Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Pied Oystercatchers

Pied Oystercatchers on a WA beach
Pied Oystercatchers are busy little birds on the shore, always scurrying around looking for food.

They are found in coastal areas throughout Australian except for areas of unbroken sea cliffs such as the Great Australian Bight. Pied Oystercatchers have probably declined throughout much of their range and the current population may be as low as 10,000. Closely related forms are found in almost every continent in the world.

They feed on bivalve molluscs, which are prised apart with their specially adapted bills. Food is found by sight, or by probing their long, chisel-shaped bills in the mud/sand. Young Pied Oystercatchers are one of the few waders that are fed by their parents using this specialised feeding technique. Worms, crustaceans and insects are also eaten.

Nesting site on Seven Mile Beach, Oct 2013

They breed in pairs. A breeding territory of some 200 m is formed and is defended by both birds. On our beach here on south coast NSW, a fence is put up around their nesting site to keep people and their dogs away from the nests hoping the young will hatch and make it. In recent years, they haven't had much success with fox/dog attacks, high tides sweeping the nest away, or other disasters. This year, their nest is way above the tide line and I hope that might help them.

Pied Oystercatcher in flight. Seven Mile Beach, October 2013
Nesting takes place on sand, shell grit or shingle just above high water mark on beaches, sandbars, margins of estuaries and lagoons. The eggs are well-camouflaged, being pale brown with darker brown and black blotches and streaks. Both sexes share parenting duties.

If you want some more information, Birds in Backyards has a little more, but was the source of some of this material.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Story - Natural Law

I've struggled to find me some good BDSM stories that hit me as real. There are a lot of good stories around but I don't often get grabbed by them. I can't exactly tell you why, but I have an "as if" thing happen. Something doesn't ring true in the characterisation, or the D/s relationship just doesn't hold me.

This book is not new. It's from 2004. But I missed it. Totally missed this author. Which is really remiss of me, I know.

Fortunately, a writing buddy tweeted about it being a freebie on Amazon and said it was one of her favs. So I downloaded it. It was free, if I hated it, I could can it without feeling compelled to get to the end.

But OMG. No canning happened. 4 am came and I was still deep into the story. (Can't tell you how non-comprehending Mr E is about these sorts of reading habits - I mean the 4 am ones, he didn;t know what I was reading!)

The hero is a cop, a successful undercover cop of many years, now a detective. He's strong, tough, protective, alpha ... but omg, he's a sub. And he fights it. He fights his submissive nature by topping from the bottom, until he meets the woman who calls him on it. And then the struggle begins.

I totally went with this. The hero struggles to be submissive. The heroine struggles to always be dominant. But their natures are so strong, they can't be happy shirking who they are.

It's a fantastic story - a whodunit - mixed in with the D/s investigation/explanation. It's so well done, I was caught up in the world. I loved it.

Might have to go on a Joey W Hill rampage :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Phallic Friday - water and sex

Do you have a thing for water and sex? I don't mean anything too bizarre... just sex in the shower, the bath, the hot tub, at the beach, in the ocean? That sort of thing.

I think I do.

I wasn't completely conscious of it but it's coming out in my writing, and making me think more about it.

I remember a couple of conversations with others and I thought they were weird - now I think it's me.

One friend was saying how she kept reading books where people had sex against walls, even in the shower, as if that could happen in real life. I stopped and stared at her. "You've never had sex in the shower?" I asked. She laughed loudly at me and told me it only happened in books. And really, who was I to argue? I wasn't going to go into graphic detail of my sex life. Or show her what she was missing!

I have another friend who says she's tried sex in the shower and the bath and the pool and they're all big fails. Her fails are what excites me. We just laughed about that one. She said she'd try again...but I don't think her views will change.

