Friday, August 30, 2013

Phallic Friday - the Pinnacles

I'm stretching a little here... but on my recent holiday, I went to The Pinnacles in Western Australia (a couple of hours north of Perth). Being a soils girl, I've always been intrigued by this place and wanted to go. And I had an idea of what it may look like...and I was so very wrong!

It's an exquisitely beautiful place, just off the road, tucked into some small hills. There was a mystical kind of feel there, like I was visiting somewhere special - but that may have just been me! And the colour was amazing.

I found some Phallic looking Pinnacles...but now I go to write my post, they don't look quite so phallic anymore! But I was thinking of Phallic Fridays as I took these photos.

So here are the Phallic Pinnacles for your entertainment.

This is the first one I saw - pretty impressive!

And this one just screamed Phallic at me

Then Mr E took a pic of me at the Phallic Gates (not that he knew what I was calling them!)
And the beautiful view with the ocean in the background
The ground had tiny pinnacles, along with the large ones, here

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Shag

The Shag, or the Little Pied Cormorant, is a bird I've recognised for many years. My grandfather had a distinct dislike for the birds when he was fishing. He was convinced they went hunting for his bait, or his fish, and would take off with his fishing line (or maybe he made that up for my entertainment!). So a Shag duck-diving into the water always makes me think of Da.

The Little Pied Cormorant is black above and white below. They hang their wings out like this to dry, because their wing feathers are not waterproof. You often see them basking on rocks in this pose, and usually in groups, not singly. There were a bunch of cormorants on the sand here (in the river at low tide - when I extended my backyard again!) I just zoomed in on this one by himself.

Oh, look what I found in my web searching:
The diet of the Pied Cormorant consists mostly of fish. When foraging, the cormorant swims low on the water, and when it spies a fish, it quickly plunges below the water’s surface. When it pursues the fish, it swims by propelling itself with its large, webbed feet and steering with half-opened wings. Fish may be eaten below the water or when the cormorant returns to the surface. Unfortunately, cormorants sometimes also feed by stealing the fish that have been caught in fishermen’s nets. Taken from here. Maybe Da wasn't making up stories for me!

Little Pied Cormorants breed either in colonies or, less commonly, in single pairs. The nest is a flat platform of sticks, lined with green leaves and is usually placed in a tree. Both adults share in egg incubation and care of the young.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunday Story

Oh, how did Sunday come around so quickly?

I returned home from conference with a pile of books - many freebies, a couple I bought.

The exciting one for me was Bronwyn Parry's Darkening Skies, because it was out early just for conference. Ooooohhh, love getting a sneak peek. I bought it at the conference bookshop. It's the fourth book set in Dungirri...and it may be my favourite (but it's so hard to pick!). Anyway, it was a cracker read.

Then I had Annie West's Imprisoned By A Vow in my conference goodie bag. I wanted a quick read so picked it up. Silly silly me. I thought I'd be able to read a bit and put it down...but alas, Annie West held me captive with my pain for Leila and my concern that she end up okay. Another great read.

I think that's all I've managed since conference. On my holiday I took an iPad full of books, plus 3 print books. Do you know how much I read? Zero! My idea of a holiday is not zero reading - but somehow that's what I did. Guess lots of driving, sightseeing and snorkelling aren't conducive to reading. And you can guess that there was absolutely no writing either.

I'll try to do a holiday blog...just have to get my hundreds of photos sorted. I do have some great wildlife pictures for Wednesdays :) 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Phallic Friday - vagina backlash

I'm just back from 2 weeks of holidays and the RWA conference and I was struggling to think of what to write for this post (actually, I'm struggling to string 2 words together!).

Then I went to the news website and there's a ready made kerfuffle happening - a Sydney University student newspaper went and put 18 vaginas on their front cover! Needless to say it was confiscated, but it has started a big social media discussion.

Here's the news article I read, which gives an account of one of the girls who participated. I think she deserves a medal for coming out in public in this discussion and I hope she doesn't regret it in the future, especially with her name and photo publicised, meaning she has no anonymity.

I know genitalia on a cover is confronting. And I think whether it was vaginas or cocks, the same reaction would have occurred.

But sometimes, to get people to take notice of things, we need to do something outlandish to be noticed. I read some horrifying statistics a while back about the number of women who elect to have cosmetic surgery on their vagina so it is 'perfect' and that is terrifying to me. Cosmetic surgery on any body part concerns me, but on a body part that the majority of people would never see, why on earth do you need it 'perfect'? What's wrong with living with what you have?

