Release of the Third Instalment! It Was Managed Before New Year! Hooray!

Said I hoped to manage it before we all ticked on over into 2013, and so it was done. Just.

The third instalment of my fantasy short story cycle Treading Twisted Lines with Darren, Maddi, and Kai is now available from Smashwords as a FREE DOWNLOAD.

Had to capitalise that. Just to see what it looked like.

I like it enough to leave it.

This book is called The Rat. Comments from pre-publishing readers have included “confronting” and “captures the utter hopelessness of the situation.” I hope you download it and give it a read. Let me know what you think with a comment, or even a review on Smashwords, if you particularly like/don’t like it. And if you haven’t read the first two instalments – they are all stand alone books, but you’ll pick up connections and relations between the stories and characters if you read them all – The Chosen Voice and Under the Bright Water are both available from Smashwords and an array of good online retailers.

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2013 will be a happy year of life and blogging for us all.

Elephants Keep Earth Safe From Cat Paws

So, the Earth is flat. Our flat Earth rests on the back of a giant serpent, that rests on the backs of a quartet of elephants. And, of course, it is well known that this quartet of elephants stands in formation on the tough, unyielding shell of a mammoth turtle that drifts and swims placidly through the void of space.

That just goes without saying. Common knowledge. Generally accepted. -Ish. For whatever reason. I’m really not sure how people figured this out with such limited access to scientific instruments. Would have been fairly difficult, unless you could somehow see the turtle’s reflection in the flat sea. In reverse …

Well, what I’m sure you didn’t know, is that the Computer Keyboard also rests on the back of an elephant. Assisting in holding up the ungodly weight of the Computer Keyboard are the tips of two bouquets of pens and pencils sitting side-by-side in decorative pen holders. The reason? To keep the cat from walking all over the keys and filling my documents with garble while I’m lost in a moment of thought.

This begs a rather ultimate question, one we never even considered in school:

Is Earth balanced on top of elephants to keep the cat from walking all over it, or knocking it over?

keyboard rests

We are never meant to know the answer …

keyboard rests and cat

Behind Glass (section twenty-three)

Jacyntha laughed merrily as Pan remained quite dumbfounded, hands emptied of arrows still hovering above her quiver. He knew his master was popular, and that he himself did his job well. And Pan quite disliked Fergus on a personal level—he’d been an active member of the gang that had singled Pan out, making his first years in the castle a living nightmare of hazing. He had as little to do with him as possible, but so far as Pan had seen, Fergus remained a bully. But not to women: to them, he was as perfect as any escort.
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Behind Glass (section twenty-two)

Through the middlemost of five window strips sectioning a meeting room’s walls high in the castle, Fen could see a storm of flying silver arrows assailing targets below. He couldn’t distinguish Pan from the other figures that routinely darted down the range to collect arrows from that distance, but he and Jacyntha would be there. Working hard.
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Behind Glass (section twenty-one)

Amid the sea of women and girls dressed smartly in suits, or sweetly in frills and ruffles, or elegantly in silk blouses—whichever their Masters deemed suited them best—and just as many escorts clothed identically down to the plain leather straps on their sandals, Jacyntha sat still enough. But from where he stood just behind and to the left of her gleaming, mahogany-carved chair, he and the other escorts carefully arranged so no woman’s view was blocked for an instant, Pan saw her fidget.
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Absence Makes The Blog Grow … Something … And A Nice Thesaurus …

Longest absence from my not-particularly-useful-to-anyone-yet-darling-to-me blog since I started it in May this year, I believe. Sadly, this 101st blog shall be nothing special to make up for that. In fact, the beginning shall be filled with boring excuses to try to justify said absence to myself. Here we go:

Numerous carolling gigs, tail-end of Christmas shopping, helping prepare house for hosting a family Christmas party, re-vamping my novel enquiry letter, re-vamping my novel synopsis, finalising rough draft of a short story, sister coming up from Melbourne … playing The Sims … I think that’s it. Apart from general summer laziness and humidity blues.

Got a bit of editing for the two re-vamps printed to ponder over once I’m finished up here, as well as for the new short story. Current plan for tomorrow is to attack and finally (finally) finish chapter 18 of Tom after music practice for the Christmas Eve mass.

