Friday 29 October 2010

Writing Space/Place - for the Share Your Space Blogfest to celebrate NaNoWriMo.

You'd think only a masochist would enter a blogfest on the first day of NaNo, but hey, you've gotta be a masochist to enter so it's right up my alley. Thanks to Summer at 'and this time...concentrate, I am writing a picture essay about my writing space.

 Just before NaNo begins is a good time to write about where I'll be writing during this crazy month devoted to pen, paper, laptops, netbooks, too much caffeine in the form of chocolate and coffee, too many quick snacks like the giant muffins at my favourite coffee shop, too many...oh, too many to on...

Trouble with this scenario, my battery always runs out - even though it's supposedly 10 hours!

I've travelled the world, but have never tasted a better muffin than at the Brisbane State Libray coffee shop.

At times we can get a bit antsy about our private writing space. When you have toddlers the writing world is usually around the dining room table, where a few words snatched here and there are better than not writing at all! Many lug laptops or netbooks with them on trains and boats and planes, while others scribble the olde worlde way with parchment and quill in a favourite chair by a roaring fire (must be a few left!)

I'm sure many of you have writing palaces to die for,  but I'm pretty sure it is a truth universally acknowledged (sorry Jane) that some of our writing spaces leave a lot to be desired. But no matter what your situation, writers write!

Oh botheration, what was that word again? Methinks a little nap is in order.

I've been a bit disgruntled with my writing space since I moved from a large beach house to a city apartment. I often go to a coffee shop at the wonderful state-of-the-art city Library a few minutes away and write, surrounded by the sounds and the wonderful smells of coffee, rather than in my tiny space. The problem with this is there is just too much stimulation - there might even be a ridgy-dige digeridoo player to serenade you - distracting.

Getting serenaded while I work.

At the moment my writing place in the apartment is in an open study/cum spare bedroom/cum office/cum husband's ebay buying frenzy space. Eeek! So I only get my writing done in spurts.

I don't feel so bad about my lack of space/place after reading Barbara Kinsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible and recently The Lucuna), and her comments in Small Wonder. To quote: 'It is widely rumored, and also true, that I wrote my first novel in a closet. Before I get all rapturous and carried away here, I had better admit to that. The house was tiny; I was up late at night typing while another person slept, and there just wasn't any other place for me to go but that closet. The circumstances were extreme. And if I have to -- if the Furies should take my freedom or my sight -- I'll go back to writing in the dark. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, writers will go to stupefying lengths to get the infernal roar of words out of their skulls and onto paper.'

Really, I'm just spoilt! I have acres of room!

For NaNoWriMo this year I have booked my own private room where I will write for 2 hours every morning at abovementioned library. This will be good discipline. Every afternoon I teach in the same library, so I will be living half my life there for the whole 30 days.

My writing space for November - a meeting room at the library.

Inside Brisbane Square LIbrary - I teach on the right and write in a meeting room on the left.

STOP PRESS! We moved the tenants out of our beach house and yesterday we began the big task of moving back in - just for weekends at this stage and of course for the Christmas week. It'll be great knowing I have my beach house overlooking the Pacific Ocean waiting for me to escape to when I'm not teaching.

My beach house writing place - just gotta get the table cleared first! I'm making a study this time, but I'm sure I'll still sit at the end of this table as it overlooks the Pacific Ocean...

 ...with a view like this...

So let's go NaNo, let's what where did I put that story outline then?

Wednesday 27 October 2010

A Tall Tale from the Queensland Bush - Writer's Platform-Building Crusade entry

Today I'm Guest Blogger over at Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe - a scary tale for Halloween...eeoowww...Read my story here here.'s my latest challenge. Over at Rach Writes she's cooked up her evil plot to get all of us who signed up for the Writer's Platform-Building Crusade to do whatever they like with the following guidelines:

Write something beginning with 'You may not know this about me...', include the words 'skeleton', 'umbrella' and 'kartoffelpuffer'. Hmm. Made me think for quite awhile. I always knew I was going to write a short short story, so here's what I came up with...I hope you enjoy it while learning something about the Australian bush in the pioneering/Colonial days.

A Tall Tale from the Queensland Bush

You may not know this about me but when I was a child I lived in the bush in a shack built of stringy-bark slabs with a rough timber floor. A big bark kitchen lean-to stood at one end of the house and it was larger than the house itself. Yep, mum liked to cook – damper, delicious cakes and biscuits, kangaroo.

