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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Managing My Writing: Part 1: Organising Inspirations

So many things can inspire me to write. Sometimes it is an overheard comment  or a photograph. Sometimes a title will pop into my head – complete with sights, sounds and characters. (I have blogged on this subject previously in Where Ideas Come From.) Just take a look around you. There is a wonderful world out there. Honestly, some days there is such an overload of potential ideas, it is hard to keep track of them.

Unfortunately not all of the ideas are worth pursuing. Some are only worthy of a short story. Some could prove the basis of a full length story. For many of them, I just do not have the time to give them my full attention at the very moment they present themselves. What to do? I can not ignore them; some of those fleeting inspirations may just prove to be useful some time in the future.

Just in the past year, I have filled a few note books, collated scraps of paper and amassed piles of photographs. It did not take long before I realised that I would have to store these items somewhere, or risk losing some of them forever.

organising boxesI cleared out one of our bookshelves, and filed the notebooks along with my writing reference books. I seconded some boxes for the loose leaf pages – one for a fantasy story, one for The Department of Curiosities and two more for various short story or random ideas. I also have a separate box for whatever I am currently working on. Right now, that is Doctor Jack. (There are some gorgeous boxes that can be found in shops these days.)

organising boxes 2

I found many pictorial inspirations on the internet. Initially I printed them out on paper. This soon proved to be space consuming (and wasteful). I saved many more onto my hard drive. This promptly ate into computer memory. It also proved inconvenient when I was not at home  and wanted to access some of the images.

Then a writer friend introduced me to Pinterest. Oh dear! I soon learnt to exercise restraint or fall down an internet rabbit hole that facilitates too many hours of procrastination – in the name of research, of course. Once I had mastered (or tried to) the adherence to  a self-imposed Pinterest time limit, I set to pinning many pictorial inspirations and research items.

On my Pinterest page you can find some of my writing (and costume) inspirations and research into 19th century London, Adelaide, Shipping, Railways, Technology, Vanity, Fashion and 19th century Circuses.

Now I have even more ideas tweaking my imagination and mulling around in my brain. Now I just need more hours in my day to give them the attention they deserve.

Managing My Writing: Part 1: Organising Inspirations

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Happy Towel Day!

towel day2

25th May is Towel Day – celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams (1952-2001).

You know, the guy who wrote Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. (It was made into a movie – but I prefer the BBC series.) If you have not read it, get a copy. It is a hoot.

People do all sorts of things to celebrate.  More info at http://towelday.org/

Stay cool and froody!

Happy Towel Day!

Steampunk Aesthetics

I love steampunk.
To my regular readers, this is probably an very obvious statement.

I love to read about fantastical adventures that could have been, if it were not for a quirk in history that took us in a different direction into the world of electronics. There is sufficient leeway in the definition of steampunk that I can read about full-on mechanical steam creations, the bare-bones of differing technology or the paranormal fantasies of the 19th century.  One of my favourite steampunk books is the Soulless series by Gail Carriger.

I love writing steampunk. My work varies from the almost paranormal mystery to gadgets galore. My current novella, Doctor Jack has a darker mystery-conspiracy theme. I can let my imagination run wild but still have a set world to play in – one that is familiar enough with most readers to allow me the luxury of concentrating more on the story and characters and less on full-on world building. I can tinker with history.
airship badge
I love the clothing – a modern tweak on Victorian-gothic classics.  It allows me to imagine all the possibilities that the world can create. I can have fun with just a touch here and there, or a sport a full outfit when circumstance allows. There are no rules in steampunk (and anyone who wants to restrict the genre is just sucking the fun out of it.) Slowly I am incorporating more of this style into my every day wear. I have blogged about this on Life, the Universe and Cardigans. It will take a while. (More on making corsets at: Costumes, Conventions and Steampunky hijinks)

DSC_2389I love the aesthetic. I have always had a fascination with old buildings, the displayed knicknacks (perfect for our collectibles – they are not toys!), and old furniture – especially dark wooden furniture.  This week I outlined the final scenes for Jack and decided to take a break. I grabbed my camera and had fun around the house. These are some of the things we have collected, to add to the steampunky atmosphere. 

