Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Koala wants to make you smile

After the downer of my last post, I found something special in the news that will hopefully cheer us all up.

True stupidity in action.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Koala on her Soapbox

I read the news every day. I read about the awful things people do to one another, and to their children. Awful, awful things.

But this absolutely floored me. The title of this post is misleading. I'm actually completely and utterly speechless about this one.

*Link fixed!*

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Back to school

The summer holiday has just ended on our topsy turvy side of the world and today the baby koalas returned to school. They were both bizarrely happy about it. Am I that boring?

They scored great teachers; in fact, soccer boy got the one he'd been hoping for. He has been separated from a couple of his friends, one close friend in particular, but the biggest chunk of his group of friends is in his class with him so he's pretty happy. Princess has her best friend with her, hooray, so she'll be in clover.

So it's back to work properly for me. Well, I tried. I made three calls and none of my clients were in. Oh, dear. How to spend my time? I rose to my own challenge and wrote just under 400 words to finish the short story I've been working on for the last couple of weeks. It's a short story of just over 5000 words, mostly written in small batches of a few hundred words here and there - words that I would not have written without this challenge to keep me going, even if it was just to crunch out a paragraph on the laptop on the sofa late at night. I'm learning that while being able to sit down for an hour or more and write 1000 words or more is the ideal, it is possible to work in a different way.

I'll give the story a quick edit over the next couple of days and then let it sit for a while and apply my new technique to a WIP. A more demanding and more complex task, yes, but if I keep at it, even a tiny bit a day, I should always know where the story is going, making it easier to keep my line of thought.

I hope!

BTW, my story is sci fi - a whole new world for me, literally.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Goede morgen iedereen!

Vandaag is 'Rabbit Hole Day' en dat betekent dat ik iets moet schrijven dat een beetje anders is van mijn normalen blog verhalen. Dus, schrijf ik in het Nederlands. Het spijt mij als dit vol fouten zit, maar het is nu over tien jaar sinds dat ik in Nederland heb gewoont. Ik heb vier jaar in Amsterdam doorgebracht en ik heb een Mavo in het Nederlands. Toen ik daar woonde dachten sommige mensen dat ik Nederlands was, so goed kon ik de taal spreken. Niet meer, helaas!

Ik denk dat dat genoeg is voor vandaag!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Easy way to show your PHC wordcount

OK, so we are officially launching this weekend - i.e. now. Kudos to those who were already hard at work.

I've snuffled about the guts of blogger and found an easy way to keep your wordcount at the top of your blog, without having to make a post. 'Gadgets' click the 'text' option - put in a title - 'The Public Humiliation Challenge' springs to mind. Then you can simply type text into the box (like your wordcount), or add links, for example to the appropriate Koala Claw badge or to the original post. Above the box is a small selection of activities, such as links and images to make it even more easy, peasy. Writing it is pretty much like writing a regular post. Save the gadget and It should appear at the top of your blog. Then it's simply a case of clicking on the 'tools' pic under the gadget to edit the text and each day's word count.

This is not obligatory, a post or a comment is fine, but once you've set it up, which doesn't take long, it's quick and easy to amend without having to open posts or comments.

Here are our fantastic Koala Claw badges, provided by the seriously talented JJdeBenedictis:

Koala Approves


KCTL: Moderate

KCTL: High

KCTL: Extreme

Koala Smack-down

As you can see, she presented me in my best light. Although I'm not sure about the size of that Koala butt.

I'm sure you are all on Koala Approves...or do I need to issue reprimands so soon?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Public Humiliation Challenge (summarised and made coherent)

The Public Humiliation Challenge is a way to ensure you keep cracking on those works in progress.

