a lot of speculative fiction stories (they mentioned vampires, werewolves and Darth Vader) amongst the 140 entries. Whenever I enter an open themed competition and send in a speculative fiction story, I still wonder if the judges will dismiss it as not serious and it will put me a a disadvantage. I need not have worried.

Scarily, the theme description of the winning stories sounded like my story and, for just a second, my heart skipped a beat. Not because I thought I had won  (I knew I had not won as I had not been contacted prior to the event) but because I really did not want to stand up in front of a room full of strangers if they were talking about my story.  They weren’t.

Then the most dreaded part of the night- hobnobbing. Originally I had decided to attend, as I was hoping to get to meet other writers. I am more of an introvert than I care to admit and I find mingling with strangers the most terrifying prospect. Every now and then I force myself to (try) to meet new people. I must also admit that I failed. Everyone seemed quite happy to chat amongst themselves. Who am I to annoy them?

All was not lost however. While hovering over the extensive (and quite tasty) buffet, we ran into some old friends of ours. I had no idea they were into writing nor that Christine was studying Creative Writing. So in the end the evening was a success, even if I cheated and hobnobbed with old friends.

Hobnobbing... or not.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I spent most of the day culling. Not words from a story but actual ‘stuff’. Stuff that has been piling up in my life for some time now. Literally. We have piles of papers and items that have been surplus for some time. Finally I have the courage to rid myself of them.

My dear husband has been trolling through our filing cabinet, retrieving ancient records which are no longer relevant and not required for legal purposes. This has made our piles-o’-stuff even more landscape-like. It is quite mind boggling how quickly our life can become so cluttered.

I have now spent hours shredding papers; there are now another two massive plastic bags full of newly created puppy and kitten bedding for the local pet store. All that is left of this particular venture is to sweep up the thin slivers of paper stragglers that have blown their ways. At least it can be recycled.

Over a longer period of time I have been slowly reducing the contents of my material stash cupboard. Most of the costumes that I have made, over the past four years, have been with the materials I have. Not many new purchases have been made. My current costume project is mostly made with these contents… yet still they accrue!

Like the contents of my cabinets and house, I am learning to de-clutter my mind, unloading baggage that has piled up over the years; at the end of last year, it reached a point where it was no longer bearable. I dropped my bundle and my life started shredding. My writing has helped me unload some of the baggage. My art and photography have also consoled me. With help, I have begun to  free myself from both material clutter and mental clutter.

Now… onto more shredding….


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Needs and Creation

Today was exhausting. I am trying to get a Costumers’ Guild Ball outfit made AND polish off a short story AND write another one… all before the end of the month. In the meantime I am having to deal with health issues and more tests. Life can be so hectic and sometimes I just want to snuggle up in bed, pull up the covers and bury my head under the pillow. I am not allowed any such luxury!

underskirt finalBk

I did finish the underskirt of my outfit today. (in a colour I do not usually wear).  The main skirt was easily finished but the I now reminded of why I have avoided making ruffled skirts for such a long time. I cut, hemed (twice), sewed a gathering stitch and then two lines of sewing to attach it to the skirt… each to the strip of 9m material!

And I have to do this for two more ruffles destined for the overskirt!

Why do I do this? Most Costumers will understand. Most artists will understand and most writers will understand. I crave to create. Even when I sigh with exasperation, grumble with frustration and scream when it all goes wrong! (as I did today when the ruffle went offline and had to be half unpicked!) I keep going back for more.

Why? I need to create! It is in my blood. It is in my soul. Without creating something whether words, pictures or costumes, there is something missing. Ironically, when I do create, it feels like I have extracted a part of my soul and am baring it for all the world to see; it is both petrifying and liberating at the same time.

Yet I will still keep writing, making costumes and taking photos. I will continue to paint and draw. I have to. I have no choice. Life would be so grey and my heart would be sad.

Needs and Creation

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This blogging gig

This blogging gig is not as easy as it looks. Every day I crack open my ‘writing brain’ and try to find something new, interesting or informative to write about. Some days I don’t feel like writing. Some days I would just like to curl up in bed and not have to ask myself “What am I going to write about?”  (any suggestions?) Some days the writers’ block seems almost impossible to break.

I hope one day to become a professional writer. Most writers dream of being able to quit their day job and making some sort of living with their writing. This road is a long one with no guarantee of reaching the final destination. It is more likely to take years, possibly decades; only a small number of writers make enough to rely on writing  for their main income. That is the reality.

In the meantime, if I am to have any chance of one day fulfilling my dream, it will require hard work, honing my craft and developing a discipline. I have no illusions about that. I decided that I would try to produce prose daily, to develop a regular writing discipline something recommended by many published writers. One way of ensuring this was to create a blog.

I could have decided to make this a regular weekly stint. That would have been easier and much less work but would have defeated the purpose for which this blog was originally created. Making this more public gives me more of an incentive to actually produce something. If I become too slack, then I cannot hide it!

For now I am writing short stories, in an attempt to practice plot, character development and discover my voice. The writing I do here is helping me develop discipline to stick to deadlines and find ways of overcoming writers’ block. All the while I have a longer story growing in my imagination. Bit by bit, I tease new characters from my subconscious. I have a few books in my head that will one day break free and then I will start writing in earnest.

Until then I am still learning and appreciate the fact that you, dear Reader, are here for the ride.

This blogging gig

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

And now for something completely different...

What do I do when I realise I have only got two weeks until the Costumers’ Guild Ball and have not started my costume yet? I prepare for some late nights. Somehow I have to finish two short stories and an outfit for the Ball. I have most of the material I require. This is a huge relief as finding the correct materials is sometimes a nightmare (especially as money is a little tight at the moment).

In truth, I did start making my hat, a week ago. I have a cheap cardboard base covered but have to attach the cover; then I have to make some additions to decorate it. This will require some creative sewing… and I must find those buttons… that are somewhere in one of the cupboards. Then it all stalled, as I have still been battling that sinus infection.

Every time I start a costume, there is reluctance; there is the reluctance to start making the pattern (the least favourite part for me), reluctance to commit to a specific outfit (what if I stuff it up and have not time to make something else). Most of all is the reluctance to actually start cutting the material that I have which is often that is not available anymore (as is the case here).

There is a lot of ‘What ifs’ there.

On Sunday I finally got the gumption to cut the main material for the skirt. Then I sewed and sewed. Once the first cut has been made and the outfit begun, it makes everything else just that little bit easier. I now have the main skirt base and the underskirt base completed. Now I have to cut over 24m of material strips to edge, hem and gather to become ruffles (one for the underskirt and two for the overskirt)… I then need to find a pattern I made for a corset…

Some hints on the seekrit Ball Costume project : the first is the skirt being hemmed. The second is some material I bought about 17 years ago. I knew it would be useful for a costume eventually.
corset materialoverskirthem

And now for something completely different...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wild Weather.

There is rain and there is rain. Then there is South Australia.  The average rainfall for Adelaide is considerably less than much of the rest of Australia. I used to live in Queensland and moved to Adelaide in the late 1980s, about the same time that Queensland started its extended length of drought.

When I lived there, we had floods. Big floods. I remember the 1974 floods; something that people started talking about again after the recent Brisbane floods (which were not as bad as the 1974 flood). Until then,  there has been a whole generation that has never experienced floods on the scale that was quite common for Queensland.

When I was a child my grandmother used to say: “It is either a drought or a flood.” She was correct. There is a usual cyclic le Nin0/la Nina (for more info on this see the following links).

In general, we used to have about 8 years of dry and 8 years of flood. That changed in the 1990s and beyond (part of the climate change effects?) giving us extended periods of dry.  Here in Adelaide, I have had to adapt to the changed conditions – from tropical to Mediterranean. Finally I could grow roses and not have as much mould! The problem is that South Australia was going through the same extended dry spell as the rest of Australia. I was not getting a normal taste of the weather.

I used to get called the ‘bloody ex-Queenslander’ when I commented on

  • the storms; That’s not a real storm! (I have been through two cyclones)

  • the showers; That’s not real rain!  (I remember 12 inches over one night)

  • the hail (the size of the little fingernail usually); Hail? ha! Try hail the size of your fist!

  • lightning. (sometimes it can get impressive, I must admit but there is usually very little rain with it)

  • the winds; (see cyclone comments).

Yep, I am a pain in the butt!


This week has been almost impressive; The winds have been over 35 km/hr. Not as impressive as a cyclone, I will give you that, but they have been loud. You can hear the wind roaring up the hill like a wild animal on the run. The windows and doors have been rattling. The rain has been blowing at a 45 degree angle and you can see the lines as each wave front of rain peels across the road.  Along the coast, we have had 90-100 km/h winds and we have ‘damaging wind’ warnings with power outages and trees down.

Currently we have flood watches along the Mt Lofty Ranges and much of the south of South Australia. We had achieved the monthly rain for July, in the first few days.  Though we have only had 37mm of rain for the month so far, it has been almost impressive at times… Almost real rain!

Today we went for a drive in the Adelaide hills. We drove though thick cloud and heavy (yes, I admit it) rain which steamed across the windscreen. The cloud cover has warmed up the weather. Today was 8 degrees in the hills; yesterday was only 5 degrees. We have had much colder this winter. We may even get some hail tomorrow.

Poor Adelaide is being battered by winds and drenched with rain and this ‘little black duck’ can’t be happier. It is almost like real weather … but colder.

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Wild Weather.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Breaking free of Isolation

For the past seven months I have been writing. Alone. I have been slogging away at the computer or scribbling in my notebooks or on loose sheets of recycled paper, developing plots, writing prose and polishing my work. When I had ‘writers’ block’, I would often do internet searches for articles by authors or publishers to learn more technical aspects of my chosen craft.

You can blame this research for this blog. I read many times that I needed to practice writing regularly; to make a daily task and develop the discipline of writing. A few sources quoted trying to either write or read 1500 words a day. The writing and reading could be split up to total 1500 words, so that made it a more achievable task (especially on the said ‘writers’ block’ days. Sometime I read novels. Sometimes I read books on ‘how to write’. During this time, I have seen a change in my writing. Though I was now sharing my work (a big step forward), I had little feedback other than number of hits/reads on the blog (I still don’t know how to gauge how many is  lot). I was still writing in isolation.

However there is only so much I can learn by writing without contact with other writers. I had been reading articles (and blogs) on others’ experiences in writing groups;  help overcoming ‘writers’ block’, learning new techniques, new ideas, writing outside the comfort zone, inspiration and talking to like-minded people are all things that can be achieved by attending a writers’ group. I was hoping to have other writers of speculative fiction give me constructive critique and learn new ways of honing my craft – from people and not just the internet.  

So I Googled it.  There were not many local writers’ groups. One met at a pub on a Thursday night and the other at the local library. I am not a drinker and Thursday nights require possible organisation of baby sitters, so I opted for the one at the library which was at a perfect time with regards to child wrangling. I attended one meeting to see how it all worked.

It was a general writing group but there were a couple of speculative fiction writers who had actually heard of ‘Steampunk’ or ‘Gaslamp’ writing so I did not feel like a complete alien. It was a pleasant group but not unexpectedly this long standing group had a full compliment of writers, so I was put on a waiting list. But luck was on my side as the two specative fiction took me aside at the end of the meeting and suggested we start up a new writers’ group based on our genre. Happy me!

Everyone lives busy lives so, a few weeks later, I emailed the two writers to see if they were indeed still interested; they were. Bonus!  Friday was our first meeting. We learnt more about each other, discussed what we each hoped to get from a writers’ group. We were all much in agreement on the basics. In all there are about seven of us, of varying writing stages. We have an experienced writer who has not written speculative fiction before but wants to stretch herself. We have a couple of published authors (one in the genre), a totally newbie and me – not as new but not very experienced.

I have a good feeling about this group. I came away feeling much more confident. Wow! Who knew that the (average of) four short stories I manage to write a month it a lot?! Apparently two is  a good number… I was thinking I was being rather slack! This is the sort of thing that a writers’ group can tell me. I have no idea of how to judge my work and compare my output or writing styles or techniques, with others or the industry, if the only way I am connecting with other writers is via works on the internet or reading already published books.

