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

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.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Falling on Deaf Ears.

I was going to write some more on writing today but…

(I waited a few days to write this so it would not be too ranty)

Every time I buy a tshirt online, I search through previously purchased tees to confirm the sizing – as was the case with this order as well.  I noticed that there is now a larger size available. I double checked their sizing chart. I tried on a favourite tee (from the same online company). A comfortable fit. I ordered the same size as both my existing tee and the size chart confirmed that was the correct thing to do.

I waited. For a month. This was expected  as it had to be printed first. On Saturday I took delivery of a tshirt (from a well known online tshirt company). I eagerly pulled it from the packaging, held it up and wondered… Was it the size that I ordered. It looked like a kiddy tshirt. The ‘tag’ inside confirmed it was supposed to be the correct size. I tried it on. It was waayyyyy too tight.

My mood tumbled. I was crushed. The anticipation that had built over the time fell away to reveal the angry disillusionment phase of purchasing online. I waited a while and shot off an email to the company. I refuse to pay out again for return shipping for something that was not correct, according to the information supplied. Not that the tee is any longer available. It was one of those ‘one time only’ deals.

Further ‘research’ has revealed that some of my friends have recently had the same sizing problems with the same tshirt company. Our current theory is that it has changed its supplier. I now await any reply from the company.

There has been many murmurings about inconsistent clothing sizing, not only between countries (A China size Xl is NOT the same as an Australian size XL!) but also within the same country. I can go to different shops and try on the supposed same size only too have one swim on me and the other mimic a corset.

Over the years there has been agreement on this. I have signed a couple of petitions, even attended a ‘sizing survey’ that was researching women to ascertain the current average size – and another petition resulting from this. Choice Magazine has done articles – in an effort to kick complacency in its (supposedly a different size) arse. Too often television current affairs shows do an article (most likely as it is the ‘latest trending’ topic) only to have it fall on the deaf ears of the clothing industry.

Okay, it ended in a rant. Inconsistent sizing must be stopped!

Art/Photogaphy: Trying out new digital effects:
chess 2013

toilingCostumes: making them myself ensures that they fit – the joys of ‘toile’ing – for my 18th century French costume
Reading/Writing: Two ‘flash fiction’ stories finished (under 600 words) and submitted for consideration to a children’s anthology.
- Lost- Mum’s Theory on Cats.

Falling on Deaf Ears.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Step 1: Admission

gr4BookweekPrize (2)
I was first lured into writing at the tender age of  nine (grade 4). I wrote a poem and won the Bookweek prize at my Primary School. (A book: West of Widdershins.) If only it was that easy now.  I was addicted. At first it was a sporadic indulgence culminating in fourteen-year-old teenage angst poetry and a 200 + page SF book at the age of seventeen (grade 12) Note to self: Never tell writers’ groups about long past, possibly teenage angst-ridden writings. They will insist on reading it. (There is no way they will get access to the teenage-angst poetry though.)

For some time I was reformed. I knuckled down and finished my university degree. Though I did not admit it to myself, I lapsed and wrote a variety of background and stories for my passion of (now-called) tabletop roleplaying (you know – with  rulebooks, dice, notebooks etc) I convinced myself that these were research and technical things and not fiction.

Then came work; practicle and scientific and for the good of others’ health. Somewhere along the line, I fell in with a comic book crowd who had scored a government arts grant. I did artwork and inking but secretly I wanted to write something. The grant ran out and I was spared the slippery slope of starting up writing again.

cold angel 2_0011I pretended that the articles I wrote for the (now defunct) Roleplaying magazine Australian Realms, were more non-fiction… with pretty pictures. How could that be considered writing? Nor could the articles I wrote on other passions such as costuming – with articles on Florentine costuming (after all there was a lot of research done for those) or documenting various costumes I had made.

I almost fell into the beckoning maw of memoir writing in 2006. I was discovering things about my past that had been hidden to me. Things about my father that I had been sheltered from. I recently found some of these scratchings and was surprised that they sounded as if they were written by a real writer.

I did not realise I was a writer in primary school.

I hid the book I wrote in highschool.

I did not admit that I was a writer when penning articles for magazines.

I pushed away the ideas and writings for a memoir as I was not ready to face the daemons… quite yet.

It took a series of stressful events, for me to start rediscover the writer within me – she who has been lurking for almost forty years, not wanting to surface for the fear of rejection. This year I have given into the muse. I have uncovered things from my past, I have re-visited issues that have plagued me and I have found a catharsis in  putting my thoughts and words on the page.

Subconsciously I knew that I was a writer. I had kept flirting with it but never quite giving in. It was not a safe career choice, as my mother would say. It was not until I had finished one of my short stories and actually sent it to a competition, that I started the process of admitting to myself that I was a writer.

Even then I was researching the internet to find the definition of a writer, lest I was too presumptuous in using the word; I had always thought I was not allowed to be a writer until I got something published. Only when I had been shortlisted for one of the competitions did I allow myself to use the word. Silly me.  I had been a writer all along.  I write because I must. When I don’t write, I am grumpy (er).

I have these weird and wonderful characters knocking on the inside of my skull, demanding to be given life. When I do write them, they have a life of their own. They have always been there. Now they are allowed to come out and play. I have a couple of novels floating around in my imagination. One has been there since university (I now have one chapter down on paper and much more in my head). The other is forming from my love of steampunk. It is populated with characters that have been trying to find a home; they now have one.

So, here it goes…

Hello. My name is Karen. I am a writer.

Step 1: Admission