Sunday, December 29, 2013

Story Sunday - best sellers and random reading

I've been reading quite a bit this week, on holidays. I've learned a bit about my reading self. I like suspense. I like those stories where I can't wait to find out what happens. The ones I devour, often in one sitting, because I can't stand to put the book down.

I haven't been reading those books and I miss them. I've been reading books that other people like, but they don't do it for me. And this is what made me question what it was that's missing for me.

I should like nice books with lovely people and gorgeous settings. I should like sweet books with unreal stories. I should like deeply emotional stories with sweet endings.

And you know, I do like them.

I just don't LOVE them. They aren't the books that keep my attention. They aren't the hooks that have me quickly flipping through page after page as I devour.

They're books that make me feel good, but not exhilarated.

And now I've made this discovery, I wonder about what I write. I don't know that I write suspenseful stories - and I don't mean action suspense, I mean where you're wondering about something. I think I need to challenge myself to something with suspense, something to keep the pages flicking...but maybe I need to read a bit more first :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Phallic Friday - talking about sex

When writers get together, the conversations can be interesting for any eavesdroppers. I was chatting to a
writer the other day, who doesn't write erotica, and these were the topics covered (in a low ce so as not to embarrass any eavesdroppers):
Pubic hair
Feathers - use of during sex and if it was permitted in different lines
Terminology eg clit, clitoris, nub, tiny pleasure button, cock, dick, penis, arousal, shaft. You get the idea!
Which sex scenes sound genuine and which sound like an 'old' lady trying to write sex.
Condoms and safe sex.
How to ensure a condom is available and the troubles you can get into with this
How to dispose of a condom n a scene when this may not be so easy

In the past, I wrote without thinking about any of this technical detail. Now I think about it, torture my mind trying to get it all right, and even discuss it with other writers. These are the conversations you just don't have with every day friends. They're the conversations you don't really want overheard or taken out of context. But they're fun in a way.

I look back and see that it's taken me some years to get to the point where I'm thinking about these things in a story I must be improving! I hope so.

Do you have such conversations? (And I know we've had these discussions on blogs, Lily)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - horses


Happy Christmas!! 

I hope wherever you are you're having a lovely day.

I thought I'd introduce you to my horses - none are with me physically, but they all have a big space in my heart.

When I was a kid, I was horse-mad, but I lived in the city and couldn't have a horse. I promised that one day I'd leave home and live in the country and own a horse.At 23, I did that.

Pippa was my first horse and I loved her dearly. She was given to me at Pony Club by a family who she wasn't suited to. I had her for a couple of years and I learned to ride on her (well, no, I learned to ride on a friend's pony first, then progressed to Pip who was a little flighty!).

Pippa had cancer and died, which left me traumatised and horse-free for a couple of years... but I succumbed!

Kori was horse #2. A lovely quiet stock horse. This is my Mum riding her while I lead. I moved into a farm house with some land and I was allowed to have her with me. Sadly it didn't last long. One night she wrapped her leg up in the fence. It was horrific. After weeks of treatment, the last tendon snapped and I lost Kori.

I decided I was cursed and there'd be no more horses. About 10 years later, my husband bought me Laurie.

Laurie was an ex-racehorse, not long off the track. Oh boy. I may have killed two horses...but I was sure Laurie would kill me. It wasn't that he was was just that I was out of practice and a racehorse relies on confidence. I didn't have it. But I had him at home for a few months and as you can see in the photo down the bottom, he enjoyed being with my dogs! And then we were moving...

A girl I knew loved Laurie. She would ogle him as she rode her horse past our place. So I gave him to her when we left town. This is her riding him. She loved him but he had a back injury that prevented her doing as much as she wanted on him, she she passed him onto another girl who loves him.

And now, about eight years later, my Dad and I own half a tail of a racehorse. She's no Black Caviar (yet) but a country racehorse. We went to see her at her first run and this is she, Sue. Pretty, isn't she? I'm hoping that she'll be a lot of fun.

