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I have answered The Question! July 27, 2010

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amkuska commented on my last post about interrogating my characters to find The Answer to what was bugging me. Good idea, and I did some, but unfortunately the question was more- why would a big company attack its own assets, and kill their own employees?

I have discovered, with myself, that walking stimulates ideas. Think of the question, walk, think, postulate. So I did this. Long walk to a coffee shop the other morning. And huzzah! I have solved the big problem that was holding my re-write back.

I know this is where I am supposed to tell you all my EUREKA moment. But if I did that, when you read my book you would know the big thing happening behind the scenes, and it wont be as fun to reveal to you.



I have started the re-write July 22, 2010

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Finally. The grouping of story arcs into one long arc has been done. the choices for character development have been made.

One massive decision needs to be made regarding motivation. But I thought – if I do nothing but think about it, then I would be doing nothing.

So I am now writing.

I will trust that it will come to me.

My Book Safari- Part 5 July 22, 2010

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It was nearing the end of the day. We had dinner plans, but there was one last stop to make!

The Haunted Bookstore!

…was closed, at 4pm on a Monday. That’s a shame.

So, there was just one last stop to make!

City Basement Books!

… was closed for renovations.


One last stop to make!

Minotaur! The Pop Culture Specialists. I love this store. I like that it is underground, so the inner geek does not fear coming out and squealing with joy. My wife was a little upset that we didn’t go to Minotaur first. Being the last stop, she had spent all her money elsewhere, when there were graphic novels to buy!

I was checking out some awesome Spec-Fic novels. The new releases intrigued me. There were some great paraphernalia, like lego Buffy The Vampire Slayer toys and other such oddities that would look great taking up space on the shelves. That, and a heavy breathing, cute plush Darth Vader. . . heh.. want.

This book store is not one where I feel comfortable browsing, I must say. I need to know what it is I want, before going in. There is so many graphic novels, I wouldnt know where to start to browse. And all the sci-fi DVD’s and fan-material in stock, a lot I don’t understand because I just never got on board those boats when they left the pier, again, I feel a little overwhelmed. And running my fingers over the spines of the many and varied sci-fi and fantasy novels is grand, but there are so many, which look so great, that again, I don’t know where to start.

And yet, it looks and feels like I’m inside a glorious toy box and I don’t have to tidy up once I have finished playing.

Despite not buying anything, it was a happy place to end my first ever book store safari. I had a great day, wandering around with the specific intention of looking at books and buying books. And it was cool to show the girls some book stores that I knew of. It was also great to see their faces when they found a great book they weren’t expecting. Or finding the book they wanted and were so happy with it.

There are more safaris planned. And I may even sport a pith helmet!

My Book Safari Part 4 July 20, 2010

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Part 4 of my safari takes in 2 second-hand book stores on Brunswick Street, broken up by the mandatory coffee & Cake stop.

The fourth stop (part a) was a second-hand store – The Grubb Street Bookstore. This is what you want a second-hand book store to be. Cramped, crowded, book shelves leaning over and leering at you. They have books 2 & 3 of a trilogy, strange retro 70’s fashion books, cardboard boxes of books on the side-walk for $2 a book. Classic!

I found The Little Red Writing Book for $15. I have seen this book sold for as high as $40 in other book stores. So it joined my safari trophies.

The stay in this store was short-lived. Spanish donuts and coffee were calling to us.

After Spanish hot chocolate, spicy coffee and a vanilla slice, it was back out into the wilds of Brunswick Street for the Basilisk Book Store. This was a quiet little store. The front section deals mainly with non-fiction books. Following a passageway through to the back gives you a room full of fiction titles.

I had a quiet enjoyable time browsing. The mythology section was well stocked. This store claims – “Areas of specialisation include Anthropology, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as curious and unusual books, particularly Erotica, Esoterica, the Decadent and Bizarre.” (from their website)

And to this end they do have an excellent selection. I also grabbed picked up a book I am eager to read, from this store. ‘The Western Dreaming‘ . This is a book about modern western archetypes and stories which have woven their way into our life. As science fiction is a reflection of current society, I am hoping that by reading and digesting this book, my own writing will become stronger, with more power behind it. I think of all the books bought in the safari, this one excites me the most.

Awesome Kiwi Chick finally found the book she was after. ‘Cat’s Eye’, in paperback, so easy to carry. And it was the cheapest it had been all day. She is a cunning hunter, is my Awesome Kiwi Chick, but she is a succesful one.

My wife grabbed a book about the Salem Witch burnings- In The Devil’s Snare.

When we exited this store, the shadows were lengthening. I checked my watch and thought to myself- we can fit more book stores in to the day.

Back on the tram! back into the city!