My stories all seem to have wet sex. Pain Surfer is at the beach on the rocks, and I guess they don't exactly get wet, so maybe that's not counted. A Real Online Fantasy is at the beach on a river. Again, they don't actually do the deed in the water, so maybe that doesn't count either. But are you seeing a theme here? In The Virginity Mission there's a spa scene that gets pretty steamy even if she misses out on losing her virginity there, which is followed by a shower scene but that's a whole lot less steamy. In the one I'm writing now, there's a few steamy beach scenes that don't always get to completion but I did manage to finish one. And they shower together, but are water conscious, so no sex in the shower as such (I know, my stupid practical mind kicked in!).

I like the added stimulus of water. The sensation of movement, or of being held, or of suspension, or warmth, or drips splattering on you. I had an experience once where the hot water ran out on me in a steamy shower scene...that wasn't so much fun. I think in books you need the never-ending supply of hot water. In reality, that's not always available!

Here's a little excerpt from the book I'm writing now:

Complete exposure to the water is sensual. Water caresses my thighs, slides along my nether lips, slips against my heated core giving wet kisses to my hot clit. Nipples, scrunched tight, are soothed by the gentle wet whisper against them.

Languid from the lapping water, I only half notice Cooper toss his shorts towards the shore. It’s when his hands curve around my hips and he pulls me through the caressing sea to land against his naked strength, that I realise he’s starkers. His cock juts forward to meet me before bending against my thigh and snuggling into the natural groove between them. His hips cradle mine, his chest is the table for my breasts to fall upon. Our mouths meet, lock, explore. More moisture. The damp warmth of his lips is hot compared with the sea. The slow press of his tongue into my mouth reminiscent of the water’s press into my cunt.

We’re moving to the beat of the ocean, to the push and pull of the surf, to the ebb and flow. A slow sensuous dance.

So, do you have a thing for water? Or are you a reader who doesn't believe it possible to enjoy wet sex?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Rock Wallabies

Spot the wallabies
Once again on the Western Australian holiday, we stopped a night at Ellendale Pools, which was magnificent.

I was standing taking some photos of the pool, which was as still as glass, with these rocks behind it with the setting sun shining on them.

There was movement that caught my eye and I saw two rock wallabies, almost the same colour as the rocks, hopping across the rock face. Then they spied me and froze. If they weren't moving, I'm not sure I would have spotted these guys.

This is nature's camouflage at it's finest.

If you can't see them, draw an imaginary line across the middle of my photo. Just above the line, a little to the right of centre is the leading wallaby. The behind is about halfway between the left edge and the centre, and a smidgey bit higher.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Story

Sorry, I'm really late today. I'll have to get organised...not my strongest point!

Just a quickie today. I have two stories finished where one I've messed up the start, and the other the end. It makes me wonder why I'm in this game. I don't like messing up...but I can't plan or I never write the story. I have to write it to know what happens, so I guess messing up is part of my process.

A couple of my writing buddies are so good with this. One helps me de tangle my messes. Another told me that there are few writers who get it right the first time. This is nice to hear, and it's fantastic to be supported like this.

And then a reviewer on Amazon wrote the nicest review. She didn't like my last story, the characters and story disappointed her, but she liked my writing. And this is lovely. The review has really touched me and I keep smiling and thinking about it.

There are so many lovely people in the world. Some days writing is a joy, even when I mess it up.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Phallic Friday - fun sex

Gosh, Friday came around a little too quickly this week and I'm tapping this out just before it turns to Friday.

Aside from messing up the end, which I'm now un-messing, I finished my latest story. The story about two sporty people having a bonk fest on Lord Howe Island, inspired by the cute footy player. One of my friends just did the overall story read (and found my bad ending - I get all flustered when finishing) and said the sex was a whole lot of fun.

This got me sex usually a whole lot of fun?

I didn't consider that I'd written fun sex. I deliberately made this story more light-hearted that deeply emotional. Sometimes, as a reader, I get overdone by the angst in stories, or the heavy conflict, and I wanted to write something that was upbeat and uplifting. Something where the sex was competitive in a good-natured way. I wanted an erotic story that focused on sex. My couple never have sex the same way - and that was a bit of a challenge. At times I thought about making their holiday shorter! But by the end, I was enjoying the creativity and wishing I was in Samantha's place!

