Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 5, 2014

NotNaNo Day 4 – Sick Kid Part 2

Filed under: joey,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: — lexifab @ 1:19 am

A very quick one because it’s late. Worked on two of the three stories I have kicked around, tacking on a page or so to each. Pretty inconsequential but progress nonetheless. While Serpentine Precipice is spinning its wheels a bit while I figure out how murder mysteries are supposed to work (that’s going to need some major editing later), I’m quite happy with the concept behind my first Incidental ending.

Tally: 530 (only about thirty minutes this time)

Total fiction word count for the month: 2475 words

November 3, 2014

NotNaNo Day 3 – Sick kid

Filed under: administraviata,joey,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 9:57 pm

The Joey, my eldest, was home sick today, so although I got a bit of outlining done, I didn’t get to writing until the evening. I started a new story, one of the ones I outlined over the weekend, with a working title of ‘Third Violin’. I don’t think I’ve quite nailed the tone I’m looking for yet, but I got a good chunk of the setup established. I expect to have at least some time in the morning to bang out the bulk of the story, which should be no more then three to four thousand words in total.

I also did some administrative stuff for the CSFG website and tinkered a bit with the back end of this blog. I’m vaguely considering changing up the layout. radical, I know, since it’s been six years of this vanilla WordPress theme.

I have another story I’m working on called ‘Incidental’, which is a weird fiction idea I’ve been thinking about for years. It’s a setup that could go more or less anywhere and so far I haven’t figured out what the ending should be. As I type it occurs to me that the solution is just to write a half a dozen or so different endings and run with the one that appeals the most. That’s an interesting experiment. I think that’s one of the things I’ll do tomorrow.

Tally: 535 words from a 50 minute stint.

(I’m starting to detect a pattern in these numbers. To be fair though, I’m usually more prolific when I write in the morning, which I’ve not been able to do for months.)

Total fiction word count for the month: 1945 words

This is the opening of ‘Third Violin’:

Nobody thinks much of you when you’re third violin. If I’m honest I don’t think much of myself. But it’s a dream job and I’m not one for gift horse dentistry. I don’t care where you got the horse. Why would I?

It’s terrible, I know.

November 16, 2013

TMoRP Day 19 – Grommets!

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,joey,the month of relentless positivity — Tags: , — lexifab @ 10:30 am

Number One Son, aka Internet-Pseudonym Joey, had day surgery a couple of weeks ago to implant grommets in his inner ear. A followup consultation this week confirmed that the operation was successful. So, that’s good.

His hearing’s always been a bit dodgy. Much of the time he has the usual childhood selective hearing, which is mysteriously deficient when it comes to being asked to pick up toys or stop setting fire to things, but often astonishingly acute whenever ice cream is mentioned. Sometimes though, he misses conversations even when he’s paying attention and/or not speaking at the same time as someone else (which admittedly is not very often. He is an unstoppable chatterbox).

We got worried enough about it to go through several rounds of audiometry testing, which showed that he has a slight hearing deficiency in certain registers. Nothing critical or with high potential to impact his learning capacity, but a little more serious than mere ongoing inconvenience.

His eustachian tubs, which should be dry and full of air to equalise pressure on the middle ear, are a bit on the soggy side. The grommets are basically just a tube to allow the passage of air to ventilate the middle ear, which should reduce fluid buildup and improve his hearing.

Presumably any hearing gains occur over some protracted period of time, because we certainly haven’t observed miraculous improvements in his attentiveness in the past couple of weeks. I theorise that he’s somewhat out of the habit of paying attention though, so patience and retraining are probably in order.

The annoying (i.e. non-positivity-related) element of all this is that for the year that the grommets will remain in place (they fall out of their own accord somewhere between nine and twelve months after emplacement), we need to be careful with swimming. He’s allowed to get water in his ears, so he can continue with his swimming lessons, but he’s not allowed to dive down to below one metre. The water pressure might affect the grommets.

In most kids learning to swim, this would be an intolerable restriction. Who doesn’t want to dive to the bottom and swim around underwater? But in this case it’s a problem for us, not him. He hates submerging his head, let alone duck-diving. If he’s told he has to dive to the bottom, he tends to panic.

So while we were making very slow progress towards getting him comfortable with swimming underwater, now we have to hold him back from that until as late as next summer. Not a big deal, but longer than I’d have hoped to delay his swimming progress. No doubt it’s very selfish of me, but I long for the day when I am able to get into a swimming pool with the kids and not have one or both of them hanging off my shoulders all the time.

