SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

You Must WIP It

WIPs.  Works In Progress.  Yes, I’m talking about plural here.  I have 3.  Frustrating.

One is the last short for my Pack Coppernick series, after which, I’m putting it to rest.  I know I said there’d be more, but to be honest, I’ve just run out of steam with the whole thing.

Two is a new adult futuristic Sci-Fi trilogy, and absolutely no spin-offs for this one.

The third is one that hit me on the weekend, and it’s kinda taken hold in my brain.  It’s set in the current day, and is another YA set.  What I hope makes this different, and I hope appealing to readers, is there’s not a single character in it – well none who survive, that is – who has any redeeming qualities at all.  I know that every time I watch a movie or read a book, somehow, I always find myself either sympathising with, or downright supporting the antagonist.  And, I reckon I’m not alone.

I read the first chapter to Miss11 yesterday and she loved it.  This is a girl who loves the good guys in most of the books she reads etc, but deep down, thinks Harley Quinn is the BEST CHARACTER EVER.  You know what? I think she’s probably right.


In Fiction, Vampires Suck. So Do Billionaires, But That’s A Rant For Another Day…

Now, I’m all for suspension of disbelief.  I’ve written a lot of stuff requiring it.   But really, it’d be nice if once, just once, a bloody (Heh. See what I did there?) vampire story made sense.

We all know the scenario.  Person gets bitten by a vampire, loses enough blood to be on the verge or carking it, then are “saved” by the vampire with the vamp’s own blood.  Think about it seriously, folks.  Thas has plot holes big enough to swallow you.

  1. The victim hasn’t changed physically yet.  They’re simply nearly exsanguinated.
  2. Those precious drops of blood must be pretty magical indeed – they A, turn the victim into the living dead, and B, somehow alter the gut so blood alone can be digested, and then be pumped pretty damned fast back into the newly fanged one’s bloodstream, thus saving him or her.
  3. The original vampire in the scene who’s “making” the new vamp, always pulls their wrist back, saying “Enough!” as though the act of saving their new creation has nearly killed them, but said creation comes to, hungry for more, licketty-split.  The timing’s off.  Surely the fresh vampire, the one who’s going through the major bodily change, would react slower than that.  There’s a lot going on under the surface, after all.
  4. FANGS!  Teeth are dead.  Sure, they have nerves in the roots, but at the surface, they’re like hair or toenails – no feeling, ergo, not alive.  If a vampire is to get fangs, the original incisors would have to fall out so new ones can grow through.  Now I’ve and read a lot of vampy stuff, and I’ve never seen this happen.

Ok, I’ll hop off this ‘ol soapbox for now, but before I go, could I just mention to the world that I’m getting pretty sick of the current trope with ebook album covers?  A couple of years ago, female protags standing sideways with big guns and bare midriffs was all the rage.  Now it’s mary-sues slinking up to shopped images of bare-chested blokes so ripped you’d think their skin is shrink-wrapped onto walnuts.

Radio Silence

Been a bit quiet lately because I’ve been in a scribbling zone.  Now comes the proofing, and reading it out aloud bit.  Fun…  not.

I’m An Adult Now, Dammit

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve figured it out.  I know my brain hasn’t progressed much past the mental age of 16, and the body has kept going.  That happens to everyone.  Some things never change.  One of them is my sense of rebellion.  The thing is, I’m no longer rebelling against my parents… well not too much anyway.  Instead, the authority figure in my life who is now the target for my need to break the rules, is my doctor.

Every six months, she marches me into the nurse’s office, get said nusre to stick a hole in me, and then a week later, tells me my cholesterol is too high.  What do I do?  I go and eat more hamburgers.

Surely there must be some balancing effect here.  R & R is benefitial.  Whether it comes from massage, yoga, chocolate, or burgers, has to be good for you, right?  Granted the last two back there can be bad for you if you eat too much of them, but a little sure relieves the stress.

That’s my story, and I don’t care if I’m deluding myself, I’m sticking to it.


The Big Facebook Cleanup

As I write this, I have 4353 friends on Facebook.  I reckon only a small percentage of those are people I actually know,  or correspond with, with any regularity.  So, I’m making a list of people to stay friends with.  Everyone I message or chat with, everyone who posts something I like, or likes something I post, plus a few actual friends and family, will go onto this list.  Then, come March 24 2018, everyone else will be unfriended.

