Sunday, March 27, 2011

My writing week 4 (13)

Hi all,

My computer behaved itself all last week. That’s nearly two weeks without a problem. Was a clean with canned air all it needed? Or have the lower temperatures meant that it has stopped overheating? Or did a test that said it had repaired something have a positive effect? Who knows.

The fact that my computer didn’t play up meant that I had time to do some writing and stop worrying about a computer shutdown losing the sentence that might have begun the paragraph that would have expanded into a Hugo award winning novel.

Wrote an article on Universal Remote Controls

After doing a lot of research on universal remote controls, including fiddling with one, I wrote my next Divine article. I now just need to polish the article before submitting it, hopefully this week.

I also wrote down lots of notes for my next two articles. At the moment, every time I start to worry about running out of ideas I quickly think up two or three.

I even did some editing of my novella. Perhaps this week will be the week I get stuck into it. Yeah, well, you can only hope.

My Copy of Datura Highway Arrived

I rescued a copy of Datura Highway from the letterbox: the postie had bent it to fit in. What a philistine. Obviously has no concept of the value of books.

I had critiqued Datura Highway for Daniel King and I am acknowledged in the acknowledgements.

The cover looks a lot better than it does on the web. Not that it was a bad cover, it just looks more alive.

Datura Highway is a fantasy thriller. I have written a review for it on Amazon.

Read Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson

I finished reading a horror novel by Australian Trent Jamieson called Death Most Definite. It’s set in Brisbane and is a great read. I posted a review of it today. I will definitely be buying its sequel.

Graham.

Review of Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson

Death Most Definite (Death Works, #1)Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Set in Brisbane (where I lived for five years so I was familiar with much of the settings), it's a horror novel with some wit. The reluctant hero Steve is a "pomp". The souls of the recently departed must pass through a pomp to travel to the afterlife. The trouble is, someone is killing all of Australia's pomps. What is worse, stirrers (angry murderess souls) are jumping into the bodies of anyone who dies and causing havoc.

With the aid of the soul of a beautiful recently killed pomp, Steve has to discover who is killing the pomps and why, while preventing the stirrers from causing regional armageddon.

The novel is told in the first person, which I found refreshing. It is also full of witty dialogue. The world that the author has created is thoroughly believable. Tension is maintained throughout the novel which rarely has a quiet moment. And the novel reaches a very satisfying conclusion. It is not a nasty horror story, it is one told with a positive brightness. If you liked the television series Dead Like Me, you will probably like this.

A very enjoyable read. I will be buying the sequel.

Graham Clements.



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Sunday, March 20, 2011

My writing week 4 (12)

Hi all,

My Computer Works

After numerous tantrums the previous week, my computer behaved. Not once did it shutdown or freeze or beep or flash a blue screen error message. I ran it with the cover off most of the week as I waited to see if the fans weren’t operating when the above problems occurred, but you know what they say about a watched pot.

The beeping from the previous week indicated that the computer had a ram problem. So at the start of last week I decided to get some more ram. My computer has 2GB of ram which can be upgraded to 4GB. I placed an order with PC Sanity: one of its computer techs is a friend on facebook. He emailed an invoice to pay before the ram would be sent.

But my computer refused to open the invoice. The invoice was in Excel, and my Office XP version could not read it. I sent an email to Jeff at PC Sanity and he said I needed to get my Office updated. Right, all those computer recoveries I had done in the past few months had removed all the Office updates. So I updated it. Took a few hours, and I then could access the excel invoice.

But I found out that PC Sanity wanted me to transfer the payment to their account. I walked down to the bank. They said that it was hard for them to make the transfer and they could not guarantee its success. They told me I would be better off doing it myself over the internet. But I didn’t have internet banking. They signed me up.

It was Thursday and my computer had continued to behave like someone who had its internal organs exposed: following the surgeon’s instructions exactly. I did use the on Friday, too busy doing other stuff.

On Saturday I picked up my ordered canned air from Dicksmiths. I used it to blow dust around the inside of the computer. I then tempted fate by putting the cover back on. The computer still worked. It worked on Sunday. It has worked so far today. So I am now having second thoughts about buying ram. (Sorry Jeff – but the computer will probably crash tomorrow and when I get it going again I will be promptly paying the invoice).

Slack Week

I had the house to myself most of last week and a sore right elbow was telling me to take a break from my exercise program, so I decided to take a holiday from everything. I watched a few DVD’s – really enjoyed The Box, which was directed by the guy who directed Donnie Darko.

Next Divine Article: Universal Big Button Remote Controls

The only writing activity I did last week was exchange a few emails with my editor about my next article about universal big button remote controls. If you have used one, please leave a comment about what you thought of it. My mum who has arthritis needs one.

Graham.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My stuffing around with the computer week 4 (11)

Hi all,

Last week was consumed by computer problems. I finally got to the stage where I rang up a computer repair guy, but he couldn’t visit until this Thursday. I want someone to visit rather than lose the computer to a computer repair shop for months.. The fact that the computer will work for days or months without a problem has made me reluctant to send it for repair too. Sometimes I wish the thing would just go bang.

I have found the onscreen manual that came with the computer totally useless as I search for some definitive test that tells me what the problem is. Every test I have put the computer through has said it is fine.

An online search said the computer might be overheating due to dirt and faulty fans. I pulled the cover off and blew some dust around. I then turned it on, and it worked perfectly for two days.

