Moving :D

February 27, 2012

You will find my new and improved blog here at

www.storybookperfect.com

Been Away For A Bit

February 13, 2010

Well, haven’t the last three weeks been eventful! My store was broken into four times, I had my stocktake – funnily enough – on the same day as the most recent break-in, one of my good friends is moving away to another part of the state entirely, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law visited for two weeks and first my father, then my mother moved in with me.

Yes, you read that right, my parents moved in with me. Not I moved back into their house but rather they are temporarily living in mine. Please, don’t misunderstand the statement, I love my parents but you have to admit, it’s not really the natural order of things!

So if anyone out there has been curious as to why no posts since the 19th, there’s your answer.

This is of course not to say I wasn’t writing! Oh no, I just wasn’t posting any of it on here.

My sister-in-law does writing courses in Melbourne when she’s not off jetting around the world (she just returned from Europe for the second time before she visited and a few days after she left she flew off to South America), so she took a gander at my novels synopsis to help me tighten it up a bit, and I liked some of the points she made and questions she asked so much I actually jumped back into the novel itself to tighten up a few things.

One of my friends who I gave a soft-copy of the novel to back when I first ‘completed’ it (I put the completed in quotation marks because it wasn’t really perfect at that point in time, just finished, I’ve done two proof reads of it since then and am on my third sweep through now!) months ago has finally started reading it and apparently liked it so much it has inspired him to return to one of his own pieces.

Aside from the writing I’ve managed to find a few snatches of time to read also. I finished ‘House of Leaves’ (the book I’m stressing over in ‘Borrowed Books’ my last entry before this one), and then devoured ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ and ‘Dead Until Dark’ and have re-started reading ‘Skeleton Crew’, a Stephen King short story collection.

It’s quite funny, while I have read many of Kings books (who hasn’t, seriously?), I only seem to own his short story collections: ‘Nightmares and Dreamscapes’, ‘Everything’s Eventual’, ‘Night Shift’, ‘Four Past Midnight’ and of course the just mentioned ‘Skeleton Crew’ where as the novels I’ve read have either moved on through second hand book stores in the pursuit of further reading or been borrowed from various libraries or friends.

Man, I’m about to go off on a tangent here but I remember the Lismore Library so fondly.

I was a kid, around twelve, and the Lismore library was just down the road from the shopping center that my parents gift shop was in, so when they were at work on the weekends I would often make my way down there. I used to walk through the tight packed, book stacked aisles searching for my next adventure. I would read books on animal husbandry, Greek mythology, Teen Power Inc (for I would be a teenager soon and I would then get to solve mysteries like those), detective novels and finally one day stumbled into the horror section and found myself ‘Carrie’.

*Sigh* Oh to be a kid again and be able to just walk around and waste entire days reading in the library and walking around pet stores wanting every animal I laid eyes upon. As an adult I don’t get to do that. There’s animals to care for, a house to clean, money to earn, a trip to Japan to plan, friends to catch up with, the book that needs to be truly completed. Not to say of course that twelve year old me would be unimpressed with my life. An entire room in my house contains nothing but bookcases packed full of books and comics, I manage a video games store, I own a ludicrous number of animals and have a husband who is just too fabulous for words. I think she would be impressed.

So to get back to the point, I’m busy, but I’m going to try my hardest to make the time to post more regularly again, because after all, this blog is here too keep me writing and there is very little in the world that I want to do more with my life!

Borrowed Books – A Short Story

January 19, 2010

I am reading ‘House of Leaves’, a book lent to me by some friends. It is an older book, the outside edges of the page have only faded to cream, not yellow yet, but the wear of several readings is evident in creases along the spines and the outer corners of the pages taking up more space than the spine itself.

Every time I open it, it makes a little crackling sound, a small one and each time I think I have broken some of the glue in the spine which binds the pages together, and each time I have to remind myself of the first page in the book, cardboard like the cover, which one can see the stitches of string struggling to keep it within the book. It will only be a matter of time before I open this book and that cardboard picture page falls out, and I panic about ruining someone elses book, even if it is not my fault through neglect but merely a progression of age, inevitable with enough openings, just like the outside of the pages turning yellow with time, it will come, you can not stop it, but I do not want it to occur whilst the book is in my possession.

I pride myself on the care I take with my own collection, and lend to only those I trust to return books back to me in good condition, so obviously when I borrow a book, I want to do the same – return it in it’s original condition, unsullied by food stains and falling out pages – but I fear that this page, this cardboard picture page showing measuring tapes, string, stamps, a compass, bullet casing and scrawled out words on napkins will simply not be able to hang on that long.