I’m not doing this to be an asshole.  I’m not doing this to follow the hipster trend of dumping FB.  I’m doing this for money, boys and girls.  It’s that simple.

In the past few months of selling plants, planters and garden beds, I haven’t made more than I have by writing, but I have made it faster.  So, I’m going to keep my friends list below the 5k limit between now and March 2018.  I’m also going to only accept friend requests from people I know, or Melbournians who may wish to buy stuff from me.  Then, come March 24, 2018, I’m taking a razor to my friends list.

So, if you want to stay in touch, like this, or any other post, between now and this time next year.  If this has rubbed you the wrong way, unfriend me.  I won’t mind.  You’ll be saving me some time.

The Classic Beef Burger From Burger Bliss And Why I’m In No Rush To Return

You know the feeling.  That craving you get that can’t be satisfied with any substitute?  I had to have a burger.  I needed it.  So, over to Burger Bliss I went.  They’re just accross the street from my work, which is a shame.  I don’t like giving my neighbours bad reviews, but this is the second time I’ve been there, and the second time I’ve left disappointed.

I ordered the Classic Beef Combo Meal.  It comes with a burger, fries, and a drink – either water, a can (no diet), or iced tea.


I asked for iced tea, but was told there was none yet.  HUH?  It was 12:30.  If ever there was time to have it ready, you’d think it would have been then.  So, I got a Fanta.  The wait for the meal was pleasant enough.  I sat down with a highlighter and a manuscript and got some proofing done.  Then the food came out, and evidently this was the cue to rupture my eardrums with Europop.

Normally, I’m in the “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” camp, but jeez, that music noise was awful.  When I asked them to turn it down, I got a grunt and they turned if off completely.  Apparrently there’s no middle ground with these guys.   That’s not the only thing about which they’re inflexible.  Most of the classice flavours of milkshake just don’t exist there.  Want a chocolate shake?  The closest you’ll get is either Nutella or Home Made Salted Caramel.  What about Strawberry?  Well, there is Strawberries and Cream, but it just aint the same thing.

As for the food itself?  The fries were fine, and that was about the only good thing.  The burger bun was cold.  The patty was too small and off centre, and there was way too much slaw.  That meant the first two bites got me nothing but slop and slaw between two cold yet odly greasy slices of bun.  When I did get to the meat, it wasn’t the medium rare they promised to deliver.  It was rare.  Too rare.  I’m talking cool in the middle, falling apart rare.

Sorry Burger Bliss.  I’m afraid you’re not winning me over.  If you read this, here are a few pointers which may help you improve business, and I should point out that while I was there – the peak of lunchtime – there were only two other customers in the joint.  You can’t be making money with your current formula.

  • Cook your burgers more thoroughly, and try to get the patties the right size.
  • Go easy on the slaw.
  • Give customers what they want.  Sure it’s nice to offer some different flavours of shakes, but how about offering some classic favourites as well?  Nobody likes being forced to eat or drink their 2nd choice.
  • Smile, and don’t grunt.

I’ll give you guys 1 Star, and that’s just because the fries were nice.  Everything else needs work, and I suggest you do it quickly, or you’re probably not going to turn a profit any time soon.

I think from now on, when I need a burger, and really I only get this absolute craving about once every other month, I’ll probably trek over to Carnegie to go to Grill’d.  The music is loud there too, but not so loud I can’t hear myself think.  They smile, and while they don’t do shakes at all, their drink selection is a helluva lot better than what’s on offer at Burger Bliss.



Writing Mode

Sometimes, I feel like I’m a number of Sams all rolled into one.  One’s just a simple husband and dad who works in retail.  One’s a writer.  Another’s a hobby gardener, trying to bring in a few extra dollars by selling herbs and planter boxes.  The trouble is, I can only switch between these modes one at a time.  I can, on rare occasions, run Family Sam with Writer Sam, or Gardener Sam, but not for long.

Writer Sam is the most anti-social of all three.  He needs large chunks of unbroken time, and discipline.  Annoyingly, since he takes medication to help stabilise his moods, the discipline is very important, especially since he’s always been a pantser*.  He can’t just sit down at a keyboard while he’s on an up-swing and write for hours, or sometimes even days at a time.  He needs bum-glue.

