Thursday, November 19, 2015


Forty years ago today, I landed in Australia: a tiny, pale, extremely English boy of only-just 5.

I've never been back. Never been able to afford to. I've spent 89% of my life in one corner of South Western Australia-- 2 years in Kambalda, 2 years in Narrogin, the rest in a conurbation roughly 160 kilometres long with Mandurah in the South and Clarkson in the North. I currently live 12 kilometres from the house we lived in from the time we moved to Rockingham until my parents divorced.

To paraphrase an old comedian pal of mine, Vic Demised: I set out to explore the world, and got as far as Baldivis.

So, despite what Luscious says when she wants to wind me up after I've called them 'sweeties' once too often, or pronounced it DARby instead of DUHby, I'm not only not English (I was naturalised on my 11th birthday, so neither philosophically nor legally), I'm not even a decently cosmopolitan Australian. I'm just a Rockingham boy with tickets on himself.



A week or so ago, I turned 45. I’ve outlived Billie Holliday, F Scott Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Jackson Pollock…… of course, they achieved something, so, you know, I‘d better keep plugging away. My family celebrated by sending me out to see They Might Be Giants in concert-- one of my very favourite bands, and as always, they utterly kicked it: their seven-minute, foot-stomping, pogo-inducing, stadium rock version of their 90 second children's song Robot Parade will live long in the memory, as will bumping into a whole passel of colleagues and friends who were out getting their geekrock on. It was a weird moment-- for reasons too long to go into, the last time I'd seen TMBG was on the night of my eldest daughter's birth, when I was a very different person, with a wholly different life, and yet, some of the people I bumped into were the same people I had bumped into that night, as well, when I had only just dipped my toes into the world of authordom and SF fandom, and seeing their faces in the crowd was proof that I might, just maybe, have found my village. 14 years later, and it felt like seeing them again was an indicator of something I'd lost along the way-- nice to see them, but an unspoken realisation that, outside of thee sorts of occasions, I'm rarely, if ever, going to do so.
It got me looking back at some of my earlier birthday notes, and in particular, some of the things I was contemplating when I turned 40, half a decade ago. Back in 2010, as I was contemplating my fifth decade stretching out before me, I confidently aimed my thoughts towards becoming a full time writer by, well, today. It was never likely to happen, I happily acknowledged, but it felt like something to aspire to. It felt like a goal that, knowing I could not attain, I could at least track progress towards. I might not be a full-time writer, I reasoned, but I’d at least be writing.
It was a positive thought, but then, I was pretty positive all round. Five years later, and I think it’s fair to say it’s not that I’ve strayed off the path, as that somehow I got turned around, and the trees are too thick to remember where the path was.
I’d just started my job, and it still looked like the kind of job that I’d lain awake at nights begging for. It’s not turned out that way. It’s soured in the intervening years, and I’m far more miserable there than it ever makes me happy. I have managed to sell three novels, and I’ve got no complaints there. But slowly, inevitably, the day job has chipped and chipped and chipped away at my creativity, and my time, so that I would be lucky to have written 10,000 words this year. Three short stories, one of them a commission, none of them over 4000 words. That’s been my lot. I haven’t drawn a thing in two years. More and more, if I have free time, I’ve spent it flaked out in front of the television or tucked away in the garage, beavering away at the Lego hobby I’ve used to fill in the gaps where writing used to make me happy. Artistically, it’s hard not to feel like my time has come: it happens to most of us, sometime or other. Sometimes life ends our creativity before death gets the chance.
So it goes.
Thankfully, what happiness I do have comes from my family. I’m now older than my parents were when they split up, and my children are exactly the same age as my brother and I were. It’s an odd little confluence of numbers, but it has gnawed away at me since I realised. In my own, personal, time-stream, the next 5 years weren’t good ones. I lost my home, experienced genuine poverty, was abandoned by friends and teachers, viciously bullied, was closeted in close quarters with an embittered, spiteful mother whose anger was quick to surface and always aimed as verbal barbs at the people who couldn’t escape them—my brother and I. I clawed my way through high school by sheer dint of refusal to capitulate. It wasn’t until I found my way to University, and the first genuine freedom I’d known in years, that I was able to draw breath, sort through my emotions and aspirations, and try to become something of consequence. The track was a narrow one, and I nearly fell off it completely—my brother did, and as a consequence, we haven’t spoken in several years. I didn't, but it was a close run thing. I look back at the person I was before my first wife died, and genuinely believe none of you would have like him. I don't, and I'm pretty certain I didn't back then, either.
So, maybe, at 45, that’s my victory, and my task. I give my family a good home. My children are happy, contented, aspirational, safe, and comfortably middle class where both their Mum and I were scraping along the underside of the poverty line. My wife is talented, caring, constantly bettering herself and passing that betterment on to the rest of us for our own enrichment. We have money— if not in the bank, then at least in our pockets. Our food is fresh, or clothes new, our haircuts from a shop.
I’ve been an author, a stand-up comedian, a poet, a cartoonist, a tennis coach, a film student, a reviewer, a jewellery salesman, an artist. I thought that would last forever. I certainly thought so five years ago. Now, contemplating the next five years, I can’t help but think that side of things is over. I’ve shrunk, until I’m just another husband and father with a hateful job and too much TV. I just have to be a good one.

