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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Researching the Bottom of an Iceberg

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/08/26/researching-the-bottom-of-an-iceberg/
Earnest Hemmingway had a theory. He called it the Iceberg Theory: Writing is like an iceberg: the reader only reads the tip of the story's background. Most of the work, maybe 90% of the iceberg, is hidden. This ballast consists of story research, character history, plot background and is the writer's (and characters') secret world. It supports the tip. Without this hidden support the Titanic can't sink, the story has no depth and the characters are lifeless.
This week I set to rewriting a short story. A few things bothered me.  In truth, they were niggling at my brain. I had only the tip of the iceberg. I needed to discover its hidden depths. I could not proceed until I had thoroughly researched the background - checking historical facts, finding pictures and information to help with descriptions and getting the lie of the story's land. (Literally. I have the maps to prove it!) Coincidentally, this proved useful for some plot points planned in the closing chapters of The Department of Curiosities.
I was also reminded of how proud I am to now live in Adelaide, South Australia. Though people make fun of us and consider us a hick, country town, South Australia has achieved many Australian, Commonwealth and World firsts.
For example:
Did you know South Australia was the only fully free-settled colony in Australia? British Parliament passed an Act in 1834 to allow free colonisation and forbade convict transport to the new colony and included a guarantee of the rights of indigenous 'Natives' and their descendants to lands (now that I did not know. This was an amazing thing for the time.) South Australia's first parliament was elected in 1857.  Women who own property were allowed to vote in (local) elections in 1861. Women were allowed to vote for, and sit, for parliament in 1894.
South Australia's first purpose built council chambers was in Tea Tree Gully in 1855 - close to where my current short story is set.
South Australian's police force is the oldest organised Police Service in Australasia, and is the third oldest organised Police Service in the world - established in 1838. The SA police Service originally consisted of ten foot constables and ten mounted constables. Unlike other police services (which  employed soldiers or convicts, they enlisted only volunteers. By 1840, the police force also boasted two Inspectors, three Sergeants and forty-seven constables (foot and mounted).
The police force served as the State Fire and Rescue Service, from 1848 until the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service was formed in 1867. They also supplied the Civil Ambulance Service from 1880 until the St John Ambulance Service took over in 1954.
South Australia's police boasted many firsts:
  • they pioneered use of fingerprints in Australia 1893
  • were the first to appoint female police officers in the British Commonwealth in 1915
  • and many more past my era of research.
What started this thread of research? I needed to know the sound and smell of firearms used in 1882. For this I needed to confirm the type of firearms used by the constabulary in 1882, in Adelaide. By the way they were:
  • 1845 - percussion firearms: often the 1842 English Tower pattern. Each man was required to have five rounds of ball cartridges. The mounted constables had a carbine, and sometimes a holster pistol.
  • 1860s - the police were issued with a Snider conversion in carbine and pistol lengths.
  • 1881 - foot constables were supplied new Martini-Henry rifles, issued with a long bayonet.
  • 1882 - constables were issued revolver-carbines: a New Model No. 3 Smith and Wesson revolver and supplied with a detachable shoulder stock (for use as pistol or carbine). They used 'black-powder, centre-fire, metallic revolver cartridge. Each had a bullet mold and reloading tools and were expected to reload their own weapons.
Chemical analysis of black powder gunshot residue showed gases produced are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen and traces of methane.(1)
Thanks to some very informative websites (I am now searching out the referenced books), I now have these facts frozen in my brain, I am having fun adding the tip of my short-story-iceberg, plus a few ideas for improving The Department of Curiosities.
Watch out below!
Some useful References:
  1. Smythe Wallis, James. Chemical Anaysis of Firearms, Ammunition, and Gunshot ResidueCRC Press; 1 edition (June 4, 2008) ISBN: 978-142006966
  2. Women and the Right to Vote: http://australianpolitics.com/voting/electoral-system/women-and-the-right-to-vote
  3. South Australia Police Historical Society: http://www.sapolicehistory.org/arms.html
  4. South Australia Police Historical Society: http://www.sapolicehistory.org/photo4.html
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Australia_Police
  6. Pre 1900 Revolvers:  http://milpas.cc/rifles/ZFiles/Manufacturers/S&W/Smith%20&%20Wesson%20Handguns/Black%20Powder%20Revolvers.html
  7. Smith and Wesson No. 3

