Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - cocoon

He's fallen on the ground and hanging on when I try to move it
I have a strange tale to tell today - and I'm afraid I don't look like much of an animal lover in it, but I should confess all.

And he's showing me he can move himself thanks!
I saw a cocoon hanging from my verandah roof the other evening. I noted it. That was all. It was blowing a gale that night and next morning, the cocoon was on the ground (middle of the verandah). I just wasn't sure if it had blown off, or if Mr E had assisted it (he hates things like that on his territory), so I went to pick it up. But there was a bug inside who didn't take too kindly to my meddling. I left him.

A few hours later, he'd hiked across the verandah to my thongs (at the front door). So I helped him by placing my thong in the garden, in a shrub, so he could hook onto that and be happy...or so I thought.

What do I find the next day? He's hanging on my roof again!! And boy, he must have cursed me because he would have had to hike all across the verandah again to crawl up the wall, unless he went up a verandah post.

How bad did I feel!?

Can you see him hanging from the roof? And the journey from ground to thongs, to garden and then roof. Oops!

So...what is he?

Up close
A native Saunders' Case Moth, Metura elongatus. According to the ever trusty Google. Some sites are here and here.)

Case moths spin their cases out of silk and most species attach leaves, twigs, sand or soil to the outside for protection and camouflage. 

Case moths spend most of their lives in the caterpillar phase; this part of their life cycle can last 1-2 years. As caterpillars, they never leave their cases. However, they can be very mobile, dragging their large cocoons along as they move around. If they feel threatened they can seal off the end of the cocoon, cutting a new opening once the threat has passed. The females continue to live in their cases after they’ve pupated into adult moths, but the males leave their cases after pupation to fly off in search of females.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Story - repackaging and bundling

One month countdown...

My first little story, A Real Online Fantasy, is getting a new life. Momentum are bundling up the 14 Hot Down Under titles into 4 bundles and re-branding, re-packaging, and sending them out to the world again! Although the little story sells well for me, apparently it could sell better - and I'm keen to see that!

I'm bundled up with three incredible stories: Rhyll Biest's Australia Day cane toad race story, A Sporting Chance, Kylie Scott's zombie apocalyptic action story, Room With A View, and Keziah Hill's arty threesome, Business With Pleasure.

There are 3 other delicious bundles, all with really sexy covers, available from May 27.

I'll post the cover when I can...but I think you'll like it :)

This will be the start of drowning in Cate Ellink stories. I'll also have releases in July (Submission short story), September (Deep Diving) and November (a wicked story). Hope you won't be sick of me by then!

Friday, April 25, 2014


Photo from: Gallery 2007
Each year on 25 April, Australians honour the sacrifice defence personnel have made throughout our nation's history.

This date was chosen as it represents the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in World War I. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp.

On April 25, 1915, Aussies and Kiwis formed part of the Allied expedition to capture the Gallipolli peninsula. They went in expecting to claim the peninsula and march to Constantinople, thus capturing the capital of the Ottoman empire. Instead, they met heavy military fire and were trapped by the sea behind them and mountains full of the enemy ahead of them. These soldiers dug in, for eight months, and although 8000 were killed, they left behind a legacy of the strength and determination of the ANZAC troops.

On ANZAC day, not only do we honour these men, but all men and women who have fought in all wars, particularly those who lost their lives.

I'm not one for early starts, but ANZAC day has the tradition of a dawn service, as this was when the troops first mounted the attack on Gallipolli. So, for one day a year, I try not to whinge too much when my alarm bleats at me. I rug up and try not to shiver as the dawn sneaks up on the darkness. I try not to shed tears as we remember those who have fallen, and as I watch those who have returned march along the road in the darkness, old but full of pride. As the bugle plays, and the chills race down my spine, I try to focus on what these men gave to leave me with the country I have today. It's a powerful morning. One I wouldn't miss.

Lest We Forget.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - butterfly

This is an Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly and this website of Earthwatch helped me get the identification. The Australian Museum site calls him just an Orchard Butterfly.

He was in my backyard the other day and I'd been trying to photograph him as he flittered and fluttered about - with no luck (well, you could see a blur, maybe a blob).

Then I went out the back for something else and he was having a rest hanging on these leaves. Rushed inside for the camera, thinking I'd never get the shot, and voila! Really could not believe he waited for me!

Oh, the Museum website says the males are territorial and will chase away anything black and white - even magpies! Wow. Maybe all that flit and fluttering was him chasing away the magpies and peewees who live around my yard.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Story - The Outback Heart

Wave Rock, 2005
I have a soft spot for rural romance but this book is extra special. It's not only rural, but about grief, death, illness and transplants. It's also about small towns, the changing face of agriculture and football, of the AFL variety. And it's set in WA (just for Lily!).

Troy is the new footy coach for the town of Hyden, Western Australia (location of Wave Rock).

Indianna was instrumental in organising for Troy to come to town. She's a footy tragic and I love her.

Indi's struggling to find her place after leaving uni and coming home to care for her Mum who had cancer, and then her Mum's death. It's two years since her Mum died, and Indi's still doing everything her Mum did, plus working full time in a job she loves at the grain handling facility.

websiteTroy had viral cardiomyopathy as a kid and has a heart transplant, he can't play footy but he can coach. He's a footy tragic too. His previous girlfriend, also a heart transplant recipient, has died and he's struggling to cope, not only with her death, but his mortality. He's pushed everyone away from him and has become a nomad, never staying anywhere long.

This is a really moving story, not only Indi and Troy's struggles with grief but it also tells of the struggles of a small town where the population is decreasing. Where tourism and itinerant workers don't build community, and the decline in agricultural workers means a loss of the social fabric of the town. It's a heart breaker of a story.

But, I have to add that a friend of mine recently had a tragedy in her family, and her son-in-law became an organ donor. She also read the book. So my heart break could be linked to those circumstances too, not just the story itself.

If you like rural romances, and moving stories, this is a great one.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Phallic Friday - women who love sex

I'm writing a story at the moment about a woman who loves sex. She has no shame. She picks up and enjoys the time spent with the man she's with. She's completely in the moment. Enjoying the person she is with. It's so liberating!

This is kind of crazy, right? I mean I write about sex. My people have sex all the time, especially in Deep Diving. So what's different this time?

My girl this time, Lana, is a cougar. She knows what she wants and she goes out to get it. I think the liberating thing, for me, is that she's not after a relationship. For her, the relationship is the now. The sex. What she can do for the boys she picks up. How she can 'educate' them.

She knows what she's after and she's up-front about it.

She's strong.

As I'm writing, part of me wishes I was her. So strong, independent, courageous.

But deep down, is she alone, or lonely? You'd think so, wouldn't you...but I don't think Lana is. She seems above that.

I don't know anyone like this. I must be tapping into something inside of me to find her. It's incredible. This is the joy I get from writing - finding things that make me buzz.

As a society we admonish women like Lana. Makes me wonder how this story will go down!

How do you feel about Lana?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - orchid beetle

I can't believe these photos, so I had to share.

This crucifix orchid (Epidendrum spp.) grows near my mailbox - in this brilliant purple colour, and also red and orange. It's beautiful but wild!

The other day as I got my mail, I noticed this tiny beetle on the flower. The flowers are only a couple of centimetres long, so he's little. I ducked back into the house to grab my camera, and the beetle was still there!

The next day, he was still there but the flowers were vanishing.

A couple of days later and the beetle (I guess) has devoured the whole growing tip and there are no flowers left at all on that spike. He must have sucked the sap out of the plant from that growing point, killing the flowers.

Now, I've found what he is! The Orchid Beetle (Kind of obvious, huh!)

The Orchid Beetle is of concern to amateur and commercial gardeners as it feeds on the leaves and flowers of orchids, leaving them disfigured and unattractive. The recommedation is to kill them because they breed rapidly and can kill off your orchid. Oops! I only took a photo :)

The Orchid Beetle is about 1 cm long according to the Australian Museum website. And they don't have much information about this guy - and their photo of him has a big pin in it - just in case you want to see a pinned beetle!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Story - book ratings

Nothing Left to LoseI've been reading Nothing Left To Lose by Kirsty Moseley this week. I'm pretty sure I picked it up as a free book, and I grabbed it because of it's cover and the high star ratings.

The start of this book is horrifying, shocking and fast.

Anna is 16 and loves Jack, her best friend. He organises fake ID and takes them to a club for her 16th birthday - which I didn't think much of until I realised this was America, and it's not a 2 year age jump but a 5 year age jump! (but anyway).

They meet Carter, a criminal, who takes a liking to Anna and Jack's not happy about this. But Carter always gets what he wants and kills Jack so he can have Anna. It's horrifying.

Then we jump three years and find out Anna was kidnapped and kept by Carter for 10 months. She's severely traumatised and is largely non-functioning. Completely understandable.

Ashton, a newly graduated SWAT officer, is assigned undercover duty as her body guard and pretend boyfriend.

Up until here I was riveted to the story.

The book is large, maybe 120K or so (I'm guessing here). From this point on, my imagination's being asked to stretch and sometimes it's a big stretch. (eg we're told her parents love her and she loves them ... but I can't ever see that love. They largely ignore her, they can't speak with her and she's free to do what she wants like exercise until she almost dies. They just don't notice her.)

Anna and Ashton are a cute couple and the writing is generally okay, so I kept going. There's lots of tension in the story - sexual, and tension about Carter harming Anna.