Samantha and Cooper have a lot of outdoors sex. I think that's one of the fun aspects - that thrill of being risqué and the fear of being caught. I wish I had their courage (and their body) to bonk outdoors. There's something quite wonderful about open spaces...but for everyone's sake I'll confine my authorly body to clothing!

So, I'm back to the story to fix up the end...and I might just try for one more fun sex scene :)

What's the sex scene you remember as the most 'fun' (real or fictional)?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - Sea Eagle

On our recent Western Australia holiday, Mr E spied this Sea Eagle nest and pair. In many of the towns, there seemed to be roosting pads on the top of poles especially for nests, which is a fabulous idea (actually, I think WA had some brilliant eco-friendly ideas).

It's called the White-Breasted Sea-Eagle, and also the white-bellied sea-eagle, the white-breasted fish-hawk. It is on the threatened species list in many of the eastern Australian states, with an estimate of only 500 pairs in Australia in the wild.

The White-bellied Sea-Eagle is found in coastal habitats (especially those close to the sea-shore) and around terrestrial wetlands in tropical and temperate regions of mainland Australia and its offshore islands. The habitats occupied by the sea-eagle are characterised by the presence of large areas of open water (larger rivers, swamps, lakes, the sea). Birds have been recorded in (or flying over) a variety of terrestrial habitats.

The birds can live for up to 30 years, although there's a high mortality rate amongst the young. They breed in solitary and monogamous pairs that mate for life. However, if one member of the pair dies, it is quickly replaced.

Egg incubation lasts 6 weeks and is mostly carried out by the female, however both pairs feed the young who remain in the nest for 65-70 days. They are fed for 3 months after being fledged (taught to fly/kicked out of nest), and after another month, are chased out of the pair's breeding ground.

They feed opportunistically on a variety of fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and crustaceans, and on carrion and offal. They hunt from on high, swooping in for their prey (unless they're the carrion or offal!).

They're quite magnificent birds. We have a few on the river near here too and I always love seeing them. They're so haughty and majestic.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Story - a little rant on 'coming out'

Just need to have a little rant today.

I went to Book Club this week to discuss Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. It was a book I'd read some time in my youth and I picked up all the feminism stuff then, but reading it now, as a writer, all the writing stuff is so pertinent. It was magical to read about the history of women's writing and the theories Virginia Woolf gave as to why women did not write before the 1800s. I loved to see myself along that chain of women who because of the hard work women did in the past, I can now write. I carry the legacy forward and so my writing needs to reflect that history in some way.

I haven't "come out" to my Book Group about my writing for a few reasons - one being that they're mostly in their 70s and I'm not sure erotic writing is something I'm comfortable discussing with them. Another reason is for the fact that some of the birds in the group denigrate romance writing openly and scathingly, and with no foundation. And there's another woman who writes and I'm sick to death of hearing about her writing all the time (which is her autobiography).

Tonight I thought was the perfect opportunity to confess and to explain how this book touched me so deeply. However, before it was my turn to speak, we had a woman say, " Barbara Cartland and all that junk." Not long later she said, "...oh, the Mills and Boon rubbish..." and then in another breath, "...most romance should never be published...". But the best was, "I was so shocked to find The Story of O was written by a woman." When asked why, she explained that women should never have such fantasies. It was "disgusting" (her word). NOTE: I was pleased to see most women had read this book!

I have to say that there isn't a huge amount of support for her views (she's quite loud and most of us try to ignore her) but it's this brash, loud, negativity which stops a lot of conversations - not only me with my writing, but maybe there are readers there too, or others with things she dismisses so easily. I know there are romance readers in our group because the romance comment came after someone asked for romance titles.

