Thursday, December 23, 2010

xmas eve

'twas the night before Christmas
and all through the house
nothing stirs - except for a mouse.
It moves a cursor onto a word.
The writer inserts ‘a
and turns herd into heard.

useless bloody spellchecker

G'day dear reader/s

Xmas eve like every other day of the year is just another writing opportunity; I wouldn't miss it for quids.


Monday, December 20, 2010

The story,
the whole story
and nothing but the story.

gday dear reader/s

The story - as opposed to what I started:

But first the plot: The AI goddess, Severne in the orbiting station, has predicted a civilization  destroying asteroid on a collision course with the planet. To avert this, it needs to become embodied and wake the stations hibernating colonists. (the world below is back to pre industrial after the Day of Fire civil war)  It begins breeding and genetically manipulating the locals to produce a suitable host.

Now a little background on the tests candidates undergo  to become her host:  "Reason" implants a device that lets the AI goddess, Severne exchange thoughts with the candidate. Failures become Servers in her Towers. Successes take "Faith" which attempts to download  Severne's personality to the implant (creating the Face of the Goddess) Failures who get only a partial download become her Restoration Warriors. No one passes until Rowena.

Book 1: The Breaking of Civilization (Break)

Those who know the work or have read this blog before might notice the subtle change in the title from "Break" to "Breaking" made as I was writing this synopsis.
Pt 1: Test of Reason: Candidate Willard loves Kezia but Severne plans to mate him to her sister Averil.  The three separate. Averil meets Feral general Sumner and nemesis Stone Ethyl, Kezia becomes famous, pregnant and Severne takes the child. Willard is manipulated into the saviour role Severne bred him for and passing the Test of Reason has his mind linked to Severne's.  
Pt 2: Test of Faith: embark on separate journeys to the Wall that keeps out their uncivilized enemy, the Ferals who also want Willard  The Wall falls. Willard and Averil (now warrior) retreat to Carrier Point  for a last stand.Kezia joins them. Averil bargains Willard  to the Ferals. Willard, to save Kezia, submits to the Test of Faith but fails. The Ferals overrun Preservation Island, the Breaking of Civilization is done.

Book 2: The Face of the Goddess (Face)

Pt 1: Guilt of Sanctuary: Years pass. Carrier Point is an Uplander sanctuary in the Fedral (Feral) occupied Island. Rowena daughter of Willard and Averil surrogated on Kezia rescues Roden (Kezia's stolen son) which leads to the deaths of Kezia and Sumner (married to Averil).
Pt 2: Innocence of Face: With Sumner gone his son Hyatt, half brother to Rowena the lets Stone Ethel loose to massacre Carrier Point. Rowena and Roden escape. A recaptured Roden is force tested by the vengeful Hyatt, The test destroys his mind. Hyatt on a whim forces Rowena to the test. She passes, becomes the Face of the Goddess but fakes a destroyed mind to escape.

Book 3: The Arch of Restoration (Arch)

Pt 1: Waking of Sleepers: Rowena, the hosted AI goddess, and her Restoration Warrior brethren repair the shuttle that brought colonists Hedley & Jorgena to Nuaith,  Severne wants to return to the orbiting station and wake the rest of the sleeping colonists to save their world from a catastrophe. (Her orbiting iteration is damaged - her ground based version, in control from the start, is known only to Hedley & Jorgena.) 

This is where I'm at - from here on, it is mostly conjecture about what I plan to happen

Pt 2: Design of Ancients: Waking the sleepers rouses a deadly opponent, Willard's biological  father. Rowena activates the giant portal the Arch of Restoration to avert Severne's predicted catastrophe.

Bear this in mind when I post on the creation of book three. I can already see the part titles no longer match the action "Waking of Sleepers" would fit better as part 2's title. This is a good example of how the story detail has developed away from the broad brush outline.

One final note in an already long post  - the above is ultra brief - the whole story will be over half a million words.


Monday, December 13, 2010

What's it all about

gday gentle reader/s

Sometimes even I, its author, wonder what this trilogy is about. part of the problem is the length of time taken to write it. Since starting in 1999 I have read a couple hundred more books and had another 10 years of life experience all of which has undoubtedly influenced my writing.

The Restoration Legends
When I began I had several notions about differences: between faith and belief, between the genres of fantasy and science fiction and between the perceptions of science and magic - all of which I wished to explore in a riveting tale that people would read first and think about later. I'm nothing, if not ambitious for my writing. 

I decided on a post apocalyptic world for the trilogy but not earth, new Earth. Specifically a colony from Australia (no prizes for guessing why) The high tech colony prospers and invents matter transmitting portals. Then on the eve of it greatest triumph, expanding to yet another system and setting up a a Portal between them, self-destructs leaving an AI controlled orbiting ship full of hibernation colonists and remnant population on the destroyed world. That then is roughly the milieu.

One of my thematic explorations is based on the Arthur C. Clarke quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." On my world the remaining working technology is considered magical - and religious practices, aided and abetted by the AI calling itself their goddess, have developed around it.

Next I decided to put the recovering world in further jeopardy from a meteor/asteroid collision, so my as yet unformulated hero/heroine could save everyone - very dramatic and over the top -  I've changed that but left it in as something the locals  believe is the goal. This along with the various personal beliefs about their world and ancestry is another of my explorations

In essence it's an SF (Speculative Fiction) story that should read like fantasy in as much as the magic has a technological base that the reader can identify while realizing the characters in the story can not. The last of my explorations.

The devil however is in the detail (subject of a future post)
Next post ~ Book 3's progress.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

A 1000 words

well almost

G'day gentle reader/s
The pic of the reading room in Library of Congress was worth 789 words of description along with the action and dialogue of characters flowing through it. It comes from the opening of ch10 from Ashford's POV (who was Lee) in a scene labeled The company of Warriors.

This scene was written today but the following scene was written last week. I got so carried away writing a scene for the hosted goddess Rowena/Severn (a dual personality fighting for control of the same body) that it grew into two scenes. When I finished I went back, found cliffhanger in the middle and split it.  

