November 30, 2008

Everything is better with cake

Over the last few months, thanks largely to the wonder of the crockpot, I've been getting back into the swing of cooking that had kind of fallen away when I took six weeks off.

And now, whether it's the time of year, or the recovering cook in me or a case of channelling my inner seventies housewife due to prolonged crockpot contact, I've been in an increasing mood to bake.

I've talked before about the fact that my Dad's dad was a baker and I've always liked baking. I grew up with Dad making bread and hot cross buns and, later on, muffins and Mum churning out chocolate cake and the christmas pudding and cake (which now we do together each year). Neither of them were fancy bakers but baked goods didn't come from packets in our house (I was horrified when someone at work told me she'd never made a cake from scratch!) I always liked helping (and licking the beaters). And I went to a high school that made you do home economics for two years and our home eco teacher was a firm believer in mastering the basiscs, so we learned scones and sponges and all sorts of goodies while we worked our way through the classic Cookery the Australian Way (though ours definitely didn't talk about sapodilla!).

So I'm a good basic baker (except I never really have mastered the touch for scones are edible but they never rise like my mum's or Keri's do...not exactly a party piece). When it comes to mains I'm pretty good at throwing things together and substituting ingredients to make something suit me and understanding techniques and doing some fancier dishes. But with baking, I've never really played around with it too much, sticking to what I know. Partly because of lack of time or really need to bake every week (because then I'd be eating the results all the time). But I want to step the baking up a notch and play around and get better.

I've been making do with mostly my little weenie food processor and an ancient pair of electric beaters that were Mum's before they were mine but yesterday (after using the scary beaters last weekend and realising the cord had reached the point known as "taking your life in your hands every time you plug these in"), I decided that, screw it, I need a proper mixer. A good mixer. Not your $100 Target job. Something I can get accessories for down the track if I want them. Which prompted the invariable KitchenAid vs Kenwood Chef decision (I don't like Mixmasters, I had an old one of my grandmother's at one stage and I HATE the spinning bowl thing - my spatulas always went flying).

KitchenAids sure are purty but they are also expensive and I've never used one. On the other hand, I grew up using a Chef. Kenwood now also make a stand style mixer like the KitchenAid but it is even more expensive than the KA. I decided that given I'm still being experimental and really, I'm only like to use the mixer every few weeks at this stage, that I couldn't quite justify spending $700 on a mixer just now. So I toddled off to David Jones and in a fit of serendipity they had a pile of the entry level Chefs (the top of the range Chef is now $1300!!!!!!!!! - that's some serious baking and grinding and every other thing you can think of going on daily to justify in my book) with a $50 cash back plus 20% of the purchase price back on a gift card plus a free mincing attachment. Sold. I am now the proud owner of a unsexy but good old square looking Kenwood Chef. Without too much virgo brain angsting. Go me.

It even magically fits in the one spare spot in my kitchen cupboard (which was an initial concern given my kitchen is small and I don't really have bench space to leave a mixer out all the time (though my mother helpfully suggested making a really big tea cosy to cover it. I pointed out I can't crochet so she'd have to do it). So long may it beat and maybe by the time I decide I'm ready for an upgrade they'll be making sexier versions : ).

And to celebrate my purchase I think I have to make cake this afternoon. After all, I have a half-zested lemon left over from my crockpot concoction of the day and it would be wasteful to not use it, plus my favourite fall back easy cake recipe has a lemon variation....of course, this reminds me that I really need to buy a new sifter and a ring tin but I shall make do.

And now I see

The other week I finally stopped resisting and admitted that perhaps I needed prescription sunnies (my close up vision is fine, I am in no way Mr Magoo but the street signs in the distance were getting fuzzy). Fortuitously I also received a voucher for quite a chunk off glasses or prescription sunnies at the optometrist so I toddled off and ordered a pair. These, if you're interested.

I picked them up on Thursday and I have to say I am LOVING them. Not just because of the fuzziness begone factor but also because I paid a little more to get polarized lenses. I don't think I've ever had a pair of polarized sunnies before (I tend towards the cheap sunnies because I lose them, hence the prescription resistance). I wear sunnies a lot because I'm really sensitive to glare and these are really good at cutting out the glare. Why has no-one told me this before? It's fabulous.

