Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Story - a couple of Scotts

I've been reading voraciously lately. And nothing was grabbing be by the throat and dragging me into the story. It was ho-hum. Some I even sped through without properly reading, others I stopped. I went to book club last month and didn't like either book I read. I was worrying about myself - what was wrong with me?

Then the last couple of nights, two Scotts happened to me. Jessica Scott and Kylie Scott. And I fell back in love with reading. In a huge, non-sleep kind of way!

I forgot about Jessica Scott's release. It was when I was having a non-book-buying period (a long and painful thing for me) and I had it filed in the back of my mind to buy, but I hadn't done it. Then one of the Naughty Ninjas (thank you NN!) mentioned Carponti, the hero in one of her books and sub-character in others, and I had to buy it. Then I started reading. Oh, joy! Sheer joy. I was caught up in the world and the characters.

Back to You is a reconciliation story. We met Trent and Laura in earlier books. At the end of one of them (maybe Because of You), there's a cliff hanger about Trent and Laura's marriage which really shocked me. So I was keen to see what happened to them. Plus I like these guys - they're military, real, hurt heroes. The witty banter between the men is incredibly real. The friendships between the women are forged in understanding and empathy. The relationships between the couples are normal, real, not easy and believable.

In Back to You, Laura and Trent have two kids. I like kids, but in stories sometimes they don't work for me. In this story, they are beautiful. They're part of Trent finding family again and some of the scenes made my heart melt. And there's hamsters, and from facebook I know Jessica Scott has a love-hate relationship with her kids' hamsters, so the hamsters made me chuckle, always!

Jessica Scott is a soldier who writes about soldiers. You can't get more real than that!

playAnd then Play came out early. A week early, I got an email to say my pre-order was ready. What a shock! What a thrill! I love Kylie Scott's writing and world building. Although I have to admit I loved Skin and Flesh more than Lick, I was still going to read Play. And do you know, Play might have just gone to the favourite of all of them.

Play is Mal, the drummer's, book. Mal is hilarious. One of those clowns who entertains to hide himself from others. He's strong, funny, pushy, bossy, and completely sweet about it.

Mal meets Anne when she's having a really crappy day and she doesn't know how she'll keep going. Anne is a giver, and Mal finds this out within moments...and starts to give to her.

This is gorgeous, hilarious, sweet, heart breaking, and totally believable. Anne and Mal are amazing together. She seems like a pushover, but Mal knows how to fire her up and man, when she lets fly at him, she holds nothing back. What she won't say to others, Mal cops, in bucket loads.

So, this one kept me up until 5 am. I intended to read a bit and put it down - but I should know by now I'm not good at that once a book gets a stranglehold, and this one caught me good!

One thing though, there was a LOT of licking in this book...yet the previous one was called Lick. That had me having my own private chuckle every time the word came along :) But aside from private chuckles, I nearly woke my hubby laughing out loud in places.

Kylie Scott has such a way with banter and witty lines, and snappy dialogue. Play is an absolute gem. I totally loved it.

And now...back to the rest of my TBR pile. I hope I can find some other gems...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Phallic Friday - M/M stories

M/M are male/male romance stories. There's a huge explosion of these in recent years ... and what I find strange about them, is that most often women write them. I've been reading a few because I keep hearing someone say, "this one was good". So I grab it, hoping it will be. Usually, I don't believe it. Not one word of it.

I had a thing many years ago when M/M sex was a complete turn on. I've no idea why, and nothing really happened to spark this, but it was a phase I went through. I was single, had money (must have been between horses!), and bought a few M/M porn videos (I told you it was a while ago!) to watch. This may seem strange, but as a single woman, watching another woman didn't do anything for me. I like men, so this M/M thing seemed to make sense to me. And heterosexual porn is all cunt shots designed for male viewing.

I've always steered away from writing M/M because I don't really understand men, or men's emotions, or men's needs and wants. Sure I could guess at it but I don't really know, so I've never felt compelled to write it. But holy guacamole, some of these women who write this stuff must never have seen M/M porn, men in action, or had anal sex and enjoyed it. It does my head in that they'd write M/M when they're clearly writing a female story with added penises.

Take this for example - these aren't direct quotes, just what I remember:

The problem with having gay sex was that everything took so long. You had to use lube, lots of lube, and then stretch the anus before you could penetrate.