Interestingly from my POV, Ashford, being the newest character is still forming, still surprising me. I don't yet know how he will turn out. He began on the side of villains, swapped when he met the one of the heroines Sarah, but he has since discovered she (like her sister Lisa) is a Restoration Warrior called Fern. He feels used, resentful, he may change back given enough motive and or opportunity. I don't know I'm only the author.  (Fern could be Brook. The twins Sarah and Lisa chose these warrior names and though I have them written down in my glossary I'm never sure which is which without looking them up.

[hey I got it right]
When I'm writing however I don't stop to Check and when I'm done it's forgotten)

The thing is, unlike the other POV characters I don't know Ashford yet. Sarah and Jorgena who newly get a voice in Arch have a history running back to Bk1 Break Giving them a POV is relatively simple and fun, making up motives for actions they took previously.

Words at ch10 = 51,000 
Daily average at day 340(2010) = 308
new E.T.A = Jan 2012 
(forget ETC, I'll stick to the standard acronym)

next post ... the story so far.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It’s a Monday kinda Tuesday

G'day dear reader/s

I posted Mice and Me in good faith Saturday and shut down. When I started up Monday my computer refused to cooperate. I’ve sent it in for re-education.

So now, Tuesday, I’m sitting at the kitchen table writing on a laptop, an Intel atom inside and windows7starter. Very basic but I still managed to add 800 words to Arch yesterday despite the anger producing frustrations. Let’s not go there.
The story proceeds. Last time I blogged about the process I was at Ch.4 (20K words) now at Ch.10 (50K); a lot has happened in the story, as in life.

The main characters (I still have 5 POV) are gathering in Deep Creek where it all began for the crisis that ends part one (at about 90K words). Something that worries me at the moment is my villain Hyatt has a better tale to tell that the dual personality heroine Rowena/Severne. He has and is overcoming more obstacles than they (or me) which tends to make him a better character. 

I shall have to seriously up the stakes for Rowena/Severne 

Unfortunately that's all I have time for folks, back to the writing and more on story next post.(fingers crossed)


  PS I'm considering shorter more frequent posts to give a better idea of what this writer's writing process is really like.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

of mice and me

gday dear reader/s
The Trilogy  -  Book 3 Arch
emerging from the mists of creation  

Mice and me have in common, the going awry of our best laid plans.

This blog was meant to be a diary of the writing of the my trilogy's last volume.  It isn't working, the wedding break as Grrrrr!!!!ed  in my last post sent my best laid plans so far far awry I had trouble ferreting them out.

Another approach is called for. The blog will in future be the first  piece of writing I do each week beginning next Monday (two days away). Monday has been my major writing day since the start of the Blackwood Writers Group in 1996. Back then it was my only day just so I had something to read when the group met Monday night.

I feel confident this can be done. For the last 3 weeks I have exceed my targets and have even started paring back the deficit.  I'm now writing Chapter 10;  46,000 words of first draft done 134,000 to go; estimated time of completion (ETC) has dropped to Jan 2012.  (based on my 2010 - 7 day average -now standing at  303/day however my rate over the last 3 weeks was 735/day )  If I can make up the 3500 word deficit, I will finish in by  1st of Sept 2011. 

Arch is becoming
clearer every day
Every day I write the average goes up and the ETC for book 3 "Arch" comes down (gets earlier.)

Monday's post will be back to talking about the actual process of writing the damn thing

Friday, October 29, 2010


G'day  dear readers,

Grammarians will say that multiple exclamation marks are redundant but I say human emotion does not follow grammatical rules and that with every extra one I added to my title I felt a damn sight better.  

Life is a like a blot on a writer's manuscript.

It starts small: a household chore that can't wait, bills to pay,  a relative calling, a client needing their website tweaked; (it's what I do to help my long suffering wife pay bills) not to mention the unavoidable necessities like eating, sleeping and defecating.  But it grows: the butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker. And it grows more: a family wedding or funeral, or a holiday in a valiant attempt to escape all the above  - that doesn't work - the boil needs to be lanced - "life" needs to be constrained, sent to Coventry, put out of sight. Writing is a solitary pursuit .

If your intention is to write, then contrary to popular belief  you don't need to 'get a life' you need imprison the one you have, give it a hefty sentence - so to speak. 

I recently experienced much the above. 

A family wedding which involved an overseas trip which turned into a holiday and for which I had to get clearance from my medical management team  (read my other blog  for details)  It started well - "have laptop ~ can travel"  - I added about a thousand words to the current work "Arch" on the nine hour flight from Auckland to Honolulu. I was pleased  but then other things became  of greater priority (don't they always) .  There was the outlaws to meet and get to know - a pre-wedding breakfast, wedding & reception, post wedding dining,  shopping touring etc (why go all that way and sit in a hotel room writing - who do you think your are -  Asimov?) On the overnight flight back to Auckland, after being up all day in Honolulu I didn't even get the laptop out.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  Then there was a couple of days touring NZ  - Ah well, someone has to do it.

Basically the trip served several purposes that had nothing to do with writing.  I did try - I just failed.  

The score: Life one - Writing none. 
Now I've been back for four days and yet still not back into the dynamic routine I had before I left - Unpacking restocking the fridge, counting the cost etc  and while I was away the life I left behind festered like the boil it is. Rain fell, grass grew, clients and creditors yammered ... 

Methinks I protest too much. I should write instead and blog that for the above turns out to be

not a blog about the process of writing  
but more 
a blog about the process of  not writing 

Ooroo till next I write

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What the story needs

G'day dear reader

I'm back on target, 18,500 words done or about a tenth of my target  in only four weeks. If I can keep up the pace I will finish the first draft earlier than expected (in about 9 months).

As can be seen I'm half way through ch4, which like ch3 is looking for a title. I have a penchant for one word chapter titles something that reflects the general thrust, which is curious because as can also be seen  I generally write three scenes per chapter each from a different point-of-view (POV). This often makes it hard to to find a common theme. If I had to give a reason why I do this I would say the chapter titles give a rough guide to where I am in the overall story, making it easier to back-fill  or edit past events so they flow seamlessly into the present.