Do I tape it in, preventing the further slipping out of stitches, but clearly marking the events inexorable occurrence, or do I wait until the page has fallen out before breaking out the repair kit? How do I explain to my friends? Perhaps they were aware already, surely the small crack was evident to their own ears when they read it, and while the logical part of my brain tells me they will either think nothing of it at all or forgive me easily, the emotional part of my brains screams out how this book, this single cardboard page, will be the end of our friendship, it will fall apart like the single cardboard page from the book.

I am not a reader who curves the covers around, so front touches back whist I read, I consider it an ugly practice which damages cover as well as increasing damage to the spine, it is this behaviour which causes pages to fall out sooner , killing the book before it’s time has truly come.

I imagine Death of Books, coming down from the realm of the meta-physical, a weighty, leather bound tome with cracks riddling its cover like the desert-dried bottom of a stream in the outback, depressions shaped like letters spelling out its foreboding title, the gilt long since worn out of those letters. The part of me that reads a little too much Terry Pratchett imagines it somehow carrying a scythe also as it reaps the souls of books so old they simply can not stay in one piece any more.

I read with a book open on the table, or my lap if no table is nearby. At this moment I read in a shaft of sunlight, spilling through the window of what a normal family probably would have made their dining room, but my family – which at the moment consists only of a married couple and the occasional bunker who stays a few nights in the guest bedroom – eats off laps while we seat ourselves on a most spacious sofa watching whatever TV show T-J has downloaded for us, so we have no need of a dining table, let alone an entire room in which to house such a table, so instead the empty expanse which stretches a good six meters away from the edge of the kitchen bench is turned into my ‘retro gaming’ area, where our old LCD TV sits atop a worn out black TV unit packed to the brim with my older consoles and the games that play in them, the games I call ‘hoarder’ games, the games you like so much you just can’t trade them back in. The ones you swear you will play again, though where you will find that time no one shall ever know.

Across for the unit is a cheap little living room set, the frames made from varnished cane and the cushions only basic squares wrapped in a faded fabric with a floral design, a two-seater sofa and a single chair, all lined up in a row across from the TV and in the mornings perfectly covered in sunshine, so a wonderful place to read.

I’m distracted now, so I set down the book, leaving it open at it’s current page because I am too fearful to close it and then open I again for fear of the continued wear it will cause, and cast my glance out through the window.

The few little clumps of grass clippings that spill out of the mower have dried in the forceful heat of the last few Australian summer days, little patches of withered, curling brown speckled across a verdant green lawn. Beneath the branches of the several frangipani trees which dot our backyard in no special pattern, several flowers have fallen down, brightening the lawn with their pristine white and yellow, but given a few days that rotting brown will start on their outer edges and work its way inwards, eating the colours and beauty away and leaving a fetid clump of what once was life on my lawn.

What is beautiful now will not be in the end. But that is the way of all things.

With the book down, now is a perfect time to make another cup of tea, my current one grew cold on the window sill and now is barely even lukewarm and the flavour alters as the heat dissipates, becoming less and less appealing to me.

While I wait for the kettle to boil I sneak through the shadows of the living room – which is shadowy still despite the morning sun because out nephew sleeps on the fold-out bed now, since my father has taken over the guest bedrooms as a man in his fifties has more need of a proper bed than a boy in his teens, just as a boy in his teens is still asleep at six thirty, where as a man in his fifties is already up and has consumed breakfast, a cup of tea and started off with the rest of his day by then – to the bedroom I share with my husband.

The carpet creaks underfoot as I sneak to his side of the bed to give him a little kiss on his cheek. His arm is flung up over his face to fend off the mornings light however, so his face is unreachable, unkissable, and my kiss is only a display of affection, not a method employed to rouse him, so I place it on his arm instead, directly above where his cheek would be. His only reaction is to shift his legs a little, the laconic movement the only acknowledgment I receive for my love, but I did not do this for his benefit, but for mine. Sometimes my love simply comes bursting out of me, while others are around I often mask it in a joking insult or a cheeky slap on the rear, but while no one is watching I can place those tender kisses however and whenever I like.

With my loving ritual complete I return to the kitchen, the kettle burbles as the heat created bubbles clamour to the surface, the switch has not flicked itself to ‘off’ yet, but it is near enough to boiling that my manually switching it over will hardly make a difference.

