Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Story - The Wife and The Widow

Last year at StoryFest, I took my husband to a panel of crime writers because he reads crime and I wanted to show him what this writing world was about. He'd read 2 of the 3 panelists, who were Candace Fox and Michael Robotham. The third panelist was Christian White, who we hadn't heard of. By the end of the night, we wanted to read his books. He was a great speaker - humble, quick witted, relaxed, knowledgeable.

So, I bought both his books for Mr E for Christmas - The Nowhere Child, and The Wife and The Widow.

When Mr E reads a book, he puts it down and I say, "How was that?" and he replies, "Yeah, okay." That's pretty much the same regardless of what book he's read. I could spend a day talking about a book I've loved, and he gives maybe a few more words than 2...but not many! So when he finished The Nowhere Child, put it on the couch next to me and said, "Can you read this so we can talk about the ending?" I was on it. I put aside what I was reading and read it.

Then he was reading The Wife and The Widow, and he gasped and said, "Oh, I didn't pick that twist." Now, he never gives away anything when he's reading, so you can imagine how eagerly I needed to get my hands on that book - even though I was reading the other one! LOL.

So, The Nowhere Child stalled a few times for me. I'm a picky bitch when I read, and I've read a lot of crime/suspense for many years, so I'm probably very picky. The ending that totally through Mr E wasn't such a shock for me because one of the reasons I un-stalled at one point about halfway in, was because something triggered my mind and I began to unravel the plot. So, although it was good, I wanted better.


The Wife and The Widow had a much much tighter narrative. I commented on this to Mr E when I was about halfway through. He didn't respond (which is normal). But when I got to the plot twist, I gasped. I sat in that total stillness of OH MY GOD. My mind ran back over the very tight narrative and the clues were all there, but I didn't catch them...even though I knew there was a plot twist that blew Mr E's mind.

I was looking for it, waiting for it, expecting it - and it blew my mind.

If you're looking for a really good crime suspense story, The Wife and The Widow is brilliant, and I highly recommend it.

I can't wait to see what Christian White delivers next book.

Have you read this?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Thoughts to start 2020

I don't know about you, but I'm reeling. The last couple of months have been ... well, I'm not sure I have a word. It seems like so many areas of my life have been hit by explosions. Not unexpected bombs, but volcanoes where deep rumblings have exploded. I feel awful using that metaphor after the recent volcano tragedy in NZ but I've nothing else to compare it to at this stage. My mind is still sorting through the mess in my head and heart.

It's like a shifting of the old, ready for the new, yet the shifting has been cataclysmic. Let me try to summarise.

In the writing world: The Romance Writers of America (I'm not a member) have had murmurings for many years about discrimination issues (with romance stories and with people), to a much lesser degree I think RWAus has similar issues and these reflect the general population too. These came to a head just before Christmas in an incredibly divisive and public action. I don't know what will happen, but the lines have been drawn. What shocks me is that there as some in that organisation who believe they've done nothing wrong - they don't seem to understand discrimination. And when their actions are pointed out to them, they believe that's an attack on them and their life. There are no apologies. No acknowledgement. Just arrogance and ignorance, even as the organisation implodes. I struggle to understand that attitude.

In Australia and near my home: Bushfires have raged across Australia for months now, but since before Christmas there have been fears for the area near my home on the NSW south coast. Since New Years Eve, fires have decimated this area. This part of the world is a popular holiday destination especially at Christmas time. In an unprecedented move, tourists were asked to leave the region. Even locals were told to evacuate should they not be prepared to stay. This occurred after half of the region saw the raging infernos first hand. After tourists had been forced to shelter on beaches as they watched flames come too close. There are few areas of coastal SE Australia that have not been burnt, and that is truly horrifying.

In the political arena: politicians have been publicly criticised for their decisions and actions that have directly led to pain and suffering of others, and/or a shirking of their duty. This probably isn't anything new as politicians are often criticised, but the level of condemnation seems stronger this time, more heart-felt and impassioned. There have been some 'new' world leaders who have shown a different form of leadership and I think society has responded to that. In the past, society held leaders in some revere, wanting them to be distant, cold and austere. These new leaders have shown strong leadership can be compassionate, empathic, while still maintaining leadership skills and qualities. Once again, I don't think this is new per se. I can think of some leaders in the past who have shown these qualities but they were rarely congratulated or acknowledged for them - in Australia anyway. By watching other world leaders effectively demonstrate what we in Australia have previously ridiculed and criticised, I think it's changing the attitude and expectations of Australians. When the present politicians don't act with compassion, they've been heavily criticised for it. (I must say, I'm stunned that this attitude in Australia has changed).

Personally: I saw a Facebook post this week that brought me undone. A writing friend said she'd be loud and fight so that teens had hope because many she knew feared the world wouldn't exist when they were 50. That was teenage me. I think I've written a blog post about this before. I was such a passionate, revolutionary youth. I wrote letters and fought the confines of society whenever I could. When the first gulf war began, I honestly believed we'd never grow old. I feared the end of the world. I studied Environmental Biology at uni, wanting to change the world. When I finished there were no jobs for me in environmental research or management, and I needed to work. Somewhere along the way I was battered down by life and I stopped being a passionate revolutionary. Inside I wanted to do something, but I knew it was useless so I gave up any outward fight. I've made it to 50...and nothing has really changed since I was a 17 year old, terrified that the world would end. How fucking depressing is that?