I don't live with a perfect body - far from it. I have rosaceae, severe cystic acne, and something called Hidradenitis suppurativa.  I do feel pressure to change - and even to spend large amounts of money to change - but I live with what I got, largely because (1) mostly what I have is unchangeable, (2) I don't have large amounts of money, (3) I spent years trying to change and ended up undervaluing myself because of this constant pressure to change something that is unchangeable, and (4) sometimes you just have to suck it up and do the best with what you have (that was the conclusion I came to after years of trying everything known to man). Plus I firmly believe you have to look past the outside to see good in people - and if I can't do that in myself, then what hope do I have of doing that with others?

Although putting vaginas on the front cover is confronting, I believe we need confronting to change the focus of society, from the 'perfect' outside, to loving what's inside... but maybe I'm a bit biased :)

How do you feel?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - bee

This is a bee. Just the ordinary garden variety bee sitting on a rock in a park (okay, I snuck out of my backyard again...but I was playing with my nephew and couldn't resist this photo with the sun highlighting the bee...and I had to give a little lesson to my nephew who was panic-stricken that the bee would attack him. NB No bees or nephews were injured making this post!).

From Wikipedia:
Bees are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.

Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae.

Bees have a long proboscis (a complex "tongue") that enables them to obtain the nectar from flowers. They have antennae almost universally made up of 13 segments in males and 12 in females, as is typical for the superfamily. Bees all have two pairs of wings, the hind pair being the smaller of the two; in a very few species, one sex or caste has relatively short wings that make flight difficult or impossible, but none are wingless.

The best-known bee species is the European honey bee, which, as its name suggests, produces honey, as do a few other types of bee. Human management of this species is known as beekeeping or apiculture. 

One of my favourite Aussie authors, Helene Young, is a beekeeper (or was, because she's sailing and there are no bee hives in the ocean!)

Monday, August 19, 2013

More on the Conference

I wrote about the conference way before I went...and this morning, after the event, I know I missed so much of the feel from the conference. I want to try to describe that - it may be awful because I can't tell you how sore and tired my mind is :)

I'm a terrible introvert and would prefer to be in my cave talking to people via email only. I like small doses of people. I like to think before I say things. I like to weigh up, balance out, check my emotions, sift through implications and probabilities before I utter a word. But lord, when I talk, I talk! And if I'm tired, tipsy, overwhelmed or any other thing that cuts down my reserve, I can talk unchecked, unstopped forever.

And that's what I forgot about the conference. I'm all out of reserve awfully quickly. I think it's the bombarding nature of women with hugs, squeals of excitement, and fast fast chatter. As soon as I'm there, something wells up inside me and a year's worth of talking happens. 

And it's not just talking. It's people watching, listening, planning characters, analysing people's actions and motivations. There are so many different people, all with a common bond, but with many and varied was of working and interacting.

It's also listening and learning from people more experienced in the industry, more experienced with the craft. And they're so giving. Nothing is really sacred once you're under the conference cone of sharing. You know the saying, what happens at conference, stays at conference. Well, it doesn't stay there for me, it comes with me in a small part of my mind where I spend months processing it to work out how this new knowledge fits into my world.

The huge high from meeting like-minded souls cannot be described. In a world where you often feel odd, this one weekend makes sure you feel accepted, included, understood.

Sure a few odd things happen - human nature is always a bit foreign to me. But the overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance overrules.

I have to admit I snuck out to dinner on my own last night to quieten my aching brain. I intended to come back to my room and sleep...but I was waylaid in the lobby and ended up spending a few more hours talking to people I hadn't had much of a chance to talk with earlier.

My voice is hoarse, I have few verbal words left, (you may notice lots of typed words!) but I still have people I didn't get to talk with, or talk enough with. 

I've done such a bad job of capturing how I feel...but it's a start :) now I'm taking my overwhelmed mind off to Perth for a quiet afternoon before flying home tomorrow...back to my cave and my email chatting! Ah, comfort :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Story

I'm writing this post ahead of time because today is the final day of the RWA Conference in Fremantle, WA. No doubt I'll be brain dead, over people, in need of sleep and quiet and space.

I love the conference...and I hate it... in almost equal parts.

I love being inspired. I love meeting friends who I only see once a year. I love meeting people I've only emailed. I love learning. I love the chance to immerse myself in writing for a whole 3 days.

I hate the noise. I hate the crowds. I hate being rushed. I hate having timetables.

I like my solitude, my cave. Going out to the conference is a little too much, but worth the effort.

I used to do a lot of work conferences. They were the same experience for me. I always saw them as "condensing the knowledge of a few text books into a few days". They were a huge learning experience for me. I roamed around, often alone, and soaked up knowledge.

My first RWA conference was like that. Now I know too many people to be alone. That's given a whole new complexity to the conference for me. It means I haven't the space and time to process. I have to soak, store and process when I get home. It also means I'm overloaded for days, which can be a major problem for me.

