Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Story - more reading!

More reading joy this week. It seems I can't read when I'm editing...I can when I write, just not when I'm fixing up my story! Which is interesting to discover - one of my CPs is the opposite.

Anyway, this week I read two stories that are very different but both have a historical component to the story...and in each case, the historical component really drew me in.

Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair
Alli was on the conference team committee with me a few years ago. She's bright, bubbly and fun. Her heroine, Dani, sometimes reminded me of Alli and sometimes sounded like her too!

Set in Argentina, Dani is there to do a story on the history of Tango and investigate her mother, who deserted her as a child for the Tango. Carlos is a retired Tango dancer who knew her mother, so Dani requests his help to write the story, hoping she'll learn something about her mother.

As the story unravels, Dani is caught by the Tango, a mystery and Carlos.

This is a gorgeous read. I really enjoyed it and I'm no dancer!! I'm looking forward to the next book.

Moonlight Plains by Barbara Hannay
Barbara Hannay's third single title book, is set in Townsville in the modern day, as well as delving into Townsville in WWII.
Book Cover:  Moonlight Plains
For me, WWII Townsville and the love of Kitty and Ed was the winner. Although, Sally and Luke's romance was front and centre of the story, I think the poignancy of the wartime romance and the continuation of their love for each other through many years, even apart, was just beautiful.

Kitty and Ed had a short but passionate affair during the war. Circumstances forced them apart, and they each led full and happy lives without the other...but both still 'held a torch' for the missing half of their heart...and for me, that was beautiful and beautifully portrayed.

I thoroughly enjoyed the glimpse into WWII and the problems it posed for the city of Townsville. I've read a bit about the war on the NSW south coast, and it was quite similar.

Barbara Hannay has a gift for weaving a beautiful story in lush landscapes and this one doesn't fail.

Let's see what the next week holds...I'm writing, so I should get some more reading done!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Phallic Friday - asexuality

This was a fascinating read - an article about asexuality - you can find it here.

I'm a little lost for words after reading this.

Is it lust that would be gone if you're asexual? Or is it also that extra intimacy you feel when the person you're with is really into you, and you them? How do you unravel that? Does the extra intimacy come from the lust/sexual attraction, or does it come from a deep friendship/connection?

I don't know how I'd manage if I wasn't sexually attracted to people...although, if you'd never experienced it, would you miss it?

Lust/sexaul attraction can sometimes be an extra nuisance that infers with forming relationships, especially when it's not wanted by one party.

Does being asexual mean that you don't get 'turned on'? So erotic stories would be read just the same as any other story?

I'm still lost for words, with more questions than answers. Do you know any more about asexuality? I'd love to find out more.

This website looks like it might be good -

I'm off to learn :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Tiger

Still on zoo animals, today is the Tiger. One of the things zoos are doing in recent years is using natural animal behaviours as a way to stimulate their critters, and often this works around food and feeding. 

Six years ago I did a behind the scenes tour at Canberra National Zoo and Aquarium, and this feeding stimulation was becoming 'vogue'. Now all the zoos are doing this. And I have to think it's a good thing.

So, at Dubbo, to stimulate their tigers, and to thrill the visitors, they have erected a tiger climbing pole, which isn't too dissimilar to the ones people have in their lounge rooms for their cats, just a tad bigger!!

On the pole is a pulley thing, that can be lowered so the keeper can attach a hessian bag of meat. He then cranked the bag up to a specific height. The tiger we saw was their largest male and he could go right to the top. A smaller female would go about 3/4 of the way up. You can see how tall the pole is with the keeper on the ground placing the food (and never fear, the tiger was out of the exhibit, out the back impatiently pacing and panting).

When the tiger entered the exhibit, he stalked around a bit, scenting the human who'd dared to enter his territory, and then he found his food. It took him no time at all to leap up the pole. His speed and agility were magnificent to see. Then he started gnawing at the bag. He didn't pull the whole bag down, nor get all the meat, he got a small piece and then came down the pole to eat it.

When tigers climb, their claws extend to allow them to grip. Coming down, the claws dig in to give them the slow, controlled descent they need. Then about six foot from the ground, the tiger turned his shoulders, retracts his claws and leaps from the pole to the ground - meat in his jaws. He then sat to eat before having one more attack on the bag, before I had to leave.

The keeper gave a fascinating talk about the tiger, habitat destruction, and the future for tigers (which wasn't great) but I couldn't stay for it all. Next time!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Story - favourites

After having a reading downturn, I managed some this week. I returned to some favourite authors who had new(ish) books out. So here we go.

Safe Harbour by Helene Young (romantic suspense)

When I first started in RWA, I managed a contest and another manager needed some judges. I volunteered. One of the first entries I judged blew me away. I found no fault in it and wondered why it wasn't published. Then I received a lovely Thank You card where the person said they had been picked up to be published and it was Helene Young's first book, Border Watch, which became Wings of Fear. So it was with great excitement I waited to see how much the contest entry changed after being edited for publication. And it had. What I thought was perfect before, had been perfected more. And this is how I've watched Helene's stories unfold. Each one I can find no fault with, but the next one seems even better.

Safe Harbour is Helene's fifth book. I could not put it down. I read it all night. Her skill at feeding out a suspense narrative has only increased again, along with her skill of keeping me guessing which hero the heroine will choose. Darcy loved Noah, but Conor arrived with all his intrigue and hotness, and she was incredibly attracted to him too. It was the good boy - bad boy dilemma, and at times I wanted the bad boy to win her over, then I'd go back to the good boy. It was hard work deciding!!

Drugs in sport is a major theme of this story and another skill Helene has, is of depicting characters with shady backgrounds who've made bad decisions but I never get the feeling that Helene is chastising them. She lets their decisions stand. She explains their motivation. And you get to make judgements, she rarely does (well, not as such!). It's a very clever skill and one I'm in awe of.

Safe Harbour was a fantastic, un-put-downable read for me.

Next up, What A Duke Dares by Anna Campbell (raunchy Regency)

I know there's some flash genre name for Anna's books but I always think of them as raunchy. They have all the flavour of a Regency, but they have characters who swear and have wild sex. I just love them.

Pen and Cam are childhood friends. Pen has always loved Cam but he doesn't believe in love. Pen's family have a reputation for wildness. Cam, as one of the richest Duke's, is trying to restore the reputation his family has left behind.

When Pen is 19, Cam proposes to her - but not with love, with one of those sensible, well-thought out proposals. Much to Cam's shock, Pen refuses and then escapes to Europe. It's not until 9 years later, when Cam is courting a woman who fits his bill of a suitable Duchess, that he meets up again with Pen. And sparks fly.

There is so much action in this story. Pen and Cam go through so much. He's as stubborn and head-strong as she is, but in completely opposite ways. They have a huge amount of sexual chemistry, but huge issues to resolve. The story has a cracking pace, lots of raunchy scenes, and some gut-wrenching emotion, along with some pure heart-string tuggers.

I love Anna Campbell's characters, her writing and her stories.

So two ripper reads! I'm on a roll again :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Phallic Friday - age differences

I've played a bit with age differences. In The Virginity Mission, Jason is about 8 years older than Mac/Willow. In Deep Diving, it's the other way around, with Samantha being 8 years older than Cooper. Lana is much older than the boys she picks up in the Housewives (20+ years older).

I've never really thought age matters. I have friends from all age brackets. I have had relationships with older and younger men. I wasn't particularly worried about Lana being a cougar when I wrote her - until she became my age and the boy she was sleeping with was my nephew's age and then I had a bit of a freak out...but hey, I got over it. She's much hotter than me! LOL.

When I read about an 81 year old billionaire marrying a 24 year old model, earlier this week, I wasn't so cool about the age difference. You know, 57 years is a big age gap... and would she be marrying him if he wasn't loaded? Would he be marrying her if she wasn't such a great looking accessory?

How do these relationships work? My mind doesn't stretch that far.

