Tag Archives: Melbourne

Photo blog

This week I’ve not managed a lot of writing, so I thought I’d give you a blast from the past instead of authorial words of wisdom. About ten years ago I won a balloon ride at a work Christmas function. Although I was a little bit terrified, I did it, and it was AMAZING.

Here are some photos to prove it.

Balloon Ride Prep
Getting ready – still a bit worried I won’t go through with it.
All aboard! This is just before we got in the basket.
All aboard! This is just before we got in the basket.
Dawn from balloon
Sunrise from I don’t know how many thousand feet.
Too high to worry.
Too high to worry.
Balloons at dawn
Drifting over Melbourne
Back on safe ground
Back on Terra Firma


I came back into the office after buying the book of one of the writers in my Melbourne writers group, and I proudly showed it off. The first comment from one of my colleagues was ‘but shouldn’t he give you a freebie?’ I dug a little further and discovered there was a perception that when you get a book published you also were given boxes of copies to give away to friends and family.

When you publish a book you want everyone you know to buy a copy. BUY a copy. They should be the first batch of sales you can depend on. All the free books go to people who might review them in a forum where others will read about it so that they will then go out and buy a copy.

Writing and publishing a book is a business, and your business (like any other) is only as good as your sales. It is funny because a few years ago I was involved in a venture to make aluminium-free deodorant. I did have boxes of the stuff I could give away, but I was touched by how many people told me they would like to buy some.

I guess in a world where people think it is okay to illegally download music and movies for free (something I want to make it clear I abhor and am vehemently against), I should expect that books will also be thrown into that category of okay to take for free. It is so disappointing to see such an attitude be held so commonly.

Artists (and production staff) put a lot of work into these products, it just seems so obvious to me that if you like them, and you want those artists to make more of them, you should pay them for it. You don’t want your favourite author to be forced to find writing hours inside a schedule of pressure-packed full time work. I can tell you now; the work usually wins. Do you want them to finish that trilogy or not?

Go buy a book.

TomTom readers

I recently did a fleeting trip to Melbourne and decided to take my car over so I could catch up with a bunch of friends (apologies if you are reading this and you were not one of the visited friends). I knew I was going to be covering a few kilometres (turned out to be nearly 1900) so I decided to borrow my parent’s TomTom GPS navigator.

Things were probably not helped by the over 40 degree temperatures and 7 years out of date maps, but TomTom and I had some major disagreements. I yelled some colourful words at him and questioned his skills as a navigator, while he tersely kept replying ‘take the next left’ no matter how many times I ignored him.

It was only on reflection that I realised driving with TomTom is like reading a novel. As you drive you only get shown a little piece of road at a time, never getting the big picture. You know where you have been, but what you are seeing at the moment may not make sense. Why would you turn down this road leading into an industrial estate?

As authors I think we sometimes forget that others are reading our books with a TomTom, not an A3 map. We know where the characters are travelling, we have seen the whole journey (even if only from a great distance and we don’t yet know the road names), so we know what is important to the story and what is not. Our readers do not have such insight.

I submitted a novel chapter to my writers group and they all picked up on a throwaway line I had my character saying, they said they were intrigued about how this would factor into the story later. Short answer; it wouldn’t. It had no double-meaning, I just put it in because it was funny. I knew this, I have the map, but they just have the TomTom and thought that green icon might actually mean something.

I wonder how often I do this? In an attempt to make my world building more vivid, do I plant red herrings? In banter between characters do I forget to show their ages, dress or gender because I’m seeing it all in my own mind, when these facts are key to understanding? I have the map, I see the terrain, the hazards, the roadblocks, do I make sure the TomTom drives within viewing distance of these things?

I guess this shows again the importance of beta readers. No matter how much of a seat-of-the-pants writer you are, you always have more information than the reader. The key is working out how much of this you can and must give them.

Some like it hot

On Thursday Adelaide was the hottest city on the planet. Fortunately I wasn’t there, I was in Melbourne where it was only 43.9’C (111.02’F). Gee I’m glad I brought all those jumpers over, such a good use of limited bag space.

