Here be dragons (soonish)

15 04 2011

Part of the reason I started blogging again was to try and get my motivation for writing up. Well it’s worked … but not really in the way I expected. The novel I have been plotting and developing and was anticipating getting started writing on has been hijacked by another story.


But it’s a good thing. When inspiration sneaks up on you need to harness it and ride it for all its worth, otherwise it’ll sneak off on you as soon as you turn away. The irony of the situation is that the story that has snuck up on me is an idea that I have been tossing around for a couple of years. I had some characters, I had a setting, I even had some great imagery but I had no story. Until a couple of days ago when an idea wriggled its way into my consciousness.

The idea involves an “original” take on a fantasy staple. I put original in “ “ because it’s original to me, I’ve never come across it before (plus I don’t believe there are original ideas out there – we just put our own take/spin on what has gone before). I’m quite pleased with it, all sorts of story possibilities are presenting themselves and it means I get to write a story with dragons. The only thing better than writing a story about dragons, riding a freaking dragon 😛

Of course there is still a mountain of work to do refining and planning before writing proper begins but yay! I’m feeling chuffed.


The things I’m loving right now … and the things I’m not

14 04 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that I have pretty selective tastes. I’m a self described geek who loves sports. I’m a gamer who loves to read. And I’m obsessed with television. So I present to you the things I’m loving right now … and the the things I’m not.

The things I’m loving right now:

Northlanders – For as long as I can remember I’ve loved vikings. I love the mythology, I love the imagery, I even love their names. When I was a kid I used to draw norse longboats in the margins of my school notebooks. I even (sadly) went and saw the monstrosity that is Erik the Viking (shudder). And of course I love comics and Brian Wood comics in particular. So Brian Wood’s Northlanders is the perfect product for me. Northlanders consists of short stories set within the breadth of viking history. Sure there are multi part stories but for the most part they are unconnected to one another. This style of writing suits Brian Wood. While I feel that DMZ has lost its way a bit over the course of its 60 odd issues (though I still love it), Northlanders gives us succinct tales that have a real bite.  The latest arc is about a horde of vikings beseiging Paris and comes across as a short form graphic version of Joe Abercrombie. That’s a good thing. My favourite story would be the 8 issues of the Plague Widow arc. Good (if bleak) stuff.

Mad Men – Kirsty and I have always loved Mad Men. There’s just so much to love – the writing is brilliant, the characters are deliciously flawed, the setting is a stylish nirvana for design geeks and it’s set in an ad agency. In a word it’s awesome. Season 4 has featured Don falling apart in an alcoholic fugue, stumbling from one alcohol fueled disaster to the next. He might be a creative genius but that doesn’t mean he’s smart. He has become awfully uncomfortable to watch but that’s okay as the surrounding characters have become the true stars. Peggy and Pete Campbell have become my favourites. Peggy’s recent scene where she was stuck with an art director for days who could not come up with ideas reminded me (sadly) of my own experiences. But the true scene stealer is Don’s new aged secretary Mrs Blankenship – she’s LOL every time she’s on screen, just punishment for Don for sleeping with his last secretary.

A Song of Ice and Fire – I’ve been rereading George RR Martin’s epic masterpiece, partly in preparation for the HBO series, a Game of Thrones (see below), partly because there is finally an official publication date for a Dance with Dragons (yay) and partly just because it is so fucking awesome. I honestly think that this is my favourite series of novels. In the Game of Thrones you can definitely tell that Martin was a television writer. There is an economy in his writing that comes from scriptwriting 101 – he gets in to scenes as late as possible, and leaves at just the right moment. In the early books at least there is a brevity and breathless energy in his writing and while by A Feast For Crows the story does feel somewhat bloated, there is always a sense that Martin knows exactly where this story is going. I’m part way through A Clash of Kings and I’m loving every page, every character and every story.

The things I’m not loving right now:

No Adventures of Merlin, No Game of Thrones and No Walking Dead – Living in NZ sometimes feels like living in a television ghetto. We hear of these great shows and sometimes we even get to see a season (in the case of Adventures of Merlin), or we read endless previews and begin to salivate, longing for the moment that we’ll get a chance to enjoy them as well. Then, in a decision that surprises no one, the powers-that-be decide “nah, no one will watch that” and we don’t get it. Or worse, they simply forget to put the next season on. The three shows that have me worked up at the moment: The Adventures of Merlin, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. We know that tvnz have The Walking Dead but when are they going to screen it? It has been months and months since it screened overseas, but here? Nada. They’ll have screened the 2nd season in the US before we get this. At least we have had the first season of Adventures of Merlin but that was a couple of years ago, there have been two more seasons since. I suspect Prime have forgotten they have this. Idiots. And then that brings me to Game of Thrones. Which no network has bought to screen in NZ 😦 Sigh. I guess that’s what the internet is for.

