Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Egret

I think this is the Little Egret, but it could also be the Cattle Egret. I'm leaning towards Little Egret because they're most often seen singly, and the Cattle Egret usually stick in a bunch.

And once again, I snuck out of my backyard on to the river, but it's close!

Breeding occurs in colonies with other waterbirds. A scanty nest of sticks is built over water. Both sexes incubate the eggs. Before fledging, the young birds are able to climb around or roost in branches near the nest.

The Little Egret feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates, as well as fish and amphibians. The Little Egret hunts in shallow water by shuffling a foot to stir up aquatic prey, which it then takes in a lightning-fast movement. It also chases small fish with its wings raised.

If it's the Cattle Egret though, they eat: grasshoppers, especially during breeding season, but eats many other invertebrates. It also eats frogs, cane toads, lizards and some small mammals. Its sharp bill is used in a lunging and stabbing manner. It often feeds by following large animals such as cattle, grabbing insects and worms that they disturb with their feet. They also will sit on cattle to look out for insects.

Cattle Egret pairs are monogamous for the breeding season, and they breed in colonies, usually with other waterbirds. Their shallow platform nests are made in wetland areas in trees and bushes, usually as high up as possible. Both parents build the nest and incubate the eggs, with one brood per season being raised.

If you want more information, I found some here at the Birds in Backyards website.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Story

Last Sunday I talked about Critique Partners. This week I want to talk about something similar, but more.

RWA is an organisation like no other I've been in. The support from this group is phenomenal. No question is silly. Everything is answered with as much detail as you can handle, and then some! No one is better than anyone else. Everyone is kind, helpful, considerate and overly giving. Sure, there are a couple of bad eggs, but surprisingly few.

RWA is a mixture of writers at varying stages. When I joined I was a complete novice. Five years later, I still feel the same way about the organisation as I did then. It matters not where you are on your writing journey, you fit in... even if you think you don't.

This is an example of what I mean. I've had the incredible experience of published authors assisting my writing (not one, a few can you believe!?). Each time, it's pushed my writing forward in a huge leap. It's often been when I've stalled. I can't find how to make my writing better, yet I'm not winning, not getting picked up. Then along comes this miracle, someone experienced and knowledgeable, who critiques my work, and shows me about a million ways to improve.

Sometimes it comes through an anonymous contest judge. A mentor in a program (like 5DI, or IWS). An idea that's built upon. A random email. I've never expected it. It kind of falls in my lap through some good fortune, for which I will be forever grateful.

If I wasn't in RWA, and probably if I wasn't an active member, this would never have happened. It's the most incredible experience.

So, if you're writing on your own. Stalled. Or unsure where to go. Join RWA. Get involved. Meet people. Chat. Ask questions. Be interested. You just never know what might fall in your lap.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Phallic Friday - circumcision

To cut or not to cut? This is a huge medical question and I'm not going to get into the debate. I just want to ask about it, from a story writing perspective - is it important?

Because of changing medical decisions about circumcision, there are age brackets of men who are, or who aren't, with a few bucking the trend. In my age group, most men are circumcised. To meet an uncut man is unusual.

I've been thinking about this in stories. Most don't mention the penis status, yet I think it's a missed detail. It's also something we as a society often don't talk about.

I have a couple of funny stories about this topic.

I worked with a lady who emigrated to Australia from a European country where men were generally uncircumcised. She got a job as a nurse's aid in a hospital and was asked to wash a male patient. When she got to his penis, he was circumcised and she had never seen a circumcised penis before. She went to get her superior, thinking the man had some awful injury. She told me she had never been so embarrassed in her life.

Another story. I shared an office with 2 guys. We were pretty open and discussed all manner of things. They were both married with kids and treated me like their kid sister. A show started on TV called "Sex" where all manner of topics were addressed. We used to discuss the show the next day. There had been a segment about circumcision and we were discussing it (we're scientists, so it was quite a medical-type discussion of the pros and cons). During the discussion, one of the fellows said, "Well, what exactly is it?" We were speechless. Then I said, "Maybe you two should go to the mens room and sort this out." But the other guy bolted, guffawing loudly. I was left to explain what circumcision was - and all I could be thankful for was that this guy had daughters!! (I don't know if he was pulling my leg or not, but I think not. He was a farm boy, but incredibly naive and shy.)