Monday, November 02, 2015


Here's a little treat to start your month off: my story The Smell of Wet Grass, over at SQ Mag, in full, for free.

Go. Read. Enjoy.

The read the rest of the magazine, and enjoy that, as well!

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting my lovely editor, Sue, who was in town for many reasons, one of which was to meet me and hand over the first ARC (Advance Reader Copy-- the version of the book given to reviewers, booksellers and various ne'er-do-wells in the hope of generating buzz before the official launch) of Magrit.

Magrit will be officially released in March next year, as a fully-illustrated hardcover. But I can, now, finally give you an indication of what it will look like. So, as a little Halloween treat, with a cover and interior illustrations by the wonderfully talented Amy Daoud, here's a little advance glimpse of Magrit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Yesterday I headed down to the Mundijong library to give a workshop as part of the 2015 Write Along the Highway calendar. It was a small, but vibrant, group, and plenty of exercises were burned through and words written.

This one was a lot of fun, and people came up with a fantastic range of responses, so I thought I'd pop it up here for anyone else who might get something out of it. It's called Macbeth's Porter, because, well, that's what it is.

MACBETH Act 2, Scene 3
Enter a porter. Knocking within.
Here's a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of Hell Gate, he should have old turning the key. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of Beelzebub? Here's a farmer, that hang'd himself on th' expectation of plenty. Come in time! Have napkins enow about you; here you'll sweat for't. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Who's there, in the other devil's name? Faith, here's an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who's there? Faith, here's an English tailor come hither, for stealing out of a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may roast your goose. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Never at quiet! What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I'll devil-porter it no further: I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. (Knock.) Anon, anon! [Opens the gate.] I pray you, remember the porter.

Write the scene as if:

  1. He actually is the porter of Hell Gate;
  2. One of the named possibilities actually is knocking; or
  3. The porter is describing what he actually sees, but reality is different. Why, and how?


Pretty, isn't it? It's the cover to the upcoming issue of SQ Magazine, available from November 1st. And if you look in the bottom right-hand corner, you'll see my name. 

Head on over to the SQ website and pick up a copy, to read The Smell of Wet Grass amongst a whole bunch of fine fiction.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


This Monday I'll be out at Mundijong Library running a writing workshop as part of this year's Write Along the Highway program. Last year's workshop was a barrel of fun, and I've got a mass of weird and wonderful exercises to push your boundaries all lined up. There are still places, so get on board and register on the WAtH website. Here's a little taste-- one I've dubbed The Princes in the Tower:

1. Describe an unusual interior space, one with lots of interesting appendages, gadgets, signs and/or features: an aircraft carrier; back room of a wunderkammer; boiler room of an apartment complex; restoration room of a museum, etc. The room must be a) real (no wizard towers, mines of Moria, etc) and b) innocent in purpose (no serial killer den or torture chambers)

2. Place two children in this space. Give them two possible reasons for being there-- one perfectly logical, the other less apparent.

