Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Writing Week: Issue 48, Year 4

Hi all,

I had an enjoyable and stress free Christmas: good food, good company, and appreciated gifts. It wasn’t too hot and the neighbours kept the noise down. They were probably too busy watching the huge LCD TV they got for Christmas, the box of which is still on the front porch so the world, including local thieves, can know about their increasing carbon footprint.  

We had prawns, lobster, oysters, and mussels as well as the traditional turkey and roast spuds, and pavlova with blue berries on top. But just about the most delicious food was some home-grown tomatoes that had finally ripened a few days before.  

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had an enjoyable time.

Plenty of Aussie Science Fiction to Read

The gifts I received included four books, three of which were science fiction, two of those were written by Aussie authors. Along with books I bought for myself when looking for gifts for others, I now have six new science fiction books by Aussie authors to read. I hope there are some memorable and innovative stories among them.

I find our authors are as good, if not better, than those in the rest of the world. Aussie novels like The Sea and Summer by George Turner, Quarantine by Greg Egan, Genetic Soldier by George Turner, The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, Capricornia by Xavier Herbert and Red Queen by HM Brown are among my favourite novels. The Dark Between the Stars by Damien Broderick is easily my favourite one author short story collection.

My Novel Writing Efforts

The pace of my novel has changed from a slow build up of tension to lots of action. I found the change of style for action scenes hard, but my writing began to flow as I wrote more of them.

I achieved my goal of 1000-2000 words on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I even did some writing on Christmas Day. I wrote around 4500 words for the week. I am beginning to think the novel might greatly exceed 120,000 words because at 65,500 words, I think I am yet to reach the halfway mark.

Now its time to try and remember if there were any decent science fiction movies apart from Rise of the Apes, and television apart from Miracle Day and Fringe for my year’s best lists in my next post.  


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Writing Week: Issue 47, Year 4

Hi all,

MyNovel Writing.

I’ve finally made time to write this week’s post. I’ve been too busy writing. Last week I wrote just over 1,000 words on each weekday and a few hundred on the weekend. I ended up writing 5410 words for the week and starting chapter 30 of my novel.

I did a lot of research for the novel on things like gravity, g-forces, acceleration and velocity. I even tried to get a flight simulator going, but I have little patience for anything that does not work straight away. Playing with a flight simulator might have given me descriptive ideas for the novel, and been a bit of fun.

I finally put my VCE physics to use, using it for calculations for the novel, and for adapting information from distance/acceleration/g force calculators I found on the web.

Most of the novel has been a slow build up of tension. Only in recent chapters do action scenes begin. I found it a struggle to adjust my writing, but after a few action scenes I am enjoying writing prolonged action sequences.

At 60,900 words, I reckon the novel is about half written.

My DiVine Writing.

A new editor of DiVine magazine liked a couple of ideas for articles I have. One will take a bit of research, the other I can write virtually off the top of my head as it is about my illness, ulcerative colitis.

Christmas Stuff.

The Book Depository kept their promise to deliver Christmas presents I ordered within 10 working days. Next year I think I will only give gifts I ordered from them, and avoid shops full of junk that no one who is not completely feed-up with searching for something reasonable, would buy. The retailers in Wangaratta are appalling.

On that festive note: Merry Christmas to everyone. May Santa bring you heaps of books, preferably science fiction written by Aussie authors. Don’t drink too much and may you tolerate your relatives. If you are a climate change denier may Christmas bring you a subscription to a non-Murdoch newspaper and the time to read it.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

My writing week: Issue 46, Year 4.

Hi all,

I’ve nearly finished my Christmas shopping. I just hope the Book Depository keeps their promise of delivering within seven to ten working days. I used the Book Depository because my local books shop did not have the audio books I was after and I loath crowded shops.

I cringe at the thought of shops full of old people who have parked their electric vehicles, trolleys and fat bums across aisles. My head hurts at the thought of listening to Paul McCartney sing over and over how wonderful Christmas is. I sympathise with Harry’s in The Slap every time I am stuck in a queue with a parent who seems to have no intention of stopping their kid from screaming.