Except... yesterday my fury unleashed at my poor Dad. He of the conservative, patriarchal old-guard coped my wrath when he tried to explain the old system to me. I burred up something shocking. The fury in my voice was terrifying. It took me back to my teenage years and my inflamed fury at the world and society and the mindless lemming-ness of people. This morning, as I read that FB post, the futility of my life hit me. 17 year old me would be so utterly despairing of the me in my 50s. I didn't keep fighting. I sat down and shut up and tried to fit into society.

I don't fit. I never have. I hate the inequality and inequity in society. I hate that we're meant to conform to rules and laws that are out-dated, and make no logic sense. I hate that we're beaten down when we don't fit, and unless you're loud and confident, speaking your truth is terrifying because of backlash, ridicule, nastiness and hate.

Societies that have existed since the beginnings of human development are those who have lived in tune and in touch with nature. Those who have lived by their heart, with a strong personal accountability. And yet we try to wipe these societies out because "we know better".

Western 'civilisation' has taken us away from nature, has imposed a hierarchy with rules and regulations that are inequitable. So many of these 'civilisations' have come and gone over history. Rising and falling. And yet they perpetuate - these power structured societies. Why? What logical reason allows this?

I don't have answers, I'm just sifting my thoughts. And yes, one of my thoughts has always been, "why are we told that anarchy is wrong/ridiculous/impossible?"

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives this definition of anarchy:

1a : absence of government
b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority the city's descent into anarchy
c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

2a : absence or denial of any authority or established order anarchy prevailed in the ghetto
b : absence of order : disorder not manicured plots but a wild anarchy of nature— Israel Shenker

1b is what I'm always told - "lawlessness", implying something that will never work because we need laws. Is that true?

I don't know. Are humans capable of living from their own heart, caring for themselves, others and their environment, without bowing to a hierarchy? I'd like to think that we are, but maybe that's my utopia, because I like 1c :)

How has your year started?

Monday, January 6, 2020

Mayoral Appeals after Bushfires

Ash on the Shoalhaven River
You may have heard of the horrific bushfires across Australia. There were so many, in so many places right across this vast country. There are many many points for donations, so please feel free to make your own choices if you can afford to donate.

Below is my local area's appeal. There are few towns in my council area have not been burnt. I'm fortunate to be living in one of those towns. But there's no time for complacency yet. There's more hot weather at the end of the week, so the sprinklers remain on our roof. The hoses remain attached, filled and ready. Buckets of water will remain around our house with mops and rakes. We plan to fight ember attack, and leave for the river or beach if it goes beyond that.

The Shoalhaven River with smoke and fire clouds
We have people staying with us, fire evacuees. At this stage their home stands, but there's still a spot fire burning behind their property, so they remain here. There's no power in their area. They're hoping to be able to access more belongings today. On Saturday night, they watched the fire map cover their location, and the devastation of their loss was unfathomable. It wasn't just their home, their belongings, but also 'their' trees, their birds, lizards, wallaroos, kangaroos, possums, bats. They don't belong to these, but they share an home, an area of co-existence, with these beings and their loss for the beings was palpable.

When I glance at my Wildlife Wednesdays I'm reminded of the beings around my home that I also love. It would be heart breaking to think of us all wiped out.

Wedge-tailed eagle at Kangaroo Island
You may remember that about this time last year I went to Kangaroo Island which was one of the most wildlife friendly places I've ever encountered. Almost half of the Island was burnt over the past week, and they too remain under threat of more fires.

If you'd like to help out financially, there is a Mayoral Appeal for both area:

You can donate via:

Shoalhaven City Council
BSB: 062 585
Account: 10948473
Please quote Reference: Bushfire

Swimming with dolphins at Kangaroo Island

Or for Kangaroo Island:

BSB: 105 094
Account Number: 035 680 540
Account Name: Mayoral Bushfire fund
International deposit enter Swift Code: SGBLAU2S

So many places in Australia were burnt. Much of the east coast of NSW and Victoria, large tracts of SA and Qld, places in NT, WA and Tasmania. Nowhere and no one is left untouched. It's impossible to get my head around the scale of this catastrophe.

If you would prefer to make a more general contribution, the Red Cross has the following page for that:

Many thanks for thinking of us, contributing in some way, offering hope, prayers for rain, rain dances, meditations, light codes, love.

Australia hurts and mourns.

Friday, January 3, 2020


It seems like there are bushfires all over Australia at the moment, which is horrifying.

For the moment my little patch of paradise is safe. I have friends and their dog who are in an area where the fire is heading, coming to stay with us. Last time they stayed, it looked as if the apocalypse was coming here - but we were safe. I hope that remains true this time.