Monday, August 24, 2015

Official Website Updates

Welcome, Dear Reader, to my updated website. All the info is still here, albeit slightly shuffled around. I have consolidated some pages to save on clicking to get information.
If I have forgotten anything or there are any glitches, please let me know.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Salisbury Writers' Festival Wrap Up

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/08/23/salisbury-writers-festival-wrap-up/
SalisWritersFest2015bGetting up early on the weekend is always a battle; yesterday was not so arduous. I was off the the Salisbury Writers' Festival. I tottered to the car, bleary eyed, thankful I was getting a lift. Once there I sniffed out the tea station for some caffeine, searched for fellow members of my writers' group and ran into a few friends from the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism).
Last night I passed on the opening ceremony, booked out in anticipation of this year's guest speaker, Julia Gillard.
Today's keynote address was by William McInnes, actor and author. He regaled us with stories of his childhood, discussed rejection (actors get as many rejections as writers) and read us one of his favourite poems, Walking the Dog by Howard Nemerov. His advise on writers' block: Ask why do you write? Who is my audience? Does it mean something to you? Then write.
The first panel was Writing as Therapy. My own writing journey has been cathartic, sparked by upheavals in my life. I looked forward to hearing what insights the panelists, Jane Turner Goldsmith (writer, pyschologist and teacher), David Chapple (writer specialising in Writing and Health) and William McInnes, would have to impart. William spoke of grief and how writing has helped him. David has used writing to help prisoners, anorexics and people with anxiety - allowing them control of a story and translating those skills to help with their issues.
Jane shared latest research: Writing is more cathartic when structured. Studies have shown when writing about trauma, those who structured a story with beginning, middle and end were more likely to work through the trauma, externalise their emotions, and find resolution. The role of 'disorganised' bites of social media in not resolving issues was also discussed.
Following morning tea, was a panel on marketing and grabbing opportunities to promote your book once it is published. Mandy Macky (bookshop owner of Dymocks Adelaide), Carla Caruso(author), Jared Thomas (author) and Kristin Weidenback (author) spoke of recent changes in publishing; writers are now expected to do most of their own marketing and offered some advice. Advice given included:
  • build relationships with local book stores,
  • contact the local papers with information on book launches and events,
  • contact libraries,
  • look for speaking opportunities related to your book, themes or topics covered in your writing. Know your topic.
  • write articles for blogs covering related to themes or topics covered in your writing. Add your bio and where to buy your books
  • Don't discount visiting country areas for launches, book signings
  • take your books to events to sell
  • social media
  • interviews  - find a quirky angle
  • networking with other authors, publishers, book sellers
  • know your budget
  • think ahead and plan a marketing strategy before your book is published.
  • try not to have your book debut when there are a large number of others being launched (especially if by well known authors) - or you will get lost in the crowd.
  • Exposure is the key!
This year's Spontaneous Creation  was hosted by Matt Gilbertson (celebrity gossip columnist) , Ben Chandler (YA author and academic) and Andrew Joyner (children's illustrator).  This is always a fun enterprise with unexpected results. The panel invited ideas from attendees, allowing the story to evolve as it may. Our story, The Jez Singer, was set in 1930s Hollywood, following the adventures of a script-writing dragon, his friend Rosso the Ardvark - a famous silent movie heart throb trying to break into the talkies - and a child star diva who redeems herself. Quite a few of my suggestions were used and I was (thankfully, it was only jokingly) asked to join the conveners. (eep! Hide, hide!) This regular session is very instructive to the way stories are created. We started with characters, looked at ways they could conflict and the story evolved from there.
(artwork: (c) Andrew Joyner.
The Panel of Publishers is another regular feature, giving insights to the publishing world. Dyan Blacklock (publishing consultant), Michael Bollen (Wakefield Press), Sophie Hamley (Hachette Australia) and Leonie Tule (Tyle & Bateson Publishing) discussed recent trends in publishing, a day in the life of a publisher, response times, structual edits and agents. They confirmed it was acceptable to do multiple submissions of a manuscript - as long as you inform the publisher of this (though this does not effect the speed at which manuscripts are processed).  It was interesting (and great!) to see the current positive outlook toward self-publishing.
SalisWritersFest2015_1stpageThis year one of my cohorts was brave enough to offer a first page (of a manuscript) to the panel (and got some great feedback). It is always interesting to hear what the publishers/editors have to recommend for each bit of prose. It also provides useful tips for those of us who did not put in a first page. Perhaps I will get the nerve next year?
Sadly I did not finish my short story for this year's competition. Maybe that's why I enjoyed the Awards Evening - nothing to lose!
This year I met other independent publishers, spoke to book sellers and discussed my book, Doctor Jack, with a group of attendees and gave out my card (well, they did say to network.)
But that's not all.
Upcoming workshops associated with the Salisbury Writers' Festival include a Poetry Slam (Friday 28th August), Northern Writers Connect Salisbury Muster (Saturday 29th August) and a Songwriting Workshop (Sunday 30th August). Congratulations to my friend Kylie Brice who has been invited to take part in the Songwriting workshop.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Change of Location

