(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Obligatory End of Year Reflections...

To my Dear Readers,

I hope you all had a fulfilling Christmas holiday. I also hope that you achieved at least some of the at least some of your wishes and projects for 2013. I hope all of you the best for 2014 and wish you all peace within yourself, the courage to try something new and the confidence to keep doing your best.

This year has been a big one for my writing. Most importantly, I have stopped talking about my manuscript/novel and finally started writing it!

So now for the obligatory reflection on 2013. I realised that I have achieved a lot this year:
  • started writing again
  • completed 20 (mostly speculative fiction) short stories (over 9 months) – my favourites were Day of the Dirigible, The Feline Principle and Mum’s Theory on Cats.
  • sent 15  short stories into competitions (still waiting on announcements for 5 of them
  • got short listed on An Eye for Detail
  • got up the nerve to visit a writing group
  • joined a different (newly formed) speculative Fiction writing group (called Spec Fic Chic).
  • set up webpage for Spec Fic Chic
  • started a fantasy novel (chapter 1, some history and basic plot completed)
  • put fantasy novel on hold as got sidetracked by
  • started a steampunk novel manuscript. Am very enthused.
  • Completed 2 chapters and am starting a 3rd on said steampunk manuscript. I am determined to finish before the end of 2014.
  • attended my very first writing conference – well part of one – Salisbury Writers Festival, where I caught up with some friends I have not seen for years! (also attended part of one in Gawler). I am saving up to attend one next year.
  • joined SA Writers Centre  (katdb)
  • joined Australian Writer’s Marketplace (AWM)
  • regularly attended AWM’s writing races. The next one is on 15th January.
  • created pages for my writing  on Facebook- Karen Carlisle Creations and Twitter- (@kjcarlisle)  to communicate with readers and other authors.
  • relaunched my blog Off the Artboard – for my writing, art and photography (with a little costuming thrown in)
  • created a website – Karen Carlisle/Off the Artboard  dedicated to my writing, art and photography. This is where the blog now originates and mirrored on the blog site.
  • reglularly writing on blog
  • joined Redbubble (katdb), Zazzle (katdb42) and flirted with Cafe press
  • put up tshirt, art and calenders for sale on Redbubble
  • Put up art for sale on my website
  • Created ‘Octoarm’ jewelry and bookmarks – available for sale!
  • created a range of mugs available at Zazzle (The Question is only available off my website/ Rare Notion/ in person)
  • planted a new vegetable garden
  • got back in to my photography
  • was commissioned to do a ‘Stargate’ photoshoot and photoshoot at ‘Parish Hill Wines.’
    CC13SG1 (1) ParishHillWines1

  • was commissioned (and sold) a logo for Bullina China Shop
  • was commissioned for artwork for a book on period fencing (now awaiting publication)
  • VictoriaOtto2
  • costumes: Victoria and Otto (Brian Kessinger’s creation), Donna Noble (Doctor Who), Minerva Mayflower (Hudson Hawk),
  • tidied a 2 foot pile off my desk and cleared it for use.
  • lots of internet research
  • returned to work after 5 months leave and sorting out work-related stress.
  • tried to learn how to use an overlocker!
For all of the above, I just can’t wait for 2013 to end. It has been a physical and emotional rollercoaster ride for me. I am hoping 2014 is more of an even ride.  I can do without unexpected journeys right now.

My biggest goal for the upcoming year is to finish my manuscript and then tackle the in and outs of learning (and hopefully experiencing) the process of submitting it. It is a long road but I have to start it some time.

Now that will be an adventure.

Obligatory End of Year Reflections...

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Posted from my phone. Can I cope.with this technology?

We shall see


Revision Marathon - ending the year with a bang.

After more than a week of procrastination, I decided enough was enough.  Thursday was ‘editing day’. Chapter 2 was not going to defeat me. Nothing would get in my way!

Everyone has a different process for writing. At the moment, this is what works for me:
  • finishing a chapter (first) draft,
  • self-editing for obvious holes/ spelling/ grammar,
  • having it proof-read (with suggestions/ critique) and
  • then tackling another edit  - to fill out plot holes/ characters/ not-so-obvious mistakes. This also allows me to write down important points/ threads to be followed up on and gives me added ideas for following chapters.
I am itching to get onto chapter 3 but was determined to finish off edits on the 2nd chapter before jumping into the next installment of the characters’ story. However, I did have some points that needed sorting out in this chapter before moving on, including some important family history (not necessarily on the page as yet) for our heroine, which defines her major motive. Rather important stuff really.

The edits have also included some additional writing. I needed more oomph in my characters. ‘Ramp up the sexual tension’, it was suggested. After all the Victorians may have seemed prudish in public, constrained by etiquette, but they still had the same desires… (I am still not entirely sure if the two main characters will actually hit it off, let alone give into any desires. Flirtations may happen but this is not chick lit or erotica)

Another snippet from chapter 2:
The sunlight, from the window behind him, danced across the surface of his tea as he lifted the cup to his lips. Was that a glint in his eye or merely the reflected morning sun?”(copyrighted Karen Carlisle 2013)

I now have some conflict between major characters and some (hopefully) tantalising clues to expand upon later. Chapter 2 is now running around 3100 words, with only two scenes done and three to go. (two small and one major). Total writing/editing time yesterday: 8.5 hours. I dragged myself off to bed after midnight and woke, feeling like I have a hangover. Today I am rewarding myself with a large cup of tea and then we are off  to view The Hobbit for the first time.

mug carry on 2

Argh! That moment when I realise that I just have to write a short story relating the major events leading to the heroines motive…
and then when I realise that when  I finish the entire story’s manuscript, I will have to do the editing thing all over again!

The bang? Hmmm…. I have plans for chapter 3. Let me just say that there will be this demolition expert….

Editing Marathon - ending the year with a bang.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day Lethargy

All week I have been using the  ’It is almost Christmas. I deserve a break‘ excuse for my procrastination. No editing has been done.  Now it is the Boxing Day public holiday here. I slept in. A lot. I was planning on writing this last night. It did not happen. My brain was too foggy and the apathy, of too much good food, had taken over.

I feel like I have been floundering for words – any words – for my manuscript or this blog. My brain is still on holiday while I am trying to sort through an enormous bowl of spaghetti that just keeps slipping though my gasp, only to entangle itself again.

With my caffeine levels bottomed out, I am trying out my new mug (a gift from my dear husband). There is also chocolate cake and dark chocolate-coated cocoa beans, courtesy of Haighs. tea octopus

I should be getting back to editing… but today is Boxing Day. I am off to visit some friends… Maybe tomorrow.

