Sunday, May 22, 2011

My writing week (4) 21

Hi all,

I was supposed to be down in Melbourne for a dental appointment today, but my cold has worsened and I cancelled the appointment. So instead I get to write about my lack of progress in writing last week.

No fiction writing last week, but I did finally finish and submit an article to Divine online magazine. The article basically says cataract surgery is no big deal and the benefits to your eyesight can be astounding. I speak from personal experience and that of a number of relatives. It seems that with my genes I was doomed to have cataracts.

Carol Ryles pointed out a series of blog posts on the future of publishing written by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Kristine does a good job of showing that book publishing is not the same as the music industry, so any comparison between the publishing industry and how the music industry has supposedly survived the digital revolution is out of place.

I am a miserable grump when I have a cold. That demeanour would have helped me fit in with the people of Melbourne if I had travelled there today. I hope to have the cold and grumpiness under control by Thursday when I make a trip to Albury to see another oral surgeon.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

My writing week (4) 20

Hi all,

Amazon set to become world's biggest publisher.

I thought that headline might get a few people reading. Readers of this blog would know that I have said that Amazon, Google and Apple will probably be the biggest publishers of books in the near future. Amazon already sells thousands of self-published titles, and recently launched four publishing businesses.

Amazon Encore will buy underperforming, but well reviewed, books that have already been published and republish them. It will specialise in first time writers.

Montlake Romance will publish digital, physical and audio romance books. In an interview, Jeff Belle, vice president of Amazon Publishing said they will eventually publish books in other genres, including science fiction.

Amazon Crossing will publish English translations of foreign books.

Domino will publish non-fiction books.

So watch out. Amazon might achieve what Rupert Murdoch has tried to achieve, total domination of the publishing industry.

Dentists are cold people

I write this belated post between dental appointments and sneezes. Last Friday, the 13th, I visited an oral surgeon in Melbourne about having some wisdom teeth removed. I then returned to visit the dental hospital in Melbourne, on Monday, to see if they would remove the teeth for free. The dental hospital appointment was only a preliminary meeting, I need to go down next Monday for a more thorough examination.

Meanwhile, my local dentist has done a couple of fillings and the preparatory work for a crown. The work for the crown turned out to be a bit of an ordeal, it took 1 and 3/4 hours. For about an hour of that the dentist had drills and other instruments in my mouth.

Here's a riddle for you, if you are seeing three different dentists/dental organisations, how many will attempt to change the time of your appointment? The answer is: all of them.

It would seem that somewhere along the way, I have caught a cold, which suddenly came on very strongly yesterday. Hope it has weakened by Monday.

So I have done very little writing. I almost got my article on cataract surgery finished last week and that's about it.

Why waiting for appointments and travelling on trains and busses, I did manage to get some reading done. I finished reading Margaret Atwood's brilliant The Year of the Flood, which is a prequel to her Booker short-listed Oryx and Crake. I reviewed it in a post yesterday.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review of The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant book which is perfect for the times we live in. It's message is that humanity through action or inaction will destroy itself. The book mainly concentrates on genetic engineering but has society slowly decaying from lack of resources in the background.

I read this novel because it is a prequel to the equally brilliant Oryx and Crake - which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Year of the Flood shows how civilisation collapsed and humanity died out before the story of one of the few survivors begins in Oryx and Crake.

The world is dominated by giant corporations. These corporations are heavily into genetic engineering. There are many genetically engineered animals created in place of the many extinct animals like pandas and platypus. Humans are genetically engineered mainly for aesthetic reasons.

The novel begins after the waterless flood occurs and then takes us back a decade or so earlier to show how the flood happened. The story concentrates on a girl and woman whose end up at an environmental cult called the Gardeners. The Gardeners are vegans who recycle everything. They survive on food grown on a huge rooftop garden and anything they can scavenge.

