Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Inked Up

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I wrote about my tattoo plans a few posts back. And now I’ve done it.

India!

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

More than four years ago, when I was working inhouse at Lonely Planet as an editor, I jumped through the various hoops necessary to becoming accepted into the LP author pool. Then I went freelance and wrote Women of the Gobi for Pluto Press and didn’t get round to pitching for anything at LP and my name fell off the author list.

But now, finally, I’ve got my first authoring job, and I’m going to India. From September to November I’ll be shooting around Orissa and West Bengal, looking at hotel rooms I can’t afford and collecting bus timetables and other similarly unglamorous jobs, all the while being envied by other travellers who are basking on the beach or trekking through the hills, and almost certainly having a much better time than me.

Ah, who am I kidding. I’m pretty excited.

Tips and recommendations gratefully accepted, everyone!

Chinese portraits

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

This is one of the coolest art projects I’ve seen in a long time. Chinese artists who are paid low wages to churn out copies of famous paintings were paid to produce self-portraits in the style they paint for a living. I’m not going to say anything else – go check them out.

Yes, you’re probably going to hell

Monday, April 14th, 2008

A couple of years ago I went on holiday to India, to my hometown of Ooty, into Kerala and up the west coast to Goa. At the time I was an inhouse editor at Lonely Planet, but I didn’t mention this to most people I met – mainly because people usually want to bitch at you about how LP’s Prague map had the train station in the wrong place or the bus to Beijing was 100 yuan more expensive than the China guide said it would be, and that’s really nothing to do with me. But before I took this trip to India, the author of LP’s Goa guide told me about a guesthouse in Goa that I just had to visit, and he told me to say hi to the owners from him.

Which I did. And when they found out I was a Lonely Planet editor, the owners were all over me for the rest of the stay – reduced rates, taking me out for an expensive meal, arranging guides for me, all things I really hadn’t asked for and felt uncomfortable with. But I was part of the magical world of Lonely Planet, which can make or break a business with a few lines in a guidebook. It wouldn’t have been hard for me to take advantage of them and pick up a few freebies. I didn’t.

But Thomas Kohnstamm says that’s what he had to do to survive as a Lonely Planet author. That, and deal drugs, make things up and plagiarize. I’ve been stewing about this for days – yes, I do think Lonely Planet should pay its authors more, no question, but man, this guy is a dick.

Why did he keep coming back for more if he thought he was unfairly paid? Why is he laughing about the fact that he screwed over all those readers? I had a much longer rant planned, but this guy puts it just as well. Go on, go read it.

I’ve pitched for writing work on LP’s India and Sri Lanka guides, to be researched later this year. Fingers crossed. But if the pay isn’t enough to cover my air fare, than I’ll turn it down, or try to renegotiate. I won’t do a crappy job and then expect people to applaud me as a gonzo travel writer.

(Oh, and while you’re here, go read the articles I wrote for lp.com.)

Update: He thinks he’s been misquoted and taken out of context: hmmmm. I’m inclined to have a small amount of sympathy, but, you know, I’m sure his book will sell well (much better than mine…) on the back of all the controversy.

100% true Valentine’s day conversation

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Kate: Wake up Chris, here’s your coffee … happy Valentine’s day!

Chris: (rolls over, moans, coughs) What, is it Valentine’s day? We should bake Luffy a big heart-shaped meat pie. Yes we should Luffy, oh you’re such a handsome fellow, aren’t you? Yes you are!

Sorry

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

I’m sitting on the couch with the dog on my lap and a beer in my hand, watching reports of the apology on SBS news, and all of a sudden I start crying. Maybe it’s cheap emotion, and like everybody’s been saying all day, it’s our future actions rather than our words that are important. (Also, it wasn’t nearly as eloquent as the other John Howard’s apology.) But dammit, John Howard is gone and for the first time in many years I feel proud to be Australian. Well, maybe not proud.

Bart: I feel so full of…what’s the opposite of shame?

Marge: Pride?

Bart: No, no that far from shame.

Homer: Less shame?

Bart: Yeah!

Ethical dilemma

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I have a tattoo planned. Three flying birds along my shoulder, based on an India woodblock design, coloured in brown, blue and grey, the colours worn by Mildred Cable, Eva French and Francesca French, the three women whose lives and travels I wrote about in Women of the Gobi. But here’s the snag.