There was bush all around us. No ranges in the distance. Our view consisted of a few stunted trees and spinifex. No undergrowth, no scrub. Just a few young she-oaks struggling for life above the dry creek bed. Civilisation was ninety miles away – some dusty little town whose name I forget.

My father was a Queensland drover, away with his cattle. My mother and her raggedy band of children were left here alone for months at a time.
We didn’t mind. We were nut-brown children running wild in the bush, as free as birds. Once school-of-the-air was over, we were free to roam.

One day my brother Clem and I were running back to the shack for lunch when Clem suddenly yelled: “Snake! Mum, a snake! Looks like a king brown!”
Mum dashed from the kitchen, grabbed my baby brother from the dirt and snatched her kartoffelpuffer off the tank stand.

“Where? Where?”

“In the wood-heap!” yelled my big brother. “You stay where you are, mum! I’ll get him! I’ve got your big umbrella to jab him with!”

Clem liked to act the man-of-the-house when Dad was off droving.

“Clem, no! You might get bitten!”

Clem scowled. Then he yelled:

“There it goes – quick, under the house! Go get him Mum!’

Mum was too slow. She was clutching the baby and trying to jiggle her kartoffelpuffer. Even our mangy dog was too late. Snakes are shifty things – poor Rover reached the crack in the slabs just as the snake’s tail disappeared – into our shack.

Mum made us all stand behind her while she watched for the snake. She dumped the squalling baby in my arms then got a dish of milk and set it down near the wall to tempt the snake. Time passed. No sign of it.

Sundown, and a thunderstorm was brewing. We could feel the electricity in the dry air. We couldn’t go into the house because Mum knew the snake was there, just waiting to come up through a crack in the rough slab floor. We set up in the kitchen.

The kitchen had only a dirt floor. Dad’d made a large table for the centre of the room. Mum brought us in and gave us some damper and treacle, and before it got dark, she snatched up some bedding from the house – terrified of the snake biting her. We slept on the kitchen table while Mum sat down beside us to watch all night.

She had her kartoffelpuffer ready on the old sideboard; she had her sewing basket and a ragged copy of the Ladies’ Home Journal from the pile Dad brought her each time he returned from droving. The dog sat at her feet, watching.

It must have been nearly midnight. Mum thought all of us were asleep but I lay there watching her sit so still, sewing and reading and patting the dog. Every so often she would glance around the floor and walls and whenever she heard a noise, she would reach for her kartoffelpuffer.

A thunderstorm hit the shack. The wind rushed through the cracks in the flimsy wall, nearly blowing out mum’s candle. The thunder rolled across the sky, shaking the dry earth, and the much-needed rain came down in torrents.

We never saw that snake again. Its skeleton will be lying somewhere out in the Queensland bush.
Aussie king brown (mulga snake) - venomous) OOOeeeeaaaaahhhh!

Please don't let snaky scare you. Jeez it does give you the creeps doesn't it?  Please don't run away. Leave a comment first, ha ha...then run for it eeoow..


images- (hut) (snake)

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Never-ending scene Blogfest - Dancing upon the mountains like black rain

Thank you Brenda Drake for hosting this blogfest. My entry in the cliffhanger blogfest is an extract from a short story I wrote after the horrendous Victorian bushfires over twelve months ago. Many people who’d had a tree change move to the serene wooded hill towns outside Melbourne perished as fire swept through, virtually unstoppable, destroying all in its path.

I begin my short extract when the MC, Jilly, had just spoken to the fire authority and alerted them to a fire in her area. One of the problems with the Victorian fires was the lack of responsiveness/resources of the fire-fighting authorities. Many perished because of this. Read on…

Dancing upon the Mountains like Black Rain

Her Fire Plan? 

Jilly slammed the phone down. Oh, God! She was horrified to see the smoke on the ridge had grown from a wisp to a red twister. The red-orange-black flames were skittering along the ground gobbling the brown grasses and spitting out black stubble. A stiff breeze whipped the flames higher and higher. It was heading right for her.The gigantic wall of flame was growing before her eyes like a giant genie free from its bottle. She felt an icy creepiness throughout her body even though the temperature was at boiling point.

Where are the fire trucks?

