The evil kangaroos of DSS and other things Canberra

At the back of the Department of Social Services in Tuggeranong, there is a paddock adjacent to the staff car park. When you’re there at dusk, you’re greeted with this sight:

img_0074

Seriously, how many kangaroos is that?

They’re not cute little weeny wallabies. These are kangaroos. KANGAROOS. Look at the one in the middle of this picture, with his arse to the camera, and the department building in the background:

img_0077

I mean LOOK at him (definitely a “him”). That’s the biggest kangaroo I’ve ever seen. If he stands up on his hind legs, he’s taller than a person. The lawns are irrigated and in summer, the roos invade the courtyards. They don’t tend to be afraid either. They’re quite intimidating.
No Australian city does kangaroos like Canberra. They’re everywhere.

img_0087

Out of all of the places in Canberra, I like this one the best. That paddock in the first picture? If you cross it, there is a bush path that leads straight to the Murrumbidgee River which has swimming holes. But this here is Lake Tuggeranong in the morning.

img_0094

Another pretty view, with complimentary galahs:

img_0097

Why you should totally write about politics and be proud of it, too

This morning, the Twitterspere was all aflap about this piece of garbage:

The Top 7 reasons why posting politics kills your career

(please note that this post has been taken down by the site. They cited as reason that “it was acceptable to write about politics when the subject was academically well-researched”, and thus continued to completely mis-understand why this got so much vitriol on Twitter)

Writing about politics kills your writing career. Really?

Do these writers think that if you write any kind of fiction, you can write bland, faceless pap that does not touch on any political points?

Or maybe they confuddle “writing about politics” with “telling people how to vote”.

No, unless you’re a politician, you should probably stay away from the latter, at least in your fiction, and at least as narrator (your characters can totally tell people how to vote!), and maybe most of the time. Maybe. But… if you like politics, go kill the internet with it. We live in a free world.

So let’s just deconstruct this garbage article.

1. You’ll abandon your brand
So? My brand is fiction that cares about issues. It’s impossible to write about issues in society without touching on politics. Even if you wrote the most pappy of faceless pap, you’d still write about politics, by the sheer admission of avoiding politics. That’s politics, too. You know: don’t care, don’t vote, then complain your head off when you don’t like the results. Aren’t I glad voting in Australia is compulsory?

2. You could lose a reader
Yes, I could lose one. I could gain many more by being genuine and not talking rubbish faceless pap.
This is the problem with writers, or people in general: they want to be liked by everyone. This is impossible. It’s better to be hated by some and loved by others than for everyone to go “who the hell is that?”
Bullshit.

3. Productivity And Quality Will SUFFER from flame wars
Yes, it does.
But why every in the world does she assume that writing about politics automatically draws you into flame wars? Ultimately, whether you get involved in flame wars is up to you. If you’re too juvenile to control your impulses to always have to have the last word, fine, avoid the subject. But then avoid Twitter and Facebook, too, and your friends and family might just appreciate it if you did an anger management course.
Sorry, we’re not all impulse-driven angry people. We’re adults and can discuss issues in an adult way, and walk away from those who can’t. Nothing to do with writing about politics.

4. You Could Be Marketing!
Seriously. I got no words. What does she think marketing is? Tweeting BUY MY BOOK? Social issues get people emotionally involved. Emotion forges connections. Connections sell books.
End of. Never heard anything more stupid in my life.

5. It’s Not A Good Look On You. Or Anyone
Do you think I care? Actually, do you think I care about people who care that I get passionate about things… that I get passionate about that also happen to be political. Stuff like equal opportunities for all, education and the biggie, environmental politics? Do you really want me to scrub that off my writing and are you telling me that will make me look better?
What absolute ROT.

6. You’ll Demolish Your Career Opportunities
Feel free to do a bank-account-off. Show me yours, I’ll show you mine. End of argument.

7. You’re Not An Expert (Unless You Are)
I have no words. So now we are supposed to have degrees before we can comment? Holy crap-a-mole. What, so my degree is in agriculture and that means I can only comment on that? Does it mean I am not qualified to vote.
Seriously FFS, I have never heard anything more stupid.

The entire article is just made of stupid.

To repeat: writing about politics is not the same as trying to convince someone that your viewpoint is right.
Writing about politics involves showing the different viewpoints and showing characters with those viewpoints and why they think the way they do.
Writing about politics involves characters expressing their opinions.

Where do you think Ambassador would be without politics?
On one side we have the inclusionist groups that includes Cory and much, but not all, of gamra. Then you have the conservatives including Sigobert Danziger (who is very much into local aid) and later the Pretoria Cartel, who are about business.