Now all I have to do is not lose them because even with the voucher they were still way more than I've ever paid for sunglasses.

November 28, 2008

A cunning plan, my lord

Is what I need. As I may have mentioned, there are quite a few book ideas floating around in the head at the moment, so what do we play with next?

This was the initial writing plan for the year:

Priority 1 project: Witch 1
Priority 2 projects: Progressing Wolf 3, another pass at Wolf 2
Noodle projects: Everything else

Noodle projects are the ones you mess around with when the girls need a break. Or when you get an idea that won't go away or just for know.

Which was then updated late August to this after I finished Witch 1.

Priority 1 projects - First draft of the current wip, finish Wolf 2 pass
Priority 2 projects - Vague plots for Wolf 3, Witch 2 and maybe a few chaps of them
Noodle projects: Everything else

Current progress:

First draft of current wip. Well, the current wip that was at the time stalled out a bit and now I probably have five or six candidates for current wip. I would like December to be a first draft month, so I guess I need to pick something.

Finish Wolf 2 pass. Done. Took longer than I wanted thanks to the recalcitrant first act but is done for now.

Vague plots and chapters of Wolf 3 and Witch 2. I know the basic plot for Wolf 3 and have the first scene. I have a vague idea of what I think I'd like to use in the plot for Witch 2 and have a very rough draft opening.

Everything else: There has been noodling on and off. Now I have to pick something to focus the current plan is:

Priority 1 projects: Pick a wip and finish a first draft this summer. If that wip is not Witch 2 (I'm not ready for another Wolf just yet, then get a little more of Witch 2 done as well.

Priority 2 projects: Wolf 3. Witch 2 if it's not the summer book.

Noodle projects: Everything else but try and have a designated noodling session every week.

So there you go. A plan, such as it can be when you have stuff out on submission and everything could technically go out the window if someone got a wild hair and bought something. Now I have to go poke at some wips and see which one might like to play nice.

Done like a done thing

Woohoo! Revision is all done! Finished. 425 pages of done-ness. I think I officially deserve the afternoon off unless the girls want to play with something later on. I'm going to mail this sucker to Miriam and worry about what to work on next later on.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 39.
Intriguing things - Done.
Annoyances - Nothing cos it's done!
Music - Final act soundtrack
Linear/Non-linear - Linear.
Location - The desk. Word and think.
Taking care of Mel - Chiropractor.
Muse food - We'll see what they feel like later.

November 27, 2008


Yay! Managed over ten pages, thanks to the magic of chocolate. Now I deserve a rest. Though really, I should do some exercise.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 17 or so.
Intriguing things - I do like this bit even though it's all horrid and sad.
Annoyances - Too tired to push through to the end, I'll do a better job tomorrow with eight hours sleep under the belt.
Music - Final act soundtrack
Linear/Non-linear - Linear.
Location - The desk. Word and think.
Taking care of Mel - Shopping? I think I will try for some exercise. Even ten minutes on the elliptical would be good.
Muse food - Some House after the exercise.

She shops, she scores!

For a few weeks now I've had the uncomfortable feeling that the world had sped up a lot and that it was going to be Christmas before I knew it. Not that I actually did anything about it but today I decided I should at least start. I have a lot of friends and rellys with late year birthdays so I hadn't even actually finished birthday shopping yet.

This morning I had something like 17 assorted people to buy birthday and/or christmas presents for. As of right now, only five of those presents are outstanding. One of which I know what I'm getting and will take me ten minutes next week, three of which I have a vague idea and will order online and get delivered (yay) and one of which I have no idea but plenty of time to ponder and/or ask outright what they want! Me for the shopping win! Plus I picked up my new prescription sunnies and suddenly all the street signs in the distance are less blurry. Go figure lol.

I still need a few cards and christmas paper (well, need to check the stash at least to see if that's true) but I'm suddenly feeling way more organised.

And now dinner then I'll see if I can coax my somewhat fried brain into ten pages of revision to leave me with 40 odd for the weekend, a very do-able number, I hope.