You do? Okay, the lube helps, but you can have rough sex without it. You can use spit, which is always handy. And there's no need to use your fingers first. Sure you can, but it's not a prerequisite, anuses are muscles just like other openings. You can push in. And if you're into anal sex, your anus can anticipate and be relaxed and ready to accept.

Men who speak like women, sometimes with an added swearword to make him male. Like, "Oh, sweetie, I just love you so damn much." or "Come here and give me your big, hard cock, baby."

Men speak like this? No man I know does. Maybe I mix with wrong men but this sounds like women, soppy women. I don't believe these types of M/M dialogues.

The story arc is: one of the men always penetrates the other, then when they finally declare their love, he lets himself be penetrated.

Seriously? Their love is all about penetration? Would you have that as a resolution in a M/F book? I know we used to - when they got married and finally had sex - but haven't romance stories grown past that love before sex thing? And is all men's love based on sex? Surely there are emotions involved. Strong emotions - I've seen the fallout from broken relationships, it's not much different to my female friend's devastation.

The story arc is: one man is strong and tough, the other emotional. When the strong tough man breaks and cries, then they're totally in love, to live happily ever after.

Emotional awakening is not a bad character arc, but when it's men howling like a baby, I don't buy it. Strong men can be emotional and open up without howling. Does it need to be so obvious - and so obviously female?

Maybe I'm being deliberately snarky about it...but I can't recall a M/M written by a woman when I thought it was authentic, when I could believe the characters and the story and the sex. I've heard that M/M stories are written for women by why? Why do you want the extra penises added on two characters who are clearly women (or at least one is)? Is it an escapism fantasy thing?

In May, there's a M/M book coming out written by a man. I'm looking forward to that. I want to see how he writes. And hopefully I won't have to delete this post, or eat my words (I am only a woman looking in on an all male world!)   :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Koel

Sorry for the view of this photo...but Koels are the most elusive bird I know. Have you seen one? Have you heard them mentioned? Know what they are?

They're the biggest secret in the bird world - but they're noisy buggers!

We had Koels around the home I grew up in, but I never knew what they were. They have a loud, distinctive call, but they're very difficult to spot.

I used to be in a wildlife rescue group, and one day I had to rescue and injured Koel. I thought I knew my birds, but I'd never seen one of these! It was a revelation. I had to look up my bird book to see what they were, who they were like, what they ate, how they lived. They're fascinating.

And around my home now are Koels. I hear them often but see them rarely. We have a awning thing (a frame with sarlon mesh stuff that comes off the house and protects us from the strong western summer sun) and twice a Koel has got stuck under the awning and I've assisted them on their way out - but didn't take a photo! Once I took a photo, but you couldn't recognise the mess as a bird (it wasn't a good shot!). And then the other week, I heard them and they had squawking young. It took a while but I scored this photo of one of the young ones.

Koels are large birds, bigger than a Currawong, and are related to cuckoos.

Now, this is how my bird book (Pizzey's A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia) describes the calls: Males utter a repeated far-carrying 'kooeel'. Also brisk rising 'quoy-quoy-quoy-quoy', falsetto 'quodel-quodel-quodel' or slightly mad rising 'weir-weir-weir-weir!' Females: shrill four-note brassy piping.

Once again, the Australian Museum website has great information, including this on breeding.

The Common Koel is a brood parasite, that is, it lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species. Common hosts are the Red Wattlebird, friarbirds, the Magpie-lark, and figbirds. A single egg is laid in the host's nest and once hatched the chick forces the other eggs and hatchlings out of the nest. When the chick leaves the nest it roosts in the outer branches of a tree, cheeping incessantly while the significantly smaller parents desperately search for sufficient food to satisfy the nagging youngster. This is a full-time job, as the young Koel will grow to nearly twice their size. Eventually, it migrates northwards, usually later than the adults, to return as a breeding bird the following spring.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Story - instalove

In a couple of the reviews for The Virginity Mission, it was said that it was "too instalove" for them. I've been thinking about that for a long time now. And I'm a bit worried because Deep Diving isn't a lot different.

I'm not really one for big conflict. I'm non-confrontational because I hate the stress and bother of conflict. I hate the churning nerves, the hurt, the horribleness. And this is true in my writing. I can't do big conflict. I can't even think of something that would be a huge conflict, let alone write it.

And with erotic romance, shouldn't it be instalust that turns into love? That's kind of what I thought The Virginity Mission was and what I think Deep Diving is.

But I guess if I can get an antagonistic beginning with an underlying sexual tension, then that ramps up the feelings and emotions, doesn't it? So I've been trying to think up a story where I could manage to do that. (I know, it's only taken 8 months of thinking!!)