It's a bit of a dream come true...not only to own horses, but now a share in a racehorse.

Are you horsey?

Family Dinner with Laurie


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Story - Coal Creek

Coal CreekAlex Miller is one of my favourite authors and his newest book came for my birthday. Coal Creek blew me away as soon as I started to read it. I'll try to articulate some of my thoughts.

It's written in first person, which is not too strange especially after Autumn Laing.

It's written using the vernacular that an uneducated man would use. Like, "I went out to see Ben a couple of times but he never said nothing to me about his time in Stuart [a gaol]..."

It's rural, mystery, romance, life, coming of age. Lots of themes that isn't too unusual for Alex Miller.

It's Australian, really beautifully rural Australian.

The writing (using how the man would speak) is incredible. I haven't noticed a slip. But I'm undecided how I feel about using it. It's a skill to tell a story in this way, and to write in such a way and keep it authentic. But why? Why would you choose to write like this?

I am going to go check out reviews and interviews to see if Alex Miller explains his choice. But before I do I'm going to make some guesses here. I think he's going for an authenticity, and Bobby Blue became so strong, Miller had to tell the story in this manner, like he did with Autumn Laing.
That's my guess.

I have a niggling concern about using such a technique that it sets up to ridicule a man who isn't well educated or well-spoken. But I can't see Miller having such a thought, he's too honest a story-teller. However, the typeset of the book is at 1.5 or 2 line spacing, which is not customary in a book, and led me to this thought.

So now I have those thoughts off my chest, I'll head back to Coal Creek and to investigating the story behind it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Phallic Friday - sex that hurts

I read this news article that horrified me.

In that news story, it said that a 200 kg man was having sex with a 50 kg woman and when he thrust, she went through the wall behind them (or her head did) and he thought he had killed her.

This story shocks me because the couple have agreed for it to be a part of a new TV show. They are no longer together and the incident happened some time ago...but why do you want your sex life to be documented to a world-wide audience?

And I gather there will be many more people sharing their sex that hurts stories on a show documenting sex that ended in the ER.

What stresses me about this story is that the man was a virgin and his girlfriend was seducing him...but where was her care for herself or for him? Where was her self-preservation? To go head first through the wall, she had to be beneath him. She was beneath him? Why would she take a more dominant role as the instigator and be on top?

She was tiny, he was large...isn't it safer to be on top? I would have been, especially for his first time when hormones are going to over-rule his brain. But maybe he was more sensible than other men I've known. Maybe I don't know enough to comment - and I have only read this news article.

Should we be having sex that ends us in the ER? Gosh, that's kind of serious, isn't it?

But sometimes we do have unsafe sex, or sex that makes us uncomfortable, and I know I've sometimes just gone along with it rather than stop it...because it's easier, or I have a strong feeling the guy isn't trying to hurt me and will be embarrassed to know he has.

But that's wrong. I should never have sex where I can be harmed or uncomfortable. I should enjoy it as much as my partner. I should be happy, safe and aroused. I have to be strong enough to make sure my needs are met. And you should be too.

How do you feel about sex that hurts? Or this TV show?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - pillbug

Pillbugs are often found in gardens and damp places. This one was trundling across a car park!

Did you know pillbugs are not insects, but are crustaceans (related to crabs), and called isopods? They have a hard outer skeleton and jointed legs. They also have more than 3 pairs of legs (which is what insects have).

They are called pillbugs because their defense mechanism is to curl into a ball.

They aren't native to Australia but came out from Europe with the plants that were brought here by early settlers.

They feed on decaying organic matter.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Story - My Brother-But-One

Way back in 2010, I went to RWAus's first 5-day intensive manuscript workshop. There were 24 of us hopefuls there. I had a story that wasn't erotic but sort of a tribute to my life in rural NSW. Sort of a romance but written in a non-romance manner. Another girl had a story, not really romance, that was a tribute to her African childhood. We were dubbed the 'literaries' because our books didn't fit any real genre.