Challengees post word counts either in posts on their own blogs (preferably a new post, so I can follow it easily), or report in here (comment in whatever post is at the top is fine). Your target is a minimum 100 words up there at least six days a week, actual writing and not blog posts. Memoirs, stories, a paragraph in your novel - any kind of original writing counts. Editing also counts, but you must have worked on a chunk of at least 100 words - although I don't care if it turns out to be 150 words or 10 words by the time you've finished with it. Plotting and planning count as long as they are on paper/keyboard, not in your head. Reading does not count; I expect some kind of production. State in your entry what type of work you have done, if not straight writing.

You get one day off a week - a free pass for those days when the family keep you busy from dawn until dusk or some kind of irresistable adventure uses up your whole day. Only one day, mind and you must declare your chosen day instead of your wordcount.

Otherwise, only entertaining excuses are permitted - those would be ones that make me laugh. Special dispensations for extreme weather conditions, and for tragedy, obviously, although this year the koala clan is hoping fervently for a year without hospital admissions as we have single-handedly kept the Australian medical system afloat in the past twelve months. The tragedy dispensation section does not include broken nails, cranky spouses or homework-eating dogs. It does, however, include Attacks by Baby Koalas (section 5, A (iii)). What do you mean I'm the only one with baby koalas? Too bad. That's not my fault.

Anyone who doesn't make the 100 words on at least six days in any one week must come here and confess. We reserve the right to be utterly unsympathetic.

This was going to be a lovely, friendly challenge with mere fruit throwing as penalties however JJdeGoblin introduced a rather cool 'Koala claw threat level-ometer' that I shall be adopting. Graphics to follow.

This challenge is completely compatible with Aerin's - use your 100 words a day to meet her challenge of 1000 a month (however, if you want it to count towards her challenge the words must be original writing).

Why this will work... 100 words a day on a WIP keeps you in touch with your creativity and line of thinking, even when you don't have time to write large chunks...100 words a day keeps your technique alive...100 words a day adds up to a 1000 word short story in only ten days...100 words a day can take less than ten minutes...100 words a day can turn into a couple of thousand almost by accident...100 words a day just reminds you of what you are doing and why you are doing it...100 words a day is merely fun that can turn into something amazing.

Meet your fellow challengees:

McK (surprise!)
JJ de Benedictis
Blogless Troll
Sarah L
JC Montgomery

More entrants welcome at any time. Just let me know in a comment at the end of my most recent post.

Public Humiliation Challenge Wordcount

22 January 2008: 278

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We can say we knew him first...

The winner of the latest contest over at Clarity of Night is our very own PJD with his great 'Sliding' - warmest congratulations to him! Previous winners have gone on to be published, so Jason has a good eye for these things. The Unlucky 26, coming to a bookstore near you, very soon.

Check out the rest of the winners too - there are some familiar names in there, including Precie, Janey, Aerin, LaughingWolf and, heh, me! It was a fun, fun contest, with so many different takes on the prompt, fascinating stuff to read and kudos to Jason for having the energy to assess all the entries. Link

Public Humiliation Challenge Wordcount: 170.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cheep, cheep

Public Humiliation Wordcount 20/1: 225 and I've sorted out a tricky moment, yippee
Public Humiliation wordcount: 173 (and that's 173 words more than would have been written today if it weren't for the challenge - so it's working for me!)

We've been looking after a friend's bird for the past few days; a beautiful rainbow lorikeet. When I was a kid my parents refused to buy a cat or a dog, so they rather uselessly substituted goldfish, then, rather more usefully, a series of budgies. Initially Mum had to take care of them, however, I later became rather handy around them, cleaning them out and feeding them like any responsible mum. So I loved having the imaginatively named 'Birdie' to stay. We kept him on the deck right outside the family room. He was a chatty little thing with a small vocabulary and a cute habit of instant imitation. He could also cough, sneeze and laugh.

Polly dog was fascinated by him and spent hours standing by the cage, just watching, while Birdie taunted her by inching closer, then suddenly leaping to the other side. Polly would race over there, Birdie would hop back, Polly would race back, Birdie would hop back etc. etc. Polly just thought he was the best-ever plaything. When he left this afternoon, she sat by a glass panel next to the door, wistfully watching my friend's van until it was out of sight.

