Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

More Colouring Pages:

Thinking of cleaning these up and printing them out to take to the market on Saturday: Good way to advertise!

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 25

So Close....

Here's my Open Office results:

Wordcount:  Daily = 4,299 , Total =  51,127
Percentage: 102%

But the NaNoMeter registers 49,766 (99.5%)

This is because I have smart quotes on so that my "" face the right ways - into the sentence.
No matter, the "About the Author" section will push it over, and I've still got padding and the short story to go.

Today I wrote screes up about the Kea, the Kaka, Arthur's Pass and Smuggling and the Pet Trade.
There's a part of me that kinda wants a pet parrot now. Even if it is like having a toddler for up to 80 years.
The other part says, "you think a cat is too much responsibility".

I need to sleep now. Tomorrow I shall finish. And read through. And rewrite.
What fun.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, day 24

Wordcount:  Daily = 3,430 , Total =  46,828
Percentage: 93.7 (117% of target)

And I'm done...

Not the 50k, but that's not far off. No, I'm done with the story, the last words have been written. Actually, the last words were written ages ago, if you count the epilogue, but I've just finished the last chapter. My head is filled with the fuzz and my brain is full of keas.

This is not a comfortable condition!

I might go now for a celebratory walk. I am just not sure where that walk will take me, or maybe I shall just make myself a celebratory chai. THAT sounds like a plan. Then time to wrap some secret santas, which have been sitting - neglected - on my coffee table for the last three weeks.

Also, I seem to have signed up for a parakeet swap, and have 14 collectible cards to create and post.
No rest for the wicked, eh?

Then, tomorrow I shall beef up some of the shorter chapters, making Pakari nastier (so you truly want him to lose the final challenge) and fleshing out Raweke and Totoa. Also, write up some info on keas, kakas, sparrows and Australian parrots.

I also have a little book from the library "Kea: Bird of Paradox" which is about the kea, of course, and whilst being rather old (the 1980s) does contain information about kea social behaviour that I may find rather useful in the editting stage of this manuscript.

And I also have to make a  start on the art.

I intend to ask a friend who works for DOC to read the story just to make sure I haven't accidentally offended one of the few Government departments I actually support. I don't think I have... but who knows, I may have put a foot wrong somewhere! Better to be safe than sued or something.

Here's an extract:
Kia ora, fellow keas,” Hiwa squawked to the gathered onlookers, “and human observers too,” with a nod toward's Stephanie's car. “We are gathered here this fine, summer evening, to witness a battle of two brave young souls. Pakari,” Pakari stood tall, raising his wings to flash the red underneath. A loud chorus of squawking applause and whistles sounded from his supporters in the flock. “The self-crowned King of the Village and Tiriki, newly returned from a journey to lands afar and unknown.” Tiriki flashed his underwings too, and he could have sworn the cheers and whistles he received were louder. But it may have just been his imagination. No, not likely, by the way Pakari was scowling, he heard it too.
Get on with it,” Pakari grumbled. “We haven't got all night, and we'll lose the light soon.”
As you know,” Hiwa continued, ignoring him, “I spent some time recently inside this very building,” she bowed herhead to indicate the Visitor's Centre. “And during that time, I saw some of the treasures they hide inside. My Dare,” she said, eyeballing Tiriki and Pakari in turn, “is for each of you to enter that building, and bring me back a human treasure.” She paused. “And it better be something good, cos if it ain't, you'll be headed back in to fetch me another.”
Tiriki had been expecting something like this, ever since there little expedition into Stephanie's house. Pakari just looked confused. “How do we get in?” He asked.
You'll have to look to find a way,” replied Hiwa. “And if you can't find one, well then, I guess you're lose. Now, are you ready?” She glanced across at the other kea. “On the Count of Four.”
One...” She shrieked.
Two...” By now the rest of the kea were joining in too, the air filled with their clamourous racket.
Tiriki and Pakari pushed off from the roof...

Friday, November 23, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 23

 Wordcount:  Daily = 2,738 , Total =   43,398
Percentage: 86.8 (113% of target)

Wowsers - the end is in sight! Tomorrow, unless I get distracted, I will continue in my trend of finishing around the 24th by... finishing around the 24th.  It'll still be another few days before I attain the much anticipated 50k, but I suspect writing an essay about kea behaviour and other appendices will be significantly easier than typing up the novel.

Also, of course, will come the PADDING.

I'm trying to keep this book the same length as Aroha's Grand Adventure, which means that the story word-count should be around 48,768. That's around 3000 words of character development - much opportunity to develop Pakari as a nasty bad guy and possibly to give Totoa and Raweke a few more personality traits too. After re-reading the bit in "Aroha's" that the star in, I've realised they're a bit nastier than I am portraying them here.

It also looks like this is going to be set BEFORE the events in Aroha's, more-or-less. I can't tie Tiriki's meeting with her in with this story because I haven't got enough time between events to make it slip in neatly. But that's okay, if Tiriki's adventures start in late winter, he gets himself captured in early spring (say.. early September), escapes less than 5 weeks later (mid october) and gets back to the Village and overthrows Pakari. Meanwhile, Weka breed between August and January, the eggs take one month to hatch the the chicks grow into adulthood within 6-10 weeks.

Kea start breeding in July, the chicks hatch after a month and take three years to reach maturity. They stay in the nest for up to three months.

This means that the chicks are probably around 6 weeks old - about halfway to fledging, when Tiriki meets them.  Or maybe a bit older - I'll have to research when a kea's eyes open.

Assuming Aroha hatches in late September, gets captured at 2-3 weeks old (mid-October) and then begins walking back - since time isn't made a note of in the book - except to suggest that it is passing and that she is growing up, it could take her till early November to get as far as Castle Hill Village, where she meets Tiriki.