Boxing Day Lethargy

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And now for our Christmas Viewing...

The ad blared: “Welcome to Christmas television entertainment.” 

This is really the silly season. I finally get some time to sit down to catch up on our favourite television shows, grab the remote and sit dumbfounded in front of the idiot box and begin to realise why it is called that. All of my shows have gone on ‘hiatus’ (one of the annoying realities of having shows fast tracked from the US/UK.) It took me a few days to find where Bones had wandered off to. Quite by accident, I found it loitering around another day and a new time. If I had not chanced on a station ad, I would not have known. I wonder it will be repeats. I must be an idiot to hope otherwise. At least I can rely on my books, as I can schedule them as I please.

Castle has disappeared from the airwaves altogether. It usually it televised after Bones. Nope – nowhere on the show listings. Doctor Who has been all timey whimey (not in a good way) with the split seasons then, after finally resembling something like the traditional series timing we expect in Australia, we now have to wait for the Christmas special. Argh, Withdrawl symptoms! Only three sleeps to go. Phew.

I have been enjoying Sleepy Hollow; yet again I have to learn to wait patiently through the US hiatus. Ditto for Big Bang Theory – though channel 9 can never schedule it at the same time on any given night or even the same night on different weeks. It is a bit like playing roulette. I think I will just wait for the DVD, as it gets very time consuming to troll through every night’s scheduling to find a new episode.

Thank goodness for Aunty (ABC) who have been playing new Miss Marple and Miss Fischer Mysteries. Sad news there are rumours that there could be problems with financing a new season (and possibly ABC itself). This is disappointing, as it is one of the few locally made shows that are not reality tv or soapies. The ABC have been doing us proud for quality tv.

Save the ABC!

In view of the lacklustre performance of the television stations, I have been slowly stockpiling ‘Christmas movies’ for our Christmas holiday viewing. There are the classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, more recent movies such as Love Actually, The Holiday and Hogfather. (Well, anything with a set during Christmas or with a vaguely Christmassy theme makes the list.) Maybe Die Hard may even get a look in. Almost every television series has a Christmas episode. So far I have found some for Black Adder, Buffy and Poirot. 

Of course this is yet another way to procrastinate and avoid finishing those edits that I should be doing. Maybe I should use the lack of quality tv to force ahead. I will let you know how I fared, later this week.

Until then relax, find something to keep you content and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Lights of Lobethal.

Here in South Australia we have a few Christmas traditions:

  • the Christmas pagent – a parade with floats held in November, which brings Santa to town
  • The Magic Cave –  This was hosted by a city store, a place to take photos with Santa (see Christmas parade), a cave full of Christmas winter delights and choc-a-block with toys. This was originally in John Martins. When they closed David Jones took over the tradition.
  • Brewery Christmas Lights – West End Brewery sets up Christmas lights along the river that runs passed them.
  • Lobethal Christmas Lights – it seems that most of Adelaide drives (or walks) through the streets of this small town in the Adelaide Hills. There are food stalls and, this year, there was a ‘live nativity’ with singing.
  • There are many Christmas lights displays : here is a map
Why do I love Christmas light displays?
They bring the community together. They give a sense of wonder and joy. They shine a light in the darkness when all other lights could be going out. (rejigged quote intended.) This is not just felt by those who come, from miles around, to view the displays – but also for those who create them. Each year, we do a mini Christmas light display on our house. Being a good greenie, we only use solar lights. I love it when we get cars slowing down outside, to check out the lights.
This year we went to see the Lobethal lights. It is a 40 minute trip to get there. We snake in and out of the streets which are filled with children, grown ups. They crowd to see the live singing. It has a wonderful, warm fuzzy feeling of togetherness.  (they even put on bus tours to the lights – see photo)

IMG_5066 IMG_5054

IMG_5090 IMG_5085

1517817_10152084158547937_661211500_n  IMG_5109

I love Christmas – not for the farcical ‘spending holidays’ (I actually saw a sign on the local shopping centre wishing everyone a ‘Happy Spending Season’. Ugh!) it has become but for what it CAN and should be – a season of joy, thankfulness, caring and giving. I believe in the real meaning of Christmas – a great gift found in a manger. This is not for everyone. That is okay.  I just hope that more people would take the time to think of others and get a taste of that wonderful sense of hope, love and belonging. It is a time of giving – not just presents – but of ourselves, to make someone’ s life (including our’s) just that bit brighter. That is my Christmas wish to you all.

Be at Peace.

The Lights of Lobethal.

Friday, December 20, 2013

We got heat here!

For the past few days I have had an earworm – not a song but a quote, from the movie Fifth Element (complete with the accent):
“Some heat over here, man!”

Not that we need it, but that we really do have some. Does anyone want it? By 9.00am, it was already 30 degrees (Celcius). Last night the news proclaimed that it was the hottest December day in 82 years! Ick. We are in for a hot night and more heat tomorrow.  The mercury pushed 43 degrees by mid afternoon. I was wilting.

Thank goodness the power did not fail. There was a production line in our wee kitchen – with the novelty ice cube trays being filled as fast as we could empty them. (Brains, Han Solo, star trek and skull and cross bones.) Today was the first day, since last summer, that we had the air conditioner running.

It is currently 10.52 pm and the outside temperature is still 32 degrees! About 10 minutes ago, we realised that the air conditioner filters, in the bedroom, have not been cleaned since last summer. Oh, dear. I wonder how long they will take to dry. I really don’t want to have another sleepless night. It plays havoc with my writing.

Somehow, I did manage to write for my allotted four hours. Any writing is better than none. Only a good night’s sleep and clear head will tell me if I will have to do it all over again.  Rewrites can be frustrating at the best of times.

Here’s paragraph from chapter 2, to give you a taste of what I am working on :
“The smell of smoked kippers greeted Tillie as she entered the dining room. The buffet boasted a full range of delights, many of which were her favourites: bacon, fried mushrooms, eggs, toast and jam. Kippers were not high on her list.”
(copyrighted Karen Carlisle)

tea pink
Art/Photography: There is always time for tea, even in this heat.

Costume: I really should be making some new summer clothes…

Reading/Writing: Chapter 2 edits.

We got heat here!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sentences and Segues.

This week I have been trying to fight procrastination and face edits and rewrites for Chapter 2 of my steampunk manuscript. Though the edit/rewrite stage is frustrating, and mind-wringing on occasion, it is necessary to polishing the final story. While not my favourite part of the writing process, it does bring a fantastic feeling of accomplishment when it is done and at a ‘ready to be read’ stage. (I have a couple of trustee proof readers who give me great feedback.) Until then, I continue to forge ahead, trying to improve on the first draft (or the vomit phase).

