40,000!

•December 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Over 40,000 hits on this humble little blog. Whew. That’s a lot of ‘hitting’ for about 20 people!

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My alleged novel – about halfway there!

•November 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

200 pages written so far!

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Monte Cristo ‘ghost’ image

•November 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Last week, I posted about my visit to Monte Cristo homestead – “Australia’s most haunted house” – in Junee, NSW. As an open-minded skeptic, I was interested to explore the place and see what all the fuss is about. Having taken the tour, then slept there the night I am somewhat disappointed, though not really surprised to report that it was nothing more nor less than an old house with an interesting history.

Natural World: 1/Supernatural World: 0

Oh well.

I included a shot I took in the front parlour and speculated about the ‘ghostly’ shape that I captured in the mirror. The shape was actually there – that’s why I took the picture – but it was only reflected sunlight coming through the window, all broken up by the deteriorated state of the mirror silvering. How curious that the shape of the flaking silver just happens to resemble a human figure! A camera flash glancing off that mirror from just the right angle would probably produce a somewhat creepy effect on a photograph taken at night. Or, just perhaps, it is the shape of the light coming through the open curtains?

Anyway, I darkened the image before I posted it, to make it look like it was taken in low light, just to see how it would look. It has created a storm of controversy, with no fewer than 2 people commenting on the post.

Oh well.

Here are the untouched originals.

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Did I photograph a ghost at Monte Cristo – ‘Australia’s Most Haunted House’?

•October 25, 2014 • 7 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a 3-hour ‘ghost tour’ (supplemented by an excellent 3 course dinner, a bed for the night and a cooked breakfast) at the notorious Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee, NSW. It has been dubbed ‘Australia’s most haunted house’ and has a long history of ghostly shenanigans. The resident flesh-and-blood family, the Ryans have built it up as a paying concern for aspiring ghost-hunters and tourists, with the grudging co-operation with the resident spectral family, the Crawleys.
The place has an interesting history, dating back to the 1870s, and has been meticulously restored by the very talented Reginald Ryan, who died just a few months ago, and – of course – continues to live there now in spirit form – or so his widow told me.
Anyway, I found myself the sole self-confessed skeptic in the motley bunch of believers, several of whom tossed the term ‘skeptic’ about with a knowing wink and indulgent smile, and some of whom clung tightly together for reassurance as they reported chills, heart palpitations and creepy brushes with the cobwebby fingers of phantoms. We trudged around the house by candlelight and listened to horror stories spun with showman-like eloquence by our host, Lawrence ‘the Legend’ Ryan, who grew up there and has decades of creepy experiences to draw upon.
I found the whole experience interesting, slightly amusing and even a bit disappointing. Seriously. I sensed absolutely nothing of the supernatural, even after spending a night with an open mind in the most haunted house in the country. Either I’m tone-deaf to the spirits, or of no interest to them so they ignore me, or…as is overwhelmingly probable, they don’t exist, except in our imagination!
Anyway, to conclude. I took this photo with my dinky little phone camera. Look in

ghost? Mrs. Crawley?

ghost? Mrs. Crawley?

the large mirror. What can you see? Could that possibly be a ghostly figure standing there?
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my mobile writer’s studio

•March 15, 2014 • 6 Comments

2014 New Year’s resolution…what, nearly three months ago?

I aim to add 20 pages per month this year to my so-slowly-developing novel manuscript. This should see a stack of about 300-350 pages out of an expected 400 or so by the end of December.

In order to achieve this (and I’m happy to report to all my loyal blog followers that I have managed, in the 10 or so weeks of 2014 thus far to add about 45 pages) I peck away at the keyboard each morning for about 45 minutes before other duties beckon, plus…drum roll…, thanks to a recent change in Tamara’s work roster, I AM NOW ABLE TO SET ASIDE ONE DAY A WEEK TO GET AWAY AND WRITE!