Anyhow, lets just say - the time line all fits, okay? And the fact that in early spring, Tiriki meets Maru, is just a fun little sight gag for readers of both books. Maru is probably a month or so older than Aroha. When it comes to padding, I might write more on them meeting. I should really make Tiriki interact with non-keas more often.

Anyhow, sleep time!

But first - here's why you should not drive with an unrestrained kea in your vehicle:
(Kaha is Josh's name for Tiriki, either he's a Craig Smith fan - or he gets the joke, it took me a while!)

At first the boy looked startled, then gave a slow, slight smile.
You show him, Kaha,” he mouthed.
Something in his face must have alerted his father, because Maxwell snapped: “What are you grinning about, boy? You find it funny that you've ruined me?”
Nuh-nothing,” spluttered Josh. “I wasn't grinning, really.”
The car took a bend too sharply, throwing Tiriki across the floor, Kolya's box tumbling after him. He gave a squawk, and at that Maxwell turned, and looked straight at him.
What the....” He bellowed. “I'll wring your scrawny neck, you wretched bird!”
Tiriki launched into the air, wings pounding in fear. Maxwell seemed to simmer with rage, almost ready to explode and the kea had just one desire – to get as far away from this dangerous predator as he could. The car jolted again, as Maxwell hastily corrected its steering, taking another corner far, far too fast. Josh screamed, clinging to the handle above the window.
Dad,” he cried, “slow down!”
Maxwell braked sharply.
Tiriki was thrown against the side window and bounced back into the back-seat, tumbling to the floor beside the crate. The car's wheels skidded in a patch of loose gravel and it lurched to one side, stopped for a heartbeat, and then, with a horrible cracking-crunching sound, sprang forward so sharply that Tiriki was thrown up and into the back seat, before being thrust forward, towards the back of the passenger's seat.He flapped furiously, his claws grazing the headrest as he tumbled over it, brushed Josh's shoulder and fell straight into the boy's lap.
Now he could see what had happening. The car, perhaps tired of so much rough treatment, had leapt over the side of the road, taking out the side rail. It now hung, caught by some scraggly bushes.
Josh fumbled furiously with his seatbelt with one hand, and with the other he shook his father.
Dad,” he cried, “Dad, wake up!”
Maxwell groaned, blood trickling down one side of his face, he opened his eyes. “Josh,” he whispered, “get out, just get out!”
But Dad,” tears streamed down the boy's face. “I can't leave you here.”
Yes you can,” Maxwell replied. “I'll be alright. You'll see.”
Why doesn't he just get out? Tiriki wondered, but a glance answered that question. The driver's side had struck the guardrail and the door had buckled in its frame. Maxwell tugged on the latch, heaved his shoulder against the door, but it wouldn't open.
Get out Josh!” He bellowed. “And that's an order! Someone's gotta get help. The bushes ain't gonna held us forever.”
As if in response to his words, the car gave another small lurch.
In the back seat, Kolya squawked and the loud pounding music droned on and on and on. Maxwell reached up and silenced both the music and the groan of the car's engine with one twist of his wrist.
The silence was so intense, that the memory of music rang in Tiriki's ears. Even Kolya fell silent.
We've gotta get out of here. And if the boy won't do it, then I guess it's up to me. Tiriki sprang across Josh's lap and onto the door's armrest.
If I can open the door, he realised, then away I can soar – a free bird once more.
He probed and poked at the door handle, the window whirred and slid down. Tiriki was about to squeeze through when the car dropped on the left side as the bushes supporting it weakening under the weight. Tiriki jerked, thrown against the window just as it window whirred up again, almost snagging a wing feather.
Maybe not that way, but what about if I do this? Driving his talons into the rubber beneath the window for balance, he leaned forward, hooking the tip of his beak under the latch, as Maxwell had done, and pulled it up. His door arced open, pulled by gravity.
Come on,” he cried to Josh. “Follow me!”
With a short, regretful look at his father, Josh tumbled out the door, Tiriki erupting into the air beside him.
At that moment, the scraggly gorse bushes that had been holding the car in place gave way. The car lurched to the right, tilted, righted itself then dove nosefirst down the steep embankment, almost as though it were driving itself. It crashed through several gorse bushes in an explosion of yellow flowers and servered branches, and continued bouncing and jouncing its way down the hill.
Dad!” Josh cried, looking as though he were about to run down the hill after him. The car bounced over a small rise, then nose-dived into a large pothole.
I'll check on him,” Tiriki declared, strangely unwilling to leave the boy, even though now he was as free as he could ever be. He swooped down, landing on the top of the car, and peered through the windshield. It was cracked, and a great white balloon blocked his view, but a moment later Maxwell crawled out over the passenger's seat and collapsed into the grass. He landed in a cowpat with a bit of a splat.
Oy!” A voice shouted from above, another human stood up at the side of the road, beside the broken guardrail, waving, “are you alright down there? Rescue's on its way!”
Maxwell dragged himself to his feet, his face a ghastly mix of blood and dung. He waved back.
Sirens then, loud and blaring, as several vehicles gathered on the road above – red and blue lights flashing. An white van; a black and white car and a big red truck with a ladder on its back.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 22

 Wordcount:  Daily = 2,364 , Total =  40,660
Percentage: 81.3 (111% of target)

Almost done! Two chapters or so to go. Phew!