I've just holidayed with an 80 year old and it's not that easy to wait for them, care for them and be patient with them. It was like looking after a child. They are slow, set in their way, and take a truckload of pills! (Although, I don't have a great tolerance of people, so maybe I'm a bad person to judge)

But is that the attraction - she looks after him, mothers him, fusses over him, treats him like he's special and wonderful, all the while looking stunning and making him feel like he's young again while she has unlimited resources, a safe place to live, and can live out her mother-fantasies with an adult and not a child?

I don't understand it from her perspective, mostly. He seems to be on a good wicket...but I guess she has safety, security and a fortune. Maybe it's not too dissimilar to a Dom-sub relationship. It's something different to the norm, but it's workable and win-win for the couple. Maybe I need to work my head around it better and not be so dismissive so quickly.

Not sure that you'll see me writing that big an age difference any time soon! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Giraffes

Me, in all my finery, feeding the giraffe
Continuing on from last week with my Zoo themed animals. Today, there are giraffes. Giraffes have always been curious creatures, but they've never really captured me to the point where I am amazed by them - until the other week.

I fed giraffes at the Canberra Zoo six years ago on a Zookeeper for a day tour, and randomly at Dubbo a couple of years ago when a giraffe was happy to eat grass across the fence, so it wasn't the feeding that caught me, although we did that!

It was the quiet dignity, the graceful silence, and the serious intelligence that caught my attention.

Our lodge looked out over the 'African Savannah' where four giraffes roamed with zebra, water buffalo and eland - along with some Aussie natives like kangaroos, rabbits and a host of birds. Quite close to the lodges were the stands where the giraffes feed. Hay is put up high, under shelter, and the giraffes can graze at will. When we left for dinner, and it was getting dark, there was quite a bit of hay left in those baskets. By morning, they were empty. This isn't too surprising except I never heard a peep. I didn't hear them walk by, I didn't hear them chew, rattle the basket, pull at the hay. Nothing. I heard the African Wild Dogs fight, and they were some distance away.

Giraffe saunters past our lodge
I was up at dawn (me, the non-morning person) and sat wrapped in a blanket with a beanie (channeling the Beanie Queen) for at least 90 minutes and if I wasn't looking, I would never have known those giraffes moved.

They were like goldfish. They moved constantly. It was rhythmic, soothing, calm and peaceful. I was so incredibly impressed by the animal that I bought a stuffed toy to remind me of them. To remind me of their complete calm. The way they rhythmically move through their day. The way they let nothing phase them. That they just saunter up to food, nibble silently, then move away. The way they check out something, quietly, calmly, with great dignity.

I want to be like that. I want to develop the tranquility the giraffe showed me. The closest I ever get is the duck analogy, where it all looks okay on the top but underneath the legs are going like trains. And that's not helping me. I want the giraffe, not the duck. I want the complete chill package.

I thought maybe I had been overcome by the morning, and had missed the stress and tension of the giraffe, so I had a chat to our tour guide, Rachel, who happened to be the giraffe keeper. She had been working with giraffes for a few years, she said, and she'd never once heard them make a sound. They had a new baby giraffe and during the birth she never heard a sound. She doesn't hear the mother make any noise to the child. She wondered if maybe their sounds were out of our hearing range, which could be possible.

She also told me of a video of a giraffe birth that the Australia Zoo put on YouTube, you can watch it here. She told me that within 30 minutes, the baby giraffe is up, walking and drinking. The common view is that the giraffe is born and dropped from the mother's leg height (rather than the mother lying down) so that the baby takes it's first gasp of breath quickly, so it gets a quick start on life (you know, before the lions or tigers eat it). She told me that giraffes never lie down, and only sleep for a few moments (maybe 20 minutes, but don't hold me to that because I forget exactly).

So, my mission in life is to be more like a giraffe - calm, collected, and quiet.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Story - reading

I've been reading sporadically lately. Nothing has really grabbed me by the throat and made me read, until I read a Crit Partners story the other night that kept me up until 3.30 am! Holy cow. Ainslie Paton - if you don't read her, you should. It's not erotic, but the sexual tension is often huge and the stories are rippers!

But anyway, back to reading in general. Do you go through periods where you don't read so much?

