Monday, 21 December 2015


He was grey, he was old
And through the lines on his face
Pop's story was told
Spotted with age and his hands bony thin
All of life’s story was written on him
And in a mind etched with memories still sharp
He has no room for tears in his eyes
While love beats his heart

In the morning on his porch  you'll see him
He sits all alone
With tea in a cup he’ll fondle his phone
It rings and he answers time and again
A smile writes a crease across his lips
And, it's hello old friend
He shuffles, he snuffles and sometimes he creaks
No time to grumble about his pain that he'll speak
It's time to catch up with old friends
And that's all that he seeks

And in the morning, you’ll see him
After a quarter to ten
Answering the phone, yep, he's out there again
He’ll be sippin' his tea and phoning a friend
He’s laughing and snorting his morning away
Old men jousting with another story to tell
And I admire the way
Pop and his friends are denying Death
And their passport to hell

Another day has gone by and little was done
And now the sink overflows with dishes to do
It might be tomorrow before he gets 'round to them too
Another day filled with laughing and lying and all of it fun
He looks back on his life with some sadness and sun
Is he lonely you ask and in a while he'll answer
He thinks that he might
Then he gets into bed, kisses her photo
And turns out the light

Friday, 27 November 2015

An Aircraft Mechanic's War Diary entry December 1943

LAC,  Lionel Probert's war diary entry, 15th December 1943

Arrived at Milne Bay, where we are anchored for about 12 hours. A pretty place. Hard to realize that it was once the scene of bitter fighting. Good few ships in the harbour, one of the largest harbours in the world.

Only a short note, but filled with information. I can't imagine the excitement he would have felt, was he apprehensive or were he and his mates on one big adventure. I believe these blokes were ld to believe they were heading for adventure only to discover it had unimaginable horrors. 

Rest in Peace, Dad your words still live in me.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Building Character, or how I do it anyway

Over time I have joined my writing club members and others in writing workshops, to discuss character development. As authors we are always searching for ways to fix not only a character's physical attributes, but their mannerisms, beliefs and style. Hoping they will live as the people of our imagination. 
      For me character comes from people I see or hear, anywhere, or at any time. For instance, I might observe a mother trying to control an unruly child. I will watch how she manages the situation and if it fits the character I'm writing, I store those observations for later. Even the child’s tantrum can offer inspiration. Noting the words and actions used to recall that behaviour for when it is needed.
It is the same with animals, if your character is good with dogs, then the best place to study how interaction works is a dog park. An alternative is to watch, How-To shows, on television. Maybe you can draw on your own experience and adapt those to your story. As a writer I think about what I see and how it affected me at the time. I often ask if the scene affects my emotions? What are they and can I save them for later in a story. Or can I tell a story from the animal’s point of view?
I try all of these techniques to build character that I think are believable. They live in the world I have outlined and it is my task to bring them to life for the story's reader. Leading characters are contracted to show the reader what motivates them and I try to do this by showing their emotions through behaviour. How they handle their fear and elation. I try to use an action to show remorse, rather than say they are remorseful.
During my first three novels I used a cheat sheet similar to the example below. Danny Mitchell is a lead character in a screen play I'm writing. This Character Profile Sheet has worked well up until now, but I needed more to understand who Danny is. 
When writing Toby Farrier, I stumbled at one point and could not get the villain fixed in my mind. At the same time, I was reading Elizabeth George’s book about her writing process and remembered her chapters on character development. I took her advice and wrote about five pages describing Banker Bill's  rise from the gutter to becoming successful discovering all of his brutal tactics and criminal traits. Sometimes you just have to start typing to discover just who the character is.
I did not have mention height hair colour or if he wore glasses, but by the fifth page I knew him. He was a scheming despot with a small, but important part in the book. That exercise took about half an hour and it helped me over the hurdle. The gate to the last few chapters had been unlocked and the final words ran onto the page. Discovering the traits of his character finished the book.
I created Danny Mitchell as a supporting character to leading man, Smudge. Here is part of his story, it may only be part of a day in his life, but it helped me understand the essence of him. I hope you enjoy Danny's quirks, faults failings and underlying desires as much as I do.


Danny felt his fingers wander across his face and imagined his skin looked like the floor of a drought ravaged dam. He could be dreaming and rolled into the shade searching for sleep. It was no use; he was awake enough to feel his brain slosh like water in a balloon. Today, it was worse than ever and he wondered just what concoction was in the rum bottle he swiped from Dunga last night.

