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(FYI I didn't get the original story I'd been hoping to submitted.  We're not talking about that.  I'm not in a good place about it.  I am still writing fiction, which is a success.  MOVING ON.)

So, I'm in one of those odd periods where my focus has gone away from writing/reading/fantasy onto actually doing a whole stack of little things that I normally let slide because real life ugh.  I've been going around the house with a can of WD-40 fixing all the seized or squeaking mechanisms, ordering replacement ceiling fans for the ones that are broken, getting the locksmith in to look at the side door we haven't been able to use for five years, clearing out the piles of artwork that have built up on every surface, culling and sorting them into specific kids' folders. That kind of thing.

Wardrobe )
Mending )

Health )

Yes, by the way, my credit card always gets a hammering when I'm manic like this; shoes, clothes (this time they're even for me!), mending supplies, tradespeople, medical appointments.  But that's okay because this is a blue moon occurrence; our bank accounts don't get used for anything except groceries and utilities and things the kids urgently need the other 98% of the time.  Hubby will freak out in a month's time (despite knowing what's going on) that our mortgage offset amount has gone down and we are LOSING MONEY OHNOES and I'll remind him to measure the account balance not from last month, but from the previous time I went mad and got all the jobs done, three years ago, and that if we actually managed to make more money in a month than I spend in a Jobs Month, that would be truly frightening.  (If in a way we all dream of.  :) )

There's one more thing, but I'm going to make it a different post when I get to it, because it doesn't deserve to be lumped in with the rest of the stuff.  Not trying to be a tease, just.  It's so much at the root of everything on my mind that it would feel like tiptoeing around the elephant in the room not to at least mention that there's more I'm not saying.  Nothing bad, just thinky-thoughts about thinky-things.
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All sorts of uncensored stuff under cut, mainly for my personal records, so not necessarily for the faint of heart.

Read on if you dare... )

Summary version for those who just want the are-you-okay version, or get bored or squicked in the unbelievably tl;dr above. :) )

Selected picspam to follow.
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So today, I'm counting myself as officially eight months pregnant: I'm due on the 14th of November, today is the 14th of October.

I had my last scan a week and a half ago - Gil is tracking at slightly above average size, with a truly prodigious sized head. Somehow, I can't work up a great deal of excitement along the 'must have big brains!' track that everyone keeps telling me. Maybe I should stop taking those Omega 3 supplements? :P

Various pregnancy / life trivia / tl;dr... )

Hopefully I'll be all ready in a month. Hopefully I'll be ready in two weeks, since that's really the beginning of the critical zone. I wish I was ready right now - it would be great to be all prepared and just catching up on sleep and conserving as much of my energy as I can to face the impending change.
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A couple of weeks ago, I attended Richard Dawkins' lecture in QPAC, which was extraordinary in a number of ways.

First, I would consider him a formative influence on my philosophical outlook. Back in my foolish days as a Young Earth Creationist, it was reading a passage in The Blind Watchmaker on the heritable and naturally selected characteristics of, of all things, mud, which formed the tipping point in my realisation that it was all, oh my god, pardon the pun, true. It was my lightbulb moment about how natural selection needs absolutely no intelligence of any kind; it's not that the finches are trying to influence the shape of their bills to suit the available food, it's simply that the ones that happen to have the more suitable bills end up reproducing ever so slightly more than the ones that don't. So simple. So elegant. So obvious.

Second, and subsequently... )
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Some people find the blank page intimidating. A whole empty white page, staring at you, with nothing on it but possibility.

Not me.

I have a short attention span, but as long as I prevent myself from alt-tabbing away from a blank page for long enough, it ends up with writing on it. Lots of writing.

My problem is the imperfectly filled page. (tl;dr) )

This year I have a great deal on, writing wise. First of all, there’s the personal commitment I’ve made to submitting a manuscript to the Australian Vogel Award this year. (Deadlines = Love) I haven’t yet decided whether it will be Return to Sender or Cloud Castles. Given the above, I’m going to have to work pretty hard on at least one of them to bring it to a standard where I’m willing to let it out of my sight in just over four months time.

At the moment, I’m procrastinating. I’m supposed to be writing a play for my nieces’ school’s Mystery Festival: a humourous whodunit that concludes with each one of six suspects looking equally guilty. I’ve got almost two pages of it written, out of about ten – after which it will need editing. It’s simple enough now that I’ve got a multi-layered plot with a cast of seedy characters. It’s easy, it’s fun, I’ve got stacks of fantastic ideas, and it’s good procrastination for getting stuck into my more serious manuscripts.

Still, I’m having trouble focussing. I should be gazing at the empty third page of the Mystery Festival play, staring it down long enough that, to prevent me from dying of bordom, the creative juices will start to flow and sweep me up into that literary orgasm of productivity that will result in another few pages of script.

Instead, I’ve opened up a second word document, where I’m writing endless pointless introspections on my psyche and personality traits. Such as procrastination.