Still, the grommets should help the hearing and reduce the risk of ear infections, so yay for modern surgical techniques, eh what?

February 7, 2013

Short stories made long, junkets and kindy life.

Filed under: family,joey,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , , , , — lexifab @ 4:25 pm

Crit group

I took my short story about British and Russian spies in the Great Game [1] to the CSFG critiquing group last night. Now this was a story that I thought was 90% of the way there, so I had been in two minds as to whether to wait for the monthly crits to resume after the summer break, or just start submitting it for publication.

I’m glad I waited. They were brutal.

In a good way, mind you – everything they said was spot-on (except where various people completely disagreed, but even that was illuminating). My protagonist doesn’t really do anything but shout. The stakes are undefined. Two of the three characters are more or less complete cyphers and their motivations are interesting but murky. Some of the most interesting stuff happens in the flashbacks.

That was the crux of it. Too much of the important stuff in the story happens in flashback or, worse, exposition. It’s a classic example of “show don’t tell”. I need to go back and play out some of those scenes. I need to establish who the characters are so that the story of their final confrontation makes sense.

Unfortunately that means I have to make it about four or five times as long as it currently is. Which on the one hand is great, because I’ve been wondering if I was even capable of writing a long (say 10,000+ words) short story and this is an opportunity to find out. On the other hand, it sucks, because I’ve been procrastinating on my novel throughout January and my enthusiasm for this project is NOT GOING TO HELP.

The solution – or at least the thing I am going to try to see if it will work – will be to write both at once. That is, write one for a while, then when I get bored or stuck switch out to the other.  They’re dissimilar in terms of tone, characters and voice, so it’s unlikely that one will bleed across to infect the other. And I think – though I might be drastically wrong on this – that I should be able to carry the energy and enthusiasm for each across to the other. If not, well maybe I’ll just get fed up and just pick one to finish. A win either way, I hope.


I might have mentioned that I’ll be attending Conflux 9 here in Canberra over the Anzac Day weekend. I’d better be, obviously, because I think they’ll want me to be at the book  launch and I’ve also just signed up to be on a couple of panels.

But looking beyond that to October, I’m also heading off to Brisbane for the 2nd annual GenreCon. It’s a meeting of the minds of writers, agents, publishers and fans from across the spectrum of literary ghettoes – romance, crime, thrillers, historicals and of course speculative. By all accounts last year’s event was a huge success [2].

This year, one of the guests of honour is Chuck Wendig. Yeah. I’ve kinda got a big writer-crush on Der Wendigo these days, as you know, so if they’ve convinced him to leave his compound in the backwoods of Pennsyltucky and get on a plane to Australia, the least I can do is take a leisurely flight north to listen to him talk and buy him a beer. Or worship at his feet, whatever he prefers.

Anybody else thinking about making the jaunt?

School age

Totally unrelated to anything writery, Number One Son (aka the Joey) started “big school” this week, which in the ACT means Kindy/Kinder. He looks pretty smart in his big sun hat and school uniform, lemme tell you.

It’s a bit of a relief too. He was beginning to become…let’s say “restless”…about having to serve time in childcare with babies and toddlers while he waited for the school year to start. Now he’s back together with pretty much all of his pre-school friends, in whose company he will probably spend most of the next seven years. I’m sort of excited to see how they all turn out.

It’s scary to be the parent of a school-ager. But it’s kind of great too.


[1] Yes, of course there’s a speculative element. Though one of the very valid criticisms was that it showed up so late in the story that it derailed the narrative.

[2] In no small part, I understand, because everyone went away with great ideas about community-building and networking after seeing how well-coordinated and supportive the Romance Writers of Australia are.

December 19, 2011

State of the blog: Lex in Decs

Filed under: administraviata,joey,property magnatism,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:14 pm

I have no idea what that title means. Let’s pretend that never happened.

The past couple of weeks have been quiet, at least from the external point of view. From where I’m sitting it’s been a bit more frenetic than that. The Joey turned four last weekend, for which there was a party to prepare, on top of the usual routine. That was exhausting, but it went well. The rain paused long enough for us to wrangle eight or so kids through some games, a sausage sizzle and some cake, and then we all got out of there before the drenching could begin. We counted it as a success that the only kid to fall off something and hurt themselves was the Joey himself (he was fine).

I’ve taken a week off from writing the novel in the evenings – and I think I’ll take another this week. It’s going to blow my chances of finishing it before the end of the year out of the water, but there’s a couple of good reasons why it’s necessary. First of all, Xmas. It’s kind of a time hog. Doubly so, I suspect, on whatever evening this week I decide to gird my loins and teach myself the ancient parental duty of assembling a bike. But this week there will also be wrapping, cooking and packing for a whirlwind post-Xmas road trip to do.

