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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Of Deadlines, Short Stories and Novellas.

Over April, I have been striving towards a self-imposed goal of 10,000 words as part of CampNaNoWriMo. Regular readers will have read about it during over the past month. Fear not, this is the last post on the topic… for now.

I have mentioned previously that one thing I am constantly fighting is procrastination. I use deadlines as a means of forcing myself to get things done. I have used competitions, regular blog dates and this year, I decided to try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – 50,000 words on a new project - in November.) I had an idea for a novella. Pefect! I have started a box with notes, which I need to add to before November. I have taken holidays.  I can write, write, write.

Then I found out about the mini-version.  I could name my own goal, from 10,000 to 50,000 words.  I had a short story in mind, #3 in my growing Doctor Viola Stewart Adventures, using some of my favourite characters. It is based in the same world as The Department of Curiosities, but is less gadgetry steampunk, still alternative history. So far I have:
  • #1: An Eye for Detail – short listed for Australian Literature Review Mystery Short Story Competition, July, 2013. (3000 words)
  • #2: The Magic Lantern (completed – 3500 words)
  • #3: Doctor Jack. (in progress) ( 10,000 words, and counting).
The month started out in a very promising way but quickly fell apart. Days 1-7: 400 words. After a week of migraines, I was still only at four hundred words. Sigh. Procrastination had set in once more but, hey, I had twenty-three more days to write myself out of the hole. Another spurt got me to 1900 words, over the next five days.

Days 8-22: The pattern went like this: a spurt of writing, some plot tinkering, followed by three to four days of intense research – in an effort to make me look like I knew at least a little bit about the historical facts related to the story.

Day 23: I finally wrapped my head around the geography for some of the action and sat down for eight hours, writing out a rough plot line so that everything would track – logistically and timeline-wise.  I now had an ending. But.. 10,000 words would not be enough?

Day 25:  Doctor Jack has struck.. again. Two more, and the ensuing investigation, to go. Eight hundred and sixteen words til I hit my CampNaNoWriMo goal of 10,000. It was obvious the story would not end there. There is at least another 2,000 to 4,000 words to wrap it up. This is no longer a short story. This is my first novella. I am loving these characters.

Doctor Jack – 1st draft- Deadline 30th April, 2014: 

Day 26: First draft is still ongoing. I am now writing beyond my goal and just starting the third phase of the story. Yeah for deadlines! When will I be done? When the characters have completed their story.

Doctor Jack – 1st draft- Deadline 30th April, 2014: 

Introducing: Doctor Jack: Story #3 in The Adventures of Viola Stewart. (I so wanted to call it The Two Doctors Adverntures!)

There is someone stalking the women of London… again. Oculist Doctor Viola Stewart feels there is something strangely familiar about the murders. She convinces her friend Dr Collins(local police pathologist)to assist in her investigations. Together they uncover a sinister plot and a secret Society hell bent on creating a new order.”

Wednesday will be my final sprint – during the Writer’s Race – to see how much further I can get before the CampNaNoWriMo deadline at midnight. Then for the revisions, rewrites and edits.

Manuscript Word Progress:(on hold for the month)
Total Words:  
Revised Words: 
At 1st draft only:

Of Deadlines, Short Stories and Novellas.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Of Vineyards, Fruit Trees and Autumnal Bliss

DSC_2016I love Autumn. It is my favourite time of the year. The cooling breezes – so refreshing after the summer dust, the cicadas trilling throughout the afternoon, the apples adorning the trees. I love to get out in the garden and dig up the earth without burning to a crisp or dying of dehydration.

I plan potential landscaping projects. I plan which bushes need repotting or transferring to a more advantageous spot. Mostly I love to sit with a cup of tea and ponder.  This week I managed to dig (and manure) two of my vegetable plots. One was sown with mustard seed, in preparation for tomatoes, and the other will have broccoli seeds (saved from last year’s crop). It already has an errant self-seeded pruple broccoli now in residence. I do not spray harmful chemicals in the garden – companion planting, crop rotation and organic gardening is my preference.

bed3 and 4 mustard4 brocolli self seeded

I love to visit my inlaw’s vineyard - Parish Hill Wines, in the Adelaide Hills. I am told it is a great pity that I am a teetotaler. (Well, that is what my friends say – they love getting bottles of wine as gifts!). I feel right at home fossicking around there orchard, sitting on their verandah or taking my camera for a wander.

Today the vines were still mostly covered with birdnetting, the odd leaf starting to show a hint of gold. We came home with over a kilo of quinces, over a dozen Jonathan Smith apples and a dozen eggs.

DSC_2018  DSC_2021

I love Autumn.

Of Vineyards, Fruit Trees and Autumnal Bliss

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hard Work, Goals and Inspirations.

In recent blogs, I have documented some of my writing journey – CampNaNoWriMo, attending the weekly Writer’s Race (hosted by The Australian Writer’s Marketplace online on Facebook), working at my ‘day job’, and doing the domestic chores that can not be avoided.