It is very late and I am very tired, but my fingers just keep tap-tap-tapping. Today I got to write the fun scene - where Tiriki and Dragon chase each other around a Science Fair:

Tiriki spread his wings as a large shaggy beast sprang from behind a project board. He sprang into the air a heartbeat too late, and Dragon batted him to the ground.
Hello birdie,” crooned the cat. “I hear it's time for lunch.”
  Tiriki lashed out at Dragon, his savage beak raking against her delicate nose. She yowledm drawing back and giving him enough room to wriggle free. He ran, flapping his wings to get himself airborne. Up, he rose, one flailing claw catching the edge of a helium balloon, suspended in the air. The display it was attached to rose too, and the cat leapt, crashing into it. Bird, board and kea crashed into an upright ant farm, in an explosion of feathers and fur. The plastic casing tilted and fractured, spilling soil and ants across the hall floor.
Tiriki recovered first and struggled free, disentangling himself from the string and flapping into the air. Dragon glared at him, teeth bared. She still trailed her lead.
I'll get you,” she snarled.
Hahaha,” chortled Tiriki. “I would say you've met your match, because this kea you ain't gonna catch!”
He dove low then, infuriating the feline and making it spring at him once more. With a fast flip and a turn, he evaded capture, but crashed into a complicated structure of pipes and bowls. Tubing split and water cascaded out, drenching the cat and puddling on the floor.
You lice-ridden chicken!” She screeched, shaking herself. Her fur was plastered to her body, making her appear half the size she once was. “You mangy featherduster.”
Hey, fish-breath,” Tiriki taunted her from his perch atop a low table. “Catch this!” He picked up a potato, and flung it at the feline. This would have been a little more succesful, had it not been attached to a small clock with copper wires. Tiriki tripped over one of the wires and tumbled off the table with an indignant squawk.
Dragon leapt again, her claws out and deadly. Tiriki rolled on his back, lunging out with his own sturdy talons and grazed her across the belly. For a moment they tussled, until he managed a well-placed peck and struggled free once more.
Off he flew, across the hall, with Dragon in hot pusuit.
The chase was on!
Alighting atop the terranium, Tiriki called “here kitty, kitty, kitty,” and exploded into the air as she pounced. He kicked out at the terranium at the same time, pushing it forward and tipping it over. It crashed onto the cat and the lid fell off, spilling green frogs. They fled, ribbiting their distress.
Tiriki dive-bombed Dragon, talons outstretched, in his best impersonation of a falcon. She twisted, snapping at him and he seized her lead in his claws, dragging her across the floor and through a puddle, before the lead slipped through his claws. She hissed and yowled, slashed and spat, but all to no avail.
From exhibit to exhibit, the kea and the cat crashed. Littering the floor with broken glass, shattered plastic, dirt and water and sand and many other things besides. The sunflowers were knocked over, the frogs ate the ants, a dozen little yellow chicks joined the fray. It was utter, complete and delirious chaos. Tiriki loved any minute of it.
Several times, Dragon got close to catching him – he even lost a couple of tail feathers, before finally, exhausted, he settled up in the rafters and began grooming his feathers.
In the hall below, only a handful of exhibits remained standing. Many were smashed or knocked over, broken and battered. Water mingled with dirt to make patches of mud and scraps of wood and straws and cardboard lay in tangled, mangled piles. Amongst the rubble, five chickens fossicked, happily munching up the ants and six frogs played in the puddles.
Dragon sat in the middle of the floor. Her striped fur lay flat and wet in patchs, spiky in others. Scraps of paper and plaster stuck to her. She glared up at Tiriki with as much hatred as a feline could master.
Then, quite calmly, she began to groom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 21

 Wordcount:  Daily = 953 , Total =  38,296
Percentage: 76.6 (109% of target)

Not much wordage done today. Still, Science Fair time! I'm pretty tired tonight, so I think bed is not far off.

My goal is to have the novel completed by the end of my weekend - that is to say, saturday night. I am currently approximately 3 chapters from the end. I shall then go back and flesh out some of the duller chapters, trying to establish Raweke and Totoa better as characters and further delving into the rivalry between Pakari and Tiriki. Also, write a lengthy amount of info on the Kea and briefer blurbs on the Kaka, the House Sparrow and some stuff about parrots as pets and bird smuggling. This is essentially the skeleton of my story, now to add some more flesh to its bones. Also, I need to make sure it flows properly, given the vast amounts of cut and pasting of text that I have done. There is also a short story - "Entering and Breaking" and maybe the tale of Ka, Ki and Po.

If I still haven't achieved the 50k by then, I'll be most surprised!
And maybe write some more on my lemur story to finish my NaNo goals.

In today's extract, Tiriki meets a cat at the Science Fair:
There will be more from this murderous b**ch later!