 DSC_2380_1 DSC_2366

DSC_2391 DSC_2414 DSC_2434 DSC_2423 DSC_2429

Gosh, there are a lot of clocks. I scour the opshops for them, mostly for the glass domes. Being allergic to dust, it provides the perfect way of storing a lot of my collectibles under glass to ease the task of dusting. I have great plans…

Steampunk Aesthetics

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Of Cameras and Their Point of View.

I have commented previously on how invaluable I find my writers’ group.  We meet once a month, at the local library. Last week I took a break from writing Doctor Jack - to enjoy the company  of my fellow writers and discuss the final scenes of The Department of Curiosities’s fifth chapter  (my novel length manuscript work-in-progress).

chapter51strewritesThese scenes of Chapter 5: Of Resurrections, Discoveries and Assassinations/Eliminations (still being decided) – follows the despicable acts of the antagonist’s henchmen. No spoilers. From the start, I envisaged the henchmen as almost faceless non-individuals. They do not speak. We never learn their names. They act almost as one. We do not get any insight into their thoughts, feelings or motives. Nada.

This has forced me to practice writing from a new point of view (POV) – that of the ‘Camera‘. Not an easy task! Personal descriptives kept sneaking into the prose. One sentence that had to be culled was:  ’This had been expected, and planned for.‘  How can a camera interpret their motives or intent?  Smells, vision and sound need to be self-explanatory – or suggestive. Gone was also ‘With all secrecy lost‘. The reader must interpret for themselves.

This has been a great learning experience. If I can pull it off, the henchmen will be just that little bit more detached and hopefully produce some discomfort – like emotionless robots. My take home lesson this month has been:

The camera does not think. It does not interpret. The camera only sees.

Of Cameras and Their Point of View.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

1st Edition of Tea and Tidings is Flying Out Next Week

The first edition of my newsletter -Tea and Tidings - will be delivered by flying monkeys, next week.

Each month I will share an excerpt of my work-in-progress, some extra titbits, and occasional polls – only for subscribers.


Sign up for your copy of Tea and Tidings now by subscribing to my email list.  HERE
All of your information is confidential.

1st Edition of Tea and Tidings is Flying Out Next Week

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Winter More Garden Adventures.

I have said it before. I love winter. While many love the spring colour in the garden or the summer heat, I love the showering rain, providing a well needed drink for my veges and flowers. I can get out and start moving things around. There are plants to pot up, irises to move to a more visible location and lots of digging.

It just gets too hot in summer, to do all the back-breaking work of digging and landscaping (and, being the lazy gardener that I am, my plants are less likely to die when I forget to water them.)

Now that the ground is more moist, I have been out doing a mass of weeding. Even then some of the ground was almost like concrete. I spent a relaxing afternoon ripping sour sobs out individually. I use an old fork or a small trowel – depending on how hard the ground is. Sour sobs are annoying weeds with little bulbs that  are notorious to remove. I am quite pleased. About half to two-thirds were removed -intact- using my cutlery.

weeding path beds 2

In all, I weeded two of my vegetable squares and along both sides of our front path.  Once this was completed, I sowed another batch of broccoli, carrot and spinach seeds. The thyme and mustard seeds are finally starting to shoot and should fill up their beds quite nicely.

carrots lettuce self seed spinch seeds

I love the serendipity of the garden. I found three self-seeded lettuce seedlings and three self-seeded spinach seedlings hiding amongst the other plantings.  They miraculously find a place to grow – and thrive – against all odds. I still excited when I find these unexpected treasures. They now have a new home, as do the silver beet seedlings we were given by a friend.

A great day in the garden does a wonder to recharge my batteries, connect with nature, get some food growing and mull over some writing ideas in my head. (not counting the exercise and vitamin D.)

More Winter More Garden Adventures.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tea and Tidings – Monthly Newsletter Now Available!

