writing

More forks

November 17, 2015

Rukan – currently titled Silver & Iron and that’s totally the best I can come up with considering my utter inability to find titles for shit – has crept even closer to finishdom. This draftski is doneski as of yesterday. 106,000-odd words, start to finish, only one tiny (teeny! itty bitty! I swear!) bit that needs filling in.

But enough! for now.

I’ve never got so far in completing a book before – so I don’t know if this will happen every time – but by gum*, I hate working on this story. Literally have been forcing myself. Every single minute. We are too close. I want to punch it in the guts and tell it to get out of my face. It’s mouth breathing all over me. Gah.

So as per my latest plan, I’m going to print this sucker out, stick it in a folder with a new red pen, and set it aside for a couple of months. Let it slip out of my brain a little bit… let my brain focus on a totally new and different story instead. Refreshing! I’m so excited! New story! Eeeee.

Give me and Rukan some space, some distance.

Then come (February?) I shall uncap that red pen, get work on a bit of spit & polish, and finish this story up for good. With fresher hopefully-not-so-hateful eyes. Oh, and the accompanying query letter (which is drafted – still a bit long I think – christ these things are hard to write). And then we will see what the world makes of it.

I sort of feel accomplished and excited at this point but not as satisfied as I guess I’d hoped. Writing this story has taken me too long. It’s lost all its shine. I don’t even know how crap it really is: I can’t SEE it anymore. But at least I can still appreciate the effort I’ve put into it, even if I can’t love it as a story anymore.

I’m mostly looking forward to writing something completely different right now…

* by gum?! I don’t even know where that came from. Pretty sure have not been reading any old school detective novels or such.

life

Loving & loathing for November

November 9, 2015
Calendar for November 2015 and vase of flowers

The 2015 edition…

IN

PROBABLY moving house this month! Floors are being done this week. Painting touch ups next week. Then final inspection, I guess… then last payment & handover of keys!

Ladies, a plate. I got this book for my birthday – I’ve been eyeing it up for years now – and am enjoying baking some classic & delicious Kiwi goodies. Anzacs, afghans, ginger crunch. Nom!

Christmas candles. It’s not too early for the festive sweet spice of Christmas! This year I snagged one of the ‘Christmas Pine’ candles by Peppermint Grove. It’s a scent designed for a warm summer Australian-style Christmas, just what I’m looking for.

OUT

Moving house. Oh god. I have never had to pack up & move a whole house before. Let alone with a toddler. Eek.

Uncompleted novels. I didn’t quite meet my goal of finishing Rukan in October (boy did that end up a busy month). It only needs a few more days work though. I’m suuuuuper close.

writing

Infinite homework report

October 28, 2015
infinite homework report

Current WIP

Oh man. I am not going to finish this book by end of October. Three days. THREE! How did that happen. Life conspires. Oh well, I suppose it was a self(inflicted)imposed deadline – it shall be done in November instead. This only pushes out me being able to start on a ShinyNewStory(TM)… which patiently waits. All shiny & new.

So. I have 40-something pages left to edit, and the first draft of a query letter. Once both things are done I will be putting them aside for a couple of months, and letting them settle. Letting my brain have a break.

I would love to wipe my hands and say DONESKI for REALSKI – to throw that query letter + 3 chapters into a million agents’ mailboxes – but I just think it’s not quite polished enough yet. You only get one chance to write and finish your first book. You ought to make it the best book you can. And I need some distance before I can do a final passthrough, do a slash & burn with the red pen.

So it will sit and percolate, and I shall entertain myself with ShinyNewStory(TM) in the meantime, and in the new year I’ll pick Rukan up again and dust her off and finish that sucker. For realski.

There’s no other progress to report… All my writing time has been focused on Rukan.

life

One year wiser et cetera

October 15, 2015

It was my birthday on Tuesday. Thirty four years on this earth, and four years in Melbourne town. This birthday really snuck up on me. Suddenly it was October! Whaaaat? Wasn’t it just March?