I know she is only one woman, but a very loud one. I don't do well with that sort of person.

There's a need to be in contact with 'readers' so that people hear about my books and will buy them, or read them. But how do we get in touch with readers? And do we need to be selective about who we call our 'readers'.

I am very cautious about who is told about my writing. I have some aunts who I know would be horrified, and I chose not to tell them exactly what I write. My Dad isn't quite so selective - he just tells them I'm writing, mentions erotica and I'm not sure what happens, if they think he has it muddled up, or if they think they heard wrong, but nothing else gets said (or not to me).

I did point out to Dad the other day that the local Catholic priest's housekeeper is unlikely to want to read my book. He was a bit shocked.
"Why not?" he asks, in all naivety.
"It's called 'The Virginity Mission', Dad, do you really think a Catholic priest's housekeeper is going to want to read about sex? About a girl trying to lose her virginity?"
"Oh, I didn't think of that," says my Dad.
I mean what planet is he on?

My sisters on the other hand, are not at all like my Dad, and are more like some aunts. I had magnets made with my last book cover. I offered them to my sisters for their fridge, friends, etc. They declined. I asked if they were too embarrassed to have such a racy cover on their fridge (being funny) - but they are. Then one sister confessed that in a drunken moment she had told her friends what I wrote, and while they roared with laughter, my sister cringed. When I asked why she wouldn't give my magnets to her friends, she said it was just all too embarrassing.

And that's what it is. Sex is all too embarrassing. For all I try to think it isn't. For all I try to treat it as a normal every day subject, society doesn't (or not the one I live in!).

But my openness about sex has been useful. I could give my sister some information about females who can pee standing up!

So... will I ever come out to all people? No. I can't see that ever happening.

And you know what makes me saddest about that... I'm only writing erotic fiction. What if I was trying to announce my sexuality? How confronting must that be?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Phallic Friday - sex in romance novels

I've been having a good chuckle about this post He of the Mighty Wang, by Amy Andrews.

In the post, she says that she feels 'ripped off' if the hero in a romance novel isn't hugely endowed and doesn't bring the heroine to a huge orgasm. This made me laugh. I've always wondered why the heroes in romances are so big sometimes it makes my eyes water - even though I'm only reading!

In my pondering about writing and sex, I've been thinking that it needs to be kind of real (especially with the condom debate). I mean, if the condom has to be on to promote safe sex, shouldn't we be making things a little real? Like he comes before her, he is 'normally' endowed, they laugh during sex, it can be messy and confronting and confusing. 

But then should we go so far as to have someone fart, or have shaving rash, or a headache? Should sex be awkward the first time, when you may not be in tune, when things just don't fit easily, where you're self-conscious or overwhelmed?

There's a fine line between doing what's real and playing at fantasies.

As a reader, I didn't realised that the hugely hung hero was all myth until AA's article. I thought it was a fantasy but that there must be some hugely-hung men. I've spent some years looking for the stallion man - unsuccessfully too.

Do we have an obligation to readers to have some heroes who are more on the normal side of penis size - but still give wicked orgasms?

I admit, I'd feel ripped off if the hero's cock was something to be held between the heroine's fingertips... but does he need stallion proportions?Something for me to ponder.

Let me know how you feel... or if you've noticed this huge phenomenon.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - emu

Why did the emu cross the road?

I have no idea...but I did snap a photo, through the windscreen!

I've lived in western NSW where it's always been my fear that I'll collect an emu while hurtling down the road. So far I've been lucky and only collected a roo or two. I imagine all those feathers with an emu, those big long legs, that pointy beak, and all of it about windscreen height in my 2WD ute, so I'd always dreaded the thought of an emu in my face. I know, I have ghoulish thoughts.

But anyway, this emu and mate, scooted across the road as we were zooming through WA. No chicks, they're kind of fun to see. These two sauntered across and then when they hit the scrub, they took off full pelt, so my photo of them in the scrub has missing emus! Why they'd saunter across the dangerous part and run manically in the non-dangerous part, amused me.

