Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Black Swan

Today's Wildlife Wednesday is the Black Swan, the bird emblem of Western Australia, which makes me think of Lily Malone :)

We had Black Swans here on our river when we first moved here 6 years ago. Then the river opened up into the ocean (14 months ago) and the swans vanished, or maybe it was before that happened, but it was around then.

But they're back. The river closed up and within a few weeks, the Black Swans were back. So I took some photos for Wildlife Wednesday.

The Australia Museum says that Black Swans pair for life, and that they're the only entirely black coloured swan in the world.

I always think their red beak with a white tip/stripe, always looks painted!

Here's some info from Pizzey (A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Graham Pizzey):

Right way up (left) and inverted while feeding (right)
Swans are the largest waterfowl

Their long necks allow them to reach underwater vegetation

Black swans are highly nomadic

They build a nest from a heap of reeds, grasses or weeds, that is 1m to 1.5 m in diameter! They lay 4-7 eggs that are greenish-white in colour.

After breeding, they moult, and become temporarily flightless.

A raft of Black Swans

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Story - reading hampering writing

I've always been a prolific reader - of any book at all, I'm not fussy, I just want to read. Even when I started writing this was the case. Actually, right up until this last year or so, I don't think I changed much.

And now, something has changed but I'm not entirely sure what it is, or how to cope with it!

I can no longer read books that bore me, that I find lacking (in character, story or writing craft), or those that just don't interest me. I've become quite ruthless with my 'did not finish' and no longer feel guilt. Until some months ago, I could count the number of books I hadn't finished on one hand, now, well, it's not something to count.

And converse to this, when I read a fabulous book, one that captivates me, transports me to a new world, wraps the characters around me like old friends, and makes me breathless with their word choices and descriptions... then I'm frozen. I'm no longer seeking out those books because they freeze my writing. They make me question what I'm doing. They make me feel lacking and incompetent.

A friend of mine reads the middle-of-the-road books while she writes and sticks the fabulous ones in when she's between stories. I didn't understand this - and now I do.

Reading was always my escape from the world. Now it's a torment. I'm judgemental as well as paralysed by greatness. I read to learn craft. I read to compare mine to theirs. I read to master things I don't do well. And it's rare for a book to make me escape these thoughts. I'm going to have to be choosy about what I read, and when I read them.

I could never understand people who read less and wrote more... now of course, I not only understand that decision, but I'm going to have to join them. Life always gives me these lessons - the ones where I have to eat my words (or thoughts)!

Do you have problems with reading and writing?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Phallic Friday - swearing and erotica

So, I've been thinking about submitting an excerpt of my Deep Diving story to this blog but they don't accept profanity. I didn't think that was a problem because I don't have characters who swear a lot - sure they swear sometimes, but not heaps.

And then I started going through some excerpts. They want an erotic scene. Deep Diving has more than a few of those since it covers 11 days and they pretty much have sex every day. Sometimes Cooper says, "Fuck," during or after sex, so that ruled out two scenes. I narrowed it down to three scenes I was tossing up between.

And then I saw "cunt" and "cock". In erotic writing I wouldn't class them as profanity because I'm not using them as swearing but as a word to describe a body part. But, technically, it's profanity.

So I had to search again. And it wasn't good. Not a lot of swearing but a lot of those profane body parts.

And this is always the problem for me, I really don't like euphemistic words so that narrows down the word choices I have for sexual body parts. And saying "penis" and "vagina" are okay once in a while, but then I start to feel like I'm writing a medical text book, not a story.

So... Profanity or descriptive word? What's your take? And does it bother you when reading erotica and people swear? Do you have words you cringe upon reading/using?

My challenge over the next couple of weeks is going to be to write an erotic sex scene without profanity. And that will be a challenge!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - centipedes and millipedes

I went on a bug finding trip around my Dad's house with my nephew who is 6. We didn't have a bug catcher but a camera, so it was a lot different to a bug trip of my youth!

Anyway, we found a lot, and it kept him entertained for an hour or so. His little sister came for a bit, but she lasted maybe 15 minutes, but that's kind of good for her!

Anyway, we found this millipede, who'd seen better days. But it was a fun bug to check out.