Family Christmas party for Dad’s side of the family was today. Nice to see people – first time I’ve seen a number of them since coming home from Japan. Food and drink was plentiful (and not too much, as is often a minor issue), and the conversation amusing and/or informative. Mum and Dad’s squishable invasion plan for cousins’ gifts was a highly successful operation. Many cousins were seen after the de-gift-bag-ing to be snuggling their respective mini squishy animals, and one little second cousin wouldn’t be parted from his sweet green T-Rex for a moment. If you haven’t seen a squishable, I highly suggest you have a bit of a click on the above link … they’re quite beyond adorable. I HAVE A NARWHAL … in case you haven’t already figured that out 🙂 Narwhal is a mini. Have a large original raccoon, too. His name’s Don Don.

Returning from that squishy tangent, among the various lovely gifts I received (twenty-four year old niece that I am … probably shouldn’t be getting such pressies anymore …) was included a book that made me smile: The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich. Haven’t heard of it before, but planning on reading it cover-to-cover and setting it near-permanently on a little green book stand by the computer.

Spend a lot of writing time – as the introduction of the book states is common/unavoidable for most writers, though this was first released in 1994, so there was mention of books, not websites  – frequenting various thesaurus sites. Not necessarily looking for more uncommon words to vary with a staple word – corrupt works just as well as debauched, iniquitous, and nefarious, however awesome these words are. Given how huge and amazing English is, a bit of variation is good, but not only for the sake of variation. Time on these thesaurus sites is mainly spent just looking for … the right word. Can be infuriating at times, when it remains elusive. Am hopeful that this useful-looking book shall prove … useful … in that department.

Something fun for 100: a randomly generated content challenge

It’s the doll thermometer’s 100th post! Hooray!

To celebrate, a 30 minute writing challenge:

Seven Randomly Generated Nouns: Chief, Jacket, Reason, Sidewalk, Son, Temperature, Textbook

Five Randomly Generated Adjectives: Zany, Modern, Nice, Measly, Tangible

Three Randomly Generated Verbs: Upgrade, Expand, Renew

One Randomly Generated Adverb: Miserably

No New Theories

‘One reason,’ the chief spoke sternly from atop his dais. His son knelt just below. Before him lay an open textbook, pages rippling in a nice breeze that blew through the chamber, built open to the elements. The temperature was mild and the skies clear; outside, a perfect day passed. Inside, the day was anything but. ‘Give me one measly reason not to cast you out and leave you to the mercy of the Sidewalk.’

The chief’s son coughed miserably into the crook of his elbow, splattering his jacket with blood and phlegm. The last few days in his father’s custody had not been pleasant. ‘I cannot give any more reason than I have. Our knowledge and understanding of the universe ever expands with time. We are learning things now that could not have been known when the Great Minds lived. I swear to you, I have tangible proof that the earth …’

‘You spit on the greatest minds that ever existed!’ the Chief roared, startling his son into distraught silence. ‘You spit on Aristotle and Ptolemy, and everything they studied!’

‘Not at all, entirely the opposite! Please, Father, if you would only listen to me …’

‘You would have us upgrade the perfect Geocentric model of the universe? Improve upon what cannot be improved?’

‘But it is incorrect!’ his son near wailed, stretched to breaking point by days of mistreatment and public ridicule. ‘The sun does not revolve around us, nor the planets nor the stars! Only the moon is ours!’

Gasps and cries of blasphemy ensued, echoing around the chamber from the rising ring of spectator seats. The Chief was livid, but through his rage his son saw deep, deep shame, and despaired.

‘Defile our ears and the great work of Aristotle no more with your modern, zany theories,’ the Chief commanded, gesturing reverently at the open textbook pages fluttering, innocent and incorrect, by his son’s bowed head.

‘I have had enough. Renew your faith in the sacred truths of the Great Minds, or face the Sidewalk.’

The Elusive Chapter 18 and a 1500 Word Limit

No, no, of course I’m not finished chapter 18 yet. Despite my aiming to finish it mid last week. Odds are it won’t happen tomorrow, either. Up early for a soul-challenging sing, then carolling gigs that evening and early Monday morning, too. Between gigs, shall be working on the short story I started today. That and washing – forgot to put loads on this morning, and the washing basket’s overflowing.

