There Are Little People Inside My Head: Novel-In-Progress

•March 18, 2013 • 3 Comments

Today, I was able to summon the courage to hand Tamara, TOPITWRMNIP  (The-Only-Person-In-The-World-Reading-My-Novel-In-Progress), the Prologue and Chapters 1 and 2 of my NIP (Novel-In-Progress). Chapter 3 is about half done. I am aiming for 20 chapters in about 300 pages.

Some Bloke (Not Me) Writing A Novel

I started this project in earnest last June, so, what’s that? 12,000 words in almost 10 months. Hmm. At this rate, should be ready for it to be rejected by a publisher by June 2019.

Oh well, it is helping to keep me out of mischief.

And I am meeting all kinds of interesting new people – none of them real, of course. They populate a fictional Australian town named Carlyon and they come to greet me each morning at 6:00am and we spend time together for an hour or so; although, annoyingly, they began bothering me at around 3:00 this morning. You may have noticed that I am blogging about writing, rather than actually writing. As the Americans so quaintly put it: my bad.


Hills Family Odyssey

•February 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Duck over to our travel blog (hillsfamilyodyssey) to view the latest video installment, a 6 minute video: Episode 3 – “Two Lonely and Pathetic Men”.


hunker in the bunker

•February 24, 2013 • 1 Comment

The lashing we got a few weeks ago from ex-TC Lee Harvey Oswald gave me a rude shock. I took it a bit personally, as I am the one responsible for keeping my family well-fed,and Oswald’s shenanigans put a crimp in my ability to do that.

I plan not to be caught out like that again.

We have had very heavy rain here on the Sunshine Coast before. Our record in the 6 years we’ve been here was 873mm in January 2011, but there have been several months when rainfall exceeded 500mm. Every time this happens, the road bridge over the South Mooloolah River goes under. When it does, we have the devil of a time getting to shops and petrol stations. We are used to it. We live with it. Before Oswald (B.O.) we had never been cut off for more than 24 hours.

We have had power outages before; quite often in fact. The infrastructure around the Coast here must be a bit below par, or else I can’t understand why. However, we have met that challenge with a 2.8kva petrol generator, hard wired to the house via a change-over switch, giving us perfectly acceptable stand-by electricity to power the water pump, the fridge and freezer, phone and internet, Christopher’s high-tech special equipment, and about half of the house lights. We are used to it. We live with it. B.O., we never had to run the generator for more than a few hours until mains power was restored.

Thanks to Oswald, we were cut off for about 48 hours. We had no power for 3 days. The entire village was without power, so no fridges at the supermarket, no EFTPOS(!), and no pumps at the service station. The phone lines went down for 3 days. So no internet. Then the mobile phone service went down for about 36 hours, so no outside contact at all. Oswald effected such a wide area of QLD to the north and south of us, Energex crews had to wait several days before they could get to areas where damage had caused interruption to power supply.

I got to thinking…what if we have another event that cuts us off for 3-4 days AND the generator conks out?

My contingency plan B.O. always managed to keep going for about 24 hours.We now have a contingency plan that will hopefully cover us for up to 4 days.

feeding the family

feeding the family

It involves getting cash and petrol (about 60 litres). I always have about 10 litres on hand, but I needed about 40 litres for 3 days, and that was with the generator shut down overnight.I was able to borrow 10 litres of fuel from a neighbour down the road, and that got me out of trouble on day 2. After things got back to normal, I bought him a roast to help restock his freezer – he has no generator and lost everything he couldn’t cook and eat.

I also now have a little bunker supply of non-perishables in a corner of the pantry. I always had some  bits and pieces, but only enough for a day or two. In addition to what you see in the picture, I also have a 10 litre water bottle for drinking water; but, even without power, I can always head down to one of the tanks and draw off more from a gravity-fed tap.

I have a gas stove, emergency lights and a portable transistor radio. What have I missed? Maybe a little gas-powered fridge for the insulin?

ex TC Oswald had my full attention

•February 1, 2013 • 2 Comments

January 31st


I have posted a couple of times now about ex-tropical cyclone (Lee Harvey) Oswald and how he got my attention recently.

A few hours ago – Thursday evening – we regained our internet access, having been without it since Monday morning. We were without power, telephone and mobile phone since Sunday morning. But, inconvenient as these events were, especially when there is disability and a chronic medical condition to deal with, they are nothing compared to the loss or damage of houses and even loss of life. And I believe there are people who are still without power and basic services.

Oswald sure did a number on the East Coast, surprisingly all the way down to Sydney and beyond because of an upper monsoonal trough thingy that kept feeding water and energy into the beast way past its standard use-by date. In the few days it took for the system to pass over us, we had almost 500mm of rain and lots of high winds. Not as much as some, but more than enough.

I was pretty well prepared, but not as well as I plan to be next time. We are working up a new, improved version of storm preparation because it seems we are going to have more, not less of these ‘extreme’ events in the years and decades to come.

