Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas from Chesterfield Inlet

Merry Christmas from Chesterfield Inlet, where this year a buddy joins me.

Sorry Adam, we did not decide this to be our Christmas home. One day our children will know how long we waited for this day.

Thank you Norad for keeping the skies safe for the man who brings joy, currently in Bogota.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

There Was Another

     In the United States, the last week of November signals the beginning of the "holiday" period. It starts with Thanksgiving, runs through Christmas and New Year, and finishes up somewhere around Superbowl Sunday.

  This year, the house was empty for the first real time, not a child to be had, not a potato mashed, not a turkey carved, not an arrival recieved.

  I could not have asked for a better window in which to complete two major articles that were approaching their deadline. By July 2016, you should be reading about an American Pioneer, but not the one whom you might think.

  It turns out, there was another.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The George Lucas Effect

  A strange thing happened after the original Star Wars trilogoy (New Hope, Empire and Jedi) were released. The protagonist may have been Luke Skywalker (and company) but it was Darth Vader's story. It was all about the Dark Lord's demise. George Lucas always had a vision for his project, from which he could not be swayed.  I wonder if he set out to write the trilogy as such, or whether it was the format of film that created it that way.

  About a month ago I wrote of the Monster That Haunts Me, the rewrite required of the major project.  The rewrite is about the ending, which requires a different composition of the minor characters in the early chapters. The protagonist remains the same, but to justify the ending, the supporting staff require names, and in one scene, foreshadowing.

  An unexpected element of the rewrite is that is has resulted in a different query for publishers. The same format of the project is still being used, however, it is now shown in greater perspective by the final scene, which does not have the protagonist. The final scene turns the project, back on itself.

  George Lucas originally named the Star Wars protagonist Luke Starkiller. Like Lucas, I must now go back and give names, identities, and credit, to those, whom are otherwise undeserved, but without which, there would be no major project. I have, unknowingly, replicated the George Lucas Effect.

  Would it not be prophetic if the major project blossomed like the George Lucas effect on science fiction.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Commute

7 cities.

6 freeways.

3 hours.

1 smile.

Welcome to my commute.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Writer Distractions.




Fantasy football.



New adventures.

The Commute.

Clutter on my desk.

Sunday mornings.

Time to return to the pencil.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Monster That Haunts Me

   The major project has been sitting for the last few months, waiting. Lamenting. It needed an ending, a conflict, an unexpected cliffhanger. A sudden revelation to neatly tie off the principle of the book.

  Two weeks ago I found that ending, that startling revelation. It began when I read studied, author Thomas Larson's book The Memoir and the Memoirist.  Ironically, among his credits, Larson is also a Staff Writer for the San Diego Reader, the same magazine that I write for.

  Larson showed me how the neat bow, the conclusion to wrap up the story was missing. That one element which would make the memoir memorable, was absent. I had known it now for almost a year, and still could not come up with any appropriate ending. I was given a possible conclusion by one of my daughters when she announced her intention to wed, but I did not have an "ending". As much as I had written, without the ending, it would be, as Larson wrote, a memoir which was inauthentic.

  And from another daughter, the ending arrived about two weeks ago.

  The rewrite is on. The ending has compelled me to go back into the draft, and begin working more of the elements of the ending, into the backstory. And with the ending, comes the opportunity to finish out this "monster" which has haunted me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Subsim Review: Navy Field 2

  Many thanks to the staff at the web's #1 submarine simulation site, Subsim, for carrying my review of the Navyfield 2 game.

Monday, September 7, 2015

It's All Right Chickybabe.

"Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties." - John Irving.

"I've found, in my own writing, that a little hatred, keenly directed, is a useful thing." - Alice Walker.

"It's all right Chickybabe, I understand." - A father.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Writing Through The Muddle - Part 2.

Writing through the muddle - part 2

Not all associates may be who they have always appeared to be.

Not all opportunities arrive as scheduled.

Not all writing assignments demand the same urgency.

Not all conversations result in the same contract.

Not all contracts need to be accepted. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sweet Home, Chicago.

Sweet home, Chicago.

Four days in the Windy City.

I could have done with five.
Chicago Panorama

Chicago RiversideMichigan Ave

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Writing Through The Muddle

All writers have a project that just...nags away at them demanding to be finished, when it cannot be.

I happen to have two.