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/08/19/a-change-of-location/

Another few chapters down. Our heroes have left the (relative) safety of the Department of Curiosities and are currently in dirigible-flight to far flung destinations but, sadly,  not to our heroine's country of choice.
So now I get to have some fun filling in the 'to do' notes.
Research is fun, especially when I get to go sightseeing, take photos and visit the library. Over the past month, I have been surveying the city for inspiration. Adelaide was founded in 1836 and has many surviving examples (or facades)  of 18th century buildings and houses.  My local library also has books with original photography of the early Adelaide settlement. Be still my beating heart!
Cue research photos:
Firstly Port Adelaide.
DSC_4592 DSC_3677
Historical buildings in North Adelaide:
DSC_3720 DSC_3726
north adelaide historic buildings
And the CBD:
 DSC_2453 DSC_2997
DSC_2998DSC_3190 DSC_3077
Now our heroes just have to return to land!
Photos (c)2015 Karen Carlisle.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Letters from a Blankie Fort

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/08/12/letters-from-a-blankie-fort/

Have I said it before? I'm sure I have.
I hate computers! I hate that I need them. Grump.
Yesterday disappeared down a rabbit hole, with me chasing my tail all day long. Emails, forwarding, sign ups, filling in forms, finalising pages. I felt like was drowning in a vat of vaseline, fighting my way to see the way out and sinking deeper into the goo.
Today I am hiding in my blankie fort. My sinuses and glands are rebelling. My body is refusing to obey.
So today, while the rain pelts down, the sun is on holiday and the world is recoiling from its veneer of frost, I am posting pretty pictures.
The view from my writing desk:
on my desk_copyright2015_KarenCarlisle veiw from window 3 _copyright2015_KarenCarlisle
view from window 1_copyright2015_KarenCarlisle view from window 2 _copyright2015_KarenCarlisle winter roses
photos (c)2015 Karen Carlisle

Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's National Bookshop Day!

originally published at: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/08/07/its-national-bookshop-day/

Despite the choruses of doom last decade, the  book is not dead. And neither are the purveyors of reading pleasure. According to this ABC story "Australian bookstores are still going strong" - and I am glad. Give me a paperback to shove my dog-eared bookmark into any day.
I love bookshops. That won't an earth shattering revelation. I love big bookshops, with aisles of tomes, elegantly displayed for easy access. I love cramped cupboard-shops with barely room to move as I hunt the wobbly stacks for that one great find. Paperbacks, hardbacks - it doesn't matter. It is the excitement of not knowing what I will find, and knowing that when I do it will bring knowledge, entertainment (and) or joy to a dreary day.
There are three things my Dearheart and I do when we travelled overseas:
  1. Sample the local chocolate
  2. Visit local bookshops (my favourite was the one in the crypts of San Lorenzo Church in Florence where I purchases a book on the archeological excavations of the Medici crytps) and
  3. um... let's just stick to two.
There is more to a good bookshop than the stock that lines the shelves.  Usually the staff are book-lovers as well, ready to help you find your perfect read.
Here is my book stash acquired this weekend, both new and preloved.
new books 2ndhand
Some bookshops had giveaways (Cabin in the Woods was from Dymock's 'free pick box'); others had raffles to celebrate (I am hoping to win one of the book hamper from Dillon's books).  We even visited Oxfam's bookshop where I scored a 1873 copy of Ivanhoe to add to my colletion.
There is still time to visit your local store this weekend. Enjoy.
Viva la librairie!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Tale of the Octoarm Scarf