Sounds of morning filled the park near the creek, he looked at the shadows, they were still long and pointing west. He listened to the breeze, there was no murmur from the town yet. His legs dragged from the sleeping bag and he dropped his tracksuit pants on top of his shoes. He sniffed his tee shirt and pulled his head away, the brain sloshed and he had to steady himself against the back of the park shelter. The shirt dropped onto his pants and he thought about breakfast. His stomach heaved and he doubled over expecting a taste of bile, it didn't come, but he dry-retched. His brain sloshed some more and a headache started its daily climb into pain.
Danny, naked as his ancestors, staggered toward the hollow of a gum tree that had stood at the south end of the park before white man set foot in the area. He fought the turmoil of two cultures, but his physic resisted his belief that he was a loser. Now here if an onlooker saw him they would believe he was the perfect specimen of a hunter gatherer. Light danced across his back glowing ebony, brown and silver as he passed under the trees. He reached in and drew a string up and out, until a flour sack dropped at his feet. He found a bar of soap and headed for the tap to the west of the tree, he found the gardener's hose and tossed it over a limb of the tree. Yesterday a trigger fitting improvised for a shower head, today it was just the hose. He snaked the hose out into the sun and waited for the water to warm inside it. 
At the tap he adjusted the flow, soaped his hands and turned it off until he lathered his body. He remembered a moment a few weeks back and it made him laugh. A lady dog walker spotted him in his ablutions and put a hand to her mouth. She seemed confused by the sight of him not knowing whether to run or stay. Danny called to her saying no matter how hard he tried the colour wouldn't come out. She turned on her heel and raced the dog up the path.
The water was warm and he held the hose in one hand as his fingers ran over coiled springs that was his hair. He lingered thinking about the promises he made his mother. Daniel, as in the lion’s den, she told him. He was a prince among men and he too would rise to be revered like King David. Why, he wondered, would anyone expect this little Aborigine to be capable of making a difference. It was easier to just do what everyone else expected, be a bludger. That is what he is best at. 
He had no warning when the water turned cold and as he jumped about he spotted the dog walker again. It was tempting him to call out and tell her he was performing his tribal cleansing dance. Danny imagined a wet dog shaking when he tried to rid himself of as much water as he could. His thoughts drifted to the story of Moses and imagined him leaving the safety of the river and into the King’s palace. The oppression of slavery, but then to wander for forty years in the desert, Danny found it hard to comprehend. 
Thankful his mother didn't call him Moses, he would have wandered aimless, not like Moses, Moses had a purpose. Anyway why did she give her kids these biblical names, he thought about his siblings, yeah that was why, they all had something to live up to. Daniel Mitchell, her only disappointment.
A quick rub with the towel and he set up his camp-stove and boiled some water. It had been a couple of days since his last shave and the beard was long enough to prickle him, time for it to go. He hung a mirror big enough to examine his features from a dead twig. He shook the shaving cream and fumbled for his razor. The blades were dull and he knew care would be required to prevent him portraying a black Norman Gunsen. He filled an enamel mug with water from the billy and soaped his beard. He was right, the blade was dull and a new packet should come his way at the first opportunity.

Danny stood back and through the haze of his hangover admired himself. If they ever needed a black Captain Jack Sparrow, he was their man. He took yesterday’s clothes to the tap and scrubbed them with soap, he rinsed them and lay them onto the slabs of bluestone lining the creek bank to dry. Pleased with his work he stood in the sun and decided to dress for the day.

Breakfast would wait until he could scrounge something from behind the bakery or the grocer's store. Times were tough to be a hunter gatherer. He took a book out of his sack and tried to read it, but his head fought him. A ukulele came to hand, he tried to tune it and even that added to his discomfort. He could lay down in the shade and doze the morning away while his clothes dried, but his body called for exercise. He pulled on a pair of shorts his runners and a tank top. The best way to get rid of the hammering in his head, would be to run it off.

Danny started at a jog and in a few steps found his rhythm, he like the sound his feet made on the kangaroo pad that followed along the edge of the creek. Roos can bound over ledges, but he needed his hands to scrabble over the ridges. All good exercise, the bank opened up and he ran along the flat until the big gully before the reservoir, he dropped into that and crossed to the other side of the creek. At the dam wall, he ran up and down the concrete steps of the overflow until his legs cramped. A jog back to camp would do as his cool down routine and by camp, his headache should be gone.

Back in town he mooched away the day, perfecting his dirty, no-good-Abo persona. This was Danny's life as he understood it, for now.


NAME:                                               : Danny Mitchell
Position in story:                                 : Supporting Role

Aboriginal Australian
Socioeconomic level as a child:
Socioeconomic level as an adult:
Welfare Drunk and likes weed or gives the impression he does
Can’t remember, just drifts around
Current residence:
Sleeps in a car behind Smudge’s Garage
Perceived Unemployable
Charismatic, technical abilities kept hidden, mechanical sympathy intuitive driving skills
Wastes everything and not frightened to bot borrow or steal to get what he needs

Birth order:
One of five, he is the third child
Siblings (describe relationship):
Michael (Micky), Mary, Ruth, Lydia
Spouse/partner (describe relationship):
Fancy Free
Children (describe relationship):
None he lays claim too
Parents (describe relationship):
Eunice (Mother)  Jack
Physical Characteristics

