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

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Bane of my Life

There are many things that can make life hard going but there is really only one thing that can totally stop me in my tracks:


Yesterday I had planned to sit down and write… just 300 words, in an effort to finish a flash fiction story that was officially due today. Just one small segue scene. Not much. How hard can that be? Then there were be a quick re-edit of the full story.  No such luck. Early  in the morning I was struck with the bane of life – migraine.

First there is a tightness in the scalp. This grew into a dull, almost numbness, but with a nagging pulling on the ear and eyelid. Eventually the dullness travels down the facial nerve; one side of the face feels like it is icing on a hot cake. By now I am sure my skin is slowly sliding off the bone. The skin feels heavy. Headache and nausea follow, sometimes with visual disturbances. The clincher is the drooping upper eyelid. With this my whole family knew I was pretty much out for the count. Even my young daughter starts walking on egg shells and whispering at this stage.

I did try valiantly to get some words on paper. Two pages later I was confronted by utter crap. I knew what I wanted to say but my brain was betraying me, yet again. I grumphed and moped and watched some Rom Coms on DVD – something that did not require a great deal of mental exercise. Thank goodness for painkillers.

Today I am feeling a little more human but deprived of those 300 words that were required. I will most likely miss the email submission deadline, as I am at my ‘day job’ until after the allotted time. However not all is lost. There is another flash fiction competition looming later in October (700 words) so all I have to do is add another 200 words this time.

How hard can that be?

The Bane of my Life

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Letting My Imagination Go

It is that time of the month again where I can play out of character, carrying a sword and lusting for adventure. Yep – D&D Gaming Day. Not the computerised version that many gamers play (I was told by my daughter that it is called tabletop gaming these days) but good (ye) ol’ ‘grab the books, the 20 sided dice and the character sheets’ and have some fun using my imagination.

It is a load off my brain to have someone else setting the story and setting the rules; if the DM (now GM I am told) says it is so, then it is so! I do love writing but this gives me a chance of making things up as I go along but not having to keep track on the plot, clues or character development. I just let my imagination go and someone else has to pull the plot line together and make sure it makes sense (if, indeed, the DM wants it to make sense at all.)

So I spent the evening having a rollicking hoot and did not have to worry about the consequences (all in my imagination) or complicating the plot and how to fix it went when went off to do our own thing (I was not writing the thing). Not my problem.  Ah, bliss.

If you love gaming and D&D, I have a series of t-shirts/prints available on Redbubble in my Roleplayer Series, including characters and creatures.  Check them out!

Letting My Imagination Go

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Question of Copyright

It has been a while since I have had a rant about copyright. Long time readers will know my stance on it. Newer readers can probably guess… here it is:

If someone comes up with an idea or a story, a piece of artwork (photo etc) or create something original, then it should be theirs. They should own copyright. Automatically.  They  should be the only ones who can attribute copyright or allow others to use it. The artist (read here also author) came up with the idea. It is their intellectual or artistic property. It is how many of them (us) make their (often) meagre living.

Recent proposed changes in the UK are very worrying as it will allow anyone who CLAIMS they have checked for copyright, and apparently could not find the owner, to use said item without permission or recourse to the owner/artist. This is plain laziness on the part of the government as they possibly feel it negates the need for more comprehensive copyright laws to cope with the internet problems.

For more info read the following:

For me, it is easy. If someone wants to use something, then they check the various Creative Commons/ Open Source/ Public Domain places and sites to find out what has been given permission to use free of copyright. If something is not there, then contact the owner/maker. If you can’t find the owner/maker, then it should NOT BE ASSUMED that is does not have full copyright. SIMPLE

… and for the record: I DO NOT DOWNLOAD tv shows or movies off the internet off dubious sites that negate copyrights. I remember waiting years to see episodes of Doctor Who or Babylon 5 on television. Very frustrating, yes. Patience, my young Padawan. These days many are either on pay tv as soon as the DVDs come out, or ‘fast tracked’ on television days after.  A couple of days is nothing. Deal with it.

Then there are competitions.  Most writing competitions let the author keep copyright but it pays to read the small print. I just spent the day writing a (very) short story for a competition, of 100 words (this is not as easy as you think!)  There is a very good prize. … $1000. But… ALL entries become copyrighted to them. ALL copyright is given up. I am sure there would be a large number of entries so chances of winning the high possible payout is low, in the scheme of things.  IF I won, it is a good payout but is it worth the potential prize to give up all of my copyright on the story? In this case, I have decided – no. The micro short story is based on an idea I have for a children’s picture book manuscript. I am not going to give up my copyright on my idea.

Next time you go to (illegally) download – say Doctor Who or Game of Thrones – think about it. This does not show up on the ratings figures for the show. It may have a gazillion hits on dubious downloads but it is the official figures on which the studios and television networks rely on drop too low, then shows get cancelled.  Think also of the many people who rely on jobs based on them.

If you don’t care about the artists and writers that supply the things you love, then think about yourself. Will you be happy when your show is cancelled  or if the artist/writers says ‘screw it I can’t be bothered producing stuff that will just be stolen’ ?(for STOLEN it is, people). When all the good ones are gone, we will just be left with crap . Which is what I think about those who steal copyright.

Rant over.

A Question of Copyright

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pinterest - Costume Pinny McPinny

The internet is addictive. Even when I set a specific time to do a specific task, it is all too easy to be side tracked. One of my friends shared a picture from Pinterest earlier. Never. I mean never – ever – go there unless you have a few hours to spare.  I thought: I’ll just pop up a few pictures of the costumes I have made over the years. That won’t take long. Ha! Don’t you believe it.

I did come up for air for about an hour.  Writers Race was tonight; it is good having ‘appointments’… and sticking to them.  I did manage to get the first short story edit done tonight and get some good advice from a published writer.

gg 96Then I went back to post some more costumes. Ayeee. It is not until I started trolling through the many pictures on my computer that I actually realised how many costumes I have made over the years. (and that is not all of them).

For the costumers amongst my readers, my this is my Pinterest page. I still have to find the photo albums (early 1980s) of my earlier costumes and scan them… one day. (I think I will take a break right now) This is one of the earliest ones on my computer: circa 1987 I think. It was for our D&D LARP Christmas party. Quite scary. I was a wood elf.

My first SF (fan) convention was in 1980. A Doctor Who inspired costume was one of my first costumes that I made. (I need to find the picture of it) Other costumes include Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Blakes 7, various movies and television shows with a growing list of Doctor Who costumes.

Then there is my latest (for several years now) love of Steampunk. Not only do I love writing alternative history and steampunk related stories but I love making and wearing the outfits as well.  I can mix and match. The only costume genre that has provided as much freedom in design and wearability has been historical re-enactment. Here are a few of my latest costumes from both:

sybil doneThe most comfortable costume that I have ever worn has been my Hobbitess costume or my Sybil outfit (from Doctor Who Fires of Pompeii).   I cannot pick a favourite costume. It changes depending on my mood and the weather (I must admit).