Second – and this one is the real time hog – I am five months behind on my property investment monthly accounts. On average, it takes me about one whole day per month to reconcile the accounts against income and expenditure statements, classify bank transactions as property-related for tax purposes, and update various records and spreadsheets. It’s laborious and very easy to neglect. Having decided that I really can’t afford to neglect it any more than I already have, something else has had to give.

Third, there’s the novel itself. It’s not quite working. The characters are not quite gelling with the situation, so I am in the annoying position of not knowing what should happen next. The outline I prepared earlier is no help, since I’ve discovered that it either no longer makes sense, having not survived contact with the rigours of expansion, or it was simply illogical gibberish to start with. Most likely it’s both. I know that the only viable solution is to write through the roadblocks to hammer out something quick and dirty. It won’t hang together. It probably won’t actually make any sense at all. But I hope that it will give me all the pieces I need to build the (for want of a better world) ‘right’ version of the story in the next draft. But a couple of weeks away from fretting about it probably won’t hurt the eventual product. Well, no more so than its premise, at any rate…

November 16, 2011

Sad transition back into the workforce

It has been a long and tiring week, punctuated mainly by distractions, a little gaming and a horrible hacking cough over the weekend. Progress on the novel remains steady overall, though that’s mainly because I had a couple of very productive days at the start and end of the week rather than modest gains throughout. Still, I’m closing in on the nominal halfway mark, so the deadline remains a thing that could be achieved. And after all, I have that bet with Evan, so what better motivation could I possibly need?

The real change has been my return to work this week, after eight weeks at home looking after Childe Wombat. Sadly we could no longer afford to maintain my sensitive new-aged indolent lifestyle. I have returned to the workforce and she has joined her brother at childcare. I will miss taking her on long walks during the day – her favourite activity other than eating, and the only thing guaranteed to calm her occasions tantrums – but to be honest she’ll have a lot more fun there than she does with me.

As for work, I am reluctantly getting back into the groove of things. It would probably help if I hadn’t run headlong into one of our most painful and overdesigned bureaucratic processes, but I expect the need to focus on one laborious step after another will help recondition my public servant muscles.

(While I have been typing this, traffic out the front of my building has begun backing up behind roadblocks for Barack Obama’s presidential motorcade. Said motorcade, according to the live news feed on that television over there, has yet to leave the airport and make the ten-or-so-minute journey to parliament House. I boldly predict that when the roadblock is finally lifted there will follow madness and chaos and some very unhappy Canberra motorists. In fairness, though, they should have read the paper and known better than to use the main thoroughfare past both the House and the US Embassy. Twits.)

November 4, 2011

Back to the Island 2.07 – The Other 48 Days

Filed under: back to the island,fitter/happier,joey,wombat — lexifab @ 10:49 pm


Three straight nights of fractious and grizzly children have left me in a pretty grumpy mood. The little one has been getting harder to get to sleep as she gets more and more snotty; she has a cold coming in. The older one is exploiting our desperate need to have him graduate from toilet training to wrangle extra hours of wakefulness after bedtime and (increasingly frustrated) parental attention. I suspect either problem would be more manageable on its own, but with them tag teaming on a more or less constant basis, my already-pretty-limited store of patience is gone, gone, gone.

It’s the Wombat’s first birthday tomorrow. I would like to think it will be a joyous occasion with family and cake, but with the Joey already in trouble for disobedience and the Wombat herself caked most of the time in snot and misery, I am not optimistic.

Bloody kids. They can’t just be adorable all the time why now? Yes, I know I have to manage my expectations. Yes, I know they can’t help being sick/bratty. That doesn’t mean I can help being pissed off about it though. I’ve had to forgo yet another night of novel writing, because the mood I’m in by the time I actually do have the freedom to sit down to write is not conducive to good writing.

Well, I suppose it might work for a scene with a fistfight or a car chase or a shouting match, but I’m working on trying to make a discussion about weird magic and ghosts not sound like exposition. That sort of subtlety is hard to access when I’m in a foul mood. Trouble is, by the time I’ve got the irrits out of my system every other night this week – and tonight’s looking no different – it’s been too late for a decent writing session. Which makes me frustrated all the more.