First there is editing. Sometimes it is akin to pulling teeth – without anaesthetic.  During this year I have gradually found it less painful to cull words, phrases or sentences. (Though I still sometimes regress into a indecisive mess. ) Sometimes I get too attached to a phrase or sentence (or I just like the way it sounds). Even though I adore it, it may not fit the story line or the character –  or just does not make sense.  Sigh.

Intellectually, I know that I should probably not get too attached to my first drafts but must steel myself to making that editorial cut.  Ah, but I have a cheat!

I have One box to hoard them all, and in my weakness, find them. Well, actually it is two A4 sized cardboard boxes of a lovely lilac shade. I have a plethora of handwritten notes, excerpts and ideas filed away for future revisitations.

For writing in electronic form, I have a file marked ‘Ideas and Inspirations’. I also make use of the snapshot feature of my Scrivener programme – ensuring that I have a retrievable copy of my first (and following) drafts… just in case.

Rewrites are still a learning process. I am learning about points of view, restructuring of sentences and improving the sentence order for segues.  I am also learning that economy of words does not equate to holding back on information. I am allowed to make things more obvious, slow down the pace and elaborate more on the character, in a more Victorian writing style. (which I took as a compliment as I prefer this style for my steampunk!) Not quite permission to waffle though.

I should really go and do some more rewriting… Maybe after another cup of tea?

Sentences and Segues.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beginnings and Endings

2014 Steampunk/Garden Calenders & Mini Gallery Update.

caf,294x416,2014,U1RFQU1QVU5LIDIwMTQgYnkgS2FyZW4gQ2FybGlzbGU=.2u3caf,294x416,2014,SW4gdGhlIEdhcmRlbg==.2u3And now for something new for 2014!

If you are still looking for something to buy for Christmas – why not buy something useful. It will be with you for the entire year! I have created a Steampunk Calender for 2014, full of my original photography.

If Steampunk is not your cup of tea, I also have a new calender of orginal photos of my garden during 2013 – In the Garden. Just pop over to Red Bubble and take a look!

With beginnings, there are also endings.
Unfortunately Bullina China Shop is ceasing trade on Christmas Eve. These are tough times we live in. For the past year, I have had various photographic works showing in a mini-gallery there. I thank Skye for her support and enthusiasm for my work.

gallery2Bullina china shop

If you live in Adelaide, pop in for some great deals on china wear and crystal – at North Park Shopping Centre. (I have got a lot of my tea cups there.)

Copies of most of the photographs are available at my Red Bubble Store. Some are limited prints available from the artist (that is me!) only. Details can be found at my website.

Beginnings and Endings

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Unlucky for Some.

Friday 13th. Unlucky for some, not for me. I had read (and observed) so many anecdotes about so called Black Fridays and the horrible things that could possibly befall me or my friends. I have read dissertations that blame the day’s misfortunes on self-fulfilling prophesies. You think you will have bad things happen today therefore they happen. As a result,  many years ago I adopted ’13′ as my lucky number. Yes, I chose it.  On purpose. Ever since, I have had exceptionally brilliant and joyous days on Friday the 13th. Today is Friday the 13th and it will be a wonderful day!

Today I woke to glorious sunshine, a deliciously cool breeze and the birds singing outside my window.  I was excited. It was writers’ group week again. Due to Christmas festivities, we were meeting a week early. Bonus! I look forward to the meetings; it has been too long since the last one.

This month, I offered the second chapter of my book for consideration and critique. It was gratifying to be told that the story is engaging and there are some points that are loved. (So the tale is not a waste of my time. Phew!)

selfie dec13I still have a long way to go with character development and motives but I now have a list of notes to consider then rewrite chapter 2. This has got my quite enthused for writing chapter 3, which has been lagging the past two weeks due to either procrastination or writers’ block.

I can’t wait til next month. I love these gals! I get so much feedback and constructive help. I feel like a learner – that I should wear a great big yellow sign emblazoned with a capital ‘L’.

Oh, and another reason for today being a wonderful day? My husband had a job interview and made it to the ‘second round’ … wish him luck!

Unlucky for Some.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Welcome to my Migraine - Free Writing Exercise.

More Free Writing exercises: 10 minutes.
Subject: How I feel  (just as I start having a migraine).
Twist: write in present tense (not my favourite)

In the depths of my stomach, something stirs.  At first a constant throbbing, then the feeling of weightlessness; my internal organs defy gravity, slowly turn in space then fall with a decisive jolt. All the while I resist the urge to relieve it of its contents.

My ears decide that they want to participate. Any slight movement results in the inner ear canal swishing. I hear a rush of fluid then the nausea returns –  a wave slowly encompassing my entire body.

Not to be outdone, my tongue conspires to betray me – my favourite food takes on the most peculiar of tastes. Strange phantom smells parade through my consciousness. My husband is slowly getting more frustrated as I ask him, yet again, to check for smoke, ‘that strange rubber smell’ or dead ‘somethings’.

Rounding off the senses, are vision and touch. They all clamour to be part of a discordant symphony. Light is now painful and the all too familiar (but beautiful) electric blue spots invade my peripheral vision. With it comes a most excruciating headache. This is an not unfamiliar migraine. The pain cuts into my head, accompanied by swollen sinuses, both working in unison to try to split my head open – ever so slowly. (at least that would relieve the pressure!)

Fortunately touch is less effected by this onslaught of hay-wired senses.  My tongue, now feeling thick and clumsy, finds everything difficult to pronounce. My brain searches for the appropriate word, and fails. Tea is either too hot or too cold, even when it is just right.

If I lean too heavily on my forearms, my tendons complain and the muscles ache.  My fingers still can feels and they, at least, will respond to my commands to write – as long as it does not involve changing posture.

Welcome to my migraine.

aliens giftArt/Photography: Made some jewelry for a friend. (similar set available for sale on request. $30 + postage)
Doctor Who

Costume: Preview pics from the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special and an interesting costume.

Reading/Writing: currently trying to stave off procrastination and finish Chapter 3.

Welcome to my Migraine - Free Writing Exercise.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lamentations and Reflections

I have given it a few days to sink in. Nelson Mandela died. I cried.

Almost daily we hear of the passing of personalities or influential people. In these days of social media the news spreads fast. When I hear a familiar name, I get sad. Sometimes I am shocked. I don’t always cry. This time I did.