Now I want to have a bird again...however, Mr Koala's loathing of birds is only surpassed by his loathing of cats, and as he would like to assassinate all cats, that's not saying much.

Have you ever had temporary care of a pet - and then wanted one the same?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Public Humiliation Challenge: Editing Counts!

Public Humiliation Challenge wordcount yesterday: 210 words
*Updated to add* Public Humiliation Challenge wordcount today: 1023 words
*Updated again to add* Public Humiliation Challenge wordcount tomorrow (yours, I'm there already): 316 words

Yes, editing counts. I think that editing and rewriting is what makes writing really sing. As long as you work on a chunk that starts at 100 words or more then it counts for the PHC. Even if you edit those words down to 50, 10 or even 1. As long as it's a good word, then it counts. Or you start with 100, rewrite the first sentence ten times and then realise the rest is fine - that counts too. Whack it into your wordcount with pride. Call it editing, so we know what you've been up to.

*Updated to add* Scheming/plotting also counts. See how reasonable I am? All I want is 100 words of progress on whatever you are working on. Drafting, editing, plotting - as long as you feel it's progress then it's in. This is supposed to help us - it's a way of either kicking off something new, or of never losing track of something we're working on - just 100's that easy...and if that kicks off 1000 words that's fine too. But you've still got to write 100 the next day - the whole idea is to keep going!

So signed up so far I think we have:

JJ de Benedictis
Blogless Troll (if tomorrow ever comes)
Maybe Robin (couldn't figure out if that was a in or an out!)

I'll put something up on the side of the blog in due course, but we may have more people joining us.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Public Humiliation Challenge

Word count yesterday: 0 due to sweatbox of a work room.

That's the Public Humiliation Challenge in action.

I'll post word counts in each of my posts now in the interests of demonstrating my slackness, sorry, industry. What I'm actually writing is probably of minimal interest so I won't yarn on about it unless it's particularly interesting. JJdeGoblin, I'm challenging you to do the same! And anyone else that wants to play along. I want to see a minimum 100 words up there at least six days a week, actual writing and not blog posts. Only entertaining excuses permitted - those would be ones that make me laugh. Special dispensations for extreme weather conditions, and for tragedy, obviously, although this year the koala clan is hoping fervently for a year without hospital admissions as we have single-handedly kept the Australian medical system afloat in the past twelve months. The tragedy dispensation section does not include broken nails, cranky spouses or homework-eating dogs. It does, however, include Attacks by Baby Koalas (section 5, A (iii)). What do you mean I'm the only one with baby koalas? Too bad. That's not my fault. Yes, Attacks by Baby Koalas can be a tragedy. Haven't you heard of Deadly Drop Bears? Whirl, enlighten them, please.

Anyone who doesn't make the 100 words on at least six days in any one week must come here and confess. Fruit may be thrown. If you don't confess and I find out, big fruit will be thrown.

Um, that's it. This little challenge, by the way, is completely compatible with Aerin's. Imagine, 100 words a day. How fast would that add up to her demand of 1000 a month? Easy peasy!

I'm a-ok for Aerin's challenge, thanks to my entry to Jason's contest at:

I'm number 74, and if you're burning with excitement to read my first 250 words of 2009, that's right here. You'll also find Precie, PJD, Janey, laughingwolf and various other blog buddies over there, but I'll let them find their own entries! Can't remember all of them, m'dears.

However, my work is not yet over. 100 words or more coming up later today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There will be no writing today

With good reason, not just procrastination (for once!). It's going to be 40 degrees Celsius here, 104 Fahrenheit. It gets five degrees or so hotter in my little room, perched as it is in the ideal position to collect all-day sun and I really don't want to die in a pool of melted fur.

Amuse me. How warm or cold is it where you are?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Book Roast is Back!

We've refilled the gas, scrubbed down the grill and topped up the sauce bottles. Yes, the Book Roast is blowing off the cobwebs of the holiday season and relaunching with a slightly different format.

