Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday

Frogs and Tadpoles.

I've always loved frogs and taddies. When I was about 9 years old, I went on my 'first date' (I'm using the term loosely here) with a boy from my Grandma & Pop's street, who took me tadpoling. It was the best day. We got heaps of taddies and grew them out to frogs. And I found this big hunk of plastic-stuff (rubbish) that he said looked like a koala and I kept that for years as my memory of him. I don't know what happened to him. He left the street and only pops back in my mind, nameless (although it may have been David, his sister was Lisa, I remember that!), when I think of frogs and tadpoles. Oh, and with the smell of Perkin's Paste. He and his sister taught me to eat paper sandwiches with Perkin's Paste filling - did you ever do that? I had a strange upbringing :)

Anyway, I digress. We have a pond in our backyard and as the weather warms up for summer, frogs appear and their musical croaking lulls me to sleep each night (my brother-in-law visited and couldn't sleep for all the noise, so I guess it's not a lullaby for all). And then I read this gorgeous book, The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, and it said frogs were mating when they sang all night (except this was said beautifully, not just splatted on the page like I did it!). This made a lot of sense because my frogs after a noisy night, leave masses of frog eggs in froth, and I sometimes even catch them still piggybacking.These two are in the side-by-side exhausted stage I think (I hope you can see them in the bottom left, heads obscured by the leaf for privacy of course!).

Okay, enough frog romance! Unless you think I could do a frog erotic romance story... oh... The Frog Prince X-rated! :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Story

I started a few books this week that I closed after a few pages. All e-books. Once upon a time I never closed a book before I finished it. My Mum taught me when I was little that I had to read 100 pages before I could put a book down - and by then you're usually hooked. But since the advent of e-books, books seem a little more disposable... or are they?

If I think about my book browsing habits in a bookshop... I dispose of quite a lot of books there. I pick them up, look at cover, title, author's name, read the blurb at the back. If it doesn't grab me, I slide it back on the shelf.

E-books really are the same - but with more of a look. I just grab the sample. I have a read and if it doesn't grab me. I delete it.

I'm not really doing anything different to the bookshop browsing (except maybe reading more - but often I haven't read the blurb, I just click sample instead).

So, maybe I'm not discarding more books. Maybe e-books has just taught me a different way to choose what I read.

I think I'll start believing that. I don't like thinking that I'm not giving a book a chance.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Phallic Friday - "Bad" Sex

Today I want to talk about "bad" sex. And "bad" sex being the kind of sexual encounter you'd really rather forget you ever had. Ever had one of those?

I'm toying with the idea of a 'bad' sex book. Would it be worth reading?

There are lots of ways sex can be bad. Some of them can be quite funny. The first time or a one night stand comes to mind - where you're both fumbling, clumsy, nervous or just not-yet in-tune. Then there's those men who just don't understand that the world doesn't revolve around their penis.

There's also 'bad' sex when regrets rear - before you've left the bed. These aren't funny but can be soul destroying. How do you get through the soul destroying bad sex, to ever have sex again?

I'm pondering a book with a nympho-like heroine, who is compelled to have sex. It's bad, it's funny, it's heart-breaking but she keeps searching for the man who makes sex 'right'. Do you reckon that would work?

I've also been challenged to write a story where the heroine and hero don't like one another at the start. As I write in first person from the heroine's perspective, the challenge is in making the hero redeemable, even when they fight/hate each other/whatever.

So I'm thinking I could combine these ideas. Have a heroine who has really bad sex while searching for 'the one'. She's at odds with her co-worker/neighbour (the hero) and then somehow they tumble into bed and it's amazing. Now she has to work out a way to keep the great sex - even though they don't get along. Hmmm... might need more thinking on this... but not bad for a first thought for me, The Pantser!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Huntsman Spider (with photo)

I hope you don't get creeped out by spider photos.

These spiders visit our house fairly commonly. When we first moved in, they were always here but less so now. My hubby is quite relieved by that - he hates them. To the point where I have to come and save him from them. My brother-in-law is the same. When they were visiting a huntsman was in their room. He bravely said to my sister, "I'll go get brave hubby." My sister laughed. "You'd better get Cate." Yep, brave hubby would only drown it in fly spray if he had to do anything.

I like them though. I like their long leggedness. I like the way they walk across your ceilings as if they never contemplate falling. I like the way they appear and then vanish.

Wow, there are 94 different species of Huntsman (so the Australian Museum website tells me). And my trusty insect book says you can tell a Huntsman as the two front pairs of legs are longer than the back two pairs (I didn't know that!). The come into houses during warm, moist weather and if you happen to get bitten, no toxicity symptoms follow.