He was not the only non-human in the hall either – lying in a basket, a collar and lead attached to its throat, was the biggest cat that Tiriki had ever seen.
She perked up her ears as he was carried past.
Biiiiir-die,” she purred.
Hey Jessica, you brought your cat along,” Josh stopped, and spoke with the human, a young female, standing near the cat.
Sure did,” she said, running one hand over the cat's shaggy head. “This is Dragon. She's a Maine Coon.”
She's massive!” His eyes flicked over the board. “You've trained her, like a dog?”
Jessica nodded. “Sure have – she can fetch, and do other tricks too. Even count!”
Well, my bird knows some tricks too.”
The girl tried to peer into the cage. “Is that a kea?” She asked.
Smartest bird in the world,” declared Josh.
And don't you forget it!” Tiriki added. “Smarter than any cat!”
His name's Kaha,” continued the boy. “My dad's been looking after him. He was hurt pretty bad.”
Hello Kaha,” crooned Dragon. “You think you're so clever, don't you?”
I don't think it at all,” declared Tiriki, “I know it. And my name's really Tiriki.”
Mine is Princess Diamantia Rosella the third,” replied Dragon, “but humans just don't understand it. They give us silly little names to match their silly little minds.” She began grooming her foot. “I've always wondered what a parrot would taste like.”
Now that you mention that,” replied Tiriki, “I've always fancied a taste of cat.”
Oh look at them,” Jessica commented, “it's almost as though they're talking to one another. I wonder what they're saying?”
Maybe they're becoming friends?” Josh asked, looking hopefully at Jessica. Tiriki could sense that he admired the girl, fancied her even.
Princess Diamantia Rosella aka Dragon licked her lips. “I do love to kill birds,” she purred, eyes half closed. “Feeling their little bodies give beneath my powerful jaws, hearing the crunch-crunch-crunch of their broken bones. Oh, and it is so fun to play with them first. Watching the panic as their little heart race-races along, fit to bursting.” She grinned at Tiriki, showing her pearly white fangs. “Sometimes their hear does give up, and they die too quickly,” she continued, “that makes me sad. Their pain is just so delicious, so divine. Do you know how many birds I've killed?” She opened her eyes fully, yellow and evil. “Many,” she continued. “Oh, so many.”
Tiriki shuddered. He knew cats, like most mammals, were murderous beasts, but he had never realised how truly sadistic they were.
Well, I'd better get him set up,” said Josh, hoisting the cage up again. “Say goodbye to your new friend, Kaha.”
Good riddance,” Tiriki growled. “Murderer.”
Bye-bye birdie,” crooned the cat, “I'll slay you later.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 20

Wordcount:  Daily = 3,475 , Total =  36,602
Percentage: 73.2 (109% of target)

Update: Wordcount:  Daily = 4,216 , Total =  37,343
Percentage: 74.68 (112% of target)

Reclaiming my lead! Some of this was written after my blogpost last night, but much of it was this morning. If I continue in this trend, I might even make it to 40k by the end of today!

Am about to go to work now - thanks to my manager for letting me start an hour and a half later (due to working an extra two hours last night with IT stuff).

Tiriki's about to go to school. Wish him luck! (Or to be precise, wish JOSH, the boy taking him to school, luck. He's gonna need it!)

But first, the escapades in the Bird Shed.
Matilda is a red-tailed black cockatoo, and Major is a Major Mitchell cockatoo. Both are Australian. I shall have to go through later and Aussie-tiss Matilda's speech. Shouldn't be too difficult, after I did the magpies in "Aroha's."

They're having so much fun, Tiriki realised, the other birds should join in too. He flew up to the line of cages and hopped along, lifting latches and shunting bolts, sliding doors and undoing twisty ties. Doors swung open, or were pushed up, cages opened.
Very few of the birds came out, most stayed huddled in their cages, gazing at him with slightly frightened eyes.
Come on,” he encouraged one, “come out and fly!”
We can't,” muttered a bright pink cockatoo, a galah. “I've never flown in my life. I might fall on my face.”
It's scary,” said another, “bad things happen out there.”
Tiriki laughed. “What bad things? Flying isn't hard, you're a clever bird, you'll figure it out.”
'No,” said a sharp voice, “she won't.” A large black cockatoo alighted on the cage bars above him, and slid the door shut with her foot. “She'll stay right here, in her cage, where she belongs.”
He rounded on the cockatoo, a female. “What are you doing?” He snapped.
She rose her crest and glared at him. “Stopping you from doing too much damage,” she replied. “These birds are captive born and bred. Look at them,” she nodded at a parakeet, who was careening around the room, as fast as a feather in a wind storm. “They've no control. You let five-eights of birds fly loose in here, and there'll be mid-air collisions, broken wings and shattered spines. Not a pretty sight. And if any are misfortunate enough to survive and get outside? They'll starve. Or freeze. They're domestics,” she said.
What about you? You're not going crazy.” Tiriki's own head-feathers rose with his ire. He did not like being told what to do. “I don't remember opening your cage,” he added.
No,' she replied, “I'm not. I was hatched in an open-flighted aviary. And you didn't. I let myself out, to stop you making a mess of things.” She ducked as the parakeet whizzed past again.
Wheeeeeee!” He cried, “I can flyyyyyyyyy.”
Me too!” Another parakeet was moving across the floor, making weird little flapping hops that didn't quite succeed in getting her airborne.
The black cockatoo shook her head. “It's just embarrassing,” she sighed. “That our kind should be reduced to this.”
But if you can let yourself free, why are you still here? Why don't you just leave?”
She laughed. “It ain't as easy as that, my little freshwings. The world out there,” she nodded at the door, now firmly shut and probably bolted, “is more wire. There's no escape that way.” She paused, and lowered her beak close to his ear. 'But me and me mates, we're planning our escape. Only, we can't take 'em all – most of 'em would be liabilities. But you,” she nudged him in a friendly manner, “you're from outside, aren't you?”
Yes,” Tiriki agreed.
Come with me,” she took flight, gliding down to the counter top where the two kea chicks were still at play, now rolling a small ball to one another. Tiriki followed, having to drop suddenly to avoid being struck by the cavorting parakeet. He landed beside her and watched as the out-of-control bird plunged straight into another free flying parakeet and the two of them tumbled to the ground in a cascade of feathers and fowl language. He crashed straight into the hop-flying bird and sent her tumbling too.
I'm okay, we're okay!” He crowed, as the three birds staggered to their feet and stumbled about.
The cockatoo shook her head. “Just embarrassing,” she repeated. “I'm Matilda, by the way.”
Tiriki,” Tiriki replied, frowning at her. “Ain't that a human name?”
Matilda bobbed her head. “I told you,” she said, “cage born and bred. And this is Major.”
A splendid cockatoo cruised down to join them. His plumage was a delicate pink, with bands of a brighter shade adorning his crest and wings. He bowed his head at Tiriki in greeting.
Pleasure to meet you, outsider,” he said.
How did you get out?” Tiriki sputtered. “I didn't open your cage.”
We cockatoo have our ways,” Major replied, his dark eyes gleaming. “We are not as foolish as we lead the humans to think.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 19

Wordcount:  Daily = 1,589 , Total =   33,127
Percentage: 66.25 (104% of target) 

This is the closest to the actual target I have ever been in NaNo. This time last year I had a word count of 42,786, in June's Socnoc I was just under 40k, and in 2010 I was on 43,479 - so I am around 10k less than what I normally have at this stage. I've gotta up my game! But as you can see, I am still ahead of the lead, so that's something.