My Book Store Safari – part 3 July 20, 2010

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The tram took us up to Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. I must confess, I do like this district. I have set stories in the back streets off Brunswick Street. It has a certain flavour and texture about it. Part indie, part artsy. There is some fantastic street art in the back streets around there.

There are also a few book stores along the street. If you follow the link above, you can actually see the store fronts!

Stop 3 on this safari was the Brunswick Street Bookstore. I do like this shop. It is clean, and quiet and has a nice, refined air about it. The ground floor is the usual array of genres, new books and best sellers, with some not-so new and boutique books on display in central tables. I did like their collection of rock and roll biographies and art books displayed. I liked to look, no intent on buying however.

Upstairs they have a small attic of purely design books, and I did particularly like this niche upstairs. Fashion books, design in advertising and so on. Movie design, I even found a fantastic comparative book on super heroes and the fashion industry.

There were chairs you can sit in and read, always a bonus point for me. Many times after sitting quietly and reading a book I am thinking about buying, I then buy it.

This was a quick stop only. The girls were more excited with the second hand book stores further up the street.

Alas, all three of us left the book store empty handed, although Awesome Kiwi Chick was tempted to buy a Margaret Atwood book – ‘Cats Eye’. The copy found in the Brunswick Street Bookstore was a large hardcover. Inconvenient to travel with.

Next stop- second hand book stores!


My Book Store Safari – part 2 July 18, 2010

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Ascending the stairs from The Reader’s Feast into the brisk Melbourne morning, I lead my ladies up Bourke Street and then further up Russel Street to the Theosophical Society Bookshop. This is, as far as I am aware, the most comprehensive bookshop for “religion, philosophy and science” in Melbourne. It has very obviously strong ties to the Theosophical Society, with a raft of advertising and course material for activities surrounding those fields of studies.

The bookshop is up two flights of stairs, with an elevator provided if you need. It is cramped, it has narrow isles, and every book shelf is crammed with an astonishing array of books. I drifted over to the tarot section, then down the way to Animal Shamanism. I ran my eye over the second hand and discount book section, up the aisle past dreaming and new books, around the corner to the statue and incense display and landed at Mythology, inspiration and such books.

I have studied tarot, hence why I started in that section. However I also like the story telling potential of the cards. Each card represents an idea, a step along the journey of your life, to give a simple view, for this purpose. I enjoy translating this idea into character building. I find it gives my creations depth and adds elements I wouldn’t have thought of so easily. It gives me background information I can use at a later stage to develop plot twists, back story and so on. Sadly, there wasn’t much on the Tarot shelves that interested me.

Animal Shamanism. In my evolving steam punk verse there is a vein of nature magic, druidic magic. There is herb lore and animal lore and one of my characters will have an animal companion. A friend has some awesome animal shaman cards with accompanying book. Bright, colourful, explains the powers and symbology of certain animals. If this is going to be a part of my world, then other characters and minor characters may also be animal shamans. SO it would be good to know about more animals. Sadly, the book I was looking for was not there.

I am into dreaming, hence I check out that section every time. However, my dream-work has moved beyond the ten million dream symbols onto more pure books about symbology. To this end – Todeschi is particularly awesome for me.

And finally around the corner to where books by Julia Cameron and Joseph Campbell live. For me, these two authors have had a major impact on my writing and creativity, and they still do. I spent a lot of time in this part of the book store, staring at books I wanted. But, my budget did not stretch far enough for these books. Many many books… 4 books by Julia Cameron, and another 4 books by Joseph Campbell that I wanted which I am sure would be great on my book shelf.

I left this book store empty handed, be it reluctantly. There were books on Aboriginal Legends I would have liked. One page for the legend, in abbreviated form, and an illustration. And a companion book about Greek Myths, just as an example.

For what it is, the Theosophical Society Bookshop is fantastic. As I have said, I cannot think of any better store for esoteric books in Melbourne. However, I think this exclusivity leads to higher prices. I do not claim to know how pricing works for selling books. But one reason I left empty handed was being put off by how much the books cost. Which is a shame. I would love to support book stores over internet book sales, if given the choice. I like to give my 2 cents to those who run the shops and give a bit of a damn. But…. shame.

After another lengthy stop I took the ladies down the stairs, and up to catch a tram to Brunswick Street…

Matt – no books purchased

Wife The Way to Bright Star

Awesome Kiwi Chick – no books purchased


My Book Store Safari – part 1 July 17, 2010

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To be a writer, you need to be a reader. That goes without saying. Or writing. You need to read how other people write, to fill yourself with different flavours of fiction. Also, you need to fill your brain with information, non-fiction, other genres. You need to fill your senses with the smell of books, the sight of book shelves full of books, and imagine your book(s) on those shelves. You need to feel the paper, listen to the hush of a book store and taste the writing on the air.

I may be reaching with slipping that sense in there, but are you like me? You enter a book store and you start to salivate, just a little. Lick the lips in anticipation of books? In some book shops I swear there is a palpable taste in the air. Some of you now what I am talking about.