But last night I think I might have cracked one. I think I might have a story beginning, where the hero and heroine don't like one another, then are at odds over their work, but all the while there's an underlying burning need to act on pheromones and bonk their brains out.

So...I know I wasn't starting anything new until I finished my old bits and pieces...but a woman's allowed to change her mind, huh?

So we'll see if this story works. I'd paste the start here if I could but it's only scribble on paper for now! Let's see if I can crank it out in a few months. Fingers crossed!

Here's the first almost 2K - unedited and raw. Do you reckon it might work?

I’m with my friends, in our local pub, high on life and love at a hen’s night. There’s wild laughter. We’re drinking shots, which is far more alcohol than we’d usually consume. A local band is playing wild rock songs with the bass thumping through me like a heartbeat.
A few city guys are at a table nearby. Dressed sharp, out of place, but enjoying the vibe. They’re heckling us, laughing and joking, except for one hard-nosed bastard who’s not playing the game at all.
There are five of us and five of them. Of course when we pair up, I’m left with the hard-nosed one. But that’s okay. I’m not the hen and not as drunk as the others. He’s reluctant to dance, or talk, or drink. He may have a good reason, like being married or a recent widower, but I’ll never know because his lips are sealed, or not so much sealed but pinched tight and drawn.
“Sure I can’t get you a drink?” I lean on the table, chin in my hand. He’s strangely attractive. The dark stubble on his strong jaw calls to my fingertips. The piercing blue eyes are deep pools I want to explore. There’s a thick lock of dark brown hair falling across his forehead, as if he’s trying to hide, and I’d like to hold it back to stare at him more closely.
He shakes his head sharply. His neck is thick, pushing against the blue collar of his shirt. His top button is undone and the thin, dark blue tie is pushed down tight as if he couldn’t stand it strangling him anymore.
“And I can’t tempt you to dance?” I should give up but there’s an alcohol-induced perversity egging me on.
“No.” His gaze doesn’t lift from the table, even as I wish he’d lock glances with me.
“Not even if I beg, and promise to behave?”
A muscle twitches along his jaw, I think. I stop any further begging in case he’s going to respond. But he doesn’t. A shame because the cedar scent of him, that raspy stubble, and the wrestled tie all point to someone I’d like to get up close and personal with.
With a shrug, I get up from the table. You can’t waste time on men like that, regardless of attraction. Pheromones can get it wrong. This time they surely have.
The dancing is hard and wild. There are lots of locals here, not just our parties, but locals are known quantities, strangers make the hen’s night fun.
Shae’s the bride-to be, Jenna’s her sister. Erin, Hayley and I are bridesmaids. Jenna’s getting steamy with the youngest of the strangers. He looks about her age, early twenties. We’re all a bit older. Hayley and Erin are close to the guys they’re dancing with, and Shae’s partner looks like he’s keeping her at least three feet away. I join them.
“Mind if I join you?” I scream over the music close to Shae’s ear. She doesn’t try to speak, just grabs my arm and pulls me toward them. She’s grinning and so’s her mystery man.
“I’m Brooke,” I scream near his ear.
“Craig.” He points to himself. “Forget Aiden. We do.” He waves his hand over toward the hard-nosed one and laughs. It’s hard to tell over the music but it could be forced. Maybe he’s a little embarrassed by his friend’s behaviour.
Aiden. It’s a soft sounding name, when he’d better suit Rock or a harsher sounding name. He’s watching us but not with a smile or anything close to that. It’s a harsh stare, but he could also be thinking of something awful and just have his head turned our way. He doesn’t appear to have any connection to his surroundings. But who cares about him?
The three of us do a great job of dancing, bumping and gyrating. Hands, arms and bodies, brushing, sliding, linking and rubbing. Craig’s not so distant when there’s two of us, which makes little sense to me until I glimpse the sheen of gold on his left hand. When the music is the wildest, Shae and I sandwich Craig. Shae gyrates against his left and I shimmy against his right side. He’s laughing, joking, smacking us in turn with his hips. It’s insane. The whole pub’s screaming lyrics and dancing like idiots, except hard-nosed Aiden. I shouldn’t be watching him but movement caught my eye.
He’s standing, has made a stack of the empty glasses, then he rubs his hands down the front of his trousers. My pheromones groan because I can’t rub against those thick thighs. With the barest glance toward us, he leaves. He doesn’t stalk but it’s not a happy walk that takes him out the door and out of view. I hope he goes out of mind too. Someone that rude doesn’t need to occupy my brain, it’s enough that he affected my hormones.