So instead tonight I wrote a Lost review, because nobody cares if I’m extra-snarky in one of those, right? I’m behind on rebuilding my backlog. This one has crept up toward the length of the Season One reviews. It may have helped work some of my shirtiness off but at some cost to brevity…


October 22, 2011

Got done doing nothing

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,joey,wombat,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:27 pm

A day spent in the company of two small children left me too tired and emotional to write anything last night. I stared at a blank page for the better part of an hour before conceding that I was just not going to do a thing. I say ‘stared’ – but what I mean is: got up and checked out the action in a rugby match in which I had zero investment; checked Twitter obsessively; researched play advice for a game I own but haven’t started yet (Just Cause 2); and, drank a couple of beers.

Note to self: any alcohol whatsoever is not conducive to writing. Stick to tea, dumbarse.

The kids trashed me. The Joey is the elder, nearly four. He was disobedient and rebellious all day. It was only *after* hours of him being sent to his room every five minutes that it occurred to me that the problem might not be that he was ignoring everything I said but that he couldn’t hear me. Sure enough, his ears were completely blocked. (Side note: Cerumol, the ear wax solvent gunk, is probably the foulest smelling substance in human medicine). Hopefully to day will be a little less dramatic.

The younger, aka the Wombat, has a touch of cold. She’s grumpy and clingy. She would literally scream at the top of her lungs if I moved more that two metres away from her. I actually measured that, by the way. One step this way, no noise. Two steps the other way, timpanic rupture time. It was like playing a live-action theremin. She seems much improved and not coincidentally about one million times more delightful today.

So after much shouting – and a picnic at the park to try to run down their batteries a bit – I hit the wall at the end of the day something fierce. I should have figured out a lot earlier that doing a couple of hours of the novel was never going to happen. If I had, I could have devoted that time to reading, watching one of those movies I’ve rented or doing some exercise. Unproductive as doing nothing was, I will make a guarded mark in the ‘pro’ column that I was determined to write rather than do something more fun, even if I didn’t quite manage it. There is, of course, another step to take in that progression towards the required discipline levels.

Tonight won’t help. I’ll be at a Mouse Guard game tonight, playing my dangerously-inquisitive scientist mouse on an treacherous expedition into weasel territory. Stirring stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m so far behind my planned word count that I’ll get home at about 11 and try to write. Hopefully the game will inspire some creativity.

I *am* gonna make this end of year deadline. I just don’t quite know how yet.

October 6, 2011

Back to Back to the Island

Filed under: family,joey,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:38 pm

Take this week’s neglect of blog updates as a good sign. The novel is proceeding, even if still not quite at the breakneck pace I’m hoping I will achieve eventually. I’ve given myself a motivational deadline of Xmas to get the first draft done. At this rate I won’t get there, but I suspect that if I continue to plug away at it my current rate of 500 words a day will start to improve. I just need to carve some mental grooves out first.

So in order to sabotage that aspiration before I have a chance to lock it in place, I’m also resuming the Lost reviews. I’ve watched the first three episodes of Season Two, which reminded me that there’s a lot to like in it, so since I’m doing that I have convinced myself that I should do the reviews while I’m at it. As I mentioned earlier I plan to use a different format for the reviews of this series, including making them much shorter. I hope to maintain the high standards of snark that you will have come to expect with regards to Jack’s ego, Shannon’s uselessness and Sawyer’s shirts. I’ll post the review of the first episode shortly.

Oh, Fi and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary yesterday. We had a rare evening out and enjoyed delicious food, excellent wine (well, not the riesling, but what can you expect?) and each other’s amiably sleepy company. We only had to take time out once to make a phone call to an anxious child. The Joey was still waiting for his goodnight kiss from a neglectful father, who was both suitably ashamed and overcome with the cute of it.

Simon’s birthday tomorrow. He’ll be 42, which as we all know is the greatest of all possible ages.

April 25, 2011

Back to the Island 1.14 – Hearts and Minds

Filed under: back to the island,family,joey — lexifab @ 11:02 am

The Joey had his first Easter egg hunt yesterday. We are not talking about the world’s greatest detective here, but he did at least grasp the concept that some ill-defined lupine entity was supplying him with chocolate in return for at least marginally acceptable behaviour. It was a close-run thing, however, since he spent most of Saturday in disgrace for various infractions of the social order at the markets.

I believe that it’s time to take advantage of the long weekend and the more or less warm sunshine to beat the garden into slightly less absolute disorder.

Here’s my review of my hands-down least favourite Season 1 Lost episode. I had fun writing it, but be aware that I may have allowed a certain hint of snark to creep in. Hmm. Correction – I had a lot of fun writing this one.


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