I had a very special guest stay with me, us, over the weekend. One half of the dynamic duo who introduced me to my wife, ten years ago, in a dodgy pub in the west end of London. My ‘awesome kiwi chick’ friend flew in from Auckland for our wedding reception over the weekend. I small affair, with 80 people and an AWESOME cake.

I took Monday off my daily grind to spend the day with her, my wife did the same. And it was up to me to make the plans for the day. Well, AKC loves to read and draw. She enjoys curling up on the couch with a good book and reading for hours. She is currently reacquainting herself with “The Catcher in the Rye”

So, I declared – we will go on a book safari of Melbourne! And you must buy at least ONE book for the day. Hard to limit yourself, I know. I grabbed 4 books in all, but more on that later.

The adventure started at Reader’s Feast, located just at the end of the Bourke Street Mall. This store was the most ‘commercial’ on our tour. Dont get me wrong, I don’t mind the big book stores, but there is just something about them that makes me feel that they care more about the sale, rather than about the books. They are more a retail outlet, as opposed to a book shop.

I think Reader’s Feast sits on the borderline of this retail/book store concept. If it sold CDs and DVDs, then it would tip the balance the wrong way.

The Reader’s Feast is well laid out, with fiction off to the left, and non fiction starting in the middle and curving around to the right, with kids book in the corner. It is clean and tidy and has a hushed atmosphere reminiscent of a library, however there is always the quiet cheerful banter from the cash register between customer and seller.

As a generic bookstore it does not have large sections devoted to any one genre. Two long shelves of speculative fiction, and one for crime, double-sided mind you. The reference section is a series of one- sided long shelf areas- a shelf for dictionaries, another one for writing reference. A single side for psychology books, another for esoteric books. I have purchased from these sections in the past, but it sometimes feels I grabbed the one or two good books, for my taste, and now that well is kind of shallow.

For me, on this visit, I scored in the speculative fiction area. I found two steam punk novels, which I am very excited about. Android Karenina and The Dream of Perpetual Motion. Both are a case of judging the book by its cover, and blurb, but I am quite excited by these finds.

Another thing about Reader’s Feast I really do like is their Privileged Reader Programme. In a nut shell, 10% of the value of your purchases is sent to you, every 6 months, in the form of a voucher. No hoops to jump through, no complicated questionnaire. Just a simple – buy this much, get that much in a voucher.

I guarantee you, this will bring you back to buy more, just so you can get more in the biannual voucher.

After close to half an hour, I took my small group to their next destination….

Matt- Android Kareena, The Dream of perpetual Motion

Wife- Imperial Bedroom, by Bret Easton Ellis

Awesome Kiwi Chick- no books purchased


Working to Live July 6, 2010

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I have not blogged in some time. I am not of the opinion that I should blog, whenever, and not talk about anything. Nor am I one to come here and say- hi, haven’t blogged, goodbye!

My goal, as is the goal of many people I know, friends and such like, is to be a writer who writes to live. I am already a writer, in that I write, however I am not afforded the luxury of being able to write all day for my living. This is a reality of life. And sadly, sometimes the reality of life can get in the way of my craft in a massive way.

I work in customer service. I will not say disparaging things about the customers I relate with. We are all, at one time or another, a customer, and I am sure I have given hell to the companies to whom I give my custom, at one time or another.

The past couple of weeks at work have been a drain. I have come home each night and wanting nothing but to put my head on the couch and watch television, to turn the brain off. It has been solid, busy and full of angry people with “issues”. And it has impacted upon my craft, my creativity.

Excuse? Well, maybe. I tried to write a couple of times, and was just mentally to tired. What I wrote was awful, and I binned it. And then about four or five days ago I stopped trying to write. I just let my head be full, be tired, and just be. The pressure I took off myself not to write, has actually been good for me.

This isn’t to say I haven’t been working, or thinking creatively. I have edited two things and splashed around in a web site.

One thing that came to me during my self-imposed writing ban/relax.  I was watching The Unit. I like this show. It satisfies my masculine need for macho and guns. One of the characters died for ‘the cause’. The man he died for wanted to know something about him. The answer? ‘He liked ice in his beer’.

I loved that tiny snippet of something. It gave me so much colour for his character. Something so small, and yet so unique to this one person. It made me look back at the characters I have in my book and think- what small quirks do they have? And admittedly they have them. Martin even has habit of always wanting to drink the local beer. Working these tags about character into a story… how to show and not tell? Interesting.

So, the crazy has stopped at work, for the moment. I predict it will pick up come Thursday and Friday. I have finished summarizing scenes and grouped them into my 7 main groups. I am about ready to draw lines between the dots, to create a better picture. Its strange. Same book, but still nervous to write it.