About a year ago, when I was planning my tattoo, I got diagnosed with a genetic mutation called haemochromatosis. It means I’ve got too much iron in my blood, which doesn’t really affect me now but could do nasty things to my vital organs later on if I don’t reduce my iron levels. Turns out that the best way to do that is to be bled regularly, a medical procedure that I thought went out of fashion at about the same time as leeches.

So every couple of weeks I catch the 55 tram down to the blood bank and lie on a couch and get all freaked out about the needles, and have some blood pumped out of me, then I nearly faint and get a free caramel milkshake and sausage roll, and then I get back on the tram and feel crap for the rest of the day.

While my blood isn’t that good for me, it’s great for other people. If you’re O-positive and you need a blood transfusion (or you’re a vampire … mmm, Spike), it’s my extra-rich blood you’ll be wanting.

And this is where the ethical dilemma occurs.

The rules at the blood bank say that you can’t donate blood for a year after you get a tattoo. Because of my condition they’d have to keep taking my blood, but they’d have to throw it away. I’ve been putting off getting my tattoo until my iron levels come down and I’m only donating a couple of times a year, which I was told would probably be about now, but today the specialist told me I’d have to keep being bled once a month for another year or so.

Man, I really want to get that birdy tattoo, but I’m going to feel bad about all those people missing out on my delicious blood. Also, some of the nurses at the blood bank are kind of grumpy and scary, and I think they’d be pretty unimpressed with me. And I’d feel guilty about taking the caramel milkshake.

Ways to waste time

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I don’t know how long it’s been up, but Women of the Gobi now has its own page on Google Book Search, which is pretty neat. The whole text is there and searchable, and the coolest thing is the world map that has a little marker for each of the towns mentioned in the text; click on the Urumqi marker and you get all the references to Urumqi in the book. Go check it out!

I don’t know if searching your own book online is a bit like smelling your own farts or something, but I’m having fun navigating around using the various Google Book Search tools. I don’t have any work to do this week, but instead of writing a book proposal or pitching articles or other worthy things, I’m obsessively playing a whole lot of Scrabulous with people who should be working.

There are certain people, who I won’t name, who I have long suspected of cheating at Scrabulous … people who don’t strike me as having huge vocabularies, and yet they put down lots of words that I’ve never heard. Recently I sent all my Scrabulous buddies a story about Scrabulous cheats, and got an admission of guilt out of someone I hadn’t even suspected – but the intended target didn’t comment, and continues to beat me with some very dodgy words. You know who you are, you sneaky vixen.

Kate Gets Hacked II: The Rehackenating

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Hello to everyone who’s following links here to collect files that some crazy phisher is spamming all over the place with my name on them. I am not the Alpha Financial company, I am an Australia writer and editor and this site, while originally designed to help market my book, has devolved to being mainly a place to post pictures of my fluffy dog. I’ve changed my password and killed the files, so that should be that.

Thanks to all the nice strangers who emailed me to let me know, though I do wonder why you were bothering to read your Spam…

Kate gets hacked

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Anyone who’s tried to email me at the address on my About page – kate@katejames.net – in the last few months probably thinks I’m a rude cow who doesn’t respond to her emails. Which may sometimes be true, but in this case I wouldn’t have got your message(s). It took me a fair bit longer than it should have to realise I was missing some emails (this isn’t my primary address), and when I finally looked at my admin page it turned out I’d been hacked by what looked like a soccer-tshirt salesman from somewhere in the Balkans who I won’t link to for fear of giving him even more free publicity.

So please, if you wrote to tell me about how much you liked my book (or offer me a fabulous contract to write another one), give it another go!

I’ve been busy with LP work, as usual. A few website posts have been planned but not written. One was about how my favourite Lebanese pastry shop was inexplicably full of hip thirtysomething Anglos one morning – turns out the damned Age had mentioned the place in its Epicure section. The other unposted posts were all connected to my dog in one way or other.

In Women of the Gobi news, it’s now a year since the launch and I’ve received two royalty cheques. Yes, I’m officially profitable. I’m still dithering over the proposal for the potential next book, as well as sucking up to a commissioning editor in order to get myself a writing job on the next Lonely Planet India guide. More interesting news than this soon, I promise.