National Novel Writing Month: Progress, Dragon Age Inquisition and Computer Stuff

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Hello out there in the real world! I say the real world because mine feels rather not real at the moment. I’m in the midst of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I have to say, every year I forget how hard it is. 50,000 words, one month, and well, me being me I’m shooting for about 60,000 to 70,000 words, while not killing my health, diet or exercise regime (such as it is). I know from past experience that shooting ahead of target is great, but typically there’ll be a few days later in the month where I just can’t write—and just write a little bit of nothing (i.e. 200 to 300 words) or I just take the day off and feel both bad and relieved. Actually, even though I’ve made a conscious decision to write this blog post, I can feel the weight of expectation pressing down on my shoulders—does this really count towards NaNo? The answer of course is ‘Yes it does because it’s writing and I say it does’. The next question is ‘Is it cheating?’ to which the answer is ‘Yes it is, but it’s my time and my month and I’m going to define it any way I bloody well please’. I guess I’ve always treated NaNo as a writing month, but now, for me, writing has become more than just putting words into a draft. Currently it also means blogging, which I do far too little of, updating the Queermance website, and sending out emails regarding Queermance 2015. Speaking of, if I’ve just met you at Book Expo Australia earlier in the year (seriously it was only what, one or two months ago? Feels like a lifetime!), then expect an email from me about showing up at Queermance. The emails are on their way, I promise! Also, it’s not writing, but I am also going to be dedicating some time to video editing, both to bring you some of our recent fundraising Cabaret Get Your ROCS Off with the RMIT Occasional Choral Society, but also because Isabelle Rowan and I will be launching a Pozible Campaign very shortly in the hopes of turning our annual Anthology (Queermance Vol II) in this case, into a print book, as well as having it as an eBook. Hopefully with some amazing wrap around cover art! Our first goal, however, is to pay our authors, stay tuned for more info and pitch in if you can (either submit a story to us, support our Pozible Campaign or both), Izzy and I will love you forever if you do! If you want to see some images of the event itself or find out how it went you should have bought a ticket. But if you didn’t, you can check out the Queermance Blog over here. In other news I just splurged on a new computer. Or at least, I splurged on the parts for a new computer, which I’ll probably pick up in a week or two, just in time to lose myself in Dragon Age: Inquisition for a month or so. I may have argued I was buying a new rig for decent video editing power (and I am), but part of me also wanted to get something to kick Inquisition into high gear. If you haven’t seen the gameplay videos yet, it looks amazing! I love the Bioware games, as they’re always trying to tell an amazing story, which is a cause dear to my heart. Sometimes I feel they sacrifice gameplay for story (see my review of Mass Effect 3), but I love what they do, what they try to do, and while I have issues with EA’s spyware Origin platform, I will very grudgingly allow it onto my PC for the purposes of getting awesome games. That said, EA, please expect me to buy fewer of your games on account of it. Plus the whole SimCity fiasco. Ugh. Waste of money, that one. The thing about computers is that when I start looking at parts, I always want to get the best—the latest chipsets, the latest motherboards and top of the line graphics. When I looked at a new rig at the beginning of the year it was Intel’s Haswell CPUs that were top of the line, and I wanted those (but couldn’t afford them). Now, I’m lusting after the X99 systems, but…yeah. Can’t afford those. In the drive to want the best (and arguably do that little bit extra in terms of future proofing), it’s easy to get sucked into overspending and pushing out your budget. So I have to ask. Do I really need the Z99 chipset when I’m not a hardcore gamer? Do I need an i7 CPU with hypertheading just because it’s supposedly ‘more powerful’ than an i5? Do I really want 2400 Mhz RAM or will 1600 do? Turns out the answer is, no, I don’t need the Z99, yes I do need hyperthreading for video editing, and no I can take the more economical 1600 MHz RAM and probably see little change in performance. Which is good, because it turned out that one of the cheapest RAM sets available to me had a better transfer rate than the more expensive sets, arguably making it a more efficient and effective bit of kit. My last PC was a beast, sucking it a lot of power (electricity bills, ouch), and running super hot despite having a case with six fans. As a case with six fans, it was (and is) super noisy. So my goal this time around was to find a quieter build. Unfortunately, some of what I’d want in a quiet build isn’t available in Australia, but I’ve done the best I can. It does mean I’ve had to splurge a bit and get a new case, Power Supply and my first CPU third party cooler, which has cost a few hundred dollars extra, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to reuse the case down the line (possibly replacing the fans when they wear out). I’m also hoping that only putting in a single, higher end graphics card rather than two lower end ones using crossfire or SLI will mean that the entire system will use less power (both in terms of inefficient fans and power draw) and lead to lower electricity bills. Hopefully it works and leaving the computer to render video will no longer take all night—or if it does take all night it won’t sound like there’s a spaceship taking off in the corner of my bedroom. One day I’ll have a dedicated writing room. I have no idea when that will be, but one day! In any case, I’d better shut up about technology and get back to my NaNoNovel. If you’re writing as well, how are you going? On track to get to 50,000 words? If you’re in Melbourne hope to see you at the Night of Manuscripting Madly next weekend. I will be there with foccacia and I might even do pancakes in the morning if the donut run to the South Melbourne Markets is a bust again this year. You’d think the food truck would realise we show up once a year to buy a box or two of donuts, the same way that Mojo’s weird pizza have realised we place to orders in November for 30-40 pizzas and that it’s not a prank. I think they put on extra staff for Melbourne Cup day and our NOMM each year actually. Okay, Goodbye for now and hopefully I’ll be updating again soon when I next need a novel break!