So, in my mind, discussing and describing the penis is important. I also think the same about women's vaginas, especially when I look at the statistics about vaginoplasties - it's horrific. I'll make a start on penis description... and try to have a mixture of circumcised and uncircumcised heroes. One day I may have words enough to describe women too!

Is body part description important to you? Is cut or uncut important?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - wren

I snuck down to the beach for this photo even though I have wrens in my backyard. The ones in my backyard are camera shy, whereas at the beach they're quite happy to pose!

This is a female superb blue wren (well, I'm pretty sure it is, there's a tiny niggle that it's not, only because I didn't see any males down there, but the males are in my yard so maybe they don't like the beach and cameras!).

Here's a bit of info about them.
  • They live as a family group.
  • Only the mother sits on the eggs. The others in the group feed and protect the nestlings once hatched, leaving the mother to lay up to three broods per season.
  • Wrens have relatively weak powers of flight but long legs, so they spend most of their time on the ground or in shrubs, going in a series of hops as they gather food.
  • They forage in groups - that way, insects disturbed by one bird may fall victim to another.
  • Nest building is done entirely by the female in 3-4 days, using spiders' webs, fine twigs and grass then lined with wool, feathers or animal hair.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Story - crit partners

I belong to Romance Writers of Australia (RWA or RWAus to distinguish it from RWAmerica) and when I joined, there was a Critique Partner Scheme. You filled in a survey to see what level you were at, what you considered your strengths and weaknesses to be, and how much work you wanted to swap. Then "Dexter" (if you're old enough to remember the TV show "Perfect Match") aka Rachel, linked you up with a fellow member (or a member from RWNZ) of a similar standard but with different strengths to you.

When I join things, I get involved. I immerse myself completely. Needless to say, I was in. I received 4 crit partners (CP) in fairly quick succession. The idea is that you see who matches and nicely discard those who don't and keep those who do. I was discarded by 1, but I kept the remaining 3 people. I can't discard people. They come into your life for a reason.

Since then, I've collected people I've met through RWA. I have a bunch of friends and we all swap work and critique each others' stories. It's a way to push yourself forwards. Although we all started at about the same level, we learn differently, do different courses, attend different conference sessions, read different books, grow and change at different paces. So as well as pushing yourself forwards, your CP also pulls you forward. As they learn something, they teach it to you by finding it in your work and suggesting how to fix it, or adding what's missing.

If you're a writer, it's fairly much a solo experience. When you have CPs, although the writing is solo, you have people there with you. People who can brainstorm ideas. People who can fix spelling and grammar. People who find plot holes you missed (even if they're 10 ft wide!). People who notice when a character does something uncharacteristic. People who notice when you use the same phrasing, word, expression.

I could not live without my collection of CPs. They're my cheer squad, my supporters, my fail safes, and my friends. Thanks for being there CPs.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Phallic Friday - vibes

Are vibrators part and parcel of your every day life?

I'm writing a sex romp story, where the people meet on holidays. I almost wrote a scene with a vibrator, then I thought - would I take a vibe on holidays with me? My answer is no. It's only a fortnight holiday, surely you can do without a vibe for that long. But is that a fair assumption?

I've read plenty of stories with vibes in handbags, luggage, taken into the wilderness, etc etc. But I don't usually carry a handbag. My luggage struggles to meet limits without adding in sex toys. If I was going on a wilderness trip, vibrators would be the last thing I'd think of. I'd be packing that space with first aid, or food, or an extra jumper or socks!!

Sex toys are a part of my life, but they aren't all of my life. They're for special occasions, a bit of extra fun, a quickie when there's no one around, something to add some spice when needed. Maybe that's odd. Maybe I'm odd.

In TV shows or movies, and often when vibes are described, they're small, "like a silver bullet" (although I imagine a very large bullet here), they'd fit into your hand to hide. And maybe that's where I'm on the wrong track. Maybe I need to think small vibe, not the big whoopers with clit teasers and heavy duty motion. But seriously, what fun do you have with a small vibe? Is it that much different to a finger? Fingers are portable, take no extra space, work pretty well. Or have we moved into sex that's not messy, that's cool and small and compact, leaving nothing a tissue can't clean?