When last drinks are called and the band moves to something slow, Craig wraps his left arm around Shae and his right around me, swaying to the romantic tune. His arms are warm, comforting, and I don’t mind being nestled in a threesome. I poke my head around his chest to grin at Shae, who is laughing up at Craig. Her hen’s night has turned out better than we expected because of a bunch of fly-by-night city blokes, here for a good time.
Jenna glides by, wrapped tightly in the arms of her conquest, their lips locked so it looks like they’ll never part.
“Go for it, John-boy,” Craig calls to the smooching couple.
I smack his arm and Shae gasps. “That’s my sister he’s going for it with.”
Craig lands a peck on Shae’s cheek. “Then she’s in good hands. John’s a great guy. He’ll treat her fine.”
“He better or he’ll have both of us to contend with.” I dig my elbow into Craig’s side, making sure I stick up for my mates.
We weave our way back to our table, ready to leave.
“Would you ladies like to continue back at our place?” Craig’s question is a shock to me. I thought he’d been holding back from us, and now he wants to kick on. It makes no sense.
Shae doesn’t follow my thinking. She places her fingers on Craig’s arm. “That’s really sweet but I’m getting married next weekend. It was my hen’s night tonight and you guys made it special enough already. Thank you.”
“How’d we make it special?”
“The dancing and flirting.”
I try not to groan at Shae’s own case of flirting. She’s gorgeous, petite, blonde and fit. Men flock to her in droves, even without knowing she’s loaded. And it’s because of this openness, these happy flirtations. Shae is someone you want to be around.
Craig laughs. “Don’t tell my wife I was flirting.” He turns to Shae. “I hope your wedding day is beautiful.”
“Why don’t you come?” she says. Shae is incredibly generous and it’s so like her to invite new friends and old. The she bites her lip and shots uncomfortably before adding. “Except you won’t be here next weekend. No one stays out here for-”
“We’re here for a couple of weeks at least, working. But you can’t impulsively invite me. What about catering and stuff?”
I burst out a laugh before Shae jabs my ribs to silence me. I take a few steps further away from them but I can still hear their conversation.
What could these guys be doing in town that has them staying weeks? Nothing takes that long. Doctors, lawyers, bank managers, loan officers, they all only fly in for a few days at a stretch. Sometimes they don’t stay longer than a day. A couple of weeks means road workers, miners, engineers, something more physical than professional desk jockeys.
“It’s a big party out at the lake. The whole town’s likely to be there. Just bring your own drinks. Two o’clock Saturday.” Shae’s explaining about her wedding, in her usual understated manner.
“Thanks, Shae, that’s lovely. I’ll be there.”
“Bring your mates too, of they’re still around. The more the merrier.” Shae stretches up and drops a kiss on Craig’s cheek. “See you, and thanks.”
Shae follows me out to my ute. “Are you sure you’re right to drive?” She checks with me before she opens the door.
“I’m positive. I haven’t had anything but water while we danced. I promised I’d look after you and get you home. I can’t do that pissed.”
“True, true,” Shae mutters as she slides in. “Did Erin and Hayley go already?”
“They waved while you were talking to Craig. They went off with their guys.”
“Brooke, you missed out big time tonight. How’m I gonna make that up to you?” Shae grins, and I don’t like it when she gets that look in her eye.
I start the car and head for her house, hoping she’ll forget that train of thought.
She doesn’t. “So, Aiden...” Her voice tapers off to leave it a question, which I don’t fall for. After a long silence, she fills in her own answer. “He was as surly as he looked and you couldn’t crack him?”
I counter-question instead of answering. “What could they possibly be doing that they’re here for a couple of weeks?”
“Probably at the mines. What do you reckon?”
“My guess too. They’ll stay in town and get the bus pick up each day.”
Shae scratches her cheek with the pad of her thumb. “I think Craig said geology, but the music was so loud.”
I hit the brakes and pull the ute to a stop, short of Shae’s house but in her street.
“This isn’t my place?” She frowns and turns toward me, the door cracked open and the interior light on. “Shit, what is it?”
I gulp to clear my throat, hoping it’ll clear my head too. “You don’t think...” My voice is choked up and the words garbled. I try again. “You don’t think they’re from the mining company?” I take a ragged breath and explain when Shae doesn’t catch on. “The one who wants to claim my farm?”
“Shit.” Shae’s word echoes my thought when I stopped the car. She grabs my hand. “Shit. I invited them to my wedding.”
There’s nothing we can do but look bleakly at each other. Every farmer in the district will have their blood if that’s who they are and they attend the wedding. But we can’t worry about that now. We don’t know who they are.
“Shut the door, Shae, and I’ll drop you home. They’re probably geologists for the open cut mine and we’ve panicked for nothing.”
She shuts the door and I drive to her house. We walk inside, silently. I wonder if she’s having the same thoughts as I am...thoughts of a wedding turned into a political minefield.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Phallic Friday - underage sex & peer pressure

