Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A Few Books to Read ...

Next to Read
Been on a reading spree since I came home from Kiama. My bookcases are now overflowing and I'm trying to figure out where I can put another one to cope with my ever increasing library.

I love murder mysteries and always on the lookout for new authors. Authors like Karin Slaughter, Jeffrey Deaver, Kava, Kellerman, Reichs ... the list for me goes on and on.

I discovered Lars Kepler in Kiama and have been devouring his work. As well I read the first three Miss Fisher murders books and fell in love.

I managed to pick up another 11 of the Miss Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood on Ebay and will keep my eyes open for the remainder. Fortunately I have the next 7 in the series so hopefully I find book 10 by the time I'm finished the previous ones.

Anyway I now I have a few more books to read as you can see.

This is my 'next to read' pile. I also have a 'read soon' pile which is probably five times bigger and then there are all the thousands of ebooks I still haven't read. ;)

On top of all that my own books are slowly coming out in paperback so they can now sit on the shelf so I can gloat....lol. But of course it means more space taken on my bookshelves.

I just finished Jeffrey Deaver's Steel Kiss so I'm now up to date with his Lincoln Rhyme and Katherine Dance books.

Picked up another copy of Stephen Hawking's History of Time. This time I bought a Briefer History - the newer version of his classic.

Been watching his 6 part series - Genius. That man is absolutely amazing and you can't help but get caught up in the love of physics.

Also discovered that my favourite aussie author - Matthew Reilly - has a book coming out in mid October - the next in the Jack West series.... The Four Legendary Kingdoms.  It's been a very long time since he released book three - November 2012 - so this book will be eagerly anticipated.

Anyway I now off to read a few chapters of Phyrne Fisher before I edit a few chapters of own next book.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A Drop of Rain ...

So ... it rained.

Now that seems a very normal thing to say and if you're reading this outside of Australia you would be thinking 'big deal'... but when I say it rained it's would need a much better word.

It poured?
It teemed down?
It inundated?

None of those seem to say what the bloody rain did - it invaded.

On Saturday morning we had a couple of showers - just a sprinkling or two but it was foreboding. The BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) had warned everyone living on the east coast of Australia to be prepared. Queensland had some very heavy rain and with an east coast low developing it was expected the whole east coast would be hit.

So Saturday morning's sprinkling wasn't too bad - I went to my Life Study painting, get home around 2:30pm - the clouds were gathering.

What followed was crazy.

Parramatta Ferry before the rain
Between late Saturday afternoon and the early hours of Monday morning it rained - and rained and rained and rained.

The wind howled the rain fell and just never seemed to stop.

About 16km from where I live.
I checked with the BOM's site for my area. Over my house between Sat and 9am Monday morning I had over 250cm of rain - that's over 8'2" for those who still use that system. All in less than 36 hours!!!

Collaroy Beach - NSW
Up and down the coast everyone got pounded. Flooding and trees down from the gale force winds.

I live about 48km inland but still got hammered. Those living on the coast had to battle with king tides as well. Slowly the system moved down Australia until it reached Tasmania and that poor island almost sank under the weight of the weather.

Sadly at least five people are dead (3 in NSW, 1 in Canberra and 1 in Tasmania) and the search goes on for those missing.

The insurance bill for property damage in NSW has already reached $56 million already but will certainly rise substantially over the coming weeks. Who knows how high it will go once the Tasmanian, Queensland and Victorian figures are added. The Tasmanian government has stated the damage bill for the state could reach $100 million.

The BOM have now warned of another severe weather alert for southern NSW - this time a severe wind warning ahead of a cold front for some areas that have been affected by the east coast low.

This link shows the trail of the storm - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-06/east-coast-storm-mapped/7481572

Monday, 30 May 2016

Cancer, Macro Photos, Life Study Models ....

Just gave a huge sigh of relief - so loud it's a wonder it wasn't heard around the world...lol.  After weeks of tests, prodding and poking, giving enough blood to satisfy even the hungriest vampire, my doctor told me this morning that there is no cancer. He had been worried by a lump he found hence my weeks of tests.

This morning I had the final round of tests and I get the results from them next Monday but my doc is 99.9% confident that they will come back normal.

It's amazing what feelings that dreaded 'C' word brings up - been such a stressful few weeks. Tried to ignore it and remain positive but it hangs over you. Now I am dancing around the house laughing - Fozzie thinks I've gone nuts (or even nuttier than usual).