To celebrate, we've lined up a varied guest list for the first two weeks - yes, two solid weeks - featuring two of the coolest agents, six amazing authors and our new regular contributor - the Mystery Publisher, our very own publishing Deep Throat.

Monday, Jan 12: Mystery Publisher
Tuesday, Jan 13: Eric Stone
Wednesday, Jan 14: Agent Lucienne Diver
Thursday, Jan 15: Barrie Summy
Saturday, Jan 17: Elysabeth Eldering

Monday, Jan 19: Mystery Publisher
Tuesday, Jan 20: Traci E Hall
Wednesday, Jan 21: Maggie Stiefvater
Thursday, Jan 22: Agent Nathan Bransford
Friday, Jan 23: Jennifer Macaire

As ever, we'll have wit, charm and insider tidbits - and prizes galore (easier to win now, too!). Check out the Book Roast and tell your friends!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

WAP: Writing Action Plan!

Step 1: Join Aerin's 1000 words/month writing challenge (done, see post below for evidence).

Step 2: Stop googling anything suggested by BT (done, for today at any rate)

Step 3: Get cracking on bubbling Clarity of Night idea.

Step 4: Visit JJdeGoblin and chat more about mutual-egging-on.

Step 5: Revise and submit Clarity of Night.

Step 6: Start on something else.

Step 7: Keep going!

Emergency writer's block package
Track down gum leaves.
Keep Whirl ideas to blast away writer's block.

Hold me to it!

The first step: rise to something!

Aerin at In Search of Giants is hosting a writer’s challenge to foster inspiration and community. It's pretty low-pressure: 1000 words a month. At the end of the year, you'll have a total of 12,000 words, which is not even half a NaNo entry. Go here to sign up!

BONUS: If you sign up for this challenge by January 14, your entry to the Ascension Clarity of Night contest counts as all 1000 of your words for January!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Somebody inspire me

I have a little-post Christmas problem. No, not that one. I thought nobody knew about that one? BT, if you dare google it...

I just can't glue my ass back in the writing seat! I managed to churn out some web copy for a client at the start of the week (the stuff that pays) and I thought that might kick start me, but it hasn't. I'm still messing around with kids - it's their summer holiday for the whole month of January, but they are normally fairly forgiving if I sneak upstairs for an hour or two - but somehow I can't get myself to actually do it.

I'm not short on ideas; I've got two short stories simmering, something that needs editing and the famous Woman is still firmly stuck in her Wall at around 25,000 words. I did reread those 25,000 just before Christmas and I'm really happy with them. I even know where she's going (nowhere for a while, but just wait...). The something that needs editing is actually already two thirds done, but I know the last bit would be the hard bit. One of the short stories is completely written in my head and is probably sellable. The other is not quite so written in my head, but is probably even more sellable. And then there's the Clarity of Night comp, which would be fun to do, and I even have an idea for.

All fun things that I even WANT to do. Just can't get myself of the post-Christmas butt to do it. I know you guys are good at butt kicking. Please, please, please kick mine, or for the more polite among you (I know who you are. Sarah.) suggest where I might start.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Mmrrrphl, schrrrphl

*sound of rustling as McKoala digs herself out of the remnants of the eucalpyt leaf feast and gazes around blearily*

Just a little something to wake me up - here are ten honest facts about myself, most of which you probably don't need to know, but, hey, let's get this blogging thing revved up and going the easy way. Once upon a time this was a meme, but it's not any more.

1. I don't have single plant in my house, because I can't be bothered looking after them.

2. I pick my nose in the shower.

3. I wanted to be left-handed.

4. I sing really badly.

5. I don't go Brazilian.

6. I hate sport.

7. After dinner I sit down and treat Mr McKoala like a dishwashing, tea-brewing slave.

8. Sometimes when I tell the kids I'm working, I'm just dandling about on the Internet.

9. This is bland.

10. Most of the honest things I can think of are unprintable.