Sunday, December 26, 2010

My writing week 3 (51)

Hi all,

My computer acted up last week. I thought it was going to suffer a premature death. It wouldn't shut down properly sometimes, it stalled sometimes, and then it started beeping at me and turning itself off. I did all the diagnostic tests I could find, and it passed them all. I then did what HP help suggested, a systems restore (not a recovery). I restored the computer's settings to a week before the trouble started.

At the same time I found and installed a HP update for its modem that said it should solve problems with the computer automatically shutting down. I also fiddled with the connections to the CPU and rattled it. Either the restore, update or rattling seems to have fixed it. It has been operating without problem for five days now.

After messing around with the computer, I got back to some writing and finally finished the first draft of the novella I have been working on for months. I will now edit it and then get it critiqued. I reckon I have been writing if for so long that my writing style has probably undergone significant changes from the novella's start to its finish.

With the arrival of my new Kindle, I finished reading the ebookTimesplash by Graham Storrs. It's a time-travelling terrorist thriller, much in the mode of James Bond, but set 50 years in the future and 100 years in the past. I enjoyed it and my previous blog post is a review of it.

Among my Christmas presents were three books. Two by Aussie authors, although I am debating whether David Hicks had a bit of help writing his account of being imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. For a man who quit school at age 15 he writes surprisingly well.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and thinking up lots of writing and reading new year's resolutions, like must edit, get critiqued and redraft the novella and both novels while reading a novel a fortnight.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review of Timesplash by Graham Storrs

TimeSplashTimeSplash by Graham Storrs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this novel by Australian Graham Storrs. It is about terrorists going back in time and causing mayhem,resulting in ripples in time. These ripples splash through to the present causing havoc capable of destroying cities.

After a friend of Jay's dies at a timesplash gig, he becomes a policeman who is seconded by interpol to try and stop the terrorists. He is added by Sandra, the beautiful ex-girlfriend of the chief timesplasher Sniper.

From the start of the novel I was drawn in and the tension continued for it entire length. The novel travelled the world and, with my limited knowledge, that world seemed real. I was interested to read that Graham Storrs lived in London where much of the novel is set.

It reminded me of a James Bond type spy thriller set a few decades into the future. Perhaps the one quibble I had was the dialogue, which sometimes seemed more last century, than the way they might talk in mid-21st century.

This was the first ebook I have read. I read it on a Kindle which unfortunately malfunctioned towards the end, so some of my concentration was taken from the words and place on what the Kindle was doing. I had to get the Kindle replaced to enable me to finish reading the story.

I would recommend Timesplash to anyone in the mood for a fast paced adventure thriller. I reckon you don't have to be into science fiction, like I am, to enjoy it.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My writing week 3 (50)

Hi all,

I spent more time writing last week than I have for months. Most of my energy went towards an article I was writing for Divine online magazine. I really earned my money this time, because I changed and edited it at least 20 times. I finally emailed it to the editor this morning.

I managed to spend some time on my novella, getting it a few sentences, I hope, from the end. I have the final line, I just have to fill in a few words to get there. It has taken me way too long to write its 21,000 words.

My new Kindle arrived. I have used it for two days and it still works. Amazon are a fabulous company and they deserve to totally dominate the world publishing industry. Hopefully that raises the karma quota between me and them.

A courier just left with the broken one. I must have telekinetically caused something to go wrong with it because I kept the box it came in, in case I had to return it. I was lucky my mind caused it to malfunction within the 90 day warranty period. Maybe I just wanted to interact with the excellent customer service staff at Amazon.

I forgot to mention that a couple of weeks ago I read that Christos Tsiolkas, author of the much awarded Australian literary novel The Slap, recently re-read Couples, by John Updike. In my review of The Slap, on Goodreads, I had mentioned how similar it was to Couples. They were written 50 years apart, but both are about the hopelessly compromised and unsatisfied lives of the middle class.

Just read in The Age that book sales are down as much as 10% for this Christmas in Australia. The article reckons it is because of a general lack of spending and not Amazon.

To those who are inclined, hope you have a good holiday season and that you give and receive many books purchased from Amazon. I also hope the teenager next door gets a set of headphones for his ipod, from Amazon, and uses them. If not, my news year’s resolutions may focus around encouraging him to move out of the garage and live somewhere else. Perhaps the Amazon customer service officers might have some ideas.

Seriously, how many times can a teenager listen to the same CD full of doff doff doff? Evidentially hundreds. Over and over and over again. Someone should give him a book, purchased from Amazon.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

My writing week 3 (49)

Hi all,

My Kindle broke. Whaaaaaa. It had been given me trouble all last week. Most days it would work okay for 15 to 20 minutes and then for some reason the search box would just appear at the bottom of the screen. So I pressed “back” to get rid of it, and then it would reappear again and fill up with qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq, like a button was stuck. When I pressed q, jo8b came up. I tried to press “back” faster than the q’s came but to no avail.

The previous page button on the right hand side did not take me to the previous page either, it brought up the search box and filled it with a qjo8b. Ebooks would also automatically flip backwards through their pages. All this made it very hard to read.