I read a news article through the week, which of course I can't find now, that was discussing underage sex where a judge said that kids didn't realise that what they were doing was wrong (I think it was 13 year olds having sex).

And that may be true, but there's also the case that kids also don't know how to get out of tricky situations, especially about sex. Sometimes there isn't the openness at home to discuss these issues. Sometimes they're not confident enough to know they have the right to say 'no', or to enforce that.

In the age of cyber-sex, where 'sex' is easy because it's remote, I think it must be really unsettling to be a teenager where peer pressure and natural curiosity collide and there's an easy, non-messy way to experiment.

In my twenties and thirties, I worked with teenage girls as a group leader. We were all about empowering girls to be good leaders, giving them skills and confidence. They were aged 11 to 15 years, so they'd just started high school. One girl was a bit of a trouble-maker, but a fun one, so we got along okay. After she started high school, she went a bit weird. She was in a co-ed school, in the 'rougher' part of town.

I forget what happened but I ended up pulling her aside and she spilled all this stuff. The kid was twelve and some older boys were putting the hard word on her to have sex with them, or they'd tell the whole school she was frigid. She was terrified but backed into a corner.

And you know, they don't teach you what to do in these situations! I just had to wing it. And what the hell do you say in this situation? My brain was going a thousand to the dozen trying out all the scenarios and what I could do.

I questioned her a lot about how she felt. Hoping she'd come to a conclusion so I didn't have to tell her what to do - as I strongly suspected she needed to learn to work this out herself.

She hated the guys. They weren't attractive at all. She wasn't ready for sex. She didn't think her friends had been pressured. She wanted to tell them no, but didn't know how.

Phew! I was somewhere along the way to knowing what she wanted. She just needed a way to stop the bullying.

My Dad had always told me bullies were people who had never been stood up to before. I firmly believed this. He would have told me to slug them, but there were more than 1 boy, and by this stage I'd worked out that girls were never as tough as boys, especially boys in gangs (I did learn a few things in my misspent youth, and by moving out of the city!).

So, I looked her in the eye and said, "What would you really like to say to these guys?" She hemmed and hawed and couldn't say anything. So I held her shoulder and said, "You'd like to tell them to 'fuck off', wouldn't you?" She used that language, and I didn't (well, not then and not there), so it startled her.

"Yeah," she said. "But will that work?"

Crap? What was I to say? I went with the truth. "I don't know, but it's worth a try isn't it? Frigid's only a word, and it's better than having to have sex with them all." (and from our Q&A I knew having sex with them all was a bigger fear for her than being called frigid).

So, she went off. I fell in a heap of nerves.

Next week, the girl struts into our meeting like she's the Queen. So much confidence, so much happier, no longer bowed down by pressure. It was great to see... but I didn't know if it was because she'd had sex, or not, and it's not something you want to ask a 12 year old! She struts by and says, "Well, I did it," and grins.

Oh, right. That tells me a lot!

It took ages before I could get her alone and say, "what happened?" My heart was in my throat. I had visions of her parents coming down to kill me when she ended up pregnant or seriously ill. It's such an awful responsibility to give advice.

She grinned. "I told them to 'fuck off' and they've left me alone." She threw her arms around me. "Thank you."

It was such a simple solution. A part of her childhood that she's probably forgotten. But for me, it was excruciating. And such a relief to know that it worked out for her.

And today, when everything is at your fingertips, I wonder if girls have the time to stop and stress out before doing? I wonder if they have someone to talk to, sort out problems with, chat to about these issues?

Growing up is bloody hard and sometimes I think we've made it even more difficult.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - cuttlefish

 I love scuba diving and snorkelling, and my new book, Deep Diving, has quite a few scenes in it to share my passion.