As a child of 70s and 80s, I remember first hearing about South Africa when the protests and boycotts involving the cricket and rugby. I was in primary school and did not really understand what the fuss was all about. All I knew was that the news was full of pictures of what I thought were armies of police at sports events.

I remember in 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Only the year before the Berlin Wall had been torn down. These were miraculous things that I thought I would never see in my lifetime. They changed the way we think. They changed the world. They gave me hope in my fellow human beings.

That is the big picture. Look more closely and it is the changes, at a personal level, that are even more inspiring. History (if it is not rewritten) documents that Nelson Mandela went to prison, convicted for treason.  In his fight to stop anti-apartheid, he felt he had to use armed resistance.

During his time in prison, this man learnt to forgive. He learned peace. We have heard the stories of him teaching both fellow prisoners and his prison guards, to read. We have witnessed his work for a united South Africa. For me, the most inspiring part of his life was the fact that this man chose peace over violence, love over hate. As a result he made so much more of a profound statement. He did not only bring a country and its divided peoples together, he allowed this message to reach the entire world.

When we remember Nelson Mandela, let us not gloss over his past. Let it not be expunged from history. Let it serve as an example of how any person can change their attitude towards their fellow humans. Let him be our example. Let us attempt the same metamorphosis. Then the world would be a better place.

Lamentations and Reflections

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Costume Capers - The Mayflowers

HHMFLast night we attended a friend’s birthday party. The theme was the ’90s’. I had so many ideas but no time or spare money to do it justice. My Babylon 5 costumes no longer fit so I looked through the cupboards to find what materials I had.  Lots of purple linen. Hmmm… an excuse to make a fun costume. I just needed some bits for the hat.

I did not have time to recreate the desired costume accurately, so I decided to cheat. I used a retro pattern 1609 by Simplicity – actually a 60s dress but had the correct shape for the basic dress. I adjusted the neckline to echo the ‘V’ in the orginal movie costume. I will be able to wear  the dress again. (that is the cheat).

HHMF earringsHHMFdress1Earrings: tacky gold and large. I used some 1990s plastic buttons (3cm diameter) and hotglued them to an earring base.

Creative Milinery: All I needed to purchase was some wire and some plastic tubing (as a cheat as I did not have time to do major gluing or sewing of ribbon around the wire). Saved, yet again, by my trusty hot glue gun! (more waxing lyrical In Praise of the Hot Glue Gun.)


In the flesh:  ”Bunny, ball ball.” Hello Darwin and Minerva Mayflower! (in 30 deg C!)
HHMFDarwin and Minerva

(thanks to Emmanuel Photakis for the final photo)

Costume Capers - The Mayflowers

Friday, December 6, 2013

Of Rewrites, Research and Demises.

As mentioned last week (On Writing, Tea and Aching Fingers), I have finished the draft and first rewrite of chapter 2.  A copy has now gone off to my fellow writers in my writers’ group. I have already had some feedback and am now eagerly awaiting more comments and suggestions and have already started final (hopefully) rewrites. 

This week’s plan was to sort out the plot order for chapter 3 and I was planning on starting the rough draft of chapter 3 yesterday. Notice the - was?  Indecision, procrastination and last minute inspiration all colluded to prevent me from these specific plans.

Where should I place a Secret Headquarters? I kept moving it around on the map, not happy with any of the potential addresses. (No doubt I will suffer the same fate for the next HQ.) I grabbed my Boots Poverty map of the 1880s, logged onto Google Maps and a hot cup of tea then prepared to make a final decision so that I could start writing. The ‘research’ lasted all day.

For me, knowing where everything happens is essential. It effects what and how I write. Now that I have a specific setting (and back up settings), I can coherently describe the area, the building and be consistent with travel times and directions. I also know which way our heroes have to flee to avoid (boom, boom, boom) certain death. (sorry to those who are not Labyrinth fans.)

Then there was ‘the procrastination’.  Avoidance will not get my manuscript draft written. Bad Karen!  In my defense I did tinker with the plot outline, arranging it in a more satisfactory order, slot in some hints/clues for a later plot points and devices and came up with some cool steampunky gadgets to play with – all last minute inspirations.

Now I face one of my most difficult decisions; part of the plot requires a certain level of destruction. With destruction, comes the possible demise of some characters. Some authors seem to relish killing off characters, whether they be beloved main character, sidekicks or members of the unnamed citizenry that populate their literary worlds. I am currently wrestling with this issue, as this will provide further conflict and further the plot… but then…


Of Rewrites, Research and Demises.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Donna Noble is Saved!

For months ‘Donna’ has been hiding in the cupboard, waiting to be allowed to come out and play. Twice there was been excitement in the air.

First there was Oz Comic Con in March this year. The outfit was complete bar a wig. I had searched for months and finally fund one, on the internet, in my allotted budget range. It was ordered, with over a month to spare. Then I played the waiting game. I should have known better. A word of advice: never rely on a quoted postage time when an item is required for a specific date. It arrived one week late.

Costume plans were hurriedly reassessed and backup costumes were chosen- my Hobbittess and Tia Dalma. Donna remained in the closet.

Now that I finally had a wig, I excitedly planned Donna Noble’s debut for Supanova, last month. One week til ‘showtime’ and I cracked open the costume cupboard to check all was in order. Everything was accounted for. My jeans and blouse had been washed and were almost dry. Accessories: shoes, belt, wig, squishy adipose stress toy and earrings. Tick!

To my utter dismay, I had to forego attending the convention as I was ill with bronchitis. Again Donna was relegated to obscurity and denied attending ‘the ball’ (as it were).

Now, at this point, I was seriously wondering if Donna Noble  was destined to become one of ‘those costumes’ – the ones that doomed to oblivion. I decided to give Donna another chance to come to the party.

donna noble 1Last weekend was the Australian Costumers’ Guild Quiz night. It is our Guild’s annual fundraiser. Everyday my bronchitis improved (though more slowly than I had hoped.) Saturday came and armed with my squishy adipose toy, my camera and my hubby, finally Donna was allowed to shine!

Bonus! Our team came second.


Donna Noble is Saved!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Impromptu Photo Shoot

I am having a ball with my new phone. It has a 20.9M camera! I used to get so frustrated with my old camera.  Often I would find myself thinking That would make a great photo, only to get annoyed that I did not have my SLR with me. I took photos with my old phone (dropped one too many times) with unsatisfactory results. My husband was getting a little annoyed that I kept asking to borrow his phone.