There were some interesting discoveries this weather led me to… Firstly, the air conditioning in my car doesn’t seem to work as soon as the ambient temperature goes over 35, and secondly, I go such an alarming shade of red when I get hot that people stop and watch me to see if I’m going to fall over dead, or just melt into a pool of flesh and hair.

It is not the way a woman wants to stand out in a crowd.

This was meant to be my week off where (between social engagements) I was going to write up a storm. Instead I’m barely able to stay awake the moment I go into any air conditioned space (including the supermarket) and I can’t even focus well enough to move my eyes down to the next sentence when I’m reading a book, let alone trying to write one.

So this week has certainly answered my oft ruminated query; is hot or cold weather worse for writing? There is no doubt in my mind (and any that may have been there has certainly melted out and been flushed away in an ocean of sweat), hot weather dries up the creative juices far more efficiently than the cold weather can freeze them.

Bring on Autumn!

Creativity Lull

I have a confession to make. I’m not really doing any creative writing at the moment, and haven’t done any for a few months. Worse yet, I don’t really care. I’m trying to care, and for a long time now I’ve been pretending to care, but the truth is I don’t. It’s a bit scary.

I’ve been trying to diagnose the problem, sure that there must be a cure for it, or that it will just clear up if I apply enough Lucas’s Pawpaw cream, but it hasn’t. Today I think I might finally have found the answer; it’s all about creativity.

Boxed up in my little flat in Melbourne there were limits on my creative outlets in the home, so writing was always going to be the winner (I assure you, one look at my sketches or knitting would convince you of this fact). Our back yard was about twice the size of my desk and always in shade, and our front yard was the communal driveway.

In the Adelaide hills I have this massive garden screaming out for my creative expression. It is a blank canvas begging for veggie patches and fruit trees, it demands mowing and clipping and brings all manner of birds down to amaze and hypnotise me. I get into it every weekend and love every muscle straining moment of it.

I know a garden cannot enchant me forever, at least I hope not, and in the words of the Starks ‘Winter is Coming’ –so maybe my novels will just have to wait a little bit longer, for the magic to wear off or the rains to arrive. Whichever comes first…

What’s that on my arm?

Adelaide Hills Wildlife

In Cambodia, when you feel something crawling down your arm it’s usually sweat. In Melbourne, when you feel something crawling down your arm it’s usually dust. In Adelaide, when you feel something crawling down your arm, it’s usually a spider.

Yes, the Adelaide hills are home to all creatures, great and small. Especially small. I can find at least three spiders in any room I enter. Most of whom are harmless, and I ran out of names for them once I got to Barry. Now I’m only naming the deadly ones. No, seriously, most of the deadly spiders actually live in the eastern states, so I’ve left them behind. Except for those who hitched a ride back with me in the car.

But on the up side, we have a family of crows, a family of magpies, a family of lorikeets and countless cockatoos visiting us each morning. The lazy koalas watch us from impossibly high perches that are almost too distressingly precarious to look at. They slowly munch on gum leaves during the day, when they are not sleeping, and grunt like broken machinery at night… late at night. Sometimes really early in the morning too.

So with less than 5 days of WriMoFoFo left, can I hit the 15,000 target? That’s just another 10,000 words by Sunday. As a little red engine once said I think I can –or was that a politician? Anyway, I’m sure I’ve got the quote wrong enough to avoid breach of copyright. But I think I can do it. In such a paradise as the Adelaide Hills is turning out to be, I’m sure the ideas will flow.

I’ll check in on Sunday and let you know how the word count goes. Wish me luck!


Last post from Melbourne…

…for a while.

I’d like to say everything is packed, but it’s not. I’d like to say the house is clean, but it’s not. At least the garden is just one sweep away from being finished, but it’s still not finished. Yet as horribly badly as I’m running behind on all my lists, I’m sure I’ll get there in time for the removalists to pick it up and for us to be on our way come Saturday morning. I guess this is what they call faith?

