Writing process

Slave driver

We found this rather addictive app on the iPad called Merge Dragons.  It’s a game that allows you do exactly what it says.  Merge dragons.

They have occasional weekend special games, where you get nice prizes if you go on and do the special event. The trick is to collect enough points to collect all the prizes.  The dragons harvest various seeds and you combine them to make something worth more points.

The higher level the plant is that the dragons click on, the better the harvest, and the more points

There are a lot of plants on the board, and only a small number of high-level plants. (It takes time to set them up.)  But you can force the dragons to harvest the plants you want.

I have two dragons. But these poor little creatures. All they want to do is collect hearts, and mean old me keeps double-clicking on the big old tree I want them to harvest.  If I give them time in between, off they fly to collect some more hearts, which is slow, and doesn’t get you many prizes.

So the only way to keep these little creatures on track is to double-click on the appropriate fruit tree immediately after they have harvested.

This is cracking the whip.  This is slavery.

I feel really bad.

So bad, I’m losing any stomach for finishing the game.

Writing process

One Saturday in May

When you can’t see the poles.

Saturday was election day in Australia.

I have to admit to being disappointed with the result. Not just because I was hoping for a government that would take climate change more seriously, but mostly because the winning party indulged in a scare campaign that worked. All they seemed to do was tell you how much more badly off you will be if you vote for the other parties. There was a lot of dishonesty with it, too. Advertising made to look as if it came from the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission), and so on.

Sadly, other parties will see now that it worked. Sigh. It’s the Tragedy of the Commons.

In contrast, the Eurovision Song contest was an affirmative statement of ‘be who you are’.

Saturday was also Eurovision grand final.

Because we write, we don’t get a lot of time to watch television, but the one thing we do watch is the Eurovision final. Three years ago we switched from cable television to internet-based TV. Loved the cable, incidentally, it just worked; all the time, with no problems. Sadly, the phone company discontinued the service. We bought a smart TV to work with the new internet connection.

But every time we turn the television on now, we have to relearn how to use it.

That means that the first half hour of the Eurovision is spent by us trying to get the TV to work and trying to get a channel. We don’t have free-to-air any more, we have to rely on SBS On-Demand to see the show, and we always forget how to set it up.

I have no idea why it takes so long. Well, I do, because we’ve never really learned to use the television. In the end, we gave up and put it on Sherylyn’s laptop.

We missed the first two entries, but we heard the rest.

I liked most of the songs, and many of them were about acceptance, or being yourself. Australia’s entry, for example, was about post-post-natal depression. (We know, Australia, Eurovision. Don’t ask. We have no idea why, either.)

Actually, I was more impressed with Kate Heidke Miller’s (Australia) entry than I expected to be. I like the song, but the poles got to me. Three people swaying around on poles seemed a weird thing. But in the end, when they put the effects of the earth and the stars together with it, it was amazing.

The poles are still weird when you see them, though.

You have to watch it to see what I mean.

So politics is getting dirtier, but there’s hope if people can still sing about positive affirmative things. I’ll leave you with my favourite Eurovision song. It didn’t win (I did like the Netherlands song, which won) but I really liked Norway’s song. This one is about the northern Aurora, and has a really catchy chorus.

Writing process

A reader question about the lines

A reader asks:

When Gruen comes aboard her ship luckily all went fine.

But what if Ean hadn’t said, “Don’t kill,” through the lines and she had not listened to humans and killed Radko and Ean?

How would the Gruen lines feel with Ean dead, especially line eight which could have saved him, but did not want to contradict its Ship? How would the other lines feel with Ean dead? Or would the other eights save him?  After all they are not captain Gruen bound as is the Gruen.

We know how important the captain is, but how important is one of their lines? Line nine did not care about Ean’s panic in the void, all that mattered was Kari Wang.

Just curious. Ean would never hurt the lines, but what if Gruen had killed him (if Ean had forgotten to tell her no shoot through the lines)?

We thought this would be easy to answer, until we started to think about it, and it generated a lot of discussion in our writing household.

Instinctively, we felt the lines would save line twelve.  But they wouldn’t. 

As our reader pointed out, in the void the Eleven listened to Kari Wang over Ean, and we know that if Wendell wanted his ship to do something against Ean’s wishes, Wendell would win out, for certain.

We digress here to note that Kari Wang and the Eleven bonded very quickly.  We think that’s because Kari Wang had been on a ship (with a good relationship to it) not long before and was already open to the lines.  Both were grieving their lost crews, both were used to and ready for a ship/’ship’ relationship.

So yes, after a point, the captain’s commands would win out over Ean’s if the meld between ship and ‘ship’ was strong enough.

But how would the lines cope with a conflict between captain and line twelve?  Especially if they killed Ean.  It would create a conflict.  They don’t want to destroy line twelve.  Other ships don’t want them to destroy line twelve.

One crazy ship in the making.

Writing process

Continuing on from last week’s theme on automation

This is not a washing machine, or even a dryer, but when I was looking for clip art for this post I got pictures of cats in dryers. I know cats love dryers, because they’re warm and soft. The pictures are cute but call me paranoid—I didn’t want a picture like that. Too scary. So instead, I chose another cat laundry picture. Mum’s cat, Mercedes, used to love our laundry basket when we took the warm clothes out of the dryer. (Of course, our laundry wasn’t neatly folded like this. 😊)

Maybe it was talking about bots that set it off, but last week our washing machine stopped working. We did the obvious. Plugged it into a different power source. It still didn’t work.  We still had power everywhere else in the house, so it took a while for us to check the fuses. Sure enough, the circuit breaker had tripped.

We reset the fuse. The circuit breaker tripped again as soon as we turned on the washing machine.  Or the dryer. We then ran an extension cord from another part of the house. The washing machine worked perfectly.  At least we could wash clothes.  Albeit with a few OH&S issues.  But it was enough.

We called the electrician.  He came.  Tested the power points.  Everything worked, including the washing machine, and the dryer, in the same sockets it wouldn’t work for us.


“It’s probably the washing machine,” he told us. “If it keeps tripping as soon as you turn the appliances on, it’s probably the appliance.”

It worked for three days.  After that it started tripping again. Two days after that, it started tripping on the light switch in the garage (or, officially, Sherylyn’s art studio), and when she tried to use a heat gun out there.

Naturally, we’re waiting on the electrician again, but meantime, we’re not washing our clothes as frequently as we used to. Come the weekend there’s an overflowing basket of clothes.

To me, one of the most freeing inventions of the industrial revolution is the washing machine.

If I could only have one single electrical appliance in the house, it would be a washing machine. Driers, robot cleaners and dishwashers are lovely to have, and they free up time, but they don’t free up any way near as much time as the washing machine does. I’m off now to get my extension cord and do a week’s worth of washing.