What I can decide upon is the costumes which have been the most fun to wear… and there are a few! On the top of the (recent) list is River Song (as always), Tia Dalma which was satisfying to finish (it took years to source materials from opshops and make pieces) and was a blast to wear. Also near the top of the list was Rita Skeeter. I spent the day at the convention ‘interviewing’ different costumers (or cosplayers if you prefer). Most recently it was the Victoria and Otto steampunk outfit.
tia dalma 2012OzComicConRitaSkeeterInterview

So now you know what I do with my spare time when I am not writing, drawing or photographing things…

Pinterest - Costume Pinny McPinny

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Best quote of the year

I just had to share this… just posted on FB…

“You know it has been a good day , when I did not have to unleash the flying monkeys.”

Oh, I will so have to use this one!

Best quote of the year

Returning characters

Wednesday is the weekly writing race held by Australian Writers’ Marketplace online (on Facebook). Each week they have a different author to ‘host’ the race. We can ask questions, get advice, just chat or (more importantly) get an hour to sit down and write (or edit, or plan – the choice is ours) along side a group that encourages us to do so.

I ‘attend’ most weeks. It gives me a kick up the bum. Sometimes I get a lot done. Sometimes I just get good ideas or advice. This week I managed to finish my first edit on The Magic Lantern. I have managed to cull over 100 words. I doubt I will be able to cull the other 500. It might have to remain a 3500 word short story.

I have shared a bit more about this short story in A Kick up the ButtI rather enjoy the characters – two Victorian era doctors. One has a private practice on Harley St, working for the police as coroner part-time (he likes mysteries) and the other is an ophthalmologist/optician with upper class connections (officially there were not separate opticians until a few decades later). She is a widow who loves mysteries (hates photographers). Together they get into scrapes of the most unusual kind.  We first met them in An Eye for Detail (which I DID manage to keep under 3000 words.) I am having fun with these characters and have no doubt they will return for more adventures.

Yep. I had fun last night. :)

Returning characters

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Retro-styled Shoes

40sshoes1Earlier this year Rivers stores were having a sale, on shoes mostly. My dear hubby suggested that we should check it out to see if there were any bargains. Silly man! It was on this trip that I found a most comfortable pair of leather-lined 40s style shoes.

Yesterday I continued my journey into more retro dressing. Now that ‘boot season’ is regrettably over, my new shoes had their first outing at work. Being slightly padded with leather lining, they were rather comfortable. Something that is a must for much of my day is spent standing.

1309patternFLBLWMy next project is an A-line skirt which I plan to make a crisp, white blouse to wear with it. (Again not enough of the material was left on the remnant roll for a matching blouse or a dress.) To keep with the retro feel, I am considering using the recent blouse pattern but lowering the neckline and adding a more rounded collar. Sketches ensued.

Inspired, I rummaged through my material stash and found this cherry print cotton I had found in the sale rack in Spotlight. Unfortunately it is only 2 – 3 metres so I may be restricted to making a skirt only.


New Retro-styled Shoes

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Webpage info

Due to recent hacking, my website is moving servers. The website address http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net should still work but there may be a few hiccups in the next few days.

Webpage info

Checking things out...

About a month ago, I ended up in hospital for various reasons. I had also been suffering from a very nasty sinus infection which had resulted in extreme coughing, so much that it had pulled most of my chest muscles and I was having chest pain. As a precaution a chest xray was ordered. Since then I have had a barrage of tests.

Firstly I  was off for a bone density scan (ah, the curse of getting older). As we had actually expected, the gliche was most likely a previous accident as there is exactly zero per cent chance that I will have any oesteo problems in the next ten years. Way to go! Having lived on a dairy (and the endless founts of calcium laden liquid) on and off, for most of my childhood, was a bonus. Hooray!

Then there was the black spot… on one of my lungs. Here I would usually drop in a few piratical references (of which I am inordinately fond) but I was just hoping that it was not truely a dreaded black spot and a harbinger of death. I was fairly certain it was not as the results had already been forwarded to the specialist and he had not called me in urgently for testing.  Phew.

Monday was a list of lung function testing. This, that and the other thing. Then off to the lung specialist (who was very good at explaining the results). Good news! I have not got asthma (as many of the family do), nor lung disease.

So no excuses now… I can keep on writing.

Checking things out...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Overcoming obstacles.

Though I was not as appreciative as I should have been, Sunday was a glorious day. The temperature was almost perfect – in the mid 20s (deg Celcius).  I am not a big fan of pigeons but their cooing does have a relaxing regularity to it. The honeyeaters were also in full voice as they took up residence in the bottle brush again.

I did however have another agenda, so did not really have time to enjoy what nature had laid out for me. Instead I managed to complete a task I have been trying to finish for several months – tackle my new overlocker. Before my husband purchased it for me (last year), I had never used an overlocker before.  It was wonderful the first time I used it but for a long time I did not want to bother with it again!

Hobbitess2I used it to make my Hobbitess skirts and blouse for The Hobbit movie opening. It was quick and easy… until the thread broke.  For the next few weeks I dutifully took it out, read the instructions, fought with the tension and thread before replacing the overlocker back in its case and continue on sewing with my trusty old sewing machine.

I don’t like change. I don’t think anyone does. But I must admit I was relishing the idea of quick sewing without having to edge each seam separately making the equivalent of three passes on each seam. No such luck for me.

13 summer skirt
On Sunday that was going to change. As regular readers will know, I have a current mission to upgrade my everyday clothing wardrobe. I have managed a skirt/blouse vaguely vintage combo and now am wanting to make a light, summery A-line skirt in a lovely purple flower patterned material. However my sewing machine really (really!) needs servicing. What do I have left? My overlocker. Can I get the threads and tension to behave? No. (of course not!).

To the rescue – my friend Abi (shameless plug for her business here…. Seams Nostalgic… soon to be in Brisbane!) Abi is the overlocking goddess in my eyes! Patiently, she took me under her wing and tried to teach me the basics in one sitting.  A major obstacle to overcome!

For a while it looked dire. Even Abi the Overlocker Goddess could not pinpoint why the threads kept entwining and unthreading. Finally, Mandy (another plug, this time for A Rare Notion) – she of the more mechanical mind – found the culprit. ‘Twas the thread not being pulled into the tension ‘spool’(?). Something simple, yet was causing so much problem.

I think I have more of an understanding of the dreaded machine now and this is a good thing as I am planning on using it for gobs of rolled hemming on chiffon, in the near future. Eep.

Overcoming obstacles.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another year...

The only real reason for having a birthday is for an excuse to have a party… and presents! That is what I started writing yesterday beforehand. Today I wonder if actual physical interactions have been replaced with ‘virtual socializing’ and I am lamenting just how easy it is to say one thing and do another. Maybe I am just having a bad day.