3. One of these children will now die, for one of the reasons you have outlined. Make it so.

For this and more light-hearted, frabjous fungasms of writing joy-- check in, register, and join us!

Monday, October 19, 2015


My good friend Sue Ann has profiled my building space and AFOL journey at her blog The Brick Room Blog.

When you've finished reading my entry, have a scroll through the rest of the profiles. It's genuinely fascinating reading, encompassing everything from arts practice to family togetherness to alternative approaches to architecture.


Luscious and I are taking a week to hit Melbourne up during January, which will include a chance for me to get my head in to Brickvention, Melbs' fucknormous Lego display/convention/paloozarama while we're there.

As a way of sneaking into the AFOL day that happens before the public display, I've volunteered to add a spaceport to a community-build Micropolis city. If you're not familiar with Micropolis, the title should give you a bit of a hint-- everything is built to a teensy-tiny scale, on standard 16x16 'modules': four modules together equals a standard 32x32 baseplate. You can learn more here.

With Luscious flying out to attend a weekend of Weight Watcher's coach hobnobbing and general frivolity over the weekend, I surrendered control of the TV to the Brattersbabes and spent Friday night, and the early parts of Saturday morning, having a crack at my first ever micropolis build.

End result: I might be a little hooked.

What do you think?

The rocket leaves its hangar and journeys to where two astronauts wait atop the gantry, watched over by the control tower behind. 

Spaceships arrive for the launch, cruising past the administration building with its memorial statue in front. In the foreground, two aliens leaves their ships and make their way to the viewing platform, while a third gets in a sneaky abduction before the festivities begin.


A top view of the whole shebang, showing the cars in the car park, the viewing platform, and the various tiny 1x1 people wandering about.


For the past couple of years I've been blogging my annual trip to observe the Lego display staged by the WA Brick Society as part of the annual Model Railway Show at the Claremont Showgrounds. As a Lego fan it's a wonderful occasion, but also somewhat frustrating, as the gap between "I like" and "I can do" is a large, and unless you're a member of that group based north of the distant Swan River, exclusive one.

That's why, when the opportunity to display at Bricktober arrived as part of my membership of the Perth Lego User Group, I jumped on it. Apart from a chance to expose myself to the disdain or otherwise of those I'd critiqued in the past (hint: didn't happen. They're utterly lovely fellows, one and all), it was a great opportunity to take part in a community gathering the likes of which I hadn't experienced since SF Cons went slightly sour on me; to be one of the in-crowd, the insiders, that merry band of brothers united by a common love, and all that jazz.

So, last weekend, I boxed up my 'Tomb of the Unknown Spaceman' MOC after 6 month of construction, as well as half a dozen spacecraft, and took them to Cannington Showgrounds to display them at the 2nd annual Bricktober display, conducted by the indefatigable Stephen and Joanna Kendall for Ascot Rotary. And had a bloody ball in the process.

As someone who works in event management, the thing that struck me was just how well Bricktober is run, It's a huge event-- the Canning Showgrounds main hall is a big room, and while my little display just about filled half a standard trestle table (bumphed up to a full table by the addition of the stand-alone ships), I pretty much had the smallest display in the room: Rod Iseppi, the fellow two down from me, whose Tattooine display won the People's Choice Award, overflowed 4 trestles, and still wasn't the largest display. In total, there were something like 30 exhibitors, yet the room never felt crowded or cramped, and with more than 7000 attendees coming through over the 2 days, space was at a premium. 

Rod Iseppis' fucknormous Tattooine display. An absolutely stunning beast of a thing, and a well-deserved public choice winner.