For example:  Chapter 2 has changed from "Campaign" to "Leaders"  The original referred only to Hyatt's goal of taking over the world. I had not yet written Rowena's scene where she asserts herself over her companions (including her parents). So 'Leaders' better reflects the chapter as a whole;  my two major characters,  antagonist Hyatt and protagonist Rowena,  (incidentally half siblings) being shown to be leaders.

I write in Word on a PC running Vista making extensive use of outlining  - Chapters styled as "Heading 1", P'sOV as "Heading 2" and scene-lets (groups of  paragraphs) as "Heading 3" again for reason of tracking the plot/storyline.  The styling (colour and size) is my own and the headings are set not to print when I print a chapter to take along to read at my writers group

The POV character Ashford  is the renamed Lee (reasons in previous post) who turned from enemy to friend. Why? "It seemed like a good idea at the time".  I make this up as I go along.

Also from the outline you can also see I currently have five (5) POV Characters: Ashford, Jorgena, Rowena, Hyatt and Sarah. I don't count Hedley because his POV is only in the prologue. Five is a lot to handle and give distinct voices to.  (I had three in book I rising briefly to five 5 midway, dropping two and bringing them back at the end of book II - whatever suited.) 

What the story needs the story gets.

I'm still not comfortable with so many P'sOV but I feel the story needs it so I just have to grin and write it besides when I started writing (with intent to be published) I wasn't comfortable with anything I produced: description, dialogue, POV,  naming, grammar or punctuation.

In my experience writing is learned by writing. Learning only stops when the writing stops.

Ooroo for now

Saturday, September 18, 2010

re-hospitalisation is not a dirty word


Three months post transplant (19-8-10) is a significant milestone as these things go. All being well the specialist team begin reducing the high level of anti-rejection drugs. In my case, all was well, I began to feel safe, to relax and enjoy my renewed lease on life. A couple of days later I began to feel unwell, nothing extraordinary; an ache in the knees, an elevated temperature; it felt like the  flu. I duly notified the renal coordinator.

   "What do I do if I get the flu?"  
   "Take a couple of Panadol and monitor your temperature,
    if symptoms persist see your local doctor.

Sound familiar. The symptoms persisted on and off for a week with varying degrees of unwellness (depending on when I last took the Panadol)  Then one morning my temperature reached that magic number considered a fever in transplant patients 37.5C.

Tabasco on the right
Seeing my "local doctor" was interesting -  My normal local GP who'd been with me from the start of the kidney problem was miles away. I had recently moved and  intended to stay a while in the new place. So a new local GP was brought up to speed and on advice contacted an FMC renal specialist. The usual bloods & urine were taken and then something that was new to me; a blood culture. Blood is extracted directly into a small bottle of culture medium which when shaken looks like a bottle of Tabasco sauce.

The results I got the following day at clinic. There were signs I might have a couple of infections, maybe Staph and probably CytoMegaloVirus- CMV

Cytomegalovirus,  a common viral infection. In healthy people, it causes a mild flu-like illness (touché) that passes harmlessly within a few days. In certain high risk groups like ......da da
organ transplant patients, it can be serious.

More tests. If it was important my clinic specialist would let me know. I went home and forgot all about it until I got the call about 5pm, "Please report to FMC (Flinders Medical Center) emergency for admission, we need to put you on intravenous antibiotics."

Oh shit -  I guess it's important. 

FMC emergency waiting room 7pm after a hastily packing an overnight bag. We sat there for the next 4 hours hours before the long suffering Felicity had to go ( a long drive home). I got seen to about a half an hour later to get a Jelco put in and then back to the waiting room along with rows of patience in beds waiting for rooms. The only excitement was hourly measurements of blood pressure and temperature, eventually at about 2AM a bed was found in the EECU ( Extended Emergency Care Unit ) and the antibiotic drip connected.  All this played havoc with my sense of post transplant life;  3 months and I'm already back in hospital on a drip.

which one is the drip
Things were not as dread as they seemed however. The staph result for which the antibiotic drip was a precaution turned out to be a false positive. The CMV, while potentially dangerous, if caught early is easily treated with oral antivirals.

Cut to the chase: I was transferred to the renal ward and enjoyed a couple day of  government hospitality. Enjoy in this sense -  I wasn't half as sick as my fellow inmates, prompt attention by my doctors caught it in time.

I read some, wrote some, talked some, had three, two coarse (well not that course) meals a day and slept soundly. The Jelco stayed in until the last moment but was never used again and when they tried to flush it before removal it had healed/sealed over. I came home  a whole lot better with a varied pill regimen, less of the anti-rejection and  a course of antiviral.

I would guess this will not be the last time I will have to be re-hospitalised. It aint fun but it aint that bad; certainly better than dead. So unless I do a Howard Hughes and lock myself away from life, picking up the odd infection or two is inevitable as is a couple of days back on a renal ward.

Now I'm back to as normal as I'm ever gonna get - until the next time.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Writing Comes First

G'day dear reader,

       My time, thought and energy is divided equally among the three things I most value in life, my relationship with my wife, my health and my writing. My health took top billing recently (to be the subject of my other blog - if time permits)  and put a dent in the writing, the real writing, the novel; blogging is a luxury.

My self-imposed target was to  finish book 3: Arch, a 180,000 novel,  in one year. That's 3500 words a week.  two weeks ago I spent 3 days in hospital and though I wrote on my laptop,  I end up 1100 words short that week - no time to blog the process.  Last week - catch-up - I'm now 200 words short of  where I should be over all,  now I can blog it.

So where am I, 12,000 words into Arch and all over the place. 

keeping track
Chapter one - done.  Half of the prologue and  a third of chapter 3 and  I'm working on chapter 2.  It should be obvious that the numbers at the end are the chapter's word count - I aim for around 5000 words per chapter - it suits my modus operandi.

The part of chapter three that got done was  because a scene involving POV character (Hyatt - a villain in the sense that he opposes the aims of heroine Rowena) got way too long and was split.