I'm editing a book at the moment and so my reading really dips. This time I'm struggling to read anything - book club books, classics, new stories, stories from friends. It's making me worry! My To Be read pile is horrendous and keeps growing, so I haven't kicked that addiction, just slowed up on the reading portion which kind of defeats the purpose of buying, doesn't it?

Maybe it's the cold I've had. It's laid me low and I know when I was really crook I didn't read a word (which is no fun at all. Don't you get sick to be able to read in bed all day?).

Hopefully I'll be back with a vengeance soon. That TBR pile is calling me and there are some lovely things on it. Maybe once I pick one up I'll be right. Gosh, I hope so!

While I'm uninspired to read, I'll leave you with a yummy picture instead.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Phallic Friday - Secret Confessions

It's time for my secret confession, or should I say Lana's Secret Confession!

I hinted at this story back in April, you can read my post here, when I was having a little trouble getting my head into Lana. But I got her sorted, and she's getting ready to hit the world in mid-November.

There are 11 Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives stories and Lana is the second story off the mark. I follow the incredible Rhian Cahill, which is just a tad daunting :)

Lana loves sex, follows few rules, and adores young men. She's incredibly successful and rich. She moves in the elite circles in Sydney. Not something I'm familiar with, but boy, was it fun to dream!

Each story is self contained, but all 11 have a thread running through them to tie them all together.

It was fun, and challenging, to work on this project. Lana is a person I would never think to create, so she challenged my thinking. Most of the other writers in this project are a lot more experienced than me, so that was also a challenge. I found myself questioning my confidence, my skill, and my commitment to my writing. The great thing is that I know most of the girls, and they're fabulously supportive, so I could have my little panic without being ridiculed or belittled.They helped me. They gave me confidence and courage. They helped make Lana a strong, independent woman.

I love Lana, and I'm looking forward to her time on the stage. I hope readers will love her too. She's a woman who loves sex, and that may be a little confronting, but I hope the fantasy aspects will allow her to shine in the spotlight. Fingers crossed!

Don't you just love the cover? Escape Publishing do very sexy covers. Here are all of them together. Gorgeous, aren't they?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Elephants

Last week I spent 2 days at Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, and we did a Zoofari Lodge stay which included 3 behind-the-scenes animal tours, as well as scrumptious meals and glamping (glamorous camping accommodation) and OMG it was fab!

I am torn between the giraffes and the elephants as my favourite experiences, but I went alphabetically and elephants are first!

You see elephants at the zoo all the time. No big deal, right? But we went inside the elephant's shed and watched them interact with the keepers and it blew my mind.

Cuddles is the African elephant and she was old. I forget exactly but maybe 40 or so. I was standing in front of her and I fell in love with her cheekiness. There were two Asian elephants, Burma and another (gosh, sorry, memory is shot) who have smaller ears.

The photos will probably explain better than lots of words, so let me give you photos and a little spiel.

Cuddles sneaking her trunk out to check me out, or to attract her keeper (which worked because he came and said "Trunk inside").

Cuddles reaching out to the keeper after he'd already corrected her twice for having her trunk outside.

Cuddles showing us her ears and blowing through her trunk - for the keepers to check her health.
Cuddles opens her mouth for a teeth check.

One of the Asian elephants painting - yep, holding the paint brush with their trunk and painting on the easel.
A closer look at painting

In the distance is the finished masterpiece.

Some of the elephant art for sale ($149 each)
Aren't they incredible? We went to see them before breakfast, before I would normally be up, and I was breathless, speechless, and not complaining one bit!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Story - more inspiration

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY - especially to my awesome Dad!

I've been touring this week with some of the other people who inspire me - Mr E, my Dad and Mr E's Dad.

We're doing a western NSW trip to places we've wanted to go to. So first stop is Dubbo Western Plains Zoo (but I'm pretty sure we'll stop along the way at Parkes for a barrier trial for a new racehorse Dad and I have a 5% share in! LOL). Neither of the Dads have been to the zoo, and it was Mr E's Dad's 80th recently, so we're glamping. You can check it out here. When I rang to book, the lady was in such fits of laughter that I'd holiday with 3 men, that she got us a good deal, I think!! I hope both Dads will enjoy the zoo. I'm hoping it'll be a lovely taste for an African safari some day (it's on my bucket list - but since I don't have kids to take me when I'm 80, I'm gonna have to get there myself, somehow!).