Staggered entry times meant that we were never overwhelmed, and the range of activities for attendees to sample-- stop-motion movies, brick pit, interactive displays, crafts, technic-driving stands, and well-stocked sausage sizzle and drink stops (necessary, as both days were hotter than Satan's armpit) were just damn fun. An appearance by the 501st Legion, Star Wars cos players par excellence, and some superhero character cosplayers, helped maintain a happy, family-friendly atmosphere. 

A Stormtrooper helps keep alive my weirdly high success rate in getting photos of Star Wars characters posing with Daleks (It's true-- I have more than anyone would deem necessary) while the Liberal Party candidate for Canning presses the flesh of voters too young to force-choke.

And the crowds were, for the most part, utterly fantastic, split roughly 50/50 between kids dragging their parents from display to display and parents doing the same to their kids. My personal mix seemed to consist mainly of a) kids who loved the Daleks I'd included and wanted to talk about the upcoming Dr Who set, b) Dads the same, c) kids who loved the space ships because hey, spaceships!, d) Dads who loved the nods I'd included to the sets we grew up with when Classic Space was just Space, and e) people who couldn't quite believe that what I'd built was entirely the product of my own imagination and weren't a bunch of sets they'd just not seen before. Which, any way you cut it, is a compliment. Especially the guy who flat out didn't believe it, and called me a liar when I insisted :)

Still, as Paul-- the fellow next to me whose display was a medieval castle siege-- and I quickly, discovered, being next to a gigantic Star Wars display meant that the most common phrase we heard all weekend was "Look, spaceships. Look, a castle. OH, WOW, STAR WAAAAARRRRRSSSSS!"..... Next year, I'm going to put a Dalek minifig next to a Stormtrooper minifig in the middle of the table and save myself a tonne of work :)

Not everybody was complimentary, of course. The really fun thing about being behind the table, as anyone who works in customer service can verify, is that you can become invisible, or even more entertainingly, a servant. And it means people develop a delightful habit of saying exactly what they mean. I'm too old, and battle-scarred, to find it anything other than funny, so the best comments of the weekend, for me were:

Not the kid who looked at my display, read the sign, looked at the display again and said "Tomb of the Unknown Spaceman? I don't even know what an unknown spaceman is. Why would you even build that?" But his Dad, who replied "Yeah, I know," and moved him away.

And the middle-class accumulation of crust and wig powder who spied this cute couple amongst my display:

You there! I wanna take you to a gay bar!

And told me in no uncertain terms how disgusting it was that I would think to show off such obvious gays. For Pete's sake, can't we even have a display of children's toys without this sort of stuff?

Oh, those pesky gay aliens. Gay, plastic, minifigure make-believe, not-real toy aliens. Ruining our youth with their gay plastic alien vibes. 

Your Liberal voter in action, ladies and gentlemen.

Of course the best part of such comments, as anyone who works in customer service will tell you, is that the speaker has no idea how genuinely hilarious they are being. And when you're surrounded by the excellent crew of fellow exhibitors that I was, the whole weekend was one big puppy-cuddle of camaraderie. Which doesn't even take into account the displays. 

Oh my God, the displays. Let me tell's 'ee, I thought I'd done all right for myself. Thursday night, I thought I'd acquitted myself quite well for six months toodling abut and a first display. Then, by the time I'd finished setting up on Friday, I was pretty sure I was the least accomplished person in the room. Then I turned up on Saturday morning and saw what everyone else had unpacked, and knew without a shadow of a doubt that I am an embarrassment to my species.

Where shall I begin?

How about Quentin, fellow Baldivis builder, and his castle? Or The Kendalls and their insanely huge City layouts with the single-piece-by-single-piece harbour water so large I would have snapped and started my killing spree about a third of the way through? Or Dale's pirate cove that just went on, and on, and on, with more detail than an OCD sufferer's self-portrait? Or Ben. Young, pretty, looks-like-a-precocious-twelve-year-old-Ben. With his castle. And his brick-built dragon. And his Iron Man glove and armbands and chest rig that I thought looked so cool lying on the table surrounded by blue-prints and calipers and screwdriver and pencil and whatnots also, all, entirely built from Lego. Until ten minutes after I complimented him on how cool they were and he showed up at my table. WEARING THEM!