The first, is the proposed book on the blending of divorced families. A title has been picked out, but like all good stories, it needs a beginning, a "muddle" and an end. The end should bring about a resolution to the muddle. Mine does not, so the muddle continues.

The second project is spin off from the original idea. Much like the Star Wars prequels, the second project is the "before" story. Hopefully my "before" story won't be as loathed as the Star Wars prequels. It too has a beginning and a "muddle", and unlike the first project - has a known end point - but it's not there yet.

It faces the same problem as Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, everyone knows where it ends, but the path traveled is vexing.

I have little to worry about though. On this day, August 1 1975, George Lucas competed the third draft of what would became A New Hope.  He called it "The Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Starkiller".

 The Force was not strong with George on that title. I guess he also muddled his way through.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Viewpoint: Go Set A Watchman

On July 14, 2015, one of the most anticipated fiction novels was released both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Go Set A Watchman, the second book by author Harper Lee made it's debut almost fifty five years to the day after the first release of To Kill A Mockingbird. The storyline of Watchman centers on Jean Louise Finch, "Scout" returning home to Maycomb County to discover, everything has changed since she and her brother Jem were the object of attention from neighbor Arthur 'Boo' Radley.

Gregory Peck as Atticus FinchIn the weeks leading up to the release, reviews began to emerge that the father of Jean Louise, Attica Finch, had become a racist. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus defends a man falsely accused of rape, and later during the film of the same name, Gregory Peck delivers one of the revered performances ever, which won him an Academy Award.

Writers and the blogosphere cried out in dismay at the fall from grace.

"Say it isn't so?"

"Falls from grace - first Cliff Huxtable, now Atticus Finch."

With a simultaneous release in both the United Kingdom and the United States, fellow writers "across the pond" got their hands on the book and were putting their thoughts into newspapers, before I even woke up. After reading their reviews, I wondered if it was worth preordering and prepaying for my copy on the first day release.

On the third day, and after avoiding the "mass hysteria" about Mister Finch's tainted view, I picked up my copy and isolated myself for the read. Cover to cover, one sitting. As I read the book, I could not help but be drawn back to the circumstances that brought Lee's first book to me.

Growing up in Australia, there was not a lot of detail paid to the civil issues of the South. The book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is required reading in junior High School English, along with Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. My first viewing of the film was in 1982 - not a lot of television in Australia. However, as my daughters grew up, they too also experienced Mockingbird as required reading in both Australia and the USA. Like myself, they also were not exposed to the civil issues of the south before the book, but had more exposure to Hollywood's interpretation of the issues.

Go Set A Watchman draws on the premise that every person has a Watchman, a conscience. Jean Louise, on a humid Sunday afternoon finds herself sitting in the same balcony of the courthouse where she watched her father so many years ago. This time, Atticus is leading a Citizen's Council. Jean Louise is horrified and then goes on tirade against almost everyone. Almost.

The book has flashback scenes interspersed explaining where her childhood friends ended up.  Dill lives in Italy and her older brother, Jem, passed away with a heart attack. About the only person in Maycomb that hasn't changed is Calpurnia, who is still the housekeeper for Mister Finch.

Go Set A Watchman reads like a "first draft", including a reference to Atticus defending Tom Robinson, and having him acquitted of rape twenty years earlier - the storyline that would eventually became Mockingbird. Watchman does not have the same hold as Mockingbird, and it's hard to imagine that Lee would "allow" this to be released, after a lifetime of rejecting pleas for a sequel. Lee, aged 89 and still living in Alabama, had her manuscript of Watchman "found" during an audit of assets by her lawyer.

Widower Atticus FinchThe commotion about Atticus appears to be, unjustified. After getting into a heated discussion with Jean Louise, Mister Finch delivers the same lines from Mockingbird that his daughter has always heard from him. As her father, Atticus has never "forced" her daughter to do anything, and this time is no exception. The hysteria about Atticus being a racist old Southern lawyer, is unfounded. The town of Maycomb may have had a change of viewpoint towards civil rights, but Atticus, is still the same reserved man fighting the same internal demons that he did in Mockingbird.

I wouldn't expect anything else from a single father bringing up his children in a evolving world.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

In Memorium

  The day could not past without reflection.

  Constable Mark Lawrence Goodwin.

There, but for the stroke of a pen, go I.

WE should have better than a plaque at the National Police Memorial in Canberra for Alyse and Megan.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The End of the Eclipse

There is a document beside my desk which has a list of goals upon them. One of the goals relates to the current project with an end date.