Having written mostly in isolation, with only a few trusted people to proof read my work and negligible feedback from competitions is very difficult. (the only feedback I have received was the success on shortlisting of my short story on Aust. Lit. Review. I still don’t know why it did better than other stories).  I may be able to glean some technical help via my computer but there is the lack of human interaction and gauging  the effect of writing styles and plot lines is very difficult. I feel like I have been treading water, almost floundering, and now I can come up for air with a helping hand to pull me out.  I am at a point where I need to grow more and this writers’ group could be just the thing I needed…

Now… we just need a name!

Breaking free of Isolation

Saturday, August 17, 2013

... and Ruthless Efficiency

Before the rains came, I managed to get some gardening done. Well, weeding to own the truth. I was ruthlessly pulling out the soursobs in a vain effort to cull the weeds only to have them return next winter. But cull, I did and I am glad it is done.

I have also been weeding out a short story that is due for submission to a magazine by the end of this month.  Wednesday night I started editing; it was my set task for this week’s Writers’ Race. I did not manage to finish in the allotted time so continued on through the evening with rewrites and editing. Total score: 206 words culled (to bring it under the story limit).

There is really a lot of rewriting to do on this story; I wrote the first draft over 5 months ago and ‘left to sit to polish later’.  As it was not due til the end of August, it sat. And sat.  This week I picked it up and started on editing and rewrites. It was not as good as I remembered.  The sentence construction was cumbersome, making it sound stilted in areas. I still liked the story and was happy with the structure of the scenes. I am keen on reusing the main character. She is feisty and has sex appeal.

The main thing that struck me was how much my writing changed in that relatively short time. What astounded me was that I could actually recognise the change and how much easier (though it is still like pulling teeth) it was to rip sentences and sections out of my writing.  The trick is to be ruthless and efficient with the words. I had to loose over 200 words and it looks like I may just pull this one off.

Thursday, I spent over ten hours working my way through each sentence for my second major rewrite. Finally, it is starting to feel a little less cumbersome.  I am still not totally satisfied with the end result but there is light at the end of this editing tunnel.  My next step is to reprint the rewritten draft and then re-read it as a whole. Only then can I really decide if I am even tempted to do a total rewrite…

With ruthless editing, I am more confident that the plot is tighter. I have removed the original ending;  it was superfluous to the current storyline, containing unnecessary background and hinted at a further plot so is best the subject of an entirely separate story. Though part of the original draft, it felt like an add on. It related to character background (which I knew) but there was no word space to add required information for the reader.

I am still learning my editing skills and have found the following are useful:

  • fill in any blank names. Sometimes when I am on a writing roll I use a dummy name or letter so I don’t get sidetracked. 

  • Cull the commas. For me, I put commas everywhere, especially in my first draft. I usually have to remove at least half of them.

  • removed repeats: This can be concepts or whole sentences or actions. Sometimes I repeat words. A thesaurus is invaluable on such occasion.

  • removing ‘he said’/'she said’, ‘it’ or ‘this’. When these words re repeated it is boring. I feel that I have been lazy and should rewrite the sentence to be more descriptive.

  • use more interesting verbs. (way to go  thesaurus… again!). He walked along the road, is a very pedestrian sentence. I could add lots of adverbs but prefer to use a more descriptive verb: eg. He slinked along the road.

  • using more descriptive nouns (what part of the road): eg. He raced along the highway or It oozed along the gutter

  • Removing unnecessary sentences and too much information:  Some background is needed but, in shorter stories, only some background information is needed. Some sentences are just rehashes of information previously mentioned or are just totally irrelevant to the story.

I feel that, having left this project for such a long time, I have learnt a few lessons in ruthless editing and am more hopeful that I can polish it successfully without the need for a complete rewrite.  (I am also just a little excited that I can see an improvement in the writing in a short time).

... and Ruthless Efficiency

Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Two Weapons are...

… fear and lack of imagination.

We have often heard the saying “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Fear paralyses the soul, the imagination and the spirit. Great things can be done when we ignore our fear and a great burden is placed on us when we let it thrive.

Fear, or specifically anxiety, has crippled me at times. It has changed my life in unwanted ways. It is a daemon that thrives on negative feelings and promotes fear and insecurity. I have hidden from parts of my world in fear of its return. It still haunts me. I cannot ignore it but have chosen to face it and fight it instead of fearing it. I am learning to master it.  It is a slow process and it is unknown how long that will take.

However there is a good thing that has come of this situation. I have embraced my imagination and am no longer hiding. I am facing the fear of failure or ridicule. Most of my life, I have been told to ‘be serious’ or ‘grow up’. “You have a good job, a sensible job, don’t jeapordise it! “

At high school I was not allowed to study both Art and Maths/Science. I was informed by the Principal that the two do not, and should not, mix. (I would have scored so much better on my final results if I had done Art instead of one of my Maths subjects). I quoted Einstein, I gave Leonardo da Vinci as an example of how both art and science were inextricably intertwined.

Some writers and artists are visionaries. They can imagine a future time where life is changed by events or inventions. HG Wells and Jules Verne imagined many things that have come to pass in one way or another. Scientists and inventors rely on the spark of imagination for the inspirations of ideas which have revolutionised our world and also taken us out of this world, into space. My argument was rejected. So began my life of science and the suppression of my imagination.

During my High School and University days I was like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. When in class and at home, I was the optometry student; during break time and when visiting friends, I was the artist and D&D roleplayer – the only real outlet for my imagination. I discovered SF Conventions and costuming in High School; though branded a ‘weirdo’, it provided another imaginative outlet that I craved. As long as I kept up my studies and got a ‘real job’, everyone else was happy. It was a phase. I would grow out of it. I didn’t.

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” (Terry Pratchett). I think this is the real crux of the situation. So many people either lack or suppress their imagination. They are afraid of it. Another quote, from the book Inkheart describes my life well: “Because fear kills everything. Your mind, your heart, your imagination.”  

Yet with me all of this time, was my faith. Without it I would have given in years ago. It provided me with the strength I needed (and still does) to finally acknowledge my fears, rediscover my imagination and have the courage to set my life on a new track. I can have both science and imagination (and faith); they are NOT mutually exclusive.  Our souls need all forms of nourishment. We must face our fears, resolved in our beliefs (whatever they are) and allow ourselves to be a complete person… and let our imaginations take us to wonderful places.