The water splashes down on teabag and sugar, sending its steam swooshing up to my face, and because I am too impatient to let it sit and steep I employ the time saving method of stirring the water within vigourously with a spoon, watching the water turn from an olden day photograph sepia into a murky creek-water brown. A splash of milk is thrown in and it follows the counter-clockwise current I created, swirling around like it is caught in a tiny hurricane. I give it another stir with the spoon to change directions, and the lyrics of the song “You’re so Vain”  make some sense to me as I see clouds form and shift like fast motion photography of the weather within my drink.

The book calls me back now, but the sunlight has shifted, only tiny shafts stretch through the shadows cast by branches of the nearest – and largest – of the frangipani trees. I sit as close to the window as I can without my shoulder touching the pane, rest my drink on the sill and forget about the aging of the book, the slow rotting death of fallen flowers and the consumption of clouds in my ‘coffee’ as I bury my mind in “The House of Leaves”.

This is the only way for me to write short stories. If I create a character, they will become too real to me, and will beg to have more of a world created for them to exist in and then I have gone too far and can not stop, like a stone rolling down hill. Instead I have to take snippets of reality, make the mundane seem magical and settle for that.

For those who don’t know there is a line in the song “You’re So Vain” that says ‘I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee’. If you’ve never heard it before, find it, there are a hojillion covers of it, I suggest the John Barrowman cover, but I am immensely biased on this fact because I adore him so much.

I didn’t originally intend it when I set out, but this whole piece became very death-centric, the book, the flowers, the coffee. Did anyone else get that feel, or was it just me? Comments please, I’d love some constructive criticism because there is always some way to improve.

The Infected

January 18, 2010

I had a most curious dream last night. Now before I get into the dream itself, I should warn you I don’t think I dream in the commonplace way. Most of the time my dreams are forgotten long before I ever wake up, and quite often the few I remember play out more like a movie or story than the strange and nonsensical jumble of images that a lot of my friends tell me their dreams are more like. I’m sure I’m not the only one who dreams in this fashion, but I thought it best to mention this first up so no one questions why my dream is so oddly coherent.

In my dream, I was a young man who was a waiter (yes, in my dreams I am as often someone else completely as I am myself) who worked in a gourmet café and had a massive crush on a girl who walks by every day at the same time each morning. Now as the dream continued it turned out this girl was a patient at a lab who would one day become known as patient zero for a zombie virus. It had a name of course, but as with most dreams the name faded away.

The girl avoided human contact as much as she could because while she didn’t know what was happening to her she had an inkling that there was something wrong inside of her, but I was apparently a quite persuasive gentleman and convinced her to date me.

One day however she touched a few of the patrons of my café while she was waiting for me to be off shift and take her on one of our early-on dates, and thus the infection began.

Now before you switch off and get bored of my ‘zombie movie’ dream let me advance the story just a touch further, skip the typical running and screaming and continued spread of the virus and even the hilarious little joke on my ability to close the doors to my café (I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to shut those concertina folding glass doors which have the small bolt which fixes into the ground to lock the door in place, but if you are not certain where the hole is, or some charming individual has put something in there, it is not very easy at all) and we will proceed to the part where I watch my slightly depressed but terribly cute girlfriend turn herself.

As she stalks toward me with blatantly violent intent, I attempt to talk her out of that course of action, as you often see people do when I loved one turns mindlessly blood-thirsty, and somehow my words make her happy and she turns back to a normal human!

Now we have finally reached the part of my dream that I am writing all this to lead you up to. The zombies are not in a constant state of madness, instead their brains are slowed down a little and emotions heightened, so if you can keep an infected person happy and satisfied, they are a perfectly normal human being, but if you can’t keep them happy they turn into a raging, violent and most importantly mindless monster.

Now for anyone who has worked in a service industry – retail, hospitality ect. – you’ve already started chuckling about the parallel my subconscious created there, but for those of you who have not the difficulty of dealing with customers daily, let me spell it out for you so you too can be amused.

Customers are very much like this. If they get what they want they are happy, no problem, but as soon as you can not pander to their every whim or satisfy them utterly, they can become like a creature from a horror movie and all you can do is try your hardest to make them happy again, but even if you end up placating them, they will never return to fully human.

I am aware of how vicious this sounds, but let me talk once more to the people who do not work in the same industry as I, most people are easily satisfied, they just want their wii remote, they pay for it, they leave, happy days. The other rare few customers however will want you to discount everything when it has already been discounted as low as you can go without selling it to them for less than the cost price, but God forbid you tell them that, they will only fly into a rage and insist that their friend bought one from here only just before Christmas for that price, so why can you not do it, oh! and that same friend also got an extra game as well, a brand new release one, hurry up and throw that in for free for me or I’ll take my business elsewhere!