Speaking of which, my apologies for randomly disappearing for a six weeks once again. I’ve been rather overwhelmed by life: since we last spoke I’ve attended to Hubby’s grandma’s funeral, hosted the Lily Family Christmas Spectacular starring nine children under ten and a chocolate fountain, maintained an incredibly high level of productivity at work, broken down at Hubby under the strain and threatened to move to Sweden for a year, mopped up the remains of a two-foot deep flash flood in the office, and generally continued running at top efficiency in procrastinating writing.

Hmmm. Time to get back to it, I guess.
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So, the post you’ve all been waiting for, and the one which Lily’s procrastination of actually starting writing last night has finally made possible: the results for the Orion Awards!

Congratulations to all the the nominees, all the shortlisters, of course to all the winners, and congratulations and thanks to all the judges for having got through a marathon of critique, debates, arguments, and flat out duels to the death. I hope to see you all back again next year. :)

I feel proud and honoured that my fics have done so amazingly well - particularly against some of the competition. I’ve shortlisted fourteen times across four fics, and won four awards across two fics. (NB: None of these stories, with the possible exception of Axiom, will make sense to anyone who has not read Artemis Fowl.)

Lunar Fallacy shortlisted for Best Drabble (under 500 words)
Watching shortlisted for Best Angst, Best Slash Romance, Best Short, and Best/Most Memorable Line (Artemis died young, died suddenly. Geniuses* never live long lives, criminal ones with powerful enemies even less so.)
On Becoming an Axiom shortlisted for Best Overall Characterisation and Best Overall – and won Best Heterosexual Romance and Best Drabble
The Mother of Invention shortlisted for Best Angst, [spoiler removed], and Best Concept/Idea – and won Best Short and Best Overall

Words really can’t express my delight and pride, so I’ll simply say… squeeeeee!

It's not really a surprise – as Judge Coordinator, I have access to see what the judges are saying about my fics, I have warning. The joy of slowly realising something is going to win a category is spread out, and the frustration that a fic is not doing well is spread over a longer time. But while I can eagerly read the criticism, praise, and/or general luke-warm reactions the other judges dole out for my fics, I can’t say anything about it.

If another judge misunderstands a point – or the entire fic – or comes at things from an angle that casts it in a totally different light, we're not allowed to say anything to help keep things unbiassed and at a distance. It's not that I want to shake the person and say they should see it the way I meant it – I should be judged on what I wrote, not what I meant to write – it's just that I want to talk about my fic! I want to sit with the judges across a bottle of red and talk about this line and that line and that plot point and where they got that idea from and where they think I could have trimmed or extended to deal with the misunderstanding or problems they had with it. I love criticism. It's honestly the most amazing thing to receive, because it shows that the reader has really read my story, and thought about it. Someone's showing that kind of attentive deconstruction to my story. Wow.

So, after being gagged for three months while I watched people discuss my stories, I’ve built up a little bit of a head of steam to let off. Now the moment has arrived. Here we are, at last: the results are out, and finally I can speak without either influencing the outcome or being seen to do so. So I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity to rave about them at length, starting with The Mother of Invention. (I was going to do both at once, but… I’ve been stuffing around with the notes for Axiom for almost a month now, because it’s such a personal piece that I keep changing my mind about what to say and where it crosses the line into Too Much Information. :) I’ll probably post them… some time.)

Please don't read on if you haven't read The Mother of Invention - it really will spoil it for you. And you really can’t read MOI without having read Artemis Fowl, because it won't make the least amount of sense without that background. Neither will the authors notes.

Yes, sister dearest, I do mean you, and I know you're tempted, but please go away. :)

Follow the cut for a great deal of self-love… )

* Yes, contrary to Artemis’s assertion in the last book, the plural of genius is geniuses. The “genius” that pluralises to “genii” refers to a guardian/influential spirit, not a person of exceptional mental capacity. Please, Colfer, learn to use a dictionary. And Orion Awards Judges… you take his word over mine? I’m crushed! :P (But all hail But Why?'s "You must have been good, for half a tonne of gold..." for being twice as good as the rest of the nominees combined. :D) Seriously, though, of the three dictionaries I use, one said geniuses full stop, one said geniuses for Fowls and genii for spirits, and one mentioned both but didn’t specify which for which and then went on to produce examples that happened to use geniuses for Fowls and genii for spirits. I'm counting this in the "canon that, apart from being canon, is total crap" pile.
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The approach of April Fools (another words-in-a-month challenge) has brought me to the rational consideration of my NaNovel, the possibilities of finishing it, and the problems to be overcome if said goal is to be achieved.

So, I present to you: The Top Ten Reasons My NaNovel Sucks )

The thing is: I could fix all this. I know where I went wrong, and I could fix it all – I could write another fifty thousand words from different viewpoints with their own agendas and subplots, I could cut or rewrite huge swathes of what I’ve written, I could fill out the world to be beautiful and consistent and absorbing and packed with characters who each follow their own path and story, I could give my main character an agenda and a swift kick up the rear end, and I could definitely create tension of some sort from each scene to disconnected scene…

I could also go back and fix some of the worst exposition in His Son’s Father, do a thorough rewrite of the first chapters of The Promise Ring, spend the rest of my life finishing off my AF/HP crossover, and never move forward with my writing career.