Skilled doesn't cover it. These guys are artists, working in a medium with seemingly infinite possibilities. 

So, next year I'll be back. With a bigger display. And ideas that push my design skills a bit further. Maybe the GARC finishing line and podium. Or the zombie apocalypse streetscape. A graveyard scene might be fun. Or Star Wars. Everyone likes Star Wars...... Because, godsdamnit, I may be a noob, and a cleft-thumbed idiot, but I'm competitive. I may never be the best one in the room, but I hate being the worst. 

Now, the pictures:

Quentin Slobe's utterly amazing castle.

One of two giant City displays.

Approximately a quarter of Joanna Kendall's harbour. Made up of 1x1 plates and wedges. One by one by one by one by one by one by where's my bloody gun....

Dale Horsley's immense, detailed, and utterly joyous Pirate Cove.

Ben's castle. Talented little so-and-so.

More Ben. 

You think this looks cool, right?

Talented, talented boy. 

And what of my build? What of 6 months work, and all those pieces? Well, the thing about Lego is, as much fun as it is to put together......


Sunday, September 27, 2015


... is that there has to be a second rule because we have to have an even number of rules.....

I've spoken before about the benefits-- and far too often, otherwise-- of writing groups. But in Write Club, a loose conglomeration of practicing and aspiring authors who meet fortnightly to have lunch before invading the State Library or the Edith Cowan University library (on a rotating basis) with the sole aim of bashing out words, I think I may have found my intervention.

Due to Real Life (TM), Luscious and I only manage to attend on a monthly basis, when the group meets at the State Library. However, the opportunity to sit in silence-- well, relative silence, given that my entire music library sits on a hard drive smaller than my palm and I've just purchased some bitching, high-end Sennheiser cans that I need to use at every opportunity-- ignore the world, and simply focus on a page with no external distractions is proving valuable beyond words. or, to put it another way, valuable exactly in words.

Last month, it enabled me to crash out the first draft of a new short entitled General Janvier-- my first short of the year, would you believe-- which I've been able to redraft and get out into the world since. And yesterday, I was able to throw 2200 words at a 300 word stub called Plague Rat, finish the story and re-title it, so that the now-2500 word story Gun is ready to edit and send out. Those 300 useless words have been staring at the inside of my Incomplete folder for the better part of 6 years. This is valuable time indeed. It's nice to be back.

Between me and the outside world lie a wooden table, a breakfast bar, the kitchen sink, and the far wall of the kitchen.

He walks through them all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


So, yeah, I've joined Weight Watchers. In fact, as you're reading this, I'm sitting outside the meeting room, waiting to start my third meeting.

It's Luscious' doing, really. She joined some months ago, swallowed the pill without complaint, and has worked so hard she's lost a fifth of her body weight and been approached to become a coach.

Faced with that sort of dedication and positive results, what chance did I have?

So, I've a fitbit on my wrist and my sneakers packed in my work bag, and all the crisps and choccie bars and pizzas and beer have been banished to the you've-had-your-share shelves. And I'm eating lunch at my desk and going for walks at lunch time, and generally just trying to follow in Luscious' tiny, increasingly-light-on-the-ground footsteps.

I weighed 85 kilograms when I had my car accident, maybe a kilo heavier when Sharon died. What I weigh now is no longer the fault of those experiences. So, no more excuses, or justifications. Tackle the weight, and the pain and lifestyle will fall into line.

First week in I lost 2.6 kilograms, which felt like a good start but also gives you some indication of just how much I have to lose.

I'll keep you abreast of how I go.


So, the hideous carbuncle that was Unca Jugears has been deposed. And, to date, he's managed to take pet rocks Peter Dutton and Joe Hockey down with him.

It's a start. But don't let the elevation of Shitslick Turnbull fool anybody: the policies remain, the right-wing conservatism and disdain for social and cultural advancement remain, the contempt for the vast majority of the electorate remains. That they have a more appealing sales rep just makes the Liberal machine that much more dangerous.