Warriors Injuries – okay, injuries are a big part of the game but this is ridiculous. Our best player Manu Vatuvei out for half the season, our best attacking centre Jerome Ropati out for the season and now Glen Fisiiahi, the most exciting Warrior since Vatuvei, out for 6 weeks? That’s just shocking. You need ALL your players to compete week in week out, take out your attacking talent and how are we supposed to survive? Injuries, please stop, now.


8 04 2011

It’s been a while, huh? There are various reasons for the break, but the main one would be that my mother in law passed on and suddenly writing a blog didn’t seem as much (or any) fun.

So why return (especially as it’s almost two years since my last post)?

Again there are various reasons, but ultimately it comes down to me. I feel like I can do this again. To paraphrase my buddy Sean, “sometimes you just need to get shit down.” Oh, and Sean will keep nagging me till I start doing this again, so there’s that 😛

What’s been happening with me since 20 April 2009? A brief précis:

Kirsty and I have been to:

  • Melbourne (loved the city, hated the rental car agency and our hotel)
  • Singapore (loved the city and their crazy obsession with Starbucks, hated the humidity)
  • Dubai (in two minds about Dubai – it’s a bizarre hyperreal place where everything is just surface shim sham and in worship to  the almighty $$ yet they know exactly what they are a hyperreal place where everything is just surface shim sham and in worship to  the almighty $$)

Oh yeah and I started a new job as a manager at the National Library of New Zealand in charge of an online reference service. And really that’s what has been ruling my life for the past 9 months. I’ve loved the experience, I’ve learned heaps of new skills and to be honest I can’t see myself going back to my old children’s and teens’ librarian job. I’ve moved on folks.

The writing? Hmmm. Let’s tiptoe quietly past that one … oh no, the door is creaking open so here’s the whispered update: I’ve stepped away from my epic for the time being and focused on developing a standalone prequel. How’s it going? Well, if by “developing” you mean I have plotted out multiple storylines and characters, then it’s a raging success but if by “developing” you mean actual writing then nope, EPIC fail.

So that brings me to the real reason for starting this again. I hope by starting this up again I’m making a commitment to my writing. Because I’m going to update here what I’ve been doing. In a way I’m kicking myself along.

So yeah, I’m writing this blog for me, because really only I can motivate myself.

BTW I’m now on twitter so if you’re mad enough you can follow me @robxoda

life settling down

20 04 2009

Life seems to have settled down a bit. My mother in law is still terribly sick and not likely to last out the year but at least she’s back home. We had a big family lunch on Saturday over at their place where I cooked a lamb roast for the family. There was me, Kirsty, her parents and her sister Fiona, and her husband Nigel. It was a yummy lunch and Kirsty’s mum really liked it though she was pretty exhausted yesterday. Fiona and Nigel fly back to Dubai today so at least if Ks mum does slip away she had one last family meal/get together.

The writing has settled down into a nice rhythm as well. I’ve been working away on decompressing one of my previous draft’s chapters into three separate ones. So far it seems to be working really well and makes this section of the novel really exciting. Or so I reckon at least 😉 I’ve also been thinking of crunching the novel down to a much shorter length. As I mentioned earlier the previous draft was 260,000 odd words which is way too much, especially if I want a publisher to take it seriously. I’m starting to figure out a way of working it so it’s much shorter. I still haven’t decided to do the change but its definitely worth considering.

NBA Season Awards

17 04 2009

Well it’s the end of the NBA regular season so it’s time for my awards:

MVP: LeBron James

Runner up: Dwayne Wade

Most commentators are seeing this as a no contest – LeBron James has been the best player on the best team and at the same time has been utterly dominant. But to me this disguises the fact that he had a pretty good supporting cast. While none are exactly stellar (and yes I know Mo Williams was an All Star) they are all skilled role players and love playing with LeBron. Whether it’s the energetic pesky defence of Anderson Varejao and Delonte West or the spot up shooting of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wally Szczerbiak this is a team built to complement LeBron. What also can’t be underestimated is having virtually the entire team together for a season and a half. They know how to play together and the results have shown.