This year’s party was a more quiet affair. I was competing with a wedding and several other ‘Facebook’ events. At least some people sent RSVPs and apologies. Many I knew of their alternate plans. September is like that. Next time I will not acquiesce to modern technology and invite via Facebook. I don’t think these events are taken as seriously as actual real invitations. Maybe it is not personal enough?

It was a night of 80s music on MTV and I must admit some of us did sing along to the karaoke (oh the shame!).  For most of the night, we dodged the purple balloons that covered the floor; no one did themselves an injury. Instead of a full-on loud party, I enjoyed meaningful conversation with good friends. Due to life being so busy, I only get to some friends less than I would like; it was great to catch up again.

Food. What else is a party really for but to enjoy food that we really would love to have everyday but really shouldn’t. We had finger sandwiches, ‘little boys’ (savaloy sausages/cheerios – depending where you come from), kabana, a platter of cheeses, fetta and watermelon (sounds weird but is really nummy), cupcakes, dark chocolate coated strawberries, dip with crackers and carrot sticks, mudcake… favourite foods and possibly too much chocolate (is there such a thing?).

party 2013 K

And finally I have played a game of ‘flux’ (Monty Python version). Oh, my head hurts!

One thing I am reminded of today is that friends are like birthdays; they come and go in our lives and we must appreciate them. We don’t always get as many as we would like.

Party time!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Feeding the Beast

There was an excitement in the air.  I woke, gulped down my breakfast, quaffed down my cup of tea (in my new Doctor-Who-TARDIS-exploding-cup – a birthday present) and headed off. Though I had a splitting headache, I was determined not to be stopped. It is less than five minutes to the local library. Today it could not be fast enough. Too early! I had to wait for the doors to open at 10 am. Time passes so slowly when the clock is being watched. Today it clawed its way so painfully slowly that I possibly lost several kilos jumping up and down on the spot.

Finally the doors were unlocked and the crowd strode in hoping for a good spot. It was the first ‘official’ meeting of our new (as yet to be named) speculative fiction writers’ group. I say ‘official’ as it was to be the first of our  meetings where we would share our prose and discuss/critique it. We have had one get together to nut out what would happen in the meetings and discuss our goals. But this was it. The real thing… where we have to share our work…

We band of seven merry writers sat down in a corner of the meeting area of the library (close to the cafe), fortified with various forms of caffeine, and proceeded to read our short stories or novel excerpts to our eager compatriots. This was the first time I had read my work aloud and in public, other than to my family or the cat. To say that I was anxious was an understatement. In truth, I was terrified, stumbling over several words as I proceeded.

I had no need of such dread. My fellow writers were understanding, consoling and supportive. Some were published authors, having experienced this all before. Others were near completion of their initial work, relative newcomers and just wanting to start out with their writing. We are a varied bunch of writers with a wealth of ideas, eclectic tastes and interesting backgrounds. Most of all we have a common love of all things speculative in our fiction.

We meet again next month and I am looking forward to it. We have a name now! (Spec Fic Chic) This seems to be exactly what I need to grow as a writer and learn something new of the craft.

Feeding the Beast

Friday, September 20, 2013

Digging in.

Now that I am recovering from an exhausting week, I have finally managed to get back into the garden and have fun digging in the dirt. I managed to get some tomato seeds (though I ran out!) and bean seeds planted. I had been hoping to do this a few weeks ago (and put them under glass to keep up the heat) but the rain has been too steady, resulting in sodden earth; it is really not a good for the soil to dig it too much when it is wet.

With a sense of achievement, I returned to my current short story The Magic Lantern, finally putting the final scene on paper. I had 1000 more words to write. The Australian Writers’ marketplace online has a weekly writing race. This has been a good kick in the butt when I have been slack at writing. (It has been a bad month.) I had a very rough work in progress plot for the last scene. I just had to dig in and do the work.

As usual, I got a good start, then had to pause for a quick bit of research (I needed to know - buttons or cuff links for a middle class man’s shirt in 1880s?) I kept writing beyond the race deadline and managed a (very) rough first draft of 2000 words. This will definitely need a rewrite and edit. But, as so often I read, any words are better than none at this point.

After a long night of writing, I had a day off.  To let it settle. I had the bones and now it needed some time to flesh out and rewrite itself in my subconscious.  We had an appointment in the city.

As luck would have it, the Diggers shop was in the city Botanical Gardens. I needed more tomato seeds (heritage red fig and yellow beams pear – both small tomatoes, perfect for eating off the bush). I really don’t get to stroll around the Botanical Gardens enough. It was a peaceful and relaxing few hours with a ‘catch-up’ for lunch with a friend of ours. These are times I wish did not have to end.

Back home and I am exhausted physically but rejuvenated emotionally. The rain just started to bucket down (so I don’t have to keep the water up on those seeds), the home-time traffic was starting to pick up (I am thankful I am not in it) and my Dear Heart was making me dinner. All is right with the world.

Digging in.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Recently I was asked what was my favourite book. Before I could reply, she named her favourite and then rattled off a list of many that she ‘hated’. A little way into the conversation I realised three things. I had not named my favourite book, that I was finding it hard to name a book that I really ‘hate’ and lastly that it appeared that she had not actually read many of the long list of her hated books. This I found even more perplexing. How could she know if she hated a book unless she had at least tried to have read it.

What books do I hate? I may not like the writer’s voice, or the genre but that does not guarantee that I won’t enjoy other books of the ilk. There is only one book (no two) that I have started and could not read beyond the first few pages. Both were a result of the way they were written (rather than subject matter which sounded quite interesting unfortunately. I really wanted to read them but it was so painful that I gave up.) It felt like it was a waste of my time to read something that I was not enjoying.

So what is my favourite book? Um… I am still thinking on that one. It is very difficult to choose just one. Over the years I have had many favourite books. Each depended on the mood I was in, and where I was ‘at’ in life (emotionally).

When I was in high school, I read Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh books avidly. They were my passion… until our school librian (whose self imposed quest was to widen her student’s reading vocabulary) introduced me to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I have worn out several copies over the years.

Then came The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the rest of the Narnia series, The Dark is Rising and other fantasy novels. This led into my science fiction phase which resulted in my first novel manuscript (about 200 pages – what is that in word count?) which is still somewhere in the shed. I hope I have not lost it. (I have been thinking of this a lot lately, now that I have returned to writing).

One book I do keep coming back to is Blue Moon Rising by Simon R  Green. I now have two copies as one is falling apart. It is fun, it is easy to read and I like the characters. There is an emotional soft spot in my heart for it. Isn’t that one thing that books are for – to transport us somewhere else and (hopefully) identify with the characters have an emotional stake in their fate?

Currently I am enjoying the supernatural steampunkish slant of Gail Carriger’s Soulless series. Again it is all about the characters. There is a wonderful array of characters both supernatural (werewolves, vampires), mortals and then there is Alexia Tarabotti, a unique woman who defies Victorian sensibilities while at the same time endevouring to uphold them. In it I found the balance of Victorian manners, the juxtaposition of the impropriety of plot situations and the resulting comedy of the characters reactions.