One of my favourite creatures underwater is the Cuttlefish. And I don't think I put one in Deep Diving - oh, gosh, must check now!

Cuttlefish look a bit like squid or octopus but they're a bit boxier, more inquisitive and lots more fun.

The first time I fell in love with cuttlefish was when I was diving with friends on the south coast of NSW (when I lived inland) and this cuttlefish floated out to check us out. They kind of appear like on a wave as they undulate through the water. One of my friends is a dive instructor and all round unflappable - the kind of person you want to dive with! He took out his regulator (the air giver) and pulsed it near the cuttlefish. Seriously, you could see the cuttlefish writhe in pleasure. So he sat there, taking the occasional puff of air and shooting bubbles over this very appreciative cuttlie, who then hugged his forearm with his tentacles (not in a nasty way, but as thanks). It was the most magical thing. And right there, I fell in love with cuttlefish.

I don't have any pictures of them underwater, just this small cuttlefish 'bone' washed up on the beach. But the Australian Museum website has great pictures and a video link (it's an awesome video!). You can check it out here.

The cuttlefish 'bone' found on the beach is actually the internal shell of the cuttlefish. And if you have birds, they love eating them.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Story - Burial Rites

Burial_Rites_AU_FC-XS.jpgI had the absolute pleasure of reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I'd read a lot of accolades for this book, and often (in my mind) the book doesn't live up to it BUT in this case, Burial Rites deserves all the accolades and more.

The book is haunting, beautiful, poignant and terrible all at once. The story is so absorbing that I lost myself in it. I lost the magic of the words, the thrill of the gorgeous writing - because the story became engrossing and the view of Iceland enthralling.

I've read that Hannah Kent went to Iceland as an exchange student where she heard of the tale of the last woman executed in Iceland, Agnes Magnúsdóttir, and was captivated by it. And so began her study. Hannah Kent's love for Iceland, and her empathy for Agnes, truly shines through in the story.

Agnes is incredibly dignified and so accepting of her fate that it's very difficult not to fall in love with the character Hannah Kent has created.

I always get confused by a historical fiction based on fact because it is so easy to believe everything in the book. And reading the amount of research done for this novel, I'd like to believe every word as truth.

This is a beautiful book. Don't miss reading it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Phallic Friday - Lust

The days are whipping by at the moment,as Friday has coming storming upon me, let me take the chance to introduce you to...


The Naughty Ninjas (a collaborative author blog of which I am a part)  have sourced some truly kooky things. You can find them here:

There are normal things like t-shirts and underpants, but always with a twist - like the underpants come in a a little round tin, like lip balm! There's art - created while having sex, of course. And there are things that defy belief - like a pole dancer alarm clock!

So, treat yourself to a lust object. Even if you don't buy, they're certainly worth a look and a chuckle!!

And Rhyll 'the lady' Biest, one of my regular visitors and a Naughty Ninja, is the usual source of these objects and other strange phenomena!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - mangroves

I'm a huge fan of mangroves. Mangroves grow in the rivers and estauries of coastal Australia, but not where there's surf. There's a huge expanse of riverine areas in which mangroves can grow, but often they're knocked down to enhance the view for people, which usually leads to river degradation, erosion, and other problems. They're a vital part of the estuarine/riverine environment.

I grew up in Sydney, but we lived near a creek that ran into the Parramatta River. When I was a kid, there was still space to run around and it was safe to do that. So I spent a bit of time in the magical mangroves, getting my feet swallowed by stinking mud, climbing in the trees, racing around the space.

And my Dad's family are fishermen - not as for work, but for pleasure. And as I grew older and was allowed to go fishing, I learned that the mangroves were breeding and feeding grounds for fish.

Then in 1988, the bicentenary year for Australia, in my mangrove playground a giant park was created to preserve the mangroves and educate people about them (that wasn't the main aim, but for me it was the most important feature). I was at Uni, so I volunteered at the park as a sort of work experience. I learned so much about mangroves. I helped take kids on trips into the mangroves where we did bark rubbing, scooped the water with nets to find small fish. I helped in the education unit where we had fish tanks to show kids what grew in estuaries and mangroves - fish, shrimp, seahorses, hermit crabs, etc. - we had a touch table of sand and shells, sea urchins, mangrove seeds, leaves. It was a dream job. If you're in Sydney, pop into Bicentennial Park at Homebush Bay (oh, it's right near the RWA conference location!)