Bill Shorten was a non-entity for a time of despair, but we can no longer content ourselves in watching ghosts fighting ghosts.

The Liberal machine remains as vile as it ever was. The Labor machine still has no wheels, no fuel, and no gears. More than ever, your vote will count, come the next election.

Just because a turd has been polished, doesn't stop it from being a turd.


Life's settled down a piece in the last week or so-- the display for Bricktober has been packed into boxes ready to transport; I've stopped compulsively building just-one-more-Viper for the show; General Janvier has been edited and sent out into the wild; and I've started to turn my attention back to novels, and specifically, the search for an agent to represent Father Muerte and the Divine.

Hopefully, that means I'll have a moment or two spare to update the blog on a more regular basis. Hopefully. But, in the meantime, I've guest-posted over at Andrew McKiernan's place on the tools I use to write, and it's made me realise: somehow, I've become old-fashioned!

Says the guy who's remained with Blogger for going on 14 years......

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


Way back when, I may have mentioned that I had foolishly agreed to build something for a Lego display in October called, you guessed it, Bricktober.

Yeah, so, October's nearly open us. And, if I'm honest, I may have gone a little mad.

See, the thing I came up with was a diorama called Arrival at the Tomb of the Unknown Spaceman. A whole rabble of space-themed minifigs disembark from a shuttle that's over 2 base plates long (a minimum of 64 studs), and wander around what can only be called a significant investment in grey blocks. It's taken me nearly 7 months to build, and it looks a lot like this:

Which is not the me-going-mad bit, so much as the deciding-that-wasn't-enough-and-what-I-really-had-to-do-was-build-a-bunch-of-different-spaceships-to-go-on-stands-next-to-it was. So, if you come along to the Canning Showgrounds on October 10 or 11, you'll also get to see a 52-stud long star fighter:

Another, slightly smaller star fighter:


And a teensy, tiny, 16-stud long Vic Viper**:

Clearly, I have lost my mind.

Thankfully, I've finished all that, and have no plans at all to build, saaaaay, another Vic Viper in the 40-50 stud long bracket.


For more information on Bricktober, including the fantastic competitions, displays, prizes, and attractions that will be happening, visit their website.

GARC: Galactic Asteroid Rally Circuit. Each space-racer must have 2 crew members per ship (pilot & navigator), no weapons, and must look fast. The crazier the colour scheme the better



What time is it, Mister Wolf?

Fucked if I know, I've been hard up against it.

Godsdamn, but it's been a long time since I've had a chance to just sit around and blog at y'all. many reasons, but suffice to say, much of it has been down to general suckage, work-based suckage, business, distraction, and the feeling that I've got rather more urgent and important things to be doing.

The main thing of interest to this blog, however, is that Luscious and I have started hanging out with a group of Perth writers calling themselves Perth Write Club. They meet every fortnight at the State Library and Edith Cowan University, on a turn-by-turn basis, and well, they write. Hard. For an afternoon, with a bit of lunch beforehand and a chinwag after.

It's fab, and the kind of writing group I've been missing for quite some time-- every group I've been a part of over the last five years has eventually ended up with me acting as some kind of defacto free workshop leader, and there's only so much of that I can take before I want to hang out with some actual peers, please. Lyn and I attend the State Library meetings, and it's proving highly beneficial to my writing. In two meetings I've managed to complete a 4000-word synopsis for the kids novel Cirque and write a 3000-word short story entitled General Janvier. I'll be keeping this up!

In publication news, Magrit continues to lurk about the corridors of Walker Books. They appear to have some big plans for it-- I can't reveal what, unfortunately, but it might be a little more illustrated, and a little more hard-backy that first thought...... March next year is looking like the launch date, by which time it'll be older than the audience it was written for.