  The end date has passed and the project is not yet complete. Stephen King, on the hand, is about to release his third book this year.

  I could manufacture all sorts of excuses - but they would be just that. Unlike my counterparts, I can sense when there is a disturbance in "the force". It can be pinned down to a single event, a date, where everything in the writing world, changed. It became, an eclipse to productivity. Two years later, I am no further out of the "darkness" and struggling to write.

  Write, I must, for without writing, there will be no end to the eclipse.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why The Story Never Gets Out

  Earlier this week, I was asked "How is the book coming along?" The answer given at the time was "Fine."

  The correct answer resembles something like a list of excuses.
  • Work has gotten in the way.
  • There is the issue with X and Y.
  • I haven't transferred my files across to the new computer.
  • The wedding.
  Truth of the matter is, I've discovered how writers don't have continued success. Lack of consistency. It was pointed out that it has been two years since my last cover. It's been 18 months since I had feature in California. It's been 5 months since I had a feature in Oregon.

  Hard to pay the bills without protecting the (currently) non income producing writing time. I understand why writers start and stop. If they fail to see the results, somewhere along the line, they cease, and their story never gets out. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Why Do I Keep Writing?

  For some reason, after I advised the listener earlier this week of another rejection, I was asked, "Why do I keep writing?"

  Within all of us is a story, waiting to be told, about overcoming obstacles. Sometimes it's relationships, other times it's money. Not all stories are happy endings, and not all stories resolve the obstacle.

  Sometimes, the obstacles can continue well past their shelf life, and writing, is the only way to put the conflict into order, behind us.

  Why do I keep writing in the face of rejection?

  I just haven't found the right partner to go forward with.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day Writing

  It is not enough to be able to write, you have to be marketable to bring forth an income. A writer without income, is just a good story teller. Everybody loves to listen to the story teller, but no one wants to pay. It's like the listener feels that they are entitled to be entertained by a "ripping good yarn".

  The irony is, the listener will pay good money to purchase the newest book from Stephen King,  but, probably never consider his writing 40 years ago. Why?

  No credits to substantiate their expenditure.

  "The book" currently being written by me, is under siege. Not from thieves, pirates or oppression, but from the competition of day to day living. Not a word has been written this week, not because there was nothing to write, but the "business" of running the household outweighed the business of writing a book - that is currently worth $0 on the open market. Writing time has to be budgeted, and sometimes, protecting that time falls prey to the whims of family, bills, and "the day job".

  In the United States this weekend, it is Memorial Day. A time to remember the sacrifice of fallen soldiers in defense of this, and foreign countries. It is a favorably time of year, giving me the largest block of time away from "the day job" and the business of running the household, so I can write.

  I thank the servicemen for their sacrifice, so that I can write, for as we have learned, the world is not always a safe place for writers.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Revelation It is Done.

   In May 1989, I delivered a child into the world, wiping away the blood from her body with my tears. I would be fortunate six years later to have another safely arrive.

  In August 1997, I began to write of the role of a father in the lives of their children after divorce, and of how now no person should interfere with that. I did not know at the time, I would be asked to stand on every word I had written.

  In February 2005, I left two children in care to seek out a new role as a functional father. I never gave up my children, I never excused myself, and I maintained the pressence I could.

 In November 2012, I last spoke to both children, amid hostility in their household.

  On November 29, 2014, I posted Christmas cards to both of my children. On May 9, 2015, it came back marked "return to sender, no longer at this address."

  Our lives now exist on eight photographs, and within several hundred pages of a diary.

  I now understand when my father once told me, that he moved away "because it was easier that way". I now understand why the father of the girls mother moved away and never made contact - not because it was easier, but because he understood that if he remained, what poison would be inflected.

  My role, as their father, has been severed. It is, over.

  And now I make all things new.
  He also said to me "Write this, because these words are true, and can be trusted."
  And he said, "It Is Done."
      - Revelations 21 5-6. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Collecting on Writers Revenue

  Recall four months ago I wrote of Google cancelling my Google's Adsence based on reported fraudulent activity.

  Recall that I wrote of discovery that Google cancels Adsence accounts just prior to payout, then keeps the money already paid by the advertiser.

  Recall that I contested their abomination and would proceed through the judicial system to recover monies?

  Rest easy, it appears that Google had a change of philosophy and paid out the earned revenue.