November 26, 2008

Standing at the top of the downhill run

Well, I have fifty odd pages left to go on this revision. I'd like to finish it Friday. We shall see. The last fifty pages were written pretty fast but I think they're pretty strong so it should hopefully just be more layering and you know putting in that scenery and what people are doing and stuff. I'm hoping it won't grow too much though, this is now offically the longest book I've written, sitting at 106k or something by page count. And now, it's time for Criminal Minds so here's the daily score.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 25 or so. New pages around 3. Re-revised to put in the thread from last night about 5.
Intriguing things - Mystery mystery
Annoyances - I could happily barrel right through now but unfortunately there's that whole day job thing tomorrow.
Music - Final act soundtrack
Linear/Non-linear - Linear with one small backtrack.
Location - The desk. Word and think.
Taking care of Mel - Nap
Muse food - Not much. Re-reading Sunshine yet again, which always makes them happy. Robin McKinley is a goddess.

November 25, 2008

Dear Mel's brain

When you are all tired and sleepy do not let Mel think she should futz with her blog template because you will make her delete half the code, not notice and then save. When she does notice she will nearly have cardiac arrest. If she has cardiac arrest, things will not be good for you.

Luckily you have your anal side which meant you at least had a relatively recent copy of the template code so she could fix things with some tweaking.

Here endeth the lesson.

PS Mel's brain apologises to anyone whose link has dropped off the sidebars. Let her know and she'll put you back!

What rhymes with Tuesday? I got nothin'

Back to nice late spring warmth and sunshine today. Of course, sudden weather changes make me sleepy. Whoops. Not my greatest ever effort tonight but at least I did something.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 15. Some of that might need reworking once I make up my mind whether or not I want to put a particular thing in or not. That decision apparently too much for sleepy brain.
Intriguing things - You know it's cool when you're layering stuff through and suddenly you can pull a thread through to a scene and it harks back to stuff you didn't even know you foreshadowed and sets up stuff for the next book. The girls, they haz the kewl.
Annoyances - Sleepiness. No-one to do my dishes.
Music - Have switched to the final act soundtrack which is a condensed selection of the full thing.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and think.
Taking care of Mel - Meditation
Muse food - Coming up the second half of Good News Week from last night. But first, dishes. Not sure dishes is exactly Muse food but waking up to shiny clean sink is better than the alternative.

November 24, 2008

Back and forth

On the way to work I realised I'd missed weaving something through ten pages or so of what I'd revised yesterday. So I had to backtrack a little but I think it's better now. Still growing but I'm now officially less than 100 pages to go (unless it does just keep growing, which is a possibility given the talkiness of it all - much as I'm happy with pages of mostly tagless dialogue, I figure it's probably nice for the readers to have a clue what's going on).

In other news, the sun has returned but the temperature isn't rising much. It's summer in SEVEN days for Pete's sake. Rain is good but it doesn't need to be freezing to rain! Someone tell those weather gods.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Re-revised 10 or so, revised 13
Intriguing things - Layering ideas working well.
Annoyances - The ever expanding book factor.
Music - Only the birds chirping sunset songs.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and think.
Taking care of Mel - Pilates
Muse food - Coming up Top Gear (British silliness with added middle aged man candy factor) and then Good News Week (Australian silliness with added middle aged musical man candy...ooh, I wonder if any of the Top Gear boys can sing (drools) *g*).

November 23, 2008

Apparently the blog title part of my brain does not wish to play tonight

Another weekend zooms past and yay, I have broken the 300 page barrier. I'd really like to get this done this week but the final hundred pages are probably horribly talking headish and in need of much tweaking. Still, I can give it a red-hot go.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 49.
Intriguing things - Hitting the next bit that needs re-writes and heavy tweaking.
Annoyances - Brain somewhat unco-operative today.
Music - Soundtrack for session one. The sweet strains of the dryer (seriously, I should not have to use the dryer in November) for the second.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and think.
Taking care of Mel - Elliptical, sleeping in
Muse food - Daniel last night. Supernatural.