So what wisdom has my move imparted?

  1. Do not save your fancy coffee, drink it when you want, for one day you will find yourself having only a week to finish the lot because it will not survive two days in a hot car.
  2. As much mess as what you think you have, double it. And then when you wrap it up in butcher’s paper, double it again!
  3. Possums are not cats, nor do they like being treated as such.

And what about WriMoFoFo? Well, that might be in need of a little faith too. I think I’m still going to hit the target of 15,000 words in 4 weeks, but let’s just say that well over half of those will need to be written while in Adelaide for me to make it. I’m sure when I am not drowning in boxes, paper and cleaning products that I’ll be able to move my focus back where it belongs; FreeCell. Followed by some of that writing thing.

But from my swirling mess of stress and packing and unreturned phone calls a wonderful little buoy of sanity and comfort has been right here. The blog has meant that even in my craziest of moving moments I have always written at least some words. So thank you for reading, and thank you for your encouraging words of support!

So, until next post (from Adelaide), happy writing!


Why they call it the winter blues

Just for something different I thought I’d talk about my upcoming move. They (the faceless gestalt who tell us what to do but take no responsibility for the results) say moving is one of the more stressful things you can do. While probably not in the top ten (unlike a killer game of Jenga when the tower is nearly three feet high and a successful play is almost a guaranteed win) it would definitely make it to my top 30.

Perhaps this was why on Thursday night after a heated discussion about a box (I kid you not) I decided to go for a walk to calm down and find my serenity. For those of you not living in Melbourne or with no solid memories of the evening to cast back to, Thursday night was quite warm, balmy even. This meant the bugs were out.

I was not even half way around the block and I had already found three webs with my face (no leggy bits of life in them that I could locate, despite my spider dance) and some large, unidentified flying bug whacked into my shoulder with enough force to stop me in my tracks. Having made some very clever, boxy comment before I left the house, I knew it was too soon to return and retain my kudos. So I pushed on and found more webs, more flying bugs, and got the distinct feeling that I was like the man in Raiders of the Lost Ark who is unknowingly carrying a bunch of spiders on his back.

At the point when, in the darkness, I bent down to pat a cat that actually looked at me with a what the hell are you doing expression before hightailing it away to reveal his true self; a brush tail possum, I knew it was time to go home. Warm evenings are no place for the cheerfully-challenged.

So now that the warmer weather is here, take this advice. No matter if you are moving, or losing Jenga, or quitting your job, don’t let it get you down, and don’t snap at your loved ones. It is just too dangerous out there after dark to allow for a proper self-pitying walk. Just stay happy and relaxed instead, wait until winter to give into your blues.


Not a possum

The last Grand Prix

There is an upside to leaving Melbourne (besides all the benefits of going to Adelaide) and that is catching up with so many people in Melbourne who I haven’t seen for ages. Now that my time here is limited, people are grabbing spots in my calendar and making me feel very loved indeed!

This got me thinking… It is kind of like when the last Grand Prix was on in Adelaide and nearly everyone in the city attended. At the time it was the biggest Grand Prix in Big Prix history –all because it was everyone’s last chance to see it before we lost it (or had it stolen some might correct, but let’s not go there, I think the wound is finally healing and I don’t want to rip the scab off so soon before my return).  

So why do we hold off doing stuff until we nearly can’t? And more importantly, can I get this strange human tendency to work for me? This week I’m going to see if I can fool myself into thinking that I can only edit my novel until the end of November and not beyond that. I might even try to commit myself to something for December to make it true.

Sometimes we need a threat to our Grand Prix before we actually do anything about it, but that is a dangerous way to live. If you don’t do something until you almost can’t, you might just find out that you are really good at it, or that you love it, just before you can’t do it anymore. Don’t wait for anything if you don’t have to; catch up with your friends before they move, write your novel before you retire and don’t worry about who got the damn Grand Prix, it’s just a noisy car race anyway!

Happy writing,