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/08/05/the-tale-of-the-octoarm-scarf/
Many (many) years ago, I tried to crochet. I had plans. They crashed and burned. As a student, I could afford only basic equipment. This meant plastic crochet hooks. I broke two before I gave up on the whole thing. Apparently I had very tight tension.
Recently I got very excited. I wanted a tentacle scarf. Not surprising, as I have an affinity for cephalopods.  I scoured the internet to find one. There were rumours of some for sale online. Nada. Then hints on various forums there was a pattern lurking on the internet. Apparently there was one. Once. It had been removed from the blog in question. I left a message. I'm not holding my breath, as there are unanswered messages dating back a couple of years.
So, once more,  I decided to try my hand at crochet. This time I bought metal hooks. This turned out to be a wise move. All the hooks are still intact!
Picture diary:
My first attempt. It took about thirty centimetres to get the hang of the tension before I started the actual scarf base. (1) Then I tackled the suckers - all forty-two of them (I thought that was an appropriately fannish number). (2)
2stitching 3suckers48r_copyright_2015KarenCarisle
The finished pieces ready to unite (3). Positioning the suckers (4).
4aBITSr_copyright_2015KarenCarisle 5suckerposition_copyright_2015KarenCarisle
The suckers in place. (5) And the final scarf (6)
6suckers_copyright_2105_KarenCarlisle 7FInished2_copyright_2105_KarenCarlisle
I'm a very happy cephalophile!
(And now working on my next one - with a proper crochet stitch this time. Planning on having a few for sale on the Sunday 1st November, 2015 at Adelaide Mini Comic Convention – Flinders Street Markets, Adelaide.)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Of Curiosities, Updates and Blurbs


Chapters 11-15 are transcribed, with many edits and rewrites. 23171 words in ten days! Who'd have thunk it?
It is a strange thing to read a first draft (scribbled in November's NaNoWri, last year) and think did I write that? Gosh, so many adjectives dropped and repeats excised. I know I said I was going to limit myself to a simple transcription - no editing. No surprises - I did not. It would have been  a quicker task had I done so, but less productive.
I blame my study. This year I had earmarked to learn my craft. I have attended local writing classes/lectures almost every month. I found I could not sit on my hands (that would have made it impossible to type) and not add notes to help with my upcoming rewrites.
I am satisfied with the general story line. Phew.  I have insertion of missed clues, reordering - incident to consequence, removing repeats and removing unnecessary sections in some scenes and notes for improving characters. Names have started to consolidate. The big one (and I thank one of my reviewers of my Three Shorts eBook for the comment) was show not tell. I lost track of how many times I made that notation.  I even made notes for book 2 (and possibly book 3).
Here's the current blurb:

The Department of Curiosities. 
Book 1: For the Good of The Empire.

Under 25 words:
The Department of Curiosities is a steampunk tale of a heroine, mad scientists, traitors and secrets. All for the good of the Empire.
Miss Mathilda (Tilda) Meriwether has a secret. Actually, she has several. One of them has shaped her adult life. Another now controls it.
Her Majesty Queen Victoria has control of the Empire. She is the Empire - the creator of secrets.
Sir Avery works for The Department of Curiosities - the keepers of secrets - especially if they are useful to the Empire.
When Tilda finds herself in the employment of The Department of Curiosities, she realises this is the perfect opportunity to uncover the truth behind one of her secrets. But the Queen has other plans for her.
I suppose I should start thinking about the cover.
141124 Q victorias secrets ch13 SMALL