Category Archives: Entertainment/Travel/Activities

Tales Of Old Buildings

I’ve always been fascinated by old buildings and often wonder at the many stories that have played out in them. The lives that have been lived within these walls, the ones that have passed through and the secrets they contain.

Looking at this image I see a car broken down on a lonely stretch of highway and a person who knows there is nothing for kilometres. Yet they can see a light in the distance and in desperation head towards it to find an imposing building that shouldn’t be there. When they enter, their footsteps echo in empty rooms, the feeble light from their torch showing very little, the batteries beginning to fail. They search for the staircase leading upwards, wanting to find the lit room, they saw from the highway, before the darkness closes in around them.

When they do find the room, what is waiting for them? Something demonic? Or something from another world that only slips through into this one at certain times of the year, trapping them a long way from home when it returns. Or a curse they are tricked into accepting, needing to pass it along to another innocent if they wish to be rid of it. So many possibilities. So many stories. And never enough time to write them all.

Memory Black Market

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For me they become so many more. I can rarely look at a picture without also seeing a story idea, which is why I have more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write in a lifetime. Most people would only see a bubble. When I look at this picture all kinds of ideas run through my head.

Memories are fragile. Can often be important. They can contain important information, knowledge and skills. What if some had the ability to collect them? Gather them into a sphere that others could use. This could be a quick way to learn new skills. But then that would also mean someone would lose a skill. There would be the desperate ones willing to sell memories to get what they need. Others close to death who want to bequeath memories to their children. And what about those who wanted a particular memory, no matter the cost.

The people those memories were stolen from, would they know something was missing? A memory that was stolen too quickly and without absolute care due to the fear of being caught. What other memories might also be stolen? Or might have been fragmented. And how could someone take back those memories they’d lost and who would help them?

It’s no wonder I have an endless supply of ideas when the simple image of a bubble can trigger yet one more.

Supanova Brisbane 2016

supanova-2016

Earlier this month we attended Supanova. Like the previous times, it was such a lot of fun. I enjoyed catching up with people from previous events, meeting new people and talking to those who visited my stall.

This time we took a larger crew with us and had people dressed as various characters, from my steampunk series, Rosie’s Rangers. We had a shopkeeper, sky pirates, blood shaman, a human mech and I wore steampunk wings that moved. Our display had also grown and we had a shopfront similar to one from the 1830s. It was nice to have somewhere to display the steampunk critters that are based on the ones from Rosie’s Rangers.

As always I loved seeing the many costumes, people wore to the event, and couldn’t resist taking numerous photos. As did those with me. I put together a compilation of them, with a lot of help, and it can be found on Youtube.

I’m looking forward to the next Supanova and we’re already tossing around ideas for what we plan to do. It’ll be tough outdoing the shopfront, but we’re looking forward to the challenge. Now if only we could make a decision between the many crazy ideas we’ve been coming up with. Or possibly come up with one that is a little more sane.

Dictionaries

Dictionaries

My love of books includes so many different types, including reference books such as dictionaries. Over the years I’ve added to my collection of dictionaries, unable to resist some of the beautiful editions I’ve found. I’m often asked if I really need that many dictionaries. What can I say? Obviously. I own them, don’t I?

My oldest dictionary doesn’t have a publishing date, but the pages are yellowed and there is a photo of the King and Queen, along with the royal princesses, taken at the time of the Coronation. It was my grandfather’s book and was given to me many years ago. It’s The Modern Standard English Dictionary And World Atlas. In the back of the dictionary is a section titled Austral English. This section contains Australian slang words and colloquial expressions of the time. I’ve found it a useful reference when I’ve wanted to find out more about that era. There’s also a section on prominent Australians, Fauna, trees, how to address persons of rank, countries of the world and an atlas. When trying to narrow the date down as to when it was published I looked through some of the list of prominent Australians and couldn’t find a date after 1939. When checking the dates of some of the people listed who had no date of death, I came across Clement Hill who died in 1945. So the dictionary was likely to have been published some time between those two dates.

Another dictionary I have is Webster’s New World Dictionary. It may not be the oldest dictionary I own, but it’s the one I’ve used for the longest. My father bought it when I was ten years old and it has coloured pages with lists of different things such as trees, rocks, shells and animals. I used to pour over those images for hours. They were great for seeing what different things looked like so I could describe them in my early stories. Things I’d never seen personally, but because of that dictionary I knew what they were called and what they looked like. To me that dictionary was almost magical. It could help me imagine all kinds of things and places and fuelled so many daydreams and stories. Decades ago my father asked me if I wanted it, having remembered how many hours I’d spent looking through it.

I still have the school dictionary we were required to have in late primary school. The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary was a handy tool I used on an almost daily basis. More for my writing than for schoolwork. I also read that dictionary from start to finish in a bid to learn more words I could use to create my stories.

I also have dictionaries I found in secondhand shops that looked interesting, ones I inherited and beautiful glossy ones that I couldn’t resist buying when wandering around bookshops.

You can never have too many dictionaries. Obviously. Only take a look on my shelves and you’ll see that for yourself. One is never enough.

Old Petrie Town Steam Fair

Steam Fair 2016 01

On Sunday 5th June 2016 we attended Old Petrie Town Steam Fair with other members of Steam Dreams, the Queensland Steampunk group, dressed in our steampunk gear. There were also members from a local pirate group who attended in their outfits. Due to extreme weather conditions the fair was cancelled on the Saturday, but Sunday was a lot of fun and we hope to attend next year. For those who live in south east Queensland, and would love to attend in 2017, it’s usually on the first weekend in June. The Old Petrie Town markets were on during the day, there was a lot to see and the grand parade was at 12:30 p.m. In all, it was a lovely family event and we had a great time. All the photos were taken by Cat Petersen.

We had a wander around the event.

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There was an amazingly large fig tree and numerous old buildings.

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The steampunk and pirate groups gathered for photos.

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We joined the parade.

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If you wanted to keep up to date regarding the next Steam Fair or other Queensland steampunk events, you can request to join the following Facebook groups.

Old Petrie Town Steam Fair:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/484413701704670/

Steam Dreams- Queensland Steampunk:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1442478875990871/

Childhood Books

Childhood Books

When I was a child I devoured books. There never seemed to be enough to read. It was a good thing I tended to read favourites over and over again. Not only for the enjoyment, but to also discover how the author had created the story. To learn the techniques they’d used to draw me into their world and keep me turning pages.

I still have quite a few of my childhood books. All the Trixie Belden books, numerous Enid Blyton, books that belonged to my parents when they were children and so many more. Occasionally I revisit old favourites and I’ve shared some with my children. The books all have memories that go with them, reminding me of different moments of my childhood.

I have the full set of Trixie Belden books and so many times my mum had to search for the next one because I absolutely needed and couldn’t live without it. I loved reading that series, following the characters in their adventures and trying to solve the mysteries along with them. And of course there was Nancy Drew. Yet more mysteries to solve.

Some of my other childhood books still sitting in my shelves are ‘The Big Brass Key’ by Ruth Park, ‘The Box In The Attic’ by Barbara Euphan Todd, ‘A Horse Called Butterfly’ by Thurley Fowler, ‘Caddie Woodlawn’ by Carol Ryrie Brink, ‘Anne Of Green Gables’ by Lucy M. Montgomery and ‘The Velvet Room’ by Zilpha Keatly Snyder to name but a few.

I read in so many different genres and tended to pick up nearly any book I saw. It made buying presents for me very easy. I continued to read in various genres through my teenage years and kept many of those books as well. Although I tended to read more fantasy and horror than other genres by that age.

I still read in numerous genres and can’t see a book without wanting to pick it up and check it out, tempted to start reading immediately. And I continue to collect many of the books I read, much to the protests of my groaning bookcases.

String Eggs

This Easter I decided I wanted to give something a little different to my daughter. When she was a child, I often gave her a few toys instead of an excessive amount of chocolate. She’s now well past that stage and everything I looked at was either more expensive than we choose to spend for Easter or I knew she wouldn’t like it. Then I had the idea to make string eggs.

String Egg 01Items needed: crochet cotton, balloons, items to put into the balloons (I went with mini bottles of alcohol), PVA glue, bowl for the glue, small amount of water, somewhere you can make a mess.   String Egg 02The items were put into balloons that were then blown up and tied. PVA glue was put in a bowl and I got the crochet cotton ready.

String Egg 03A small amount of water was added to the glue and mixed in.

String Egg 04I then randomly wrapped the crochet cotton around the balloons, dipping it in the glue as I went. The crochet cotton was a single length. I didn’t cut it off until I’d finished wrapping it around the balloons.

String Egg 05They were left to dry overnight and the balloons were carefully cut through the gaps in the crochet cotton and removed from the egg.String Egg 06I then filled them with shredded Easter paper so no one could see what was inside them.

String Egg 07

The shredded paper was removed Easter morning to reveal the surprise inside.

They were extremely easy to make and could be used for so many other events such as Christmas and birthdays.

