Monday, April 30, 2012

Turned in

STEAM MOLE is turned in. Now the process of waiting for editorial input... and then waiting to get paid (oddly that part hurts) begins. It's a very fine book. I've been entering edits since 4AM.

There are days when they couldn't pay me enough.

Then occassionally someone writes to me about a book, or I read a piece i got right... and them paying me at all is a bonus.

Sadly the bonus doesn't pay bills.

But I got an SMS today saying I won a million pounds in a microsoft award...

I am so wealthy I will donate the contact for it to the next poor widow of an ex dictator who needs help with 17 000 000 dollars...

and now, to bed!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

olive & edit

I got last minute word that they were about to pick the school olives for the olive oil crowd (we had first dibs on 9kg) - the mob we picked 66kgs for last year, and I ended up with half-litre of oil in recompense. It's not something I'll do again. So I shot out and picked about 3kg before they got there. It's less than last year, but will probably do. We still have about 3kg from last year. And other than that I have edited. STEAM MOLE second draft is now finished and third is about to start.

is up as freebie at the moment, to celebrate.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Well, I have added another 3K so far in edits, and we're still going. I seem to have ye cold - justice for mowing the lawn in the pouring rain. I'm going to pick olives tomorrow... and such is life. We nearly got to babysit a lamb for the weekend - interesting with our dogs, but fortunately someone else stepped in.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In which we begin to recover

M'seur le Possum has not been back. I am slowly catching up, firstly on sleep, and secondly on all the million things that need doing - which includes work on the first draft so it can become the second draft and taking a couple of hours for Barbs and I to go to Red Bluff with Peter and Helen - not one of your great fishing trips, but I did get an Australian salmon of about 2kg - foul-hooked by the back and with the drag on my the reel stuck (problem with gear bought at garage sales - it's not always quite what you thought it was) on an old fly-rod. I got it in, which was more luck than judgement. And now... once more into the breech. Need to get this turned in.

I seem to lurch from chasing my tail... to chasing my tail. I need to
1)get this in
2)do the beehives (have to return the model bits)
3)sort out the cold frame.
4)get winter veg in
5)Down to 2 packs of wallaby mince. Need to go and help a couple to avoid being roadkill
6) get some backlist up on kindle
7) get some shorts finished and up on kindle. You can badmouth Amazon all you like. They pay me in gaps when it really helps. On time.
8)get the firewood sorted out before we really start to freeze.

Then start on the next book...
Still, it's a good life, if you don't weaken.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Steam Mole

Well, 2.43 AM and Steam mole's first draft is finished.

Anzac day dawn service in 3 or so hours.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The pie-eyed possum was back last night - it didn't even wait for the lights to go out, but wandered in bold as brass to come and watch NCIS with Barbs. Shouted for beer and peanuts...

Well, when Barbs realized she had a co-watcher, there was quite a lot of shouting going on. And those words might have been 'beer' or 'peanuts'. Or so I will choose to believe.

Tonight there is a drop-cage possum trap, and me trying to reach the final page of this book.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Playing possum

2 Am in the chez Freer and there is a suspicious crash. Dave gets up to see just what the cats have broken now, in a state of dozy irritable (rather different to South Africa, where I would have gone down with the dogs in a state some nervousness.) Only it was not the cats, it was an intruder that had come in via the kitty door. One LARGE possum. A possum who was not very intimidated by the deadly weapon I had seized, to wit, a sofa cushion. A face off ensued and possum decided departure was perhaps the better option than being smothered by a largely naked man, a sentiment I can quite understand.

So possum-trapping is in order.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


And yes, it is almost entirely my own fault (when did that ever change)
I got through to the point in STEAM-MOLE where finally all the characters are together, I just have to do a wrap up (which is moderately complicated as they have to survive various disasters and confound their foes). I have all the scenes sketched (I tend to work on a four-phase process - broad outline, write the initial piece (5K or so) to get character 'feel' and motivation, and then sketch scenes about as as far that will take me. Then I 'flesh' those scenes, getting motives and point of view (the character can only know what is seen/known/heard by them, and sometimes this is a PITA and sometimes this is useful as I know and other characters know, but I don't want the reader to know (yet)). While I am doing this I add notes of things that need foreshadowing, and scenes that need adding. I don't so much start at the beginning and write to the end as build the story up like a jigsaw, fitting in pieces, then stopping and sorting out a whole lot more bits of sky. Anyway, maybe two more days, and then edit, first reader etc. Unfortunately the weather for next week looked rubbish and my friend Peter is only over for a short trip, and I really wanted to go to sea with him and bring back a fine stock. He's a good bloke, and it's my way - I assume if I enjoy something everyone else will love it, despite lots of evidence to the contrary. So we took a short trip to sea yesterday as Willy said it was heading to flat calm.