Of course I never told anyone - hate causing anxiety to others - so I just kept my scary feelings, my nightmares, to myself. I am a private person despite writing a blog, guess the blog is a kind of pressure release valve ... lol

So now I can get back to what is considered normal for me.

Been going through my photo from the Kiama trip and think some are very good. One of the lenses I bought was a Macro lens and I want to do some more work with it. Think a day outing is in order soon.

The cold weather is finally poking its nose in the door - it's hovering around 14c today after dropping to 2c overnight. Still it's a lot warmer than usual with 22c predicted for the end of the week.

5 min
My life studies group has been dwindling of late - maybe because of the cooler weather - but I am really enjoying it. I've found I'm now painting directly with the shorter poses, still doing pencil sketches for the ones up to 5 mins but using watercolour for the rest.

5 mins
Had a new female model who was delightful. She was a full figure woman probably in her 40s but was an excellent model. She gave some amazing poses and I've been told I can get her again.

My favourite male model was doing his usual tricks - giving me a lot of challenging fore-shortened poses. He knows how much I hate them but in a strange way I really love doing them.

Rather contradictory I know but the challenge of trying to get the pose onto paper is something I love.

Funny how some models are so good and others ... well - mediocre.

Haven't done any writing for a while. Have one story written - 95k words - and to the 'tidy up' stage but just haven't got my mojo.

Decided to not worry about it and take a break. No use forcing something when it just isn't necessary at all. My books are still selling - not a huge amount but enough to make me smile when I get my qaurterly royalties ... lol.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Macadamians, Magical Minnamurra, Macquarie Pass ... oh and Cheese

So did I have a nice time away? Yep.

The park was perfect. The view from my cabin too. Very clean and very quiet. Lots of ducks - some would knock on my door begging for food ... lol.

Drove down to Berry one day and went to the Treat Factory - oh my is that a big temptation place. I came out laden down with all sorts of goodies.

My one regret which I didn't discover until I got back to Kiama was a jar of Orange Blossum Honey wasn't in my bag (the saleswoman must have missed it. I didn't pay for it so it wasn't much use driving back down.)

Anyway I bought stuff for the kids and the kid in me. The pic is of some Honey Chocolate Macadamias and some delicious Wildberry and Macadamia nougat.

The nougat is divine - if I had of realised how good it is I would have bought more. The place does have an online store so if I succumb I know I can buy more. Sadly it doesn't sell the honey online.

If anyone knows where I can buy Orange Blossum pure organic honey let me know please.

I'm being very restrained and only eating a little at a time - I've lost over 8kgs so don't want to put them back on .... lol.

Anyway another day I drove to Minnamurra Rainforest. I did the Loop walk - would have liked to do the Falls Walk but was advised against it. There is a lot of uphill walking and it isn't easy. The day was magical seeing 4 Lyrebirds I mentioned in the previous post.

That same day I drove to Robertson to go to the Cheese Factory.  That is a drive from hell ... full of hairpin turns on  a very narrow windy mountain road. For most of the drive I was in second gear and even had to drop down to first a couple of times. Decided to come back the long way - big mistake. I'd forgotten that way was the dreaded Macquarie Pass.

Macquarie Pass is even worse, the only benefit was in a few places it is a wider road. Eight kilometres of sheer nail-biting terror...lol. Read about how dangerous it is on the link. Its actually one of the world's most dangerous roads with so many terrible accidents.

In some places the trucks had to back up to get around the hairpin corners.

Overall I have to admit I was disappointed with the Cheese Factory. I bought some Pecorino, a few different vintage Cheddars and some Pickled Onion Cheddar but there just wasn't the selection I'd hoped for. There was about 6 different Cheddars, some Bries, Camembert and the Pecorino plus two blue cheeses.

I grated up the Pecorino and put it in the freezer - I find it keeps best that way and you can use it direct from the freezer with no problem.

The remainder of my time was spent painting. I did a number of watercolour sketches that I can use as the basis for larger paintings.

Naturally I took hundreds of photographs - some to use with the sketches when I paint and others just for the fun of it.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Photo Fun....

So had my week away. Didn't get the rough surf that I've been looking around for a few years. The weather was perfect - sunshine the whole time, temps around 25c.

Looks like I'll have to take a trip to the central coast or to Wollongong when I read the coastal wave warning probably during the Spring or Summer when the weather is changeable.