Blogged briefly about getting the idea for this story a while back. Now I’m actually getting it down. Made some fair changes to the original plan, aiming it more at a young adult audience. As I already have two major works in progress and several minor ones as well, starting up an entirely new project probably isn’t the best idea. But it is short. As in, very short.

Writing this for a competition I came across while browsing today (Stringybark Young Adult Short Fiction Award 2013); the word limit’s 1,500. Deadline’s mid-January, and I’ll probably need it. Might be able to write more than that in a day, but that’s novel writing. I’ve always found novel writing much easier than short story writing, and I’m sure many would agree. In novel writing, you can just ramble on and on and on, then dice it up and smooth it all out later. Much less room to ramble with such a stringent word limit. Shall treat it as a challenge, though. And shall edit it to the bone, once it’s all down on the screen. I’ll post it here once the competition’s over, assuming I do not place. Quite a logical assumption, really. Not only are short stories harder for me to write, I’m also much worse at writing them. The short-short ones, anyway.

(Something being hard for me, and me being bad at the same thing, are different to an extent, I believe …)

Also a young adult novel competition run by an Australian publishing company coming up in March that I’m looking into. May try to clean up the NaNoWriMo novel in time for it. In which case, both Tom and Treading Twisted Lines shall probably be neglected a little for a while. But come hell or high water, or any other threatening cliché, chapter 18 shall be complete before the year is done!

So better chapters 19 and 20, but I’m willing to be a little bit more lenient with them. After all, this time of year’s a bit busy.

Treading Twisted Lines Continues For Free (Hopefully Before the Year’s Out)

Finished the first section of the fourth instalment of the Treading Twisted Lines series, today. The working title for this one is Stronger, but that’s already the third title I’ve tried. Shall probably change it again.

What this means, is that the third instalment of the series (The Rat) might be released by the end of the year, after all. I’m happy with it, it’s been edited several times by the usual suspects – my lovely Mum, my lovely editor auntie, and myself – and I’ve entered discussions as to the cover art. All that was missing was the teaser excerpt from the following instalment, which is now taken care of. Perhaps I should wait until the fourth one is actually complete but … I’d rather not. It’s planned in fair detail, and looks set to be quite long – it’s the first to outline most of the protagonist’s life to the point where things start to unravel and explode. Shall see what happens, but with multiple projects on the go, I’m not sure when a final product, let along a well-written, edited final product, will exist in a happily completed Word file, ready and rearing in my Smashwords Publish folder.

It’s hard to know what to work on, right now. Haven’t quite decided whether Treading Twisted Lines or Tom takes precedence, though it’s usually Tom that wins out in the end. Was working on him just then. I was hoping to finish chapter 18 tonight (clearly I didn’t manage it the other day, nor the days following …), but shall probably just finish this section, and (attempt to) finish it off tomorrow.

So, back to the third instalment’s release: since I don’t know for sure for sure if it’s possible, I won’t put up a countdown just yet. But I’ll very, very tentatively aim for my December 30.

And to finish, some good news: this book, entitled The Rat, shall be a free e-book. As shall the sixth instalment, the ninth, the twelfth: every third book in this series will be released entirely free of charge.

Hooray for hopeful, sub-standard marketing strategies.

Futile Conversations with an Ageing Cat

What? What!?If you think it’s breakfast time you’re sorely mistaken.

You’ve already had dinner! What are you yowling for?

It’s ten at night! You’re not having breakfast at ten! Then you’ll be demanding lunch at four in the morning, dinner at nine, and it’ll all just go on from there!

You command me not!

No, wait! I haven’t checked your rear! You know your hygiene’s not what it used to be! You want evidence, just look what you left on the monitor! Must you sit on my notebook? Must you jump on the desk? I swear, you shed more hair than you should rightly replace with ease, as you do.

And here you are now, purring away beside me, earning affection without a smidgen of effort.

And there you go, leaping to follow the next fool that passes by, ever hopeful … no, expectant … that deserved food shall ensue.

No luck …

Old Tom