Since I'm writing this sex romp, and as I wouldn't take a vibe on holidays, I didn't write the scene with one. But I keep thinking that I might have this wrong...

If you wrote the scene, would you have included a vibe?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - another mystery bug

I like bugs...but as for knowing what they are, I have no idea. This bug I found when I was fishing on the river with my Dad. I've no idea what he is but he's interesting. He would have been about 2 cm long - so pretty small - and his orange head was quite bright. The wings looked like the finest tissue paper. For something so tiny, they are remarkably put together. So much detail, so many tiny articulated joints, such beauty.

Do you know what my bug is?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Avon Romance Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop

Lily Malone tagged me for this blog hop - even though it's winter here, I thought I should do it! It began with the Avon authors and you can read the start here if you want to (it could be a good way to collect some recipes!).

What's this all about?
Well, as I understand it, these blog hops are linked back to each other, so it's designed as a way to build up traffic to your website, make people aware of your books, and to generate a following. This blog hop has a recipe included, so it's giving something back to the people who follow the hops.

I'm supposed to tag 5 people to continue this, but I'm not a fan of these chain-letter-things. However, if you'd like to be tagged, please let me know and I'll amend this to include you :)

My Work In Progress
This is nameless at the moment but it's a fun sex romp, set on Lord Howe Island, with two sporty people - a retired Olympic triathlete, Samantha, and a rugby league player, Cooper. I didn't want to go for a huge angsty conflict novel, I wanted a fun story with lots of sex. I'm halfway through writing/editing it. I'll let you know when it's ready to see the world.

Five Tasty Questions
1. When writing are you a snacker? If so, sweet or salty?
I don't snack while writing or I'd no longer fit in my house! I do drink tea, by the bucketful!

2. Are you an outliner or someone who flies by the seat of their pants? Are they real pants or jammies?
Seat of my pants. If I plan, then I get bored and the story is done in my head and is never written. So I have to zoom off into the unknown, write like fury, and then spends months fixing it up! I'm a tracksuit person when I'm writing.

3. When cooking or baking, do you follow the recipe exactly or wing it? 
I wing it. Even if a recipe book is open, I'm a bit slap-dash about it. I like to experiment too. I like having some taste ideas in my head then mixing flavours to get it. I'm more success than failure, thank goodness!

4. What is next for you after this book?
After this book, I have one about fellatio to finish. Then I have one on fetishes that's started but is still fermenting in my mind.

5. Last Question...on a level of one being slightly naughty to ten being whoo whoo steamy, where does your book land?
10 - I like whoo whoo steamy!

RECIPE for Banana and Mashmallow
This is a great summer dessert.

You need: 
3 bananas
8 oz mashmallows (I use a whole pack and doesn't matter if they're coloured or not)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup whipped cream (or thickened cream)

What to do:
Chop up walnuts.
Quarter all the mashmallows (I use a knife dipped in hot water - but it's messy!)
Chop bananas into slices. 
Mix all the ingredients together.

You have to eat this within 2 days or the bananas go brown - but it's not usually a problem! It may not look pretty but it's a taste sensation - and a family recipe, I didn't wing it :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Story - The Story Guy

The Story Guy (Novella)Ooooohhhhh.... this book is gorgeous - sensual, unusual, well written and heart warming (and heart wrenching).

Mary Ann Rivers writes blog posts with the Wonkomance girls and without fail, they are thoughtful, sensual and well-written. They're the type of blog posts that make mine look hastily thrown together with little thought put into them. Her posts make me want to do more, achieve more, think more... she makes me want to be a better person.

And so does her book.

If you want to treat yourself, then this is a great investment. I might even re-read it - it's just so beautiful.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Phallic Friday - clothing and attraction

I went and saw Man of Steel at the movies last weekend, which had me thinking about clothes and how they make someone more attractive or not.

Superman is played by Henry Cavill in Man of Steel. And Henry Cavill is a man with many different faces and attires, in this movie and in others.

In The Tudors, he's dressed in historical garb - high collars, open shirts, chain mail, generally darker colours.

As Superman, he's a fisherman in one scene and wears a beanie pulled low over his heavily bearded face.