But for me what Dwayne Wade has done with the Miami Heat, leading them to the fifth spot in the East is just as astounding. Who else on the Heat is comparable to LeBron’s supporting cast?  Udonis Haslem is capable of accomplishing a Varejao kind of role and Michael Beasley has the potential to be an All Star but there is little else other than those two. You stick LeBron with Wade’s crew and I expect you’d see roughly the same record.

There are other notable candidates, especially Chris Paul with New Orleans who has almost as bad a supporting cast as Wade, Dwight Howard with Orlando, Paul Pierce with Boston (how Boston have been able to claim the second seed in the East with so many injuries is astounding) and of course the perennial Kobe Bryant with the Lakers.

But in the end LeBron wins it. He’s the best player, playing for the best team and doing it in such a dominating fashion – both defensively and offensively.

Coach of the Year: Mike Brown

Runner up: Stan Van Gundy

A few weeks back this award was going to go to Jerry Sloan for the way he got his team to compete despite all the awful injury luck they had. Then they limped their way to the playoffs, losing 7 of their last 10 games. So that forced a rethink and that means, Mike Brown, step on down. He coached the Cavs to 66 wins and a fearsome 39 – 2 record at home. This award should almost be as slam dunk as LeBron for MVP. His runner up: Stan Van Gundy for getting the Magic to 59 wins, about 9 wins more than what many expected.

Rookie of the Year: Derrick Rose

Runner up: Brooke Lopez

Derrick Rose had the pressure of being the number 1 pick AND playing in his home city and he didn’t disappoint. He managed to lead a flawed Chicago team to the playoffs in only his first year. He gave a tantalising preview of what should be a stupendous talent in years to come. In a deep draft Brooke Lopez showed that being drafted 10th was several positions too low. Lopez proved to be the centre the Nets were looking for both the present and the future.

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Runner up: Dwayne Wade

With Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan limited with injuries and the catching up of time, Dwight Howard stands out as the obvious candidate in this category. He lead the league in rebounds and blocks and while no one will mistake him for Bill Russell (would it hurt Howard once in a while to block the ball to a team mate?) he was the lynchpin on which the Orlando Magic defence relied. Dwayne Wade had a spectacular season (see the MVP runner up above) on offence AND defence. He was second in the league in steals and an astonishing (for a guard) 16th in blocks.

Most Improved Player: Kevin Durant

Runners up: Rajon Rondo, Devin Harris, Paul Millsap

I don’t know how much of Kevin Durant’s development this season can be attributed to his natural evolution or the firing of PJ Carlisemo. Whatever the case Durant has developed into a stud who will be making All Star games in the very near future. I had a hard time choosing between Rajan Rondo, Devin Harris and Paul Millsap for my runner up so I’ve decided to stick em all in. They all became critical players for their teams.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jason Terry

Runner up: Nate Robinson

Just as much as a foregone conclusion as the MVP. He averaged 19.6 points off the bench for the Mavs, good for 23rd in the NBA. He is the Mavs second best player and a game changer every time he comes on the court. Nate Robinson is a worthy runner up, a spark plug who can change how the game is played. He just wasn’t quite as good as Terry.  

And for interest here are my picks from the beginning of the season. I got one right. Ouch.

bleak family stuff

8 04 2009

It’s a bleak time in my household at the moment. My mother-in-law is very close to passing on and we are just waiting for it to happen. Obviously it’s pretty terrible at the moment. Kirsty is not home most nights until around 9 as she’s working and then spending the rest of the time at the hospital. So yeah, not good at the moment. We’re going to see the Killers tonight at Vector Arena so hopefully that’ll give us a break. It’s Ks birthday present so I hope she can enjoy it.


2 04 2009

It’s unbelievable how good the weather has been lately! I just love this time of the year, it’s pleasant during the day and brisk without being cold at night. Plus its usually fine. The other reason it’s good: pretty much all my sports are on. Cricket is usually into its last couple of games, the Super 14 is on, the NRL has started and the NBA is getting to the crunch time. Maybe we should change the name from April to Rob-ril. Heh.

It also seems to have refreshed me somewhat. I’m feeling a bit more optimistic about things.  I spent my writing time this morning pulling apart a pivotal chapter from my previous draft and replotting it for the current draft. As a result it will now be three chapters! I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

Anyway, I should go and pretend to do some work.