By about 1/3 into the story, I was waiting for something to happen. Anna and Ashton's relationship is a great read but the suspense is hanging heavy. I'm waiting.

By about halfway, I'm still waiting but I'm getting a bit bored because there's so much promise with the suspense and the tension, but nothing's happening. I could nearly have stopped reading here because I was frustrated...but the 5 star reviews convinced me that something would happen.

By 3/4 of the book, I'm really annoyed. It's still rolling along with nothing happening. Lots of promises not delivered upon. I started to believe it would be all 'fake' tension and nothing would happen at all.

And then there are 2 huge chapters (or maybe 3, it's not much out of 50-something chapters) where it's action aplenty.

Then we go back to Anna and Ashton and a 'nice' story, with the HEA.

I was left completely confused by a story that had such promise, and for me didn't deliver. But maybe my expectations were too high. It was a nice story. It had lots of tension and suspense. It was a romance. There were bits of action.

I went on Goodreads to see how others felt. This book has HEAPS of 5 star reviews. Most of the reviews are 5 stars. Then there are a few people who gave it 1 star and felt like I did. There weren't a lot of medium stars. It was a love it or hate it book.

I wouldn't give it 1 star - ever. It was a good story, well written, but I felt it needed to be cut down to keep the action happening. But then why? I wanted action and delivery. Hundreds of other people loved it exactly as it is. And that's what confuses me. Obviously my taste isn't like the majority - but there are people with similar taste to me.

And that's what ratings are about - personal opinion. Makes the world interesting, huh? :)

Have you read this book? Have an opinion on book ratings?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Phallic Friday - attitudes to sex

I've been thinking a bit lately about people's attitudes to sex.

I wish I could formulate my thoughts but they seem all twisted and convoluted. So let me give you some instances and see if I can sort out my thoughts.

I write rather explicit sex scenes, and it doesn't bother me. I don't feel strange writing it. I could sit and quite openly talk about the writing process, or how characters take you on different sexual journeys. I can discuss sexual topics without too much cringing. I don't know how I'm like that.

And because I'm like that, I've no idea how to handle people who are embarrassed by what I write, embarrassed to talk about sex, and horrified by the word 'erotic'.

Sex is a normal part of life. I don't see that it's something to be ashamed about. And maybe it's the scientist in me that breaks it down to that and gets past the cringe-factor.

I was raised a fairly strict Catholic - so sex before marriage was a huge sin. Of course, I committed it. And it wasn't something I regretted. In my eyes it wasn't a sin, not something I was prepared to be sorry for, repent about, or ask forgiveness for. It was between me and him, and no one else need know about it. So I had a bit of a mind change.

A mind change isn't so easy, but I was relatively young and had always been asking questions about religion and not getting decent answers, so for me, I was halfway toward giving the views I'd been raised with the flick. The sex before marriage being a sin only sealed the deal.

Tonight at book club we were discussing Allain de Botton's Religion for Atheists, and the topic of Catholic guilt came up. I said I'd kicked mine. When I was asked when, I had to think... hard... and it brought me to this. I kicked Catholic guilt when I decided sex before marriage wasn't something to be guilty about.

And maybe that's how I have my relaxed attitude to sex. Maybe the years spent examining my childhood teachings, and discarding those I didn't feel fitted for me, were worthwhile. They've led me to writing what I enjoy - erotic stories!

It's been a interesting journey.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - babies?

Egg laying, January 2014
Back in January, I had a surreal experience in seeing a water dragon laying eggs. You can see the post here and I popped the photo on here - such a wonder!

The other day I was around the same area (walking down the track to the beach) when I came across these two little guys.

They were maybe 6 cm long (about 1/3 of the adult female). Not exactly where the eggs were laid, but close by.

Posing Water Dragon, March 2014
It was an exciting moment to see the young after seeing eggs being laid. I know the chances of them being hatched from the eggs I watched being laid, are slim, but still, life cycles are wonderful.

Young Water Dragon, March 2014
I loved the guy who posed for me. He was fearless - maybe it's a she :)

More photos than words today - hope you don't mind!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Story - writing lessons

Don't doubt - you can make it!
In this world of publishing, so much happens behind closed doors and with 'secrecy'. You have to wait until contracts are signed, before announcing new books. Sometimes you have to work on new stories in a shroud on secrecy. You get lost in your world of creating and waiting, creating and waiting. Sometimes you're floundering and you forget the thrill of readers reading and relating to your stories.

This week the writing world has given me some lessons. Lessons I will no doubt forget, but if I write them here, I have a better chance of finding them next time I forget!

