Category Archives: General

Family History Wk 51 – Holidays

The theme this week fits my personal history from an American perspective. I just got this prompt today, a week late, so I’ll keep it short.

I was born on Labor Day, moved out of my parent’s house on Independence Day. I’m sure there were a couple more that were connected but can’t recall now. But I can always claim Labor Day in memory of my mother. 🙂

As for the Christmas holidays, these were spent at either of the grandparents’ homes – in Terre Haute with my dad’s parents or after a long four hour drive to South Bend to my mom’s parents. To be honest, I don’t remember a thing about them. It’s all blank. Is that weird?

Fourth of July was a big holiday for us. We used to go to the park near the stadium so we could watch the fireworks. Fireworks were limited to the 4th when I was a child, not this every event shooting off we seem to have today, at least in Australia. Any excuse for a cracker here. I always wanted to go in the stadium, but Dad (or Mom?) never let us. There was maybe an entrance charge. So we had a blanket on the grass and watched from there. The sky was free.

Halloween was a good holiday. We dressed up and did the trick or treating thing. But we also went to the school for the ‘party’ and costume contest. I remember the taste of apple cider as a treat there.

Thanksgiving was one of the best holidays. Oh, the food! Turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Our was a traditional feast – complete bird, which meant there were plenty of turkey sandwiches for the next week.

5 Year Anniversary Month

I haven’t been back to this blog for quite awhile. But a new technical problem drew my attention, so I thought I’d check back through the various posts and see what I had here.

To my surprise, the first post was on 22 August 2014, almost 5 years ago to the day, back when I set up the blog to promote my books (all two of them eventually) (see Book tab above for what I’m talking about). It seemed appropriate to honour this month, five years later, with an update post.

I saw in earlier posts that I was deep into Nanowrimo participation. What a great motivator for writing. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. If you are a writer or a wannabe writer, it’s a superb activity for getting words out of your head, with lots of motivators online as well as in person. I believe 2014 may have been the last time I participated, but can’t be sure without looking it up and right now, I’m pressed for time because….. Interested?

Two years ago, I volunteered to do something different with writing – I’m running a Creative Writing Workshop for Casey U3A, a group of about 10 people, give or take who is on holidays in Queensland for the winter, who are excellent writers who deign to show up twice a month to work on new writing tools. They are motivating and really keep me on my toes. I was a bit creaky in the first year, but I think I’ve found my stride. Here’s what we do.

On the first Tuesday of the month, we discuss and I present thoughts about a particular writing component, for example character development or worldbuilding, you know the ones. Then for two weeks later, they complete an assignment that provides an opportunity to practice that area for improvement, either with a story they have already written, or to try something new. Last month we worked on the concept of Time – when a story is set, how that is expressed to the reader, and even time travel. The goal: make your brain hurt! And they all reported that by the time they completed the ‘homework’, their brains were truly challenged. In about 45 minutes, we will be working on Backstory.

Speaking of 45 minutes, time for me to get off the sofa and ready for class.

Thanks for reading. I hope to be back again soon.

BBB – Blog Bad Behaviour

First, I must apologize if you’ve been getting strange behaviour when visiting my blog, like CPU spikes being one. I’ve spent the better part of two days digging to the bottom of it, adding site security, all sorts of ugly stuff you don’t want to know about. I *think* I’ve found the problem and am working very hard to fix it, but I’m not quite there yet.

Cross fingers this is the issue and all will be back to relative normality shortly.

UPDATE: last scan of the site shows all clear. So I think we’re good to go!

Thank you for your patience.

Another Access to the Avery property – NorthWest corner

The Avery case of Making a Murderer fame is being dissected from many different angles as more and more primary documents have been released. If you haven’t found it yet, you can read the trial transcripts, investigative reports from two of the involved law enforcement agencies, and much more at this site:

This week the Calumet County Sheriff’s Office released their report. That has led to new answers to outstanding questions, but also completely new, unknown information and questions about the investigation. One of these is the Radandt Deer Camp which is located due west of Steven Avery’s trailer off of a cull de sac called Kuss Road. The report has also revealed that the dogs searching for human remains got a hit leading that direction. Another person on the Reddit subreddit for MakingAMurderer, , said that Earl Avery said there were connections between the Avery yard and Kuss Road. Kuss Road also interlinks to the Radandt Quarry south of Averys (rightward in these photos) where supposedly another burn area and bone fragments were found. We also learned that a FIFTH burn barrel was collected from the Deer Camp.

Those bits of information sent me looking at photos once again. And here is what I found from different photos, both from the exhibit files taken at different stages in the investigation, and also from a TV program, Investigation Discovery, which focused on this case. What do you think? Could the remains found in the burn pit have come in this way? Check these out:

Access points between Averys and Radandt Properties
Access points between Averys and Radandt Properties

From Information Discovery TV program. Aerial shot from after bone discovery (blue tarp)
From Information Discovery TV program. Aerial shot from after bone discovery (blue tarp)

Early photo of rear of trailer before bone discovery
Early photo of rear of trailer before bone discovery

Tracks around burn pit before remains discovery (no tarp)
Tracks around burn pit before remains discovery (no tarp)

Could the bus driver really see Teresa Halbach taking photos?

