Monday, October 29, 2007


"I know about words . . . about the depth charges they carry."
- Narrator from 'After Long Absence' (Dislocations by Janette Turner Hospital)

Shakespeare was believed to have been responsible for introducing about 1,700 words into the English language. Technology has also introduced its fair share of words over recent years. What I have done in Caliban's End is reintroduce quite a few words that are rarely used these days. Why reintroduce them? Because they should never have dropped out of common usage!

I'll give you a few of my favourites below. The novels have a race (the Spriggans) whose speech is characterised by an indulgence in ornate language - logorrhea is the word for it. You may have heard some of these words before, but even if you haven't, please don't let that stop you from using them in your next conversation with that special someone you hope to impress.
  • atrabilious: melancholy; splenetic; acrimonious, irritable
  • bibacious: overly fond of drinking
  • bloviate: to write or speak windily
  • bullyrag: to assault with abusive language; to badger
  • caliginous: misty; dark; dim; obscure
  • callow: unfledged; inexperienced
  • corvine: crow-like; of, like or pertaining to crows or ravens
  • drygulch: to murder by pushing off a cliff
  • effluvium: invisible emanation; offensive exhalation or smell
  • gloaming: period between sunset and full night; dusk
  • humgruffin: terrible person
  • juggins: a simpleton
  • logorrhea: excessive flow of words; uncontrollable garrulity
  • meliorism: the belief the world tends to become better
  • miasma: foul vapours from rotting matter; unwholesome air
  • naupathia: sea sickness
  • ophidian: of or like a snake
  • pusillanimous: lacking firmness; cowardly; having a weak character
  • quotidian: everyday; commonplace found in the ordinary course of events
  • scuttles: portholes on a ship
  • soporific: tending to produce sleep
  • stagnicolous: living in stagnant water
  • thanatosis: gangrene; necrosis; state imitating death
  • trilemma: quandary having three choices
  • uliginous: slimy; oozy; swampy; growing in swampy places
  • voraginous: pertaining to a whirlpool;
  • wormwood: something bitter, galling, or grievous
  • worricow: scarecrow; hobgoblin; frightening-looking person
On a completely unrelated note, you may have noticed my little Podbean player on the side of the page. This contains music that I have associated with certain characters and events in the novel. You may find it interesting to listen to some of it and see what images float into your head. I'll be adding to this every now and then, hopefully with some original stuff early next year once the books are done.

To end this post, I'll give a quick summary of where I'm up to in the books. You can see by the 'Chapter Completion' chart on the right that quite a lot has been done since my last post. Although I had the best of intentions to finish the whole saga by the end of October so I could have it printed in time for Christmas, things haven't worked out that way. This is understandable, now the book is actually a trilogy.

Despite a busy month with conferences, birthday parties and falling off bunks, I have manage to keep writing every day and hopefully the quantity hasn't been at the expense of quality. I don't think it has. In fact, I've been delighted with a few little twists and turns I've been able to weave into the narrative. But to say anything more will spoil the dish.

I have titled the three books. They are:
  • What Lies Beneath (Book One)
  • Into the Endless (Book Two)
  • Akin to Pity (Book Three)
Let me know what you think of the titles. They can be changed if the consensus is they stink (although I kind of like them, especially Akin to Pity).

Hopefully next time I post I'll be in the home straight. Until then...

Friday, September 21, 2007

That's a lot of paper!

Just a quick post tonight. The footy's on telly (Geelong v Collingwood) so I'm writing this during the ad breaks. Yesterday I printed what I've written so far and what I now have in my hands is quite a weighty tome. It's wonderful to be able to use that phrase!

How weighty, you ask?

At the moment the books are 666 pages in total. Yes, I know that's a sinister number. But it gets weightier! I have typed up the manuscript in tiny font to save paper. Tonight I reformatted the whole thing in the font size and page set-up stipulated by (where I am publishing it) and it came in at 1198 pages! Now just so you can get a sense of how long that is, Tolkien's entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is 1069 pages long. And I haven't even finished!

Of course, it a poor comparison because a lot of what I have penned is probably utter rubbish, but it nice to have so much done anyway.

I'm sometimes asked, 'How long to go?' To answer this, I have supplied a bar chart on the blog (just to the right). It shows how complete each chapter is. 99% basically means it's finished, pending any editorial advice I receive. The book is 49 chapters long and a lot of it's done as you can see. I have decided to divide it into three books. It's a practical decision. It's now too long to print as two.

The other thing to mention is I have also added a chat facility to the blog. If you have a question, or you see I'm online and on a crazy whim you decide to say hello, all you have to do is type your message into the little widget! It's that simple. No log-ins to worry about. Of course, you could pretend to be someone else and type in a nasty comment, but please bear in mind I am very sensitive and may cry should you upbraid me in any way.

I think I am on target to have the whole project wrapped up by Christmas. Hopefully everyone will be getting the same present from me!

Back to the footy now.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Enjoy what you do

'To anyone who knows a writer, never underestimate the power of your encouragement.' - Matthew Reilly

The past few weeks have been pretty busy and I haven't been writing as much as I was when I last posted. That said, I must say that I found a bit of a groove with my writing in the past couple of weeks and in the absence of anything profound to say, I thought I'd comment on that.

Instead of jostling shoulder to shoulder with other commuters on a packed city-bound train, I have been leaving half an hour earlier and this has guaranteed me that Holy Grail of long-suffering Connex concubines - a seat! And instead of blankly staring out the window through a patina of gunk and grime, I manage to write two or three pages by the time to get to Parliament Station.

Now I know I could head into the office and start work early giving my employers a little more value for money, but I resist that urge and head into The Commune (pictured below) where I can write another page or so with the frothy goodness of a latte in my little hand. (My right hand that is - I write with my left).

The end of the working day swings around and instead of taking the train home I wander down through Fitzroy Gardens to the tram stop where I can climb aboard a half-empty tram and get another page or three nailed before a short walk home. This practice has enabled me to get six or so pages done each work day without breaking a sweat. Sure I have to type it up when I get home but I can do that whilst watching telly or some other cerebral cortex-lite activity.

Now if all this writing sounds like a chore, I've badly misrepresented it. I actually enjoy the process, and as I'm writing fantasy I can travel a lot further in my book in an hour than a tram can take me.

