10.30.16

Top 10 Authors – Jennifer Fallon

Posted in Writing at 9:00 am by Natalie

Occasionally I’ll put out a call to friends for favourite books. One of those books was Jennifer Fallon’s ‘Lion of Senet’ and I had it suggested to me by two different friends at the same time. That made me curious, so I read the book.

Usually I try not to read a series back to back, I figure a reader normally has to wait a year between books for the author to write them, so I should put a few weeks breathing space between them. With these books I could not wait, I HAD to know what was going to happen next.

The world-building was excellent and not your ‘typical’ fantasy, heading into non-European based worlds and where politics played a bit part in the stories. Her good characters did bad things, and the bad ones did good things. I like that in a book.

The funny thing is I must confess that I have not read a Jennifer Fallon book in over two years. I don’t know why that is, but when I was compiling my list of top ten authors at the beginning of the year I knew Jennifer had to be on it. I can so vividly remember loving the books so much, it makes me think it is time to pick up another one.

10.23.16

Material

Posted in Writing at 9:00 am by Natalie

I don’t normally go searching for material, it usually appears in my head as part of the story, but this week things have been different. I wanted to come up with a new story idea, so my eyes were open. It was amazing how many things were presented to me.

I watched a documentary on life in a desert, which created the perfect story location complete with geographical, geological and ecological set-up. I then did a tour of the state library and got a whole bunch of colourful stories about daily jobs that don’t exist anymore. Jobs I didn’t realise ever existed. Jobs I would never have been able to make up myself.

It makes me wonder how often I’m totally blind to these little pieces of seasoning that add that extra dimension to your work? I feel like I’m seeing a lot more things these days. I think spending so much time living in my head is good for me, or at least it is good for my writing.

 

10.16.16

Grammar

Posted in Writing at 9:00 am by Natalie

I’m reading a book on grammar at the moment. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know it is not my strong point, but the book is starting to annoy me. I’m totally okay with people getting huffy about it’s vs its and there, their and they’re, but I’m learning that some of the things I was confused about have different rules in different places.

Take my surname for example, I don’t like having the ‘s’ on the end because should it be Potts’ or Potts’s for possessive? Well apparently that depends on if I’m American or English (of which I’m neither, I haven’t yet checked out the Aussie rule). To me, as ugly as it looks, Potts’s looks the most clear in terms of understanding.

Which has got me thinking, at what point do you say as long as you understand it is okay? This opens a whole can of worms in terms of spelling, semi-colons, colons and a raft of other written devices that I’m pretty attached to. I don’t want to see us adopt ‘color’ instead of ‘colour’ in Australia, but is that me just being a pedant? And if I give-in to dropping our beloved ‘u’ then where do I stand on ‘b4’ for before?

Maybe that’s why I never applied myself to grammar very well when I was younger? I feel okay with being at my point on the spectrum, but given I’m not a grammar nut, I can see that I have no right to get upset with people who think “Its gr8 two spewl bad” is an okay sentence.

Think I’ll just put my head in the sand again.

 

10.09.16

Caring about characters

Posted in Writing at 9:00 am by Natalie

This week I finished writing another novel. That’s four novels completely finished off in my life, two in the last 18 months. With the first three, when I got to ‘The End’ I bawled my eyes out. This time I didn’t. I don’t think that bodes well.

When I cry it is not because the books are so soppy at the end, only one was really, but it is because I know I’m leaving the characters and I won’t see what happens in their lives any more. It is like breaking up with a bunch of friends all at once.

Does not crying in the last book mean I don’t care what happens to these characters? If that is the case, why would anyone else care about them? If a reader doesn’t care about the characters then they will have no drive to turn the page. I think as soon as I can work out why I have no emotional ties to these characters then I can fix the book.

On the up side, I got my beta-reader feedback about my other novel, and I am so excited to get back in there and incorporate what was given to me. I can’t help but think some of that excitement is because I miss those characters and I want to spend more time with them. I think that is how I should feel with all my books.

 

10.02.16

Who has the power?

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

On Wednesday the entire state I’m living in was blacked out. Most of us went without power for between 4 and 8 hours, but there are still some people waiting for their power to be reconnected. This is an ENTIRE STATE of Australia I’m talking about.

Now the part that I found most disturbing was not that we lost power, I get that tornados in an area that never sees tornados (thank you global warming) can mess with the power grid, what I didn’t get was how utterly unprepared we were for going without power for what is really a pretty short time. One of our hospital’s generators failed after the first hour putting lives at risk and the airport generator didn’t even kick on!

Traffic ground to a halt as traffic lights went off, trains and trams coasted to a stop wherever their momentum could get them to, while our diesel trains had to stop because they didn’t have the electricity to run fans to remove the toxic fumes. People got trapped in lifts which either failed to execute their safety features, or had never been upgraded to include them.

We were warned to conserve our phone batteries, but what we didn’t expect was for the mobile phone towers to stop working after a few hours, most having only a 4-hour battery back-up, some obviously much less because two networks went off within a few hours. So the mobile phones we were saving battery on were useful then only as torches.

What many people didn’t realise was the pumping stations also stopped working. If the blackout had continued much longer we could have started drowning in our own sewerage and no water would have come out of our taps any more.

Many of my friends are also in areas where the NBN has been rolled out, so they have digital phones. All of those (along with internet) stopped working as soon as the power went down, this included the state emergency minister’s office. In fact, most of our ministers lost their phones, so they were restricted to mobile phones at the beginning of the ‘event’. Lucky the tower in the city didn’t go flat too soon.

I still have an old fashioned landline, so I was actually able to ring a friend in Melbourne while sitting in the dark and have a chat to her. As a luddite, I still had the safety of calling the emergency hotline if needed, but in the next 18 months that will no longer be available to me. Given we were also in the middle of the largest wind storm the state had seen for at least 50 but possibly 100 years, it is a miracle that no-one died as a result of not being able to call for help.

Many people have blamed our state’s high renewable energy input (40%) but that had nothing to do with this disaster. What I hope comes out of this is not that we need to shy away from renewables, but we need to embrace them even more. Imagine a world where we can all switch to our off-grid battery back-ups, powered by home solar and wind generators when needed. Maybe then we would be less likely to pollute the planet and cause these weather events in the first place?