November 22, 2008

Pondering Bond

So I just got back from seeing Quantum of Solace and my verdict is good but not as good as Casino Royale. Daniel still rocks as Bond and this movie was the necessary Bond-get-his-revenge movie and the dude who plays the villain does a very good line in sociopathic-nutjob dead eyes and I'll be very interested to see where they take this new Bond now he's past that point.

What dragged it down for me was the action. I loved the action in Casino Royale. Yes there were pacy fast bits but it felt gritty and real and really dragged you in. In QoS, I'm sad to say they've gone for the Bourne-like ultra-fast cuts during action. Not as shaky as Bourne thank God, so you don't need dramamine but here's my thing with this sort of action. In film, the camera is kind of your POV. It shows you what is important, where to pay attention, builds tension etc etc. So a good action sequence should be fast but it should also be involving and you should feel like you're right there in the middle of things. The trouble is when you cut super fast every other second, it's like headhopping on speed in a book. You don't where you're really supposed to be or really what's going on and your brain is so busy going ""wait, whuh? hey over-no here, whoops, no over, frak what the heck is- ow - back to - no- stop -now I'm dizzy" that it's not going "wheee I'm ducking a punch, now I'm leaping across a building, quick duck the gunshot" etc. You're standing outside the action trying to decipher it rather than feeling like you're in it.

So instead of being more exciting or real (and I'm sure the directors think it's more exciting), it's actually distancing and less exciting. I guess the super speedy thing is meant to play like the action would in real time but I also have problem with that because if you're ever in that sort of action situation or any situation where the adrenaline kicks in, time tends to slow down, not speed up, so you do have time to take in what's going on and react.

But still, it was a pretty good film and I'll be ponying up my cash for number three when it comes along. Because really, any movie with lots of this guy, has to be pretty good.

November 21, 2008


Well today went quite well despite the continuing tireds. I still got through forty pages, so hopefully on Sunday I can crack 300 pages (tomorrow being crit group and then the lovely Daniel being all super spy).

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 40.
Intriguing things - Still quite liking this
Annoyances - Very slow optometrists? Does that count?
Music - No music.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word.
Taking care of Mel - Elliptical, nap, meditation
Muse food - Hugh! And House and a smidge of Crusie. Plus baking. The girls like baking.

November 20, 2008

Someone turned on the tired

I swear I got to 4ish today and my brain just went "that's it, all done, game over". Came home, had a nap, ate dinner, showered. Still tired. One of those days where I wish I was still drinking diet coke. But still made myself sit down and wriggle the fingers (despite the temptation of Hugh on Oprah - thank God for VCR) and now I can zonk out on the couch with a clear conscience. I'd like to get past three hundred this weekend and it's lulus and possibly Bond, James Bond (mmm, Daniel Craig) on Saturday, so need to crack on tomorrow and Sunday.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 17.
Intriguing things - I like this bit
Annoyances - Soooo tired.
Music - Original recipe soundtrack.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and Think.
Taking care of Mel - A very mild walk at lunch in the rain to try and clear the head.
Muse food - I think that will be the forthcoming early night. Or maybe the last tidbits of Hugh.

November 19, 2008

Happy Wednesday night!

Given I don't go to the day job on Friday's, Thursday is effectively Friday, so that makes Wednesday nights cheerful-making. Though I would like to put in a request that the days slow down just a smidge or I'm going to blink and I'll be wearing a silly paper hat and pulling crackers and eating Christmas pudding with no idea how I got there.

Here's the daily report:

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Revised 20.
Intriguing things - Marco. We like Marco.
Annoyances - Nothing to report.
Music - Back to the original soundtrack at the desk.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and Think.
Taking care of Mel - WW meeting. Actual real live cardio done on the elliptical without a heart attack occurring. Amazing! Now I just have to repeat the feat on a regular basis.
Muse food - Soon to be Criminal Minds watching.