I've also been writing this story in a different manner from my previous ones - usually I start at the beginning and write until the end - but here I've been jumping back and forth, fleshing the story out here and the story out there. So... we'll see where it goes.

Also, I just added up all my blog posts for November to see what their word count amounts to - and deleting the extracts that I cut and pasted it comes to 6,379 words. Therefore, if I wrote in my blog less and my story more, I would be On Track with previous experiences.

Still, in 2002 and 2004 I had given up at this point - so that's something.
And in 2003 I had 45 117 after deleting around 5000?!!!
I guess I didn't have a full time job then!

Had to stay at work until 8 pm tonight because it is the phone system change over. This was not conducive to writing, although I did take my laptop in, I thought it would be better for me to deal with stock, on account of the fact that they were paying me to wait for the techies to finish doing their techie stuff. Then I had to test to make sure the techie stuff had worked.  Did a bit of writing on my break, further developing the characters of Rata and Maia, the kaka sisters.

Come on,” said Rata, “follow me, I'll show you around.” She nudged him with her head and took flight, Maia and Tiriki following after her.
It did not take long to fly the circuit of the enclosure.
This is the feeding table,” she explained, landing on a large wooden platform, over which rose a little roof. “The Provider fills it with seed every evening, and usually puts greenstuff and sweetstuff on it in the mornings. I like the orange bits the best – carrots and oranges.”
I prefer apple,” added Maia.
There was one of the males feeding there as they landed, a large and powerful specimen. He regarded Tiriki with ill disguised contempt.
This is Toka,” Maia said, landing beside him and lowering her head so that he could preen her. “He's my mate.”
And don't you forget it,” muttered the large kaka. Tiriki shivered at the aggression in his voice. A few sparrows clustered around, gobbling up the fallen seed and Toka chased them away.
And here's the sweet-water,” Rata hung from one of the inverted glass jars, licking at the liquid that spilled from it. “It's full of sugary goodness,” she explained, flapping her wings to keep balance.
Tiriki flew up to the tops of one of the enclosure's trees. Its trunk had been bisected a full beak's width from the wire ceiling.
The Provider trims them,” Rata explained, joining him. Sugary water glistened on the tip of her curved bill. “To stop them breaking through the wire. Tiriki flew up to cling upside-down from the ceiling, but the wire was thick – too thick for even a strong kea beak to damage.
Whoever created this cage, he though. Did a very thorough job.
Come on,” Rata called, “there's more to see.” Once again, she was off, Tiriki took after her. Sure, it wasn't that big a cage and he could show himself around, but he rather enjoyed her effervescent company.
And these are the nest boxes,” she said, landing on a tall wooden box, attached to the trunk of the tree. “This is Maia's,” she added. Tiriki stood on the little perch and peered into the small hole.
Cosy,” he said. There was a simple latch and hook attached to the front. “Is that how the human opens it?” He asked.
Rata nodded, opening her beak to say a little more when suddenly Toka flew at Tiriki, bowling him from the perch and sending him sprawling.
Stay... Away... From... My.... Nest!” He said, speaking slowly and loudly, as though he considered Tiriki an imbecile.
Tiriki struck the ground, turned it into a roll and stood up, shaking the dirt from his feathers. “I was just looking,” he said. “Besides, it's not much of a nest if you can't hatch eggs in it.”
Toka appeared to consider that a dire insult, and dropped on Tiriki like an inelegant falcon. Tiriki tumbled out of the way.
Toka, Tiriki,” came Maia's voice, heavy with pleading. “Please don't fight.”
Why not?” Toka growled. “This little fellow's a right real upstart. Just out of his fledgling feathers and thinks he can do as he pleases. It's time somewhat taught him a lesson.” But he relented, flapping up to perch atop the nestbox and glare down at Tiriki.
Come on,” said Rata, “I'll show you my box. Not that it's much use, at the moment, as I haven't got a mate,” she paused, stepping closer to Tiriki and eyeing him. “Yet.”
Tiriki shifted away, uncomfortable. “I'm only a yearling,” he reminded her. “Young and free – no mate for me.”
Pity,” Rata sighed. “But I'll wait another year.”
Tiriki snorted. “Try three. That's how long it'll be.”
Oh,” the young female looked disappointed, then she shrugged. “I spose there's not much point really, is there? It's not like we're anything more than brood hens. Lay 'em and lose 'em.” She gave him a friendly nip. “Come on, betcha can't catch me!” And then she was off again, flapping and clowning through the branches. 

(Rata's a flirt and Maia's in an abusive relationship)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 17 - musings

"Tiriki's Great Escape" is a different sort of novel from "Aroha's Grand Adventure" although the two do intersect. "Aroha's" is very similar to the traditional animal style novel - with the main character travelling from A to B and having adventures along the way. I didn't wan't Tiriki's to be the same, and thus it is mainly set in two places - one being Arthur's Pass Village and the other be the large house of an aviculturist (bird breeding) who is engaged in illegal acts.