  Writers revenue: if it's acknowledge that approximately 50% of royalties are unpaid to musicians, I can only imagine that there is a similar volume of unpaid revenue to writers. Perhaps even more that do not pursue their earnings.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

This Week In a Publisher's Office

"I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself." - J.K. Rowling.


"I can accept that you don't want what I write. I'll take it elsewhere." - Grant Madden

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Writer Frustration: Resurrected

Easter Sunday.

Three and a half hours to do a twenty minute rewrite for Eugene Daily News. (Thank you Firefox, Explorer and Chrome for a glorious morning.)

Two more hours to work why the Xbox would not let me sign in with my email account. It is, after all,  clearly me.

One hour trying to multiple guess the password I have for the email account upon which I do password resets with.

Twenty minutes trying to remember which letter of the password is, or is not, capitlatized.

Grant @ SC
Thirty five minutes to work out how to sign out of Google Plus, after spending fifteen minutes looking at my circles thinking "where is my profile picture?", only to realize I somehow created two Google Profiles. (Side issue:  this is me, as pictured.)

 Writer accomplishments today:  zero.

  Frustration level: resurrected. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015


     Sixteen years ago today, I commenced racing in a catamaran series that would eventually produce the fifth of my seven championships. I won the fifth championships with a perfect score, in part, because nobody could "go to windward" better than I.

     The act of going to windward requires sailing in one direction, and then, changing to another direction. The act of turning, is called tacking. When going to windward, a boat may make several tacks, to counter tide, wind, and competition. Sometimes the fastest way to windward is to tack back and forth. Other times, it's two long treks separated by a single tack.

Calypso 4.4
    Writers, like sailors, are often called upon to make decisions similar to those encountered in sailing. What's the best path to the next mark? What is the preferred tack? And most importantly, how to cover the immediate threat. Tacking, is about making decisions, and at times, the realization you have to go in the unfavorable direction, to come back on the preferred path.

    As an author, protecting your unpublished work prior to getting to the printing press, may require a different tack.

    Head to wind, loosening the sheets, pointing the boat through the eye of the wind and letting the sails fill on the "other side". Tacking.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Back from Oregon.

  T'is been a busy week and a half,  and a deliberate omission last week not to publish.

  Let's bring the fan base up to date on events.

  Orgeon - always wonderful, always wet, and as always, good company.

  Eugene Daily News - always great to come home to the team. 

  The upcoming book - we have the editor.

  Alaska Airlines - on time and on budget.

  Irony - the cover of the inflight magazine has a story titled Strong for Kids. It's about having character for children in the face of adversity. I'll drink to the story. 


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Google Credability Eroded

  Last week I wrote of Google's email of personal identification information that they had detected.

  Apparently, such information was incorrect, and the email was sent in error.

  When a beloved company starts sending erroneous information, credibility is eroded and it is fair to ask "what else was erroneously sent?"

  Is it possible that my Google Adsence claim was another of their erroneous letter?

  Note too, Google Adsence Advertisements continue to appear on my blog.  Even though Google Ads have been disabled, they continue to appear and continue to earn money.

#fraud #googlefraud

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Still Contesting Google's Adsence Fraud Claim

  On January 5, 2015, I wrote of Google's Adsence Claim, that fraudulent activity was being conducted on my website.  Google, in their wisdom, disallowed the earnings incurred on my website.

  Interesting, that despite my account settings, changed after the Google notice to disallow Google's ad appear on my website, those ads have continued to appear on my website, and indeed, have continued to earn income.

  Yesterday, February 28, 2015, I received an email from Google which stated:

"Dear Publisher,

We have now verified that we are no longer detecting PII being passed to Google from the account(s) under your control.

Thank you for helping to resolve this matter.


The Google Policy Team"

  Google tech's using inhouse speak but not making any sense to their customers. With no prior notification of my personal information going "walkabout", this was alarming. A search located multiple threads about the Google Adsence program  passing Personal Identification Information (PII) from websites to outside interests.

  Really? Could that possibly be the reason why Google detected unauthorized ad clicking on a blog that did not exist and did not have Google's Ads being displayed?

  Google have not yet responded to three (3) letters sent to their corporate office requesting further information. The Google Adsence Claim is about to head to court.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thank You Seti@Home

Thank you to the Seti@Home project out of Berkley University, who have honored me as their User of The Day.

15 years, 1 million research units, 52,000 computing hours and the search continues.

#seti #setiathome #thankyou

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Has It Really Been Ten Years?