I'm in a really good place with the second book right now. Book One had a lot of exposition in it. Obviously lots of characters and places had to be introduced. Book Two affords me the opportunity of delving deeper into these characters and their relationships with one another and the strange world they inhabit. It means I can inject a lot more humour into the narrative, as well as deepening the sense of tragedy when things go awry.

Characters such as Sela Noye, a four foot tall, porcupine-type person with a penchant for turning every conversation into an argument are so much fun to write. Others, such as Sir Edgar Worseley, the fastidious knight who will stop mid-battle to wipe the mess off his sword, and Mulupo, the frequently drunk and painfully loquacious Spriggan, tend to write themselves and it is sometimes hard to scribble/type fast enough to keep up with their antics.

I've also derived a fair amount of pleasure from creating creatures of all descriptions. There's the ridiculous two-headed flummox that is so irascible that one of its heads will attack the other despite the pain it will cause to itself. And there's the dim-witted, thousand yard long mockworm that is so scared of all other creatures that it will disguise itself as a hill to avoid being seen. But my favourite of all is the petty, petulant quawk replete with an offensive bodily function that is best left out of the blog for now.

I can hear two naughty children jumping up and down on the beds upstairs. Their mum has left me in charge and it's all gone pear-shaped. I'll cut this short and post again some time soon.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Amateur Writer

Here's the latest. Book One is being read by my editor Catherine (that sounds very formal and impressive, doesn't it!) so I have been slaving away at the wiki which is rapidly approaching 500 pages. I have also been writing on the tram to/from work and I'm fairly chuffed with how some of the latter chapters are progressing.

However, yesterday was a day off. It was July 21st - the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was one of millions across the globe who lined up for my copy of the book and a soft, plush owl.

So "What's so good about Harry Potter?" I was asked by a curious colleague on Friday. Now I could write a book about this but as I have another book to finish, I'll restrict myself to a few points.

Firstly standing in line yesterday really highlighted the fact that in a world of photo-realistic video games, high-speed Internet and futuristic iPhones, people still like to read. Love to read. That's kind of reassuring when you're trying to be a writer. I actually enjoyed standing in line for two hours. I had one of my boys with me and it was wonderful to see him absorb what was going on around him. Also the slow queue through Borders actually forced him to look at the covers of hundreds of books and ask questions about them.

It is pleasing in a world where cynicism seems to be the soup of the day to see the bubbly enthusiasm Rowling's books have created. It's also been pleasing to see that the interest in her novels has grown rather than dwindled. The proud loyalty of her readers really shows that not everything should be considered a passing phase. Some things are more than just fashion.

Why do I like the Harry Potter books? I'll try to keep this short. I have found I have been continually impressed by Rowling's sense of structure. She achieves a wonderful balance of exposition and drama. It is interesting now that Dumbledore is dead- that's not a spoiler; he died in the last book - she has had to employ other ways to weave in exposition. In previous books, the role of explaining things - the backstory, or pre-history if you like - always fell to the sagacious Dumbledore. But now he's gone Rowling can't use him for this crucial role. She has resorted to other means which I think is more interesting. The use of obituaries, biographies and letters in Deathly Hallows makes the exposition more interesting. It's also engaging to receive the backstory from less obvious characters, especially (minor spoiler here) a character like Kreacher, who is an unusual but brilliant vehicle for filling in details.

I am also enamoured by Rowling's intricate management of the narrative. I am just over 200 pages into the book (it's about 600 pages long) and she is slowly and inexorably tying together her many plot threads. Inevitably, this will be seen by some to be a weakness in the last book - she doesn't introduce many new storylines - but this is more than compensated by the way in which she wraps up what has been dangling until now.

Rowling's attention to detail has been exquisite. Seemingly small details often take on great significance, which encourages a reader to read closely in the hope he or she does not miss a vital clue as to the mysteries contained within. This 'puzzle' quality is certainly something I have tried to do in Caliban's End. When people are lining up to read my novels, I hope they are also discussing their theories on why's and wherefore's.

I also like the humour of the Harry Potter novels. Having grown up on a diet of The Goodies and The Young Ones, I have found myself preferring British humour to American (just compare the UK's The Office to the American version). There are traces of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett in Rowling's style of humour which is not a bad thing. Most of this is character driven and occasionally slapstick, which appeals to the idiot in me. For example, on the morning of his 17th birthday Harry uses magic outside of Hogwarts for the first time. Although his glasses are only a foot away, he uses a spell to retrieve them and promptly stabs himself in the eye with them. It's not high-brow humour, but it is appealing.

In contrast to the pratfall comedy, I am regularly captivated by Rowling's classical aspects, espcially in the area of magical creatures. She weaves in so much mythology that her books resemble a classical bestiary and it is always interesting to see the twists she supplies to her interpretations of creatures such as phoenixes, basilisks and bogards. She draws widely using Egyptian, Celtic, Greek and Scandinavian cultures to embellish her work and this is reliably balanced by creatures of pure invention (like the Blast-Ended Skrewts). Admittedly, so far her last book keeps the introduction of new creatures to a minimum, but that's to be expected in a novel attempting to satisfy readers seeking resolution.

I have always loved Rowling's penchant for hinting at a person's significant aspects through her use of names. Characters such as Voldemort/Tom Riddle, Professor Lupine, Sirius Black, Severus Snape and many more have clues built into their names. At times, these may be a bit obvious (I knew Remus Lupine was a werewolf the first time I read his name), it all contributes to the fun in the telling of the tale. Even names such as Peter Pettigrew and Horace Slughorn have such a playful, Dickensian quality (Pumblechook, Magwitch... ) that encountering each new character's name alone is a small event.

Speaking of names, there is one new character whose name bothers me - Pius Thicknesse. I actually like the name, but it causes me grief. Somehow, someone leaked the manuscript of Caliban's End to JK Rowling, as I already have a character called Pius. I'm sick of changing things because other more established author (and film-makers) keep ripping me off. It's not paranioa when they are following you. It happened like this. I needed a first name for the King of Pelinore. I was typing away with my two typing fingers and Channel's 7 Rich List was on telly in the background. The contestants were compiling a list of Pope's names and I took a break to have a go. Sadly, I could only name 3 popes (hopefully my mum doesn't read this blog) but the contestants got about 12. Anyway, one of them was Pius. I thought if it's good enough for a pope, it's good enough for the King of Pelinore. Perhaps JK Rowling was watching the same show! I'm not sure whether I'll change it. Probably not. I'm at page 203, the character of Pius Thicknesse has not had a lot of coverage yet, but Harry and co. are heading into the Ministry of Magic where he works (I won't spoil it and say what he does) so I may have to change it.