Or, I could say “lesson learned” and move on. I could start another story that’s got a main character who’s built around his agenda rather than having it spliced in later, that’s in my chosen genre of fantasy rather than Sci-Fi, where my supporting cast don’t lose their own agendas and storylines in my fight to make my main character behave – and most of all, that has a real antagonist right from the first chapter.

Funnily enough, I’ve got a plot – and a world – in my head, that sounds remarkably like that. Not because I’ve twisted it to fit my new realisations, but when I came back for a look at it I was surprised at how many it fit. It’s been resident in my upper brain space for about three years, but I’ve never written more than a few snatches from it. Theoretically, it’s a prequel to the original story that’s been in my head for about five years – it started out as deep background for that and grew from there into a wonderful deep and complex quest. I’m starting to dream it, I’m starting to daydream it, I’m starting to have proper flashes of it. This is what I must write.

April is approaching fast. I’ll planning to have another attempt at April Fools, only this time I’ll do it because I know I can: and why aim for only fifteen thousand when I know I can write fifty thousand? All I need to do is get my Remix and my Toolbelt article out of the way in the meantime. Easy. *cough*

In other news, since I am officially abandoning my NaNovel, I’m coming good on my promise. Anyone interested in reading 50,000 words of abysmal, inconsistent, entirely unforeshadowed and utterly unpolished first draft, by an author who’s never written a new world or a set of original characters in her life is welcome to ask me for a copy of the document. I refuse to allow myself be ashamed to let people see it the vapid combination of blandness and melodrama that characterises all my first drafts – this is what NaNoWriMo is about, after all: exuberant imperfection, quantity not quality, making mistakes… so that next time around, I can hopefully give it a better go at avoiding them.

With that glowing review of Return to Sender out of the way, anyone who still wants a copy is welcome to let me know. :)
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Or: A most ingenious paradox!

(For part 1: Physical Plausibilities)

This is the biggest question for my NaNovel, I suppose. Theories to explain the physical world around us can come or go. Technology, magic: it’s all indistinguishable in the end.

But paradox is eternal.

Perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic. All right, I’m being totally melodramatic. Writing this novel so quickly is throwing off my whole sense of subtlety.

The point under consideration is this: how the heck can exchanging information with the future work? You ask a question of the future, get an answer back, and change what you’re going to do, which changes your answer to the question, and… aaaaaarghgh!

But I think I’ve actually worked out a pretty neat solution to the paradox dilemma.

As I was informed a few weeks ago, when I started my inquiries, it’s not so much that what the itty-bitty-bits of the universe do at a quantum level that’s still under debate. It’s what the behaviour of those itty-bitty-bits means. We’ve got well-established and tested mathematical formalism for what particles/waves are doing on the fundamental level … but there just isn’t any one compelling interpretation to tell us what they’re doing when we’re not looking at them, what they’re doing where we can’t see them, or why they’re doing it. Instead, there’s a whole list of them. Hopefully I haven’t completely warped the whole thing too far out of shape. :)

First, let me chat for a minute about my understanding of the way quantum mechanics started, and a few of the recognised interpretations.

I won’t go into the details of the two-slit experiment )

The Copenhagen Interpretation )

The Many Worlds Interpretation  )

The Transactional Interpretation )

At last! The tack my story takes! )

Now, to the larger questions:
Why did I write all this when I could be NaNoing, and I have bigger, plot related problems to worry about, like the most emotionally charged scene I have so far being the one where my protagonist's girlfriend breaks up with him in the middle of brushing her teeth?
Why am I at all worried that I may not reach 50,000, given I can ramble like this?
And why, when I gave him the perfect opportunity for exposition, standing in front of year eight science class touring the premesis, did my protagonist put on a movie to explain it all, and then stop listening so he could eavesdrop on two schoolboys in the back row giggling about breasts? How did this happen? And would it really matter if I broke the rules just once to go back and fix it up? [/rhetorical]


PS: I'm on 14,968 words. Must... write... thirty... two... more... words...
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I’d like to talk for a while about the plausibility of the sci-fi aspect of my NaNovel.

Feel free to tune out )

Anyone have any ideas, or shall I just make myself some Magical!Futuristic!Ultra!High!Tech!Attenuationless!Glass? Or just gloss over it?

I must admit, glossing’s looking attractive, at the moment. :)

Next up, Part Two: Interpretational Implications (or: A most ingenious paradox!)

Edit: Stop press! Apparently, in certain gasses and at certain temperatures, the speed of light can be slowed down by a significant amount - enough to make it possible to make a photon cross a room at a slow enough pace to make this work. If this is the case - and it doesn't result in a high attenuation along the way - this looks like the go. Yay! Thanks, Geoff!


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The White Lily

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