Then in 1988-89, I went to the Daintree and did some scientific work in the tropical magroves. Some of that work I included in The Virginity Mission. I loved it, but unlike Mac, I didn't get a job up there!

I'll share a bit of the strangeness of mangroves -
  • the seeds are round, fat disks that float and travel to new places on tidal movements, then they germinate and turn into a small seedling (like the picture), which try to take root and colonise another area
  • they grow in really salty conditions and the plants get rid of the salt by excreting it out the back of their leaves. Have a look next time, you might see white crystals, or if you're game, have a lick and taste the salt!
  • plant roots need air to breathe, but mangroves spend a lot of time under water (as the tide comes in and goes out). Underneath mangrove plants, you'll often see little sticks poking up from the ground, these are called pneumatophores, and breathe for the plant, helping get oxygen to the roots
  • there are different species of mangrove trees, but all can tolerate salty and water logged conditions in their own way
  • tropical mangroves have amazing roots structures which can be like trees themselves
If you want to know more about mangroves, try this website for MangroveWatch

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Story - late edition

Sorry, Sunday is almost over. I've been thinking of a post but hadn't managed any action until now. And you'd think with all my contemplation that I'd have something fabulous, wouldn't you? But alas.

I've been reading a lot lately but nothing has grabbed me. I haven't read anything so fabulous I have to share. Nor have I read anything truly terrible. And I guess that's a good representation of most books. There are millions upon billions of books in the world, and only a percentage become best sellers or timeless classics. Most fall into the mid-range of ordinary book. Some people will love them, some won't, but they aren't terrible.

I think when I'm writing I forget that. I want fabulous, and writing is such a difficult process that I can't see fabulous even if I fell over it. All I see is awful. So I need to think less, and just write. I have myself caught up in craft, emotion, marketability...when I need to just love my story and write. Worry about all that stuff later.

It's so easy to doubt myself and question my ability. It's so easy to listen to the negativity inside me, and the perfectionist who wants only the best right now this minute. I have to drown them out and write freely. Love the writing process and forget about the things that happen afterwards.

That's not easy for me to do...but I'm going to try to block out all noise, and write!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Phallic Friday - idiots, wankers and more

Dickheads are everywhere.

Before I start on this post, let me tell you that I'm no femme fatale. I do not fall into the attractive category at all. But sometimes, dickheads, idiots and wankers don't seem to notice. And I am a magnet for all nutcases!

As I've aged, I don't seem to have as many run-ins with men as I used to, which is quite a relief! But I was reminded the other day that I've had some classic encounters.

This story is a classic wanker story. I was at a friend's party - a BBQ in her backyard. I lived out of town and so I was also staying at her house before and after the party. I'm a bit of a sports nut and a rugby union test game was on late on the party night, which was fine because as the party wound down, I could put the TV on and watch the game (I think it was in England). I figured there'd be other people keen to watch too.

What I didn't figure on was being hit on by one of the watchers. And no one else watched the game but me.

He came into the room (it was my friend's boyfriend's brother) and was fairly drunk, with slurred words and swaying body. He plonked on the couch behind me, I was in a beanbag on the floor. Winter, so I had a blanket over me. I wasn't plastered. He started making verbal passes at me, which I ignored. Heck, I was watching the game!

Then there were sounds from behind me. Sounds that weren't something I associated with watching football. The slick sound of skin on skin, rubbing, stroking. I was watching the footy, thinking, "You are so perverted. He's not doing that. No way is he wanking as he talks dirty to you and you ignore him. No way."

But it followed the louder, faster pattern. I couldn't believe it.

At an ad or half time (can't quite remember now) I snuck a peek by turning my head just a little. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of a full on look. Oh, hell. Yep, he was wanking.

What to do? If I got up, would that encourage him more? By now most people are gone or passed out so no one is going to help me much. Or do I keep ignoring him and hope to heck he passes out, or something? I'd no idea what to do. Your Mum never teaches you what to do in these situations - well, mine didn't!!

Anyway, footy came back on and I decided it was more important than him, so I ignored him.

He didn't like that. He came around and stood between me and the TV and continued to wank. Bloody hell, he was ruining my footy! Yet, he seemed to think I should be impressed by his body/job/dick/whatever. I wasn't. It was a serious good game of union and I wanted to watch the game, not him.

He wouldn't give in. I pulled the blanket over my head, peeking through a rip in the fabric to watch just the edge of the TV screen, and ignored the wanker wanking. By about three-quarters of the way through, he gave up, or passed out or something. Thank God!