I thought I was alone in my feelings about conferences but I'm not. The Wonkomance girls have written posts about it, which was so much like me. I've read other people's blogs and social media comments saying a similar thing.

It's nice to know introverts can go out and pretend for a while... but damn it's nice to come home!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Phallic Friday - breath control

In my teenage years I was a huge INXS fan. When Michael Hutchence died, autoerotic asphyxiation was brought into the media spotlight and into my imagination.

What it is
When you rob your brain of oxygen (asphyxia), you experience a high - euphoria, dizziness, and lowered inhibition - before you lose consciousness. To make masturbation more thrilling, some people masturbate while strangling themselves.

Silent Killer
Sadly, many of these people die while attempting pleasure - because it's too easy to push past the point and cut off the oxygen levels completely. It's an accidental suicide. And someone has to find you.

I like the idea of breath control. I'm scared about the repercussions. Even holding your breath for extended periods can induce a heart attack. In a way I think it would be a great way to go - dying on an orgasm. But gee, being remembered like that is not the best. Being found like that might not be so great for your nearest and dearest.

I'd love to use this in a story but it's something I have to be careful about. I don't want to falsely advertise it. I don't want to encourage anyone to try anything unsafe. I don't want to be responsible for a death.

As much as I find it intriguing, I think I have to err on the side of safe sex.

It's a bit like the condom debate. I always thought condoms "ruined" the story, until a bunch of writers had a discussion about it. I realised if I wanted condoms to be a 'normal' part of sex in real life, then my real life stories had to reflect the same. It's like subliminal advertising.

How do you feel?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - starfish

I snuck out again, but just two suburbs away to a great rock platform with a beautiful rock pool. On the rock platform are the most incredible display or critters but my favourite are the starfish. They aren't always there but around Easter, they were there in abundance.

This is only a tiny starfish and his colouration made him tricky to spot against the rocks. But I had my niece and nephew with me and I had to show them the beautiful underside of the starfish.

The underside is made up of hundreds of tube feet that allow the starfish to 'walk' and also to prise open shellfish for eating.

Starfish have a kind of armour - outer coating of calcium carbonate (which makes limestone, so it's tougher than a garden snail shell but not as tough as say a hermit crab shell) and tiny spines, which gave this starfish a rough surface.

Starfish aren't fish. They're echinoderms, along with brittle stars, feather stars, sea cucumbers, sea stars, sea urchins and sand dollars.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Little BDSM

A little while back Rachel Kramer Bussel had a call for submissions for an anthology of short short stories (less than 1200 words) with a BDSM theme. I had a little idea I wanted to try, plus I wanted to see if I could write in that theme authentically.

I'm so excited that my story, called Control, was accepted into her anthology! Yippee!

I'll know more details in November, but I'm excited to be in another of her short anthologies (my first published story was Pain Surfer, in Gotta Have It: 69 stories of sudden sex).

I had to do a few edits. They were good pick ups too, and showed a little of my newness to BDSM with some word choices that were not the best. There a so many tricks for new players :)

One edit caused me some angst, mostly because I was under time pressure. I had used the term "buttocks bleed" in a sentence which I was using as the two b-words, plus bleed being a body fluid. And in my head, it was kind of drops of blood after caning or something. But no, it was taken to mean copious amounts of blood. So I had to find something else. So here am I sitting in Sydney airport, waiting for my flight, scribbling lists of body fluids, playing with alliteration, trying to find another way to make this work. My poor husband was trying to keep me away from anyone as I'm muttering sex words to myself, and shaking me head as I couldn't get it right. But finally I had success! Edits done, accepted and story on its way.

And just as well because in my travels I have barely been able to think about writing! Holidays are busy times, with lots to see and do :)

More news in November!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Story

I'm a sook. I cry in ads, sad songs, books, movies, sad news. You name it, my tissue is kind of needed. It's been a while since I've read a book that's brought me completely undone. I've shed a tear in a few but not the gasping shocking sobs of absolute loss and sorrow.

I wonder if thats' because I've been reading a lot more romance? Romance has the promise of a happy ending. I think that keeps me in check, if it's sad for a bit, I know it will have a happy ending and I don't lose myself so much in the emotion.

Or is it that I'm toughening up? I kind of doubt that. I still cry in movies (god, even Man of Steel. I mean it wasn't all that sad, but gee, if someone on screen cries, I've kind of lost it. And Superman shed tears that made me join in.)

I don't actively hunt up sad books. I just seem to stumble across them. One minute I'm reading, next I'm shaking with sobs.

Are you a sook? Which books do you think I should stumble across next time I need a cry? :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Phallic Friday - me and my double standards

I wrote a post a while ago about my double standards, and (much to my absolute horror) I have more!