Oh wow, I wouldn't mind seeing this (also from the Australian Museum website):

In the genus Isopoda, the male and female Huntsman spiders have a lengthy courtship, which involves mutual caresses, with the male drumming his palps on the trunk of a tree. He then inserts his palps into the female to fertilise her eggs. The male is rarely attacked, unlike some other species, and in fact many huntsman spiders live peacefully together in large colonies. A silken retreat is often built for egg laying, as well as for moulting.

That's kind of romantic, isn't it?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Story

book cover of 

The Summer House 


Marcia WillettThis week I've read a few things but Marcia Willett's The Summerhouse is what sticks. A friend recommended Marcia Willett to me and I read one a while back. It was beautiful. So when I was at the library I picked up another. No one does characters like Willett.

The people in The Summerhouse are gorgeous - but flawed. They behave like a family but the only thing that binds most of them is love - familial not sexual. That's an unusual bond, between unusual characters who fit nowhere else but with each other.

The story has elements you shoudl baulk at, and all sorts of strange, unexplained, almost supernatural feelings/events. I believed them all. They were so ingrained as part of the character that however implausible it may sound after reading - while I read, I was completely absorbed.

Sometimes ground work is laid by an author in such a messy way, they may have well dug up half the lawn without replanting grass. Willett digs up the lawn, carefully packs as she refills and lays the grass so it looks like the lawn has never been touched. It's a magical trait to have.

So... when drawing characters, if you need to lay ground work, make sure it's so ingrained as part of the character the reader doesn't stumble over it. Don't blurt out what they're like, show me, delicately and sensitively. When you've done that, I the reader, will believe every word you show me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Phallic Friday - Virginity

Oh, goodness, it's Friday night and I suddenly realised I hadn't had my phallic moment! I have the days all scrambled up again. What's happening to me!?

Virginity is the topic today because... well, I have this story called The Virginity Mission and it's been on my mind this week

It's a loss of virginity story - guess you worked that out! Is it unrealistic that in this day and age, a girl could still be a virgin at 21 and at the end of uni? I didn't think so... obviously, since I wrote that in my story... but what do you think?

I'm having a few cold feet (I know I'm not a centipede but I'm feeling like one!). I know there's that virginity ring thing in the US where girls take pride in remaining intact. There were girls I went to uni with who were virgins - but that was some years ago! When I think about the girls I know now who are that age, it's an unrealistic story line. Can I pull it off?

Oh, I hate being old, out of touch and a 'fraidy cat! Can you help my Phallic-Friday-Freakout?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gotta Have It goes audio

My first short story was published in an anthology edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, called Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex.

Yesterday I had someone "like" my author page on FB. So I went to check out who it was and saw the cover of this anthology. Didn't really look at it, though, as I went trolling through the book to find what story she'd written. And I wondered why she'd suddenly friended me, so long after the event.

Today I looked at the page properly, because she wasn't an author. They made it into an Audio Book and she's the narrator!

These are 69 short stories, of less than 1200 words. And she narrates them all! Goodness me. There are all sorts of stories in there... how did she do that?

So I'm off to listen now.   It's a part of Amazon.

I'll let you know how my story sounds (I sure wouldn't want to read it aloud!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Corellas

This is a pine tree right next to my house. For a few days a year, the corellas gorge on the seeds, picking them, eating them and then hurling the remains onto my garbage bins where it booms like a nuclear explosion (well, what I imagine one must sound like). So I move the bins and they hurl the remains further so they still hit the bin :)

I like corellas. We had them out west when I lived out there, so to me they're a bit of the bush on the coast. They are noisy but they also mind their own business - not like lorikeets which are noisy and in your face.

They have to drink on a daily basis and so I keep a couple of bird baths around so they can. There's a small concreted dip under our tap in the front lawn and it's the place the corellas favour for a drink. They come in a group of six or so and take turns having a drink and a wash. Someone squarks and the next one gets in. It's very funny to watch.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Story

Sheltering RainThis week I read JoJo Moyes' Sheltering Rain, her first book, published in 2002. Someone had recommended I read her books.

I read the book but I can't say I enjoyed it. It's a family story where the family is estranged and coming back together over the death of the father (3 generations). They were awful to each other, but not awful people. I wanted to smack them for their inability to see beyond themselves. But I cared enough to keep reading.

That's a fine line to walk for your first story, isn't it? People could hate your characters and stop reading all together.

And I'm not entirely sure how she kept me reading. The father didn't die until a long way in, so I guess that kept me waiting. The granddaughter didn't settle into the grandparents' house easily and I kept waiting for the fireworks, so that kept me going. We switched and changed between the present and the past, so that kept it interesting - and the past was incredibly interesting (in Hong Kong after WWII).