Why do I currently love these books? I have finally found an author whom I can identify with. Until now, I have been struggling to describe what I envisage as my ’writer’s voice‘ and describe the genre I love to write. I get the strangest looks and have reverted back to using the description of ‘speculative fiction’ and have dreaded in trying to explain it further. Thanks to Ms Carriger, I am not alone in the world! I have found a way to describe what I love to write – alternative history in a steampunk/gaslight/gaslamp genre. I have been placed in my box and what a fun box it is to be in!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Enquiring Minds...

There has been a conundrum that has long been wondered by many. Right now the same question is burning in my mind. This weekend I have mulled it over and over. I have even googled it. To my dismay no one can give me the uniequivical answer.
What happens to the other sock that goes missing in the washing machine?

This week we have tried to get through as much clothes washing as possible on the days when the sun has deemed it appropriate to show itself and chase the rain away. The house has looked like a Chinese laundry. Underwear hanging from the retractable clothes line in the laundry, jeans and shirts on temporary metal racks inhabiting half the lounge with the heater blowing dry air over them and sad, lonely socks pegged in left over spaces. If they were endowed with anthropomorphism I am sure they would be weeping for the loss of their mate.

“Perhaps it was aliens?” was one answer proffered by Google. Ah, as if they would be bothered to fly all the way from wherever, wait until I do my clothes washing, secretly land (I assume they have drugged the household or time shift so that we remained unawares of their visit) and steal wet, soggy socks. One of them. From each pair. Obviously aliens must be monopedal.

I admit that I do like Sir Terry Pratchett’s theory. (Go read Hogfather some time.) The Eater of Socks was one of the random generation of anthropomorphic personifications, along with Bilious the Oh God of Hangovers and the Verruca Fairy. I have checked all around the washing machine in case the socks had been separated at ‘washing machine entry’ and have never sighted  an entity that  lives near washing machine and has an elephant’s trunk.

Maybe it was the cat. The poor cat gets blamed for almost everything in our house. Mind you, she is very cunning. Having lived almost twice the expected age for her breed (she is now 20 and was expected to only make 10 years – 15 if we were fortunate), she has a  lot of experience to draw on. She is the “stealer of sausages from under the lit grilI“, “purloiner of choice bits of steak from unattended plates“, “ice-cream thief” and “hug slut“. But alas she is not, and has never been known as, ‘wearer of odd socks‘.

So what is the answer to the industrial-age old question - What happens to the other sock that goes missing in the washing machine? It is obvious. It is the ‘alien cat summoned forth to personify the Eater of Socks to console all those who are so distracted by their socialising on mobile phones that they cannot keep track of a simple pair of socks and have no one else to blame.


Enquiring Minds...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In Praise of the Printed Book

I like printed books and I cannot lie. I love the feel of the paper and the tactile gratification of turning the finished page. I enjoy the smooth, vanilla-like smell of old books. (Rivaled only by that of new leather, freshly cut grass and freshly-tilled earth after the rain.) I love the tumbling over piles of books we have strewn around the house when the overloaded bookshelves can’t hold any more. (I don’t like the collected dust though – allergies!)

The appearance of a printed book can convey so many emotions and expectations. New books look so pristine. A promise of the joys which are yet to come. Second hand books have a reassuring crumpledness of a story once-loved about to be enjoyed anew. Old spine-scarred books herald the return of favourite characters and stories to be relived. You can’t judge an e-book by its cover. The case is the same for each one.

A printed book does not rely on power for enjoyment. Just open the book and enjoy. While newer e-books have a longer battery life, if it does die then it must be recharged first. I don’t always have the patience to wait that long. Maybe I am a product of my generation but I am quite happy about that.

I relish the browsing of a bookshop to find the next story that is waiting to be read as opposed to trolling the internet for the electronic version. Though I usually loathe shopping centres, I find being in an actual shop filled with books to be exciting. So much to read and so little time! The other customers are there for the same reason – the love of reading.

There was a time when I wanted to own a little bookshop with floor to ceiling shelving, oversized old fashioned rugs and a massive comfy sofa in a corner for customers to read their new book and sip cups of tea. Though modern bookshops are not as cosy, all of the above is conjured up in my imagination EVERY time I set foot in one. (with no nosy computer programme pushing me to buy and force a book selelction on me.) Bliss.

 If I am reading while in the bath and I drop my printed book, I can dry it out eventually (and have done so previously). Drop an e-book in the bath… electronics and water do not mix well. One last thing. Print books will survive EMP and not set off security alarms searching for electronic devices.

I have tried e-books. I have a few, especially the free ones offered online, that I am not sure I will like but sound interesting and worth a read. I have even read some. But it is not the same. Though intellectually I acknowledge the fact that print book sales are declining (but then I also read they are bouncing back again) and e-books are taking over, I will always prefer print books and will continue to buy them until I have absolutely no option. Then I will mourn their loss.

In Praise of the Printed Book

Monday, September 16, 2013


Regular readers will know that I have (re) started a push to replace old items in my wardrobe. Gone (hopefully) will be the old tatty tops and skirts in boring (unhappy) colours. Yes, this will mean more purple and ‘berry colours’ in the cupboard. I need to feel less blurgh and get a spring in my step.

Over the past week I have struggled with my sewing machine which is in need of a service. I have broken two machine needles this week, resulting in a jagged spot on the machine’s needle plate. It took me a while to work it out but the thread shredding and breaking was a hint…

My first outfit is based on some ‘retro’ print that was on sale at Spotlight. It was just 20 cm shy of enough material for a matching blouse and skirt so I paired some of my linen, the combination can be seen below.
1309 P skirtmaterial  1309 P colour combo

Patterns used were : Burda 7561  for the skirt and Simplicity 2154  for the blouse. I am not a very frilly-friendly girl so I ditched the bow and kept the knot. I think it looks slicker but still gives a retro feel.
1309 patterns1309 P top collardetailSunday was left to handsewing of hems and hook and eyes. Tuesday will be its first outing. All finished up below.

1309 P fin


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Book Artwork Commission

This week I have managed to do some writing, some sewing, some photography and today I was giving into my artistic muse. One of my friend’s is writing a book, based on a translated book on a period rapier style. He asked me to do some artwork for him, in the style of the original manuscript. As a rapier enthusiast, I was chuffed. Of course I would!

After some research and detailed discussions to find out what he was hoping for, I poured over  copies of the original manuscript and photos taken for the book. I find that the most important step in any commission is communication; I need to know what the client wants. This saves time in the long run and keeps everyone happy.

I have the beginnings of the cover and inner artwork now done. First I pencil my original sketch. In this case based in part on the period artwork but depicting the fencers photographed in the book (all friends). I was lucky enough to be a the original photo shoot at a local heritage church.

Next I inked the sketches with my nib pen. I love nib pens, preferring them over fine markers. They glide over the paper with the thickness easily varied without damaging the tip (as often happens with a marker). The downside is waiting for the ink to dry. Until then they lay on the table with the family forbidden to touch them.

Here are two examples of the style of artwork that will be in the final book. I am getting excited. Anyone who is interested in buying the final book, please contact me. When it is published, I will let everyone know!
cover ch6

Book Artwork Commission

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Getting Older.

women in blackThere is less than a week until my birthday and, for the first time in many years, I am feeling a little trepidation.  Everywhere there is the evidence of the youth cult of this millenium; it started in the 1980s with the get fit craze, the increase in non-celebrities seeking out selective plastic surgery and the Y-generation have taken over.

Fashion seems geared towards the young and trendy, rather than the over thirties and trendy. Recent shopping trips have presented me with micro-minis, styles and colours that make my brain scream. I refused to be seen as mutton dressed up as lamb. I have my dignity. Yet I don’t quite feel old enough to to shop at the ‘Mature Age Boutiques’.

This situation is not helped by the restricted sizes (often under size 14. 16 if you are lucky) to be found in many boutiques, leaving the options slim and rather uninspiring. This week I have decided to start sewing again. One way, or another, I am determined that I will have a retro/bohemian/possibly steampunk feel to my wardrobe. No thanks to retail. 

Then there is the electronic revolution which insists on pressuring me into buying an iphone (I am defiantly remaining android) and insisting that I update ALL of my equipment yearly. Ugh. I am writing on my computer right now. I have warmed to Facebook and dabble on twitter but I am definitely not technology savvy. I only just discovered that there is an ‘other’ message list on Facebook. Sigh. But I will not be defeated! I have come to find my Scrivener programme is quite useful and am debating a voice recognition programme.

Having said all that, I did mention at the beginning that it was just a little trepidation… for about the length of this blog post actually. Life is great. I have more freedom. Experience is useful in my profession. Age is not a barrier to writing.

Many years ago, I was told about a poem called ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph which The poem spawned the Red Hat Society and starts with the lines:
“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”
and finishes with:
“But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”

In the meantime, I will work on sorting out my wardrobe, battle with technology and continue to wear purple (my favourite colour actually). Most of all I will enjoy life and write! Bring on my birthday party!

(School sports day mania ) self portraits/photos” (c) Karen Carlisle
Getting Older.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Numerical Coincidences and Superstitions

It is Friday the 13th. Many people would quiver in their boots to hear that. I don’t. When I was at school, I decided that if everyone else was going to have a crap day just because of a numeral co-incidence, then I was not going to play that game. In fact, 13 became my lucky number, along with 7 and 3 but 13 is the big one.

Whenever I am asked ‘pick a number’, I pick 13 (and get some very strange looks sometimes). If I ever become a crazy cat lady, I will have to get 13 cats (as long as they are all Devon Rexes or sphinxes, as I am allergic to cats. But that would be a very expensive exercise. eep.) So no crazy cat lady for me.

Shall I wear black today as well, or would that be taking the whole Friday 13th (Black Friday) thing too far? That brings me to black cats; another thing that scares many people. A black cat on Friday 13th would send them into a state of discombobulation. I remember one school friend walking home via a different street once, just to avoid crossing paths with a black cat she saw ahead of her.

While cats are canny and cunning, they do not have the power to curse you.  The superstition possibly has more to do with the association with misunderstood, lonely little old ladies (who were victimized in the Europe’s Witch hysteria in the Middle Ages) feeding the exploded feral cat population, rather than with ghosties and ghoulies. Leave that til Halloween.

Then there is the poor misunderstood raven, co-incidently also black in colour. This majestic creature has been long associated with ill omens and death. (well it does have a good sense of smell and feeds on carrion, so it is not unreasonable that it would be found near places associated with death.) God forbid there be 13 of them! Discombobulations  again!

It all depends on your cultural heritage really. Personally I love ravens and feel very comfortable when they are around. I feel protected. Welsh superstitions imbue ravens with bringing luck to those inside the house on which they perch. The long tradition of keeping ravens at the Tower of London still holds today, as it is thought that the Monarchy and United Kingdom will last only while there are ravens at the Tower. King Charles II’s decree was that, not 13 of them, but only 6 need be kept at the Tower at all times.

And what about our poor maligned feline? I did some research on this one for my short story The Feline Principle. Many think of them as a talisman of good luck in Britain (and Japan if I remember rightly) and they are a symbol of prosperity in Scotland. Not so in parts of Europe and America. I think they purr nicely.

So today is Friday 13th. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Make yourself determined that it will be a good day. (self fulfilling prophesies and all that). Remember that Friday is the end of the working week for many. Tomorrow is the weekend. 13 is just a number that only has the power that you afford it. For me it is defiance; in the face of the rest of the world, I will not conform to being ruled by a number. (Maths, after all, is my weak point.) As The Prisoner said to his captors “I am not a number!”

If you were carefully reading this and you are an observant type you may have noticed how many times I used 13 in this post. For everyone else, feel free to go back and count.

It appears 13 times (including this one).  Numerical coincidence?

(self portrait: with 13 of my favourite things (c) Karen Carlisle )

Numerical Coincidences and Superstitions

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some Nonsensensical Fun.

Yesterday I was having some fun doing ‘story line’ battles with my friend Alonya. I write a line or two, then she does etc. Last time we ended up with escaping zombies (in Kitty Vs the Zombies). This time we have a love story…

Neville the Frog. (by Karen Carlisle (K) and Alonya Cullinan (A).

(K): There once was a frog called Neville. (A): He was thinking that his lilypad was too small for him and the girl next door, Cecelia. (K): But Cecelia was a bit of a toad. Neville wasn’t overly fond of toads. He preferred… (A): South American Poison Arrow girls. He liked them dangerous

K: But that was a bit problematic as he lived in the tropics. A holiday seemed to be in order, a Cecelia was eyeing him in a most unattractive way. (A): There are only so many miles a folded lily pad will take you on the warm updrafts. He wasn’t sure of the supply of reasonable sized ones between his and the tropics.’ (K): It was too far to swim and frogs didn’t qualify for frequent flyer.

(A): Suddenly there was a ripple rocking his little world. He launched himself into the water to investigate. (K): Cecelia thought this looked like fun; she followed, positive that he had been giving her ‘google eyes’. (A); Neville saw Cecelia follow him and ducked between the roots of 2 mangrove trees to try and hide. He watched and waited to see what she would do. While he waited, he listened for any noise that may have caused the disturbance to his lilypad.

(K): Slowly from behind the mangrove trees a long dark shape slithered through the water towards Cecelia. (A): Neville saw the shadow passing by. Concerned for Cecelia, he turned sideways and started tapping out a warning with his flippers against the root. This was something they had worked out as children (*tadpoles).

(K): ‘B-i-g-s-l-i-t-h-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g-b-e-h-i-n-d-y-o-u” he tapped furiously. Thank goodness he had been good a spelling at school. Oh dear, he thought, spelling was not Cecelia’s strong point. (A); Quicky, he tapped out S-N-A-K-E. Sure that she would understand the danger. and the simple spelling. He knew that she would never get A-n-a-c-o-n-d-a. (K): But Cecelia was a bit dim. Instead of snake, she thought Neville had spelled out snack. She turned to face the oncoming intruder with glee abandon and ravenous stomach. (A): She realised her mistake when she saw the open jaw of a giant coming right towards her.

(K): Now at this point children, I should let you know that the snake does not eat Cecelia. It is just that you were looking a little worried. Instead it saw the big fat (less hideously lumpy) fish behind her.

(A): Cecelia in a start darted to her right (or was that left), just in time for the snake to pass right by her and devour the fish. (K): Even snakes knew that toads were poisonous and were best avoided before teatime. (A): Neville heaved a great sigh of relief when he realised that his friend had narrowly escaped the anaconda. What was that? he thought as there was another ripple in the water, that was coming from the compete opposite direction the snake had gone in. Neville tapped out a call to Cecelia so they could investigate together. Two pairs of eyes were better than one, even though he was trying to avoid her advances.

(K): Cecelia squeaked as she felt the ripples. Then realised that Neville had eaten baked beans for lunch. (A): At that point Neville realised one of the sets of ripples was of his own making, but there was another set that was a little more perplexing. Rhythmical even. (K): They both swam further into the mangroves. All the while Neville tried to avoid Cecelia’s attempts at holding flippers.

(A): Cecelia noticed a change in the light. Her toad eyesight was good at picking up light changes. (K): As they rounded the next mangrove root, they saw a small group of frogs laughing and singing. One was using a smaller mangrove root to ‘twang’ music. Another was thumping on a remnant of shedded snake skin that had been stretched between roots. (A): The beat was ‘flipperistic’ (K): but the resulting sonic booms, as the ripples grew in intensity, was enough to induce nausea. Neville decided that if he was ever to fly to South America, he would have to have his ear drums intact. Cecelia however, was lured closer to the mezmerising beat.

(A): Neville noticed that as she moved forward towards the sounds that she was wiggling her flippers in a manner that he had never noticed before. (K): Her eyes glazed over and she had the most peculiar smile. As she swam closer, he finally noticed a large throng of like-mind-numbed amphibians… all cooing in unison. (A): Upon closer inspection Neville realised that they all looked a lot like Cecelia. Pale green/brown and nobbly.

(K): For a second the mangroves shivered (to a completely different beat). There it was again. Too late Neville realised that is was a trap as the lightening reflexes of an alligator scooped up the toad-groupies and they were gone. So was Cecelia. (oh! it was alligator skin, not snake skin, he thought as he darted out of sight)

(A): Relieved by his narrow escape and sorrow at the loss of this friend, he slowly made his way back to his lilypad. (K):The band kept playing, oblivious to the surrounding terror; they had destroyed their ear drums long ago.

‘I really need a holiday’ Neville sighed.

(A): After hearing the South American beats from the band he decided that a trip to the dangerous girls was maybe not for him as he started to make his way across the wetlands to the nearby pond. (K): Boring was sounding quite attractive and less dangerous, he thought. As he climbed back onto his lilypad he noticed that Cecelia’s previous abode had already been occupied. (A): By a cute yellow frog.  She was eyeing him up with googly eyes. (K): and not just because she was a frog. Her tongue darted and caught a passing mosquito.She offered it to Neville.

(A):He was smitten.

(K): ‘Who needs holidays anyway?” he thought as he accepted the gift.

The End.

Some Nonsensensical Fun.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What doesn't kill me...

Yesterday was a ‘bad knee day’. The tendons and muscles were tight and complained every time I walked up the stairs at work, worked down the stairs at work or walked around (wherever I was).  Apparently I hold a lot of my tension in my neck muscles and my gluteus maximus. As a result I get hip pain and resulting leg and knee pain.

Enough of the whinging from me. What it all boils down to is the myriad of ways that can be thought of to try to avoid the above.

Firstly there is avoidance: avoiding stairs and excess movement. I have done this too much and as a result now have to lose the unfortunate side-effect of gained weight  - which is not helping the knees one bit! Ironically if I do walking the pain eventually settles to a dull roar. After months of slackness, I have re-introduced myself to my friend, the exercise trampoline; I used to run thirty minutes a day on my trampoline. (If I run on the footpath, it jars my knees; I found the trampoline cushions them and I can actually do the running!) With life having issues this year, I have gotten sidetracked. Now I am determined to avoid the avoidance and get back on track with my running (which will be eased as walking until my knee muscles can handle it all again).

Secondly there is muscle relaxant medication. I very rarely use this; I am one of those people who do not take medication unless I have absolutely no option. This has been a source of chagrin to my doctor I am sure. Usually I recover from my ailments, antibiotic free and immunization is a wonderful thing to kickstart the immune system and avoid the worst of many lurgies. With regards to pain, I have tried relaxation exercises (not always successful), tai chi and the good old distraction technique. This does not seem to help when I cannot sleep though.

Finally there is therapeutic massage. Worth its weight in gold! I am well acquainted with the local Chinese masseur and have a regular therapeutic masseur. This Saturday is my regular appointment… if I can just last til then.

The most annoying of this whole ‘getting older/having to deal with past injuries/gaining weight’ crap is the inconvenience of it all! It all gets in the way of my gardening (knees), my sewing (hips and back) and my writing/art (hips, neck). I have had to deal with my body’s recriminations the day after Costume Balls (and dancing with abandon… which was fun!). Regular breaks from sitting is the key. I have even contemplated buying one of those speech recognition programmes, so I can dictate my stories while I am taking a break from sitting at the computer. (though I have heard varying accounts on their actual usefulness.)

In the end I just have to grin and bear it. The pain itself won’t kill me. At least that is what I keep telling myself. Now for another cup of tea and to stretch my legs…

What doesn't kill me...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Retro fever

For many years I have been coveting the retro style of my friend Abi (who run Seams Nostalgic). I have a few retro outfits but not enough! When I go shopping for potential new outfits, I get very frustrated; Off the rack clothing is harder to get in larger sizes unless I go bespoke or specialist stores which I cannot afford right now. There are internet stores with some lovely larger sizes but I am a bit reticent ordering clothing online as I have had so many misses as far as fit goes (and return postage is often a killer).
My style icon is Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds. (and some of Nigella’s retro clothing) It is so refreshing to find  full-figured women who dresses so impeccably with retro style… on television! I have been slowly collecting vintage patterns (some originals), from garage sales, opshops and occasionally from ebay (though they can get unecessarily costly there). Recently Simplicity and Vogue have been re-issuing 1940s, 1950s and 1960s patterns. Hallelujah! I have made a few outfits and assembled a few from opshop finds but have always had an excuse for putting off all that sewing.