And I've been podded over at Far Fetched Fables: if you've not read my 2008 story In From the Snow, here's a chance to snuggle up in bed, cuddle your favourite teddy bear, and have it read to you. Sleep tight,

Thursday, July 30, 2015


One that not only made it to ink stage, but actually saw publication. In a newsletter I was editing, but they all count, right? Right?

Anyway. Daleks. On Ice. Comedy fucking gold. I actually wanted to call a revue I put together in my comedy days "Daleks on Ice", but was voted down by the other players. "Not Without My Cheesecake, You Don't" was the result, a title that sucked as badly as the show.

I like cartooning, and writing. you don't have to work with idiots. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


"Yes, Mrs Tompkins, we do occasionally use the term 'gifted'. But in this case, I'm afraid 
young Nigel is simply weird.

Yeah, nothing to see here. Move along.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


"I suspect the 'how' of this case is going to be at least as interesting as the 'why', constable."

Elephants have been convicted of murder: witness the case of Mary, a circus elephant hanged-- yup, hanged-- in 1916 after being found guilty of murdering her trainer.

There is nothing so black that humans can't find humour in it. Or do it for real. Because, generally, we suck. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


July is always a strange month. For me, it's the first month of the year: my day job is based around an annual budget that is approved in June and runs from financial year to financial year, so my programs and projects run along similar lines, meaning my work year coincides with the financial year. July is a time of renewal, of long-term planning, and new beginnings. And my Real Life (tm) is beginning to take on that cycle. July is where I look at the year ahead, and institute changes that I hope will carry throughout the rest of the year.

Of course, I do that in January, too, but that's because I'm insecure and a whiner.

My first change this month has been to abandon Facebook, and boy, are my arms tired... Not entirely, as it turns out, because many of the fan groups I'm a part of exist only on the wide blue lifewaster, and I have a public author page that it's nice to update occasionally. But I've moved away from my private page for the month: I'm reading my news feed once every three days instead of six time a day; I'm not commenting on anything-- some very particular posts, and groups, excepted; and I'm just generally ignoring its existence as much as possible. And, surprisingly, I'm immediately happier. It's amazing what a sinkhole of whine and angst Facebook is, without anyone really being aware of it. It changes people, myself very much included, and like any obsessive death cult, you kind of have to escape it to notice. Half a month in, I'm noticing, and giving serious consideration to extending my self-imposed exile through August and beyond. I wonder if I can cut down my reading to once a week.

The other thing I've enjoyed is a return to writing. The kids have been at their grandparents' this last week as part of their school holidays, and without having to centre our daily life around them Luscious and I were able to wander up to the City this past weekend and partake of the fortnightly writing group put together by Perth SF author Martin Livings. This group meets at either Edith Cowan University or the State Library for lunch, before an extended writing session and a debrief in a cafe afterwards, and lugging two pre-teen kids along is really not achievable.

But Saturday, I was able to slip my headphones on and concentrate on the screen for Three. Solid. Uninterrupted. Actual. HOURS. And in three hours, I can knock out two 1500 word synopses for novels requested by my publisher. One in particular-- Cirque, a novel about a girl who runs away to join an alien circus-- has been kicking around in my skull for ages. I have 15,000 words written, so by the end of the weekend I was able to complete the synopsis, organise the 15k into sections matching the action arcs in the synopsis, and determine what I need t fill in so that by the end of this week, hopefully, I can have the completed synopsis and a three chapter package in my publisher's inbox, where naturally they will pick it up, publish it in every country on Earth, and make me rich and famous enough that I never have to speak to anybody ever again. Or something.

And that's the change, kiddos: a year ago I was immersed in social media. I had accounts on 9 platforms at one stage. Now I'm down to 2, and am all but abandoning one of those. (The blog stays). I was at my happiest, as a writer, when it was just me, Luscious and the kids, my blog and the writing. I'm not sure why I ever strayed from that, but I think it's time I went back to what makes me happy. And if you like my writing, hopefully that'll make you happy, too.

Thursday, July 09, 2015


"Tell me again why he said there had to be a second ark just for dinosaurs?"

An old gag retold. Let's say I did it for the practice and never speak of it again.