The Jorgena of chapter one is the mother, lover, mother-in-law or grandmother of almost all the important characters (nothing like keeping it in the family)  At the start of Break, she is a mysterious figure but never with a  POV, she almost disappears in Face but will play a pivotal role in Arch; time she spoke up for herself.

Lee (now Lee Proctor and upgraded from acolyte to Server) who I introduced as a  villain to kick off Arch is changing sides.

The process is difficult to describe. I was writing Lee's second scene where he reports to his superior  and was looking for a nifty ending.  A sudden thought had me hitching him to one of  Jorgena's twin daughters who have also been waiting since Break to play a part. Jorgena in chapter 1 mentioned them as traveling so I put them in Lee's home town.

 I had no idea I would do this until it was done.  This is what I mean by a difficult to describe process - as Forrest Gump would say - it happens.  It happens as I write it, arising spontaneously from a restless mind in tune with the created world  and its characters - I think? 

However the twins are Sarah and Lisa and I paired him with Sarah. So now I have a couple called Sarah and Lee which is no better than Lisa and Lee (I did Roden and Rowena in Face, another same first letter double act  is one too many)  Methinks Lee needs a new first name - principle of  last on first off.

I have also give Sarah a POV (I have in my sketchy overall plan a sacrificial role for one of the twins - which is as yet undecided).

Who knows what will have happened by my next blog?  I don't - yet.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Easier done than said.

G'day dear reader

I have surprised and surpassed myself, getting half way through the first chapter in only a couple of days. For professionals my pace would be considered slow. All I can say is it suits me for the moment and as I get back into regular writing it will improve.  As it turned out starting was easier to do than talk about doing. My solution of where to start, was to invent a new enemy to confront my four principles (left at the end of Book 2) as they began their final journey. This  new character is watching them come across the border, in fact has been set to watch for them and knows their histories.  This gave me a great opportunity to fill in the story so far for readers who start with Book 3 "The Arch of Restoration" aka "Arch" 

I chose the name from a book of baby names. (I have  many but the one at left is the one used for this trilogy)  I opened it at random and looked for old English names. The original impetus for old  English came from researching my family tree, I came across a name I wanted to use.  Having started down that road I kept going, mainly for consistency. Character names are important, they come with baggage: gender, ethnicity, culture.  I wanted an homogeneous society.

The page I happened to open this time was in  the Girls section and the first old English name I came across was Lee. I then checked my spreadsheet  to ensure I hadn't already used it.  This is not an unbreakable rule (none are) but I like to keep my main characters distinct. Any 'Point Of View' (POV) character is major.  I found it used for my hero's mother's middle name. - not a problem so I added it to the sheet which records name rank and serial number (all the important details) of each character as I invent them.  

At this stage all Lee has is a first name and a title. The entry will grow with the character.Until now I have avoided using a personal pronoun for Lee. I got the name from the Girls page so I wrote her in as female. The next scene was also from a female POV and the one after that from the POV of two females in the same head. Too many female POV's for this old male to handle.  So I changed Lee to male and rewrote the scene. 

Interestingly the slice of spreadsheet above contains 4 major characters,  all sisters, two of which have been POV Characters - the baby book must not so randomly fall open at  'Girls - L' 

The story continues 


Friday, August 20, 2010

And so begins Book 3 in theTrilogy

g'day dear reader

The six words below are the culmination of 10 years work ( on and off - in reality, a fair bit off ) That, I would suggest, is part of the writing life - the life part goes on whether you write or not.

Needless to say I went out an celebrated last night and began thinking about how to start book three.

A digression  on working practice and targets.  I work from home as a part time contract web developer. My time is is mine to allocate, so I write in the mornings and, when there is work, develop in the afternoons. I write 6 days a week and have Sunday's off provided I reach my target word count.

My intention for Book 3 (given that it will be about 180,000 words and that I wish to finish in 1 year rather than 10) is to write an average of 500 words a day for 360 days of the year - about 3500 words week ( 6 days of 600 words )  Below is part of the simple spreadsheet I keep to track my progress.

This is the last two weeks i.e. weeks 32 and 33 of 2010, the green figure next to the week,  is the number of words in excess of my target  (only 1700 words a week post recovery - I'm about to double it)  Under target would be highlighted red.  Next is the daily word count and piece worked on. The words of this blog will slot into the empty hole for Saturday,  21 august 2010.   The highlighted day is the three month anniversary of my kidney transplant - this is the life part that often interrupts the intention to write - hospital visits blood test tissue samples etc - and nothing written. 

And so book 3 begins....

Like the previous volumes book 3 ( Arch / The arch of Restoration )  will be divided into two parts. I have specific climatic events planned for each, and a specific end goal but the journey, the actually events and the characters we will meet along the way are as yet a mystery. My biggest problem at the moment is how to start,  much the same problem I had finishing book 2 - in my mind the story line is continuous and yet conventional wisdom and common sense says each volume should stand alone.

Which means book 3 needs a hook and storyline that points to goal but that does not rely on the events in the preceding volumes. What I've decided to do is worry about it later. My need to write to myself imposed deadline/target is paramount and I have plenty to be going on with. What this means in practice is I'll start with  chapter 2 of  book 3 as a continuation of last events in book 2 and insert Chapter 1 and/or a prologue later when I have a grip on the new characters I develop to  populate book 3.

Next the storyline itself  - next post that is.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Trilogy History Book 2


I went straight  into Book 2 the day after finishing Book 1.   We were still in a flat in Sydney, Felicity at work and me home - what else was I going to do?  Taking a break in the circumstances (where my wife Felicity is working to support my writing habit) did not seem politic besides my reading of the many tomes on "How to write ..." almost universally suggested letting a newly completed manuscript gestate a week or two before revising. Who am I to argue?

October 2000 we returned to our Ironbank home in the Adelaide hills and me to the the Blackwood Writers Group  - hereinafter BWG, not that I ever left in spirit thanks to the internet.   I came back with six chapters of Book 2 which started with the daughter of main protagonists - a generational change - 20 odd years after the closing event of Book 1   (incidentally book 1 covered a single year)

Koala Ridge Ironbank design by built by me, home for 20 years
About now I ran out of steam - not writers block so much as I didn't like where the story was going , it was on a side track heading away from the goal I had in mind and getting bogged down.