Then it's off to Lightning Ridge, home of opal mining. Hopefully we'll get to stop off at Come-By-Chance, where Dad's relatives settled in years gone by. I'd like a photo of him in his great Aunty Pearl's town.

In Lightning Ridge, we have the hot artesian baths ear-marked so we can dunk each of the Dads and heal their aching joints! I think I might pop in for a dip too...but they're meant to be 40C and to me, that's more like boiled lobster and not a hot spa. So I'll see if I can bear the heat!

Opal mines should be interesting and so I'm keep to see them. I love all soilsy things and underground mines are a favourite of mine. So much fun seeing the soil from beneath - without me having to dig!

Then we have a couple of days to come home so, who knows what we might see there! I'll pop some photos in if I get the chance.

Happy Dad's Day!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Phallic Friday - fallacies I've grown older, I've noticed how many fallacies I was 'taught' as a child. Not just the sweet Santa, tooth fairy things which sucked me in for years, but female body things that make me question why I was told the wrong things.

I know in science, sometimes making things understandable for the general public means that it's told simply, which makes things wrong if you delve too deeply... but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about things that I was told were what happened to women...and then later I found they were incorrect.

Like, when you're pregnant, you don't have a period. You know, that was the biggest attraction to me for getting pregnant. I hate periods and period pain and all the other rubbish that comes with it. Then when a girlfriend was pregnant, she told me the dreaded truth...ah, some women have periods all through pregnancy. Holy mother of God! That would have been me. I would have got pregnant to have 9 months period-free only to find that everyone lied about it! Thank goodness she told me first. Why on earth would anyone lie about that? Why would they tempt me so? It seems crazy.

There are a few other lies along the way - like losing your virginity doesn't hurt, that sex with the man you love is always wonderful, that sex up against a doorway is wrong, that passion is a sin, that anal sex is horrible - but now I come to the latest one I've stumbled across. That when your eggs run out, your periods end.

Now, maybe I over-simplified this message because when I learned about this, having the damn things end seemed a million year away. But I'm getting closer to the end of those million years and I need to know these things. And, oh my God, they don't just end. The end is worse than the start. The end is some stop-start, you have them, no you don't, thing that can last years! Years! And you only know you've finished with the damn things completely when you haven't had them for a year - yes, a year! That's after the stop-start of years.

Now, why didn't I know that at 13? I would have thought knowing that the end was as bad as the beginning would have crept into my mind and stayed there, instead I have this dream that one month you'll wake up and the eggs will be empty and everything turns off.

Seriously, in my past lives I've always been a man. This being a woman in this life is the pits! Next lifetime, please, let me be a man again. I've always missed the ability to pee without having to strip half naked, but I can live without that. It's this crap that a woman has to survive every damn month, that drives me insane - and the lies she's told to survive it!!

Yeah, sorry, it's THAT time of the month!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Shorebirds

So, a couple of weeks ago I was on the beach and there were all these birds feeding in the shallows. I thought they were dotterels but I'm not sure. You know I'm bad at this, plus they were a way off, and when I zoom in on the photo it's too pixellated to get a good look.

A few days later I stayed to read a book while Mr E did a big hike further along the beach. And this little guy was pottering around me. So I got some better photos...ARGH...I still can't identify him! Honestly, I'm hopeless at this!

I ruled out a Sandpiper because I thought his beak was too short, but this page for Birds In Backyards, has a common Sandpiper with a similar sized beak. There are two things making me question one is the speckles on his chest and the second is that they usually migrate to northern Australia, if not Eurasia for our winter and he was definitely here in winter - I guess you can't have everything :)

So, yes, another great photo, another unknown creature!

I should change the title of this column from Wildlife Wednesday to Cate's Unknown and Mysterious Wildlife!

But...I enjoy it, and I hope no one is here to learn from me! If you are - please go somewhere else. I can only teach you mistakes!