Her knowledge of fires wouldn’t fill a water glass. She’d only just arrived from the city seeking peace and serenity. But even the rawest city slicker knew that water meant salvation. Thankfully the dam just down the hill was still half full from the previous season’s rains, the pump was primed, ready. C’mon. She dashed to the dam and checked the possibilities—did she have enough hose to saturate the house and fill the gutters? Running back up the hill, she clipped a hose to the back outdoor tap and tested it with a few squirts. Fine.

Okay, I have water.

Where…are…the fire trucks?

Running to the front of the house, she was mesmerised by smoke whirling up the hill in her direction. Oh my Lord! The wind had changed, the fire was coming. A wall of flame was heading her way, galloping across the paddocks like a terrified pack of brumbies. Eucalyptus trees exploding. Animals screaming. Fireballs searing the sky. She was in Dante’s Inferno.

How could fire change so quickly?

She knew she was supposed to go or stay, but she hadn’t thought the fire was going to threaten her. There’d been no warnings. But now it was heading straight for her. The power lines were on fire, the wires swinging. Flying cinders whirling through the sky. It was too late to make a choice—the fire had made it for her. The ferocious blaze was already leap-frogging the valley road and licking its way up the final hill. Escape was impossible.

I’m a survivor. A fire can’t beat me.

Fear got her adrenaline pumping. She ran to the hose. She had to wet everything before the fire reached the dam and wrecked the pump. It was nearly there.

She wet a towel and wrapped it around her face. The water pressure was low, but Jilly managed to coax enough out to do the job. The flames continued their destructive path uphill, well-fuelled by the dry summer grasses, dead trees and undergrowth. As she hosed, she looked around in panic. Everything looked surreal through a blue-grey mist.

Where could she go? Where could she hide? All she could hear was the cracking of exploding trees and the loud whoosh of the flames as they shattered everything in their path. She heard a terrifying sound like a runaway train before she saw it, a gigantic wall of flame, cinders scattering through the sky, falling on her like black rain.


Go here to read other entries...

©Denise Covey, 2010

Monday 25 October 2010

The Perfect Silence of the Night - #fridayflash - the Vampires Vipunin and Cuchulain

Click on the image to read episode 3 of the story of the vampires Vipunin and Cuchulain as they haunt the forests of Tuscany. Read this and the previous episodes on my new flash fiction blog here.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

BOOK LAUNCH of fellow blogger, Alex J Cavanaugh TODAY!!

The day Alex J Cavanaugh has been waiting for! Today is the day his debut novel, CassaStaris launched. Alex has been guest blogging for several weeks and these guest posts will continue. If you haven't caught any yet, go here and you may be lucky enough to win a copy with the CONTEST Alex has going. Winner announced on Nov 1st. 

It is always interesting to learn of another writer's journey to publication. In case you missed my earlier post, here are the details of Alex's novel: 

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
October 19, 2010 Science fiction/adventure/space opera
ISBN 9780981621067 Dancing Lemur Press LLC

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Sounds great. I can't wait to lay my hands on my copy! I've already checked. You can get it now on Amazon. 

Have a great day,


Monday 18 October 2010

Aussie Author Review No 5 - Lovesong, by Alex Miller

Aussie Author Book Review: Lovesong, by Alex Miller
Time for another Aussie Author Review. Today my rave is about the great Aussie author, Alex Miller. I must admit I read my first Miller novel only a few months ago, loved it, then was pleased to find that Miller has written many more novels. Excellent.


She said nothing to his earnestness, his desire to impress her with his belief, his urgent need to acknowledge between them a binding commitment. She was thrilled to hear it on his lips. But it was too much. It was too soon. It weighted her down. She wanted to hear it and she didn’t want to hear it. What she wanted was to laugh with him. To run and play and hide with him, the way children play and hide and tease each other.

This story is at once exotic and homely, telling of the sweetness of love and the sometimes awful cost of it.

Sabiha is content working in their small Tunisian cafe in Paris, serving their regular clientele of North African immigrant workers. But when an Australian tourist, John, stumbles upon the cafe, her world begins to change. Soon deeply in love, the pair are married and John becomes part of Sabiha’s world. All that will complete their happiness is for Sabhia to bear the child she has always known she will have. But when the child does not come, a tragic series of events unfolds.