I decide to quit and revise book one for insights but that's a whole other story of which this is a quick summary  Revision 2 finished Dec 2000 at 196,000 words -  It went to 9 revisions  topping at 210,000, was broken into two books (hence later the 2 parts to each book), reassembled, culled and  revised endlessly with the object of sending it out while I worked on book 2.

However Book 1: The Break of Civilization  (Break) still needs work ( it's on the net if you want to help) but  I have decided to finish the whole trilogy then revise bearing mind what's to come. Still there is something to said for the naivety of the characters when I and they didn't know what was to come.  Too much editing is often worse than not enough.

Back in book The Face of the Goddess ( Face) two I started working backwards from the opening to fill in the years between Bk1 and Bk2. Several attempts, prologues and opening chapters were written and thrown away.  I felt, quite literally, like I had lost the plot. To cut a long story short.  It has taken from  2001 to 2010 (9 years)  to get book 2 from 6 chapters to near completion as it is now.   The original start is now chapter 14.  60,000 words have been inserted.   

 9 years - LIFE got in the way - Health issues,  a house move  and new bookshop - a 7-day coffee-shop/post-office/bookshop  as below. (those three years devoid of writing)  an operation,  a world trip 2004 (recuperation), two house moves, another world trip 2007 just in case  (during which I plotted in broad strokes the rest of the trilogy) Another house move 2009 and another operation 2010 (see my blog "That's Life" )
My second bookshop ~ the BookPost, Charleston, Sth. Aust.
Funny how I used to think a book shop the perfect business for a writer.  I tried it twice; the first failed because I wrote - the second thrived but I wrote almost nothing. There's a moral there somewhere.

Next post will be as I start book 3,  sometime next week -  Yaye!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Trilogy History Book 1


As I've said elsewhere the second book in the trilogy is racing towards its end, health issues as blogged on That's Life ( have settled, and left me feeling better than I have in years.

So I have decide to Blog the whole damn process of writing the next novel; the third in the "legends" trilogy ~ working title "The Arch of Restoration" ~ hereinafter referred to by its short title "Arch"

First some background: The trilogy began in Sept 1995 in Fort Collins, Colorado: as they say in the classics - it was long ago and far away.

I was there on holiday and to save a failing relationship; It didn't work out but the novel stuck and on my return, grew and grew and gradually morphed from a love triangle into fantasy trilogy. But it didn't happen overnight. I was then in the middle of  decade of crisis, alone, jobless and with a recently deceased mother. So I opened a secondhand bookshop.

In 1966 when I started the Blackwood Writers Group  my father had also passed on,  the bookshop was failing and the few odd scribblings that became book one of the trilogy, languished in the bottom draw.

The group mostly SF writers reinvigorated me  as they followed the well worn track to publication by writing short stories and 1997 saw some early success for almost all group members; enough by 1998 for a anthology to showcase our work.

By then my short stories were getting longer and longer and I decided  to again tackle the novel.  I like the space a novel gives to explore.  It was about now that the story began morphing into the trilogy using a short piece that couldn't find a market as the prologue. This changed the Fantasy into SF.

I was about 10,000 thousand words in by 1999 when I met and married Felicity and we moved to Sydney  for her September of that year. My decade of disquiet was over. I worked full time on the novel. The first draft finished up at 163,000 thousand words.   Here' a clip from the end of that draft.

The trails and trials of  book two next post

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Last Post


It is now two months, one week and two days since Felicity and I went under the knife and things are pretty much back to normal; we work, we play, we eat sleep and ..... A month ago I felt so good, I started thinking about this post, but I was too interested in other projects to bother and time just slipped away.

Felicity still has a little bit of pain, rising after extended sitting but I was back to normal at one month, and better than normal at two.

Better than normal?

Perhaps that needs explaining :- my kidneys gradually failed over a decade and my body gradually adjusted as toxins I couldn't excrete - you guessed it - gradually built up in my blood. I didn't notice any change (and I'm not the only one) By the time of the op I had serious doubts about the necessity of having the transplant at all. Why go through all that pain and put my wife through all that pain when I felt no different than I had yesterday or the day before. The blood work however said I was on the cusp of renal failure.

That all changed on the 19th May - the new kidney cleared the toxic backlog in a matter of hours, not that I noticed immediately but as recovery proceeded the changes became obvious; I had more energy, I began doing long neglected jobs around the house. For me personally the biggest change is in my writing. Pre-transplant I would struggle for hours to write 300 words. Post-transplant I can sit down for a couple of hours and churn out 600. It always astounds me when I do the count.

When you think about it, it stands to reason. One of the biggest arteries goes to the brain. What does a big artery full of toxins do to one's mind? Obviously a helluva lot. Again I stress that the gradual toxin build up led to a gradual decline in mental acuity that went unnoticed: the sudden restoration however, of good clean blood to the old brain box, did not go unnoticed.

Now at two plus months I'm already down to a once a fortnight clinic and I feel better than ever despite that my lovely donor wife sees me as just a growth on her kidney.

This blog will now fall into disuse. Unless/until something goes wrong I will concentrate on writing and my writing blog where I hope to chronicle the process of turning this wannabe into a published author. See you there


Friday, June 11, 2010

Life with EIDS


EIDS a term I coined to reflect my situation and stands for Engineered Immune Deficiency Syndrome; a close cousin to AIDS. I take drugs to make sure my immune system is deficient.

At the start immune suppression is savage to ensure the new kidney has a chance to settle in to this foreign environment (me). It will be eased as time goes by (already the evening dose of Tracolimus has been reduce by 1mg)

This chart shows what I take DAILY at 9AM, lunch, 9PM & before bed.

It is now just over three weeks since the transplant. Day by day life improves. The peeing problem abated suddenly over a couple of days last week after a two bouts of diarrhea from something I ate.