I got royalty statements this week, which shows how many books you've sold, and if you're lucky, you may get paid. My lesson: people do buy my books. I never know. My sales aren't great so I don't really change Amazon rank, and they aren't recorded on Novel Rank any more because they're low. So it's a mystery. Books are there but who knows what happens behind the screen. But now I do! Even after 18 months, my short story A Real Online Fantasy is selling copies, which means people are reading what I write. And that is such a thrill.

This week, I was asked to do some collaboration. This is exciting and terrifying all at once. I was stoked to be asked, but scared about pulling my weight. My lesson: Make friends, you never know when you can help each other. I'm not too bad at collecting people, even though I'm a bit of a hermit. I don't collect lots of life-long bosom-buddy friends, but I have lots of friendly acquaintances/friends. I'm the person who sends Christmas cards and wishes to a heap of people and some of them, that's our only contact all year. But I like knowing that they came into my life for a reason, and I like to acknowledge that they're still a big part of me. It may seem corny, but I appreciate people who've done something for me.

I've also learned to trust my writing process. When things haven't gone so well, I've tried other things but now I've found a way that works for me, and I'm beginning to trust it. This week my trust got tested, but I stuck with it and was rewarded. So, My Lesson: trust my writing process.

It's been a bit of a huge week, and dealt me up one more writing lesson - My Lesson: Don't doubt yourself. I've been working on something for over 5 years. I didn't follow the normal path (of course, it's me!) and I've had no success because of this. But persistence, good encouraging friends, and much work, has finally meant that someone connected with my story. I was at a real decision point with this and if I didn't have positive feedback, I thought I'd have to succumb and change what I wanted to do (conform). But now I don't. And I'm keen to see how my idea works (or doesn't). But in the world of secrecy, I can't tell you more :)

Does the world ever hit you with a week's worth of writing lessons?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Phallic Friday - erotic dreams

Do you dream? I'm a dreamer. Almost every night I have a dream (or multiple dreams) that I mostly remember. Often they make completely no sense at all, but sometimes they're good for stories! Sometimes I even have the most erotic dream where I wake all hot and sweaty, and bloody disappointed!! :)

Lately, I've been having a few of those erotic dreams that have my heart racing, sweat beading on my skin, and tingles running through me. My lover isn't anyone I know, well, not really. The damn hero out of Deep Diving has taken residence in my brain. How the hell has he done that?

Last night, I met him in a pre-planned surprise my husband organised (and if that ever happens, someone has actually swapped my husband with a stranger!). It was incredible. The pre-planned surprise ended up being exact scenes from my book - and drat, no, not the sex! We had a swim and lunch on the beach. The exact lunch in my story. The swim wasn't the same as the story, it was at a local beach here, not on Lord Howe.

A few weeks back, I had the hot steamy dream with DD's hero, but it wasn't exactly like the book and I woke waaaaayyyyy too soon. He's popped in a few times like that. But last night was weird. It wasn't sex, it was the getting to know you stuff. But I didn't learn anything new. So why did he come visit?

All my other story heroes have taken their ending and gone. Even if I've only written a scene for them, they've accepted that and gone. And my stories don't always end happily ever after. Sometimes it's just a one-off sex encounter (like Pain Surfer) - and the surfer dude is long gone. In A Real Online Fantasy, I left it open for a second installment by not having his fantasy fulfilled... yet he's gone. In The Virginity Mission, I never thought Mac and Jason would end up married forever - he's her first love and I wasn't convinced they last forever - but they were both happy where I left them. In DD, Sam must be happy because she's gone. But him? No. He's still annoying me - in the nicest possible ways :)

What do you do to get rid of your dream lover? How do you cope with hot, steamy dreams that are burned on your mind for the rest of the day? Anyone had any experience with this? Or have I totally lost my marbles this time?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - deep diving whales

No idea what whale this is, but I think it's a whale :)
Oh WOW! I just read this news article (here) that says scientists have been studying whales off California and have recorded a Cuvier's Beaked Whale diving to a depth of 3.2km. WOW! Just wow!

Imagine the water pressure at that depth? It says it's equivalent of 320 atmospheres.

And the longest dive lasted for 137 minutes - yep, over 2 hours!

That's some feat!

They recorded 1100 dives, with the average being 1.4km. That's a lot of diving.

This fascinates me. We don't really know much about the inhabitants of the ocean. But why would a whale dive that far? It would have to be chasing food, right? Big giant squid of the deep?

We have these whales around Australia, they know this because of strandings, not sightings. Here's some Aussie info on them.

They're about 8m long for females, up to 10m for males.

They like deep water and are rarely found in waters less than 1km deep (and after the diving info, this is understandable, any shallower would be boring for them :) ).

Oh, they eat mostly oceanic squid. And one found off Victoria had up to 500 individual squid in its stomach. That's a LOT of squid.

I wonder if they chase a big squid to those depths, or if there was a huge mass of squid down there that the whale went down to eat.

Nature is fascinating :)