  Has it really been ten years since my flight touched down at LAX?

  Has it really been ten years since Adam and I sat around Toscani's complaining about the public holiday surcharge?

  Has it really been ten years since the sun came up over the bay and set over the mountains?

  Has it really been ten years since Dad BBQ-ed lunch?

  Has it really been ten years since the drive up to Toowoomba to see my Godsons?

  Has it really been ten years since I put a sail on the water?

  Has it really been ten years since the last bout of "tickle wars" with my daughters?

  Sadly, it has really been ten years. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

10 Years On - Running the Gauntlet

You see we've got a problem, you and me. We don't like each other much but we have to take a trip together. Now you can come along peacefully or you can be a pain in the ass. But I'm warning you: You mess around and I'll put the cuffs on you. You talk dirty - I gag you. You run - I'll shoot ya. My name is Shockley and we've got a plane to catch. Let's go.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Outback Steakhouse Embarassed by Australia Day Promotion

Outback Steakhouse embarrasses itself by flying the incorrect national flag of Australia.

After tweeting to +Outback Steakhouse  on Twitter,  it appears that I was blocked, and the flag was changed sometime on January 26. By then,  most Australians in the United States were already outraged.

There has been no response from the company.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Contesting Google's AdSence Fraud Claims

  Google - the company so big, so large, that the left hand doesn't know what the right mouse click is doing.

  In March 2014, the service provider who hosted a body of my written work, closed.  That body of work also included commercial ads using Google's Adsence program. In April 2014, an alternative service provider was located and a new blog was commenced. An application was made to the Google Adsence program for the inclusion of the new blog. Google's policy is that Adsence accounts cannot be added within the first six (6) months of a new blog.

  At the end of the six (6) months, I applied to have the new blog included. The application for the new blog was rejected based on fraudulent activity.

  Fraudulent activity? While the blog didn't exist and a replacement was not yet approved?  This appears to be more of a case similar to the class action suite launched in May 2014 which accuses Google of cancelling Adsence accounts just prior to paying out. I checked the balance of my account, and sure enough it's about ready to pay out my earnings on the previous blog.

  A few more searches located two interesting articles. An unidentified whistleblower reports that Google cancels Adsence accounts just prior to payout, then keeps the money already paid by the advertiser.

  I tracked down a successful civil prosecution of Google for the cancellation of an Adsence account in California from 2009, and discovered that trying to get an answer from Google, is almost next to impossible. While Google has a legal department, trying to locate a telephone number for the Adsence Department is futile. Even with telephone calls to their corporate office, I could not reach anyone who could communicate with me.

  I lodged an on line appeal against my "fraudulent activity" and added the details I considered necessary, with the appropriate legalities if the account was not reinstated.  There was no response to my emails, but this morning, Google Adsence now appears on my blog.

  I surmised that some agent at Google "reviewed" my appeal, went back and saw that their claim of fraudulent activity could not have occurred in the period allowed, as there was no blog or other site upon which any Google ads appeared.

  I wonder how much in "earnings" is left in the hands of Google when they cancel accounts for fraudulent activity, that aren't contested. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

How Fast Can It Go?

  In about 1981, my father purchased a sailing catamaran. My brother and I got together and both of us, instantly, asked the same question. "How fast can it go?" And thus we started racing that catamaran, together.

  That was not successful. My brother and I were two different types of sailors - he was a helmsman, I was the tactician. As teenagers, we argued over everything from set up to pull down. Eventually, I stepped away to another class, and he became an accomplished helmsman.

  In 1986, the Australian Championships were held at Bargara Beach, Queensland. My brother was one of the favorites to win the title.  Ten days before the start of the titles, I secured a boat on loan to go to the titles. It would be the first time that he and I had ever gone "head to head".

  He didn't win the title. In seven heats he couldn't beat me once. The driving moment was when I won a heat and eventually finished fourth outright. My brother, finished ninth. In the following years, I would go on to win a record seven titles. My brother, he never sailed again.

  After leaving Australian and being gone ten years, my father telephoned me last year. "Your brother bought a boat." My brother stripped, repaired and rebuilt that shell, turning it into one of the best presented crafts on the water.

  The Australian National Titles start tomorrow at Spears Point, on Lake Macquarie, New South Wales. Ten races, nine to count.

  I've waited 29 years to see him sail again.

  How fast can it go? Bring it home, Brother.