Gamer And Reader

Dice

It’s great how there’s been a shift in thinking and these days when I say I’m a gamer I rarely get strange looks. Although people often do find it odd that I love to read as well as play games. As if the two are mutually exclusive. I like to play not only computer and console games, but also board games and RPG’s such as Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

Years ago, particularly when I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I often encountered expressions of surprise and even utter disbelief when I talked about gaming. I remember going into a game shop and the assistant thought I was lost. When I told him I wasn’t, he then asked if his friends had put me up to going in there. I talked about my current D&D game that I was the DM (Dungeon Master) for and his jaw gradually dropped lower and lower. It took him a little time to recover, but he did regain the power of speech and we talked about games for ages. We even talked about the Commodore 64, which was my introduction to computers when I was ten. That was also around the year I started playing D&D.

I still have the first D20 I ever owned. Sadly it’s no longer useable as one of my kids chipped it when they were younger, but it’s like a photo from an album, a relic from my past. There are many memories attached to it and I wouldn’t think of throwing it away.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that as a reader I’m often drawn to games with a storyline. Such as the Elder Scrolls games. I’ve spent hours following side quests, sometimes completely forgetting all about the main quest, as I explore all the locations. There are other games I enjoy. Sims is fun and sadly many of my characters have met the Grim Reaper well before their time. I’ve also played shooter games with my kids. They’re the type of game I like to play as a team. I find them a lot more fun that way. And of course there’s Minecraft, a game you can do so many things with. Fight, create, work as a team, explore and discover. That’s another game I enjoy playing with others, both vanilla and modded Minecraft.

The list of computer games I enjoy playing is rather lengthy, but some of my favourites of all time would have to be the entire Elder Scrolls collection, Age Of Empires II : The Conquerors and Fallout 3 and 4. There are of course others on my list of favourites, but it is extremely long.

The list of board games I enjoy isn’t quite as long as that of computer games. At the top of the list would have to be Articulate. I’ve had so much fun playing that game. It always involves a lot of laughter, often to the point of tears. How can it not be at the top of my list when it causes that much fun?

Now don’t get me started on my list of books. I’d be here for days talking about some of my favourites. It’s impossible to name only a few when there are thousands of great stories out there. Both the ones I’ve read and the ones I’m looking forward to reading.

Bring On 2016

Fireworks

Another year is ending and people are talking about New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always felt if a new habit needs forming, an old one needs breaking, or you wish to try something new, then don’t wait. We often say we’ll start something in the New Year, but when it arrives so many other things interrupt our plans. If it’s important to you, then start it the moment you decide you’d like to do it.

Now I’m sure some people are saying that’s impossible. What if you want to go on a holiday you can’t afford? How can you start that immediately? Some things take time to plan. You could work out your budget and how much you need to save. Research the location or learn some of the language if it’s a foreign country. Find places you want to see while you’re there. Does it have a different climate to where you live? Will you need clothes to suit that climate?

If something is important to you, don’t keep putting it off. Take the first steps towards attaining it instead of only dreaming about it. Dreams are much more fun when they’re lived.

Hope everyone had a great 2015 and all the best for the coming year. May 2016 be even better and your dreams become a reality.

Supanova Brisbane

Wings 01

Last weekend I was at Supanova, Brisbane. It was as great as the Gold Coast Supanova and like last time I loved seeing all the amazing costumes. There were people dressed as everything imaginable including characters from books, movies, anime and games. Some people obviously spent a lot of time creating their costumes and it was easy to see who they were dressed as. I especially liked steampunk Belle from Beauty and the Beast. It was great to see so many steampunk themed costumes, particularly as it’s one of the genres I enjoy writing. Like many others, I also had a steampunk costume.

Wings 02

My steampunk wings from the novel Rosie’s Rangers were finished a week before Supanova and I had a lot of fun showing people how they work. I was told I was like a kid with a new toy. I’m certainly not about to deny that. Of course I was. How could I not be when I had wings that could open and shut at the touch of a switch? The wings have a nearly three metre wing span and the housing is made from a grandmother clock. The upper section of the housing has a piece of Perspex instead of being solid timber, allowing people to see the mechanism opening and closing the wings.

Wings 03

After watching the progress of the wings and being involved in the design process, it was good to be able to step back and see them as a finished product. To marvel in the way they have come together and enjoy the finished item. Just like everything else that has been created from Rosie’s Rangers, it was beyond my expectations and I loved seeing yet something else from one of my novels come alive. I can’t wait to see what is created next.

Wings 04