Things are afoot!
By request I have created a newsletter for those who are interested in my continuing writing.
Tea and Tidings is my new monthly newsletter - delivered directly to you by trained flying monkeys! (That sounds so much more interesting than email or the internet.) It will contain news, updates and excerpts of writing I am currently working on, as well as exclusive or extra content that is only available via my email list.
I am hoping this will make it easier to find current information for each month, without having to search my page, FB or twitter - and especially for those who don't have time to read my blog regularly (or what something extra).  It is aimed at readers who are interested in my stories and future writings but there may also be occasional information  on new artwork or specials.
You can sign up for the email list

Subscribe to Tea and Tidings, grab a cup of tea (and maybe some chocolate), put your feet up and get some exclusives via your email.
13 01 24

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Of Post Camp Progress, Pantsers and Plotters

2014-Winner-Vertical-Banner I finished Camp over my 10000 word limit - with 13497. I was a very happy camper. I had gone into this thinking 'I will write a 5000 word short story and make up the balance on my existing project. I hope I can make it. We will see.' Little did I know that Doctor Jack would end up developing a life of its own.
As part of the 'winning' the camp (this was done by exceeding my chosen goal) I got some really neat buttons, badges and a certificate (see below). These provide a sense of achievement and an incentive for me to try for the bigger goal next time - 50000 words for the full NaNoWriMo.  The certificate will sit above my desk to remind me that I can achieve my writing goals - all great to kick me in the butt when I am procrastinating waaayy too much.
 So what now? For a couple of days, I sat on my laurels thinking - cool I did it. I started checking out the 'winner's goodies' on the webpage.  50% off Scrivener (which I already use and love), some discounts on other writing tools and Camp products, some free downloads, free hard copy of my story from Lulu.
Most exciting for me was the possibility of a free manuscript review by The Book Genome Project (though I still need to find out how this works). This is both daunting and exciting. I have not had a story professionally reviewed before - and there is the rub - that old daemon rears its ugly maw and chuckles - Am I good enough? Will I embarrass myself? Will it be crap?
I have until 31st May to finish up my story and get the courage to submit it. I will of course, if I get it finished (and there is not a minimum word count higher than mine), but in the meantime that self-doubt will creep in.
Until then, I am writing. Some scenes just flow from my pen as the characters reveal themselves and the plot to me. With other scenes, I think pulling teeth would be much easier. But I still write. There is one scene that needs to be written. The plot demands it. However it eludes me. It is not eloquent nor exciting. I hope to make it work by revealing more about my characters.
What do I do when faced with this situation?
  • Firstly, I pull out my pen and notebook and start freewriting. It often helps. Usually I am a pantser- style writer.  (I have a general idea of my characters, story and ending - I just let the characters take me where they need to go.) Sometimes this does not end well. I can write myself into a corner.
  • In the past few months, I have taken to writing down ideas, as they surface. I can then arrange them in a vague order and get a (very basic) plot plan. This has become much easier since I purchased Scrivener. Being a visual person I can put them in little electronic 'sticky notes' and shuffle them around as I change my mind. This happens more than I would like to admit (oops, I just did). Sometimes I end up completely ignoring the pre-arranged plot. More often than not, I keep adding to it or completely change it. I am becoming more organised as I get more writing experience - but I think I will always be a pantser at heart.
For more info on planners and pantsers - follow this LINK.
Today I have  16,600 words and six to nine more scenes to write (if the characters want to co-operate and stick to the planned story).
Doctor Jack - 1st draft- Deadline 30th April, 2014: 
So I am off to write. I hope I can still access the story line review via Lulu (which I just found out is having technical difficulties). I would really like to find out what they think of my work.
Manuscript Word Progress:(on hold for the month)
Total Words:  

Revised Words: 
At 1st draft only:

Crossposting Fail

Bear with me dear reader.
My automatic post and crosspost failed today. I am trying to figure out which part of the link has malfunctioned. Today's post did arrive at Livejournal but not Blogger or Twitter.
Looks like I may have to manually recreate the post. In the meantime, if you can not wait for that, you can see today's post at my website:

Of Post Camp Progress, Pantsers and Plotters

Hope you have a spiffy day!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You

I could not let today pass without acknowledgement.  In 1977, a wide-eyed young girl dragged her mum to see Star Wars. It changed my life. A whole new world opened up to me. (I ended up seeing it seven times that year.)

May the 4th be with you all.


May the Fourth Be With You

May is Zombie Awareness Month

Are you a zombiophile (is that a word?) Did you know that May is Zombie Awareness Month? The first zombie movie I watched was Night of the Living Dead. When it comes to horror, I was more of a vampire-girl myself. They are better dressers – as long as they do not sparkle.

Many of my friends are big zombie fans. The genre digs into our imaginations and deep seated fears (and our brains). Several attend the annual Zombie Walk.  One of my friends helped organise the Adelaide Zombie Walk until she moved interstate. The fun fundraiser encourages  you to bring tins of food which is then donated Foodbank SA.