November 18, 2008

Daily pages

Yay, another day down, scene finished, now I have a reasonable chunk of what I think is fairly solid stuff until the next bit of 'needs serious tweaking' happens.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Er, I wrote about three new pages and revised maybe 20.
Intriguing things - Nothing new but hallelujah to have made it through the sloggy parts (no, those shall not be famous last words)
Annoyances - Nothing to report.
Music - Back to the original soundtrack at the desk. With a bit done at work at lunch too. No music there.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and Think.
Taking care of Mel - Still working that bit out.
Muse food - Maybe a dvd....Quickflix just coughed up some more Supernatural eps. Yay. Eye candy. Though sometime supernatural is too spooky for me (yes, go the wimpy paranormal writer...not sure it is about supernatural in particular, not many other TV shows spook me.)


I'm trying to decide whether or not to keep watching a new TV show, Rush (Aussie show, so sorry for the US readers, about a police tactical response team). It's been on for maybe two months and I was enjoying it though leaning towards "the writers pull their punches". (Mel's theory of movie/tv writing...some shows always take you up to the edge of the cliff then you get the easy out somehow and everything works out. Some shows leap off and pull you after them (sometimes screaming because sometimes throwing a punch means a swing and a miss). I prefer the latter even though they're fairly few and far between. and I can still quite enjoy a not so punchy show. To be fair, some of my punch pulling impression might've been down to bad promo-ing that is cut to promise something more wildly dramatic or exciting or scary or whatever than the actual show. Though there was the "character is diagnosed with exposure to almost always fatal disease then next week is fine" incident.

Still, it's been a solid show with some very nice eye candy and good acting and there were two characters involved in an affair which was enough to suck the romance writer in me in. Then last week, possibly in the interests of trying not to pull punches, they killed off one of the two lovers. She confessed the affair to her hubby then died. To me, this isn't going for the punch, it's going for the easy out. The ramifications of the affair and the confession on the team, the marriage and the partnership are more interesting to me than "oh woe, she is dead" being used as an excuse for the guy, who's a bit of a loose cannon, to go dark and even more cannon-y which would seem to be the likely fall-out. They took the safe road and broke up my romance, and I kind of feel like it's just that bit too far for the inner writer to not sit there feeling cranky while watching. I'm going to tape tonight and see how I feel but I'm thinking they've lost me. Boo.

I'm not watching much TV at the moment. Life and House (though I still wish they'd ditch the new team on House and have more Cameron and Chase) and Criminal Minds. Tried the Mentalist but it didn't grab me. Simon Baker was good but for me, the character is out of whack with his very dark backstory. Too wacky and it doesn't come off as denial whacky, just whacky whacky. YMMV. Don't get me started on the Australian Top Gear (bring back James and Richard and Jeremy...NOW!!!). I was enjoying Fringe but in true Australian sci-fi/paranormal TV fashion it has vanished for the moment. Grey's isn't on (typical, the one show they don't fast track from the US is my fave escapism show), no-one seems to be ponying up with the first half of Battlestar or the new season of Torchwood. I can see some DVD purchases in the very near future...

November 17, 2008

One damn word after another

Not too bad for a Monday night...

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New/Revised pages - Er, I wrote about six new pages, most of the scene I needed, cut about four and revised about six more...
Intriguing things - Alpha intervention
Annoyances - Nothing to report.
Music - Back to the original soundtrack with the noise cancelling headphones at the desk.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and Think.
Taking care of Mel - That comes next. There may be wine.
Muse food - A bit of Crusie and maybe some TV.

A reiteration to the orange cat and the grey cat

As previously discussed - dead mice = ick and gross and ewww and you'd been fed, you feline fiends.

Headless mice do not make mama happy and you are even more too old to be engaging in such behaviour as you were the first time.

Trust me, I will think more highly of your clever catness without the hunting trophies.

November 16, 2008

Revision update

So around the cooking, there was also writing...finally I feel like the story might be starting to behave again.

Progress - Wolf 2 revision

Revised pages - 44 (no real new pages, didn't quite make it to the next scene that need inserting)
Intriguing things - Actually making it through 44 pages? Annoyed cats.
Annoyances - Nothing to report.
Music - Back to the original soundtrack with the noise cancelling headphones at the desk.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear
Location - The desk. Word and Think.
Taking care of Mel - Cooking, a nap,
Muse food - Top Gear. Pratchett.