He's a labourer, in trousers and a singlet/shirt, all sweaty.

He's almost naked, sweaty and sometimes dirty.

He's in a simple t-shirt and flannelette shirt over the top.

He's in a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, a few buttons open.

He's in his body-hugging Superman outfit and cape.

On the movie premiere tours, he's in a suit, all slick, smart and professional.

There are times when I'm so caught by his attractiveness, I stop to stare. Other times I'd walk right on past and not notice him.

How do clothes do this?

You can have a few moments of bliss like I just did and Google images of Henry Cavill, scroll your way through to see if you think clothes do make a difference!

And then you can look all over again and judge by hair. Then by facial hair. Then maybe angle of the photo... LOL! You can see why this post took me ages to write.

Enjoy... but feel free to share your views (me, I loved the dirty sweaty shots, and the fisherman, and the white shirt. I wasn't so fussed on the Superman outfit).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - moth

When I was a kid, these were my favourite moths and I called them a Jaffa Moth. I spent hours trying to breed them because I wanted to see a cocoon hatch into a moth (I had visions of the chrysalis bursting open and a half damp moth struggling out before fluttering its wings, nodding to me and flying away). I haven't seen them for years and the other week I saw one. It took me right back to my excited childhood state.

So, let me see if I can be more adult about this and find out something more about these moths.'s a page with some great photos. But this Brisbane one could be different to my more southern one.

Okay, so not a lot of information about these guys that I could find. This website seems to have a bit of info, including:

The Caterpillars of the CTENUCHINAE family are mostly covered uniformly in dark hairs. The hairs can cause Urticaria in sensitive people. The Caterpillars typically feed and move about during the daytime.They pupate in a cocoon made of silk with their hairs matted together. The adults are small to medium in size, with wings that are black with translucent orange spots. Their bodies typically have tranverse bands alternating in orange and black, hence their name 'Wasp Moths'. However the coloration does not denote any hazard except that the moths are poisonous if eaten.The adult moths of many species in this subfamily fly during daylight hours. There are 54 named Australian members of this subfamily.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Story Sunday - what's erotic?

I read a review of The Virginity Mission (do you need the cover again, Lily? Here it is.) where the reviewer said she considered it a "normal" story and not erotic.

What is erotic (in the context of erotic romance as a subgenre of books)?

I don't really know! I thought it was explicit sex scenes where you don't use euphemisms but names of body parts, where sex is described fully, and where sex is a vital part of the story line. But maybe I'm wrong.

In my trusty dictionary, erotic is defined as: of or pertaining to sexual love; arousing or satisfying sexual desire.

The Virginity Mission is fairly tame with the sex - but she is a virgin. I don't know about you but I didn't take to sex like a duck to water. It took me a while to get the hang of being wild. There's so much to learn first up.

Maybe in the post-50 Shades world, we've moved the goalposts for erotic and it needs to be kinky sex, which I still call BDSM which is a subgenre of erotic.

In my mind there are a lot of different subgenres in the erotic category - BDSM, fetishes, oral sex, anal sex, menages or more, multiple partners, bestiality, golden showers, scat play - and those are just off the top of my head. 

In a way, I'd like normal sex to be accepted in every novel, but I think people would be too shocked. For that reason, I believe it still needs a label as a warning. Too many of my family/friends struggle to read my sex scenes because they can't handle that I wrote them (or wrote about sex).

I don't know that many people are ready for normal sex to be fully described, let alone for kinky sex to become normalised as erotic!

I think we're still in a world where sex is strange, something behind closed doors, never to be talked about - and I'm talking missionary sex here!

What do you think? How do you define "erotic" in literature?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Phallic Friday - competitive sex

I bet you're wondering what this post is about!

I started writing a story, which has ended up being two different stories. Mid-stride in my first draft a friend said, "You know, all your heroines are kind of wimpy." And when I stopped pouting and looked, they were. So I changed her to be more of a kick-ass heroine...which changed the dynamic of the story which split the story into two. kick-ass heroine (Samantha) is a retired Olympic triathlete, who meets a hunky footy player (Cooper) on a holiday. Attraction flares (or rather ignites in a huge whoosh) and they're going for it. But she's gotta be kick-ass, so the first time she has him pretty much primed ready for sex and walks away. Did I tell you she's a strange girl?!