I wrote about centipede sex at the Naughty Ninjas, you can read it here. And I didn't share that information with my nephew :)

The difference between centipedes and millipedes is that centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment, and millipedes have two pairs of legs per body segment (milli for millions helps you remember that they have more legs - well, that's how I remember!).

If you want more info on these many legged critters, the Australian Museum has some great pages and photos. (I'm late posting this, was doing my very last HT newsletter).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Story - First Love

Ainslie Paton has a new book out on 1 August, Hooked on a Feeling, and it's a step back into the 70s, where love is groovy.

To celebrate her book release she's running a contest along, with AusRomToday, that mirrors a Woman's Weekly contest from the 70s. You an find out all the details here.

You have to write 400 words about your First Love.

Prizes are cash - $100, $50, $25 - and there are four judges, The Hard-Hearted might know one of them, it's me!

So, don't delay. It closes 1 August.

Get your fingers tapping and your heart pounding. Tell us about your first love :)

My first love: I think it was my dog, but if it has to be a person, I can't remember if it was a jockey or a footballer!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Phallic Friday - subincision

I was reading my Book Club book this month, Peter Goldsworthy's Three Dog Night, which was excellent, but I came across an interesting Phallic Friday thing. I wonder if my book club will discuss this...?

One of the characters in this book, Felix Johnson, has spent time in the Aboriginal communities out of Alice Springs, as a doctor (surgeon). He's undergone the initiation rites and during a discussion (with two other doctors, who are psychiatrists) about his chest scars, he rather brutally shows them his subincision scar by flopping out his penis.

In the book, the penis is described like this (by the other male present);
"He holds it pinched between thumb and fingers, as if by the scruff of its thick neck, half male organ, half some finned, winged thing. Reared up, turned inside out, it looks like nothing so much as a pink, filleted fish."

Felix continues by saying,
"'The old men use a razor these days instead of a stone knife, but it still needed four of them to hold me down.' ... 'One good thing. Women love it. Opens out like a giant butterfly.'"

So, I had to go look it up. I mean descriptions like that have you wanting to know, right? And there is a lot of stuff online, and to save you getting terrible ads, Lily, I've pasted the picture off Wikipedia here for you, but you can go to the page here. It's basically the cutting of the underside of the penis. It is thought to resemble the vulva, and the bleeding is like menstruation. In later years, the underside can be used for ritual bloodletting. Here's another site with more information on the ceremony and no graphic images.

I know a man with horrific chest scars from an initiation ceremony...but I don't know him this well! When I see him again, my mind is going to be wondering, but I'll never be brave enough to ask!

(Blogger requires me to remove this image)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - aquatic snails

This aquatic snail is photographed in my Dad's fishpond. Dad's been a prolific aquatic snail breeder and he has no idea how he does this! We bought him snails for a fish pond when we were kids and they went haywire - thousands of snails in a few weeks (maybe a slight exaggeration). He gave lots away and they kept multiplying. I think these snails I photographed are relatives of the snails we gave him 35 years ago!

Aquatic snails are important for the breakdown of dead animals and plants in water (their food source). They have a radula, which is a strip of chitonous teeth, which they use for rasping and grinding.

The secrete their own shell, growing it for their needs. They usually attach to plants or rocks in the water to keep their location, or else they could be washed away. They breathe through different methods, depending on type of snail - some have gills in their shell, some have air pockets in their shell, and some have an apparatus that is thought to be associated with breathing.

Some snails are hermaphrodites, but many are distinctly male or female. Snails have sex by an exchange of sperm packets and eggs in a gelatinous mass attached to a substrate. Raunchy, hey?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Story - A Place to Call Home

I've been watching a TV show called, A Place To Call Home, which has been on in Australia. It's an Aussie period drama, set just after WWII. It has a great cast and some fabulous characters. It's dealing with some topical issues like homosexuality, adoption, acceptance, inter-racial marriages, rich vs poor hierarchy, and the changing guard from the old matriarchal days to the new order of each for themselves. I've enjoyed each episode and the developing themes.

And then it got the chop.

Which was a shock to me because I thought it had been doing okay. But apparently it hadn't - or the viewers were the older age group and not the demographic they wanted. It's been sketchy as to why it got canned.