Sunday afternoon cooking

I think I've mentioned that the always ace VT gave me a slow cooker for my birthday, so I've been experimenting with it over the last few months and for the last few weeks have been cooking up a batch of something on sunday afternoons that mostly gets me through the week dinner-wise. It's easy, it doesn't heat up the kitchen like the oven does (good for the upcoming summer) and you don't have to do anything once it's cooking. What's not to like?

Today I'm trying this. I like chili and tend to make it once a month or so. Usually fairly standard chili con carne but this seemed like a nice variation. It's quite healthy if you use lean mince and don't use much oil to brown the meat (I did brown the minced beef and cooked the onions and garlic a little first). Serve with some brown rice and salad and voila.

I've also recently discovered roast chickpeas as a snack...Weight Watchers sells them in little individual serves but of course, the accountant brain instantly went into "I could make that cheaper" mode. I found this recipe online a few weeks ago and made it for the first time last week in a small amount as an experiment. The results were great and really a good health snack to grab a small handful when I get home starving or want to nibble while writing. The protein content makes them more filling than rice crackers or carrot sticks : ) and, like I said before, total cost is about $2.50 for the chickpeas and a few cents for the spices.

Today I went to make another batch and decided to play around with the spice mix as I wanted mine more garlicky like the ww ones and wanted to see if I could do it without having to fry the spices first (quicker and less clean up). It worked pretty well, so herewith is my roast chickpea recipe:

This amount makes a small container full. If I was doing it for a party, I'd double or triple the amounts.

Heat oven to about 180 celsius/350 fahrenheit. I used about 160 or so given my oven is fan forced and tends to run hot.

2 420g cans chickpeas

Spice mix - you could play around with this for your own tastes

1.5 tspns ground coriander seeds
1.5 tsps ground cumin
3/4 tspn garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Couple of pinches salt, (more if you like salty, I don't use a lot of salt, so this was fine for me)
3/4 tspn mexican chili powder (this is quite mild but you could up it for hotter or leave it out altogether or just put in a bit of pepper or mild paprika if you don't like chili and it would be fine).

Drain the chickpeas and put in a glass or metal bowl while still damp (the spices might stain plastic but otherwise plastic is fine).
Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Spray chickpeas a few times with some olive oil and toss through. Add spices in small batches and stir through each time - you want to try and get the spice mix on all the chickpeas.

Transfer to a baking tray or roasting tray lined with baking paper - you want a single layer of chickpeas. For me, the 2 cans fit perfectly in my glass lasagne pan, you'd need more trays if you increased the amounts.

Cook for about an hour, stirring around every 20 mins or so initially then probably every five or so after that to check for done-ness. Final time will depend on just how crunchy you want them, I like them mostly crunchy all the way through but still a little soft. Cool then store in an airtight container.

November 15, 2008

Reporting back

Okay, so I waded my way through writing a scene that needed to be inserted and am now at 104, so not quite ten pages but given it was all new stuff, not too bad, if a little slow. Tomorrow I can re-slant the next scene for what I've changed, then maybe write the other extra scene I need...once I get past the next chapter or so, I think the rest works pretty well and just needs layering and tweaking, so hopefully it will speed up.


Progress - Wolf 2 revision

New pages - Nine
Intriguing things - Interfering vampires
Annoyances - Revision in general
Music - Back to the original soundtrack with the noise cancelling headphones at the des.
Linear/Non-linear - Linear (revisions tend to be linear around here).
Location - The desk. Word and Think.
Taking care of Mel - Porridge? Chores? Sleeping in.
Muse food - A reading in bed morning. Dinner with lulus tonight.

Metric desperation

Okay, I've had it. This is officially turning into a revision from hell. The girls have basically said "we told you what to do" and gone walkabout while I do it. So I'm going back to the metric system. I'm aiming for minimum 10 pages a day revised (and hoping it will be more once I get through the next thirty or so). I'm currently on page 96 (well actually 99 but I think I need to move this snippet elsewhere, so let's say 96 so I don't start by going backwards and depress myself even more). I'm going to post the progress daily and see if that doesn't prod the old virgo work ethic into production mode.