One one of the days I took myself to the Minnamurra Rainforest  and was lucky to photograph 3 Superb Lyre birds in the wild, something that takes patience and real luck.

They were in the midst of the ground cover and hard to see but I did manage to get some photos.

But then I came upon a 4th... so close to me. I stood very still but was able to get a number of photos. He was wandering through a small stream turning over rocks and feeding before finally taking a bath.

I was amazed to see him turning over large stones in the middle of the stream in his search for food. Not only was he in water but the stones were really large compared to him.

Had a good play with my new camera and lenses - think I'll have to buy a different camera bag. It's very heavy carrying the four lenses and the camera.

I'm thinking I need to look at a backpack to distribute the weight better than having the satchel I'm using now.

Was fun using them all and seeing the results. I liked the macro lens, got some nice pics of a duck that came visiting.

One day I just happened to pass a bookshop ... honest I was only going to look, really that's all.

I couldn't help it - these couple of books leapt into my arms and I just had to rescue them. 

I mean I only took two books with me so I needed something to read in case.wink emoticon
Oh - I also found a new author - Lars Kepler.... now I love his books!

I read Stalker. It was a real page turner, full of suspense and very well written.

Once I got home I bought the rest of his books online...lol

Friday, 22 April 2016

New Camera (at last) ...


Finally I've bought a new camera.  Bet you all thought I'd never do it. All those years of procrastinating... lol.

Got a Canon EOS 760D.

As it's a new camera out I was able to get an introductory deal. Got the camera body, a remote control, a camera bag and a EF-S 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.

The deal was $250 cheaper than buying it all separately.
Kept my zoom lens because it's compatible but I did lash out for two extra lenses.

Got a Tamron Ultrawide 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 for landscape photos and a Tamron Macro SP90mm F/2.8 lens for when you just have to take a real close up of something special.

I added an extra battery, a 64gig memory card as well as filters for each lens. The nice salegirl gave me an extra discount of $200 because I spent so much money .... *snicker*

I won't be using the camera bag - too small to fit all my lenses in but I already had a very large bag so they will all fit in very nicely.

Mind you it now weighs a ton so I expect I will gain some extra muscle on my flabby arms ... rotfl.

I can hardly wait until I go away to have a really good play with it. I'll probably keep the local inhabitants amused as I swap lenses back and forth.

Stay tuned for masses of photographs of rocks, waves, sand and trees ... lol.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Portrait Workshop ....

Well the portrait workshop is over and done.I really enjoyed myself.There were only18 other people there so it was a nice number.

The presenter was fabulous. She, Kristin Hardiman, was down-to-earth and very approachable. Because there were a number of people there who had never lifted a paintbrush she decided it was best to start with the basics. She knew those of us who painted regularly wouldn't mind. I don't think anyone who paints would mind refreshing their knowledge.

We were given 8 colours - warm cool of red, yellow and blue plus white and black.  It reminded me of my father. I learnt to paint using the 3 primaries and white. I can remember pleading with my father to let me have other colours but he stuck to his guns...lol.

It was fun to see some of the newbies puzzle when she told them every colour could be made from those 3 primaries.

For those who hadn't learnt she showed them how to mix skin tones then we all had to make various tones. After that was discussing proportions, golden radio and composition.

Next job was for each of us to sketch out our portrait pics - there really wasn't enough time to do things properly. Then it was time to slap on the paint. We just had to do as much as we could in the time we had left.

Each of us had been told to bring along a photograph to work from. I'd chosen a very interesting portrait of an elderly Irani man.  I liked all the wrinkles and the pose. Rather than a person facing the camera he was caught unawares.

The only downside was it that we were to use acrylics - I rarely use them for some reason.  Think it's because they dry on the palette too quickly and you can't work them on the canvas either. Give me my watercolours any day ... lol.

Even though we were there for hours there just wasn't enough time to complete the piece. The first hour and half was just listening to Kristin, then the second to third was the mixing stuff and other details. 

It didn't leave much time for the actual painting stage. I managed to get the base on but it still needs a few hours work. As you can see there are only the bones in it. Think we only had an hour or so to do the actual painting part of the workshop, by the time we had breaks etc.

Anyway it confirmed that I really dislike acrylics. Maybe one day I'll do the same portrait in watercolours and actually finish it.

Ah it's so nice not to see any stupid comments on my blog ...