It was with huge pleasure that I could go to my local bookshop last week and buy the African story. TM Clark's My Brother-But-One. It jumped the To Be Read pile, right into my hands...because I'd waited so long for one of us to have their story published (just in case you're wondering, mine's still waiting!).

My Brother-But-One is a beautifully told story about hardships and violence in Africa, when Zimbabwe was going through civil unrest. But it's not about the country's unrest, it's about a family's struggles within the political climate - and their struggles are not only political but personal too. It's about poaching, killing, working to save the land and the wildlife, about volunteer programs, love and family.

A strange mix of themes but it makes a terrifically powerful, if not always comfortable, read.

Tina Marie Clark has done a brilliant job in weaving a fascinating tale. I dare you not to fall in love with the characters. I dare you not to fall in love with Africa.

I found this is a fascinating story, well-written, well-told and difficult to put down. It was certainly worth waiting all this time to read in full!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Phallic Friday - erotic literature

On my bookshelf of strange books, sits The Essential Guide To Erotic Literature Part I Before 1920 by Cliffird J Scheiner, published as part of Wordswoth Classic Erotica. I got this book some time in the 1990s when I was devouring erotic literature.

Here's some history taken from the book...

"We don't know for sure what the first printed erotica was, although it certainly could not have predated the invention of the printing press in 1450. ... This [ie loss of single sheets and broadsides] should not surprise us, since even today a great amount of erotica - be it paperback books, privately issued posters or flyers or chap books, printed gimmicks and ephemera of all sorts - disappears without a trace on a daily basis."

And that's something that has changed in today's world with computers and the internet - it doesn't disappear. As much as some people would like it to, it's there forever.

"The earliest printed erotic work we have evidence for is the 1527 printing of Aretino's Sonnets, known in the original Italian as Sonetti Lussuriosi."

The book goes on to discuss the sonnets and their effect on society then and now (well, in the late 1980s).

This is the most remarkable thing about the classics (in literature and erotic literature) - their relevance still today, some 500 years later. How is that possible? How can people like Shakespeare, Arentino, John Cleland (author of Fanny Hill), Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, and The Marquis de Sade, have written something that remains relevant (sometimes even topical) many many years later? Were they gifted with foresight? Were they revolutionary? Or has humanity not changed that much?

I've got no answers, but feel free to offer some :) And do you think authors of today will be relevant 500 years from now, in 2513?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - cicada

Cicadas are the sound of summer in Australia - and we've just moved into summer!

This is a Black Prince cicada, well, that's what I call them! They were the prized catch when I was a kid. This one is a little worse for wear - but I don't have a tree nearby that has cicadas on them at a level I can get to!

There are green ones (Green Grocers, which were plentiful as a kid and worth no points), yellow ones (Yellow Monday, which were quite prized and tricky to find), a Double Drummer, a Floury Baker and the Black Prince. I don't think we found many Double Drummers or Floury Bakers.

We had some we called "piss whackers" - they were the ones that peed on you when you picked them up. No idea if it was pee though! It was probably sap that they'd been sucking from the trees.

Adult cicadas only live for a few weeks. Only the males sing - it's their mating call. They can live underground for years (6-7 years) before they 'hatch' and become adults. Cicada shells are awesome! (I gave a boxful to my Pop once for Christmas - no idea what he did with them!!).

In North America, the periodic cicadas can live underground for 17 years!

The Australian Museum website has some awesome facts:

After mating, the adult female cicada lays its eggs. It does this by piercing plant stems with its ovipositor (egg-laying spike at the tip of the abdomen) and inserting the eggs into the slits it has made. The eggs hatch into small wingless cicadas which are known as nymphs. They fall to the ground and burrow below the surface. Here they live on the sap from plant roots for a period which may last several years. They shed their skin at intervals as they grow.