While stretching my limits to see what can be written in erotica/erotic romance, there were some fairly set rules I came across with most publishers - no bestiality, no scat, no golden showers, no necro, no incest.

The other day I went to Smashwords to download a friend's story, and I did a bit of a search on the erotica on Smashwords. The most downloaded stories were those that went against publishers' rules. All of those things were there, in all their glory. I didn't go reading blurbs or downloading samples, I could garner this from the covers and titles - not much was left to the imagination.

I logged off a little traumatised, shocked, horrified. All those things.

And here I am facing more of my double standards. Way back, I was a bit shocked by the publisher's rules, the limits of what would be published, and the boundaries we're set. Now, I find a place where there are no limits or boundaries, and I'm horrified.

Gosh, what am I doing?

I keep trying to buck society's norms, and yet I'm pulled into them without even thinking. I have to be slapped in the face with something before I notice that I've become complacent, accepting of what I'm told instead of pushing the boundaries.

I've enough stories in my head at the moment that fit inside the rules, so I'm not going to even think of any that don't. But maybe it's nice to know there is somewhere I can publish something if I go all out.

(I'm just a little scared of the people who read it - but in my defence, I watched Criminal Minds the other week where a man running a writing group was acting out the people's stories and murdering the characters exactly as had been described by the written word. That freaked me out a bit!)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Toadstool

I'm sure this counts as wildlife, doesn't it? It's just too cute not to count!

I love Toadstools and this one was in my front lawn. I think I spent many years as a child reading about toadstools and fairies in your garden. And then I joined Brownies and my love of toadstools was enhanced a thousand-fold. In Brownies every week, our ceremony was conducted by dancing around a toadstool. I can't tell you how much I loved that toadstool. And it was a special day if my six (group) were allocated to set up or put away the toadstool.

Anyway, this toadstool only has grass underneath it but can't you just imagine fairies and elves dancing happily underneath? Scurrying in and out of the blades of grass, dancing around the toadstools as they pop up? Sheltering beneath them during a storm?

Okay, I better stop imagining - oh, fairy erotica...maybe I could go there! :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Story

I've been trying to be clinical about my reading and study what it is I like and don't like in a story. What I've found is that I don't like the things other people love. A book sells gazillions, you can nearly guarantee that I won't like it.

Why is this so?

I pick it up and read it with an open mind and high hopes. The same as I start any book. And then I get bored. Most of the high selling books have a way of writing that doesn't engage my brain. My brain is weird and likes to think things out, puzzle through a story, stretch and bend trying to understand a character and their motivations. If all that is spelled out, I'm bored.

Yet those books sell. Lots.

So, I'm resigned to the fact that I'm weird. It's not anything new. I've always been kind of fiercely proud about being different. It makes life more interesting, I think!

How do you go with best sellers? Are you normal or weird? :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Phallic Friday - monogamy or not?

I remember as a child, raised in a Catholic upbringing complete with all the strict rules, I discovered what a 'virgin' was (as in the Virgin Mary. I heard so much about her but never knew what this virgin part meant) and was horrified we venerated someone who'd never had sex. I wish I knew what horrified me so much about it...but I was a bit of an animal nut, so it was probably that I knew sex was a 'natural' part of animals' life and so I thought it should be the same for humans. Although, that may be my adult mind justifying a child's feelings that were completely different.

I was determined from that day not to die a virgin. It's something I didn't share with my parents, mind you :) But getting over that Catholic guilt thing wasn't so easy either. I was torn between wanting to do the "right thing" and wanting to do what I felt was right for me.

This seems to be a continuing dilemma in my life. I also did not want to get married. I felt marriage was a male inspired state, to keep women under their control.

So with these strong thoughts, monogamy was not something I aspired to either. I studied environmental biology and animal biology fascinated me. In the animal kingdom there are examples of monogamy (eg swans), polygamy (eg hyenas), and no pairing up at all. I think this should be the same in humans, and I wanted to be in the no pairing up category. I have no maternal desires, and I carry some not pleasant genes, so children were never going to be a part of my life. I had no need for monogamy.

Of course, life always has its laugh at me, and I met a man who is ultra-conservative, firmly believes in marriage and wanted to marry me. I tried to dissuade him. I tried to express my horror. In the end I compromised, and joined society's norm of being married.

I'm not convinced about monogamy, still, but I made a commitment. However, with my writing, I struggle to write a story where my characters end up in a Happy Ever After, because deep down I don't believe it's possible. Yet I've seen it. My parents had a HEA, both sets of my grandparents did. My hubby's parents are still together. I've seen it in action...I should believe it. I should understand it. I should be able to write it. I can't. The best I can do, is a Happy For Now ending.

Do you believe in monogamy? And Happy Ever Afters? Do you think we should mate for life?