Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vicki Pollard sold this house

I swear to God ... I was walking home from dropping the car at the garage today for daylight robbery service (the bend over while we give it to you gold standard from Holden) when I saw that Vicki Pollard from Woodards Bentleigh is running around selling houses. I ask ya, "Would you buy a house from this woman?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reading Science Fiction has changed my wardrobe slightly

I recently read a Sci Fi book called House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. I hadn't read Sci Fi since I was a teenager but I've wanted to branch out in my reading and a young lad in my writing class earlier this year was an aficionado. Plus, I have a library card. It's a failsafe doorway to varied, no cost reading.

Reynolds is no simnple fantasist, creating a Harry Potter like world that relies on nothing more than imagination and memories of fairytales gone. He has a Ph. D in astronomy and spent years working as an astrophysicist.

See this is what I like about my blog. I can remind myself that I got through this BIG book - 473 pages - because, as complicated and 'sciency' as it was, it had a good story at its heart, full of adventure and romance, just based six million years after man first walked the earth. That's all!

Anyhoo, he is apparently famous for his space operas. Now I had to look these up straight away. Wiki says: "Space opera is a subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite fanciful) technologies and abilities. Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale." So now we know that.

I don't see myself reading a whole heap of this but I was intrigued to know more about some of the things in Reynolds' bio. One for instance, was his position as a 'Gollancz' bestseller. I looked up Gollancz and discovered it's a publishing company, part of Orion Books. It publishes a range of popular and critically acclaimed authors, including Alastair Reynolds, as well as a number of Terry Pratchett titles. Its Science Fiction and Fantasy Masterworks series, reissuing the great novels in the two genres, have been widely acclaimed. Since 2005, Gollancz has also published Manga. See, now if I ever decide to write a SF book, I know which company to approach.

There's also the matter of his Arthur C. Clarke Award. Apparently this is the most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain. Clarke wrote 100 books and more than 1,000 short stories and essays over 60 years. Among his best-selling novels are Childhood's End, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous with Rama and Fountains of Paradise.

One of his short stories ('Dial F for Frankenstein', 1964) inspired British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee to invent the World Wide Web in 1989. Another short story ('The Sentinel', 1948) was expanded to make the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-wrote with director Stanley Kubrick. They shared an Oscar nomination for the best screenplay in 1969.

See ... I learn something every day ... when I blog.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Not quite Oprah's Aha moment!

The temperature has dropped and I can open the sunroom doors. "Big deal" says you but, for a chick who filed 12 pieces for the February issue last week and wrote a complete proposal for a new project upon which her income relies, this is akin to celebrating rain in the Kalahari Desert. The sunroom was hot last week, my cheap-o fan working overtime, and a box full of cans of Zero Coke was not helping. My blood and my thought patterns seemed to slow down along with my typing ratio. Glad to see the back of that one I promise you.

So as I wrote my TO DO list this morning, cool fresh air tickling my bare shoulders (ah ... I am wearing new fave strapless working from home maxi-dress. The glamour!) I stopped in my tracks and thought, "Blog - you must write something there today". Knowing I have been patchy to say the least in my postings I began to wonder why I had started this thing in the first place. I remember last year I had a re-think of the blog and wrote myself a new mission type statement about it.

This is what is great about a blog when you have a mind like a sieve like mine. You can go back and research what you previously thought and wrote. Hallelujah! If I could do this with every area of my life ... stop, rewind and discover what I promised someone else I'd do, what I promised myself I'd do, what I even thought about something, how much easier would things be? I tell you it would make my filing system easier. I seem to change that every week or two so discover important, meaningful items that would have been pertinent to various tasks and activities LONG after their time has passed. Maybe I need a filing blog ... note to self.

So, almost a year ago, this is what I wrote:

My blog, I have been forced to remind myself, is a way of maintaining some writing discipline away from work constraints. It has a purpose but one known only to me. That’s ok. If anything, in 2009 I hope to use it more constructively as a place to explore some thoughts and as a workroom. This is, I suppose, my online shed. Maybe I should redesign it to look like one? I have a constant supply of sticky notes and paper scraps with words, events, websites, ideas scribbled on them. My blog should be the place I pull this stuff together, research and investigate the various threads and chart the results of this activity, similar to the way a home handyman might gather design ideas and bits of woods to try and knock something together.

Hmmm … sure did sound like a good idea at the time. I still have the sticky notes. Pussy Prue is sitting on two of them now. If I look back at some of my postings I find I have investigated some thoughts and ‘leads’ from things I’ve been reading and listening to. Because I do have a shocking memory and am prone to speed reading and multi-tasking this has been good because I’ve actually stopped and looked a little more closely at certain things, researching them for a post and, therefore, understanding them a little better. I will stick to this for now but try and improve the writing.

I presented the first chapter of my book at my writing group last week and the response was warm (they’re nice, nice people) but I dreamt that night that I had a beautiful, sweet and loyal dog that I kept at a caravan park and visited every couple of weeks. When there I slathered it with love and attention, then just jumped in the car and took off, expecting it to fend for itself. I think the dog is my personal, creative writing. I focus in for a minute, get absorbed in character and plot and so forth and then wrack off back into the ‘real’ world and don’t think of it again for ages. Every thing comes before my writing, even drinking alcohol, going grocery shopping and watching crap TV. I know this is not good. I’ve read Habits of Highly Effective People for God’s sake!

Question: Can I change this situation? Does it matter?
Answer: Only to me but, then, doesn’t 90 per cent of what happens in our lives only really matters to us anyway?

Ooooh … deep.

PS: Mrs Underhill Book Club on hiatus til New Year. Nominate a book for us to read over summer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Away from home and blog

I am ashamed, deeply ashamed, at how long I have neglected my Mrs Underhill ramblings. Yes I had three weeks holiday and yes I vowed to stay away from the computer as much as possible over that time but, really, it just won't do!

Too much has happened to bang on about ... 10 days in a miner's cottage in Daylesford (writing darlings, writing), a soujourn down the west coast and much local drinking, eating, movie watching, napping and wide-ranging exploring.

General discoveries included the fact that, when presented with tracts of time to simply write fiction in, it is not as easy to knuckle down as one imagines. On the flip side, however, once immersed in a story, it is amazing how much in life can come in useful for your characters and setting.

Also discovered was the unique charm of the locals at Daylesford's Farmer's Arms on a quiet Friday afternoon, the fact that the Lake House restaurnat is hugely expensive but fun to frolic in and the fact that, five kilos later, all such culinary frolicking (and boozing) must come to an end.

So here are a couple of shots ... of Daylesford and of the 17th John's Rod and Custom Picnic (which we attended this Sunday just gone). Say no more!