I have about three hours this afternoon between chores and getting ready to go out with the lulus (by which time I will need a drink!). I shall report back later.


This week has been busy at work (really four days flew by at warp speed) so I was in get home, eat dinner and collapse on the couch mode. Combine that with a few hot nights where I didn't sleep too well and a sudden cool change and yesterday I woke up needing a day off. So I got my hair cut, read the new Lois McMaster Bujold that was delivered and went to the movies to see American Teen (which I really a great little documentary that hasn't got much press here but if you get a chance, go see it). Then I came back and read some more.

Today I'm still feeling slow but hopefully there will be some writing. The girls have had a bit of a break so maybe they'll be ready to play.

November 09, 2008

It's a little easy being green

Apparently the smell of crockpot lasagne makes me feel bloggy.

I do my bit to be green but lately have been trying to work out ways to be even greener. I've had green power for a while, use low flow showers heads etc and all my lightbulbs are the energy efficient ones (and honestly, yes, they're more expensive but I swapped over to energy efficient bulbs at least four years ago and I think in that time I've changed two light bulbs...and hey, stock up when K-Mart or somewhere has one of their 35% off everything sales).

The dayjob has recently gone carbon neutral and has been running some green initiatives and I've been finding other good green ideas.

I drink a lot of water and used to buy bottled water and refill from the work coolers. But really bottled water isn't very environmentally friendly when you think about the transport costs and the bottles aren't designed to be re-used (apparently the plastic leaches some nasties if you're not careful) so I've bought a couple of SIGG water bottles. They're light, they're aluminium and guaranteed to be inert (one advantage of which is that they're don't make your water taste like plastic like lots of plastic drink bottles do). Sure, they're a little pricey but I figure I'll make my money back on bottled water not bought in a couple of months. They come in lots of cool designs, don't leak and are available in lots of countries.

Something else I've been looking into is shopping bag alternatives. I have some of the ubiquitous green bags you buy at the supermarkets but they're big and bulky and not easy to stick in a handbag and to be honest, I often forget they're in the car because they're not in sight. So I looked for alternatives and found estring bags - old fashioned cotton string bags in cute colours and onya bags which are made of parachute silk, come in cute teeny packs with carabiner clips so you can clip them to your keys or handbag or whatever and, even better, they have these which give you a replacement for the plastic bags you put fruit and vegies in so it can be weighed (I re-use other plastic bags but never really figured out a way to re-use those fruit bags).

The other thing I'm trying to figure out is composting with a little garden and not much space. I'm thinking about one of these Bokashi buckets but am still trying to figure out how it would work. I'll keep you posted...

Different strokes

People say there are two types of writers - those who plot and those who don't. But I think there's also two other types - those who hate first drafts and like to revise and those who love drafting but hate revising.

I don't know that I hate revising but for me drafting is definitely the more enjoyable part of the process. I like making my book stronger but find revising slow going at times, even when I know what I want to do with the book it seems to take a long time. But one word after another I guess. I've been re-working the first act of Wolf 2 to fix some pacing issues and get the antagonist in action earlier and it's been very time consuming and required lots of pondering. But I think I'm getting there and hopefully the rest will go faster.

Size does matter

I don't buy many authors in hardback. For one thing, hardbacks are pretty ridiculously expensive here ($45 upwards). An author had to be in the I-absolutely-cannot-wait-even-to-get-it-at-the-library category for me to shell that out. At the moment, that category largely consists of Jenny Crusie, Terry Pratchett and Lois McMaster Bujold. Even then I'll order them online if I can (though that's not such a great deal at the current exchange rate unlike a few months ago *sigh*) or go to one of the specialist bookstores who imports direct from the US and may be a bit cheaper (Pratchetts tend to show up discounted in the chains straight away, thank goodness).

But I don't like reading hardbacks, they're big and awkward and the edges poke into you and I don't like wrinkling the dust jackets so I always take them off and then worry about them getting wrinkled where I put them. And you can't read them comfortably in bed. I think for most of my hardbacks, given they're all by authors I re-read ad infinitum, I'm going to cave and buy the paperbacks too.