The day passed by without much fanfare – some years are like that, don’t you think? I could have made more time for myself but I didn’t. I did get to have a lunch out, which is a rarity these days. French toast with poached pear and strawberries and marscapone, and a latte. At a cafe which is very not-child-friendly. Boy did I take those for granted.

Thirty four is: another layer to my hair, thinking about the lost baby which would have been due this week, wondering if I’ll ever paint my fingernails again, apprehension at having to move an entire houseload of stuff for the first time, self confidence, experimenting with toddler containment techniques, always giving a cuddle, excitement for the next year to come, only pages away from finishing my first book to an acceptable readable standard!, slight addiction to marshmallowy goodies, content.

Big things will happen in the next 12 months, starting off with moving into our new house. There’ll be so much to organise – driveway, paths, window coverings, garden, lawn, decking, light fittings, mirrors, cabinetry, furniture. ARrrgh. Part of me just wishes it was already 6 months down the track with all these things finished, even though time is clearly flying by fast enough as it is. Hopefully by this time next year, we’ll be comfortably settled in, with all the major items ticked off. I look forward to the slow accretion of a home, of making this house truly ours.

life

1970 dessert experiments: mocha cream pie

October 8, 2015

Pie crust made, pie filled, about to be baked

Mocha cream pie fresh from the fridge

Mocha cream pie with an attempt to remove a slice

Mocha cream pie - half an eaten 'slice'

Essentially: glue

I actually thought this might be a nice dessert. It seemed to have good elements – a pie crust. A coffee/choc filling. Whipped cream. “Mocha cream pie” – it just sounds delicious.

I never learn.

Go & do a google image search for “mocha cream pie” and then come back here. Compare & contrast. Entertaining, no?

So, you start with a basic pastry – flour, butter, “enough” water. As usual I screwed up the pie crust & overbaked it. I am not destined to create pretty crusts, this much I have learned on my 1970s dessert journey.

Then you make a filling – sugar, flour, spices & cold milk – cooking until thickened. Add in some beaten egg yolks, butter & vanilla, and cook for 5 more minutes. Cool, then pour into the pie shell & chill until firm. Finish with whipped cream.

I sprinkled a little cocoa on top for effect. I thought it looked quite pretty for a pie made by me.

Then I tried serving it.

Listen. “Firm”, right? Firm makes it sound like maybe this would turn out like mousse. What “firm” actually means is THICK STICKY GLUE. It clings to the knife as you try to cut into the pie. It tries to SUCK THE KNIFE OUT OF YOUR HANDS INTO THE PIE. This is like some sort of 1970s quicksand. You think, this is how the dinosaurs died, in ponds of this stuff. You wrestle some out onto a plate. It should look like a slice. It looks like a gelatinous heap, possibly even a gelatinous heap that has reached singularity and is self aware and already plotting how to take over mankind.

It’s deceptively sticky. You try to remove a forkful and almost lose your fork in the process.

With some trepidition, you put a forkful in your mouth.

Your mouth is instantly gummed up. You cannot talk. You look at your fellow taste tester and communicate with bugged out eye language alone: I need a huuuuge glass of water. Me too.

But what about the taste? Even if it looked a hot mess, and gummed up your mouth, surely it tasted OK? Ah no, my optimistic reader. It didn’t even taste very nice, mostly due to the excessive amount of spice. I was somewhat perturbed at the levels specified – 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon & 1 teaspoon of clove – I halved the clove because honestly 1 tsp seemed too much, even though I do try to stay true to the spirit of the recipe. I should’ve reduced it further, and the cinnamon too. This wasn’t really “mocha-cream”. It was “cinnamon-mocha”. Although I have to say, it did seem quite 1970s. Lots of cinnamon and clove in a recipe that should be about the mocha flavours instead.