Speaking of food, there is even a book –  A Zombie Ate my Cupcake .

Goodreads is hosting a forum and blog giveaways for Zombie Awareness Month. (ZAM) They list the best zombie books in various genres – including YA and Romance. I recommend Pride, Prejudice and Zombies. (that is about as gorey as I like my zombies.)

Last year, I posted one of my writing exercises which resulted in a fun story about zombies:  Zombies Kitty versus the Zombies.

You can read more about Zombie Awareness Week  the Zombie Research Society Page = http://zombieresearchsociety.com/zombie-awareness


Thanks to The Zombie Research Society’s FB page for this pic.

(and May the 4th be with you!)

May is Zombie Awareness Month

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Chill is Coming

I was going to say ‘Winter is Coming’ but a friend of mine pointed out that people may think this is a post about Game of Thrones.  Not being a fan, I did not immediately think of that… so I changed the title. – The Chill is Coming.  Time for boots, cardigans, scarves and time to landscape in the garden.

Usually I am that annoying person walking around in Autumn, reveling in the cooler weather, thankful that summer is over and lamenting that winter is still too far away. I do not like the heat (and it gets hot here in South Australia – see The Week My Brain Melted). I prefer a hint of artic on the breeze, a cooling relief that brings with it the smell of freshly turned earth, woodfire smoke and the promise of rain to settle the dust that is my bane (allergies suck).

Yesterday was the first day that I had to rummage into the bowels of my clothes cupboard and find one of my knitted coats to keep the chill at bay. This is when I start re-evaluating my clothes and culling those items that do not fit anymore, I have not worn in over two seasons or have become threadbare from overwear. The last category is the hardness to cull.

With the culling comes the planning!

I realised yesterday that I have a serious lack of blouses. I have plenty of fun t-shirts, a few  long sleeve knitted blouses (now looking slightly over-loved) but not many non-t-shirt type summer – or winter – blouses. They had long gone following previous culls. I had intended to replace them but had got side tracked with my writing.

While I have several really great jackets, I need to address this situation; I got hot flushes these days so I rarely spend the entire day in a jacket. I usually end up peeling the layers off. And t-shirts just will not cut it. This was a perfect opportunity to pull out some of my more fun winter items and plan replacements.

winter DW3DWscarf2This winter I will be wearing my Doctor Who scarves again (yet another reason to love winter). A few winters ago, my   friend Cheryl knitted me a Doctor Who scarf, in my favourite colours. I love wearing it! This year I have the official scarf to add to my collection.

winter firefly
winter brainI am set for winter, if I can keep my head or feet warm.  As I am a horrendous knitter, I really appreciate my friends who make me some really cool winter woollies. My friend Cheryl also knitted me this ‘brain cap’ beanie.  My friend Anwyn knitted me a Jayne cap in my favourite colours – perfect for keeping my ears warm when the wind starts blowing! I wore this a lot last year and it will come out to play again this season, along with my felt bowlers.

Taking a look over all of my favourite items, there seems to be three main themes: bohemian, steampunk and 50s. (If you don’t count the obligatory jeans and t-shirt.) All of them centre around fun.  Something I need more of.

steamy firefly 2014 winter 14

This winter I have finally got a good collection of cardigans to choose from. Sadly, I have only one 50s style skirt to share between them. (I realised the number of my skirts has been dwindling – darn you jeans – and they are up to fifteen years old and have seen much better days.)

winter cardi 1 wintere cardi2

So I am all set for the outer layers and accessories (though one can never have too many pairs of boots), now it comes back to that which I have a distinct lack of – blouses.

I used to do a lot of ‘everyday’ clothing sewing. Over the past few years I have let that slide, concentrating more on costumes. Now is the time to remedy that. As I plan to spend more time writing everyday, time is an important issue. This year I am using store bought patterns to cut down on pattern drafting times.

The local spotlight had a recent sale on materials. I decided to go for some fun prints with a more 50s or steampunk feel, which really cheers me up.  I am now planning a few blouses and skirts to add to my wardrobe.  Then I can finish my semi-annual cull and donate some clothes to Goodwill and Salvos.

patterns material

The Chill is Coming