Our Two Weapons are...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Laughing Stock.

I don’t usually write about politics because I don’t like it. Frankly, politics makes me frustrated, angry and grumpy. We have two main political parties in Australia, both of which could not tell the truth if their lives depended on it. Years ago, the Left was the left and the Right was the right and everyone could guess where their policies (if they had them) would lie. These days both flavours of politics are almost identical. We might as well just eat neopolitan. At least we used to have the Democrats to keep the bastards honest!

Though it has been quoted that ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’, past elections have been a little easier for the voter.  The die-hards will vote for their party – no matter what. At least they have loyalty, I have to give them credit for that. I have been a swinging voter for some time now, as neither of the main parties seem to want to let the public in on their secrets ie. what policies they will truly implement. Too often there have been promises which have been broken, changed or weedled out of.

Once upon a time there was at least some hope for our environment and, in turn, for the future of mankind. There was encouragement to set up solar power. That is now gone. There was an implemented Carbon Tax which actually DID encourage some companies to use less coal and switch to renewable energy or more efficient power usage. It did not seriously impact on everyday costs… but… if you listen to the political heavy weights who are scare mongering, they are blaming power increases on this. Bulls**t. The increases are due to private companies (and who allowed privatisation, I ask?) hiking up prices. Only part of this is due to the aging power grids that were going to need an upgrade anyway. Ditto for our aging water systems.

In an effort to chase the poll ratings, the vote and gain power, both parties have been creating, twisting and dropping policies. Neither seem to have the courage of their convictions to stick to their core ethics. It is very hard to tell them apart other than the colour of their ties. It is scary when our upcoming election and the farce of an election campaign become the laughing stock of overseas news broadcasts. Think about it.

The best we can hope for is a hung Parliament with some Independents  to scare both major parties into allowing conscience votes.

I ignore the ‘how to vote cards’ on election day. I am one of those annoying voters who hog the polling booth and takes forever to actually number each and every box. New voters may not realise that a ‘donkey’ vote (ineligible vote) is a vote for those currently in power. Whoever you vote for, think about it. Don’t just follow family tradition or vote ‘the usual’ way just out of loyalty. Don’t just vote for the most charismatic leader. Think about the policies. Think about our country. Think about the environment and the future (or lack thereof) for our children.

We are indeed the lucky country. We have resources that we need to keep Australian owned. We have the freedom of speech. Though political correctness may try to constrain us, we have the freedom to debate and even disagree with the powers that be. Many countries do not have that luxury. We have the right to vote in safety. Our voice will be heard.

Make it so.

Laughing Stock.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Lie of the Land

When writing, there is a myriad of tools available for research. There is the traditional library. I love libraries; rows and rows of information parcels wrapped up in an (not always) interesting cover, just waiting to be discovered and read. Whenever I walk into our local library I feel  like a child in lolly shop! So many things, so many ideas, so much information and so little time.

In South Australia there has been an exciting new development with the state-run libraries. We now have a One Card which will eventually be able to be used at any library in the state; no need to have separate cards for different libraries. While I have used inter-library loans (in which I can ‘order’ a book from a different Australian library and have it delivered and collected from my local library, for short term borrowing), it is now much easier to do so.

Then there is the internet. Though fraught with obstacles, time wasting sidetracks and debatable facts, there is a lot of wonderful things that can be found via my laptop.  Not straying too far from the traditional library, I can go online and check out my (and other) library catalogue, put a book on hold, order a book on inter-library loan and even extend  borrowing time. Did I say how much I love my library?

Moving further afield, there are a multitude of websites that are useful for research, providing that  one realises that some are ephemeral or have dubious information; anyone can type almost any rubbish and post it to the internet. Sometimes these sites can actually be fun and one actually given me an interesting idea (once I had stopped laughing that was).

Earlier in the year, I was writing my short story An Eye for Detail,  based in Victorian London. I had access to the Charles Booth poverty maps (1989) which can be found online; http://booth.lse.ac.uk/static/a/4.html . I find these very useful when situating my stories, describing the characters and area, as it details the different economic groups that lived in the differing areas and streets of London.  I also use then 1881 London census for more information on occupations which are listed by street as well.

Two good sites for this are:

I find it much easier to write if I can picture the area, scene or action in my imagination. I can often be seen (if there was anyone else in the room) running through sequences, an umbrella or suitable prop in hand. For The Feline Principle, I even had my husband in a headlock so I could see if  he could wiggle his way out of it the way I had planned.

We all know about Google Maps (and often complain about it when it gives us wrong directions, when we are driving). It can be such a useful tool. In An Eye for Detail, I wanted to get the lie of the land so that I would see it in my mind’s eye while I was writing. At the end, there was a foot chase through some of the streets of Marylebone. I wanted to ‘see’ where I was going. I googled it. 

Firstly, I found the position of the local police station (and did some internet research to see where it was in the late 1880s) as that would be needed during the story. I then decided to start the story not far from the modern day Harley street, famous for it doctors. However, as my main character Viola was not as well off, I started a few streets to the east. From there  the chase led away from the upper-class areas. I used the street view of Google Maps to follow the route, making notes of contemporary Victorian buildings and the Victorian street names (some had been changed) by cross referencing with my Charles Booth maps. This made everything more alive and the words flowed!

There are other interesting finds on Google Maps. While doing a virtual tour, I was directed to the following area at Earls Court Rd, London. Behold! A Police box.. but it is not just any Police box! I was instructed to do the following: Click around until you see two navigation arrows (like this >>) and click on them. A fiddly job but worth it. For the Doctor Who fans out there, rejoice! We can now take a virtual walk around the control room of our beloved TARDIS.


policebox2        pollice box3

The Lie of the Land

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All tied up in a Neat Bow.

I love watching Agatha Christie telemovies. I can’t decide whether I prefer Proirot or Miss Marple. I think it really depends on which mood I happen to be in, at the time. David Suchet is so precise in his mannerisms and portrayal of the Belgian sleuth whose OCD that can be seen in every aspect of his life; his attention to detail allows him to sift through the myriad of clues and red herrings, to find the logical solution.