And what about Shifting Reality, which is all about how minorities and the disenfranchised are treated. It’s also about minorities within minorities, for example the gay community within the Indonesian section, as well as the ultra-right hypertechs.

Even the Icefire/Moonfire series is full of politics. The whole plot of the second trilogy would fall down without the climate/science aspect.

But any opinions are voiced by the characters. You do not get to know (although you can probably guess) what I as author think, but some characters represent viewpoints I don’t agree with. These are not always evil characters (actually, they rarely are).

My fiction is FULL of politics. I’m proud of it.

Supanova Melbourne: Come and say hello

I’m leaving tomorrow to go to Supanova Melbourne.

If you’re in Melbourne or are also coming, come and say hello. I’m in the Artists’ Alley at table 36.

We’re leaving tomorrow, because on Thursday, my daughter and I are planning a photography trip to the Twelve Apostles. Let’s hope the weather behaves!

It’s likely that you won’t hear from me on this blog until I’m back. I may or may not have internet. The accommodation says there is free wifi, but seriously, you know what free wifi is like, so I’m not holding my breath.

In other news, I just heard that Bookbub is finally taking Ambassador 1 on 11 May. This is going to be very, very big, especially since it’s so close to the release of book 5.

Come over to the dark side…

… we have Apples.

I got a Mac.

Never had one before. Never even touched one before, but I wanted to upload my books direct to iBooks and you can do all sorts of trickery with virtual Macs, but then again my old computer’s screen (and keyboard) had broken months ago, I was using a 7yo Samsung notebook with so little RAM that I couldn’t run Facebook, and I was looking for a replacement computer that was lightweight, had excellent battery life and durable to do my writing.

So yeah. It’s a bit weird, but altogether not too different. I was going to buy Word for Mac, but I really like the clean interface of Pages. It saves as DOC. I never do any formatting while I write anyway, not even italics. On the Samsung I was using Open Office 3.2 (!) and making a once-only transfer to Word without problems.

You know how I complained I always needed a mouse and hated trackpads? That’s because I never had a computer with a trackpad that worked properly.

My books are making their way through the iBooks store now. Smashwords and D2D copies are being disabled.

Thumbs up.

Come over to the dark side… was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Photography: the best of recent trips

Blues Point. The morning looked cloudless and boring, but then this very fine haze of clouds came up.

Blues Point June 2015-6 Blues Point June 2015-8

Kurraba Point. This is looking west towards North Sydney. You can see a small piece of the Harbour Bridge on-ramp.

Kurraba Point June 2015-9

La Perouse. Bare Island.

La Perouse June 2015-2 La Perouse June 2015-8

Long Reef. This is a bloody long way from the car park, so you need to get up very early or walk very fast.

Long Reef June 2015-4 Long Reef June 2015-8 Long Reef June 2015-13

Milsons Point. It was the absolute bloody coldest morning of the year. When I came back home, the grass was still frozen.

Milsons Point July 2015-6 Milsons Point July 2015-7 Milsons Point July 2015-9

Photography: the best of recent trips was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Photography: Gold Coast

Haven’t done of these for a while because of computer issues.

In April, my youngest daughter and I went to the Gold Coast for Supanova.
Gold Coast April 2015-1

Wildlife and architecture.

Gold Coast April 2015-4

Beach patrol tower.

Gold Coast April 2015-6

We shall call this the effing whale fountain. Seriously, what was the council thinking?

Gold Coast April 2015-10

Daughter taking pictures at the peninsula.

Gold Coast April 2015-11

Perfect blue.

Gold Coast April 2015-13

The famous beach.

Gold Coast April 2015-19

Sunset.

Gold Coast April 2015-20

Night view of Main Beach.

Gold Coast April 2015-26

Photography: Gold Coast was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Photography: Thundery sunrise at Clovelly

The last week of daylight saving is one of the darkest weeks of the year. I was going to go to Long Reef, but I had to drop my daughter in Bondi, so I went to Clovelly instead.

Clovelly Mar 2015-1

When the sun came up, this awesome cloud revealed itself.

Clovelly Mar 2015-3

Looking back towards Coogee.

Clovelly Mar 2015-4

Clovelly Mar 2015-6

There was thunder in this cloud and I managed to capture a (very small) lightning flash.

Clovelly Mar 2015-9

Clovelly Mar 2015-11

Clovelly Mar 2015-12

Photography: Thundery sunrise at Clovelly was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants