Monday, September 29, 2008

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

We've been in the new house for a week now and today - finally - we have been blessed with a working phone and internet. The idea was that it'd all be ready to go the day after we moved in, but territorial issues between phone companies put paid to that.

My telecommunications provider of choice has to rent lines from Australia's biggie, Telstra. That meant Telstra's chaps had to flick a switch to allow my lot to use it.

Days pass, no line. A long call (on my mobile, because I have no land line ...) revealed the switch had been flicked, but no one had told anyone that they'd flicked it.

Some swearing followed, including several slight variations on the word 'flickers'.

Then my telecom company had to run their line in. More days pass, still no dial tone. Another long call on the mobile revealed yes, there was a fault. Estimated repair time: two to three days ...

In the meantime I've been blagging net minutes from other people, which has really boiled down to reading email (but only replying if urgent) and a very small amount of Facebookery. I'll be getting back to everyone who's been trying to reach me as quickly as possible. Promise.

So what with our TV not getting connected until October 1st, it's been very quiet indeed ... but in the event I've not really had much spare time to fill. Today also marked the final day of a week of cleaning out the old house. Yup, seven days, five hours a day to clean a house, top to bottom. No ordinary clean, this one. If we want to see any of our rental deposit again, the hygeine standards must conform to the directives on the 'Vacation Inspection Guide' kindly provided by our outgoing real estate agent. That means a level of sterility on par with an operating theatre.

For all that, I still expect to get screwed out of at least some of the money. Such is renting.

So all up I've not written anything meaningful in more than a month. Which means I really need to get my finger out. Starting tomorrow.

Until then, four words to scare all those people who were terrified of being swallowed up by black holes created by Hadron Colliders: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

If anything sucks hard enough to implode the universe, it's that lot.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

House: About That

After much scrabbling about to find the couple of thousand dollars to secure it, we signed the lease on a new house this morning. The market being what it is, we're paying the same as this old place for a much smaller home, and we'll be flat broke for weeks while we recover from the expense of moving, but hey - we won't be living in a cardboard box come October 2.

Thanks to those of you who emailed or posted here with your support, and in the case of one friend who really can't afford it, an offer of money towards the deposit - you know who you are, special thanks to you!

So aside from the continued crating up of everything we own and the inevitable two-week loss of TV/Internet/Various Valuable Documents post-move, it should be business as usual very soon. In the meantime, a quick round-up of what's been going on in the background.

The first reviews of Transmissions have started to appear, and I'm exceedingly pleased to say they're very positive. Those of you with access to the Doctor Who Forum can check out what forum member Styre had to say in the Transmissions Discussion Thread. I won't go into details, because there are some spoilers in there for anyone who's not read the stores yet, but overall he like.

Sci-Fi Online has got its review up too - similarly good, if a bit bizarre (the reviewer appears to love the book, then awards it 6/10 ...). That one's more or less spoiler-free, so view with abandon.

I managed to read the book myself in amongst everything else, and all bias aside it is rather good - top job by editor Richard Salter who deserves another commission quick-smart. My picks for top tales? Hard pressed to choose between Ian Mond's Policy to Invade, a cleverly constructed tale that plays to the show's strengths - large-scale sci-fi that doesn't neglect the small-scale emotional heart; Lonely, a deceptively simple but thoroughly creepy spin on internet chatrooms by Richard Wright; and iNtRUsioNs by Dave Hoskin which I can't really get into without spoiling it.

Enough glad-handing. Go grab a copy and see for yourself.

In other news, Voices is now available for pre-order. I was amused to see the cover blurb on editor Amanda Pillar's site tagging the contributors as 'master storytellers' - that kept my ego stoked for a few days ... and it also reminds me, quick shout out to Amanda, who's been very understanding about a submission I'm working on and how the housing crisis has led to its temporary derailing. Good news - with that sorted out now, I should still be done on time. Woo-hoo!

I've also fired off a testing-of-the-water email to a company concerning a new(ish) range of stories they're putting out. So far the expected utter silence, but in fairness if I'd had a reply I'd not have been able to do very much about it until now anyway. Ho hum.

And last but not least, a magazine story I've been trying to get off the ground since April has final shown a spark of life. It's become a small obsession, seeing it through - one way or another it'll be done by the start of November. Hooray.

There you go then. Nothing for weeks, then a novella's worth in one post. I hope it won't take so long next time ...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

House of Horrors

When we all uprooted ourselves from Sydney and moved to Perth a couple of years back, one of the reasons was that the rental property was so abundant and - compared to New South Wales - so cheap.

Well that's come back to bite us in the arse, hasn't it?

You may have noticed it's been a fortnight since I posted on here last. The first of those two weeks was lost preparing for our quarterly property inspection. Every three months the landlord's agent pops around to make sure we're not running a crack house or breeding livestock in the living room. That in turn means that I have to spend a week beforehand removing all trace of drugs and pig droppings so we don't get caught out. But after many days of scrubbing, buffing and polishing, job done. Get the inspection itself out of the way and I'd be able to get back to work.

Except that when the agent arrived he didn't even take the time to inhale his first whiff of polish before dropping a bomb on us. It seems the owner wants to move some relatives in and that our lease isn't getting renewed when it runs out .. on October 2.

Now since we moved to WA there've been property booms and credit crunches and all kinds of economic shenanigans that have led to not only higher rents but also a shortage of rental properties. In simple terms we have been left with the task of finding a new home in a town where you'd have more chance of spotting a unicorn, all the while knowing that for the same rent we're paying here we'll have to settle for somewhere considerably smaller.

Then, of course, there's the small problem of having to conjure up around $3000 for the requisite deposit/advance rent you need to put down whenever you rent a place. And let's not forget that our options are further narrowed by having to stay in the catchment area for our school, unless we want to pull the kids out and find them a new place of education.

All this - assuming we need a week to sign papers and physically move - realistically needs to be sorted out in about three weeks.

Which is why I've been a bit quiet. Quite apart from having to divert almost all my free time to looking for a place and starting to pack up the house (got to do it now regardless of whether we find anywhere) I've been too bloody furious to post anything here without devolving into sweary ranting.

In the meantime there have been a few work-related snips of news that are worth putting up - I'll be blogging them as soon as I get the chance - but if I'm off the radar for a bit that's why. With a bit of luck I'll have some news sooner rather than later.