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Posts by davefreer

A leave of absence

My dear MGC followers, I am half moved, with a foot in each place, and severe stretching about the middle bit, seeing as they are several miles apart. I don’t actually have a working internet connection at our new place, or, in fact, a computer, yet.

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Mixed Moss

10 points for anyone who gets the title reference. Barbs and I have spent much of our lives as rolling stones. We went where the work was, and later, when I could take work with me, where the best school for the kids was. And then… to Australia, where we had to start again basically from scratch, with  things so tight we had to ration slices of bread, and it was only my hunter-gatherer skills (in a new place, where I knew nothing) and very inept gardening that kept us fed after the rent was paid.  All the aspects of being a midlist trad author (doing all the checking on listings, providing all the publicity, pushing and publicizing the book, getting reviews etc. had had to be left to the people who get 90% + of the income for it. Of course – as usual – they did nothing barring botch a few things and mess about with my royalties. So things were pretty desperate… But we kept on. Writing, renting and moving, living frugally and saving until we could get a place of our own again.

Moving. Packing, carrying. I’m sick of it.

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So the last while has been taken up not with writing but with trying to move a house. As in: jack house up, and move it – a thing commonly done – but not often here on our remote island, and not by me. Thing is, it’s cheaper than building – but still very expensive. Australian prices are ludicrously high. And like most midlist authors, we get by… principally by not being in debt. By living frugally, and being as self-sufficient as possible.  The actual moving process is not particularly expensive. It’s just getting it done that is. We were given a free house on an adjoining property, conditional on our taking it away.

Now, I tend to live my life rather like I write my books – to plan. A plan that does not always survive contact with the event itself. But… that’s life. I had planned to do all of this over the next 4-8 months, taking piece by piece, in between writing, growing our food etc.  It’s how I do things – our farm was a bare block of 43 acres of scrub.  I’ve built a solar power plant, water pump, a dam, piping, an orchard, a bunch of sheds, and was just busy with the sewage system – before the final move. We had let our landlord know that we’d end our lease and move to farm we bought by December – because my plans are usually careful and allow for things to go wrong. I rock-climb. I dive. People who do these and don’t try to be cautious end up dead young. I’m not young. Building my world and setting up for my plot as it were. Read more

‘It sucks’


They asked you to critique their novel.

You like them, they’re a friend, and you would like to help.

And how hard can it be?

And then you find out just how hard…

So how do you tell someone ‘It sucked. Don’t quit your day job.’?

That is, if you wish to remain friends? Read more

Nice little fixer-upper


That’s Australian for renovation, just as a service-station in is a servo, I am Dave-o and Oh is Oh-o. Really. Would I come the raw prawn on you?*

What happens in reno is quite different to what happens in Vegas (or even vagus, for the nervous). It doesn’t stay there for starters. Home reno is major entertainment and aspiration for millions of Australians, which is not surprising as: 1)Our homes are made of ticky-tacky 2)They’re ridiculously expensive, and constitute a far too large a part of our economy, expenses and most dangerously, savings. But that aside, there are major similarities between this and taking that book that you’ve had in your bottom drawer, or have profound dissatisfaction with and working it into something else. Note: I do not say ‘better’. That, like in many a house reno, is not a foregone conclusion. Read more

The End


It was nice being an author.

But it is over now.

Well, I enjoyed it while it lasted. I hope you did too. Of course sf authors have seen this coming. We just never saw it coming for us.

And we all thought it would be at some distant future date.

Something to worry about then. Read more

Reality and expectations

I’m neck-deep in construction work on our little farm – we had – we thought, an agreement until December on the place we’re renting, so that when we moved the house (structure) — planned for April — onto the property, we’d have time to do the whole making it habitable part. Unfortunately that just got shifted to the end of April. That’s… approaching fast.

Now, we started with a piece of raw bush and some not well fenced paddocks which are more sag (rushes) and bracken than wallaby-and-wombat grazed lawn.  Like the man whose work was to push a wheelbarrow, our job was all in front of us. There was barely a drive-able track to the best place to put a house. Kind of forty acres and a mule, and I’m the mule, although I suspect ‘jackass’ would be closer. They’re also obstinate.

The difference between us and the pioneers of yesteryear are substantial. As they say in the Monty Python skit, we ‘ave it soft. But you tell the young people o’ today that, and they won’t believe yer. I’ve been lucky to have the loan of quite a lot of heavy machinery (the crane in the picture), as well as owning a lot of kit – like angle-grinders and power-saws and cordless drivers and drills, to say nothing of ye horseless carriage.  We also have access to shops and, possibly more important, information.  Oh, and while this is Australia, and we have a reputation of everything trying to kill you, it’s a trifle overstated, especially with modern medicine. The chances of wildlife, outlaws, or some local or transient group of people deciding to kill or rob us of everything we have to keep ourselves alive are very small. My firearms are good and accurate, I don’t have to hoard ammunition. My chainsaw will cut in 10 minutes what a skilled man could in an hour. My water-pump carries a hundred times the water that Barbs and I could haul in buckets.

We have it very, very soft indeed.

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