Then there is Miss Marple so often passed over, by the local constabulary, as a silly old biddy who is going a senile; it does not take much time for her to start putting pieces of the puzzle together with her quick mind.  Which ever actress plays her, she is intelligent and whiley, often using her age to put the murderer (and the police) off guard… with a just little hint of cheekiness.

Sometimes my preference will depend on whether I am in the mood for some art deco flavour or some post World War II costumes. Whichever way I go, there is the ever present plot provided by Agatha Christie. There is the set up; introducing the characters, the various relationships (of love and hate), a kaleidoscope of clues. Red herrings are specialty of hers but if you listen and watch very closely, they are usually betrayed by a word or action of one of the characters. Usually the story is neatly concluded, the pieces dissected and all the clues detailed and the solution all tied up in a neat bow.

This is a must with most crime fiction. The reader wants to be given clues, allowed to sift through them and decide which is important and solve the puzzle by the end of the book.  (Though sometimes even Ms Christie cheats a bit).

Given my predilection for reading and watching crime stories, I always find it interesting that I prefer to write speculative fiction. I don’t always want my stories to finish neatly, all laid out on a platter for easy viewing. Recently, I have enjoyed throwing in red herrings that are not necessarily red herrings (so I suppose I can’t really call them red herrings any way?) I am finding a lot of enjoyment in ambiguous endings, making the reader think about what will happen next, after the story finishes. I love the idea of taking something mundane/ everyday and asking ‘what if?’

What if…

Some of the most powerful words we have, capable of inspiring so many creations, so many ideas and deeds. Why not ask yourself ‘what if’ and see where it takes you.

All tied up in a Neat Bow.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Every now and then I need a break.

On a Sunday it is like the calm before the storm, for me. Tomorrow is my ‘day job’. After last week’s stresses, I want to try to take it very slowly. We had lunch with friends and chatted for hours. It was great being able to just sit; we did not have to be anywhere as our diary was uncluttered for the day.  Trying to look back on what we talked about,  I know it was important at the time but I am not surprised that it has all melded into just the memory of relaxed conversation.

Once home, the week finally caught up with me. My eyelids betrayed me and I finally gave into a a ‘Nanna’ nap. However what was intended as a short 15 minute cat nap ended up as an hour snooze. I woke up with the cat asleep on my arm, purring away. Grandmas should not hold the monopoly on afternoon naps. They are instrumental in rejuvenating my flagging energy.

Briar rose bodiceb

With four o’clock looming, my brain finally woke up! I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing off my daughter’s costume bodice. Thankfully, I found some plastic boning in the cupboard. The edges are now edged in bias and it only has the eyelets to be added and it is finished!

The great thing about handsewing is that I can catch up on videos while doing it! I rewatched Doctor Who’s Battlefield with the 7th Doctor.

Today was mostly a ‘distraction’ day; one of my methods to avoid thinking about possible stressful situations tomorrow.  To finish off the day, I settled in to watch new episodes of Bones and Castle (sounds like a pub!) while drinking  hot cocoa and listening to the calming rhythm of the rain on the roof.

Take five minutes, or better yet 30 minutes, to stop and wonder at the world.  And relax!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Storylines and Costumes

Bookweek is looming. This year the senior class have decided to all dress to a theme: Disney. Life would have been much easier if they had chosen Pirates or Space or even History; our daughter has costumes (that fit) for all of these. But no, the voted for Disney.

Life would have also been much easier if our daughter had chosen one of several female Disney characters that I originally suggested but the reply to most of the ones I suggested was ‘no’. From the beginning, the choice had to be based on two things: 1. quick to make and 2. with materials we already have in the cupboard. In the end we pulled out most of the cupboards contents, searched online and finally came to an agreement: Briar Rose. Briar rose skrt

The patterns were quite easily made. The skirt was straight forward and could be worn over one of my tie-on white petticoats to give more body to it.  It was sewn up Saturday morning.

I used a Simplicity pattern to start my bodice pattern (2843- a Historical/Pioneer outfit) as my daughter will not sit still long enough for me to make a toile.  I removed the straps and will hopefully get her to stand still long enough to at least fit it so I can put some boning in..

Briar rose bodice pattern

On writing:

I have the bare bones of my next short story which will most likely be a steampunk with vague SF crossover possibly hinting at supernatural/gaslamp. Sounds confusing? Yes, so far it does. I am letting things filter down through my subconscious now so I can figure out if the ending will resolve ‘happily’, ambiguously or in tragedy. Then again, I am also toying with leaving it up i the air, for the reader to decide…

Argh! Decisions!

Storylines and Costumes

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Friday was an emotional roller coaster ride. I was coming down from the high of a story completed and posted and wrestling with a new story idea that just won’t quite gel. It was a hormonal morning; my husband bore it well. All the while an emotional cloud hung in the air (exactly the way bricks don’t).

I put on one of my favourite purple top, pulled on my purple wool coat and a multi-purple scarf made lovingly by a friend. Usually the colour cheers me up; I needed an emotional lift today. Still I was melancholy.

We slumped into the car and drove to our destination. It was a grey day, the rain just holding back. The wind was chilled. The lights changed silently oblivious to the reason for our travels. We had planned to arrive early to get parking and, even though we were 20 minutes early, we had to park a few streets along and walk the rest of the way.

It is Friday 9th August. There was a stirring in the Force.

We farewelled a friend of ours.  I will not say goodbye as he will always be with us. Though we cried, we also smiled … and even laughed. He would have wanted it that way. The church was packed and overflowing. Costumed mourners smiled as his words were read to us. We embraced his wife and soul mate. So many people. So much love.

A strong, caring, smiling man may have lost the battle but he won the love of so many.  Though there is a deep sadness and a hole in my heart, I will remember him with happiness. How could it be any other way. He always made others feel better.

Rest in Peace Steve and May the Force be with you.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Short story finalised.

Thursday was spent indulging myself. After yesterday I needed to chill, to relax and do things I like to do. I caught up on some television shows, wrote my blog and caught up on some reading. I am currently reading the final book in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series Timeless. 

Eventually I started getting stir crazy; I had to write something. I had two options:  trying to decide on a new story for my next short story or finish with final editing and polish of my current short story (the one that needed a title).