In Australia several years later, an aging writer, Ken, meets the couple and their young daughter at the cafe they open in Carlton. Ken is intrigued by the family, and especially by the sorrow he sees in Sabiha’s eyes, and is drawn into their story when John seeks him out as a confidante.

Lovesong is a beautiful story of love, loss and passion. Interwoven with Sabiha and John’s story are glimpses of Ken’s story, past and present. With its vigorous undercurrents of melodrama, its tides of sentiment, it certainly approaches the condition of song, perhaps of opera. At its core is one darkly gorgeous woman's inner music, her private pain. It is no ordinary love story but, in a most rewarding way, it is a conventional novel, a genre traditionally rooted in the struggle between desire and constraint .As the title suggests, the story is a smooth as one of the songs which Sahiba sings to her customers, carrying readers through the years and twists of the story and leaving them thinking long after the final note is sung.

"A magical tale ... A classical shape and tenor, like a de Maupassant tale fleshed out. And an interesting ending, making the author so deeply complicitous. A little flick like a master calligrapher makes when they lift the brush after a perfect, single stroke." —David Brooks

Romance and desire, longing and solitariness, transience and creativity – Alex Miller does it so well.


Well worth adding to your reading list.

Have a good week,
Click on the 'roo for more Aussie reviews.

Friday 15 October 2010

Will I NaNoWriMo or Won’t I NaNoWriMo?

nanowrimo zombie Pictures, Images and Photos
created by tempestwithin

I’ve read quite a few comments/posts lately from those who really can’t decide whether to go the NaNoWriMo route. It is a daunting choice. I participated for the first time last year and think it is a fantastic idea. I know we’re all busy with SO many other projects, but I’ve been trying to ‘clear the decks’ for awhile so I’ve not got ‘too many irons in the fire’ during NaNovember. Unfortunately whilst clearing the decks I've managed to pick up even more projects! Phew!

But I wouldn't miss doing NaNoWriMo and I'd like to help you make your decision. When I joined up last year it was at the end of October so I had no time to pre-plan but that didn't matter in the end. 

Here is some advice that I was given when I was starting out that I think is timely advice if you're struggling with indecision:

1) It's okay to not know what you're doing. Really. You've read a lot of novels, so you're completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do so. But it's also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you're not sure what that story might be right now.

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it's hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn't. Every book you've ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming spectre of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

4) There will be times you'll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.

And we're talking the good kind of yodelling here.

5) Ignore or adjust the above points to suit your style. I find it seriously upsetting to ignore ugly prose and typos as I write, so I don't adhere slavishly to this advice. I do understand the psychology of it.

Okay, so now after the little pep talk, if you decide to sign up, buddy up with me and all your other blogging friends. There’s a great support system out there. Once you join your region you’ll see there’s so much work being done for you – on planning your outline, plotting, characterisation, even research.

There's also bloggers with planning helpers in progress - I'm using for some great tips. WriteOnCon has heaps of stuff too.

Go NaNoWriMo!

PS My region (Brisbane) is having its Kick Off Party BBQ at Roma Street Parklands on October 31st, so if you live in/around Brissie come along! Then there'll be write-ins each week, giveaways, can you resist?

Thursday 14 October 2010

Writer's Platform-Building Crusade - what's that you say??

Over at  Rach Writes I came across a great concept -The Inaugural Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade (what fun!!!)

Rach had thought about the fact that there are so many of us out there -aspiring writers, beginner bloggers, industry peeps, even published authors, all who want to build their online platforms. We write insightful posts and articles, actively blog within the blogosphere, take part in challenges, competitions, and contests galore.

We have the passion and the drive to make it, but…we could do with a few more followers.

So, Rach (Rachael Harrie) started thinking. What if we link all these people together, she thought? What if we create a way to meet people in a similar position, people who genuinely want to help build our online platform while at the same time building theirs? People who want to pay it forward in the spirit of writerly writerness and blogging beautificity (and see it come back to them in turn)!!!

And here it is…

The Rach Writes… Inaugural Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade.

How cool is that!!!

This is how it works:

Follow along with Rach Writes' site if you don’t already (she wants to build her online platform too of course) 

Become a Crusader by leaving a comment to the inaugural post (include your blogging name and a link to your blog)

Write about the Crusade on your blog and link back to that inaugural post

Encourage your followers to come to Rach Writes… and join up (it will help them too!)