We went to the local shops today and, as usual, I found some ‘art in life’ that I wanted to record. There is a wonderful and beautiful world out there, just ready to discover, if only we would take the time.

my favourite:
The local Haighs chocolate store (locally made chocolate) are readying for Christmas:
haighs1311 haighs1311F

1311GG    tish201320yr
Finally – on the way home and my beautiful old Devon Rex – she is now 20 years old.

Impromptu Photo Shoot

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Of Writing, Tea and Aching Fingers

These past few weeks have been both exhausting and exciting. Once I had recovered enough to drag myself out of bed, I tried to get some long awaiting chores done around the house. This was a fruitless exercise. Even going into the garden and pulling out a few carrots was utterly exhausting.

So I sat on the sofa and let my mind wander. I had been researching background for an idea for a steampunk story , then managed to write about 2000 words towards what I thought would be the second chapter; the first being based on a short story I had written a few months ago. After this month’s writers’ group meeting, I had a bucket-load of new ideas. Chapter 2 was no longer chapter 2 but will probably be closer to chapter 4 or 5.

The new chapter 2 is now on it’s second re-write of about 3500 words. Things are finally starting to fall in place. Who would have thought it would take a illness-addled brain to deliver the key for everything to fall into place.
So far I have:
  • Chapter 1: Of rivals, surprises and escapes. – approx 2500 – requires final rewrite and some possible additions (according to updated storyline)
  • Chapter 2: Of silks, kippers and secrets. -  3500 words – in rewrites
  • Chapter 3: The Inventor, The Department and Curiosities. – plan in progress
  • Chapter 4?:  Of trains, dirigibles and steamships. -2100 words so far (incomplete)
Summary: Ecstatic about a 8000 word count so far. Fingers feel like they will drop off. Drowning in cups of tea. Love my chiropractor!

Portrait me by David Carlisle 1310 BWArt/Photography Bits: It was suggested I get some recent portrait shots of myself. This is an ‘arty’ one.
Costume Bits: Tomorrow night I am trying to let Donna Noble to come out and play after the Supanova fail.
immersion book of steampunk
Writing Bits: What I am reading: The Immersion Book of Steampunk (paperback anthology) Editors: Gareth D Jones & Carmelo Rafala.

Of Writing, Tea and Aching Fingers

Thursday, November 28, 2013

How to Sew on a Button

My daughter presented me with her school uniform a few days ago (when I was mimicking a snot factory). One of the front buttons had fallen off.
“Wonderful,” says I. “Now you can learn how to sew it on."
“No,” she replies. “I have to do my homework.”

This is one of her standard ‘Get of Jail Free’ answers. She knows that I consider homework a number one priority task.  Trying to stifle yet another gurgley cough, I look at her with watery eyes and utter every mother’s back up plan:
“Go ask your father.”

I am not entirely sure of the actual conversation but it seems like he may have muttered something about not knowing how to sew on a button. Hmmm. I remember talking him through the process of sewing on a button. (I think I had a bandaged hand at the time.) Mind you this was a few years ago. 

Two days ago (when I was still perfecting a cough that sounded awfully like an old car, with an almost flat battery, trying to chug over to start), my husband presented me with the uniform. The intent was to convince me to sew on the button.
“It’s not hard,” I coughed through gritted teeth. “I’ll show you.”
He went off muttering, uniform in hand.

Today I sat down to write my blog and I noticed the school uniform, over the back of the chair beside me, button still unattached. It is a simple task often gender stereotyped as ‘mum’s job‘.  I know that I can do it. I know that I have shown both my daughter (and if I had a son he would have been taught also) and husband how to do it. There is a drawer full of needles and threads all perfectly adequate for such a project.

Now I realise that this is not just a button like a box of chocolates is not just a box of chocolates. It is a symbol of independence.

Who will sew on the button?

Not me. I have survived adolescence, survived university and my career to become an independent woman. I do not need to prove my independence. My husband? He is definitely asserting his independence in not wanting to sew on the button. (Though I may have suggested that he prove that he could actually perform the task.)

This brings me to the first encounter with this particular button and its lack of permanent residence. I consider part of my  responsibility as a good mother is to teach my child to be independent. This will provide her with a strong position to survive and thrive in life. It is also part of my responsibility to teach her that gender roles are not fixed.

This leaves me with two options, if I am to perform my motherly duties:
  1. Homework or no homework, my daughter will have to sew on her own button.
  2. My dearest husband will have to perform his fatherly duties and re-enforce the non-gender biasing task of button closure restoration.
Now that I have exercised my responsibility of preparing the next generation, I am off for a cup of tea.

How to Sew on a Button

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More on a Steampunk Manuscript .

It has been a productive week on the manuscript-work-in-progress front.  I have managed to put pen to paper on most days with 2100 words down – not as many words as I would have like but anything is better than nothing. In Steampunk Novel Work in progress, I admitted that I had not started at the first chapter but at the second (?) chapter when our intrepid heroes arrive in a new land, courtesy of a state-of-the-art dirigible.

Here I paused. This is one problem with what I call the ‘vomit‘ of writing. Write it all down for a first draft. Fix it later. I know where my characters are going, just not always exactly how they will get there. It is akin to a stream of consciousness – but to a vague planned outline.  Some writers prefer a detailed plot, detailing everything chapter by chapter. I have tried detailed plotting . I failed. That is not to say that I don’t plan things out.  I just can’t fill in all the blanks at the early stage. (This also means more work later with editing. It is the way my brain works.)

My ideas start with a premise – what if? (This usually involves an alternate history) Then the background story arc reveals itself – the big picture. Next comes the characters – for now I have a Victorian woman, with a mysterious background (don’t they all?) and an ace up her sleeve, and a Professor who is part of a secret society and his own agenda. Queen Victoria plays her part, engineering several plot points. I had vague ideas of motivation and backgrounds but it was all still a little airy-fairy as to how it would all come together.

That is where bouncing ideas off others is a very useful tool.  Perfect timing – a meeting of my speculative fiction writers’ group – Spec Fic Chic. I discussed the basics of my plot and character ideas so far. After a few hours of constructive conversation, I had solidified the motivations for many of the characters, sorted out a few loose ends and cemented some facts that will effect the story. Such are the wonders and usefulness of a writers group.

Armed with renewed confidence and purpose, I sat down to write this morning. I had an idea burning in my brain. It needed to get out! So I changed gears, went further forward in the story timeline. 1400 words later, the main characters have now completed their audience with Her Majesty and some character history has been revealed.

Total so far: 3500 words and a working title (spoilers!). Lots of ideas and a lot of enthusiasm. Now I just have to keep up the momentum.

