Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pockets of Joy is OUT!

After a few weeks where I messed up and messed up and messed up...I finally got it right!!!

POCKETS OF JOY is done! 

Here are the covers and some sample pages.

If you'd like to buy the printed book, more details are here:


It's in the IngramSpark catalogue if you're not in Australia or would like your book shop to order them (goodness knows which mistake is in there, but hopefully the final version with both authors and a proper blurb - I didn't realise I needed all that when I was setting it up for a trial run for me. OOPS! Such a learning curve. BUT LET ME REASSURE YOU, the final book is right because I've got a box of them here! It wasn't going out if I'd messed it up totally.)

And why did I collaborate? Well, a heap of reasons. One was that I needed a website that didn't have sexual content, so anyone could look. Plus, there's still a stigma attached to "erotic" and "sex", which apparently stops people from wanting to buy/look/sell/discuss books by Cate. I can't say that leaving Cate's name on there brought a lot of relief/happiness ... but I'd already compromised by collaborating, I wasn't going to be completely silenced. And don't we have more to worry about that sex!?

Stay healthy, stay hopeful, stay safe and sane.

Cate xo






Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Story - The White Girl

I'm a big fan of Tony Birch. His latest book is The White Girl, and it's beautiful.

He writes about topics that are difficult, e.g. domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, and this one is the Stolen Generation. But his genius is that he writes about these topics from the point of view of love.

It's not what you expect. And yet, it is how you get through difficult times or difficult things in life.

The love of a parent for a child, or a child for a parent. The love between siblings. The love of friends. The love between family members.

In each instance, the love and care and support each receives, makes their world a better place.

This is the gift that Tony Birch has, to see that love and to shine a light on it.

It can be a fierce love or a gentle love but always it's a protective love. Love that makes the world a better place. Love that makes life tolerable and sometimes beautiful... even in a situation that seems unbearable.

Deep friendships.

Strong familial connections.

Love.

It makes the world go around.

In The White Girl, the love is focussed between a grandmother and granddaughter. But there's also the love between mother and daughter, friends, a community, a race.

Don't be mistaken, there are some horrible moments, awful people, terrible events, but seeing them through the story about love, makes them less of a focus. They're still there. They're still awful and confronting and horrible. They still show what a bloody awful society we are. But love gives hope - hope that things can and will change. Hope that one day love might rule the world.

I saw Tony Birch speak at the Wollongong Writers Festival and he spoke of love, but also of fear. His conversations about fear really hit me.

Often the awfulness of the world comes from fear - fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of having less than another, fear of change, fear of others... so many fears.

I hope one day, we can all live from a place of love and not fear. Like Tony Birch shows with his every story.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Where is time going?

Oh my goodness! How do I go weeks without posting on here? Time seems to be the weirdest thing at the moment. It seems to be flying by so quickly that I can't get things done... and yet, I went to Book Club last week after our Christmas break, and it seemed like 3 years since our last meeting in November. How can that be? How can I be so busy I don't get things done, and yet time seems to extend as well?

Are you feeling like this too, or is it just me?

I've been working on the Pockets of Joy photo book. I thought throwing photos into a book would be easy and quick... but no! And I've made so many mistakes with the PDFing and the set up. It's a completely different way of doing everything to what I do day-to-day. Hopefully I've followed the instructions properly and I know what I'm doing now.

The day job has been kind of crazy. The world has been kind of crazy. So I guess it makes sense that time is kind of crazy.

Hopefully it will settle down soon.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Weird Wednesday - Pockets of Joy

Sometimes things happen in the strangest way.

We've had a hell of a lot of bushfires in Australia this spring-summer, which I'm sure you know about. Although my little village wasn't affected, quite a huge proportion of the area around me was burnt. I was really struggling with the loss of lives, the widespread destruction, the uselessness I felt, and the horror of it all.

I hate feeling like that, and I know I can spiral into negative thought loops that just drag me down and down and down. So I needed to do something to kick me out of that...and I thought it might help others too.

So I dug through some old photos and took some new ones, and began putting them on Facebook, and sometimes Instagram. I called them Pockets of Joy. Sometimes you can't find joy in everything, you've just got to find a tiny piece.

You know I take weird photos if you follow Wildlife Wednesday, and people seemed to enjoy that quirky view I sometimes pick up. I kept putting photos up, each day throughout January.