165 cm
48 kg
Eye Colour:
Hair Colour:
Black and curly
Glasses or contact lenses?
Skin colour:
Light brown
Shape of face:
Distinguishing features:
Killer grin
How does he/she dress?
Scruffy, likes things with brands that he defaces
Habits: (smoking, drinking/drugs/addictions etc.)
When he can and a bit of weed
Any physical illnesses?
One evident
Play station games, darts, pool, he is a gambler
Favourite sayings:
Deadly brother
Speech patterns:
Puts on an aboriginal twang when needed to capture his audience
Born Black and can’t change it.
Style (Elegant, shabby etc.):
Shabby, but can put on the Ritz when required
Greatest flaw:
He has a poor opinion of himself which he hides
Best quality:
He knows he should live by the Christian principals his mother taught him and knows he hides them by playing the clown
Personality Attributes and Attitudes

Educational Background:
High school in Pt Augusta dropped out in year eleven. Took up a trade as a fitter machinist and found a love in modifying cars, while in Adelaide at a football training camp.
Intelligence Level:
Very High
Any Mental Illnesses?
Only insecurity
Learning Experiences:
Lots of life skills with tribal elders
Character's short-term goals in life:
To get through the day
Character's long-term goals in life:
Make it to the grave
How does Character see himself/herself?
As a failure and always will be a complete fraud to his outside persona
How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others?
Happy, fun to be around, lazy abo bastard, good in bed, great little goal sneak, daring, charismatic, useless. Be dead before he is forty
How self-confident is the character?
Total self-conscious and feels   he is unworthy, a fraud, a liar and a cheat. Nothing his mother wanted him to be.
Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof?
He is driven by what he wants to do now, but those traits are balanced by lessons he has learned and therefore logic will sometimes overrule a spontaneous thought.
What would most embarrass this character
To be found out that he cares

Spiritual Characteristics

Does the character believe in God?
Yes, he is conflicted by the teachings of his Baptist mother and the old ways. Both lines of thought have a creator and the Aborigine in him desires to be liked by the spirits of his ancestors
What are the character's spiritual beliefs?
He hides his belief from everyone
Is religion or spirituality a part of this character's life?
Only when alone and confused, does he reach out to the white God his mother believes in
If so, what role does it play?
Not often needed

Monday, 5 October 2015

Smudge, the first Synopsis

Trapped in a dying town, mechanic Smudge (Silas Mudge) has dreamed of racing the Bathurst 1000, but time has dashed that dream until now. His chance comes in the form of an eleven year old girl, Charlie and the natural skills of a drunken doped up youth, Danny Mitchell. Smudge’s motto, opportunity comes with change is no more present than now and together they grab this chance to live their dreams.

Behind in his lease payments for his Grand Prix Simulation Room machines, Ronnie Makepeace also is late with his rent and data usage to Smudge. Ronnie doesn’t answer the phone and won’t respond to e-mails. Smudge wants his money now. So does his financier and is prepared to break into Smudge’s premises to recover the simulators.

Ruby (Smudge’s ex wife) beaten by the boyfriend she left him for ten years ago, lays in a coma. Secretly Smudge visits her every Wednesday, holds her hand and talks to her for over an hour without response. He kisses her lips, tells her he loves her and journeys home.

Terri Western, Charlies mother is the town tart who longs to escape the town and its bigots. Kevin Haslett comes from Booleroo Centre, has a towing business and races Speedway cars, He promises to take Terri with him on a National Tour, but Charlie can’t join them.
Terri is travelling to Peterborough to put Charlie on the bus to Brisbane when the car leaves the road, only Charlie survives and she has several injuries. Smudge decides to take care of her and the town’s gossips start vicious rumours. Smudge shrugs it off.

Lexi Simpson tasked with being Charlie’s case worker begins a friendship with Smudge when they work through his application to foster the girl. She agrees to sit with Charlie while Smudge visits Ruby. The towns people think Ruby is dead and to them she is, she never returned and the family farm her parents left her is managed by the executors of her estate. She never changed her will and because she is still married to Silas, he will inherit if she dies.

A chance meeting with a supercar team offers a challenge to race their drivers on the simulators. If Silas wins he gets a few laps in a V8 Supercar. If The driver wins, he gets to do the Black Rock Dirt Circuit Club Funday in Psycho and Silas will provide a couple of cars for the team to drive. Everyone agrees. Silas gets a run in DVS car and a few Supercar teams attend the fun day too.

A team owner suggests that with the money and talent on show Smudge should consider finding funding to run a Wild Card Entry at Bathurst. He will make intros to a couple of car owners who might have a spare car.

Smudge knows Bathurst well from the TV but takes Danny and Charlie on a holiday they meet teams and put a deal together for next year. Now the work stats, they need to practice and find a few roads with similar corners to learn the track. Smudge has an idea and convinces the council to close a few roads for Danny to learn on.