As such, Tiriki's story is a much slower one than Aroha's. There's less action and more conversation and I am not sure if it going to be as interesting to the younger audience. I suspect I shall have to go through it and fill in some more kea-esque pranks and develop some characters a bit better. Whilst I do have a vague idea of where it is going - and I think Josh is going to be instrumental in making sure the title is accurate, I'm not sure of its viability as a story.

Interestingly enough, I am experiencing the same difficulty with "Tail of Two Scions" in that when the character remains in one place it is harder for me to write. I think that says something about my abilities. Yet "Midsummer Knight's Quest" worked okay, despite the fact that the characters did not really travel that far at all. So, who knows?

Other difficulties I have found are: This novel is written entirely from Tiriki's PoV, therefore, if it doesn't happen where he is, he doesn't know about it. There's nothing wrong with this technique, but I am hoping that the side plots are not too obscure for the reader to notice. Currently I am tending towards having Tiriki attacked by several of the kaka (who are scared of change) and removed from the aviary, being returned to his cage in the breeding shed. Here he should hopefully get to meet the chicks at last. He can also watch Maxwell stuffing the eggs into a special carrying bag to transport them overseas. Maxwell will head off to engage in his illegal smuggling activity, and Josh will sneak in and "steal" Tiriki for his school project.

I kind of need for Tiriki's escape to involve exposing Maxwell's activities at the same time. I am thinking, perhaps, that he escapes from the cage whilst they are being carried home in the car, with Josh in disgrace.

I've just passed the 30k mark and will soon be heading back into the weekend Christchurch Write-in. Maybe I'll post some pictures of that later. I accidentally left my camera there, so I hope noone is misusing it!

Before I head out:
Wordcount:  Daily = 1,244 , Total =  30,849

Of the ten or so people writing here: At least two are writing HP fanfic, one is writing porn/erotica, one is writing dystopia, one is writing fantasy and the others have not disclosed their genre choice. Conversation seems to turn to the topic of Harry Potter fairly often.

Wordcount:  Daily = 1,933 , Total =   31,538

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 16

Wordcount:  Daily = 2585 , Total = 29,605
Percentage: 59.21

Edit: Managed to soldier on once I got home. I think at the moment the desktop is easier to write on than the laptop. It's funny how I switch between which one I prefer.

Matakite is crazy. Now he's predicting death and destruction in Tiriki's future.
Not sure if he means some sort of predator - a cat or stoat might work its way into the aviary, or if he's just foretelling Tupato's treachery. We'll have to wait and see.

Matakite scrambled back to his feet, his wings started flicking uncontrollably. He peered up in Tiriki's general direction, although his pale eyes seemed unable to focus.
Darkness,” he screeched, “darkness on the air. You must hide, for they seek, from the shadows death will creep.”
Reka shot Tiriki an apologetic look. “He gets like this sometimes,” she explained. She glided down beside her mate, and put her claw on his shoulder. “Mate,” she whispered. “Who seeks?”
The claws of the night are sharp in the dark. Coming, coming. No time to wait, no time to lark.”
She nipped him, not hard, but enough to break his rambling delerium. “Who's coming?” She repeated.

Oh crud, I've gotten blocked... Tiriki's in the aviary with the kaka,who have sort of formed into two groups - the ones that want to retain the status quo - staying in the aviary where life is safe and food is plentiful, and the ones, the younger ones, that want to escape. So far the younger ones are Rata and Maia, the two females, and Matakite, a kaka who suffered from lead poisoning and sees glimpses of the future and is almost blind.

Alas, I'm not sure where the story is going - or how they're going to escape.


I'm at my first Write-in and it's a lot of fun hanging out with fellow writers - whose stories all sound rather more interesting than mine (pirates, sex, HP fanfic, dystopic futures...) and seem to be going pretty well - and I'm approaching the end of my story and have come to a stalemate.

Maybe I should go for a walk, but I didn't even bring a book for me to read while I do it. Maybe the good ol' walk and talk to myself should come into action.

Have a feeling I'm going to have to delete and rework the last 500 words.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 15

Wordcount:  Daily = 1,217 , Total = 27,020
Percentage: 54.0 (108% of target)
 I didn't think I'd get any writing done today - I really didn't. I got up earlyish, to be sure, but spent the morning sorting out some calendars and Christmas cards for posting. Then I worked for like... forever... Thursday is my longest shift and by the end of it I was pretty knackered.

I guess I found my second wind.

It took me a while to get the kaka conversing properly - because I wasn't sure exactly how they would react to Tiriki. Then one of them starting spouting off about Chosen One's and so forth, and I decided to go with that. It might be cliched but *shrugs*.

So, Tiriki currently has a couple of groupies in the form of young female kaka - Rata and Maia.

Here's their story:
Rata and me are sisters,” Maia explained. “We were stolen from our nest before our eyes even opened.”
I remember the whole world being warm and my mother's gentle voice singing songs to me,” said Rata. “My belly was full and my head was heavy. Then there was noise, mother screeching, screeching. A strong and horrible smell that made my nostrils burn and my head feel even fuzzy. Then more screeching, and I was cold, then something grabbed me, wrapped tight about my body and I thought the life was going to be squeezed from me. Then everything was cold and smelt sharp and sterile and I could feel my sister beside me as we were moved, bump-bump-bump along. Still, in the distance I could hear mother screeching, calling out our names over and over and over again. I tried to answer, but my throat was sore from the burning smell.” She shuddered. “After that, we were fed and we were kept warm, but we never saw our mother, not ever. The first thing I saw – when I opened my eyes for the very first time, was the Provider's face staring down at me. It was so big it took up the whole world, and I thought he was going to eat me. So I squeaked and squeaked, but he just laughed and shoved a tube into my beak and squeezed some food into my gullet.”