More on a Steampunk Manuscript .

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Doctor. My Hero. My Hope.

Today is a special day.

Forty-four years ago, I started watching a television show that had began two years before I was born. I don’t remember the early days very well. I used to have occasional nightmares of large toy robot following me around an infinite black room. It was twenty years before I fully understood its significance; it was not just a dream but a memory. That memory had a name: The Celestial Toymaker. The show – Doctor Who.

The first Doctor I would call my Doctor (there was more than one) had curly hair and a passion for jelly babies. He bumbled around the universe, always with a companion. I remember desperately wanting to be one of those companions. I devoured any Doctor Who book I could find (I still have a collection of over forty of them from the 80s). Then he regenerated.

A younger Doctor.  I was not sure if we would like him. I did. It didn’t take long. (I remember waiting for hours, with one of my school friends, to met Peter Davidson one of his trips to Brisbane, during his era). I didn’t notice the cheap sets and ‘man-in-a-suit’ monsters. The stories made up for it. Other science fiction shows came and went. I lamented the loss of Blake’s 7. Still, the Doctor prevailed. My hero, always there to save the world (or universe).

enlightenmentAnother Doctor (who personally I am in denial over) and then came one of my all time favourite Doctors – Sylvester McCoy. A clown on the surface but someone you really wanted on your side and not as a foe. Stories got interesting with hints of his own history and who he may be. Just as I realised how much I would love to write for Doctor Who, it was cancelled.  Years of longing and despair ensued.

For years I pined for my Doctors. I drew fan art, signed petitions, wrote letters and many a fan fiction. Finally it returned to ours screens – first as a movie (a bit too ‘car chasey’ for me) and then as the new series.

Again,  a Doctor that was not my cup of tea, then two more favourites. Today, we find out there was one we never knew about. Very soon we will have a new Doctor, bringing with him new beginnings and adventures.

And that is what Doctor Who is really all about. Whether I call him a madman in a box, John Smith, The Doctor, The President or The Watcher – whether or not he is actually The Valeyard, is or isn’t related to Rassilon – whether I loved his current incarnation or hated it – that did not matter. In the end it never does. The Doctor is the Doctor.

Though he is an alien with two hearts, in essence he is the epitome of Englishness, the Wartime spirit; when things get rough, stiff upper lip and just do the job. When faced with the destruction of the universe, he rallies to save our pitiful lives. He becomes the War Doctor, willing to sacrifice himself for others.  Even when he feels he has lost everything and everyone he loves, he cannot deny the call to help others. He is the hero.

No matter how many times he regenerates. No matter if he is charming or annoying, I will keep watching Doctor Who. When I watch it, I live adventures. I am inspired.  I have hope. In a world of negativity, of greed and selfishness, the Doctor is one of my guiding lights. He is my hero.

Maybe that is the ‘secret’ of 50 years of the Doctor? I hope I am still here for the 100th anniversary.

Friday, November 22, 2013

More Steampunky goodness

It has been a while since I have grumped about how much I hate doing any digital alterations on my photographic work – mainly because the computer and I definitely do not see eye to eye. It continually tries (and usually succeeds) in frustrating the life out of me! I struggle with photoshopping. This is possibly as I have drawn freehand for most of my life. I find it very awkward using a digital brush of any description.

Christmas is looming a lot faster than I had anticipated and, bronchitis or no, I am trying to finish off a Steampunk calender in time. Hence the photoshop grump. Though the photography (or concept) work is mine, I have been confirming permissions from my models for sale of the photos. I am just waiting on a couple more… This is just polite. Some of the photographs were taken specifically for the calender; others were taken at various of our steampunk events held here in Adelaide.

There is a group of like-minded steampunk and costume enthusiasts. We go under the name of Steampunk SA. You can find the group on Facebook. We have held specific photoshoots at the Botanic Gardens, the Mortlock Wing at the State Library and at the Zoo.

Why do I get permission? I did not specifically commission these photoshoots for my calender. If I had asked them specifically (or paid them as models) to do a shoot for the calender, I would already have their permission in writing. Everyone was a willing model, photos were taken in a public place and I own copyright to the photographs that I took, it is not for publicity but for simple sale. However it is common etiquette to ensure that the models are okay with me using them to be sold. They are my friends. I would prefer that it stays that way.

Just thought that was something I should put out there…

SPcalender1DaveFINALArt, photography Bits: An example of what I am doing at the moment. This is the cover to look out for. The image is currently available at Red bubble as Steampunk Library - as tshirts, hoodies, cards, prints and stickers.

Costume Bits: I have been rearranging my cupboard and have found some material (that I thought I had lost) perfect for more steampunk. Horray.

Writing Bits: another 600 words down on the novel. They have finally arrived!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Finally I have tackled yet another daunting computery challenge. I have finally updated the Off the Board blogspot version of my blog to marry up with design of my website blog and twitter accounts. I have been reading a lot on ‘branding’ (Oh, that sounds so commercial) and ‘platform’ of writers -both emerging and published – to make it easier for my readers to identify me.

I first started with the Blogspot when I decided to take my writing seriously. At first it was to be a project to make me write daily. In almost every bit of advice I could find on writing there was the instruction to write daily. Practice, practice, practice. This was my daily writing practice.

As time went on I grew in confidence and started on my short stories. So far this year I have completed seventeen of them, mostly in the speculative fiction genre. All along the blog kept me going, practicing and giving me the confidence to do the writing and send it out – something that I have been reliably informed is done by less than 5-10% of all writers. So officially I was a writer, not just a wannabe writer.

In my most recent short stories I have returned to steampunk genre, which I am loving more and more; this has now inspired me to write a steampunk novel.

I now have two potential book ideas on the go – one steampunk and one fantasy. In a way it is all thanks to you Dear Reader. You have stuck by me and given me the incentive and the courage to keep going. Thank you. You kept reading!

Regular readers will have noticed some changes already, as I now I am focus more of my daily writing towards a novel. The Blog is still happening – just not as often.

The final change was the altering the look of my blog to match my website and twitter page. Something more me. (it had to be something purple) Now if you look for me elsewhere, I should be easier to spot. I hope you all hang around to see how I am doing! I will still be here.
Be excellent to each other.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Steampunk Novel - Work in Progress

Saturday: day 3 of bronchitis etc. Today I should have been at a work confrence and tomorrow I was to attend Supanova (pop culture con). Instead I am in my fortress of solitude; my husband (Dearheart) is attended the convention (and posted some photos for me) in his Jayne outfit. and our daughter is at Grandma’s (which was organised before I fell ill).  I am home alone.