Emu facts:
  • Emus can't fly
  • Emus are the second largest bird in the world, after the ostrich
  • Emus can grow to 2m tall, weigh 55 kg, and run at 50 km/hr for short stretches.
  • Female emus lay the eggs
  • Male emus sit on the eggs for 40-60 days, during which time he doesn't eat or drink. When the eggs hatch, he looks after the chicks for up to 18 months!
  • Emus eat grass, insects, fruit and seeds
  • Emu eggs are large and green in colour
  • Emus, like kangaroos, can't walk/run backwards

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Story

I'm reading Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own for my book club. I'm sure I read it about twenty-five years ago because there is a lot of familiarity but I started it again today, after I'd done my tax return. I could not have timed my reading any worse.

My tax return was a dismal thing because I earn less than I spend (and aside from books and the mortgage, I don't spend much) - and doing my tax, it seemed I earned less than I had to pay the damn tax office. So I was feeling miserable - underpaid, under appreciated, etc etc.- and I hoped Ms Woolf's writing would pick me up.

The theme of Virginia Woolf's book is Women and Fiction, and one of the most well-known phrases from the book is,  "...a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction..."

Well, obviously I struggle with money as do so many other writers I know (many of them women), and then this week, the Wonkomance girls have a fabulous post about the places people write - see it here. And many of the women who have included a photo here, do not have a room of their own.

I read a section where Virginia Woolf says she imagines in a century, all she's saying may be different and women may be true equals and have rights the same as men. Eighty five years on, I think she'd be sorry at how we haven't achieved all that much, and are still having the same 'women need more' debates. Although, there have been so many changes for women since 1928, maybe I'm wrong and she'd see them and be pleased. I just got the feeling she thought a century would see a huge change or even a reversal in the treatment of women.

So, I'm off to go and finish the discourse on women and fiction. I hope it doesn't continue to drag me into the pits of despair where I wonder why I'm doing the things I love, when they earn me so little. Maybe I need to go back to serious work where I earned at least four times what I do now. Life is tough sometimes.

Spur me onwards Virginia Woolf! I want to keep writing fiction.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Phallic Friday - writing sex scenes

Yesterday I had twenty minutes before I met my friend for lunch. She works at the library, so I thought I’d browse and find a book but I wasn't in a book finding mood (yeah, this happens but rarely, don't worry, it will pass).

So I grab a carrel (is that what they're called the slightly boxed in little desks?) and decide to write. I'm up to a juicy bit, flesh on flesh sex, the commitment scene. It's intense and I've been thinking about this scene for weeks, so it's ready to rush from my fingertips. Off I go, typing away on my iPad mini, feeling the raunch of naked sex on the beach after a hard won battle to get from a fling to a relationship. And I freeze.

There are kids here.

There’s a kid roaming around looking for a power point for his laptop. A family are opposite me, two kids planning with their mum how long they can leave the dad in the library.

What the hell happened? Why are there so many damn kids in the library?(Yes, it is school holidays but being kid-free, I temporarily forgot that!)

And women write this at home with their children? How? How do you not panic that some kid will inadvertently read a 'fuck' or 'cock' as you type it?

Now there's an old lady standing behind me. Is she reading over my shoulder? Am I paranoid? Oh dear god, everyone's out to read my scintillating words as I type them!

I laugh.

Time's up.

At least I wrote this blog post. The skin on skin scene can wait till I'm at home in my office where no one can read my thoughts.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - dolphins

Nicky, the dolphin, who visits daily and is in her 30s
It's always been a dream of mine to go to Monkey Mia, Western Australia, and see the dolphins (well, as a dream, it was more like swim with the dolphins and find out I'm the world's greatest dolphin whisperer - all due to a crazy woman at Sea World when I was 18 but that's another story!). In August, I went and it was better than my dreams.