So the entire lemming crew a full tank of fuel (100 litres + I think) Scuba tanks wetsuits weight belts etc etc and a few more etc. set off on what wasn't flat calm... and the boat just NOT getting onto the plane. So a couple of us got on the bow. And up she went. It was pretty bouncy and the others retreated. But your friendly idiot stayed, squatting because you can't stand there, and using his thigh muscles as shock absorbers. It was moderately wet, and not a warm day, and quite a lot of ye bounce.
I realised after an hour or so... I was cold and sore muscled. Anyway we fished, caught not as much as sometimes, but different fish, and enough, so we headed in. I did not even try the bowsprit squat, and we battled. And got in... I got out on the bow and jumped to hold the boat... and lo: ye thigh muscles failed completely to absorb the bounce. They said 'we hate you, we're stiff sore cold going home to mummy... and sat me down in the water. Anyway I spoke harshly to them, and I got up and we winched out the boat and I walked up the ramp... and squatted down to pick something up and fell over again. By now this is getting tedious, but I do realise those muscles are in spasm and not working and we manage the rest of the day without falling over. And hot shower and Ice-gel and some rest and all I am is bloody stiff and sore. Anyway, the kitties have fish, we have some fish, and the lactic acid will work out, and I'll put the feeling in a book somewhere :-).

Friday, April 20, 2012

The beating of the fans on the window

Now of course as you all know with the life of an author, in between vintage champers and caviar lunches with our grovelling sycophantic publishers and the arrivals of pantechnicons full of cash (because almost every red cent of that money you pay for a book comes to us) and 10 minutes of writing we do do every two weeks, the other issue is the endless sound of fans beating against the windows of your palatial mansion, begging you to write more...

Yeah well... back in the real world this is about as close as it gets

The fantail in question was beating on the window... but he wanted out, rather than me writing more. I caught and held the fragile fellow in cupped hands and took him out to fly off, without as much as small blessing on my hands. Still, he and the robin where at the fountain later, giving back some pleasure in their noisy bath. It's not a mansion, and my 'fans' seem like a handful of decent people who yes, do nag for books, but know it takes me many hours of work, for which I get 64 of those red cents per book. But I still love doing it. So: I decided I wouldn't mention what the kookaburra had been doing in there. The birds were happy without knowing.

And yesterday we moved 5300 words closer to the end. I was exhausted and had basically been at at it from 6 - 10.45 pm. Fast I am not. But it is getting done.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


There are times when I miss the simple joys of cleaning the humble supermarket carrot. It has to be easier than cleaning this one was, even if it lacks the same flavour and extra organic nutrients (like the dirt that is so entertaining to get out). Oddly, winter having arrived went away again. The only part we're really having is the shorter days. I miss the long days of summer, but I guess you have to pay for it somewhere. The weather continues windy and muggy, which as I still have a book to finish is good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


My characters are, right now, buried alive. I can't leave them like that!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Well, I have finished doing the proofs for CUTTLEFISH
And I must say I loved it. I must look for more work by that author. He's obviously done what he is writing about :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Kookaburra nando's advert

So this morning I am making coffee, filling the kettle and looking out the

window, and down comes a fluffy Kookaburra to the fountain-birdbath. He stands on the edge... carefully turns himself around... and dunks his butt in the fountain. Puts his head back with an expression of relief and gives a kookaburra laugh. And then he flies off and shakes his tail in the tree. I was too slow with the camera - ergo the shearing shed shot, but oh a video would have made the ultimate 'piri-piri' chicken Nandos advert.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A belated thanks to the Old Man

Yesterday, when I really didn't have the time, a long ago casually made promise came due. A dear friend of ours had some young relation over - kids from the city on a long promised trip to the island. We'd taken the elder sibs (two cousins) fishing and kayaking ages ago, and cheerfully said we'd do the same if the next cohort arrived. Apparently that was THE highlight of the girls trip. So yesterday, when I really shouldn't stop, I had to make good on that promise. Two 10 year olds were shoved, thrust and dragged into wetsuits (not that they were not keen, just tight wetsuits) and learned how to fall off kayaks and get back on. They discovered this was hard work, and then I took them snorkling along the edge of the rocky point. Well... I thought i was just a watchman, but I found i had two 10 year old remoras... they'd never snorkled (well, apparently in the bath, much younger)and certainly never really dealt with waves... (they were move of a 30 cm high surge, but all things are relative) They saw fish, got quite scared by what I considered near millpond conditions, and despite a healthy level of terror (you SHOULD be scared of the sea), had the time of their lives. Now for me, it was a rather tame dive, never more than 15 feet or so from the edge, with a slight surge, but nothing you couldn't have got out of the sea with ease. Back in South Africa we would have rated it as unbelievably flat calm. And we swam maybe 150 metres there, and about the same back.