There are some other things that are similar that I'm not going to change. Minor spoiler ahead. At one point in the first few chapters of Deathly Hallows, a character has his ear removed. I too have a character who has his ear removed - Samuel Melkin. I know I could have a different appendage or limb removed, but the ear is crucial on a symbolic level. Melkin refuses to listen to the threats of his enemies so the removal of his ear is a nice way to highlight this. Even though it's pretty horrible when Rowling's character loses his/her ear, I think my scene is less palatable and more gruesome. I wanted to somehow recreate that brilliant scene in King Lear when Gloucester has his eyes torn out by the Duke of Cornwall: "Out vile jelly." Here's an significantly abridged extract from my book.

Lucetious sank his teeth into the side of Melkin's head. After a grotesque flurry of movement, accompanied by Melkin's howls of agony, the Ghul lieutenant lifted his head to display a bloody ear resting between his jagged teeth. Lucetious took the ear and held it up for all to see. For a brief second, he eyed it curiously, licking his thin lips as he did so and for a second, Porenutious thought he was going to eat it.

But Lucetious was not interested in satiating any hunger he may have felt. He merely wanted his two prisoners to see that he had no qualms about hurting them. He casually threw the ear away and knelt down before the two bound men. "You need to understand this. I have no more concern for your limbs and appendages than I would for a tree. I would pull off your leaves and break your branches without a moment's hesitation."

He goes on from there, but you get the idea.

Another fairly obvious similarity between my book and Rowling's is that a number of important characters die. I won't spoil things here for either book, but I think JK and I agree on why these characters have to die. It heightens the drama. I remember Joss Whedon explaining why the much-loved character of Wash had to die in the film Serenity. It was important for the audience to realise that all characters were fair game in the final battle. This made the last 20 minutes of the film more intense, knowing that everyone was vulnerable.

Killing good characters is also a necessary part in creating antagonists that must be opposed. There's no point having bad guys that don't do anything bad. I have just written a part of Chapter 34, which precedes the final battle in my book, where Caliban does something so despicable, I'm amazed I actually thought of it. It has something to do with a truly tragic character called Meggan, but you'll have to wait until the book is done to find out what I'm talking about.

I'll tie things up here. It's Sunday morning and I have been promised a few hours of writing. After spending much of yesterday lying in bed reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I'm lucky to have another minute to myself.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

You've been a bad boy...

I thought I'd concentrate on villains in this blog, but before I start, I'll quickly mention what I've been doing since the last post. Book One is finished and I've had the manuscript printed. Yesterday it was given to a friend to read. This is absolutely terrifying. No-one but me has read the book yet. I like it and I don't want to spoil the 100% popularity rating the book currently has. But it has to be done. Hopefully, I'll develop the epidermis of a garumph before I get my first criticism.

I have also spent a lot of hours between 8pm and 1pm most nights working on the Caliban's End wiki. It will be available for public consumption in September. It has a zillion links to pages dedicated to specific characters, races, places and anything else of note, so it's somewhat large (over 400 pages so far which is pretty big for a website). The wiki is basically my wikipedia for the book and it contains lots of information that isn't in the novel accompanied by pictures I have developed in Corel (such as the ones running down the right-hand side of this blog).

Anyway, onto the theme of this post.

Who are the villains in Caliban's End?

Arguably, Caliban is the villain, chiefly because he is the architect of much misery and destruction in the novel. He's guilty of terrible acts of cruelty and seems to have no moral compass - or perhaps one that swings chaotically on its axis rather than facing one particular direction.

Cruelty is something my villains seems to have in common, but whereas Caliban is cruel because he has been deeply hurt, others in the novel are cruel just because they can be. I have used this element in numerous chapters to define my villains. I find cruelty abhorrent and whilst the displays of it make for uncomfortable reading - Lucetious' treatment of Samuel Melkin in Chapter Six is a passage I still find hard to read - I hope it evokes an emotional response in the reader, a desire to see that cruelty stopped and ultimately avenged.

For me, intellect is a crucial quality in a novel's antagonist. I know literature is replete with villains who lack intellect, but for me the presence of a sharp mind makes the villain more... well... villainous. Throughout this book, readers will notice the motif of 'Siege', a game loosely based on chess. This motif is emblematic of the strategies and machinations that characterise the inner workings of Caliban's mind. In this, he is akin to famous villains such as Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty and Tolkien's Saruman, who possess brilliant minds, however misguided their thinking may be.

There is also something of Conrad's Kurtz in Caliban. It is true he has been altered by his isolation and Wade's journey into The Endless reminds us of Marlow's journey into the heart of darkness. Like Kurtz, Caliban has turned himself into a charismatic overlord of all the tribes in his dark realm and this seems to move him into a morally ambiguous state of mind.

I do have sympathies for Caliban. That is not to say I agree with what he does, but I do not find him as repugnant as other villains in the novel. In some ways he is like Javert in Les Miserables: I feel for him and can understand his motives though not agree them.

Fairly Mild Spoiler ahead: Similarly, I do feel for Lokasenna. Originally she was just written as a cold, heartless bitch, someone who was so aloof she was incomprehensible much like the lady who used to work in the ticket booth at the Balwyn theatre. In Lokasenna's 'feature' chapters (Chapter 21: Assipattle River and Chapter 25: Hollow Hills) you'll really grow to hate her, but when I re-read these chapters, I felt hatred was too simple an emotion to elicit from a reader - I felt she lacked depth as a character. This led me to write an entire chapter (Chapter: 13: Nilfheim) devoted to her backstory. I also rewrote quite a few earlier chapters to develop this element further. Now, she's the type of character that places the reader in a quandary - she's a victim first, then an antagonist. I like this dichotomy as it makes readers oscillate in their feelings towards her, which hopefully makes for more interesting reading.

Like Richard III, Darth Vader and Peter Pettigrew, Caliban and Lokasenna are villains with a physical deformity – it is no coincidence that both father and daughter share the same loss - their left hand. (There are quite a few symbolic reasons for this, as well as playful ones such as the fairly obvious homage being paid to Star Wars). Also, the leprosy that has infected Caliban's body reflects the way his desire for revenge has eaten at his soul. His fall into villainy is reflected in his physical devolution.