Her action starts somewhat of a competition, which leads to a conversation like this:

The kiss heats, quickly. In no time Cooper grabs a condom, sheathes himself and probes at my cunt. We’re side by side facing each other. One of my hands on his abdomen, the other encircling his cock. I lift my leg and pause.
“We did it this way last night.” I squeeze my hand on his cock, my other hand stroking downwards towards his balls.
Cooper looks at me, his eyebrow quirked in question.
“Doesn’t it get boring doing it the same way all the time?”
“Sam, nothing about you is boring. Are you bored?”
I need a brain transplant. I can’t believe I started this conversation, let alone started it poised on the brink of more incredible sex. “Never bored. You just spur me to greater things. I don’t think we should repeat sex. I think we need to challenge each other to new things every time.” My hand cups his sac, weighing and lifting his balls, pulsing slowly against them.
Cooper’s head shakes as his lips part in a grin. “And you had to tell me this now?”
“I just woke up. My brain’s not functioning.”
With a laugh, Cooper grabs both my wrists until my hands release him, then flips me onto my stomach. “Different enough for you?” He scoops my hips up and pulls me towards the edge of the bed. On my knees, head and hands against the bed, I turn my head to watch him, waiting to see what he’ll do. 

 They have 10 days together - do you think there's enough ways to have sex that it's never repeated?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - pelicans

I'm making the stretch beyond my yard again today.

I've very fond of pelicans. I'm not sure if it's because if their beak (which holds more than it's belly can) or because of the book by Colin Thiele, and movie, Storm Boy. I suspect it's Storm Boy. If you have never seen it, have a look at this clip. It's a beautiful film from my childhood.

I spent many a weekend laying on a wharf trying to feed fish heads to the pelicans while my poor grandfather sweated blood that the pelicans would eat out arms off - or at least hook us and scratch us badly with that hook on their beak. I'm pleased to say we were never eaten or scratched!

I love watching them land on posts. They look like huge cumbersome jumbos and then they shilly and shally and calmly come in for the softest of landings. It never ceases to amaze me.

Taking off from the ground or water, they aren't quite so nifty. They seem to need a good big run up and a fair bit of huge wing flapping.

Here's some breeding info from the Birds in Backyards website.

Breeding depends on environmental conditions, particularly rainfall. Pelicans are colonial breeders with up to 40 000 individuals grouping on islands or secluded shores. Breeding begins with courtship. The female leads potential mates (two to eight or more) around the colony. As the males follow her in these walks, they threaten each other while swinging their open bills from side to side trying to attract the female's attention. The males may also pick up small objects, like sticks or dry fish, which they toss in the air and catch again, repeating the sequence several times.

Both sexes perform "pouch-rippling" in which they clap their bills shut several times a second and the pouch ripples like a flag in a strong breeze. As the courtship parade progresses, the males drop out one by one. Finally, after pursuits on land, water or in the air, only a single male is left. The female leads him to a potential nest site.

During the courtship period, the bill and pouch of the birds change colour dramatically. The forward half of the pouch becomes bright salmon pink, while the skin of the pouch in the throat region turns chrome yellow. Parts of the top and base of the bill change to cobalt blue, and a black diagonal strip appears from the base to the tip. This colour change is of short duration, the intensity usually subsiding by the time incubation starts.

The nest consists of a scrape in the ground prepared by the female. She digs the scrape with her bill and feet, and lines it with any scraps of vegetation or feathers within reach of the nest. Within three days egg-laying begins and eggs are laid two to three days apart. Both parents share incubation and the eggs are incubated on their feet.

The first-hatched chick is substantially larger than its siblings. It receives most of the food and may even attack and kill its nest mates. A newly hatched pelican has a large bill, bulging eyes, and skin that looks like small-grained bubble plastic. The skin around the face is mottled with varying degrees of black and the colour of the eyes varies from white to dark brown. This individual variation helps the parents to recognise their chick from hundreds of others.

The chicks leave their nests to form creches of up to 100 birds. They remain in creches for about two months, by the end of which they have learnt to fly and are fairly independent. Wild birds may live between ten and possibly 25 years or more.