It seems that I have become a real Christmas grouch. Apart from being an atheist, except when I visit my father’s grave, I think the Christmas spirit could do with a good Marxist reboot. I think Christmas would be much happier time for all if we all it we just forgot about the gift giving (even retailers. Consumers will then spend more evenly during the year and wouldn’t return piles of unwanted gifts). There would also be fewer no-longer-cute-and-cuddly-puppies discarded in the months after Christmas.   

Christmas shopping also interferes with writing and thinking about writing. My goal last week, the first full week after NaNoWriMo, was to write 7,000 words. I completely blame Christmas shopping for not achieving that goal.

I started the week okay with 1040 words on Monday. But then on Tuesday, I spent too much time in Big W looking for some DVD’s that they didn’t have. When I finally got home I only had time to write 440 words.

On Wednesday, I wrote 1127 words, even after being side tracked into writing a review of Ian Irvine’s, The Last Albatross. On Thursday, I was back proving that except for food and grog, the retailers in Wang sell absolutely nothing I want to buy. They should spruik Wang as a great place to save. When I finally got home, I ended up writing 750 words. Friday, was my best writing day of the week, just, with 1130 words.

I had decided to only write if I really had to on the weekends. On Saturday, it was back to skulking around the shops. At last I found a present for my sister, yay. Relieved of Christmas gift agonies, my thoughts instantly returned to my novel and changes that needed to be made. I just had to do some deleting and then writing when I got home. I wrote 550 words for the day. On Sunday, exhausted from Christmas shopping, I took it easy and only wrote 220 words.

All up I wrote 5037 words for the week. I had written 55,600 words of the novel and was in the middle of chapter 27. Now if it wasn’t for Christmas…

Scribe abandons trade paperbacks.

I am a bit behind in my newspaper reading, so my outrage at Scribe is about six weeks late. According to the Bookmarks column in The Age on the 29th of October, Scribe has abandoned the trade paperback. Fools. Most of the new books I buy and am given for Christmas are trade paperbacks. I buy them because they have bigger print than paperbacks and are cheaper than hard-backs and look better on my bookshelves than paperbacks. It looks like I will be buying less books and getting less Christmas gifts published by Scribe.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review of The Last Albatross by Ian Irvine

The Last Albatross (Human Rites, #1)The Last Albatross by Ian Irvine
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Last Albatross is set in a near future Australia where the technology, environment and economy is failing. It is a story of extreme environmentalists versus, in the beginning at least, an apathetic materialistic woman and her partner.

The heroine of the story is Jemma. She is an overweight, unconfident school-teacher who wants to have a child. Her older partner, Ryn, is a computer scientist who forecasts the damage from major weather events. At the start of the book he is working on a program that forecasts the effects of the collapse of one of the Antarctic ice shelves.

In his youth, Ryn and a mentally unstable friend Hercus found a bar of plutonium at Maralinga and buried it in a relative’s back yard. There it remains for years until Hercus returns into Jemmas and Ryn’s life. He is distressed about materialists destroying the environment is going to get rid of them all. And so the adventure begins.

I did not really like the characters. Not my type of people. Jemma had sold her soul to un-fulfilling nothingness long before the novel started. Ryn was too rapped up in his work to care about anything. Hercus wanted to blame the world for everything bad in his life. In the end, only really Jemma came close to redeeming herself.

I did have a problem with technology constantly refusing to function throughout the story. Although the Australia in the novel is a virtual corporate dictatorship, I still kept on thinking, only fools will buy the corporation’s goods if they don’t work. Others will buy, make, illegally import, invent some other product that actually works or just go without. Basically I thought Jemma and Ryn fell into the fools category, the type of people who keep on going back to the Reject Shop to buy a replacement for something that just broke.

I think the novel was too long. It should have ended with Jemma and Ryn’s attempts to stop Hercus using the plutonium. Instead, it continued with Jemma improbably taking over a speech in front of world leaders from her ailing husband. I thought Jemma’s and Ryn’s reputation was so soiled at the time that it would be a bit like Lindy Chamberlain addressing a child care conference. We know a dingo did it, but still there is baby’s blood thrown by the media all over Lindy.

The novel ends up portraying all environmentalists as extremist nutters. This aspect of the novel really rubbed against me. I was surprised to see the author himself has/does work in the environmental field.