The coughing fits have been more sporadic, leaving me some time to think with the back door open to hear the birds and drinking a cup of tea. The weather was perfect. Mid twenties (deg C), sunshine, cool breeze. No icky, horrible dustes to screw up my sinuses. We hates nasty dustses we does, don’t we precious. 

adelaide 1880 map printed
This week I have been sorting out maps and doing some fact research. I am still awaiting replies on some nit picky things. I look for pictures of buildings, clothing and other tit bits that I need to envisage things in my head.  That is the way I roll. I get more of a handle on the setting and the characters when I can ‘see’ them in their surroundings and a map to where the characters will be traipsing about.

Armed with my map, I finally started a steampunk novel,. Now I can officially call it a WIP (work in progress). After reading many different recommendations,  I did something very unusual for me – I started at Chapter 2.  Theoretically it means I will have more of a handle on the characters, story and writing voice by the time I write the all important 1st paragraph and fist chapter.

I managed about 700 words (amongst the nanna naps and coughing fits of bronchitis.) I am happy with that number. Now I have 700 less words to write until the first draft is finished.


(Now I have admitted to it here, I will have to keep going!)

Steampunk Novel - Work in Progress

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reluctant Admissions on Social Media

I have often lamented about social media and its apparent effect on declining communication skills, the lack of etiquette and unrealistic expectations of those who follow it slavishly. Studies have shown that too much time on Facebook can be associated with increased depression, (1)(2) –  let alone trying to actually talk to someone who is eagerly texting… sometimes the person sitting right next to them. (seen it firsthand!)

Yet the internet can be an invaluable source of information at our very fingertips (if we don’t believe everything at face value, checking our facts as we were taught in high school or university). I often use its convenience to access online libraries (Just today, I found a pdf of ‘A Yearbook of Surgery 1883′  and contemporary maps – perfect  information for my novel in progress!) and museums. Just the thing when I can’t just nip over to Europe or America to check them out.

I am grumping as I am still stuck at home with bronchitis and laryngitis. I have been forbidden to talk much and instructed to rest.  This is now day 3. The only real faces I have seen is that of my immediate family; I am about to go stir crazy, starved of human interaction… except for the (talk-free) social network on the internet. Today I am glad for technology. I can talk to friends without disregarding my doctor’s advice.

Yesterday and today I was supposed to be at a work conference. I am sure they did not want me sitting in the room, my hacking cough drowning out the speaker and spreading untold nasties to all within a few metres of me. I would have had to get a lift my my Dearheart as much of the medications carry the warning: ‘May cause drowsiness. Do not operate machinery.’ I have been, as I call it, ‘not the responsible adult’. Yet another reason not to show my face in the professional arena. It could be most embarressing.

Tomorrow I had planned to don my Donna Noble costume and wonder at the myriad of costumes that showcase some of the amazing imagination and creativity of humans; instead I will have to live vicariously via photos (on said internet social networking) for the next few days. It is unlikely I will be able to attend Sunday as I have now succumbed to the ‘Attack of the Sneezes’. My Dearheart will be there both days while I am languishing in a cloud of expectorant with a barrage of medications at my beck and call.

I do hope someone posts some photos.

Art/Photography Bit: some fan art I did in 1994. (Babylon 5)

B5 2 MV3 98Costume Bit:  Since I can’t go to the Ball, as it were – here is a flashback to Fan Cons – 1998 Multiverse 3 Melbourne – our Babylon 5 costumes (made by me)

Writing Bit: rewrite of The Guest Upstairs is completed.

1. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/facebook-is-not-such-a-good-thing-for-those-with-low-self-esteem.html

. Gutenberg University Study - https://gupea.ub.gu.se/bitstream/2077/28893/1/gupea_2077_28893_1.pdf

Reluctant Admissions on Social Media

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Silence

Procrastination is my nemesis. It tempts me to put off the cleaning until another day. It distracts me from my writing. It promises fun and intrigue but only causes grief in the end. It holds me back from my potential.

It is not too difficult a task to distract me from Spring cleaning. To make it even less desirable, I know that it has unpleasant consequences for me. I am allergic to dust. I have to wear a mask just to do the dusting. I now get someone else to do it, so I can breathe in my own home. First it settles in the eyes. The rims redden and itch. Allergic exudate (gunkiness) follows and finally, as is my current woe, it makes its way to my sinuses, finally culminating in one or all of the following:
  • sinusitis – the most common
  • laryngitits – annoying and a source of amusement for my family and friends
  • bronchitis – go and lay in bed and stay away from other people. (the legacy of the familial asthma which I was lucky enough to avoid).
Today my procrastinaiton has resulted in dust bunnies the size of, well – bronchitis bringing bunnies – and ALL of the above.

This brings me to Procrastination #2. This one is not entirely of my own making. Time off for stress leave from my Day Job has meant that I have not been able to keep up with conferences. The biggest (and most expensive) one for the year starts tomorrow and concludes on Saturday. I can now kiss the registration fee goodbye.  My doctor laughed when I asked if I would able to attend. From over his metal-rimmed spectacles, he commented that I will be lucky to be better by Sunday. Drat!

Ah, Sunday. Supanova. Most likely, my Donna Noble (Doctor Who) costume will not get out to play now. If I can drag myself out (and am no longer coughing like a six-pack-a-day smoker – I do not smoke), then maybe I should cobble together a costume from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - from the episode Hush – complete with a mini whiteboard saying “When will I get my voice back?”

potcurbsidepaintWith no voice and strict instructions to rest, I can no longer complete the painting (a pot rescued from curbside rubbish)  that I had planned for today – and it is perfect painting weather. At least I can try to kick my writing procrastination in the butt.

This year I have concentrated on writing short stories, mostly in the steampunk/alternative history genre. They have been excellent practice in meeting deadlines and learning to edit.  I have developed a few characters that I have grown to love.  I have created a nefarious secret society, known as the Men in Grey, and secret intelligence and scientific societies to foil them – all in the name of the Empire.

All the while, there has been a steampunk novel bubbling away in my brain. Occasional bursts of inspiration have popped up, only to sink down to continue stewing. The forced silence, of yesterday and today, had me pondering on these ideas. Research ensued. Historical timelines and tit bits were spices added to the bubbling brew. At last an idea has coalesced and percolated to the surface.

I now officially has a steampunk novel as a ‘work in progress’.  I can defeat the Procrastination Beast. If only I can keep it as a WIP and not let it gather dust. ‘Cause now you all know how much I hate dust.

Dust. Bad.