I thoroughly enjoyed dressing in my 50s outfit to see Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, last year (the spotted white dress below)

me 1 me 2me 4
Monday: After six months, I finally found some time (and drive) to start sewing again for the ACG Ball; now that I am in the sewing mood, I am trying to make some new summer clothing. Todays mission was to trace up some patterns for a skirt and blouse (blouse from Simplicity 2154). Mission accomplished.

I am looking for a more stylish summer. I need some cheering up!

Retro fever

Monday, September 9, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Pleasant

It has been an emotional and exasperating week. I am not going to mention the ‘E’ or ‘V’ word. (last time I mentioned p-o-l-i-t-i-c-s my reader numbers from countries like China totally evaporated. Am I on a ban list?) Today I am going to extol the virtues of such a lovely spring day… yet again.

I have been stuck inside for most of the week. The rain threatened but did not eventuate. Mostly there has been glorious sunlight streaming in the now open and naked (the curtains were pulled back) windows.  My cat had the right idea; she has been lying on the window seat soaking up the sun, warming her old arthritic bones. On a few occasions, I have decided to join her. She is a very astute feline.

I have decided that it is time to pot up some of the self seeded french lavenders that are strewn around the front yard. Almost twenty in all. I gathered up the (now) empty terracotta pots and rehoused the lavenders in them. I still have several of them in the garden; I may have to find them new homes elsewhere.

I love sharing around those serendipitous plants that pop up and I love populating my garden with plants gifted to me by others. Last year my friend Cheryl invited us to dig up a plethora of white irises from her garden. We did! Gladly. I love irises. We have a colony of purple ones (and the odd peach one made its way in there) in the back yard that were ‘inherited’ from my grandmother-in-law.

We planted two whopping swathes of the liberated white irises at the very beginning of our front yard last year. They are some of the first things you can see when you park out front. Last summer they were patchy. This year they have doubled and we have the most striking white irises in the shade of our old gum tree. Devine!

lavendersSELF lavendersSELFout
(left: some of the self seeded french lavenders. Right: the holes left behind, taking just 6 out)
LavenderPOTTED potsempty

Now isn’t that much more pleasant than listening to the whinging about the ‘E’? I think so. Excuse me while I go have another cup of black rose tea and go potter in the garden and enjoy the breeze and the birdsong.

And Now for Something Completely Pleasant

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Return of the Ravens.

My ravens are back!

I first met them, a few years ago, when I was gardening in the back yard. I saw a large shadow across the grass. Looking up I saw the iridescent colours of magnificent glossy black wings as one of the ravens landed on the end of our pergola. A pair of piercing white eyes staring back at me. Soon it was joined by its mate. They had been collecting items for a nest, flying continuously back and forth. I greeted them. The larger raven cocked its head in my direction, replying with a low call.

My neighbour must think me strange as I have often conversed with my ravens, over the years. They make me feel safe, less alone. It is as if someone is watching over me; their keen eyesight can spot movement. Maybe they would alert me if there was a brown snake around? Possibly not but the thought does make me feel more comfortable.

Last year, there was a juvenile with them. I have no way to tell if this year’s couple is the original or the now grown juvenile with a new mate. I had been hoping they would return. We have an understanding; they can eat all the rats, mice, snakes and grubs that the wish as long as they do not eat my fruit. So far they have indulged me.

Return of the Ravens.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The T-shirt Adventure

Friday: This morning I wanted to wear a specific t-shirt;  my mood often dictates what I want to wear. The first decision is t-shirt or blouse? If I am in a girly mood or going to work, a blouse is chosen. If I am at home it will depend on whether I need cheering up as to what I choose. Usually a blouse will make me feel special however, on some days, I just want a happy t-shirt to get me through the day. Then comes the decision on what colour…

Today I felt like wearing my Lee-loo ‘Supreme Being’ from teefury (a Fifth Element fan created tee for those who are not familiar with it). These are limited editions and sell for only $11 (plus postage). You can vote to return the design for a limited time.

I went looking a couple of weeks back when I felt the urge to wear it then. No luck. I could not find the t-shirt. I had a cursory glance over the jumbled drawer and decided to wear my Poirot tee instead as it was right there staring me in the face.

And here’s the rub; I could not find the t-shirt unless I took all of them out of my two drawers and go searching in earnest. But I had not had the time to do so. Until now. This is the first day in over a week that I have had the time to remove the contents of both drawers and do some organising. (My dear hubby has been putting the clothes washing away while I have been unwell and he is not the picky organiser that I am ).

So right now I am thinking… first world problems…  But I still hunker down to the task of refolding them, colour coding (yep, I do that) and repacking them into the drawers.

tshirts 1309

And this is just the top drawer!  You will notice the source of my hour-and-one-half search taking pride and place in the photo above. It was not actually in the top drawer, where it should have been put, but in the second drawer which is dedicated to those ‘special-one-off-museum/special-event-men-only-cut-tees-that-you-have-to-get’ t-shirts that you buy to prove you were there… Been there. Got the t-shirt.

It was a task well worth it as I found a few t-shirts that I have been looking for recently. All is now organised. At least until the next load of clothes washing is done.

tshirts top 1309     tshirts bottom 1309
top drawer…                                      second drawer…

The T-shirt Adventure

Friday, September 6, 2013

Steampunk Sideswipe

Monday is a work day for my ‘day job’. There I was minding my business, working and conversing with my client about work stuff and I heard the word ‘steampunk’. Double take. Did you say ‘steampunk’?Yes! After her expressing surprise that I actually knew what ‘steampunk’ was, we launched into a long conversation on all things steampunk!  Post Costume Ball photos were requested for her perusal. It was refreshing to meet someone (of the non-costuming population) who actually knew what steampunk was, a bit on its history and not just thought it was goggles and gears stuck on something!

It is obvious that steampunk sells. Take a look on etsy and ebay and there is a plethora of things to buy, some  of which needs quite a bit of imagination to relate back to anything steampunk or even Victorian. A quick search on Amazon produces links for books, accessories, How to’s and clothing (some a little debatable).  Is Steampunk becoming too mainstream?

Last year major fashion houses got bitten by the steampunk bug and it has been spreading. Louis Vuitton’s models goggled up for the 2012/12 season and The Times asked Is Steampunk the New Fashion Trend? Just this week there was an article doing the rounds, on Facebook: How the Steampunk movement is catching the eye of High Tech 


I have being steampunking it for several years now and have a few costumes. I find them fun and (mostly) comfortable to wear. I love the fact that I can reuse bits for other costumes. It reminds me of historical re-enactment where the costumes are more clothing than just a one-off costume.

scoutM2       VictoriaOtto2

I have developed quite a penchant for cephalopods as you can see on my Redbubble page and on my website. (and my latest Victoria costume!) My outfits are possibly not as ‘mechanical’ as others but that is also the allure of the genre; it is different to everyone.  Some add mechanicals, armour and contraptions galore, some are upper class Aristocrats, mad scientists or explorers… anything can happen! (Above you can see my Steampunk Scout Mistress who has a badge in kraken lore and handling).