In the meantime, here is a picture of bent and twisted scaffolding that was put up across the bridge over the Mooloolah River here a couple of days B.O. (Before Oswald) by trusting souls who thought the dry sandy flat bit was a garden bed rather than a river bed. It very quickly became a river again on Sunday and laughed ha-ha in the face of their puny steel tubes and bars.

scaffolding across the South Mooloolah River - Jan 28, 2013

scaffolding across the South Mooloolah River – Jan 28, 2013

ex tropical cyclone Oswald still has my attention

•January 27, 2013 • 2 Comments
happens often

happens often

January 27th, 2013


This post coming to you by petrol-powered electricity.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I had made some preparations for the passage of ex-TC Lee Harvey Oswald, who was tracking down the QLD coast towards us, and who had been kindly wetting down a very dry landscape, but, unfortunately whipping up some tornado activity along the way. Nasty that.

In the past 24 hours, we have had about 155mm and some very strong winds. In the past 72 hours, about 320mm. So far, no damage anywhere around here, I’m pleased to report. Just a couple of power outages.

We have had periods of heavy rain here in the Sunshine Coast hinterland before. Quite frequently over the years, in fact. So it comes as no surprise, that the South Mooloolah River is now over a couple of roads near us. This has happened at least a dozen times in the 6 years we have been here. No dramas. Of course, with the daughter needing to be driven to school for her first day on Tuesday, and the wife needing to drive to work that same morning, it may become a bit inconvenient.

Oh, and the one item I neglected to stock up on yesterday when I decided stocking up was needed in case of flood – toilet paper. Bollocks!

weather radar 27.01.13

weather radar 27.01.13

ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald now has my attention

•January 26, 2013 • 3 Comments
Bargara 26.01.13 (ABC news)

Bargara 26.01.13 (ABC news)

January 26th, 2013


Just 4 days ago, in what was shaping up to be one of the driest Januarys on record here, following a very dry Spring, our river – the South Mooloolah – had been dry for so long it was not so much a river bed as a garden bed, and the bits of our forested block that should be green were turning brown, we were keeping an eye on the troubling possibility of bushfire.

Today, having received around 130mm of blessed rain in the past 3 days, thanks to the ex-tropical cyclone Lee Harvey Oswald which has been dumping torrents of water all down the QLD coast and causing havoc in places like Townsville, Rockhampton and Gladstone (I note that a ‘mini-cyclone’ has just blasted the small Wide Bay town of Bargara about 3 hours north of us), I decided it was time to nimbly switch from ‘fire-preparedness mode’ to ‘flood-contingency mode’.


Generator serviced and spun up to test – check 🙂

Generator fuel supply – check 🙂

(Thanks to generator: water pump, lights, refrigeration, internet and phone all OK in the event of mains power supply failure)

Diabetes management supplies – check 🙂

Food for a few days should we be cut off (as tends to happen on occasions like this) – check 🙂

Bottled gas for the stove – check 🙂

Potential missiles cleared away from around the house in the event of strong winds – check 🙂

Wife home from work and not needing to drive there again for at least 48 hours – check 🙂

Torches, radio and lantern batteries – check 🙂

Bar stocked – check 🙂

(This last item is true as we received a wine delivery this morning; though it is not usually a part of my flood/storm preparedness checklist.) 😉

Alert, but not alarmed. The next 48 hours will tell…

Stand To!

Great Advice for Aspiring Writers

•January 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Once again, Andy Ihnatko helps this aspiring writer. (From his Celestial Waste of Bandwidth blog):

“We all get frustrated about our writing projects. Don’t let it set you back.

Frustration is the villain with a thousand faces. I’m bored. Or I lose focus. Or I lose faith in this idea; I think there’s something else I ought to be doing with my time. I remember a workday when the writing felt like I was just reaching down into a wishing well and pulling up fistful after fistful of quarters and today is nothing like that.

I usually get myself out of this sort of mood by reminding myself that the words aren’t supposed to flow easily every time I sit down at the keyboard. This stuff is work.

Also oh-so-correct: this question that Neil Gaiman recently answered on his Tumblr:

“You being lazy and unmotivated and not writing allows another writer, who does sit down and write, to get published in your place. Magazines and publishers only have so many pages, so many annual publishing spots. You’re letting someone else who wants to do the work get published. Surely that’s a good thing…?”

Similar: that scene from “Tootsie” in which Dustin Hoffman is Teri Garr’s acting coach. She’s struggling with an audition piece. “I’m no good with confrontational characters,” she lamely apologizes. “Well, that’s too bad,” Hoffman snaps back. “Because you’re competing with hundreds of actresses who have no problem with confrontational characters. And that’s why one of them is going to get this part instead of you!”

Becoming a writer isn’t like becoming a doctor or a civil engineer, or a luncheonette that serves “the best coffee in town.” You don’t have to go through a seven-year accreditation process. If you want to call yourself a writer, all you need to do is finish writing something.

Oh, and: writing about writing almost doesn’t count as writing. I suppose I should get back to work. Just remember that as a writer, you’re not a passive receptacle for some mysterious Muse. You’re a worker. The good news is that when you’ve finished something, you’ve earned something.”

Thanks Andy. Guess I’d better stop this blogging procrastination and get back to writing!