 I guess Maia is into Tell and Rata prefers Show.

Rata is a natural born story-teller.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

And here's a paper on how Kea and Kaka play:
Research for my novel!

Tiriki has just met the Kaka family. I'll find names for them in the Maori dicitionaries at work today - IF I have time!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2023, Day 14

Wordcount:  Daily = 1,403 , Total = 25,803
Percentage: 51.6 (110% of target)

Edit: After making this update last night, I then proceeded to write another 700 or so words, bringing my daily total up to a rather more acceptable 1,403. Still below the 1,667 but keeping me ahead of the cummulative minimum.

Oh deary me, I'm losing some of my lead! Not even 1000 words managed today. That's because I got distracted doing other things - like sketching a kowhai and finishing up this year's Christmas bird. It's a cutie, you're gonna love it.

And no, it's not Tiriki - he was the Christmas bird last year - and Aroha the year before that.

I'm thinking that I'm feeling really rather very tired and that tonight I am going to bed before it is even properly dark. That way I can maybe obtain my required 8 hours sleep.

So, not much to report today in the story, except that Tiriki made his first bid for freedom.

As Maxwell pushed open the door and entered into the cage, Tiriki was prepared. He perched near the door, and feigned sleep. If he did not escape now, then he might never get another chance. The human was going to take him somewhere, and he did not think it was anywhere good.
He waited until the human was stooped over, crab-walking his way into the enclosure, using his body to block the door. Then he dropped from his perch and ran straight between Maxwell's legs.
The human flailed, trying to grab him, but his big leather gloves made him clumsy and the kea was fast. Once into the small room, Tiriki spread his wings and flew. The muscles groaned – no matter how much he had exercised him in the cage, it was no equiavalent to soaring high on thermals over the mountains. He flapped onto the cabinet, knocking all the various seed containers and other paraphenalia to the ground. Some of it smashed in a most satisfying manner. Up to the ceiling he flew, circling it, but the tiny ventilation slits were just enough to let in light and air and certainly not big enough for a half-panicked kea.
He dove at the door, thinking of repeating Hiwa's trick with the lever door handles – but the handles were not levers, they were knobs, and he could not operate them. Around and around the room he flew, occasionally dive-bombing Maxwell. The human had picked up something – it looked like a very small whitebaiting net, and crouched, protecting his head. Waiting, just waiting.
Tiriki was starting to tire, when the door swung open. Dropping into a fast, low dive, Tiriki shot through the doorway, skimming across Josh's head. Josh gave a strangled squeak of alarm, turning to watch him, and was then almost knocked over as his father charged past him.
Out of my way!” Maxwell bellowed. He waved the net above his head like a lunatic.
As if that's gonna catch me.
Heart pounding, wings thrashing, Tiriki bulleted down a short corridor, past a couple of hooks, where one of the white coats hung, and reached the other end.
It was blocked.
But this door handle was a lever.
He dropped on it and it swung forward pushed by the inertia of his flight. Pushing him into another room.
He still was not outside.
This room was filled with the noisy chatter of birds:
Fly, fly!” They shrilled.
You can do it.”
Bad boy, who's a bad boy?”
He was back, back in the shed he had first seen – the ones with all the birds in cages. He skimmed across a low metal table, rising up over a glass-topped box, in which a quick glance revealed a number of eggs, resting in cups. A rectangle of light lured him – the outside! It was so close that he could smell the tang of spring on the light breeze that blew through it, could feel it ruffle his feathers.
Only at the last minute did he realise that it might seem like the door was open, but it was not. He stalled sharply, claws outstretched, trying to slow his momentum before he crashed into the wire mesh that covered the door. The door shuddered, the impact vibrating through his entire body, but it remained firmly shut.
Clinging to the mesh and panting with the exertion, his muscles singing with pain, Tiriki could only stare out at the world he had left behind – rolling green grass, a small stand of trees. And then the net came crashing down over him and his freedom, such as it was, was snatched from him once again.

NaNoWriMo day 2012, Day 13

Wordcount:  Daily = 2.437 , Total = 24,398 
Percentage: 48.8% (112% of target) (21671)

Story is marching along, and maybe going somewhere. I still need to go back and add some stuff, I think. Maybe develop Raweke and Totoa a bit more fully, and up the rivalry between Tiriki and Pakari. Now however, Tiriki has gotten himself separated from all his friends, so not sure if they'll come back into it or not.

Another interested faet about this tale is there is a story within the story. Everything is written from Tiriki's perspective - if he isn't in it, it isn't on the page, but there is obviously quite a lot going on in the background. I feel I should include Tiriki's mother, Niwha, I mean, I've given her a name and everything.

You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks - but you can certainly teach a young kea some!
This is based somewhat on Alex the African Grey Parrot.