The kids came out almost babbling with excitement. And very tired, I think... So we took them fishing off the rocks, and of course they caught some fish - which they had both done... sort of, before. But rig, cast, clean fish... no, those were new learning.

We peeled them out of their wetsuits and took tired little soldiers home. I felt I'd done a little pay forward for all the hours my dad spent taking me - along with my older brother, who was crayfishing while I was splashing in the pools. Who started me diving for sinkers before I could catch crayfish, in a sea that was much much much wilder than this one. And paddling my canoe on the Umgeni estuary and into the swamp. (I can only have been 11 when Armor, Mark and I went canoeing and fishing in Blue Lagoon. On our own.) Thing is... I can't remember learning to get onto a canoe you'd fallen out of. And I can remember losing dad's knife while fishing while he worked on the boat, and slithering down the berm into Durban harbour to get it back - before I went to school (the terror of losing the knife outweighed the terror of the harbour (which was OUT OF BOUNDS). I got wet, and air-dried myself, and carefully never mentioned it, and can remember gutting fish when I was too small to reach the kitchen sink without a box to stand on. I ran wild in the bush with a pellet gun, that dad taught me to use, and what not do with. I didn't appreciate this. I just assumed it was the way things were. I do remember finding some other children odd, because they didn't do these things. But in the centralness of the child's universe... they were odd. Of course, like all kids I wanted to fit in, and wanted my parents to fit in. I just never quite grasped what 'in 'was... and how much I would have missed, and hated it.

They were really nice kids, yesterday. My reward was knowing I'd given them some of the things my dad had given me... and seen how it excited and pleased them. But it made me realise just how much time and effort (without it seeming an effort) my dad must spent on passing these things on to his kids (particularly the boys I suppose). And how much trust it took. And how lucky I really was to have two parents who didn't fit in.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Well, Barbs went muttonbirding today without me. I can't wait to finish this book. I did sort a difficult section today, and I hope we can get to plainer sailing soon. I really need to get some shelter onto the capsicum plants, as they're starting to feel the cold. Winter is creeping up on us. We did get our woodburning heater burning last night. It's in shall we say elderly and shaky condition. But it did work.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

local wine

Barbs went picking grapes at the local vineyard today (not the largish one down near Lady Barron. I didn't like their wine much, whereas the stuff I tasted from the place around the corner (about 4km) was actually nice). It's a tiny vineyard, a couple of acres I think. Light, but drinkable pinot. Not immortal, but not bad. Barbs is of course frantically taking notes against the day we finally make our own wine... might be a long time in the future! Anyway, it's nice to know it can be done here, and done reasonable well.

We had some blog-reading friends show up to have a cuppa with us. Poor folk got me so deep in a book it took me some 10 minutes to talk any kind of sense (not that I do that much anyway). I conclude humans breed because we forget just how exhausting 2 year olds can be - especially to watch in other people's houses. She was actually a good-natured little thing but you could see the stress it causes. Makes having a conversation interesting when one eye is on the child... We've kind of moved past being totally little kid proof too, alas. One forgets just how into everything they are. Still, no disasters, and both kids loved the dragons we got from Jon.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dog and people tucker assured

Well, in usual inept-but-somehow-succeed way, I have just been out and shot my first wallaby (Yes, I have been there before, killed the one the dogs caught in the yard - with a piece of firewood, dressed it it etc. but before someone else has shot them, shown me how to field dress it etc, or at least supervised. This time it was just me.) It's kind of one of these 'we need to do it, and best it were done quickly and cleanly' tasks. I'm afraid I'll never make a 'pleasure' hunter, but I hope I make a reasonable hunter-gatherer. It was windy and nasty out there.I only saw one wallaby, I had shoot it without the benefit of a dead-rest, standing, and trying to hold a torch. Still I managed it, a head shot, more luck than judgement I suspect but it is gutted, skinned, now ready for cutting up. I had been rather worried about my ability to succeed at this, and it's been a small investment towards the gear (small because I've been fortunate in my friends, large because we avoid spending money unless we're really sure of it feeding us) so I am glad I did succeed at it. Next time I'll have a little more faith in myself and take a headlight and decent knife!