See what I mean? Not everyone is like that, but there are those special few who expect the impossible and become unreasonable when you do not bend over backwards spine snappingly far, they are few and far between, but they exist and their numbers seem to be ever increasing.

Let us return to the dream world now so you can see how my dream ended. The world was promptly made aware of the way the infected were, but since they could continue to live a normal life the government saw no need to round them up and keep them separated from the general populace, instead everyone just had to work extra hard to not piss them off, so I was serving up plates of pink ice-cream with sprinkles to a table made up of a family of infected, but when the father infected saw a big melted marshmallow on someone elses plate he wanted one, so we had to make one from scratch because we were out of them, and of course we had to make it fast so as not to trigger him. Naturally because I was so frequently in contact with the infected, I would one day become one myself.

The sad part is, in real life it is very near true, dealing with these highly self-centered individuals is draining even when you can keep them happy – as you must do in the service industries – and when they get mad all you can do is stand there and take their abuse, because you are stuck between the rock of what you are permitted to do, be it by a head office, a owner-operator or simply keeping yourself in business, and the hard place of the customers expectations. Nothing makes a person more mad than being verbally abused and being unable to retaliate, so your pent up anger builds inside yourself and slowly, you too become one of the infected.

Solar Powered

January 17, 2010

As most who know me are already aware I’m a bit of a greenie. I say ‘bit’ because I am not a Nazi who runs after people verbally abusing them for not recycling like me. I do however rule over my house with an iron fist of environmentalism: “Do we really need this light on in this room no one is in?” Is possibly my most frequently said phrase at home (except perhaps for “I love you” since I am a hopeless romantic who never shuts up). We turn the power off at the wall for the TV/Playstation/360/Surrond sound/channel splitter whenever we go to bed and make sure it’s off when no ones at home too, since other wise we would have six items running on stand-by power. Now this is where my claim at being a ‘bit’ comes in, because I have no idea how much power that saves, all I know is it saves some and that’s good enough for me.

We recycle, I use ethanol fuel, even though we have air-con I try hard to not use it unless the breeze from a fan is simply not enough, when we bought our tickets to Japan we paid the extra charge to buy back our carbon emissions for the flight, I even stoop to pick up litter on the roadside and carry it to the nearest bin, even though some of my friends worry over what germs I might be touching by picking up the rubbish.

Now, however, I have done what I believe to be the feather in my greenie cap. Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I purchased solar power panels. Not just a solar hot water system. Pffft! No! We bought solar power panels so our house is utterly solar powered, everything from our entertainment system, to the fish filters to the clock at our bedside. I could ramble on for quite a while about which of the three main technologies of solar panels we purchased, but suffice it to say we purchased the superior version (mono crystalline panels if you need to know the specifics) because you might as well buy the best if you’re going to invest this much.

My favourite part of all this – aside from never having to pay $300 power bills any more is that any power we don’t use can be fed back into the power grid, thus meaning someone else gets to use my cleanly created power and I get paid for the power I feed back into the grid.

Obviously the investment cost a reasonable amount for initial outlay, but I honestly think it’s worth it, and not just for the savings it will provide me in the future, but also what it does for our world.

The reason I blather about this in a public forum like this is not so much for self-promotion (I’m already awesome, don’t need to prove it ;p ) as for the promotion of the company I purchased my panels through. I think it is important to promote them for two reasons.

Firstly, with the Australian government offering sizable rebates for making such installations there are more than a few questionable companies who’ve sprung-up virtually overnight to take advantage of this and will no doubt vanish shortly after the rebates dry up disappearing and taking any warranty you might have been offered with them. The company I used: Modern Solar, has been in this line of business for thirty years, so has experience and longevity, thus you can feel pretty confident that they will be around the full 25 years of the warranty they offer on their panels.

Secondly, the sales person who helped us was thorough, answering every question easily and explaining everything clearly without sounding to high-handed about it. The service was as superior as the product itself.

I want others to do this also. I’m not usually a pushy person, I’ll tell people if they ask, but I won’t get in anyone’s face about it, and while I don’t really deem this as ‘getting in anyone’s face’ it is a bit more out there than I usually am.

For those of you in Australia who would like to know more, I suggest visiting http://www.modernsolar.com.au