My usual lunch prior to transplant was a couple ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches. The sliced ham comes in individual sealed pockets (just enough for the two sandwiches) and though i used it all and it was well within the use-by-date my repressed immune system couldnt cope. I had lunch - I felt unwell - my intestine got in knot - I shat liquid - felt better and was was normal by the morning. I had the same lunch the next day (not sure of the culprit) and repeated the entire process.

The following day I had tuna & lettuce. Ive been well ever since , four whole days without pain or sickness. As I said, day by day life improves.

My poor long suffering wife and donor Felicity is also improving but nowhere near as fast. The pain was so intense last Monday I took her back to the RAH. Our transplant surgeons organized a CT scan of the removal site. All was good but for an air pocket under the scar that has yet to be reabsorbed which may be the source of her pain. Time will tell.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nothing surer than Change


The solutions were a mixed bag some relief but not really enough especially overnight. By the time the need wakes me it's urgent and painful, not time to be playing with aesthetic injections, so it's back to walking the dog.

Despite this, we are both generally better and went for a walk down the mall for lunch. It was both easier and faster. (Aside: An additional reason for our expensive choice was to test if liked city living - i.e. sell up in the outer burbs and move to the city) My son Jason who works in the city joined us for coffee in our favourite bookshop in his lunch hour, a side benefit of city living.

As he was leaving I got a call from the renal co-ordinator at Flinders Medical Centre FMC (my local hospital) saying the RAH (my transplant hospital) was going to release me and an appointment had been made for next Thursday, which I took to be Thursday next week (today being Tuesday)

I was wrong. When I rang for my results (creatinine 98) I was told don't come tomorrow. It seems the doctors are so satisfied with my progress after the biopsy they're transferring me back to FMC for further clinics as of NOW. Next Thursday actually meant this week - two days time. I was original told (as my blog testifies) daily clinics for three weeks to a month) - Tomorrow is exactly two weeks since the operation and neither are supposed to drive until then so this comes as a shock.

Gloriously the FMC clinic only runs twice a week, not daily, so it's all good news; not to mention the fortune we will save ($200 / day ) except we have to give 24 hours to our hosts so I bargained with RAH for one more clinic tomorrow, then FMC Thursday.

Here endeth stage one. I now enter the brave new world of the immune-suppressed transplantee - for life - which was of course the object of the exercise.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday, Monday, Can't Trust That Day

Yesterday was good last night horrible

Yesterday: Sun 30 May

walked up to the Sunday markets in Rundle St East, then down the mall to buy a jigsaw. Slowly of course with many stops for coffee and toilet ( that problem hasn't gone away)

That problem came back with a vengeance overnight, if you rate pain on a scale of 1 to 10 where zero is no pain and 10 is excruciating agony this is a 12. and it happens every hour whether I need to pee or not. If you see man in gray track suit pants in the mall who confronts you by suddenly playing pocket billiards it may be me.

T0day Mon 31 May

Started well and went downhill. The daily clinic was good, I reported the increasingly belligerent penis and have been given some solutions. One a 'sal vital' like effervescent drink to de-acidify my urine and two a penile injection of local anesthetic gel.

Then they looked at the wound and decided on the spot to remove half the staples (bonus they weren't due out till Wednesday) It a good feeling to think that you are progressing faster than expected - it might all be bullshit but the good feeling remains.

Today was also scheduled for biopsy so back to the waiting room. I vaguely remember the last one just before my nephrectomy as being an overnight stay but I wasn't that worried this would be different. for natural kidneys they dig deep through the back, 'unnatural' ones are in front just under the surface. I didn't feel a thing it all went smoothly and painlessly but then the crunch, I was stay lying on my back in that position for the next six hours

Oh! shit - more correctly Oh! Piss - six hours, that's at least 5 urinations in this position without the ability to get up and dance with a firm grasping the instrument of pain. The routine I've developed to help me through the night. Pity I didn't the solutions earlier.

I rang Felicity to give her the news and she walked to join me fro most of the six hour nightmare sitting in her own chair of pain. It is true, misery loves company. peeing lying down is an art form - doing so, regularly, while peeing acid is a sport for elite athletes - I'd rather have a baby - at least you get something nice to take home.

In the end I was at the RAH from 7:30 to 4:30 - a whole day of what little life I have left shot

But I have the solutions - let's hope one of them works


Saturday, May 29, 2010

The beat goes on.

Today (may 30)

The day is young. 9 am. I usually let the day transpire then blog it but I had a better night, not good mind, but better, longer periods between bouts of pain. The solution was to empty the bladder at each sitting. Until last night I was content to simply ease the pain then get off the pot. I can only assume that what was left exacerbated the irritant. There is a point during urinating when nearly empty that give a sense of well being more profound than simple relief.

so forward to the rest of the past - a long entry

24th mon Last day chaos -

creatinine 100 now well within the range 60-120

Finally I can sleep on my side and got a good six hours between blood pressure readings. With Felicity gone I have nowhere to walk to but have to anyway. There is conjecture about my release today or tomorrow. The surgeon who did the extraction half of the op came to see me and suggested it but left no notes and now my file is gone. taken for admin purposes which could indicate going home. I have no clothes however and though the catheter has been removed I still have a wound drain and bag attached - I'll place and order for dinner and for tomorrow's breakfast and lunch just in case ,

Miri who is looking after Felicity in the apartment keeps ringing to find out but no-one will make a decision. In the end they turn up anyway. Felicity has to go for a short walk every day as part of her recovery so when they got halfway to hospital they decided to go on and get a taxi back. While they were en route the wound drain is removed and I get my marching orders but they unknowing do not have my clothes. Luckily Errol is coming in. He gets rerouted via the apartment - I may just get out of here after all.

5pm Dinner arrives, the nurses tell me it's unlikely to go this late, may as well enjoy the meal.

After dinner Errol & Kyle along with Miri and Felicity arrive and things happen fast work certificates are signed and I'm released, free at last,

I mentioned having a hot flush rush up my face when I lay down, rationalising it as the better ability of filtered blood to transport heat around the body. Miri, quick as flash said, ‘Menopause, you have Felicity’s kidney. Much laughter ensued.