Caliban is - no pun intended - my Shakespearean villain. Through him the themes of betrayal and revenge are explored. With Caliban, I had a lot of scope to explore the psychological qualities of a villain and I'm happy with his complexity. Whilst archetypal in some respects, Caliban is also intricate, a quality I like in my villains.

He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it. --Chapter 41 (Moby Dick)

Hopefully readers will detect something 'classical' about the book's titular character. Like Melville's Captain Ahab (who also lost a limb), Khan in Star Trek's The Wrath of Khan (who quotes Moby Dick as he dies) and Picard in First Contact, Caliban becomes obsessive in his efforts to find his enemy. Caliban's relentless pursuit of his twin brother has hints of the same self-destructive aspect, a fact heightened by the novel's title Caliban's End. Is the title a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader? The question of whether the quest for revenge kills Caliban is answered at the end of the novel (Chapter 46: The Endless). You'll have to wait till then to find out.

If I may digress for a moment... my love of Moby Dick is evident in Chapter 5: Jurojin Straits. There is a scene just before Trojanu commences his final attack upon a terrifying sea beast that echoes the tension felt between Starbuck and Ahab before the final confrontation with the white whale. I love putting in these literary nods; hopefully readers will pick up on these. If not, I could always write a Cliff Notes type appendix to acknowledge and explain them!

It is true that Caliban suffers from the overconfidence that often characterises the dispositions of many villains. Part of this is justified by his incredible intellect and resourcefulness, but I must admit that this is also a plot device which leads to exposition that breaks down his intricate plans so that the reader may understand them. Does Caliban's overconfidence leads to his downfall as is so often the case with archetypal villains? Again, you'll have to wait to find out but rest assured - I have made sure I have avoided the clichés of this convention e.g. I don't think he is guilty of many of the flaws you'd find on the Evil Overlord List , it's worth checking out at

Now a quick comment on some other unsavoury characters:

Maeldune - in a way he's modelled on the French aristocracy who cared nothing for those beneath them. Like some of the great villains in literature and movies, some of the worst acts of evil associated with Maeldune are actually performed by his subordinates. Maeldune rarely gets his own hands dirty.

Maeldune is also an opportunist. If you've ever read Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, Maeldune is much like Steerpike - he will do whatever he has to to push himself forward, to satiate his all-consuming ambition. He's Machiavellian and gets away with far more than he should. I like the way that Maeldune doesn't outwardly show his anger. He remains calm, polite, methodical and dispassionate, even in the midst of committing acts of murder and deceit. His treatment of Jolon Bligh (Chapter 10: Garlot) highlights how villainous he can be.

And then there's the Ghul. I have tried to supply a range of naughty and nasty types, from the quick-witted realist to the dim-witted fool. Lucetious is cool and calculating, the closest thing the Ghul have to Caliban - it is no wonder that these two have a relationship of sorts. Others like Defecious and Spulla are stupid to the point of being comedic. The only thing that stops their foolishness being slapstick is that they are difficult to kill making them formidable (albeit stupid) enemies. Chabriel is cruel and slow to anger but once angered she is something to be feared. She is more like Maeldune.

Ghul such as Craddock and Gormgut are thugs. Evil without intellect. In Gormgut's case, I modelled his persona on the one of the yokels you would find in films like Mississippi Burning or Deliverance. It is the absence of intellect in these characters' cases that makes them threatening - their capacity to commit mindless acts of violence: "I'm gonna skin you alive." Whilst these characters are useful to colour a scene, I believe it is the more complicated and conflicted villains that hold the reader's interest.

Then there are villains who are so far outside contemporary moral sensibilities that they cannot be truly understood. The Cabal creature known as Succellos is an example of this. Succellos is vampiric and has absolutely no concern for anything but her own rapacious appetite. She is totally lacking in any of the principles that guide most people's action. It is not her heinous acts that are important; rather it is the reactions of characters to her that is important - she is a foil, through which other characters are defined (specifically Samuel Melkin, Porenutious Windle and Trypp). This literary device is alluded to in Joss Whedon's Firefly:

"Live with a man forty years. Share his house, his meals, speak on every subject, then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano's edge, and on that day, you will finally meet the man."
- Shepherd Book,
"War Stories" written by Cheryl Cain

The book has quite a few other villains but I don't want to spoil your appetite. Also their reveals are big moments in the book (which you can enjoy late September when I plan to go to print).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting Things Done

I know things have been a bit quiet on the Caliban's End blog front but that's only because I have been busy finishing Book One. It's an amazing feeling to finish a book. Hard to compare it to anything, but it's a bit like coming home from a week away on Outward Bound.

Of course, I'm feeling a bit pleased with myself so I'm going to dedicate this post to GTD: Getting Things Done. I thought I'd list my Top Ten tips for productivity. Now these are just the things that came to me on my lunch break. I'm sure others will come to mind as soon as I post this. I can always write another post to cover the things I don't mention below.

Firstly, there's no better thing for productivity than the support of those around you and I've got that in spades. I'm not sure how the tips below would work if I didn't have that. I'll assume they'd still work, only not quite as well.

Being productive is about being efficient. Controlling what you can. Here's what you can control.

1. Don't continually check your email. Once or twice a day is enough, but when you do check it commit to either resolving the email or setting aside time in your planner to deal with it. Email can be seductive - it makes you feel wanted! There comes a time when you must shut the door on the endless barrage and get a bit of quiet. Outlook should be renamed Lookout! because if you aren't careful, your emails will stop you from getting the important stuff done.

2. The key to productivity is complete focus. Don't have your email notifiers set to inform you whenever email has arrived. Close everything down when you are about to start a task that requires your focus. Hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your Gtalk, Messenger, IRC etc. Clear your desk of all other distractions.

3. When you are dealing with email, use Gmail tags - I'm assuming you're using Gmail. When something comes in that you want to keep, tag it and bag it (i.e. Archive it). Tame your Inbox. Keeping the Inbox clear is the trick to feeling like you're still in control.