Friday, April 6, 2012

extra life

Yesterday was one of those useful days. I got up around 5.30 as I usually do, grumpy and delighted to greet the day. Did my post, did my normal chores, fixed the gutter that had fallen down, mowed the grass, hung out a load of washing, made the bread-rolls... Packed boat, sorted the gear from the last expedition.. and found it was 12.30

Some work ensued, with me determined to burn the midnight oil. Only then they sent the proof for CUTTLEFISH (which stuffs this week royally). And Barbs came home and said it was still as a mill-pond at Lady Barron. So we went and speared some flounder. Now I'm very guilty and trying to work... only we have a lunch that must be gone to tomorrow (put off last week) and visitors this afternoon, and my friend Brin coming to say cheers...

Can I have an extra life?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blow by blow

We were due a planned power outage today from 9 until 3 so I did what any sensible deadline chaser does... nearly died of shock when Peter offered me a generator!

Instead I took the good ship Zoo on her maiden voyage - well in the semi-open ocean, off to take Richie and Norm muttonbirding... maybe.

I was a bit iffy about the weather and the Zoo's loaned little motor (and rightly so) and didn't want to go to Little Dog (the only place I've been birding)in her, but rather somewhere closer and more sheltered. Erhm. So I looked at the permit and Roydon and the Pascoe group are open order, and with a northerly would be quite sheltered, and it's a shorter run. So the galleon was transported to West End, whereupon ye pumping commenced. And went on.... and on. Eventually, 3/4 of an hour later having notably failed to get the galleon to the mark recommended on the pressure gauge, but having entirely exhausted my flat feet, and the little electric blower and the other footpump, we attached the little borrowed 8hp motor, loaded the spare 8hp motor, loaded uncle Tom Cobbly and all, everything from borrowed distress flares to small pocket elephants, and all and headed out. Roydon - the closer island, looked unlikely habitat, so we braved the next island over... the tide-race between the was choppy... (Richy says his armpits were dry. Must be great deodorant!)

And the motor stopped.

I wondered just how deep that scour channel was (yes we had TWO anchors), but fortunately the motor started cheerfully and with just one more hiccup we got ourselves in. Only for the first time out of the wind I needed to turn that way... to discover that having put the motor dead center on the steel bits on the transom meant it didn't turn to the right.

Fortunately inflatables aren't made of fibre-glass and bounce quite well. Nothing that hypalon paint won't fix...

The island has a lot of quail. Penguins. Cape Barren Geese... no muttonbirds.
And very very long grass. After an hour or so we gave up and set out to sea, having adjusted the motor on transom so now had that novel thing, bi-directional steering! and only with a minor cap-rescue incident... in the tide-race, when the engine stopped again. By now we're getting quite blasé about this and restart. The wind had got up a lot and it was a very wet run over to Roydon, which was very pretty but very bare of the birds. So we pushed the boat out (me having given it a re-foot pumping, just in case) and tossed the small anchor and pulled into deeper water... and pulled the starter cable. And (repeat 200 times, with suitable swearwords), and as the little anchor was not holding, put out the big anchor (which held fine)... and the motor started and cut out once on the way home. By this stage Dave is starting to really fancy electric starts... Anyway, we got the boat out, up drained and deflated in two ticks (so much time to fill, so little to empty), and went and dived some abalone, which at least had the grace to be there. I tried the 8mm wetsuit I got from one of the Ab divers... It IS the right size but we had an interesting moment when Richie and Norm picked up either side of the suit and lifted me clean off the ground to shake me into it. It's... tight. And I need some extra weights. It's not as warm (or soft) oddly as the 7 mm Peter picked up for me at a garage sale. I battled to get down (swim harder) and really struggled to STAY down, which makes Abalone diving ... interesting.

We got back five minutes before the power came on. I put the motor in a drum half full of fresh water to purge the salt and it started like a dream. Washing down the other gear... I noticed the foot-pump I pumped for 3/4 of hour... has a hole. And now I am very tired little writer, after all that walking and pulling and pumping and swimming against flotation... my writing is mediocre.

Barbs brought the post home... and we have our own flares now, and a copy of DOG & DRAGON for me to sign for a competition, for return via fedex... (from here!!!!!!) No sign of course of my copies. I'm tempted to say I'll send it when I get mine, butthat would be petty and punish someone who wanted to win the book, not the person who sent it sub-surface male with burrowing llamas via Baluchistan.

So much for the wonders of R&R . I am going to bed.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I've been negligent about the blog. Please believe me, it's not that I don't love you, it's just the book is chewing every moment not devoted to essentials. And it IS getting done.

In the meanwhile DOG AND DRAGON
is supposed to come out on the 4th, but is apparently available now. Getting it through the link below does bring me a few more cents.