This week, I have pulled myself out of writing doldrums and have (finally) written almost 5000 words towards my CampNaNoWriMo goal. (I do tend to work better to deadlines or goals – which is why I use the progress gauges below.) I am quite relieved, as I originally chose to attempt CampNaNoWriMo specifically as another tool to fight off procrastination – one of my biggest enemies.

I chose the minimum goal level of 10,000 words, so I could get a feel for how difficult it will be in November, when I attempt the full NaNoWriMo experience, of 50,000 words – and a new story project that is knocking at my skull to get out. (I have taken time of work for that one, increasing my writing days.)  Maybe this would also get me back into the habit of daily writing.

Having not yet published anything (other than my shortlisted short story, online at the competition website), I thought I had little to offer already established writers. Well, this week has been an amazing ride for me! A short while ago, a long-time author friend of mine commented on how enthusiastic I am about my writing and asked me to write a blog post. This week a new author friend has asked to read Doctor Jack when it is complete, and author friend has said how I inspired her to get some writing done.

Sometimes the smallest comment can have the biggest consequences.  A big thank you to the three of you – you know who you are – you have boosted my confidence not only in continuing my writing, keeping up with my daily practice but also in sharing my journey with others, hoping that I may inspire them as you have inspired me.

Doctor Jack – 1st draft- Deadline 30th April, 2014: 

Manuscript Word Progress:(on hold for the month)
Total Words:  
Revised Words: 
At 1st draft only:

Hard Work, Goals and Inspirations.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blood Moon Rising.

Blood moons don’t happen every day. They only happen once in a … blue moon. (Well, maybe not that often.)  I read someone online quoting Blood Moons only happen every 800 years or so. They are not that rare – about every sevearl years or so. However, we are going to experience this phenomenon four times over  the next eighteen months – to the chagrin of many doomsdayers.

What is a Blood Moon? It is a lunar eclipse, during a full moon that results in a shadow causing the moon to appear ‘crimson’ (though it looked more like rosey pink to me).

I planned to take this opportunity to have another crack at photographing the moon. In the past, due to non-programmable point-and-click cameras, bad luck and insufficient lens magnification on my SLR and misplacing the tripod – all I had managed were some luminescent round circles suspended in the night sky.

I set to work doing some basic research on how to get a photo which would detail the craters in the moon, using only the equipment I already had. I felt just a bit inadequate – go to manual, close down the aperture, so the oncoming light won’t drown out the detail, and keep the shutter speed short (for the same reason). Why had I failed before?

I first tried some shots on 200 ASA but found 100 ASA gave much better detail (as would be expected). I think I had just been lazy (using automatic on occasion) and overthinking it (when previously using manual settings).

Unfortunately, by the time I arrived home after work, the blood had drained from the moon leaving only a spectacular full moon only partially eclipsed. So here are my shots of the partially eclipsed (non-spectacularly red) moon and the full moon in all its glory.  It ain’t rocket science (unless you are studying or travelling to the moon).

eclipse 63pmc full moon

More information on lunar eclipses can be found on NASA’s website.

One of my favourite books: Richard R Green’s Blue Moon Rising - always cheers me up.
Camp NaNoWriMo update: 4272 words so far. (almost half way there)

Blood Moon Rising.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life, the Universe and Cardigans.

Sometimes life surprises you. A few months ago, I was having a rough patch. It felt like the Universe was turning my existence into one gigantic (and not very pleasant) bad joke.  I buried my head in books, collecting bits for steampunk outfits and writing – in an effort to console myself.

There was also quite a bit of procrastination, mainly in the form of surfing the net. During one of my – ahem – research stints, I found this really cute knitting pattern for a small octopus to decorate clothing. Unfortunately, I cannot knit. I tried knitting once. It wasn’t pretty. I have resigned myself to the fact that knitting is one skill I will never master.

TARDIS and octopusSMAfter lamenting of my ineptitude on social media,  one of my dear costuming friends offered to knit me one of the cute things (in purple!). When it arrived there were a few extra trinkets she had made me – a TARDIS necklace and box. It was a wonderful reminder there are still genuinely caring people in this world.

kraken 2 sewingLast month  while op-shopping, I found the perfect purple cardigan – complete with tags and unworn! 
kraken 3 on
Today was a little chilly. Yes, I admit it. I decided it was time to introduce the octopus to the cardigan. After plumping up the head with stuffing, I pinned the octopus in place, then hand sewed it on.

kraken 5 onMischief managed. I now have another vaguely steampunk inspired item of everyday clothing. I will have fun wearing this over winter. I love octopi (or octopuses – depending on the version you prescribe to.)

Every time I wear it, I  will think of wonderful people who care about others. I will remember the positive things in life. I will remember that the Universe can be an amazing place.

Plus the octopus is so cute.

Life, the Universe and Cardigans.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Best Laid Plans of a Writer

I had big plans this week. It was earmarked for a major writing spree on my short story Doctor Jack as my CampNaNoWriMo attempt.
That was the plan…

For the past week, I have had cranium-splitting headache. I did what I tell my patients to do and saw my doctor and optometrist colleague.  My biggest fear was my blood pressure. It was acceptable. Phew! I am now waiting for blood test results and am armed with a retinal digital scan (photo), and am off to my ophthalmologist tomorrow. ( I was due anyway.)