It's threads. She had threads through the story that didn't weave together until the end. That was what kept me reading.

Kind of like hooks, aren't they?

(This Sunday post is sort of like being in my own book club analysing what I read. Discussing it here helps me work out what's in my head - just in case you're wondering what I'm raving on about!)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Phallic Friday - Sex Shops

I'm talking about Sex Shops today because I had an odd experience this week.

In the past, Sex Shops have been exciting places to visit. I remember going with friends to the ones in Canberra and laughing as one friend hid in the car while the rest of us went in and spent ages marvelling at the choice and variety and colours, etc etc.

I remember going to a really classy place in Sydney (women's only) and it was like being in a fabulous boutique, except with sex toys!

And this week I went into the local sex shop. Oh my. I'm not sure how to describe it. Cluttered with junk is probably the closest I can say. There was all sorts of crap for hen's nights and joke gifts. There were tacky costumes for dress up (like you'd buy in Spotlight or something). The man behind the counter could have been a roadie for a 70s rock band. He appeared stoned, had long thinning hair, and couldn't work out my change when I spent $10 and gave him a $50 (sorry, I know, I shouldn't judge people).

And the worst thing - he wouldn't take my Hot Down Under bookmarks. He said e-books weren't something people would buy. Then he looked at the covers on the bookmark AND BLUSHED! He works in a sex shop and he blushed at book covers!?!?!?!?

What is the world coming to? Don't you buy sex toys and serious sex items in sex shops anymore, or am I just in hokey town here?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Big Moth

This is my very technical name for this critter - Big Moth.

I get this moth drift in once a year - I guess it's a different one each year - and I don't know what it is. I've looked up my butterfly and moth books but I can't get an exact match.

They aren't small. Across their wings would be a distance the length of my hand (15 cm or so).

Any idea what they are?

They stay for only a day or two. They don't go to a plant or tree but land on the ground or a door or something and just sit quietly.

I'm pretty fond of his feathery antennae.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Story

I've read two amazing books this week but they're nothing alike.

Putting Alice Back TogetherThe first is Putting Alice Back Together by Carol Marinelli. It's chick lit, I guess. Alice is twenty seven or eight and her life is a train wreck, with lots of friends and family standing by enjoying the show. Somehow, Alice seems to know she needs help and she stumbles along, mostly alone, to get it. A few of her friends support her but it's largely Alice's show. It doesn't sound like a great read, but it is. It's clever and subtle and witty. There's enough drama to last a lifetime but it's done so well, you're cheering for Alice all the time.

I think the pace of this story is what kept me going. No drama is dwelled upon. It rips along from one drama to the next with snappy amusing lines. It's a sad story (with a happy end, of course) with a fast pace.

The second is Skin by Kylie Scott. It's the second of her zombie apocalyptic erotic stories and I think I enjoyed it more than Flesh, the first one, which I loved. Skin moves fast. Nick and Roslyn have a tempestuous relationship that is reflected by the war-zone-like drama around them. They fight with each other, then when they're not, the elements fight with them. The story doesn't let up with tension from start to finish - which is why I could not put this book down. I even had to fumble around in the dark plugging in my iPad just to keep going. If Kylie Scott had second book nerves, I never noticed. This is a ripper.

So pace is this week's lesson for me. You can have fast-paced stories even when the topic is sad. It doesn't only have to be action stories that rip along. Fast pacing can be scenes that quickly move to the next disaster, relationships in turmoil, or external elements creating the pace. And if you mix all that up - and throw in hooks like last week's - holy cow! I wouldn't be able to stop writing, let alone reading :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Phallic Friday - Affairs

Oh my goodness... Friday snuck up on me! I guess because Sunday was Tuesday, I'm all out of whack!

So... today's discussion... affairs.

Are affairs something interesting to write about? Or do you feel cheated by the cheating spouse?

I guess if I'm writing erotica, affairs are okay. But for erotic romance... affairs are cheating on her love, and not romantic (unless the partner is gone pretty quickly and the partner is a true horror, and even then die-hard romance fans might still raise their eyebrows).

I was talking to a friend about the book, The Bride Stripped Bare. She was saying how shocked she was to read that book because the woman got braver and braver and did more and more wicked things. My reaction wasn't like that. I'd been told how wicked it was before I read it, and I remember thinking how tame it was. Maybe I need to re-read it and not think about "tameness" but think about it as a story.

Most of the stories I can think of about affairs are usually the man having the affair, not the woman. I'd like to write one about a woman playing up. I think that would be much more fun.

So, how do you feel about affairs? Would you read about a woman playing up? How horrid would her husband have to be to allow you to enjoy it/buy into the story? Would you just think she's a bitch?