I have had some difficulty with nocturnal peeing overnight. It stings and trickles and makes my scalp tingle. It only happens overnight not in the daytime. I shall have to ask what’s going on.

Day 1 at the clinic. Take a card and wait. The doctor sees you first for and problems and asks how you feel (I forget to ask about peeing). First up he writes up a new folder with details of what drugs you take – I of course only had a vague idea and had left my chart home (I’m new at this). Weight and BP get taken and you get two blood forms to take to the nurse who also takes a urine sample. I end up with three holes; two in one arm - one in the other. The bandaged wound drain hole had shown signs of slight leakage when left the apartment to walk the two and half city blocks to the RAH. It was almost running down my leg when I arrived and has been replaced with a drain bag glued over the hole by hand heat. I was supposed to take my morning pills straight after the bloods, which is why you take them with you, but I forgot and no one mentioned it. I didn’t think about it until I was struggling home in the rain. I think they might take better care of ‘first clinic’ people – show them the ropes

Today my daughter Miri who has been looking after us took us home to Strath for the extra things we needed reading lights, and big pillows so we can read in bed, our bedroom HD TV/DVD player (no subtitles on the cable TV provided), and trust me recovery without reading or TV will drive you nuts, the 15 minute walk to and from is about as much as exercise as one can tolerate at this stage, and finally raincoats. While home we collected mail, paid bills online, and answered email (especially those enquiring after our health – they know who they are and they are and their thoughts are appreciated). Other friends phoned and sms'd us. We had lunch there an I opted for a vegemite on a piece of toast left over from our . My brother Ian called in. My other brother Brian can’t. He has a cold and I as an immune suppressed tranplantee need to stay away from sick people, except of course daily, when I go to the hospital.


It is now one week since the operation and I feel good, almost. Last night was terrible I got up to pee and couldn’t. The problem seems to be clots from the healing junction where the kidney’s out tube has been sewn onto a hole made in the bladder getting jammed in the urethra. It takes the pressure of a full bladder to clear them, which I didn’t think I had; I had emptied before going to bed. I was on the point of ringing the hotline when I felt the tingling scalp of an urgent call and this I stood up for a gravity assist and streamed away. The relief was palpable. For me, the secret is to drink plenty going to bed, hold it and walk around a bit when I wake then stand when urinating. (At night I usually sit so that I don’t need to put on a light).

Day 2 at the clinic

I was reassured by the doctor, my problem was normal and lasts a couple of weeks, the bag was replaced and I managed to take my pills. I took a book for the waiting and despite arriving 15 mins early I was number 6 (not the village); yesterday I was number 2.

Today I’m back to writing this blog, which I will post as soon as I have broad band access, Miri and her husband Jason are out shopping for one now

I'm now up to date though all of the above is subject to change without notice - I can see gaps in the retrospectively written story and I would like it to be as complete as possible with pictures so that anyone contemplating the same journey will have some idea what to expect

another day - another pain

Today (may 29)
10 days post op - creatinine 96 - kindney function 60%

The weekend clinic is back in the ward (returning to the scene of the crime?) Those further along (about a month post op) have the weekend off.

My bowel an bladder still conspire to give me pain, I have to sit to pee just in case and am rarely disapointed. The whole operation always takes three attempts with a much pacing around the appartment before I get sufficient flow to feedback to the brain that its done.
I've been told it is the stint irritation despite the site of the pain being in the head of the penis

This is not he blog I thought I would writing but I can't concentrate on how it feels emotionally or intelectually while I'm foccsed on the phyical pain. Compared to this transplant the nephretomy was child's play. Felicity would disgaee; in her opinion the cochlear implant was a like a bee sting compared to the nephrectomy which was like be bitten in half by a great white. It's all relative.

forward to the past

I showered this morning standing up, a chair is provided but standing was easier. It felt really good, the best part of the day, just standing under running warm water. Getting in and out carrying a plethora of tubes is less than ideal. Was able to sit up most of the day and able to get out bed to visit Felicity a the other end of the corridor 4 times with a couple of return visits. The first visit had us both crying with obvious relief that we had survived. The risk of not making it are three in a thousand - wonder how that compares with dying in car accident.

creatinine 115

23rd sun

Bad night, unable to sleep, Could not get comfortable in any position on crinkled sheets, can only lie on my right side a few minutes at a time, then on my back, then left then back again, the constant rolling is more comfortable than lying still. My backside is red from sitting up all day, my elbows are sore and abraded by the rough blankets of which I have to have two to combat the freezing air conditioning I give up in tears of a different sort, lie on my back and begin chanting a mantra (the distraction of watching dvd's worked in the daytime lets see if mediation works at night) om mani padme hum repeated over and over again aloud has a calming effect and I do indeed occasionally drift off. I wouldn't call it sleep but its better than panic and tears.

creatinine 104, the doctors are pleased everthing is going according to plan, but they were not here last night. Able to visit Felicity several times carrying my stuff wearing a hospital gown flapping open at the back. Fuck dignity I'm alive. That afternoon she was turfed out her room by nurse 'ratchet ' to await release in my room. Fine for the hospital, they need the bed, pity the patient has to sit in freezing pain. I'll leave my overall thoughts of the hospital stay to a summary blog when we get home - probably still two weeks away.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh! the pain.

today (May 27) creatinine 94

Not to mention the embarrassment of yesterday when I coughed in my rompers.

One of the side effects of all abdominal surgery is constipation and something doctors look to see restarted before they let you out. Perhaps my dysfunctional kidney kept my stools soft, for me shitting was quick & easy. Now although I go through he motions daily, the post op experience is hard and very painful.

I was grateful when the blockage finally seemed to ease but later I had to go again and was hoping it would be all back to normal but alas it was now loose. Less than an hour later a desperate need arose but the one bathroom was occupied. An uncontrollable explosion occur ed. Diarrhea is a worry for a transplant patient often leading to dehydration and kidney damage.

The renal clinic reassured me this was probably just backed up behind the blockage - drink plenty of water and monitor if it persist come to emergency. I'm glad now its only 2 blocks away.

