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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

All the journal entries for 2006

December 17, 2006
We have just moved house, my wife and I. We are of an age where down-sizing was called for, though now we are in the new place, it looks as though more possessions will need to go, but not the books. I am now at that comfortable phase where the government regards me as retired, but I ain't. I finished the move on Friday, and spent the rest of the day going over the proofs of Kokoda Track: 101 Days, plus much of Saturday and a goodly part of Sunday. Now that is cleared, and I am back on the other big project, the one that I remain secretive about. The signed contract for that arrived on Friday, so it is all systems go!

November 14, 2006
The Kokoda history has been saved. That is the one I referred to as a total dog a few weeks back. It was a dog, but it isn't now, because I scrapped the whole thing and started again. You have to be prepared to do that, from time to time, and this was one of those times. The people at Black Dog Books were good about it, gave me a few pithy comments, I added my own, and took it from there.

I have been doing some serious reading on the history of science project, but we have sold our house and bought a new one, so packing all the books and other stuff and moving comes first -- we need to be settled into the new place by Christmas. I will try to find the time to add a short page about it, some time soon.

My time has been divided between reading old copies of The Times and Scientific American online, printing out the relevant bits, and then adding these to my database spreadsheet thingy. I have the chapters worked out, so new bits and factoids are assigned as I find them. At the same time, I am noting key issues to hunt down elsewhere, and I am trying to spend two days a week out of the house, hanging around libraries, reading more stuff online, reading microfilm (ugh!), burrowing in books, journals, and even old PhD dissertations. Another reason for going out is that I have no intention of becoming a recluse! I also have a working title -- Seahorse Teeth and Gutta Percha but that will change (if only because it doesn't say much about what the book is really about!).

October 23, 2006
If you want to know why this has been so quiet, don't be misled by my Sydney tourism site. Yes, that has taken some time, but basically, I haven't wanted to talk about what I have been up to, because none of it was definite. One of the books that I wrote last year was a total dog, so I threw out the manuscript and did it again. I think it's OK now.

I am well into the research for a major history of science, but I don't plan to talk too much about that for now, and there is another book on the blocks. I still have a scheme to do some historical fiction, and the research for the major history will come in handy there, as both cover the same period.

July 20, 2006
I am back, with lots of ideas, lots of notes, but now I need to sort out what I do next. I need to choose one project and run with it, but most of last year's work was a waste of time, because I just wasn't writing well. The research was good, but none of them will go without a re-write.

May 13, 2006
I am getting ready to travel overseas, gathering material for a couple of projects that I will say more about later. I will be seeing a number of Greek islands, Athens, Vienna, Plymouth, Cornwall and a pub in London between now and July, plus a few maritime museums in various places. That is why I have been getting this lot cleaned up.

April 16, 2006
Writing is one of those things that happens best in good conditions. The careful observer may note something of a gap here: since the last entry, my mother has died of cancer (I was the only child, so had to carry the burden of her need to blame somebody for the condition she was in and then I had to clean up her estate), and then my grandson Callum was diagnosed with a genetic condition (Wiskott Aldrich syndrome) that was ultimately fatal. He died six days ago.

So one way and another, I haven't done a lot of good writing in the past 12 months, and I am only now coming slowly back to pick up the various plans that I had. More on that later, but the exploration book bombed badly, and the Kokoda history is flawed. I will be looking shortly to see if they can be rescued.

I haven't been completely inactive. The Killer Bean of Calabar is now being translated into Russian and Korean, and I have produced a juvenile book on poisons which I wanted to call Poisons for Children, but the publisher wouldn't let me! I have also been doing journal and magazine work and some radio talks. There have been no major projects, though I have been doing a Sydney tourist guide on the Web which may end up as a book.

I have also been in Hawaii (volcanoes, island biology, tsunamis and stuff), Indiana (friends), Memphis Tennessee (just looking, though I discovered a marvellous museum on Mud Island) and Oxford Mississippi (talking about sugar and southern foodways with the Southern Foodways Alliance). Since I returned, the American edition of Killer Bean, sold there as Poisons, has come out in paperback. This link has the details and some reviews. I did a librarians' conference in Albury, and we had children's author Lynne Cherry as a house guest for a few days -- I met her in Washington DC at a geophysics conference in 2002.

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