When the nymph reaches full size it digs its way to the surface with its front legs, which are specially adapted for digging. It generally surfaces about nightfall in late spring or early summer. The nymph then climbs on to a tree trunk or other object and sheds its skin for the last time. The fully-winged adult cicada which emerges leaves its old empty nymphal skin behind.

I heard on the radio last weekend a woman complaining about the deafening noise of cicadas and asking how she could kill them! The guys on the radio were horrified, as was I. Are you a fan of cicadas?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Story - Believe

Mel Teshco writes steamy erotic stories...but this week it's been a pleasure to read a sweet story from her and be swept up by the beautiful writing and gorgeous story.

Believe is a primarily a story about a brother and sister, James and Josie. Josie has always had visions of death and the dead. As this is not acknowledged in society in general as a particularly good trait to posses, it is unacceptable to their very proper mother. Josie's life is made a misery by her mother, and she spends time in and out of mental institutions.

James' problems manifest differently, and are arguably more detrimental. James is a prescription medicine addict, even as he studies to be a doctor and abhors alcohol due to an alcoholic father. He senses similar things to Josie, however he won't acknowledge any supernatural forces.

Marina lives next door to James and is both friend and romantic interest for him. For Josie, she is understanding and peace.

This is a beautiful, multi-layer story that I thoroughly enjoyed. There is the most exquisite poetry included. This was a joy to read. If you don't mind a walk on the paranormal side of life, have a read of Believe. I hope you enjoy it if you do.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Phallic Friday - Experimental Marriage and other words

I have this gem of a book called, The Wordsworth Dictionary of Sex, which often is used for checking a strange word that pops into my mind when writing! I thought I'd pick some random words to share with you today.

Experimental marriage - an arrangement in which a man and a woman agree, verbally or in writing, to live together to test their compatibility and to determine if they should enter into a formal marriage. Seven-year experimental marriages were common in 10th Century England, and marriages of 1 year were permitted in Scotland before the Reformation. More recently they have been permitted in rural Latin America to determine the ability of the couple to produce children.

I wonder how many continue through to the formal marriage?

Peg House - a slang term for a homosexual brothel. The name derives from such establishments in southeast Asia where between clients, prostitutes sat on pegs to keep their anuses suitably distended.

Tribadism - a lesbian practice in which one partner lies on top of the other and simulates coitus by rubbing the genitals together. The partner who plays the 'male' role usually has an especially large clitoris and is called a tribade (Greek tribein, 'to rub')

Zipper Ring - an intrauterine contraceptive device made of coils of nylon thread. Its claimed advantage is that it can be inserted without prior mechanical dilation of the cervix.

Bone Queen - an American homosexual slang term for a person who is extremely fond of performing fellatio.

Dugs - an archaic term for the female breasts

Can't imagine why that term went out of fashion!!

Do you have any good words to share?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Turtle

Spot the turtle!
Can you see the turtle in my picture? The shell has speckles on it and it's about the middle of the photo. This was taken on our WA trip, at Exmouth. It looked much better in real life - the water was murky though, which has caused the blurriness.

I used a turtle in my scuba diving story (Deep Diving) and I said that the turtle slowly poked its head out at them. When I was editing/rewriting, I looked at that and scratched my head. I've seen a few turtles in the water but I hadn't actually seen them poke their head out at me. So I did a Google hunt and found that they don't have the ability to retract their head or limbs! I'd messed up my land turtles and sea turtles in my writing flurry.

It's those silly little things that can make or break a book for me. If an author gets something wrong that I notice, then I begin to question the book. I worry that I have these types of mistakes because my brain doesn't fact-check when it writes. It only switches on to analytical mode when editing (and it's sooooo mean then - but it's not infallable).