Tiriki tugged the pieces out of the tray and scattered them around the floor in a rather haphazard manner, with a few short, sharp flicks with his head and beak. Approaching the blue ball, he knocked it with his beak and watched as it rolled across the floor. That was interesting, he thought, and proceeded to push it in erratic circles around the floor. It amused Josh, who held the flat device up and held it between him and Tiriki, as though it were some sort of shiel, and made that funny sort of rumbly sound that humans made when they found something entertaining.
It did not take long for Tiriki to get bored, and he looked back up at Josh. Josh was holding up one of the brazil nuts, as though offering it to him.
Forgetting the ball, Tiriki jogged over to get the nut. It had been a while since his fruit breakfast.
Josh palmed the nut and drew it back from the bars, shaking his head. “No,” he said, “you have to bring me the ball. Push it to me.”
This made no sense to Tiriki. He sat back on his tarsus and quirked his head at Josh, questioning. Josh just stared at him, brazil nut hidden in his hand.
Well, if he's going to tease me like that, Tiriki thought scornfully, I'm not going to pay him any attention. He stood, and went back to investigating the other blocks. There was a yellow cylinder, which he could push along on the widest side; a green cube that he could tumble with his beak and a red pyramid, which didn't roll at all. The black disc, whilst he could not roll it anywhere, was quite easy to pick up and he chewed on it for a bit.
Josh made a noise, and he glanced over to see the boy was once again holding up a brazil nut.
Tiriki rushed towards it, forgetting in his hungry haste to drop the black disc. He carried it across to the bars and stopped in front of the tray, waiting for Josh to pull it out and load the nut into it..
The tray was slipped out, wooden disc removed and the brazil nut pushed through.
Hrm, he thought, he must want his wooden bits back. Maybe if I bring them all over, he'll give me more nuts. Although, if he wants them so badly to exchange them for these delicious nuts, then why did he put them in here in the first place? Still, he shrugged, humans have some weird little ways and hey – it really is good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 12

Wordcount:  Daily = 1,741 , Total = 21,961 
Percentage: 43.9% (109% of target) 20,004

Took the laptop to work today, since the weather was detrimental to walking and by taking the car, I could carry more with me. On monday I get an hour long lunch break, anyway. Sat in the library and wrote - although the chairs were not too comfortable for it and I was just starting to get into the story when I had to go back :( Still, it helped me get my daily word count, which I have further added to on the following morning, as well as doing a little editting to make it flow better.

Tiriki's in a cage now, and seems to be in the process of befriending Josh. I didn't know Josh even existed until he popped up yesterday to help his father. He's maybe 11 or 12 years old, and quite a lonely kid. His parents got divorced a few years ago, and he was living with his mum, but now she's got a new boyfriend who doesn't like him much (or maybe she's busy working overseas as a journalist or photographer, I haven't decided yet) and he's been sent to stay with his father for the time being. Maxwell writes papers for an Aviculturalist magazine, that is true - he's also illegally breeding kaka in his backyard. Tiriki will get to meet the kaka as soon as he's ready to come out of his 6 week quarantine.

Josh has taken to visiting Tiriki and talking to him. Not that the kea is giving him advice or anything - Tiriki isn't particularly interested in  the woes of being a human pre-teen, but sometiems it is quite good to have something to talk to, even if it doesn't answer back. Hell, I used to talk to myself or my soft toys when I was upset, and since Josh has been studying parrot intelligence, he's going to try a few experiments on Tiriki.

Whether or not he is instrumental in Tiriki's Great Escape remains to be seen, but when his father is finally caught and arrested for his illegal bird smuggling operation, he will have to go back to Christchurch and live with his mother. Who will hopefully have either broken up with the boyfriend/be back from Africa by then!

Josh's visits were a different matter. He spent a lot of time with Tiriki, sitting in a chair and talking to him, or occasionally tapping away at some slim black device that he perched on his lap.
I asked dad if you were sick,” he said, “cos you don't do much except sit there and look miserable and he said that he thought you were just bored. The bite wound is healing nicely too,” he added. “Anyhow, so I did a bit of research on the 'net,” he tapped the device perched on his lap, “and found out that keas are really intelligent – among the smartest animals in the world, as smart as a four-year old, apparently. And I figured that if we were to lock a toddler up in here by himself, he'd be pretty bored too. So, I've come to keep you company. Dad says it's okay, as long as I keep the lab-coat on and don't leave your cage door open.”
Tiriki, roused from his apathy, hopped closer to the bars, studying the boy. The kea could not judge the age of humans, but he did know that Josh was young and not yet of breeding age. In all likelihood, he mused, he's probably not much older than me. He was slight and slender, with a thin face and his fleshy, useless beak was long, for a human's, but nothing compared to a kea's. His head-fur was dark and curly, and often out of control and his eyes had a mischevious glint to them, which, combined with the general scruffiness, reminded him of Raweke.
He sighed, missing his friends. He wondered if they missed him too. Do they think I'm dead? That Pakari has killed me? I bet he's crowing that victory to the skies. With those thoughts came memories of Hiwa, and his heart fell into sorrow again. He craned his neck, trying to see what Josh was doing on his slender black box. Noting his interest, the boy held it up so that Tiriki could see the screen.
It took him a while to figure out what it was that he was looking at, but when he did, he blinked in surprise – there were little keas in the screen!
I'm watching a documentary on you guys,” Josh informed him. “See?”
Tiriki tilted his head to get a better look, watching as the tiny keas proceeded to dismantle a car – far swifter than he and his gang had ever managed.
Pretty crazy, eh?” Josh asked. “Have you ever attacked a car like that?”
Tiriki bobbed up and down, nodding with his whole body. Perhaps there was a way I can make this boy understand me, he thought.
I thought so,” replied Josh. “It must've been pretty wicked, being up there in the mountains. Did you have trouble finding food? I bet you liked to hang around the cafe. There's always kea around there when we stop on the way to the coast.” He paused. “Did you have friends? I bet you miss them.” Sighed. “I don't have many friends. It's hard, cos the school here is real small, and the other kids think I'm weird – cos I prefer reading to playing sport and stuff. I wish I could go back to Christchurch and live with my mum.”
Tiriki, bored now, turned his attentions back to the flat device. Poking his beak through the bars as he could reach, he tapped it with the tip of his bill.
Josh laughed. “You wanna see more of your kind?” He switched on another video.