National Novel Writing Month – Take 5

NaNoWrimo

NaNoWriMo

 

I’ve been so amazingly busy with Get Your ROCS Off, the Queermance Fundraiser, that I’ve managed to nearly forget that it’s the end of October — actually it’s Halloween tomorrow of all things. And November means National Novel Writing Month–my fifth attempt, and hopefully fifth success. For those of you who already know what NaNoWriMo is and are patiently waiting for me to upload my rebel scorecard, you can download it here:

NaNoWriMo Rebel Report Card

This scorecard works whether you’re a rebel or not, and I realised as I was editing it that I didn’t really need to make a 2014 version, and then a 2015 version and so on – the only difference between them and the 2013 version is the year in the title area of the spreadsheet. So I removed the year – you can either come back and download a fresh copy next year or save a master copy and keep using that until I come up with a better version.

For anyone who doesn’t know, National Novel Writing Month is November, where writers try to write 50,000 words of a manuscript–or a 50,000 word manuscript–just because. No judgement, no editing, no expectations. Just words, words, words.

Personally I use it to work on whatever story or stories I have going at the moment, and this year I have three–an anti-valentines day contemporary story about two friends who have a chance at more, an urban fantasy story with dragons just because, and a young adult story about what happens when you find out you’re more than you think. I’ve also got a concept I’m playing with called ‘Escape From the Breeding Colony’ as a working title, but it’s little more than a concept at the moment. It has aliens though. Too many projects, not enough time. Still, 50,000 words will go nicely towards any of them.

In any case, apologies to anyone who was waiting on the new scorecard, and I’ll see you at the write ins around Melbourne if you’re local. If you aren’t, may your inner editor be silenced for the next month.

Cheers

Matt

Very limited $100 Queermance 2015 tickets available

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Some of you may know that I’m the co-director of Queermance Australia, Australia’s National Queer Literary Festival. Launched in March this year, we’ve been slowly planning our next festival in April 2105.

Today, Queermance passed 100 likes on Facebook. A whole 100 likes in less than six months! It’s an amazing amount of love for a tiny (if growing) festival like ours and in celebration we’ve put up five tickets special $100 tickets up for purchase for Queermance 2015 (April 17-19). To get your hands on one of these special discounted tickets, go to Trybookings and select a Special 100 ticket. Then use the promotional code ‘onehundred’ to take $70 off the ticket price. So thank you again to everyone for your support, see you in April and stay tuned for exciting program updates coming very soon!

 

 

 

Book Expo Australia!

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve updated my blog. It’s true, I’ve been a bad boy and neglecting this space while I went and built up Queermance, and that’s still going. But right now I’m on my way back to Sydney, where you might recognise this wonderful window on Oxford Street. I probably won’t have much time to party through, as I’m off to hang out at Book Expo Australia out at Sydney Olympic Park. I’ve been invited to hang out at the Clan Destine Press Booth (J01 near the food court) by my friend and publisher Lindy Cameron, and I’ll be there to talk Queermance, possibly sell some books and wander around as someone enjoying a book event rather than the crazy guy in the background pulling all the strings. If you’d like to join me visit the website and grab a ticket–they’re insanely reasonable and range from free entry for sprogs up to a whopping $8.50 for adults.

Book Expo Australia When – 30/31 August 2014 Where – Exhibition Hall 5, Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW 2127. 10AM-5:30PM

Inheritance released as a stand alone book!

It’s been a few months since Inheritance was published in Queermance Volume I, and it’s now been released as a stand alone short story from Amazon and Smashwords! Inheritance follows the unlife of vampire Lex Cranbourne, who we first saw in Mr Perfect, and includes the tongue in cheek humour you’d expect from a Matthew Lang story as well as no geese at all. Why no geese? Why would you want them?