But on Saturday morning I turned it on and it started beeping at me. By then I had finally located a list of what the beeps meant. The beeps indicated there was a problem with the ram. While I counted the beeps, the computer did something different: it went to a blue screen that gave me the option of running a series of hardware tests. I told it to run the tests, but again they said the computer’s hardware was perfectly okay. The test did repair a fault in the startup process. So maybe that was all it was. I would be a fool to hope so.

Saturday was also a very humid morning, so I thought the computer might have overheated. I pulled the cover off the computer and while coverless turned it back on. The only two fans I could see were spinning. I could feel air coming out of two other vents were I assume there were hidden fans.

The fact that my computer can work for days, sometimes months without playing up indicates that some change must occur (unless the computer has a random problem chip that turns on just after the warranty period ends). The temperature is one thing that is always fluctuating in Wangaratta. The computer problems started in November when Wangaratta started experiencing a lot of humidity. We have had an unusually humid summer.

Sometimes I leave the door of my writing room open, sometimes I have a fan on, sometimes the airconditioner on. It is generally more humid in the afternoon. Unfortunately, until now, I haven’t been taking note of the weather conditions when the computer plays up. Perhaps overheating is the problem.

A detailed list of instructions on how to clean the computer on the HP site said to use canned air. I could find none in all of Wangaratta. I ordered some at Dicksmiths. When it arrives I will give the computer a proper clean.

But I can see why people give up on a computer and just buy a new one.

I was thinking of buying a laptop to use while my desktop is getting fixed. I then would also have some portable computing. But what if the desktop can’t be fixed? I don’t think laptops are great for writers to use all the time. The smaller screens can cause eyestrain and the compressed keypad can cause wrist problems. I read in the Age that younger users are reporting all sorts of back problems from using laptops. So if I get a replacement computer, it won’t be a laptop and it definitely won’t be a Compaq or any other form of Hewlett Packard computer.

So I did no writing last week, just stuffed around with the computer.

Graham.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My writing week 4 (10)

Hi all,

New Article Submitted to Divine.

I finally submitted my a new article for Divine online magazine at the beginning of this week. The article was originally going to be about the effects of ebooks on the publishing industry, but I had an awful lot of information that was not going to fit into a 500 word article. So I decided to narrow it down.

I figured that most people don’t care about agents or publishers or even booksellers for that matter, but they might care about the author. As well, the effect ebooks will have on the publishing industry as a whole is still very unclear, with many publishers adopting the “she’ll be right” attitude. But the effects ebooks will have on self-publishing are more evident. So the article ended up being about the effect self-publishing ebooks will have on authors.

This is the second article about ebooks I have written for Divine. The first article was about how ereaders make it easier for people with a disability to read. Hopefully the new article will be up soon.

Talking about Ebooks

Very surprised to read, in Jason Steger’s Bookmarks column in Saturday’s Age, that Penguin is selling a lot of ebooks. They account for 6% of Penguins sales worldwide. I would have thought their customer base would have been desperately holding onto buying print editions. But perhaps a lot of children use ereaders to read Penguin texts for school.

Computer Problems

My computer has been playing up. Freezing, restarting, beeping, black screen, error messages, streaks across the screen. I did a full recovery yesterday, but it still froze twice and then beeped at me this morning. I found a way to stop it beeping, pick it up a few inches and drop it. I think, I hope, please….that the problem this morning was due to not installing updates for the computer’s hardware, which I have now done.

The cause of the original problems was probably me ignoring the advice of a Hewlett Packard customer service officer by downloading some windows updates.

I am thinking of buying a laptop. Any suggestions would be appreciated. It’s not so much not wanting to, it’s more of a fear of buying a piece of crap that lasts only three weeks.

Guantanamo

I finished reading Guantanamo by David Hicks last week. I had remarked in an earlier blog post how it seemed too well written for someone who didn’t get to year 10 at school. Well it turns out he studied year eleven while at Guantanamo and while there he also wrote two novels. He came across as a reasonably intelligent and curious, but very na├»ve (although he was only about 21 when captured), person.

He was bashed, drugged, starved, tortured, subject to constant surveillance, for over five years. All for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Reading his book confirms what I had read in the Age, that he was a sacrificed to make Howard look good with George Bush. What an absolute scumbag Howard is. He deserves to be jailed.

In the end, of about 800 of the “worst of the worst” that were sent to Guantanamo only 35 are still there or have been put on trial. I will write a review of the book soon.

My Writing

Computer problems, Divine article, still the occasional asthma attack, so only a bit of editing of the novella last week. Will more computer problems wreck any writing opportunities this week?

Graham.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review of Datura Highway

Datura HighwayDatura Highway by Daniel King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Daniel King has written an exciting fantasy/psychological thriller that kept me guessing - and hoping - until the very end. It's a novel with an original plot, which is hard to do these days.

It begins with the main character, Daniel, finding himself in a huge warehouse full of symbolic statues, and not quite knowing how he got there. The only information he has is a list of vague unrelated items in one of his coat pockets. In another pocket he finds a alien looking weapon. He vaguely recalls he was investigating a murder.

As he starts to search his surroundings he runs into Mimi, a school teacher who doesn't mind smoking cannabis. Perhaps that explains her slightly odd behavior. More through luck than detective work they begin to progress through what appears to be some sort of weird test.

I loved the world-building in this novel. The world is totally strange, not in an over the top way, but in a what the hell is going on way. I loved the challenge of trying to figure out what the items on the piece of paper meant before they were revealed. I hoped the murder would be solved without Daniel having to kill Mimi.

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good mystery that goes somewhere different, you may find your comfort zone slightly stretched. It is a very good read.



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