Tweet about the Crusade, including a link to this post ( and #WPBC1. Encourage re-tweets. She's @RachaelHarrie if you want to follow her in the Twitterverse too

Pop it on Facebook if you have a page

Generally, spread the word…

She’ll publish a list of all the Crusaders on Rach Writes..., and will update the list as people join in on future Crusades.

And there it is. You’ll have a list of bloggers in the same position as you, who genuinely want to help you succeed. You can visit their sites, follow along with their blogs, leave comments galore, and share your highs and lows as you journey through the blogosphere and build your online platform. And they'll be doing the same for you.

Rach has got some Crusade Challenges and Blogfests planned, so let’s see how many people we can get onboard and make this an ongoing thing...

Jump on board the Writers' Platform-Building Crusade. Spread the word. Pay it forward. And have fun with your blogging!!!

The first Crusade challenge has just been completed (I missed out on that one!) Currently voting is underway to choose the best post. You can read entries and vote here if you want.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Books that make you fade and "I'm A Literacy Builder" Award

Did you hit the wall when you tried War and Peace? Too many balls, too many battles, too little time? Some readers find the charm of The Hobbit alluring but get stuck in the mud of mythical prose when they make the climb to Lord of the Rings.

We all know the adage that you can't judge a book by its cover but after a few pages/chapters you have a pretty good idea whether the cover's living up to the hype.

Some of us think you should just plough on and read; others believe that life's too short to read a 'bad' book or one that just isn't a good fit.

Did you know that the 2003 Booker Prize novel, Vernon God LIttle is the most popular work of fiction on the list that people started to read but never reached the end? Here's a list of some books, both fiction and non-fiction that people tossed into the 'too hard' or 'just can't get into it' bin:

The latest list - from Top 10 Abandoned Books left behind in hotel rooms:

Just for interest sake, a whole suitcase of Mills & Boon were found dumped in a Leeds hotel - was that you, Francine?

A buzz to all the chick-lit authors - very few people leave chick-lit behind these days! 

Do you have your list of books that make you fade, books that you know you should read because to be 'well-read' you owe it to yourself? Have you picked up a tome again and again just to abandon it - again? I have, of course, or I wouldn't have written this post. I hang my head in shame to give you my list of Books that make me fade. Some I tried hard to read, really I did, but I just had to give up and move onto more luscious pastures.

  1. Ulysses - Homer
  2. The Iliad - Homer
  3. The Odyssey - Homer
  4. Beowulf in poem form
  5. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  6. Les Misérables - Victor Hugo
  7. Lord of the Rings - Tolkein
There are no modern books in my list, but I did persevere with the Twilight series and managed the first three okay. I'm about to try the Stieg Larsson books. I struggled with The Book Thief but ended up enjoying it. And hey, I have read War and Peace!! Yay, and loved it most of the time.

How about you? Do you have a list of books that are your literary mountain, or do you manage to finish all the books you start?

Continuing my literary theme, today I would like to thank Pamela Jo at There's Just LIfe for giving me the "I'm A Literacy Builder" Award. If you aren't a follower of Pamela Jos, you're missing out on a jewel of a blog. Treat yourself and visit.

The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Display the award logo on your blog site.
3. Tell us five of your favorite words and why you like them, (add as many as you like).
4. Pass the award on to three bloggers you feel are excellent literacy builders, and link to their sites.
5. Contact the bloggers you’ve chosen and let them know about the award.

Wow! My five favourite words. That's a big ask. I'll remember once I've published this...

Okay, this is going to take me awhile so just think about books for your above list while I think...

Here are 5 of my favourite words, or at least 5 that I can remember right now.

  1. Atmosphere - I just love creating it in my writing and I like the word itself.
  2. History - Love it, love learning more about the past all the time. Will take a lifetime or two.
  3. Love - Such a crucial word. Love how it sounds, love how it can be so positive.
  4. Friends - Because everyone needs them. We need each other.
  5. Classic - I love the looks (clothes, cars and guitars...) and I love the books.
 I'd like to give this to a swag of my followers but the three people I'm alloted to share the love with would be:

Francine at Romancing the Blog -
Ann Best at Long Journey Home
Tara at Dreaming Secrets

Hoping these lovelies will accept this award and share their favourite words, then pass it on to their chosen ones.

Have a great week everyone, and I hope you'll give me a list of your unfinished books...please...D