And then on Sunday night, watching the second last episode, I had a conspiracy moment thought. The story line is very much based on independent, free-thinking women and their struggles. Much has been said in romance social media worlds lately about romance being pushed to the outer because it deals with women's issues, not the traditional kind of literary theme of male or universal issues (although, arguably, love is universal!). So maybe I'm being coloured by this discussion but it was a thought.

Mrs Bligh - is the matriarch. She's so strong and willful, and used to getting her way...but the world is changing and it's not so easy for her to manipulate any longer. Even the power of the rich dynasties is being lost to this new world.

Sarah Adams - is the nurse who discovers too many Bligh family secrets. She's been held in Europe in a concentration camp and has seen and survived worse things than any of these people can imagine.

Anna Bligh - is the grand daughter who rebels in so many ways. She falls in love with an Italian, Catholic, of a poor family. His mother is a servant of the Blighs! And she thinks she can marry him? Mrs Bligh does everything to stop this happening.

Carolyn Bligh - she's Anna's aunt, but really her mother. As an unwed mother, she gave the child to her brother and his wife to raise, but the secret is revealed to some.

Regina - she's the sister of the dead Mrs Bligh the younger (Anna's 'mother'). She's rich, cold, calculating and completely evil. She'll do anything for power and fortune, anything at all.

Olivia Bligh - marries Anna's brother, James, before she knows James is gay and really in love with her brother. She's pregnant before she learns this, and her struggles to accept James when she has fallen in love with him are so powerfully drawn. She's a fabulous actress.

George Bligh and his son, James, are also depicted, as is the local Dr, Jack. And then there's a few males in minor roles. But really, it's the women and the changing role of women which drives this story... and I wonder if that is why it's not doing too well... does society want to know about women, their feelings, fights, emotions and struggles?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Phallic Friday - writers lunch threesome

Sorry my post is late again, Friday snuck up on me!

I went to lunch this week with a couple of writers - one is in RWA and one isn't. One male (RWA member) and the other female. We meet sporadically to cheer each other on, celebrate milestones, talk writing, and eat. One of the group had done a library talk that day, so we went to that and then had lunch afterwards at a cafe with outdoor seating so we could spread out and talk properly!

I had received in the mail the Submission book, so I'd taken it along for petting. And we were looking at it just as our lunch arrived. But I didn't really think anything of that until later.

So, our conversation turned to sex, because of the book initially, with a one-on-one sex writing assistance being discussed. We were laughing and being silly, as you do. Then we got onto more general sex discussion, like Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville, and other people in that vein. We talked about childhood and paedophilia - now and in the past. We talked about topical issues without really referring much to writing - incredible for writers, hey?

We finished lunch and chatting and stood to leave. The male in our group says, "Well, it was lovely to have a threesome again. I really enjoyed it." The other female says, "Oh, yes, I love our threesomes."

The waiter is hovering just behind them. I sneak a look at his face - stunned shock. He clears his throat. "Excuse me," he says, "I think I came in at the wrong end of that conversation."

We all laugh and the male member says, "Oh, you just don't know what you're missing."

We walk out, laughing a lot at the poor waiter's stunned, blushing face. He was probably in his 20s, we're two 40s women and the male is probably late 60s. Wonder if he heard any of the rest of our conversation? That would have been an education for him!

And so, an innocent writers lunch goes phallic... and I promise it wasn't all my doing!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - maybe an Australian Gannet

Gannet flying searching for food
The story of my life... I find this awesome animal (in this case a bird) and I think I know what it is and then I look up info and go to write it up here... and I have doubts, then serious doubts, then spend an hour going through what else it might be, and then finally confidence shattered!

So today's visitor is the Australian Gannet (but I thought it could have been a petrel or a shearwater, but now I'm leaning more to a gannet because petrels and shearwaters shouldn't be here in winter).

On Sunday we had a glorious day here and Mr E and I went for a lovely long beach walk (I had interval and he went for an even longer walk!). During my interval, I spent a lot of time watching these birds feeding. They were spectacular. I've chosen a series of photos here to display what I saw. Hope you enjoy them.

Diving - a closer pic

The splash after they've dived
Coming out of the water

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Story - Control

I have a short story, Control, coming out in The Big Book of Submission and on Tumblr they had a promo with excerpts.