4. Use a management system that actually makes life easier. For example, sharing out Google calendars is a really easy way to keep things organised with others. I have numerous Calendars - one for work, one for writing and one for family/friends. Because these are all viewable on the one screen, they allow me to coordinate dates easily. I also added in Remember the Milk to my calendar which will automatically send me an email when a task is due. To set a task, I just click on the Remember the Milk icon, insert the task and then forget about it. I'll be told when to do stuff if I've set it up correctly (which I have). Having a management system you can rely on is essential to freeing up your mind to focus on what's immediately before you. For work I use Highrise to keep track of every contact I have. It's free, searchable and because it's online, I can access it from anywhere.

5. RSS feeds. I have my iGoogle home page holding all my RSS feeds. This way I get a lot of news for a little bit of time. It's very economical.

6. Dedicate yourself to one or two TV shows and try not to get pulled in to others because you're tired. If you're tired, go to bed or go for a walk. I only have one show I watch - Heroes. That's it. This means that I probably have a lot more hours to use than the average Australian because I am willing to forgo the rubbish that piles up on our screen. Not that there's anything wrong with watching telly, but it's not really a productive use of time.

7. Browsing the web is very inefficient. Use folksonomies to give you more time i.e. let someone else find the good stuff for you. I use Digg and Technorati to find the best stuff on the web, as well as podcasts about things tech. I also use This is such a time saver for me. If I see something worth bookmarking, I tag it. If it's worth someone else having, I add it to their account assuming they have one, and they do the same for me.

8. Promise yourself nice things. Whatever gets you into the chair to start work. I always plan to have some badboy food after two hours of writing. What usually happens is that I forget about the food once I'm in the groove.

9. Save time - listen to podcasts. If the house needs cleaning, the kids need walking or the milk needs getting, do it with an iPod in your ears. I have digested more literature and geek news in the past year than the five years preceding the day I discovered iTunes.

10. Accept that the smallest thing you do on a task is one less thing that you'll have to do later on. Procrastination is nothing more than an unwillingness to make a start. Often once the start is made, things get a momentum of their own and before you know it, you've done something substantial.

Monday, April 09, 2007

To Kill a Yafflebird

The other day my little girl put on a pair of overalls and looked just like Scout in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (only prettier).

About an hour ago, I finished my final draft of Chapter 11 which is set in a rain-soaked, fog-filled swamp, about as far away from Maycomb, Alabama as one can get. However, I wanted to capture something of the feeling I had when I read the first few chapter of Lee's beautiful novel. There are a few flashbacks in Chapter 11, all concentrated upon the character of Sir Edgar Worseley. The extract below is from a flashback that reads like a mixture of the antics of Jem, Scout and Dill and the sort of thing I'd do with a friend when my parents weren't looking.

Dominic, the younger of the two boys, snuggled down in the orange pile of leaves and shot his brother an impish grin. Edgar grinned back then snatched up handfuls of surrounding leaves and covered his younger brother's head until was completely obscured. Content with Dominic's autumnal disguise, Edgar then ran off down the footpath to a tall, decrepit house surrounded by weeds and dead flowers. The occupant of the house, an ornery, retired public official who was only known by the moniker Taxman Tomkins, was seated in a rocking chair ready to hurl abuse at anyone unfortunate enough to come within earshot. Taxman was renowned for his cantankerous disposition and spent most of his day scowling at passers-by, insulting any who had the misfortune to look his way.

The old man's jaw dropped when he saw young Edgar Worseley kick open his gate and come running down his garden path hollering at him to get up and follow. Ignoring all Taxman's protestations, Edgar spun a tremendous story explaining how the mayor had summoned the old man to his chambers, requiring fiduciary advice regarding a complicated taxation issue. Grumbling as he went, Taxman hobbled down the broken footpath, trying to keep up with Edgar who stopped from time to time to hurry up the old man.

Upon reaching an unusually large pile of leaves outside the Worseley house, Taxman Tomkins stopped to regain his breath. It was at that moment, the mound of leaves exploded and Dominic Worseley leapt out of his foliaceous crypt with a groan that would chill the bravest heart. He then danced around the old man like some crazed beast before running off down the street to join his brother who was rolling on the ground, his entire body wracked with maniacal laughter.

Now I've finished the chapter, I have to say, it's my favourite thus far. I think it is certainly the most well-written chapter. It has a wonderfully tragic aspect that I don't want to spoil here. The character of Edgar is comic, noble and tragic all in one. This chapter also has a few really good twists and it manages to wrap up a lot of the exposition about Caliban without slowing down the story.

I like a lot of the things I invented for this chapter such as the yaffle birds, the bogcrabs and Mag Mel's memory-inducing odours. The smells of the swamp being a stimulant for memories worked really well, especially when Edgar experiences a memory he had long-forgotten but proved to be extremely significant in the context of the story.

"When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered· the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls· bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory"

-Marcel Proust The Remembrance of Things Past

I am really enjoying using flashbacks as a means to illuminate aspects of plot and character. This is something that has been a part of the book since the start, but I think I am getting a lot better at using them. Although I lost interest in the TV show Lost (no pun intended) when I heard the writers believed they had at least seven seasons' worth of shows (I'm not that patient - I can't wait seven years for answers) I did like the way flashbacks in that show sometimes threw certain scenes into a completely different context, and sometimes made you feel differently about a character.

When I think about it, the book does have quite a few similarities with Lost - the ensemble cast, the multi-layered narrative, the themes of loyalty, revenge, sins of the past etc. I can also see comparisons could be drawn between Caliban's End and Heroes for similar reasons. I wouldn't mind being compared to Heroes when it comes down to it. I think the mapping of the plot in that show is brilliant and I love the way the seemingly disparate threads are slowly being pulled together.

Speaking of Heroes, last week the true name of Sylus was revealed - Gabriel Grey. The name Sylus came from the watch he was wearing when he killed his first victim. The surname Grey is applicable on a symbolic level and perhaps the name Gabriel (meaning 'Man of God') is also significant. Without giving too much away, I also use names in a similar fasion. The character of Tripp is a playful homage to Odysseus from Homer's epic, the surname Grayson is significant especially considering the ambiguity of the Morgai inheritance (grey + son) and Caliban is named after the deformed monster of Shakespeare's The Tempest.'re an old hand at deception.
And you lied to me so much,
about the world, about myself,
that you ended up imposing on me
an image of myself:
underdeveloped, in your words, undercompetent
that's how you made me see myself!
And I hate that image...and it's false!
-Act 3, Scene 5

"Une Tempete" by poet Aimé Césaire.