Then last night every hour I had to get up pee, but despite the water intake, couldn't. The pain in the tip that tells me I'm desperate is a lie, I don't need to go, I cant go. At best I get a burning trickle. Something to do with the extracted catheter or the transplant where it joins into my urinary system or irritation from the stint between kidney and bladder has yet to heal.

So now both excremental orifices are giving me a hard time -
more so than the cut. I seem to be leaking a stringent burning acid from both.

now back to the past

20th thurs

Daughter Miri & her husband Jason (I have to specify because my son is also Jason one of three I have, a son and 2 son-in-laws) found me awake and talking to them but drifting off.

My recollections of the first night are pretty much the same, a nurse was always with me, taking blood pressures and temp and measuring an emptying my catheter every hour while I unmoving dozed in and out conscious.

I was told my creatinine levels had dropped to 200 (from in the high fives) in hours. As I understand it creatinine is a waste from muscle use that can only be excreted by the kidney. At ten percent function, I have trouble to get rid of the muscle waste of a relaxing day watching movies. The rest keeps circulating in the blood impeding function and this is not the only toxic metabolic by-product circulating just the indicative measure.

21st Friday

Creatinine from yesterday’s blood-letting 140, the taking is easy from the triple headed feeder hanging out my jugular. Through one of the other heads they are pumping in fluids a great rate putting back all the weight they told me to lose. I am now carrying an extra 5 kilos all fluid and still drinking 2 1/2 litres as well. It is all counted going n and coming out. The intention is to keep the new kidney flushed while it settles in. The build up of fluid (and weight) will gradually drain away. I am to ensure weighed in a chair morning and night to ensure a steady rate of flush.

I find it difficult to believe I am now carrying a body part from my wife. It hasn't really impacted yet - too many other concerns with lack of sleep, lack of comfort, lack of dignity and all these bloody tubes hanging off my bruised and battered body.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

tranplant day

Today (May 26th)

After Clinic, Miri took us to Borders in the mall for a coffee - We drove from the corner of Frome Rd/Grenfell St to the Grenfell St carpark. Things are improving but walking 3 city blocks and back is not yet doable. The wound drain has stopped leaking, the staples are still in and the other problems are abating. The all important measure of creatinine (of which more will said later) is now 94 lower than Felicity's 107 -I got the better kidney.

Now a return to the past - pictures will be added later, I wont have the cord to get them off the mobile phone until we next visit Strathalbyn.

19/5/2010 wed 8:00 am

Transplant day

The waiting is the worst of it, waiting and wondering at the outcome. Today is also my daughter Miri’s birthday ( if I take the time to work it out 2010-1971 makes her one short of 40) where did it all go? I have to say I’ve enjoyed most of it and the best has been the last ten or so years despite ailing kidney. I have no wish to leave it now or ever. I may think differently if something happens to Felicity; the primary reason I’ve been so contented this last decade. Feliciy is two floors below, preparing for surgery. I can assume se hasn’t gone in yet because her son Errol hasn’t returned.

Despite the CVC, which truly is a pain-in-the-neck, I slept as well as I ever do. The usual nose blockage and mouth breathing gave me a dry mouth however for which I could get nothing – fasting including fluids since midnight. I woke at 5:30 and watched another murder (from England’s deadliest county – Midsomer). Felicity and Errol dropped in briefly on her way down.

While I’ve been writing this a doctor ( the face is familiar but I can’t name him) Any last minute questions? Not really. It is probably the case that anyone in my position knows just enough to scare them but not enough to know what questions to ask, not that anything would change if we did. What can't be avoided must be endured

Felicity goes in about now 8:30 I go in about midday. The ward boss and one of her nurses introduced themselves but kept their distance, Sarah suspect she has a cold, Gaye has a sore throat, and I have just taken 3 huge tables of some unpronounceable multi-syllabic immunosuppressant drug. As an after thought I should throw in I have cold feet, no socks, short pants, thin blankets and cold air conditioning.

Of such, is life – long may it continue …….

Retrospective Post operative notes

I got back on the ward 10pm according to Miri quoting Errol. I know nothing, noth-ing as Shultz used to say. Thus it seems to me we we’re both later out of surgery than expected for reasons unknown. Miri’s Jason who use work at the QEH as an instrument steriliser suggest it happens all the time; an emergency beforehand and all the instruments have to be resterilised.

pre operative musings

18/5 /2010 8:45pm

I’m sitting up in bed in the RAH writing this on my laptop for later transfer. I have a central venal catheter (hereinafter cvc) in my neck; right in the jugular. The process was painless but discomforting. A pillow is placed under the shoulders, the head thrown back and the head twisted sideways to expose the neck. Exposed is how it feels; like you’re the victim readied for countess Dracula in a classic vampire movie. Ultra-sound images display the underlying veins and marks are made to guide the placement and angel of the tube about to be inserted under local aesthetic .

Holding that position for thirty minutes is what is discomforting. I took the time to meditate, breathing slowly in blue world and counting the breaths, while hey anaesthetise, prod, poke, insert. The tube hanging out my neck giving my right side a somewhat Frankenstein’s monster look divides into three colour-coded leads: white, maroon and blue – purpose unknown.

One has been used already to take blood samples. It reminded me of the movie Dune - Baron Harkonnen’s playmate with the plugs in his arteries; lots of good material here for a ghoulish story. Except for a certain stiffness of neck that makes it hard to turn my head, I am feeling alright, however my blood pressure is elevated which suggest I may not be as relaxed as I imagine I am.

Felicity came in with me and her son Errol joined us later. Thankfully he is going to stay with her in the serviced apartment we’re renting - she would be frantic otherwise having to wait by herself and come in tomorrow. They left about 7pm to go for dinner (or tea, depending on where you hail from). She will back in the morning and on the table before me (as must happen).

I will be unable to forgive myself if anything untoward should befall her, anything at all, she does not deserve this she has been through more than enough already and though none of that was my fault - this is.

over the next few days (now that I have access again) I will add dated entries (most already written) until the experiental dates match the posted dates.

To be continued …….