Hong Kong: Shopping – Top 7 tips and places

Three pairs of new shoes, two old, including one pair that couldn’t be replaced on account of massive feet.

Hong Kong is renowned as a shopping destination, and has everything from the highs of high fashion to the cheapest of outdoor markets. It has midrange shopping malls filled with more H&M, Zara and Uniqlo stores than you’ll find in any of Australia’s major cities. You don’t need my help to find those, or the major markets (any guide book will take you to the Temple Street Night Markets or Jardine’s Bazaar), so here’s a few things you might either overlook, or need to know when you’re there:

1) Buy your pants at Bossini/Giordano/U2/G2000 on the first day that you get there.

This is what a Bossini store looks like. Find one early in your trip.

Although some stores, like Giordano, have made their way overseas, the thing about the Hong Kong midrange clothing chain stores is that they all will tailor your pants to suit your leg length for free. They’ll usually take about 4 days, but if you’re in a rush, they can sometimes do it faster. Still, go in and get your trousers done early. And if you have the choice between going to one of these places, Zara or H&M, shop here. You’ll mostly be getting basics, but it’s a great place to stock up.

2) Most of the good places don’t open until noon—at the earliest.

A lot of the following places don’t open until noon at the earliest. Many of them are best to visit after 3PM. So if you’re going to pack the most into your day, I suggest doing something touristy in the morning, and going shopping in the afternoon. Or you could just sleep in until lunchtime and start your day later. Your call really.

3) Place: Causeway Place, 2-10 Great George Street, Causeway Bay – Urban Fashion

Crazy Fashion in Causeway Place: The best place for men’s Urban Fashion in Hong Kong–according to Matthew.

Causeway Place is two stories of funky local fashion toys and bric-a-brac for men and women. It’s largely for the locals, but you can often get by with English. Causeway place is one of the most easily accessible places where you’ll find trendy urban street fashion that’s years ahead of the west at a lower price than you’d pay for something more generic in Chadstone. For men, I particularly recommend visiting Crazy Fashion, which now has three stores on the second level. Not only can you pick up some great pieces for about AUD $50 each. I’ve been visiting this place for about 7 years, and it’s been around for 8 or so, and it has everything from printed t-shirts to assymetrical tops to subtly two toned pants. Also, the designer, Keith, ensures that there are sizes available for Caucasian men too, as he sells to the US market as well. If you’d like a preview, you can find Crazy fashion on Facebook, . . . → Read More: Hong Kong: Shopping – Top 7 tips and places

Hong Kong: Food – Top 3

I never thought I'd ever see these on the menu anywhere. But they're very tasty. Even if tourists need scissors to open them up.

Everyone who knows me, knows that food is a giant part of my life. It’s the main reason I won’t be on the cover of men’s health anytime soon, but you know, I can live with that. Hong Kong has a rich culinary history, starting with the local Cantonese cuisine, the food brought in by the British, to the food of the Imperial Chinese cooks who fled the Boxer Rebellion in the 1920s. While the Michelin guide hasn’t come to Australia (we have Chefs Hats anyway), it has gone to Asia, and the most amazing thing I found is that some of the places I liked going were Michelin starred restaurants. And I simply went there for great food at under AUD $20 a head. So here are the top three places you really should visit when you’re in Hong Kong if you want some amazing food.

1) Tim Ho Wan – Central, IFC Mall.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns Pineapple Bun style. Probably the most outstanding dish on the menu. Or the only outstanding dish on the menu according to some. Photo by Daniel Ang. I was too busy eating to take one. Whoops!

Tim Ho Wan is a place I first visited when it was a tiny hole in the wall in Yau Ma Tei on the mainland side of Kowloon. I think the official opening hours were somewhere around the 11 AM to 2PM and then 5PM to 10PM mark if what I read on the shop front was any indication. The gaggle of desperate people around the front suggested otherwise. Also the fact that we rocked up at one and were told we could be waiting two hours for a table. We got in about 45 minutes later, but that more or less set the scene for this Michelin starred dim sum restaurant. When you approach to get a table you’re handed a menu (English or Chinese) with a number scribbled down on it and you choose what food you want to order and in what quantity—personally I highly recommend the baked pork buns. If you’ve ever had a chicken pie at a good yum cha with its pastry soft, short and crumbling with that hint of a sugar crunch before biting into the creamy pie filling, it’s a bit like that, only with the sweet, sticky succulence of amazing BBQ pork on the inside. The restaurant has become a bit of a chain with a number of outlets, but the easiest to find is the one in Central, IFC mall. It’s where you go to access the in town check in for your flight out. There was still a forty minute wait for a table when I rocked up on Sunday, and we still sat at communal tables as the staff tried to squeeze everyone in. And the food still arrived piping hot and tasty about five minutes after we sat down. That’s what I call a la minute cooking. Expect to . . . → Read More: Hong Kong: Food – Top 3

Travels in Hong Kong: Top 7 Travel Tips

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Taken from Wikipedia. As you can see by the story, I’m not really one for photos.