Things it would have been nice to know: how much water is actually required to make the pastry? (“add enough cold water to form a stiff dough”… turns out 3 squirts from the tap wasn’t enough, but 4 squirts was too much. Ha.) How long must you stir for until it is ‘thickened’? (I went for 3o minutes. Maybe I should’ve gone for more? Maybe it would’ve been less gluey? Or less cooking time = less glue?) How long should I chill it for until this magical ‘firm’ stage? (I must admit, the texture was sliiightly less gluey the following day after overnight refrigeration. But by then the damage had been done, and no more was consumed.)

At least this recipe specified a pie dish size & how thin to roll out the pastry…. small wins. Very small ones.

Verdict: never again.

life

Loving & loathing for October

October 3, 2015
Calendar for October 2015 and flowers in a vase

The 2015 edition…

IN

A blast of hot spring weather. This is a good way to start the warmer months! Even though I do think that, on the whole, October is the worst month in Melbourne. Pollen. Wind. Not a good combination.

Finishing my book. This is it! The last month to write on Rukan if I want to reach my goal of finishing it in October. Must. Keep. Plodding. On. (I have lost all will for it, btw. Good times.)

Getting old & decrepit. Another October, another birthday.

rose gold sandals from target
These cute sandals from Target
 Only $29! Sweet.

OUT

The lemon tree. I have decided I am not going to take it with us to the new house. With the amount of bug infestations & issues that thing has, it would be like bringing a Trojan Horse with us. The new house deserves a clean slate garden!

writing

The weird stuff I have googled while writing this book

September 25, 2015

So one of the fun things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up. And one of the annoying things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up…! because stuff must be based in realism. I always write with browser windows open on Google, Etymology Online and Thesaurus.com – and I’m constantly checking things.

I kept track of a few of the searches I made while writing Rukan… gives you an idea of what weird & wonderful stuff I have read about!

  • How soon after death should someone be buried (ugh, right?)
  • Climate where forest fires are common
  • Words that end in -mancy
  • How does police corruption typically start
  • Composition of bronze
  • When do linden trees flower
  • Symbols and colours of death
  • How fast do pigeons fly
  • End of summer harvest crops
  • Harvest seasons of ancient Israel
  • How ceramic stoves work
  • Economic sanctions
  • Animal symbols and totems
  • How long do moths live
  • How long does it take to sail Sydney to Auckland (to gauge relative distances between my book’s countries)
  • Climate types
  • Who cleans up a crime scene
  • How do you make yellow laundry soap
  • History of traffic control
  • History of kohl
  • Metals in meteorites
  • Yams (apparently most of the world call a sweet potato a yam…?! what I call a yam is actually an “oca” from South America…)
  • Early mail systems
life

Five things on a Friday

September 18, 2015

Another Friday! Man these things keep on arriving, almost like they’re programmed that way.

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These totally adorable ‘tea dragons’ as featured on io9. I love Lapsang Souchong’s flaming antlers, and Oolong’s mossy mane. And Ginger is soooper cute, can I have one please?

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Just cause, you know, Nancy Sinatra is awesome.

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37 tweets guaranteed to make you laugh every time

Number 12.
And 15.
And 22.
And 24 (haha, that’s so me)
And 29.
And 33! Best Jesus ever.

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Martha Marcy May Marlene is a really awesome movie I watched recently. It’s about a girl who escapes from a cult, and takes refuge with her estranged sister. The way the movie slowly layers together clips from her past in the cult, with the current scenes of living with her sister, builds this great dramatic tension. You realise just why she was so terrified early on. You see what they did to her, how they drew her in. You wonder just how damaged she is – what is she imagining, what is now real? She is somewhat of an unreliable narrator in the current scenes. You see her sister suddenly realise something isn’t right with her. You see her sister struggle with how to help her. Highly recommended.

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DAMN YOU STEVE. A very excellent & amusing video on blame. If you have ever dropped something & immediately blamed someone else for your unfortunate accident, give this a watch.