At some stage a few friends started saying I should make a book. That they'd buy it. Someone even said they'd buy copies for gifts.

And on the January long weekend, I remained at home (on fire watch) while family went away. I was planning on a huge writing weekend...yet, I found myself collating photos, creating a book. I spent 2 blissful days creating. I sent it to a couple of people, got some feedback, kept fiddling and creating.

It's been an absolute pleasure to create this. I love playing with the photos that make me smile. I've even enjoyed culling and swapping and changing book sizes and shape. I have draft after draft after draft. More feedback.

This is what I have so far...it's not the final product...just the latest draft. An A5 sized book that I hope I can print in an affordable way so Pockets of Joy is available for anyone to buy.

And maybe if it's not exorbitant, I can get extra copies and drop them down the coast into bushfire affected towns to give people a pick-me-up.

So...not the usual Cate thing...but not so weird either.

I'll let you know when it's available! And I'll show some sample pages. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Story - Mary Magdalene Revealed

I've had this book, Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson, sitting on my e-reader for quite some time. It can take ages for me to get through my To Be Read pile of physical and e-books! I'm so glad this book popped onto the "open and Read" portion of my brain.

This book feels like the missing link, for me, between religion and woo-woo, alternate spiritual practices. Let me try to explain.

Meggan Watterson's book explains how she interprets the Gospel Of Mary, one of the gnostic gospels that was discovered in the late nineteenth century, buried in Egypt. (You can find more info here).

I haven't read the Gospel itself, but I will need to.

According to Meggan Watterson's book, there were other teachings that Jesus Christ of Nazareth gave to his followers that are not included in the New Testament. The First Council of Nicea, held in 325CE, was a meeting of bishops who tried to find consensus for this fast-developing Christian religion. Many gospels were omitted from the Bible, and ordered destroyed but some monks who no doubt were as book-loving as me, could not destroy them, so buried them.

Why some were chosen and others weren't is subject to conjecture, as the reasons were not recorded (or have not been made known if they were). Looking at the Church now, the Catholic Church particularly, power may have been a major driver and so slanting the stories to give maximum control of the people to those 'in charge' was probably a reason.

Watterson is a theological scholar, with an interest in the Divine Feminine. So much of what she had searched for in the traditional Christian teachings, is what I've questioned throughout my life. My questions have been along these lines:
  • Why are women excluded from so much of the Church, when Jesus preached compassion (e.g. feeding masses with loaves and fishes) and equality (e.g. not casting stones)? 
  • Why is St Paul revered when he's so blatantly anti-women in so many of his letters, which always felt against the Jesus I thought I knew from the Gospels? 
  • Why was Peter the revered apostle, and first Pope, when he disowned Jesus three times?

I'm starting to get these answers reading this book. Answers to questions I've asked for 40 years LOL! I remember sitting with Fr T in his study, discussing Bible passages, and my incessant questioning had him chewing on the end of his pipe, sucking in deep breaths, and pausing as he framed an answer. I was in high school when he introduced me to his brother, also a priest but one who'd studied a lot of theology, and we had further discussions. This is years after I begged to be an altar boy, and scored becoming a reader instead (because girls were not allowed to serve on the altar - that has changed now!).

This book explains that Mary's descriptions of Jesus's teachings were about developing a deeper understanding about what love is, what self is, and that the world is a place to go deep into your heart and live in a way that tries to unite your humanity and your soul (or the spiritual).

And this then is the perfect link to paganism, so many Eastern religious teachings, the so-called New Age movement.

Religion is not a power game, a patriarchal system focussed on removing sin through suffering, punishment and penance.

It's truly about searching your inner being for flaws and trying to do better tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

It's about loving yourself, and loving everyone else. It's about seeing yourself as made from divine, therefore also divine, and trying to live to achieve that.

Religion has always felt like a power struggle for me, with so little focus on self and love - even though they were (for me anyway) the key messages of Jesus. This Gospel of Mary takes the power out of religion, and puts it back on self and love.

And truly, that feels like the real meaning of life.

Can I become the best person I can be? Can I love myself and others, fully?

Have you read this book?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday Soapbox - philosophies and world views

I listened today. I listened and puzzled and tried to understand. It's something that pisses me off about the world - and strangely enough, it's one of my faults! Funny how that's so often reflected. But anyway... I listened to Dad while he gave me his world view.

