Ode to a Random Cat I Fed Earlier and Now It’s 3.20 AM

Dear Cat,

We started off so well,
I saw you outside 
(without a collar or bell),
I fed you to shut you up,
And keep you from little birds 
you might get rough (with),
Now you're yowling 
outside - monotone,
I was a fool to believe 
that you'd leave me alone,
And I have no boot to throw,
But you're black - 
if it hit you, 
how would I know?
We used to be close friends.
I'm not a catmurdererbynature

Review: ‘Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer’ by Roy Peter Clark

50 Essential Wriiting Tools

Dear Readers,

Sparky here with a quick review. Page-by-page, I’m currently going through ‘Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer’ by Roy Peter Clark. I’m finding it immensely useful.

Clark approaches writing from both a philosophical and practical standpoint: ‘Writing is a craft you can learn,’ he explains. ‘You need tools, not rules.’ With four different levels of tools at your disposal—’Nuts and Bolts’, ‘Special Effects’, ‘Blueprints’ and ‘Useful Habits’—the wide variety of tips and tricks covered will help to improve your writing on both a macro and micro level.

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Editor-Author Love


Dear readers,

After fixing some issues processing CSS in Mac OSX Mountain Lion, I can see the pages of my blog once more. (Actually, I finally fixed my Windows 7 partition and I’m using that instead, but a win’s a win).

As some of you may know, I’ve recently been editing manuscripts for a certain large romance publisher. It’s been an excellent experience for me, and—on the whole—a great pleasure to work with a number of established and aspiring authors of the genre. Having previously had limited exposure to romance, I found myself genuinely impressed by the variety of ‘boy meets girl (insert sex scene), boy loses girl (insert angry sex scene), boy and girl reconcile (insert happy sex scene)’ narratives I’ve helped polish.

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Grammar, Grammar Everywhere, But a Dangling Modifier is Good … Never?


Dear readers,

Just a quick drop-in to spruik one of my favourite online resources. When I’m about to embark on a typical editing project, I must begin by having all my ‘weapons’ at the ready. I run through this list:

I’ve got my Wiley Style Guide (5th Ed.) — Check.
Macquarie Dictionary — Check.
Australian Handbook For-Writers and Editors — Check.
The Dreaded Purple Book — Check.
A Less Buggy Version of Word — (often) Check.
Battery Life — Check.
Back-up Drive — Check.
Hands — Check.
OH&S Stretches — Check-one-two-check!

Well, in addition to the above, I also make sure I have the Grammar Girl website open. Continue reading

Analysis: ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ vs ‘The Road’


A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin and The Road by Cormack McCarthy, despite appearing complete dissimilar at first glance, have a like patterning that quickly emerges: the themes, point of view, and each author’s subdued writing style all used for a similar narrative purpose.

In The Road, Cormack McCarthy paints a bleak tale about a man and his son and there survival in a world afflicted by a non-specific apocalypse. The trees are dead, there are no signs of life other than human life, and the remaining humans have alternatively turned cannibalistic or militaristic survivalist in an attempt to continue living in the anarchy that has ensued. Cormack’s description of a shattered world is simplistic, short and rhythmic.

He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Continue reading

A Pop Culture Too Far?


In current times, pop culture is a buzzword that many people can immediately identify. Shows that mimic and comment upon popular culture, such as SeinfeldFuturamaFamily GuySouthparkDrawn Togetherbut mainly The Simpsonsare what I hear being quoted repeatedly amongst the majority of my friends. Creativity seems to be stymied, Orwellian-style, in favour of a well-worn, humorous quotation or a retelling of a favourite episode. I’m sure this has been the case to a lesser degree in the past with popular shows, but never so much since the advent of widespread media, such as the Internet and cable television.

It’s sad, but I find myself constantly questioning the originality of a particular humorous phrase, as opposed to attributing the utterance to myself or a friend. Everything becomes an echo of an echo of something said by Stan Marsh from Southpark or (God forbid) Homer from The Simpsons. Continue reading

Review: ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind


Patrick Suskind’s Perfume is an epic novel built in and of the realm of the senses, though focusing primarily on the sense of smell. Odour is used as a singular writing device and its theme permeates the novel – at times sickeningly saccharine and at others artfully mixed into the piece. When the mix becomes divine, we follow antagonist Grenouille on his sensate journey so closely that we almost become part of his inner world.  In so viewing, we are allowed a closer glimpse of his unique and thoroughly twisted viewpoint – we waft with him on his murderous search for the perfect scent.

Set in France, the novel opens with a blatant olfactory description of the stench that must have exuded from the pre-hygienic Paris of the 1700’s; we are immediately dropped into this fetid, aromatic world:

In the period of which we speak, there reigned in the cities a stench barely conceivable to us modern men and women.
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Review: ‘Black House’ by Stephen King & Peter Straub


King and Straub once again combine literary forces to write a sequel to 1984’s ‘The Talisman’.

In The Talisman, 12 year old Jack Sawyer ventures out from Arcadia Beach, New Hampshire on a quest to find a magical crystal known as The Talisman. It contains the power to save his mother, who is dying of cancer. Taught by a mysterious figure known as Speedy Parker to ‘flip’ between Earth and another world referred to as ‘The Territories’, Jack encounters his mother’s ‘twinner’, Queen Laura DeLoessian.

The ‘twinner’, a person’s identical self in parallel world, is also dying, meaning that Jack’s quest is also important to the future of ‘The Territories’. During his travels and up to the ultimate ending in the multi-dimension Agincourt Hotel, Jack realises there are not just two worlds but many.

This theme carries through to other of King and Straub’s novels and continues with Black House. Continue reading

6 Ways to Lose Your Mind


Just flat out pretend you’re crazy. Start with the basics: wear underwear on your head, hug a stranger, get an obscure hobby to obsess over. If that doesn’t work, then move up to the big leagues: stop eating meat, join an extremist animal right’s group and sock it to those carnivorous unbelievers! This is called joining a cult.

Not doing it for you? Try committing a major crime and when the case goes to trial, hit ’em with the ol’ insanity plea. You shouldn’t be held criminally liable for your actions while visiting Lalaland! (In New Zealand and Australia this is known as the mental disorder defence.) The newspapers won’t care whether you actually are crazy, but the resulting media hooplah will induce mental shutdown. If that still hasn’t worked, you’ve got one more card up your sleeve: A Get Out Of Jail Free card. If your convicted, it’s likely you’ll be shoved into an institution a la One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Frontal lobotomies for all! Continue reading

Publishing in Australia: Spotlight on Giramondo


Giramondo Publishing originates from that most venerated of Australian Arts institutions—the literary journal. Since the company’s inception in 1996—when they began releasing the biannual book-length journal HEAT—Giramondo’s main focus has shifted, and in 2002 they began publish books by individual authors.

With a number of critically acclaimed and award winning novels in print, such as Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria and Gerald Murnane’s Tamarisk Row, one-man editing team Ivor Indyk explains his past need to be a more direct part of the Australian publishing industry:

‘After some years as a university teacher and critic of Australian literature, I felt the need for a more direct involvement with writers and with the process of writing, especially since I often found myself criticising books for faults that could have been avoided with skilful editing …  Continue reading