Ren's mother deserted her father and took her to live with a Gardener. Her story is told from her early teens. Toby's story begins just as she reaches adulthood. She works in a burger joint that sells secret burgers. They are called secret burgers because you never know what their ingredients might include. Toby is rescued from a rapist manager by the Gardeners.

Adam one leads the Gardeners. His sermons connecting the bible and the environment litter the novel. He knows the end is coming. He is trying to teach his fellow gardeners how to survive it.

I found the innocent but quickly learning voice of Ren very believable. Atwood writes he portion of the story in first person. She changes to third person for Toby's tired but stoic voice.

I was continually stopping to marvel at the insights to the world and people in the novel. How humanity has little hope of surviving because of the hoplessness that pervades us doing anything about the huge environmental and social problems that we face. We lack hope of changing so we do nothing to change.

I also found myself laughing a lot. Srcastic and ironic humour flows through the book.

Everyone should read this novel. It shows were our lack of hope could lead.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My writing week 4 (19)

Divine Article on Universal Remotes

I have a new article up on Divine about universal remote controls. The article was inspired by the inability of my mother to control a set-top box. The buttons on its remote control were too small for her arthritic fingers to control. She has the same problem with the remote for a Sony DVD recorder. I am hoping that someone who reads the article will suggest a universal remote control that is suitable for her.

Divine Cataract Surgery

If you have cataracts that are interfering with your life, but are too worried about getting them removed, you should have a read of my next article for Divine about cataract surgery. It details my first had experience. Cataracts run in my family. Both grandmothers had problems with them. My mother has had them removed, as have uncles and aunties on both sides of the family.

Source Code

The movie Source Code is nowhere near as good as Inception, but it is better than most of the crap alien invasion and comic book garbage being served up as science fiction lately. Source Code is directed by Ducan Jones, who also directed the Hugo award winning Moon. It’s more of a thriller than action movie. Like Moon, it relies more on story than special effects.

Source Code is set on a train in the near future in Chicago. I will give you no plot details as, like Moon, they will be spoilers.

My Writing

Family visited. Garage boy next door seems to have become garage boys with the accompanying increase in noise. It seems they want a war. I returned fire at their parents this morning. When not thinking up scenarios for future battles, Divine magazine took up my writing time: writing an article and arguing over edits for the other.

Television Misinformation

I could do with a week long drinking session. Numbing the brain would help me forget the misinformation surrounding me. I even got sucked in by the fake pictures of a shot-in-the-head Osama Bin Laden on the telly.

I remember a few years ago hearing about research into television news which showed that it frequently left people less informed than before they viewed it. Last week’s collections of sound and vision bites on the news from ABC, Nine and Seven definitely confirmed this.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

My writing week 4 (18)

My Epic Novella, Part 739.

I slaughtered a few of my novella's darlings last week, replacing them with just as many fabulous? ordinary? deplorable? words, so the word count stagnated. But at least I did some work on it.

I want to start researching/interviewing and then writing my next article for Divine magazine this week, but I am determined not to use that as an excuse to neglect the novella.

Divine Article on Cataracts

My next article for Divine magazine is about cataracts. If you have cataracts or have had surgery to remove them, I have a few simple questions for you:

1. Where are/were the cataract/s on your eyes and what effects did/do the cataract/s have?

I had one dead centre of my left eye and had to try and read around it.

2. If you had surgery to remove them, describe your post op vision.

I had surgery on both eyes. I could see a mountain range in the distance for the first time. Black was once again black and not grey. I could see my freckles again.

3. If you didn't have surgery, why?

You can leave your response as a comment or send an email to

Doctor Who

The thrill of Doctor Who seems to have disappeared with Russell T Davies or perhaps it is just Matt Smith. Being a writer, I prefer to think it has more to do with scripts that are now too fast paced, with no time for tension. I only tuned in out of a sense of duty to watch the first episode of the new season on Saturday. I ended up watching the first fifteen minutes and then recording the rest.

In contrast, I keenly await the return of Fringe on Go next Wednesday. A series full of tense and edgy scripts.