As I've become more annoyed with the world in general, I've come to see his world view (he's in his 70s, white male, conservative) as the 'bloody patriarchy' and 'conservative right' and old blokes who don't want their power structure to change.

For some reason, today I decided to listen and try to understand where he's coming from. There seems to be too many of his vintage with his view...and my Dad isn't a sexist, power hungry pig like I often see others.

Dad was a young man in the 1960s. His father was a staunch Labor man, working class, inner city fellow. This connection is important to understanding where my old man is coming from. Add to this, my Dad's work was sometimes privvy to things the average person on the street doesn't know and I don;t know much about that, but I often wonder how much he really knows! LOL

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Cold War was huge. In Australia, according to my grandfather, the "Red Terror" was spreading  and the fear of Russian spies infiltrating all of Australia's major areas of influence was causing concern to many/some/I'm not really sure. It's difficult to get a handle on this because it was all secret whispers. All subterfuge and secret reports and well, secret spy nature. Not that I'm making light of it by saying that, that's the reality (as far as I know it).

My grandfather was an active member of his local Labor party, and then something happened with the Communists that pushed the Labor party into right (conservative) and left (Communist sympathisers and Communists) factions. At least, that's my memory of the stories I've been told. My grandfather hated the left, and was firmly entrenched in the right...of the Labor party.

By the end of my grandfather's life, in the Hawke-Keating era, my grandfather was horrified by what he knew as the Labor party and was almost in tears as he said he wouldn't ever blame me if I ended up voting against his wishes. (He thought everyone in the whole wide extended family, including girlfriends/boyfriends of family members, followed his political views and voted the way he told us all we had to.)

My father comes from this background, grew up in this era, began work while this 'Red Terror' was gripping Australia (or my grandfather). What I see as Dad's conservative right wing politics, is his reaction to the huge influence of the Communist Left. He believes that the Communists are taking over, that the breakdown of society (e.g. attacks on religion, family, and government) are the Communist ways of causing anarchy so they can then take over the world.

He's as passionate about this beliefs as his father was about his.

I'm in this middle ground, where the Cold War was largely over when I became an adult and my understanding of Communist infiltration comes from spy novels. I don't have any memory of it being a feature in society.

When I look at society, I see Capitalism and Communism having many intersecting and overlapping modes of operation. Neither are the type of society in which I want to live.

I remember doing a survey once and my political learnings/views are of a party that is not yet formed but pulls out bits from many other parties LOL!!!! Which really doesn't surprise me at all.

I think we need to care about each other, and treat people respectfully. I don't like boxes and names and one-size-fits-all, I like individuality to be taken into account (and yes, I realise this is often impractical, but if we cared for people, it would be much easier!). I think we need to listen to those who are learned and educated in their fields (e.g. scientists, economists, doctors, etc) and make decisions based on facts. Again, I know that's not as easy as it sounds as people have differing views even within specialty study, but again, if we cared about each other and left egos and agendas at the door, I think we could discuss more rationally and come to better decisions about the way forward.

As to whether or not we're still fighting against Communism, I have absolutely no bloody idea. How would we know when so much of that happens behind closed doors and the general public are never told of security fears or indoctrination issues.

There are some world leaders and countries whose dominance is being asserted, and they are Communist countries. But again, there are other countries who have far right leanings who are also dominant. I don't know if that's proof that the fight exists, or are there other dogmas/ideologies at play?

Sometimes my head hurts trying to work out the simplest of questions, that seems to have many many more layers than I ever dreamed possible.

And then I go to a spiritual teaching where the message is to fix yourself, as that has a flow on effect through the world. And that doesn't make my head hurt. I can work on myself - that's a difficult enough process without trying to factor in how ever many billion people are in the world.

So, I'm looking at fixing myself. Making myself the best person I can be. And if that means I'm ignoring the world as it all falls to pieces, I'm sorry. I can't cope with anything more than me.

Does your head hurt with politics?

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.

AND CHRISTIAN WHITE DELIVERED!

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:

https://getinvolved.shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au/BushfireRecoveryShoalhaven/news_feed/mayoral-appeal

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: https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate


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

Bushfires

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.