So what is steampunk? Essentially it is a genre based on alternative history usually set in the industrialised Victorian era (though it can be earlier or later if you wish). It is the ultimate ‘what if’ scenerio: What if the electronics age didn’t happen and everything was steam driven?) It can be post apocolyptic, fantasy, historical. It is what you make of it. Google it.

Most of all, I love writing and reading steampunk (though some of it seems to be of the gaslight/gaslamp genre. Now that is a whole other blog! Think steampunk with supernatural, though it is a bit more complicated than that). I started out writing fantasy and very, very quickly I found myself plotting for mad scientists to be foiled by my Victorian heroes/heroines who are often themselves armed with science or gadgets. (I must admit I love the ‘properness’ of the Victorian era; there is so much juxtaposition between the civilities and the havoc that can be wreaked!)

steamin library(thanks to Catherine Scholz for this photo in the Mortlock Wing of the State Library)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Kick up the Butt

Sometimes writing a story is easy; the characters behave and are willing to be led on a merry dance. Sometimes they misbehave and insist on doing their own thing. Last week they just up and went on strike.

I have been in a bit of a writing funk for over a week; in truth, almost two weeks. I had been working on a really cool idea. I had the basic plot, two fantastic sounding characters. I had thought I was set for an easy write. Not a chance. They sat there refusing to be committed to the page. I began to wonder if I had ran out of ideas.

Then I happened to connect with one of my old roleplaying friends who had moved to the US many, many years ago. She found me on Facebook. We did the obligatory catch up and she asked about my writing. I pointed her to one of my online short stories An Eye for Detail. 

I must thank her for a kick up my writers’ block butt. I decided to revisit two of my favourite characters Victorian ophthalmologist/optician Dr Viola Stewart and Police surgeon Dr Collins and their nemesis, a clandestine organisation of scientists. My friend will be happy.

The weekly writing race was a perfect time to start the ball rolling. In one hour I had over four hundred words. It would have been more if I had not had to stop for some crucial research. (I tried to write around it but I needed the information to continue).  I now have two disappeared Toffs, a happy mad scientist and a secret plot being hatched. Will our intreprid amateur criminologists survive the plot and will Dr Stewart start a new fashion trend?

Hopefully I will find out in the next few days!

A Kick up the Butt

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Delays and Surprises

It was a simple task; leave at 8.20 am so I had plenty of time to find a park at my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist; on my last two appointments I had to park a few blocks away and walk due to ongoing building blocking the entire street parking.  The appointment was at 9.30 and a good run to the city is twenty minutes. Thirty to forty minutes on a bad day, as I was just missing out on peak hour traffic. Or so I thought.

It is interesting to see how many tempers fray when the traffic is crawling and the only side streets that can be escaped down are eventually dead end streets. I saw a few drivers scoot off down the side street just to end up trying to join the long queue at the next side street.  I was stuck in the middle lane with no one willing to let me into either outer lanes; I had no chance of trying to effect a detour.

Fifty minutes later I caught up with the source of the traffic congestion. A large gaping maw encompassing almost a entire traffic lane and part way into the side street. Adelaide does not have the most modern water pipe system, the evidence of which lay before me. Even the trailing fire engine  had to drive along a few kilometres along the opposite side of the road into oncoming traffic. Fortunately traffic on the outgoing lanes were not full of frustrated commuters late for work, so were happily moving out of the way (as they should).

Eventually I made it to my appointment and was preparing for the long search for an on street car park. Today just had to improve.. and it did! I drove straight into a park in front of the building.

Delays and Surprises

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dream vs Day Job

At the beginning of their journey, most writers  probably need to consider a ‘day job’ or risk suffering from the clichéd starving artist’s fate. I cannot lie; one day I hope to have finished my first book and improved my writing to a point where it is published and I could make enough money to not need my ‘day job’.

I think many writers have a similar dream. Some realise the dream. Many give up and never finish their project ; I have read some scary statistics quoting that only 1-2% of writers actually finish their story or book! The rest just keep writing (or procrastinating). Right now I am thankful that I have a ‘day job’ so I can afford to keep writing.

I am awaiting the results of several writing competitions and it is frustrating. Many of them have not published the results; one I have been waiting since the beginning of August to find out. Nada. Some feedback would be a lovely thing as I would have an idea if I am improving. Note this is more a sigh of impatience. I cannot complain as I did achieve short listing in one competition with just my fourth short story. From what I have been told that is a good statistic for a ‘new and emerging’ writer.

While I try to quell my impatience, I will continue to write. I look forward to our next writers’ group meeting and the feedback, constructive criticism and help it will provide. My aim is to improve my writing and learn more of my craft… while having fun!

Recently our daughter has been asking to read my short stories; last week she advised me that she want to write stories. Since then I have have found her scribbling and she has asked about writing competitions to enter. Last week she presented me with two different paragraphs, each the beginning to a different story. I was blown away. I wish I had thought of the concepts for a story. Proud mum moment!

I am encouraging her writing as much as possible. It is great that she is finding a way to express herself; this will be useful in her future life, for communication and possible jobs. Maybe she will become a successful writer? Who knows. I gave her one last lot of advice. Love the writing. Keep on doing the writing but also get a ‘day job’ in the mean time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

First Day of Spring; a Photographic Record

After a busy week of writing tasks and costuming, I decided today they would be best avoided. This brings me back to one of my other passions; photography.

irises 0109
I started close to me, around my garden.  Today was the hottest  first day of spring for some years, being 27 degrees celcius. It was a perfect day. The birds were singing, there was a heady smell of freshly cut grass on the breeze. The sun was gentle on the skin. Yesterday my irises were naked; today there were flower buds just waiting to burst open!


The broccoli was just about ready to be picked and, seemingly overnight, it started to flower. I will have to save what I can but, in the meantime, it is looking beautiful in my front yard.

Last year I planted some calendula. At the end of the season they died back and I was not sure if I would need to replant. No need; they have sprung into life with some of the happiest looking flowers in the garden.


Later we drove up into the Adelaide Hills to collect our daughter from grandma’s. I decided to take some more shots ‘on the road’ to practice trying to focus quickly to capture transient scenes and objects. This is not an easy task.

Going up the hill in the early afternoon:

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and down the hill in the late afternoon…
1308greenhillRdPMI took a few when we were up at the vineyard. This was my favourite, looking into the cow paddock next door.

and a few on the way home again. The last one was an interesting fluke… There was a vapour trail from one of the airforce planes. Serendipity is wonderful; the powerlines (out of focus) followed the line of the vapour trail beautifully.

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First Day of Spring; a Photographic Record