I sat at the computer and tried to think of a new plot. Nothing inspirational. I sat at the table, with pen in hand, hoping something would appear on the notebook.  Still no spark. Next I went though a list of story ideas that I have and trolled pictures for ideas. Though I did make a little headway on some plots for a later time, there was just nothing wanting to commit itself to the page.

So onto option 2: editing. This steampunk short story is due on Monday and will need a few days to arrive in the post. I had just had it proof read (after the second rewrite and edit) by a friend of mine and it all that was required was a final spell check, polish and proof read. The worst of the trimming was over so it is a much more relaxing proce

gawler comp

ss at this stage. The final polish was changing the heroine’s name to something more reminiscent of the Victorian era.

With three  12 pt, 1.5 line spaced printed copies of the story in the envelope, each page labelled with the title… ah, the title! Finally I decided on The Guest Upstairs…

I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when the story is done and finally sent off. I have a few more characters to add to my ‘world’ of steampunk.  With three copies in the envelope it was posted today, with four days to spare.

Mischief managed.

Short story finalised.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fear and Writing

Yesterday’s events put my health and ‘day job’ issues into focus once again. An incident, in December, changed my life both suddenly and in many significant ways. There is no turning back; I have to live with this for the rest of my life.  Firstly, I can no longer find the courage to enter a particular place; even driving in the area stirs up memories and incites panic. Next is the negative effect on household income and finally the stress follow-on to my entire (and very supportive) family.

Over the past nine months, I have had a lot of time to think; I have been doing a lot of self assessment, soul searching and investigating my options for alternative careers, as a fail safe against all possible outcomes.

During this time of personal reflection I began to pick up my pen and start writing, something I have not seriously done in decades. Oh, I have written occasional articles based on research into 16th century Medici and their clothing … but research is safe. It was scientific. It dealt with facts; facts that could be proven. For me, this writing (though some was apparently controversial in local circles) was safe.

I did write  a ‘ novel’ once, back in high school when almost all of us are discovering our teenage angst. Some of us decide to write. I decided to write a SFcomedy to cheer myself up. It took a year. It was typed on an old ribbon typewriter. Thankfully, there is only one copy (something I really should go and dig out – to see if I have actually learnt anything).

Remembrances such as this got me thinking about writing again, this time returning to fiction; something that has always made me feel better. I had given myself a time line (1-2 years)  to try to develop a disciplined regime of writing, to hone my craft  and have the courage to share my work with others. I think I am on the way to achieving this.

As many writers have done, I started writing short stories. My first was entitled Second Chance. It was semi-autobiographical dealing with personal issues with my father – with a SF twist (they say write what you know).  It was cathartic. It also reminded me how much I actually enjoyed the process of writing, creating a story and watching it grow. Even the dreaded editing gave me a sense of fulfillment (as well as frustration and potential loss of hair).

Being for a competition, this story had also provided me with a deadline forcing me to start to learn discipline. I finished it two weeks before it was due. Then I sat there for the next week, finger hovering over the ‘send’ button on the email. I was petrified!  Once the button was eventually pressed, there was non chance of retrieval. A secret part of my soul would be visible for the judges, a carcass to pick over and possibly laugh at. Even more terrifying was , IF it placed in the competition and published, then it would be accessible to strangers and (worse) family and friends.

I then engaged  my logical brain; if I wanted any chance of becoming a professional writer (I have a time line of 5-10 years for this), then I had to produce work and send it!

I pushed the button.

This seemed to alleviate some of the my ‘day job’ stress issues as well. So I continued to write. Each time it gets just a little easier to push that ‘send’ button or  drop the envelope into the post box. I started this blog as a way of instilling a discipline, to write daily, and to temper my fear by sharing my writing in a very public forum.

As as result, I have learnt a lot about writing in the past nine months. I have noticed a change in my prose, less anguish in editing and an increased confidence in sharing. Though I must admit, dear Reader, that I still occasionally hover over that ‘send/publish’ button, wondering if I will make a fool of myself, revealing too much… or worse … have no one interested in reading my work. (the readership of this blog has recently increased 5 fold, so thank you!)

I didn’t place in that first competition but I was (and am) content with that. I discovered that my biggest fear was not that of failure or rejection but of being willing and able to share my thoughts AND to have them scrutinized.

So thank you, dear Reader, for joining my online journey and helping me rediscover one of the most satisfying and enjoyable things in my life – writing.

Fear and Writing

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Reminder of my Mortality

I am late with this post today, as I have been sitting (and lying) in the local hospital Emergency Department for the past three hours.  This morning I woke with petrified with fear, as my pulse was galloping; I could not keep up with it. Even more worrying was the pain that was in my chest area, my shoulders and down my left arm.

I had not thought that my ‘day job’ had been that stressful yesterday. There were a few ‘interesting’ moments but I had thought I had handled it well. Obviously my subconscious had another idea. I had a very bad dream (the attending physician said it was a nightmare); I had thought it was not that bad.

After hours of wires and questions and listening to the machine that goes beep, I finally got wheeled into the x-ray room. As I had been coughing for the past week, he just wanted to make sure that there was nothing we were missing. This was a prudent decision but I am not happy with the results…

I now have an appointment with the GP to look into possibly asthma and cervical bone damage (possibly relating to a car accident I had back in 1989).  The good news, at least,, is that my heart seems all fine. It was a strong ‘flight or fright’ response and the muscle pain is most likely due to the … yes… coughing over the past week.

So all is now returning normal in our household, except that I must start admitting that I am not as young as I once was. I cannot wish these things away, nor pretend they never happened. It is enlightening to confront my own thoughts when in this situation. I was not (and am not) ready to throw in the towel as yet; I have too many things I want to do before I leave this world.  I found myself reaching for my notebook (once the situation looked less dire) and scribbling some word, a story starting to form…

Closer to Death I come

but you will not have me today.

In the end, even with this reminder of my mortality, I can hear these words: I may have to grow old but I do not have to grow up .

Go hug a loved one today!

A Reminder of my Mortality

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Time for all good fans to show their mettle

When I was a very small child, my father used to watch Doctor Who.  I used to watch it as well  (or hide behind the couch) . It is scary t think that I have watched it for almost forty-four years. I suppose that makes me an old fart.