And, there’s always the financial side.  Gardener Sam is making more money, more regularly, than Writer Sam.

So, Gardener Sam is gazumping Writer Sam a lot these days.  But, Writer Sam has got a message to all his fans:  Don’t Panic!!!  There is more copming; it’s just going to be coming more slowly than before.  In fact, I’m writing a bit today, which is nice, so stay tuned!

*A pantser writer writes by the seat of his or her pants, while a plotter is more disciplined, and maps their story out much more clearly before and during the writing process.




My New Half Price Herbs Group!

There’s a saying in retail: “Raising prices opens an umbrella for your competitors.”

When I first started selling my herbs, I set the price at $0.50 for small pots, $0.75 for large pots, and $0.25 for Tomatoes Of Mystery (all self-seeded, none of which I could identify as this variety or that, so they really were a lucky dip!).  I sold out pretty quickly.  So, I raised myt price to $0.75, and sold out almost as fast.

Now, at the urging of Superwife, and encouragement from some customers, I’ve raised it again to $1.00.  That’s double my original price, and it made me feel edgy.  So, I created a way for savvy customers and my precious repeat customers, to get them at my original price of $0.50 for small pots of herbs, and $0.75 for large pots.  All they have to do is join my Bandannasam’s Half Price Herbs Facebook group, and they’re eligibale for the reduced price.

Right now I have small pots of Common Mint, Vientamese Mint, and Basil – all listed elsewhere ar $1.00, but for group members, just $0.50. Also, I have large pots of Common Mint, normally $1.50, but just $0.75 to group members.

Take that, Bunnings!

Also, I just got some pics from a local childcare centre, to which I sold my first batch of raised planter boxes.  Look pretty good, don’t they?!?

If you’d like some, I knock them together for $50 a box.  They’re made out of repurposed wood from forklift pallets.

I also sell vertical wall planters like this one:

Small: ≤ 80cm² $15
Medium: ≤ 100cm² $20
Large: ≥ 120cm² $25

These too are made from forkilft pallets, and come lined with plastic so your plants won’t dry out.  Me, a gardener.  Who’d have thunk it???




What I’ve Learned From Pintrest

I’ve been active on Pintrest for a few weeks now, and so far I’ve learned a few things:

  • There’s a chart for everything.  From diets, to gardening layouts, to exercise, to what you should before, during and after sex, to what to wear with what.
  • People will believe almost anything if it’s on the internet.  One pin even espoused the crushing of watermelon seeds, boiling them, then drinking the water as a way of dieting, while another told me to eat nothing but one hard-boiled egg a day for a month and “be amazed” and my weight loss.  Oh man, what a load of crap.
  • People love to pin and re-pin delicious-looking recipes in the hope others will think they’re masterchefs.  My mac ‘n cheese never looks anything like the touched-up little masterpieces on Pintrest, but the kids wolf it down like there’s no tomorrow.

One day, there’ll be a real-life version of PIntrest that will launch spectactularly, run for a short while until the users realise how mundane their lives are, then it will fall in a heap as those users swing back to perving vicariously at things they could, but will never, do.




If Stephen Hawking Said It, It Must Be True, Right???

So Professor Stephen Hawking has a message for anyone who has suffered depression.  Ain’t that nice?  He likens depression to black holes and reminds us to look at things around us to see the beauty of it all, and to wonder about the creation of the universe.  That’s nice too.  Thanks Steve.  I appreciate the gesture.  Thing is, I’d warrant any depression you’re likely to have suffered has had a lot to do with your physical state, not a bad mix of chemicals in your brain, over which you have no control.

This leads us to one tiny problem.  It’s the same goddamn message I’ve heard for years from people who don’t get it.  “You’ll get over it,”  “It’s all in your head,”  and my personal favourite (that it came from good Hawkes, only makes it that much more special, “Look on the bright side.”

Umm, no.   When you’re in a black hole of depression, (which, by the way Prof says, can be escaped from – and yes, I know that’s bad grammar – ), you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is impossible to look around to see the beauty of everything et cetera, BECAUSE YOU’RE IN A FUCKING PITCH BLACK BLACK HOLE!


There.  Rant over.  Move along.  Move along.