I even use the name Gabriel but saying any more would be a major spoiler!

Anyway, Chapter 11 is done and I'm only four chapters away from concluding the first book. The last chapter in the first book is fittingly set in a city called Terminus. I hope to be posting a blog on finishing that chapter by the end of autumn. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It gets worse!

If you haven't read yesterday's post (below), read it first. Then this will make sense...

I've really got to stop looking at movie trailers. Today I stumbled across the trailer for 300. It looks amazing. It's an adaptation of a graphic novel by Frank Miller about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The visual style of the film looks gorgeous and I could see Caliban's End being done in a similar way (but not so violent).

Anyway, if you've read any of my earlier posts, you'd know one of my favourite characters is Pylos - see the blog entry entitled Return of the Hero somewhere below. Pylos is a Helyan, a race of people modelled on the Greek heroes of legend. Now the heroes of 300 (the Spartans) are bound to bring up similarities with the Helyans of my novel (e.g. big muscles, not much in the way of clothing, bloodlust etc.) but look at the picture below! What's the deal with that. I have a classical character with a scar - the movie has a character (King Leonidas) with a scar. Also Pylos is the type to lead the charge in a battle - just like this guy does in the trailer! If I were paranoid, I'd think there was a sophisticated conspiracy by Hollywood to undermine my book .

Well, I'm not going to buckle under such pressure. I have given Pylos a new scar and it's bigger than King Leonidas'. Much bigger. Leonidas would have scar envy - Pylos' scar now runs the entire length of his face. I'll put a new picture of him up in the sidebar. I am going to make the scar more significant it terms of Pylos' character. Pylos is usually shy around women, but now I'm going to make the scar a contributing factor in his lack of confidence with the gals. See the extract below but be warned - it's a medium-sized spoiler!

Pylos stared at the bloodied ground as he toyed with a rock at his feet. "Why? I'm surprised you asked," he said quietly. "Look at me. I'm a monster."

She took his face in her hand and smiled. "I know what a monster looks like, General. I married one, remember, and you don't look anything like him."

Furthermore, I'm halfway through rewriting Chapter Two, the first chapter that features the Worldpool. Now instead of being a swirling vortex of water where important things take place, it's now a swirling vortex of frozen water, under a blazing sun, a place where time folds in on itself and important things still take place. I went out of my way not to make it look like Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End. I can't dump it and I love the Worldpool, both as set piece, as a narrative device and as a metaphor (which I will explain in a blog entry on literary devices in Caliban's End).

Anyway, it 12:30 am. Effects of the third cup of coffee are beginning to fade. Time to hit the sack.

Separated at birth? General Pylos Castalia of Heylas
and King Leonidas of Sparta

Friday, March 23, 2007

Oh no! Not again!

I downloaded the trailer for the next Pirates of the Caribbean film today. Wish I hadn't. Now I'm feeling rather depressed.

Let me explain. Some time last year I wrote the following text on my Caliban's End wiki.

...Originally Sefar and the Kheperans had tentacles at the base of their heads and their mouths lay under a grotesque collection of tendrils covering the bottom of their faces. Then Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest came out and the promo trailer revealed a bunch of similar-looking individuals. My heart sank when I saw the antagonist (Davy Jones?) - he looked exactly as I had envisioned Sefar. I thought about keeping the design, but it seemed too derivative. I wanted something to make him stand out and the look had to be something that would instill fear into the hearts of others (which is important in terms of irony as there are times in the story where Sefar is not as brave as his physique would imply). This picture experimenting with the horn sold me on the idea and since drawing it I have written the design into the narrative. It now seems like such an essential aspect to the Kheperans that I am quite pleased that Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest made me change my mind. Now if the next Pirates film has someone in it with a big horn on his head, I will scream.

Well, I'm now on the verge of screaming. The trailer didn't have a man with a horn on his head, but it did have two elements that are significant in my book. The major one is the use of a vortex of water as a set piece in the film. I can't express how annoying this is. The vortex in Caliban's End is a pivotal part of the book - it's even called 'Caliban's End'! I can't change it; I can't take it out. Damn. Hopefully the film will bomb as I really don't want people to read it and sarcastically say, "Hmmm... I wonder where he ripped that from?" I'm not sure what to do. Perhaps it doesn't matter, but it feels like a major setback. If only I could get the book finished before any other films use the same ideas.

The second 'similarity' is a thing in the book I called the volvelle (based roughly on a real maritime instrument). Here's how it appears in the book:

"To aid his passage through the complex currents, Gerriod consulted a volvelle, an expensive piece of maritime equipment his father purchased at considerable expense from a Spriggan trader over half a century ago. The volvelle was a map of sorts, an intricate system of revolving copper disks ranging in size. Dependent upon the time of days, the seasons, and his vessel’s position on the vast lake, the volvelle was able to indicate the direction and speed of the brutal currents that lay just below the lake’s surface. It was mid-September – early spring. The disks had been set to accommodate the incredible vol
ume of water cascading down from the mountains to the east. Very few sailors knew how to use a volvelle properly, and even fewer would dare navigate the inner currents of Erras. But Gerriod had been taught by the best and although Gamelyn Blake had long since departed, his son remembered every lesson he ever gave."

Now look at this screengrab from the film.

It's the same bloody idea! Okay, perhaps not exactly the same, but a map made of circular disks to navigate tricky waters!

Now these two coincidences came from a sixty second trailer. God knows what other similarities also exist in the film. On one hand it's made me keen to finish the book as soon as possible, but part of me is actually thinking, "Oh bugger it - it's all too hard." Changing jobs at the start of the year was a great move professionally, but the book has really suffered - it's just stopped.

Now if I seem a tad sensitive on this issue, there's a good reason. About six years ago, I almost finished a book called Taken at the Flood. It was comprised of two books. In one, the protagonist Francis Grimm goes through an intersection as the lights change to red. In the second book he brakes. The two books then chart how Francis' lives unfold from this seemingly trivial moment. I was really pleased with it and was not far from sending it off to publishers to read. And then the film 'Sliding Doors' came out. The entire premise was the same! Even though I didn't particularly like the film, the idea running through it was so appallingly similar to the idea at the heart of the book, I shelved the whole thing and it has stayed in a manila folder ever since!