Hong Kong is for three things: Fashion, Food and Fun. If you want to have four Fs, you could very easily add Friends to the list as well. I used to live in Hong Kong when I was younger. My dad got a job there in 1994, three years before the territory returned to China, and I spent all of my high school years there. In the process I gained permanent residency there, and to keep it I have to go back every three years. This year, two of my friends, Kris and Jared, came with me, and well, we spent a week blowing our budgets on really good food, clothes, shoes, Monster Hunter action figures, and the theme parks. Well, okay, one theme park and Disneyland.

Of course, you don’t care about any of that, so if you don’t want to read the rest of my ramblings and just get the travel goodies, feel free to jump straight to the food, shopping, or travel tips posts.

Hong Kong, for me, has always been this vibrant place that’s sort of home, but sort of not. I grew up on the south end of the island, because my mother refused to live in a high rise apartment, and spent my days playing computer games, Warhammer (Fantasy and Elves for preference), and role playing with a select bunch of geeks. It isn’t really until I left, grew up a bit, and went back that I felt comfortable enough to seek out the things I missed while I was there—the tiny shopping malls with the best of Hong Kong’s urban fashion. The best places to get electronics because Australia was so much more expensive—something I didn’t realize at the time. Where was the best food, given that my teenage palate was more inclined towards burgers and steak than the joy that is Michelin starred dim sum at outrageously affordable prices. So without further ado, please check out my top tips for an amazing holiday in Hong Kong.

1) Decide what you want to do.

Cards Against Humanity makes a great travel game for things like ferries and planes. But that’s probably not all you want to do on holiday, right?

It seems silly, but the basic fact of the matter is that there’s far too much to do in Hong Kong, and unless you’re planning on staying there for a few months, you’re not going to have time to do it all. So work out what you want to do, bearing in mind that if you go in the hot season you’ll be sweating buckets and if you’re there in the wet season you’ll be facing days of rain. I also recommend allowing for a rest day or two. You’re going to need it. To be honest, draw up a list of things to do and then use it as a reference of things . . . → Read More: Travels in Hong Kong: Top 7 Travel Tips

Tony Abbott Responds to Climate Change Warnings

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Today, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott responded to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report as experts point out that climate change has the potential to wipe out humanity. Prime Minister Abbott responded with a new slogan “Who fucking cares?”, he was later overheard saying that the people most impacted by climate change were Labor and Green voters anyway.

When a particularly persistent journalist asked if National Party voters had any reason to be concerned, the Prime Minister replied that Australia was a land of droughts and flooding rains and would continue to be so. Political commentators have also mentioned that pandering to the National Party could suggest that the Liberal Party was incapable of obtaining a mandate for its policies by itself and needed to form a coalition with a minor party in order to get elected.

Mr Abbott later reiterated that he was focused on implementing this big policies, including funding maternity leave for rich executives by cutting welfare to single mothers and bailing out mining companies with proceeds from cutting the carbon tax. When asked how reduced funding from the removal of the emissions trading system would allow him to prop up wealthy mining companies Mr Abbott nodded his head for five minutes and then told the journalist he’d received the answer ‘he deserved’.

Yes, this is a work of satire. — Matthew Lang

 

Queermance 2014

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Giving Birthg – The Art of Getting Published at Queermance 2014. From Left: Alison Mann (Silver Publishing/Rooster and Pig), Jacob Coates (Jaffa Books), Lindy Cameron (Clan Destine Press), and host Nicholas G Frank

So I’ve been neglecting my little website since November (sorry everyone), but I’ve been doing it for a very good reason – I hope. I’ve taken on the task of Festival Director for Queermance 2014, which is the first of hopefully an ongoing series of events celebrating Queer fiction and Queer Romance. We’re up and running this weekend, and I’m writing this from the back of the room actually. There’s been a fantastic turnout for the conference so far and we’ve already launched our Anthology, including my second footnoted Lex story, called Inheritance. The Anthology is available for gold coin donation for the next two days at our evening Queermance events, and you find can find our full program at the Queermance website. I personally recommend coming along to the Sunday Night Queerbaret, and we also have a sex toy workshop running which I highly recommend.