I love seeing turles underwater. The first time I took Mr E snorkelling, I shot off after a turtle all excited, only to realise he was nowhere near as excited or interested. In fact, without his contacts, he could hardly see! I've made lots of modifications to my snorkelling-with-Mr-E routines since but turtles still bring me the biggest buzz of excitement.

Are you a turtle fan? A snorkelling or diving enthusiast?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Story - Growing up vs the Peter Pan complex

You know how Peter Pan never grew up... I'm having the same issues myself. I'm hoping I'll ditch them after tonight when the Rugby League World Cup final is done and I can ditch my obsession (I'm sure you're all hoping for the same!) but I'm a bit worried. Let me explain...

Some years ago, an in-law fell in love, which isn't too strange but he was in his 70s and so was his new love. It was an uncomfortable courtship for those of us watching. It was like a teenage romance with lots of giggling, hand holding, kissing and other public displays of affection.

I struggled to understand how love didn't mature and how they still acted like teenagers at such an advanced age. I talked to my dad about this, and he wisely pointed out that the last time they both fell in love, they were teenagers (they'd both lost their long-term partner only in recent years). So this way of loving was all they knew and you revert to what you know.

It sounded like a sane reason and I bought it even if I didn't understand it.

Moving right along.

In my early teenage years I was totally infatuated by Peter Sterling, a football player. Every article on him, I collected. I bought magazines he was in. I saw every game I could. I wrote tortured poetry. I'd take my sister (younger than me and cute) to collect autographs, or I'd just stare at him, because I was so captivated. I wanted to know him, be near him, be his. But he was a superstar and I, a nobody. He was mid twenties and I a teen. I loved from afar. I never met him and then he was injured and retired. I had a friend who gave him my tortured poetry, which almost made me die of embarrassment, and I received an autograph and note which I treasured for years (and probably still have).

Cue thirty years.

I'm no longer a lusting teenager. I'm married. I've been around a bit and know a lot more about life and love. I've had lots more infatuations with superstars that came and went but none like that one with Sterlo (oh, and now he commentates on TV and yes, my heart still flutters!).

In 2012 something happened. I watched Cooper Cronk play the grand final. I'd seen him play before on television and also in previous grand finals, live. Nothing about his play made a huge impact on me until this game.

Maybe it's because I was writing and thinking about stories that I thought more, I don't know. I just know something happened during that game. I was infatuated by how he played. Infatuated by his legs, his hands, his passing, his direction of the play. I wondered how you'd meet someone like that...and I invented a story, Deep Diving.

To flesh out my hero in my story, I began to hunt around on the Internet for information on Cooper Cronk. I merged the information I found with my imagination to create my hero. In doing so, I lost the ability to separate fact and fiction and somehow I took myself back to my teenage obsession. Except this time with Cooper Cronk (poor man).

In the last thirty years there has become so much more fodder available for a 'stalker' like me. There's Google, but also twitter, Facebook, Instagram, tumblr, et cetera, et cetera. And not just information on him, by him and about him. You can 'stalk' teammates and you might get the tiniest sliver of information about him.

And yes, I do know that if I started really young (probably when I was lusting after my previous footy guy) I could be his mother. I know I'm too old to do this. But oh my god, the world is teaching me a lesson... I've  reverted to my teenage self.

Just the other night when I was up until 4am to watch a football game he was in. He scored a try sliding flat on his stomach...just like Peter Sterling in the 1986 Kangaroo team.

Cooper Cronk has merged with Peter Sterling in my head. And since I still have feelings for Sterlo so long later, I wonder if in my 70s I'm going to do this again. Oh lord, I don't think I can handle that! Creepy enough now. I'm creeping myself out.

But as my dad explained before, the last time I did this, I was a teenager and this is how I knew how to fall in love/lust/whatever this obsession is.

And to Peter Sterling and Cooper Cronk, I'm sorry to have dragged you into my strange, strange world.

Does anyone else have these kind of ridiculous obsessions? Please?! :)