Sshh ... at the same time last week as I treated that person as spam I added their ID and email address to my website, emails and other social media platforms as spam so I don't have to worry about getting any messages through them either.

Since then their comments, emails, etc will forever float down into the great Internet garbage bin without me ever laying eyes on them....lol.  Peace at last.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Comments, Climate, Catnip ... and The Doctor

I've changed the way people can post comments. From now on all comments will be moderated. I have already marked one person's ID as spam which means it is automatically deleted and thankfully I never see it.  I hope I don't have to do it to anyone else.

I enjoy reading your comments but not when they become tiresome.

I just checked the weather forecast hoping we are finally heading for some cool autumn days. Unfortunately there are none on the horizon.

In fact the temps are going up again!

Last month (March) was the hottest on record for Australia and the way things are going it looks like April might do the same.

I wonder what the weather will be like when I go away in May?

Not much good looking at the average temps because they seem to be getting thrown in the rubbish bin.

At least I'll have the Tasman Sea at my doorstep, just hope I get one day of wind and rough surf to photograph.

When I work on my laptop I've found that Cali usually joins me. I have an old baby blanket alongside that she likes to sleep on. Occasionally Mr Spot will lie there too although he'd much rather sit on my lap.

I bought some catnip for them both. Cali wasn't impressed. Gave it one sniff then walked away. Spotty, on the other hand, found it wonderful. After rubbing himself in it he climbed up and tried crawling onto my computer.

Then he jumped down and rolled in it some more before suddenly falling asleep. It was really funny. I'll just have to make sure I hid the catnip from him ... lol.

Younger son and family went to the Royal Easter show - look at what they bought me as an Easter gift!

I am a great Doctor Who fan - have so many bits and pieces as well as my TARDIS door to the studio. They have bought me goodies before like a TARDIS cookie box that plays the theme when you open the lid and a bobble-headed 10th Doctor.

Winter time I have my 4th Doctor really long scarf to keep me warm when I go out...lol.

Wish I could get my hands on a life sized Dalek... still dreaming.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Cabins and Cameras and Commas ...

Well I've booked my week at Easts Beach - looking forward to painting all day and writing all nights   ... lol. Heading there in May.

The cabin I booked sleeps 5 and the shower looks as if all five could fit in at once ... lol.

The place looks really roomy and nice and clean. Even has a BBQ on the covered verandah.

I'll take one day to head up to the rainforest to photograph and maybe get in a sketch or two.

I've been there before and when I went I saw a few lyrebirds, even managed to get a blurred photo of one.

Hopefully this time if I do see one I'll be able to take a decent shot.

On that note I'm still umming and arring about buying a new camera.

Think I'll have to take a drive to Penrith - to Camera House and see what they have and what prices. Still leaning toward another Canon, mainly to EOS 70D because I mainly take landscapes/seascapes and after talking with several people it looks the best one.

There is a new 80D coming out but from what I've read and talked about it wouldn't do me any better and it's about $800 dearer - I can use the two lenses I have on any EOS. That would mean if I go for the 70D I could buy the camera body then splurge out on another lens. Maybe a macro or a wide angle or both!

Unfortunately the hottie in the pic doesn't come with the camera .... rotfl.

My inspiration for the hero in the MS
Time will tell if I buy it before I go away - my EOS 400D still has a lot of life left in it.

Going through my latest MS, have around 87000 words written. Its the story and an Artist and a Sculptor.

Now it's time to re-read and edit. Time to add bits, take bits away and tidy it up then I can send it to my beta reader before I do the final tweaks and polishes.

I've turned on the 'speech' ability in Word 2013 and am listening to it talk while I make any corrects when I hear something that doesn't sound right.

Every author has a crutch - sometimes it's a word they use too much or a phrase. For me it's Absolute Constructions. So when I go through the MS I have to make sure I don't have them close together or use too many.  

That was one of the things that pissed me off with the last editor - she picked up the missing words and spelling mistakes. She did find the extra commas but not all the grammatical errors which I think are really important if you want a story that flows.

So it was up to me to find where I'd used passive voice, too many/too close absolute constructions, incorrect tense. I even found a dangling modifier that she should have picked up as well as a head hop that somehow slipped in. 

On top of that I've sent off my short story to the new editor I've employed. Thankfully this new editor is also an author so he will know exactly what to look for. I really confident this time.