Maybe I should be a screenwriter instead.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A fair slice of Sunday

Ever have one of those really productive weekends when you just get heaps done. No? Well, I can't worry about you.

I was given Saturday afternoon and a fair slice of Sunday to work on Caliban's End and rather than spending the time wandering round the house and checking the fridge for something to eat, I just wrote... and wrote... and wrote. This morning I awoke at 6:30am, had a shower and was writing by 7am. I didn't stop until midday. And it wasn't a struggle!

I'm beginning to get the pay-off from writing in a non-linear fashion. This week-end was devoted to completing the final draft of Chapter 10, one of the trickiest chapters in the book. It starts with two almoners coming to Garlot Abbey to collect alms. It introduces the character of Cate Audrey (her picture's in the sidebar somewhere) who becomes more significant later on in Chapter 27. There's a quite a lovely sense of structure with this chapter as it reintroduces the character of Maeldune Canna who will be the catalyst for the drama that unfolds in Chapter 27.

More importantly, the chapter gives us great insight into Wade Grayson, who is the closest thing to a protagonist this book has. The majority of the chapter occurs as a flashback as Grayson sits in his room in the abbey contemplating events that had taken place 30 years earlier. If the book was written in a chronological fashion, this would be the first part of the novel. This chapter explores why Wade Grayson packs his twin brother off to a leper colony. It presents a moral dilemma that will hopefully lead readers to considering what they would have done if they were in the same position. It is in this chapter we meet the Morgai Lilith Cortese.

I really enjoyed writing Lilith's vision sequence. I was worried about this part, thinking it would be difficult to write, but now I have the entire book nailed down in draft format, it was quite a painless passage to pen. In this sequence Lilith presents Wade with a series of images that paint a rather bleak future for Terra. Wade sees the monster his twin will become and is catapulted into actions he would wrestle with for the rest of his life.

I'll finish this blog entry with something completely unrelated to Chapter 10. If you look below you will see a picture I came across whilst I was perambulating down the web's many paths. I found it on at:

It's by an artist called Steven Stahlberg (an ex-pat Australian no less). Now I haven't received permission to put this image up but believe me it wasn't for lack of trying. I spent a good hour trying to track the artist's email but his site didn't have it nor did any of the message boards. I will put it up here for now, and hopefully he won't mind as I think his artwork is brilliant. Reminds me of the fantasy stuff of Frank Frazetta I adored as a young pup. Just click on it to get a better view.

I had big pots of money to throw around, I would definitely employ this guy to illustrate my book, or be the art designer on the film when New Line approach me with a blank cheque. In many ways, the picture resembles the plight of Lara Brand's baby Birren who is kidnapped by the Ghul and kept captive in the harsh, rocky realm of the Endless. The young girl's naivete and vulnerability echoes the dreadful situation into which Birren Brand is placed.

That will do for now. It's a warm Sunday night here and time for dinner.

Bye now. Paul

p.s. Hope you like the funky word counter I added at the side. It should give an indication of how things are progressing!

'One Last Time' © Steven Stahlberg 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's all geek to me

Hi. Welcome back. Today is a stinking hot day but I don't care because I just finished my second podcast for Caliban's End. I have put links to my podcasts on the sidebar (but when the novel's closer to being finished I'll have them hosted on iTunes... or somewhere like that). This second podcast explores the technical side to this project. I thought I'd base this post on the same subject. You will find links to all the applications I use that are either freeware or open source. I thoroughly recommend trying a few of this out.

What elements of IT are embedded in the project?

Firstly, there's the chapters which are quite simply written up in Microsoft Word. If I were starting from scratch, I'd probably use Open Office. I know I could migrate everything onto Open Office, but I'm not a big one for changing such things midstream. I do all my notes and research on EditPadLite which is simply brilliant as it is a notepad with tabs so I can have many pages accessible at once, without having to constantly minimise to move between them. It is available from JGSoft. A really good alternative to this could be ZuluPad which also allows the user to hyperlink between pages. I think I'll use this on my next novel. Yes, I plan to do more.

I also use Adobe Acrobat to convert the Word files into a single PDF document. If I didn't have this, I'd probably use an converter like PDFonline.

I have four facilities for backups. I have a free account with which allows for 1GB of free online storage. I also email to my gmail account every time I add to a single chapter. I am religious in doing this, and the beauty of being able to tag email in gmail means that I can always easily retrieve what I need. Occasionally I also backup to memory stick and CD. I know this seems like overkill, but I constantly remind myself what I would be like if I lost work and it's best not to release that beast from its cage.

I have really two Internet presences for Caliban's End, a blogsite and a wiki. Firstly let's look at why I chose Blogger. As i have a lot of things tied into Google (e.g. Gmail, Google Notes, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Google Reader etc.) it made sense to choose a blog facility that made life easy. I can access my blog without remembering anothing account name and password and that sort of consolidation is important for busy people (among whom I count myself). Also, I have used Blogger for other blogs, I like the interface, I love the tagging facility and I know it will be supported into the indefinite future.

For my wiki, I use I can't recommend this company enough. The support I have received has been phenomemal and the wiki is really robust. The folks at pbwiki even recorded the intro for my podcast on the day I asked them and sent back three versions of the intro to accommodate my needs. If you don't know how to find it, the wiki for Caliban's End can be found at I chose a wiki over a plain website for two simple reasons. 1. I want people to be able to contribute comments and a wiki was the easiest way to facilitate this. 2. It's a lot easier to maintain a wiki than a website. I did have a website for Caliban's End, but I found the time I was giving to author to it and make modifications was time I did not have to spare. Also, because my original website was written in Frontpage with heaps of tables and highly specific formatting, it was looking decidedly awful in some people's browsers. I'd much rather adhere to standards via a wiki.

As discussed in my last post, you also see a voting facility on my blog from Neomyz. I plan to use this a lot more. Although there are limitations with the free version, it certainly meets my needs. It was extremely easy to build into the blog - I just copied the html into the right place on my sidebar.

For the art of Caliban's End, I have predominantly used Corel PhotoPaint , which I find to be just as useful as Photoshop. I know a lot of people will say that Photoshop's the only way, but for what I want to do, Corel's works well for me. I tend to do my lettering in Macromedia's Fireworks - it just does that sort of thing really well. I also did the map of Terra (see below - at the end of this post) in Fireworks.