Overall, I thought the novel okay, it did keep me reading. I was just frustrated by its character’s motivations and some of its ideas.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Writing Week: Issue 45, Year 4

Hi all,

Half of last week was taken up with successfully completing National Novel Writing Month. Apart from a great sense of achievement, that I could actually average 1667 words per day over a month, I also finished with a sore lower back from my desk chair. The back seems to be on the improve today, after a swim, adjusting the chair and spending less time sitting in it over the past five days.

New Article on DiVine

On the last day of NaNoWriMo I got an email from the editor of DiVine magazine wanting me to write a short article about a research project into the experiences of students with disabilities at school. I got up early the next morning and wrote the article and it was up on the site an hour later. We were both happy with the quick turn around; a nice quick earner.

Novel Going Well

My first draft of the novel is probably not halfway written yet. It should end up at least 100,000 words. At the moment I am 6,000 words into part two of its projected three parts.  

My plan for the novel seems to working well. Sometimes the characters take the storyline away from the plan, but they then seem to naturally return the narrative to my outline.

I hope to continue writing the novel at about 7,000 words a week. At that rate, it will be a couple of months before the first draft is finished.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo - the finish

Hi all,

I started the final nine days of National Novel Writing Month needing only to write 10508 words to reach my 50,000 target. That should have been easy as I was averaging over 1800 words a day. Did I make it?

Day twenty-two: I had the house to myself for the next four days. You would think that would mean an ideal environment to write, but I like to take a break and slob around when alone. I was nearly four days ahead of schedule for NaNoWriMo, my brain was beginning to tire and I was developing a sore lower back from siting at my desk, so I decided to only write a bit on each of those four days. On day twenty-two I wrote only 464 words, for a total of 39956.

Day twenty-three: 287 words for a total of 40243.

Day twenty-four: 110 words for a total of 40353.

Day twenty-five: releasing I was leaving myself a lot of words to write in only five days I wrote 1006 words for a total of 41359.

Day twenty-six: I now needed to average close to the original daily total of 1667 to finish on time, so I upped the word count to 1965 for a total of 43324 words.

Day twenty-seven: 1685 words for a total of 45009. But then I accidentally deleted a chapter from my computer. I had given the chapter I spent the day writing the same file name as a previous chapter and then saved it. Ahhhh. Fortunately I had been backing up every night and was able to recover the deleted chapter from a memory stick.

I then spent a lot of time updating my plan for the next few chapters to ensure that indecision would not limit my word output on the final few days.

Day twenty-eight: 1731 words for a total of 46740 words.

Day twenty-nine: 1692 words for a total of 48422.

Day thirty: I only needed to write 1578 words. My back ached and sudden temperature changes had caused my asthma to suck my energy away. My sister visited. It was her birthday, so I had to at least say happy birthday. It was just as well I didn’t check my email early because the editor of Divine wanted me to write an article which needed to be submitted the next day.

I was checking my word count every 100 words or so and adding them to my excel spreadsheet so it would tell me exactly how many words I had to go. Finally the excel world count said 50014.

Yay me. I had done what I thought impossible. I had written more words in the past 30 days than I had written in the past six months.

What I learnt from NaNoWriMo

I can write 1500 – 2000 words a day. It takes about four hours of writing. Another ½ hour of planning, and many hours of thinking. Before I did NaNoWriMo, I would usually turn my computer on and have a look at what I had written the previous day and spend most of my time fixing it and not moving forward. With NaNoWriMo I mostly ignored what I had written previously.

I did go back and ensure that a character’s hair had not changed colour and I changed the dialogue of one character and made a few changes for the sake of consistency. I also scraped a couple of paragraph starts of a two chapters because I thought of a better way to start them.

But I did very little editing. Which left me with the thought, why bother editing at this stage? Especially as I tend to totally rewrite a story/novel on the second and third drafts. Why try to fix what will be rewritten? I think formerly my attitude was a bit like if I died, then someone might turn on  my computer and read my stuff and think I can’t write.

So from now on, my first drafts of anything are going to be an unedited sprawl of missed commas and split infinitives.