What I love about Doctor Who was that an eccentric Gallifreyan was running around Time and Space looking out for others. He was my superman, the hero in a blue box that can always could be relied on to do his utmost to help – no matter who you were; whatever race, whatever your philosophy, whether from Earth, an alien, man or woman. It did not matter.

Over the years,  I have watched 9 regenerations and am now looking forward to the 10th one (I did not see the first one… I think).  There has been one Doctor I really didn’t like, another that was very ‘ meh’, three I adore immensely and another that comes really close to that. The wonderful and unique thing about Doctor Who is that we all get that choice; we get to choose our favourite. It is like a smorgasbord of Doctors and, with modern DVD technology, we can pick and choose which to watch depending on our mood.

But in all that time, most fans were like a big happy family who had very interesting discussions and the most in depth debates about our hero, his friends and companions and which version of the Daleks or Cybermen we liked the most.

On Monday, the actor to play the 12th regeneration of the Doctor was announced.  Though in the past there has been controversial decisions, never have I seen such vitriol on social media as I have seen in the past twenty-four hours. I am so disappointed that some ‘fans’ are attacking an actor they do not know and demanding a younger more popular ‘star’ for the role.

The BBC & Moffat (whether you like it or not) are running the show. They do the hiring. It is their decision. Personally, I am not a massive Moffat fan; I have been left cold by some of the decisions made (especially making it more Americanised for the launch into the US market). But I am not writing/producing the show. I am however, a Doctor Who fan. I will watch it. I even kept watching when they chose Colin Baker (my least favourite Doctor ). Don’t confuse this as not liking the actor or the man. He was just not what I envisioned the Doctor to be.

Acting is a vocation; it is a job like any other and it is up to those hiring to decide who they envision is right for the job. An actor should not be measured on just how pretty their face is, or how well they rate in social media ‘likes’ but on their acting ability. Obviously there are those who are not happy with the decision. I am actually looking forward to discovering our new Doctor and going on a new journey. The possibilities are open to us!

Now is the time for all good fans to show their mettle and be open to change, respect the opinions of others and revel in an outstanding show that has endured over the past fifty years.  Let us revel in a unique show that encourages us to help others and find the good in even our enemies.

Doctor Who is about change, about acceptance of others, about the adventures of a Time Lord called the Doctor (which ever regeneration) and about the people who travel with him during his entire life. There are four favoured Doctors that I have; I cannot just choose one. Each time there is a new Doctor, I have to reassess my list. Doctor Who is like a box chocolates! You never know what you are going to get but all chocolate is delicious, in different ways.

Be excellent to one another.

Time for all good fans to show their mettle

Monday, August 5, 2013

Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Sunday was a turning point,  in the weather,  my health and my short story.

The sun was a welcome relief to the recent rains (though I do love the rain and its restorative qualities).  The cat basked in the patches of light that moved over the tiles, warming them and providing comfort for her aching arthritic bones.  The doors were opened (though my dear husband did complain about the winter chill), the windows let in the cleansing breeze and the sunlight cheered me (and the rest of the family) up.

Finally, the pressure on my sinuses has been (mostly) quelled. The cough has almost abated though it insists on reminding me that it has not gone altogether ,  occasional coughing bouts that make my head spin and my muscles wrench. I have managed to go through four boxes of tissues this week! We did not have enough handkerchiefs (or time to wash them) to keep up with that load. At this rate, I am hopeful that I will be recovered enough to be able to work tomorrow.

Feeling less muddled in the head,  I pulled out the short story draft that I penned earlier  this week. Thankfully, it was not as brain-addled as I had feared; it actually made sense (woah!)  and did not need a full rewrite.

I am still searching for a title; usually this presents itself, if not before I start (giving me an idea to latch onto), very near the beginning of the creative process. This may be because the inspiration for this story was a picture I happened upon while scanning some pictures from a random Google search on steampunk. Hence the story evolved from a visual clue rather than a title, on this occasion.

I am hoping to have this one edited and polished for a local short story competition in the middle of the month.

Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Secret Projects...

A change of pace today, as I am still battling this darned cough (day 7!). I have not done much costuming this year due my stress/ health issues and budgetary restrictions.  As long-term readers are aware, I have also been busy concentrating on some art projects and on my writing, which has priority if I have any chance of making it my ‘alternate profession’ one day.

I have documented some of the art projects in previous posts, such as t-shirts (on Redbubble), re-enactment scrolls in Finally, the Secret Project can be Revealed. I am also working on a secret design project for a colleague in Queensland, an art commission and some artwork for a friend’s book. Busy, busy.

It is scary how things all seem to crop at once… and at such short notice. Well at least one was. This year my daughter’s school year have decided to have a theme for book week (not just a general theme which I was hoping for as we have many costumes to choose from already). This means that I will HAVE to make something for book week. The theme was only chosen recently, so I have only two more weeks to get it finished (and find something appropriate to make with the materials we already have).

If that was not bad enough, I have been pondering and assessing and finally tearing my hair out over what to make for the annual Australian Costumers’ Guild Ball which is held at the end of this month. As I have been busy writing (and have been unwell), this has quietly sneaked up on me. Holy fishcakes, Batman! I have been rifling though my material cupboard trying to work out what I can make in two weeks (at the same time as making the book week costume) AND  without having to purchase anything.

Finally, I think I have cracked the case! I am cheating a bit, as I am using some material earmarked for another project, making the skirt for the original project and using it as part of an alternate project. Confused? I can’t make the original project as I do not have the time to do the essential material dyeing (which I only get once chance to do) as if I stuff it up I am … well.. stuffed. I am adding some bits from another project (half finished) and will top it all off with something I have been aching to make for some time. If it works, I will be delirious! Intrigued? I hope so!

The final problem is trying to find some obscure material that I had bought about 20 years ago and stashed somewhere. I know that I have it. I just can’t find it. I can do this project without it but it will be soooo much cooler if I can find it.  Obscure enough for you? Good!

For now I will leave you with a taste of the materials I am hoping to successfully use. Pics will be posted later in the month with the big reveal, as they say.

1 material

Secret Projects...

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Firstly, welcome to all my new readers! You know who you are. In the past two days, my blog hits have doubled. Thanks for that; it is wonderful to know that I am not just writing little pieces of my soul into the invisible internet ether for them to fizzle out, unread.