Here you see my new mobile writer’s studio, equipped with: comfortable seats, music-on-demand, BYO food and drinks, a nice place to lie down and nap after lunch (ie., the backseat), surprisingly private ambience (OK, being a head-turning classic auto, it is sometimes not totally private), and mobility, which allows for a change of scenery when inspiration is needed. You can see two of my favourite studio locations – Moffat Beach, Caloundra and Mary Cairncross Park, Maleny.

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Throw in a MacBook Air (10 hour battery life) and a personal internet hotspot via my iPhone for those moments when a spot of research is needed, and a pair of boardies and good walking shoes for post-nap exercise, and I think we have a winner.

Oh, and one more thing to make this scenario perfect. Tamara is tasked to interrogate me after each day in ‘the studio’ to ascertain just how many new pages were completed, and why,  god forbid, the number is so pitifully small. (Yesterday, I think I achieved about 4 pages, BUT (and any would-be writer will empathise here) I achieved a small, but significant break-through in resolving a plot dilemma.

I LOVE the Impala – a gorgeous, glossy black throwback to 1967 – and she is now doubling beautifully as my mobile writer’s studio.

Command and Control Centre

•August 27, 2013 • 4 Comments

Christopher turned 17 a couple of months ago. If not for his quadriplegia, we probably would have looked around for a small used car to give him to mark the occasion. As he will never drive a car (unless Google can perfect its self-driving car anytime in the foreseeable future), we opted for a new computer of equivalent value to help set him up in his ambition to pursue video post-production as a career.

He was sorely tempted by the new Mac Pro, soon to be released; but chose – sensibly in my view – to settle for a top-of-the-line iMac and some additional bits and pieces – hard drives, displays, etc.

It arrived yesterday.

To his great delight, I spent most of the afternoon and evening cleaning and refurbishing his desk – inspired a little bit by the flight deck of the Airbus A380 – and setting things just right so he could take his new ‘car’ for a test drive. Here he is running it up to full speed this morning. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about him driving it into a tree.

taking the new rig for a test drive

taking the new rig for a test drive

3 reasons why this stack of paper grows so slowly

•July 6, 2013 • 2 Comments

Almost 4 months ago, I posted to this blog about the ever-so-slow progress of my novel. At that stage, I had completed the first two chapters.

Manuscript so far

posing little danger to rainforests thus far

Today I finished the umpteenth draft of Chapter 3 and here you see the printed manuscript thus far – a pathetic stack of paper which is all I have to show for my efforts over the past 12 months or so – a Prologue and three Chapters, amounting to just over 17,000 words on 68 pages.

And this is just the first proper draft!

Why is it taking so long for this stack of paper to grow to its intended height of approximately 300 pages?

Reason 1: I am slack.

Writing – sustained, regular, consistent writing – is much harder work than I realised. I have discovered that it requires what I call the 3Ds: discipline, determination and sheer doggedness. (OK, ‘determination’ and ‘doggedness’ are almost the same thing; but I like to get things in 3s). I suppose I average about 30 minutes a day working on the book. Apparently, I lack a sufficient supply of the Ds to keep at it any more solidly than that.

Reason 2: I constantly fear that what I am writing is ‘crap’.

This tends to put a bit of a crimp in the old motivation. I admit I lack the bullet-proof self-belief of, say Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott. That is how I know I will never be Prime Minister. But, will I ever be a novelist? Still, as Andy Ihnatko says, “Remember: perhaps the only reason that someone else’s crappy novel has been published and yours hasn’t is that THAT OTHER PERSON HAS FINISHED THEIR NOVEL AND YOU HAVEN’T!”

Reason 3: I am an obsessive proof-reader

Honestly, to complete a chapter to ‘draft’ stage; I find myself worrying it and nibbling at it and shifting paragraphs around and re-writing sections and substituting better words, etc, so obsessively that the ‘draft’ chapters you see are really in fact the 40th drafts!

Anyway, I am pleased that the little stack is as high as it is, and will now take a break before taking a deep breath and tackling Chapter 4.