I looked up the amazon website and there were suggestions for fixing similar faults of holding the power switch on for 15 seconds to reset the kindle. This I did, and it worked for a little while. But this morning the thing with the search box started as soon as I turned it on. If made it near impossible to navigate. So I sent a message to Amazon and they rang back.

The customer service officer wanted me to download an update to my kindle. This took me about an hour to figure out how to do, even when I sent another message and got them to try and help me. Luck and clicking enough icons eventually prevailed. But after installing the updated Kindle software the problem persisted.

While fiddling with the Kindle as the very gracious amazon customer service officer tried to work out what to do, I discovered that if I pressed j, qo8b would appear, if I pressed o, qj8b would appear and so on. It was like the j q b o keys had been corrupted. I told the guy this. Anyway he got me to reset the Kindle to the factory default. After a long time the Kindle came back on, but the problems persisted.

I could not re-register it because I needed to type in my email address, and when I got to .com, qj8b was entered instead of the o. So the guy is sending out a replacement Kindle. It will cost me postage. Hopefully nothing else. Interestingly when I was trying to connect to wireless after it rebooted, it came up with “Kerrys” wireless connection. I think there is a Kerry who lives over the back fence, but should I be able to detect her wireless connection on my Kindle?

I spent many hours fiddling with the Kindle and a couple of very late nights. Time I wished I could have spent more productively.

Google books opened in the US last week with three million free ebooks. That will put a dent in a lot of publisher’s and authors pockets. When I checked it out, it said that it was not available yet in Australia.

I did finally finish critiquing a very good novel: Datura Highway by Daniel King. He hopes to have it published soon. It’s an intriguing psycho thriller fantasy. I will be buying a copy. Its 60,000 words took me about 12 weeks to critique. So I am not the fastest. I sent him a critique after each chapter.

I finished reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. I found that it took way too long for the story to start. It’s nowhere near as good as The Scar. I will post a review soon.

Thunderstorms again interfered with my writing last week. Wangaratta had floods again. At least I did not have to water the garden much. But again I did very little writing. I did not even get started on my next article for Divine magazine. But I have managed to salvage something from the wreckage of today: I wrote that article. I now just have to edit it a few times.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Media's standards are slipping.

Hi all,

I have been marvelling at the incompetence of the media lately. I have noticed technical and intellectual stuff ups all over the place. Last night I was watching the local Prime news and for the third time in recent weeks the bulletin had blackouts and ads breaking in during news stories. Last night those errors wrecked a story on the Wangaratta floods, and as I live in Wangaratta I was particularly interested. I've heard that the news will be no longer located in the local region soon, they are moving it to Canberra, so maybe the current staff don't give a stuff anymore. Pity, I used to work for Prime.

Next we have The AGE, where I have frequently spotted typos over the past few weeks, making me feel better about all my typos. Are the journo's too overworked to check their work? That may explain their ridiculous front page story of a couple of days ago. Evidently WikiLeaks published a secret American memo saying the Australian media was full of stories about Kevin Rudd being a micro-manager and control freak. Need I say anymore. The ABC news last night didn't even state that the supposedly secret information was originally broadcast/published in the Australian media.

Then we have local ABC radio. I often listen to Joseph Thompson for a bit of a laugh as he tries to work his small town shock jock thing. He often interviews people via the telephone. Problem is, we can hardly hear them.

Maybe they all have shares in the web companies.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

My writing week 3 (48)

Hi all,

I have a new article up on Divine. This one is about my father’s time in residential care. He had dementia.

I looked on track to do a bit of writing last week, but constant electrical storms had me turning off my computer just as I was about to start writing. When I lived in Sydney my flat was struck by lightning and half the wiring had to be replaced, so I am can justify my concern of unplugging valued electrical items during storms.

My noisy neighbours also distracted me from writing. Their teenage son, who lives in the garage, was playing his doff doff music on Tuesday and after I went next door and my doorbell ringing was ignored, I went back into my backyard and I screamed – not yelled, the whole street would have heard my complaint – over the fence for him to turn it down, get some headphones or cease because the bass noise just flowed through my house and was driving me mad. Much to my surprise, the noise ceased.

I then decided to attack the problem from another direction, by attempting to soundproof my writing area. I called up a builder and he came and had a look. He reckoned it would cost $1000 just for the glass alone if I was to double glaze the room’s window. Probably $2000 all up, but would it reduce the noise by much considering the house’s wooden walls? I decided to experiment by getting a piece of pine board ($95) cut that covered the room’s 180 by 130 cm window and seeing how much sound it blocked.

After a very sweaty afternoon (remember the above mentioned thunderstorms) and much colourful language directed at a drill that’s trigger kept on sticking, I installed the window cover, using plastic turn buttons to hold it in temporarily in place. But since then, nearly a week, no noise has come from next door. I have seen the kid once in the backyard. Perhaps he is using headphones. I have removed the cover while I wait for the noise to return.

This week I need to write another article for Divine. I have the ideas and most of the information is in my head, so it should be fairly easy to write. I also will finish reading the last few pages of a novel I have been critiquing and send its author a final critique. I also hope to finish the first draft of a novella and start editing it before sending it off to be critiqued. But as I continually find, life is always throwing up obstacles to my plans.