Secondly, after yesterday’s rant I am exhausted! I am on day six of being ill and I am so over it. I have counted at least seven lungs that I have coughed up during the last two days only! I have finally succumbed to modern medicine to try to kick those nasty little bugs in the teeth… and they are tough blighters.

With my brain addled, I am just doing a short post today.  I am sitting in my PJ’s and dressing gown, guzzling the last of my tea and wishing a bit of chocolate would spontaneously appear on the table beside me. (Maybe if I bat my eyelids at my hubby?… well that wasn’t hard. I love that man! )

Though loathed to admit it, and being not very found of tropes, I could just stick some rollers in my hair and I would emulate a grumpy housewife stereotype right now… but with a lot more coughing and no cigarette hanging out of my mouth.

Having now let my addled brain loose on you – poor unsuspecting reader – I will leave you to enjoy your day and I will eat that chocolate and cup of tea that have spontaneously appeared on my side table.  (the wonderful man)


Friday, August 2, 2013

Geek Girl Pride

So… welcome to another rant…

Apparently there is a thing called the Fake Geek Girl test. I guess it was written by boys who just never were comfortable around girls? Geeks come in all shapes and sizes; all colours and sexes (though that may shock you). Not all geeks are into comic books. Not all geeks play computer games.  But we are all kin. You should revel in the oneness of that which is Geek.

When I was at school (in the 1970s and 1980s), I was a geek. I had geeky friends. We did not care if we were male or female; back then, being a geek was dangerous. We got picked on, laughed at, ridiculed and beaten up. We sought the company of fellow geeks, so that we could have safety in numbers.  Think yourself lucky that others before you, paved the way so that you could indulge your Geekdom at conventions  and that some of the ‘cool’ kids are trying to find out how they can have so much fun!

So, you still want to pull rank and claim ownership of geekdom, think again!

I am a girl (funny that).  I am possibly even old enough to be your mother (though I would have some strong words to say about your inability to accept others for what they are… tsk, tsk). I was a Geek before many of you were even born.

So you are a gamer? I started playing D&D in 1978 (or was it 1979?). I was a Dungeon Master for over ten years. I still have the maps and scrolls for the world I created.  I was even one of the founders of our University D&D Club! I even managed time to complete my Bach App Sc and have worked in my profession since then. At the time, an optometrist was one of the geekiest professions I could have chosen. I used to write notes to my friends in class, in Dwarven Runes. I have entered (and won) D&D tournaments and I have hundreds of figurines that I have been collecting for over 20 years. I still play Dungeons and Dragons.

Still in denial? In 1977, I went to see Star Wars seven times. In high school, my friend used to audio tape Blakes’ 7 for me (pre video recorder) and she would describe the actions as we listened, on the weekend; it clashed with my stepfather’s favourite TV show. I remember seeing 5th generation bootleg videos (as in tapes), from the US, as we could not get Star Trek (all flavours), Babylon 5 and Farscape here … for years.

I first saw Doctor Who when I was 3 or 4 years old in 1969. I grew up with it. If you do the maths, that means I have been watching Doctor Who for over 44 years! Have you? I love the show because of its characters and stories, not just because of the latest hottie.  I vaguely remember sitting in front of the television to watch the landing on the moon (1969); my mum told me I could tell my grandkids I saw it!

I have been attending SF conventions (we used to call them fancons as they were not big business then) and making cosutmes (and wearing them) since 1980… and loving it! I even helped organise two fancons and was on the committee for another. I have had dinner and philosophical discusseions with Terry Pratchett (yes on the same table!), been hit on by a famous actress and  I know there is more than one type of black; Neil Gaiman explained it at HongCon here in Adelaide. I used to video (tape) conventions when the camera… back when the camera was so big it had to sit on my shoulder and weighed a couple of kilos! I still have fanvideos we made, using our collectible toys. These days many TV news crews think the cons are fun (some still poke fun) but back then, we got singled out for ridicule. These days you have it easy. So why do you want to make life hell for others?

I even belong to a historical re-enactment group and have so since the early 1990s. Try filling up your car, at the petrol station, in full garb. These days many people think it is cool. Back then, things were different. So why do you gawp and make rude comments on others’ costumes? It makes you a bully.

My family are geeks. My husband embraces my geekiness. He is a geek too.  We are raising the next generation of geeks. We collect toys (even before our daughter was born). We have thousands of books, many of which are also reference books! We even put an extention on the house… to fit in all of our books.  These days I have even become a writer of speculative fiction.  ’Cos I  can’t get enough just reading books.

I have been a paid member of clubs for Doctor Who, Blakes’ 7, Costuming, SCA, Star Trek, more Doctor Who and Forever Knight. I was a member of an apazine (not the Apple thing, …. google it) and was editor of my own fanzine for over 5 years. I have even had articles and artwork published in a past Australian Roleplaying (D&D) magazine and did artwork for an independent comic book.

And you say girls can’t be geeks? Geek girls have been around for decades and we are NOT going away just because you don’t think we have the requisite parts!

This rant was brought to you by a long time girl geek, and was inspired by this wonderful video! http://www.upworthy.com/some-geek-boys-called-these-geek-girls-fake-they-certainly-wont-be-making-that-mistake-again-7?g=3

Geek Girl Pride

Thursday, August 1, 2013


It is Wednesday. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The breeze is refreshing. My husband has a job interview. My daughter got a distinction in an Australian wide examination.  It is the birthday of one of my dear friends.  I should be happy. But there is no joy.

It is Wednesday. Today I lost a friend. He was loud. He was funny. He was cheeky. He was sweet. He was loving. He always had good things to say about people. He was ill. In the end he had organ failure. In the end, he was surrounded by so many loving friends and family. In the end, he knew he was loved.

It is Wednesday. Today I weep. I weep for his wife who will feel his loss the most. I weep for his family and friends who miss him already. I weep for myself, as there is now a hole in my heart. But for Steve, there is no more pain. No more sadness. He will see us everyday; he is now one with the Force.

All I can do to relieve the grief, is to write: now there are no more words, other than: Rest in Peace, Steve.

steve young july 2013 quick pencil