70 people stood along the shore waiting for the dolphins on the morning I went (and that's a small crowd). We weren't allowed in the water, unless directed. We were not to touch the dolphins or make a lot of noise or splashing. There were quite a lot of 'rules' and only a few DEC staff to enforce them. And do you know what? People obeyed. People were lovely. People were in awe of the dolphins. People of all nationalities, all manner of tongues, stood there and admired nature's beauty. And that's what impressed me more than anything else. The dolphins made humans behave (yes, I'm a horrid cynic about people on mass).

So let me share some of the Monkey Mia story.

In the 1960s fishermen started feeding the dolphins when they came in. The dolphins began to expect the fishermen and waited for a feed - easy feeding here!

Dolphins can be identified by body markings or nicks and cuts in their fins. One dolphin, Holeyfin, was identified for over 20 years appearing every day for a feed. In 1995, she was found dead from a stingray barb to the heart (like Steve Irwin), she was 35 years old.

Nicky and her calf (near side, halfway down body)
Her daughter is Nicky, who is in these photos. Nicky comes daily for a feed and has lost many of her calves due to her need to be in shallow water to feed. Calves can only feed in deeper water and want to suckle every 10 minutes - yep... imagine that!? (I think they can manage not suckling for a longer period, especially when older but not sure of this!) On the morning we were there, her calf kept coming in to get her to go out and feed him/her but she wasn't interested until she got fed, which took about 30 minutes.

Sometime in the late 1990s-early 2000s, DEC (Department Environment and Conservation; or whatever they may be called now as that was changing) changed the management of Monkey Mia, which had been run to suit humans and not dolphins. Research had shown some of the ways Monkey Mia worked was terrible for the dolphins (causing stress, making females lose calves, etc). So now, rather than people all feeding the dolphins heaps of fish, all in the water and making a lot of noise, a DEC staff member walks up and down the line of people standing in the shallows and talks about the dolphins. Nicky follows the DEC staff member until the fish are thawed and then a selection of the crowd are invited to feed 3 fish to whichever dolphins come in for a feed (on our morning there were 3 dolphins to feed - Nicky, Puck and Surprise).

This means the dolphins aren't stressed, they get their feed (but they still need to go hunting to get their quota for the day - which means they teach their young to feed and hunt), they aren't chased by people, people get to see and photograph them up close, and the females go back out to deeper water to feed their calves. Win-win.
Dolphin and calves

So from 8 am to 12 noon, there are 3 feeding periods for the dolphins. We went early and caught the first sighting and first feeding. I expected I'd want to stay for the whole show, but I didn't. I'd seen the majesty of the dolphins, I'd experienced the best of humanity, and I was happy to head off to the next great adventure.

I'm not sure I'll ever forget my morning at Monkey Mia. If you have the chance of going, it is quite special. And with only the mothers coming in for a feed now, I wonder if the calves will take over their role when the mothers die. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Player of the Year

The NRL (rugby league in Australia) has the Dally M awards, where an award is give to the best player in each position, the best captain, coach, rookie, representative player and ultimately the Player of the Year.

Tonight was the night of nights and my latest story inspiration was in with a good chance - but he has been for a few years now and not won this award.

But tonight he won! And I feel like celebrating - even though I don't go for his team, don't know him, and it's probably more than a little creepy to write an erotic story about someone you've never met. But anyhow...

Cooper Cronk is the 2013 Player of the Year!


Now I just need to finish the damn story :)

PS Just thought I should add... it's not just cos he's cute and has awesome muscles that he caught my attention. He's a master on the footy field. He dictates play, reads the game so he knows what's happening ahead of time, and has a kicking game with this awesome pin-point accuracy, which takes hours and hours and years and years of practice to perfect. In the 1980s Peter Sterling brought out the same feelings - guess I haven't really grown up!

Dally M Awards
Here's a picture from of him at the awards ceremony.