The Silence

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why I Wore a Red Poppy on Remembrance Day.

Yesterday, I proudly wore my red poppy.  It is the symbol of Remembrance Day,  11th November.  At 11.00 am I observed a minute silence. To remember them. Not a war. Not the fighting, but them. The men and women who stood up to serve, not the politics of their country, but their families, their friends and the people. They gave their lives to protect us.

If I had my way, no one  would be sent to fight other human beings.  If I had my way, the families would not have to deal with the loss of a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a father or mother. Ever.  But I don’t have that power.

We cannot deny the fact that it happened (and still happens). We cannot (or should not) rewrite history to please ourselves. We don’t have to like it either. We must learn from it. So I remember.

“At the rising of the sun
and the going down of the same.
We will remember them.”

The poppy serves as a focus for remembering. However it should not be for just one day. For one ceremony nor for just one minute’s silence. We should remember them every day. We should remember that we are all live in this world. Then maybe we could embrace each other and try to understand our differences.

When I wear my red poppy, it is not to glorify war but is in the hope that one day we will not repeat our past mistakes and work out a way to prevent such tragedies. We need to learn to live together on this planet. It is the only one we have.

I wear my poppy; lest I forget.

Why I Wore a Red Poppy on Remembrance Day.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Where Ideas Come From

This week I am doing some research for a short story. At the same time I am waiting for the penny to drop on an idea that is currently flitting around the edges of my subconscious – not wanting to settle quite yet. I find this one of the most frustrating parts of writing – waiting for that eureka moment.  Waiting for that spark of an idea that opens the flood gates to a stream of words. Waiting.

Sometimes it happens that, when researching for a story, I come across a tit bit that sparks off another idea, as happened this week. I was confirming a quote from one of my favourite classic TV shows; a variation of the phrase lodged in my subconscious - And Other Little Green Men. (Actual quote is: ‘and other Martians’.)  I am now working on the first draft of this story.

The serendipity of this (and other story prompts) then led me to scrutinising where my ideas come from . (Funny enough, this then led to writing this post). What has inspired me to write? A lot more things than I had realised; research was just one of them.
    eye unknown inspiration
  1. The easiest is being given a theme: Some competitions supply a theme. Easy. Sometimes I ask my friends to provide one for me.
  2. Daydreaming or dreams also are a source of ideas. I have a small notebook that sits on the bedside table to jot down ideas

  3. Being a very visual person, the most common source of my inspiration are pictures. My poor family have to deal with me suddenly stopping – when driving (actually my hubby is driving and I am in the passenger seat), visiting, even walking along the footpath – to examine something from every angle and take photographs.  I also find pictures on the internet, in magazines or on television. I have an entire (quite massive) folder on my computer which is devoted to pictures that have sparked an errant thought that I want to return to later.)
    The Guest Upstairs was inspired by two photos – a mechanical eyeball and an animatronic.  (sorry, I don’t know the source of the photo – let me know if you recognise it).
  4. A passing comment. I was flicking channels on the idiot box and I heard a conspiracy theorist explaining how the Men in Black have been around for decades. This got me thinking…  And Fashioned in Black was written. Passing comments can also be heard on the radio and in the street.
  5. I love a good title. I love creating an intriguing title for a story. A good title makes a story. (Literally, when it sparks an idea) This is how Day of the Dirigible was born. I just loved the title. Then the perfect pink, frivilous toy dirigible popped into my head.
These are just a few of the top of my head. Anything that creates the germ of an idea that leads to a story is an inspiration. Take a look around, be open to the muse and enjoy the results!

rewriteGuestUpstairs TH
The Guest Upstairs” rewrites: Photo: (c)Karen Carlisle 2013

Where Ideas Come From

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Artwork - Mischief Managed

I have written about one of my recent art commissions for an upcoming book on period fencing – in  Commissioned Art and Book Artwork Commission. Finally it is done. Things have been inked, cleaned and the cover is coloured. I did a little enhancement with the computer to add a third tone and voila!

Ch6 FINAL final cover

Watch this space for more information on the book’s publication.

TURB mine 2nd att
moustachemugArt/Photography: A little bit of fun with a photo taken by my husband (c)David Carlisle 2013

Costume Bit: with hats (left) and historical things, I was reminded of some of the hats and head wear that I have made for historical re-enactment and other costumes. This one is a linen cloth wound into a turban (similar to those popular in Florence very early 1500s). I embroidered the ends with blue silk, in  cross stitch.

Writing: Final rewrite and edit completed for short story: The Day of the Dirigible.

Book Artwork - Mischief Managed

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Flash Fiction, Microfiction and Other Little Green Men.

For much of this year I have been writing short stories and entering competitions –  which has been useful practice. At the same time they have been giving me more confidence in my writing, learning my craft. With each story, I learn something new. Looking back at stories, I can already see changes in my writing over the year.

I have found the challenge of writing to  writing to a deadline. Most competitions will provide a maximum word number; if it is exceeded, they won’t even glance at the story. (My preferred length is 3500 words.) More recently I have discovered the world of flash fiction and microfiction and yet another challenge.

Flash fiction is a brief piece of prose; the term short, short fiction used to be (and is still) used to describe this type of story. While there is no definitive definition of word length for flash fiction, it seems that many agree it is under 1000 words. I have also seen stated word lengths of 600, 700, 800 word count. Then there is microfiction – stories less than 300 or 500 words. (again there are different definitions of word count and a multitude of other descriptives for this story length).

Initially a shorter short story sounds ideal – less character development, less description and less complicated story lines. This is not so. I have managed several flash and micro fiction stories over the past couple of months. With the word limit restrictions to support the more traditional plot structure without becoming a vignette. There has to be economy of words. No floury prose here.  Excellent practice for trying to perfect ruthless editing.

I have just sent off an 800 word flash fiction: At Aunt Enid’s to an anthology competition (and have to wait til January for results). I have just submitted two pieces of microfiction stories to a children’s anthology: Mum’s Theory on Cats and Lost. When I have finished a battle with a plot device and segue then I will have another flash fiction ready for competition.

iris out backArt/Photography: More experimental fun with my phone camera.

CostumeAustralian Costumers’ Guild Quiz Night approaches. I am hoping to wear my Donna outfit… here is a hint


Writing/Reading: Current Work-In-Progress (rewriting) – Flash fiction: The Day of the Derigible. (Steampunk genre)

Other little Green Men? – adapted from the final episode of the  TV series Star Cops (UK): Little Green Men and Other Martians.  

Flash Fiction, Microfiction and Other Little Green Men.