I've played around a bit with Vue 3D for landscapes and over the next six months plan to do a lot more of that. I'm lucky in that I have access to this software as part of my fulltime job, but there are plenty of open source alternatives other writer/artists could employ. I also use Picasa to keep track of my images, and occasionally use Faststone to crunch down the size of images.

Most of the pictures I have used on the Caliban's End wiki and on my blog I have obtained from Creative Commons searches on Flickr. Initially, I was just pilfering images from Google images searches, but it did not sit well with me that I did not have permission to manipulate the images in the way I have. The Creative Commons licence allows me to use the pictures I find. The same licence applies to the images I create, but I have no problem with others using these pictures under the same arrangement. In the case of the Creative Commons pictures, I have cited attribution into the webpage, so a user only needs to right-click on an image to see its attribution.

Similarly, any music I use that I haven't created will also exist under a Creative Commons licence. I have found the best site to source such files is Freesound. The opening music for the Calibanned podcast comes from this site. The selection of this music was a little freaky. I wanted to avoided the symphonic music that is often associated with fantasy especially in games and films. I also wanted to avoided anything bombastic. The music that had an slightly exotic feel but not be obviously tied to any one culture. I stumbled across the piece I use and fell in love with it. I think the language is Spanish. It wasn't until I'd chosen it that I noticed the name of the piece: 'Festa de la terra', which I think translates to Festival of the Land. Each year in April they celebrate the "Festa de la terra" in Barcelona. This music is actually a yoga group recorded singing during a workshop held during this event. Curiously, Caliban's End is set in Terra. It was one of those coincidences that suggest the existence of providence.

I also use for bookmarking any webpage that could be relevant to Caliban's End. If you don't use, it's time to start. It's fast, easy and I can access my favourites from any computer. It also integrates beautifully with Firefox, my browser of choice, available from I also use Google Notebook to quickly grab text and pictures from web pages that I may want to use later on.

When I write I sometimes get stuck for synonyms or definitions. The first place I go is to my toolbar where my WordWeb patiently waits for me to show it some attention. I use WordWeb 4.5a which is free to download and use. If this does not give me what I need, I open up a program called Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus, which is a little costly at $US 39.95 but it's pretty special. Now I know I could use a dictionary, but I don't really need one. It's more efficient and effective to use the electronic equivalent.

Now onto podcasts.

I like the idea of guerilla podcasting. What this means is keep the technical aspects simple and light. I record straight into an mp3 recorder (at the moment I am using an iRiver T series mp3 recorder but I'll have to give that back in a week when I leave for my new job). I then throw the recorded mp3 into a little app called Mp3 Gain which improves the audio quality especially for voice recordings. This podcast I am going to try something new that I stumbled across recently. It's a little Java applet called The Levelator, available freely from GigaVox media. All you have to do is drop your recording onto the applet and it will create a new one with considerably improved sound quality. Unfortunately, at the moment, the sound file has to be a WAV file, so I'll convert my recorded mp3 into a WAV via Audacity and then drop it into the Levelator. I'll then edit the WAV in Audacity and export it as an mp3, ready for the world to hear.

Although I have access to Adobe Audition here at work, it's overkill for what I want to do, so I use Audacity for all mixing and editing. It's free and beautiful to use.

Now at the time of recording this, I'm just uploading my podcasts to my wiki (so they aren't technically podcasts yet). I haven't explored having my podcasts hosted on networks such as iTunes, but when I do I'll pop something in my blog about all that. What I do want to briefly discuss is my thoughts on podcasting which has become such an essential part of my day.

What I love about podcasts is how time-efficient they are. I'm not sure many people remark on this but I just love how much time podcasts give me. I subscribe so I don't have to constantly seek out the newest podcasts, they download as I do other things and I listen to them as I carry out mundane tasks like driving to work, watering the garden and vacuuming the house. I can also listen to them as I go on walks, but I don't consider that a mundane task. I hope that some people will listen to my podcasts in the same way. If not, I'm sure some insomniacs could find a use for them.

I thought I'd list some of the podcasts I really enjoy. I won't supply URLs to each podcast's website but if you throw the names into a search in iTunes, you will find them in seconds. Just hit the subscribe button and you'll start downloading the latest podcast (and automatically download all future ones when they come online). If you're new to iTunes, you don't need an iPod (but it works even better if you do!) Now this isn't all of the podcasts I subscribe to, just some of the best. I know there are tonnes more I should be listening to, but occasionally you have to take the earplugs out to do other things!

For writing, I listen to:
  • Michael A Stackpole's 'The Secrets'
  • Mur Lafferty's 'I should be writing'
For technology, I listen to:
  • Cranky Geeks
  • Diggnation
  • Web 2.0 Show and
  • Inside the Net
For gaming, I listen to and watch:
  • The 1 UP Show
  • On the Spot
  • The Hot Spot
A number of other podcasts that are must listen-to's are:
  • 43 Folders. If you need help getting yourself organised, then this one's for you.
  • The podcasts of Fr Roderick. Fr Roderick is a Catholic priests who explores themes in films and books. Initially I approached these podcasts with some trepidation but his views are extremely honest and open-minded.

For entertainment I listen to and watch:
  • The Ricky Gervais Podcast
  • Happy Tree Friends (although this is certainly not for the faint-hearted)
  • Ask A Ninja
Numerous podcasts devoted to Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy, Angel and so.

Well, that should do for another blog post. Try out some of the applications I've mentioned and let me know how they go by dropping a comment on this post or sending me an email @:

p.s. Check out my map below. It should give you a sense of just how big the world of Caliban's End is!

NB: This map
is copyright © Paul F Stewart 2007 (All Rights Reserved) and is not covered by a Creative Commons licence. I created it from a sketch I made of Terra. Please click on it to see a larger image.

'Map of Terra' © Paul F Stewart 2007

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holidays are not a time of rest.

Over the past three weeks, I have written about three paragraphs of the novel. Things have been a little hectic being Christmas time and all. I guess getting a new job also has added to the chaos.

I plan to return to regular writing next week, but that doesn't mean I haven't done anything for the book. (Oh dear, a double negative - that's not good writing). I discover a funky Web 2.0 app @ and I thought I'd test it out in this blog. The survey below is a little hard for anyone but me to answer as no-one has yet read the book (and cannot have a favourite character) but I'll leave it on the blog as a test. Hopefully this works! I'll add it to the side of the page. Please respond (it's just a test!)