The Big Book of Submission has 69 stories, less than 1200 words long, with the theme of submission, obviously! I'm always intrigued as to how one theme can generate so many different responses, so these anthologies Rachel Kramer Bussel puts together always intrigue me.

If you're interested in the 69 excerpts, you can find them here.

I also found it interesting to see which part of my story they'd chose to showcase, and this is the excerpt they chose -

“Control” by Cate Ellink

The leather against my hips and stomach is cool. The burn in the back of my legs increases as I lower my head. A cascade of hair smothers the wooden boards. Heavy breasts strain as I swing forward, dropping toward my lowered head, stretching the flesh across my ribs. My nipples squeeze. Blood rushes to my brain in a pounding rush. When I first tried this, I orgasmed from the rush of blood, but I’ve learned control. I wonder if Dashiell remembers.

His cane was so quick back then. I earned it often. An orgasm followed by the cane equaled a double coming. Punishment and reward.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Phallic Friday - indecent heroes

I read a post about 'When Heroes Fall', on the Wonk Girls site the other week, you can read it here, and although I wasn't aware of these heroes and their falls, the post stuck with me and made me think about Aussie heroes who fall, especially this week.

Rolf Harris always reminded me a bit of my Dad and was always a popular figure on TV in our house. And this week he's been found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault. I was horrified, but what horrified me even more was on the news that night, while reporting this 'event', at least 5 men came on to speak about how they knew what Rolf Harris was like when they worked with him X number of years ago.

And that disgusts me even more.

The same happened with Robert Hughes, the father from Hey Dad.

How on earth can these men, grown men, with a high position in the television industry, know what happens to kids in their care and ignore it - and get away with it??

Don't these men have a duty of care to report this and make sure action is taken? Shouldn't they be keeping kids safe and away from these predators?

I think what both these celebrities have done is disgusting, but I also think that those many people who knew what they were like and did nothing, are also disgusting - and they aren't penalised for the role they played.

It sickens me that people in places of power or authority can use that to their advantage. It's worse when their needs are put above those of an innocent child. Children have a right to be cared for and nurtured. To live safely and happily. To not be exposed to the adult world until they're ready.

And adults have a role and a responsibility to make sure this happens.

When Heroes Fall it's shocking - but the number of people who've kept quiet and allowed them to be improper 'heroes' really makes my blood boil.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Coming too soon

I know, it's not Friday, and this post isn't about sex, well, not directly!

Deep Diving is back to 1 September release.

I asked today when it wasn't listed for August, only to find out it hadn't been brought forward as I'd been told.

So... back to the old scheduling for me... sorry for the excitement too soon!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Fleshy-footed Shearwater

View over Lord Howe Island lagoon and Mounts Gower and Lidgbird
For the month of July, I'm going to feature the wildlife of Lord Howe Island to get you excited for Deep Diving (or to make you sick to death of it, depending on your perspective!).

So today, a photo to give you a picture of the island... then the Shearwater, locally called the Muttonbird. They belong to the Petrel family.

Shearwater or Muttonbird
The first time I went to Lord Howe, it was March 2000 and I'd never seen anything like the flocks of Shearwaters that would fly into the island each evening. It was like they were kamikazes. They seemed to fly straight into the cliff face. It scared the hell out of me. Then I got on a point and watched more closely, and they actually flew into nests along the cliff face. I was so relieved.

I went again in April 2003 and there weren't as many then, or maybe I just didn't spend the time looking at them. The first time I visited I was alone, so I could do all the things I wanted without any interference. The second time Mr E came...and I didn't realise people wanted to do different things to me. What a shock! I couldn't spend every moment of every day in the water. I had to climb the wretched hills!! I had to eat regularly, and do things as regular times. What a shock... but back to the birds.

Shearwaters are migratory and are not found in Australia between April and September. They spend the winter in the north Pacific, somewhere across the Equator. They breed when in Australia. Their nest is scraps of vegetation in a burrow 1-2m long (!!) from near sea level to high on hills...on further reading, some nest in rocky crevices. They lay 1 large white egg.

They take food from the water in flight, while swimming on the surface, or when 'flying' underwater on half-open wings. If feeding is scarse during migration, you can sometimes find them washed up ashore, under nourished and incapable of returning to their site.