I got to watch the end of a very exciting game of union, with no cheering for fear of waking up someone for round 2!!

I've no idea why this guy thought he was irresistible. I've no idea why he thought me watching union was a sign I wanted his body, or to watch his body.

I just thank god, I got out of there without having to resort to violence, or worse.

And yeah, my friend and her boyfriend didn't stay together long after that. So I never had to see the wanker and his wiener again! :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - bogeye

This is a Bogeye. He's not from the coast but from inland. I took this photo a few years ago when we lived in central western NSW.

A Bogeye is also called a Shingleback (pretty easy to see why!), and can also be called a stumpy-tail lizard, Boggi, sleepy lizard, bobtail lizard, two headed lizard, pine cone lizard (Australia's pretty obvious when it comes to lizard names, isn't it?).

Bogeye's are the bulkiest of the Blue Tongue Lizards (you can see the coastal one here). They always remain west of the Great Dividing Range (which is why they aren't on the coast).

They're not fast moving lizards. My dog, Ellie, had a thing for them. She could hunt them out anywhere (they must have a distinct scent). She would delicately pick them up around their middle and bring them in to me (like a cat gifting you a mouse). I've no idea why she did it, but they were mighty cranky by the time they arrived at my feet. Ellie would look at me like she was the best dog in the world, and the Bogeye would be hissing and spitting, mouth wide open, trying to scare me. They have a really pink mouth whith a huge ribbony blue tongue, which they point and poke at you. As you try to pick them up, they try to spin and whirl and they can give a nasty bite. Lucky for me, they're slow moving!

The Australian Museum site has some info, including this:

Shingleback Lizards live alone for most of the year, but between September and November reunite as monogmous pairs. Shinglebacks in western New South Wales are often seen crossing roads in pairs, the male following the female. The same pairs may re-form in the mating season over several years.

Female Shinglebacks give birth three to five months after mating, between December and April.
The embryos develop in the female's oviduct with the help of a placenta, which is as well-developed as that of many mammals. At birth, the young eat the placental membranes, and within a few days shed their skin for the first time. The young are ready to look after themselves straight after birth, and disperse within a few days.

The Shingleback has usually only two or three young that measure up to 220 mm in total length and weigh as much as 200 g.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Story - brave new world

I wrote this on Monday:
So, I'm setting off on a new adventure - a non-romantic adventure. I'm going to try my hand at erotica, in the novel form. I've had this idea kicking around in my head for 5 years but I haven't been able to resolve it. This week, things aligned inside my brain. I'm being brave and making the move to erotica. It may not be permanent, but for this story, Past Lives, it will be.

Past Lives is a story that I've written and rewritten, taken to workshops and revamped, cursed and sworn over. I have about 100 files in this folder with various starts, restarts, scenes, plans, ideas and bits and pieces. I haven't been able to make it work because in my mind, it doesn't have a happy ending. I'm not 100% sure what the ending is (because I don't write if I know the end) all I know is that it will end 'up in the air' in some way - because that's how I see life.

I kept wanting this to be a romance, because it's about love in its deepest, purest form, but I couldn't make it work.

A whole heap of things have been happening in my brain, but on the weekend I read the news article about Rebekah Brooks and the News of the World scandal thing. I was a bit horrified that her marriage and sex life got called into the case, and wondered if that would happen if she was male... but when those thoughts disappeared, I realised, it's another woman, married, but with an affair on the side.

The other week I posted (here) about wanting to write about a woman having a clandestine affair, and what I chicken I was about it.

Well, chicken no more.

Maybe the world is ready for my story. Maybe I can be brave and tell it.

I'm going to write my Past Lives story. I'm going to write it how I envisage it. I'm not going to worry about romance, or happy endings. I'm going to write the book I see in my mind - affairs, sexless marriages, women being bad, men being awful, lots of sex, lots of confusion, actually, who knows what it is because all I've got are a 100 random snippets to pull together or discard!

So, I'm off on the next journey in this writing world. Wish me luck - I think I'm going to need it!

(And just so you know, I'm writing this to be accountable. I've fart-arsed around for a couple of weeks now trying to work out which story to work on next! At least now I have a plan, and it's in writing)

And today it's Saturday, and I'm struggling. I can;t work out how old my heroine is, if she is married or not. Nothing's working!!!!! I have another 3K of probably wasted scene.

But I'll keep trying to make this work...

might just duck off to another half-done manuscript while my brain works on this one.

Bloody hell. Some days this is hard!