This has been a big shake up for me. I just don’t want to admit that I am getting older. Strangely I am feeling like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I am ready to grab life by the b…..s

The most annoying aspect of this saga is the grinding halt to my writing. I have spent some time researching today (my excuse for procrastinating). However I must admit my word count is only 400 – no increase from last week’s post. To get back on track I will need to write 2600 words today. Realistically that may not happen but I am preparing to pull myself together and aim for 4000 words by the end of the week.

Now that I have admitted it to the world, it will give me more incentive to soldier on and get back into my daily writing schedule – and feel more like a real writer. I am sure this week’s writers’ group will also give me a gentle nudge.

Wish me luck.

Art/Photography: Artwork published in Published Art – I33 Fencing in the Style of the Walpurgis Manuscript by Andrew Kenner.

Costume Bit: Next on the list is another corset of British flavour.

Manuscript Word Progress:
Total Words:  
Revised Words: At 1st draft only:

The Best Laid Plans of a Writer

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Costumes, Conventions and Steampunky hijinks

Sorry if the timing is off. I got to sleep in one hour this morning. Daylight savings finished last night.

6This month I have been making a new Victorian Corset. My original one was made many years ago. It was an experiment. I had no one to help me with the fitting. Its time has passed.

Over four weeks, Lynne – from the Australian Costumers’ Guild – ran corset making workshops. At last I had help with fitting!  A godsend!

I planned to use some pinstripe suiting (snaffooed at a Spotlight sale). This can be used for both steampunk and dieselpunk outfits. I have 8m (one of those ‘half price if you buy to the end of the roll’ deals).

For the costumers out there, I have photos of the ‘corset on the go’ on my FB page – The Florence Files/The Purple Files – Steampunk Creations photo album. For those without FB, here is a quick rundown.

7 sewing hips  9adding busk 8 waisttape above waist line14 front busk in a  16 sewing in busk  18b putting boning in22 pinning edging bias 24 pinning edging

I highly recommend having your corset custom fitted – making them much more comfortable than an off the rack corset. Make your own or buy one. It is up to you.

Saturday was Day 1 of the local Oz ComicCon. I had planned to wear my steampunk Scout Mistress. This was quickly sidelined when the weather unexpectedly heated up earlier in the week. I spent yesterday sewing (rather than writing) and managed to finish! This meant I could wear my new airship crew costume (which is much cooler with a linen blouse and cotton skirt). 

The accessories were sourced from opshops, garage sales and ‘cheap’ shops. At 11 o’clock on Friday night, I decided that I needed an airship badge. A quick delve into my ‘findings box’ and I whipped one up.  Here is the final outfit. Very comfortable and hands free!

Manuscript Word Progress:
Total Words:  
Revised Words: 
At 1st draft only:

Camp NaNoWriMo: 400 words and almost 1500 in research notes. (now the sewing has finished, the writing will renew in earnest).

Costumes, Conventions and Steampunky hijinks

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Of Doctors, Incentives and Writing Camps.

Introducing Doctor Jack for Camp NaNoWriMo:

One of my biggest problems is procrastination and discipline. Over the past two months, my writing output has slowed down due to irregularities in my writing schedule.  Last year I was concentrating on short stories. Competition deadlines proved a very effective incentive for establishing a daily writing schedule. I was on a roll.

This gave me the confidence to finally start writing my manuscript The Department of Curiosities - but it has been a two-edged sword. Over the past (almost) two months, my writing schedule has become more erratic. I have managed to complete 30% of my manuscript (which I am extremely happy with) but the barreling pace for my ‘stream of consciousness’ first draft has slowed down.

I started looking for something to give me a kick up my butt. I had discovered NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month – last year. It was tempting; deadlines have always worked for me. But, due to my health situation, I decided the added stress would not be advisable.

It is now almost six months later and I have discovered Camp NaNoWriMo – a less stressful and more flexible version. Like NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo is held over 30 days. Instead of a 50,000 word target, there is a flexible 10,000- 999,000 word target, which also allows for short stories and work on other projects (NaNoWriMo in November is aimed at starting and finishing a single manuscript project).

I have decided to dip my toes in and get a feel for how intense November may be. My April limit is 10,000 words – towards a new short story – Doctor Jack – featuring my two Victorian doctors – Viola Stewart and John Collins.  Any shortfall will be directed at continuing my manuscript. I am hoping a short break will give my creative brain time to bubble away and sort out two plot points that have been bugging me for The Department of Curiosities, while I write another Viola Stewart Adventure (and stop my friend Sue from bugging me for a new story!)

I was hoping to put pen to paper and start writing the actual story today but, alas, I was sidetracked by necessary research. I should have done this earlier but my headspace was still immersed in The Department of Curiosities.  I did manage about four hours of reading research, up to 1000 words on background research and a really cool map (yes, I did need the map for times and reasons for travel).

I now have a basic outline for the plot with one or two motive/plot holes I am trying to plug. My creative brain is feeling really hinky right now. Welcome to the world of Doctor Jack.

Doctor Jack research 1404