Lately I've been re-reading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum's because that's what the girls have wanted. I'm up to number twelve and the last half of the series I have in trade paperback, because that's what they're first issued in here in Oz and the chains will usually discount the price down to pretty much the same as a mass market and I usually cave and buy one. But I don't really like reading trades either, for the same sorts of reasons. Too big, too pokey, too awkward. Anyone else feel this way? Or do you like larger print, larger pages etc?

Now that I have a couple of good e-readers on the iPhone I'm actually starting to think that maybe I'll buy my hardback authors in e-books where I can when they first come out and then wait for the mass market edition. I love mass markets, they're the perfect size and I love the feel of the book in my hands (which is why I don't think I'll ever convert to only reading on e-book...particularly when most e-book editions are really not much cheaper than the paper book which seems to be a little bit of shall we call it opportunistic pricing by publishers, given they lay it out once (or maybe a few times for different formats) and don't have to, you know, print the darn things). Maybe if someone comes up with an e-book that's about the size of a mass market, that you can turn pages on, that smells like paper and ink and doesn't cost hundreds of dollars to buy initially...

November 07, 2008

One more thing

Last election related post, I promise. But I've been reading about the reactions of various people I know and a lot of them seem to be having the "I can't quite believe it's real" kind.

I'll freely admit that I am a West Wing geek (which makes no sense given my aforementioned lack of political interest, much like my love of the UK's Top Gear and desire to maybe marry a hybrid man made up of Jeremy, Richard and James, makes no sense given my lack of interest in cars) and most of what I know about the American political system is courtesy of WW and Aaron Sorkin and I've often said my favourite US president would have to be Jed Bartlett. And the feeling I can't quite shake is that if somehow Aaron Sorkin was writing life for the last two years, this is the campaign and winner he would've written. And you know, I'm good with that.

Furthermore, there are some pretty uncanny similarities between Season 7 of WW and this election. For those of you who aren't WW fans, Season 7 was the last season and dealt with both Jed's last year in office at the end of his second term (hence requiring a new democratic candidate) and the campaign for the new president. The candidates were an experienced respected republican senator in his seventies (with a right wing conservative VP candidate) and a young underdog, relatively inexperienced, so not the front runner in his own party, latino-American, democrat with an older white male VP candidate). A close campaign, one with some twists (including a national disaster (not a financial crisis but you know) that may have turned the tide in the end of the's a little bit spooky, even down to the incoming president having some pretty big issues to deal with. And much like I was happy at the end of WW that Matt Santos could deal, I've got the same feeling about Barack Obama.

And now we shall return to our regular writing, crazy cat and other randomness posting schedule!

Cat vs rain

It's been raining fairly steadily here today and I know we've been having a drought and all but the grey cat seems to be having particular difficulties with the concept of water falling from the sky today. This is a cat who hates water and yet has managed to get soaked four times that I've counted today (and soaked grey fluffiness is quite amusing to look at but does not appreciate being towelled off so she doesn't share said soaking with the furniture). So either she's a bit dim or else my lavender bush (her favourite daytime place to hang outside is under the lavender bush where orange cat does not bother her) has gotten so overgrown that it has to be pouring before any of it starts getting her and then she gets soaked doing the fastidious, poised for disaster with each step grey cat dash to the door....

November 05, 2008


I am not a terribly political person. I rarely find politics and politicians inspiring, particularly in Australia politics. Kevin Rudd finally saying sorry to the stolen generation was about the only time I've heard an Aussie politician give a speech that gave me goosebumps.

But I've been following the US election, drawn in by my friends and relatives who live there and and out of the interest of a pretty much liberal Australian for who's running our most powerful ally and I have to say, I have heard several speeches by Barack Obama that have had that effect on me. He seems to have that something more. He looks to the light. He makes people hope and unite. So I will say congratulations Mr President-Elect and all power to your presidency and achieving the things you reach for.

PS To the Australian radio announcers out there, afaik, his first name does not rhyme with "barrack".

November 04, 2008

Made of win

Blatantly snitching this from amazoniowan but she's right, this dude deserves an award.

I don't know a lot about singing a capella but four part harmony with yourself on video with added bonus awesome geekery! The force is strong in this one...