I’m addicted. Yes, the ‘Making a Murderer’ Netflix series has me by the throat. I don’t know if I’ll blog much about it, but I was just looking at some photos and I think the bus driver testimony is ‘off’.

I lived on a 40 acre farm. I have a feel for the distance from one corner to the other on a side. It’s a very long way. But given the obstructions, low sun in the afternoon, I’m not sure the bus driver could see Teresa taking those photos unless she drove the bus up this Long Road and did a turn around in the Barb Janda drive (where the four cars are). What do you think?


Bus distance, approx 1/4 mile.
Bus distance, approx 1/4 mile.

Happy 180th birthday, Melbourne: Remembering Batmania, the city that never was

Much to be proud of from my chosen city. If you’ve never experienced Melbourne, you may be surprised by its history. And no, it’s not Gotham.


Flinders Street Railway Station

Happy birthday, Melbourne – 180 years old tomorrow! And perhaps, let’s be honest, not entirely sure what anniversary it is you’re celebrating.

Source: Happy 180th birthday, Melbourne: Remembering Batmania, the city that never was

Bye Bye Bronnie

It’s been a fascinating three weeks watching the Bronwyn Bishop farce unfold. And the longer it went, the more – ahem – questionable use of taxpayer funds for pollie perks have emerged. She sure likes helicopters, doesn’t she?

The news came yesterday that Abbott finally acted and gave her the boot, allegedly, – ahem – she resigned. But just from the speaker’s chair. She’s still in Parliament as the Member for Mackeller. She will still have access to those entitlements, only she won’t have it so easy to say she’s going on specific Parliamentary business, which she wasn’t able to back up with paperwork anyway. So in reality, nothing much has changed. Maybe a bit of a cut to her pay packet, but she’s set for life with the rest of her benefits provided by tax-payers.

And to think – this woman was once trotted out as potentially the first female Prime Minister! Think about that for a second.

Glad she’s gone (at least from such a biased seat). Abbott’s next, right? Pleeeeeese!!!

Why I stopped worrying about keeping track of (most) ideas

Today I read a blog post that advised writers to keep track of ideas for their writing, things they see or hear in life that may work their way into a story one day. I thought, cool, I do that. Then I realized, except in specific situations, I don’t do that. Here’s why.

There is no limit to ideas. That’s it. There’s always another one around the corner. My brain churns out ideas all the time. If I tried to write down even just the interesting things I see that might be useful in a story someday, I’d never write any real stories! notepad-pencilThis doesn’t mean I never write down story ideas, just that I stopped concerning myself with “oh no, I must write that down or I’ll forget it for a story idea”. I ONLY write down (in an Evernote note) really really really ‘stumbled upon’ interesting things, noting the source as well, in case I need to go back and explore it more. Some of these have become the stubs of projects. Maybe two. Most haven’t, though.

Another reason I stopped is because I’m by nature a hoarder, or at least a ‘can’t throw it away because I know I’ll need it one day’ type. My story idea file got nutso large (like my ‘to read’ list — sigh). The likelihood of ever working up the ideas or snippets, or even remembering they are there, is very low. Isn’t that what the Internet is for? Ideas need context to be useful. Square peg and round holes comes to mind as well. So the likelihood of a particular idea some day some time will fit a real project is low.

BUT, there are ideas that I grab onto and capture as soon as I can: ideas that relate to the project I’m working on RIGHT NOW. The reason for this is that the usefulness is real, not at some time for some story some day. I write these down. I may not be in a place to connect the idea in the project at this particular point in time. It may fit later in a chapter that I’m not writing yet. It may be an exciting plot idea that would beef up a particular point in the story during revision. It may be something I read in life that resonates with my fictional world to make the fiction feel more realistic. It may be something about a character that I had been unaware of. These ideas have context and function – right now, not in some amorphous future maybe-might-get-around-to-it-one-day project. These ideas help me accomplish a current goal. Where I keep them is in my chapter diary [see Writing techniques I’ve learned in Nano 2014] so they are readily available for consideration, particularly in the first revision pass or if I’m stuck and need a way in to start writing again on this project.

If they are ideas that pop into my head presumably from nowhere, rather than from external observation, I definitely capture these. They haven’t come from nowhere at all. They have come from my subconscious mind, which has been working away on a problem or gap or creative direction for the story without me even being aware ol’ subby is doing it. These are diamond ideas. These are precious and must be respected and adored. This is the real author at work.

So the next time you find yourself falling into the procrastination trap of collecting story ideas that never get written instead of adding words to a real project, stop yourself and see if changing your attitude, trusting your subconscious, and getting on with writing your characters might not be time better spent.

Is it just me? Or do you feel the same? Feel free to leave a comment with your own use of idea collection.


Review: DUST – Patricia Cornwell

Well, it’s been a couple weeks since I finished this, so I’m trying to recall. I know it was a pretty quick read. It has all the standard characters. I can even now imagine the scenes, so it’s stuck with me. I wouldn’t rate it one of her best. In fact, in discussion with another Cornwell reader, he said he has the impression she calls it in now. I would tend to agree.

**spoiler alert**

Continue reading Review: DUST – Patricia Cornwell