Thursday, October 27, 2016

Slack Me

I've been slack lately - sorry! I've lots of excuses - like writing, visitors, critter minding, days out.

I'm off to a wedding this week, which is exciting because my friend who's getting married has wanted to be married ever since I've known her. She's done a bucketload of things, and now she gets to tick off another.

I just love it when people achieve their goals! It makes me giddy with excitement for them.

Do you have goals you tick off through life?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - pelican

I had a friendly pelican (he was waiting on a feed from someone else) stretch his wings out as I walked past the other day.

Yes, I know, another blinking pelican photo! But really, you should see the hundreds I don't post :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Phallic Friday - Madonna/whore again

It seems that lots of things are putting this Madonna/whore discussion front and centre for me at the moment.

I've been following two blogs with brilliant posts, Dangerous Women and Emmanuelle de Maupassant, and then there's the Donald Trump escapades in the presidential campaign in the US. Everything at the moment is making me question women's role in society and how true I am to myself.

This latest Dangerous Women post is about Eve, and it reflects a discussion I had a while back. I love this post, especially at the end where Lilith is introduced. How I'd love it if Lilith was more widely known. I think she's my new heroine :)

The fact that Lilith, in the story quoted, refused to sleep with/submit to Adam, and then leaves Eden, voluntarily, is fantastic. That she runs off with demons makes my heart sing! She did what she wanted, bucked the system, broke away from what was 'required' of here - as punishment, she's struck from records. In my mind, that's what seems to happen if you buck the system - the world tries to obliterate you, or at least forget about you.

If you want to stand up for women, stand up for what you want, you're howled down. Society tries to push you away, shove you down and keep you quiet.

I'm not saying that everyone does this - there are people who don't. There are men who like strong women and can respect someone making their own choices.

But as a whole, I don't think this is true. Look at the whole US presidential election. Donald Trump is like so much of society - he has to climb over others, shove them away by belittling them, to make himself mighty.

He is standing against a woman candidate, and his treatment of women is appalling (not to mention his treatment of other minority groups too). He has no respect for anyone. He is selfish. But watch how he tries to put Hilary Clinton in her place over and over again - he drags up her husband's affairs to smear her, as a woman who can't keep her husband happy. If the male has an affair, it's not wrong, it's the female's fault for not doing everything to keep her man beside her. I find that appalling.

I don't find affairs appalling. I find blaming anyone for them, much less the 'outsider' in the affair, appalling. Affairs are conducted between two consenting adults. They're a choice made between the people involved. Those extraneous to the arrangement are not involved. To blame a woman for a husband's actions disgusts me.

But it's the double standard for women - again. She has to be beyond reproach, not having the affairs herself. A Madonna. Yet, she has to privately be a whore, so she keeps her husband satisfied. And if the husband strays, then she's failed as a whore and we'll proclaim that to everyone...because just being a Madonna is not enough. Although, heaven help her if she's a whore elsewhere!

I'm so furious about the treatment of women in general society. I loathe double standards.

I don't know what I can do about it, but I'm going to try to write stronger women who won't accept society's double standards for their gender.

What else can we do?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - Orchid beetle

I wrote a post about Orchid Beetles in April 2014, which seems such a long time ago, and I've another cool photo of one to share today!

I had a tiny orchid growing on my tree fern and it captured my attention, so I was out taking a photo every day.

One day, much to my horror, I found the orchid beetle on it. They suck from the flower and kill it. I had them on my spider orchids and they ate every flower. So, I didn't want that, but I hate killing things.

While procrastinating about the murder I had to commit, I took some photos, including this cool one of the beetle on his back.

And then the bugger flew off! So my procrastinating meant I had to keep being vigilant. Eventually I got the beetle and transferred him to another plant away from the orchid (I still couldn't kill the cute thing!) and I haven't seen him again - yet the flower died, so maybe he'd done his damage.

So Bug 1, Cate 0!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunday Story - heroines

Do you have friends who ask you REALLY good questions that stump you? I've got one today. It's about heroines - our female lead characters.

Heroines in erotic romance (or romance in general) have to be relate-able to the reader - they either have to want them for a friend, or want to be them - or so says the general 'writing guidelines'.

Which I've always tried to do.

Then with Deep Diving, a friend asked me why, if Sam was an elite athlete and sexually competent, did I make her second guess herself with Cooper? Yeah, good point. When the question was raised, I was doing the early draft, so I made her more confident...but not completely. She still had to be someone women would like, right?

Lana is confident. In Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives Lana she's the 'aggressor' in the sexual encounters with young men - but I gave her a fantasy (a need) that she'd never done that made her vulnerable, for just a moment. But again, I've given her a fear, a lack of confidence, to make her more relate-able.

So, this time I'm writing a MMF (male-male-female) story. One of the men is inexperienced in sex, the other man and woman are experienced, and older. The woman is independent, knows what she wants and goes about getting it. She's a sports journalist and has 'made' it in a largely male-dominated industry. But when I've sent bits to my friend (same one who's kicked my butt before!) his response was - why is she second guessing herself all the time? That's such a turn off. She's strong, confident, knows what she wants, why don't you keep her like that?

Which makes me stop and think.

I'm making her relate-able to women. So I give her fears. Plus, if I'm honest, they're my natural fears too. But...

Shouldn't I also be true to womanhood? Shouldn't I be showcasing a woman who men find attractive, who turns men on? Shouldn't I be creating a character who shows that women can be confident and a 'whore' (as per Friday discussions lately; not in a negative way) and still likeable, lovable and relate-able?

Would you read a heroine who is sexually confident, knows what she wants and goes after it?

How about a woman who loves sex and revels in having a relationship with two men?

Why aren't I writing that woman? Why am I even having this discussion? Why am I portraying women as lesser to ensure other women read their stories?

Damn, I hate that my lack of female-empowerment is pointed out to me by a man!

What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Phallic Friday - public sex

Okay, so I'm not exactly having sex in public... just talking about sex in public, which is slightly terrifying!

I'm honoured to have been asked to join a panel of writers for a romance panel at the Wollongong Writers Festival. This is the first romance panel the festival has had, and ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) have organised it. So I'm thrilled, and excited, and humbled, and terrified.

Diane Robson, from ARRA, will be moderating and she'll be asking us about the sex scenes in our stories, which should make for a great discussion. The other panellists are: Donna Gallagher, who writes rugby league romance (and goes for the warriors, but I don't hold that against her - much!). Cassandra Samuels, who writes historicals. And JA Low, who writes erotic books (or 'stuff' as it's called on Facebook!).

And then I told a few people. Me, all excited, a bit scared. Them - yeah, not so much excitement. Here are some of the comments (to be fair, some were said in jest, while I was panicking): "You're going to talk about sex in public?" "She has Lana to read? OMG. No. How can you talk about that?" "You'll have to invent someone's life and say they've told you all these stories." "I hope you don't expect me to attend." I've yet to find someone (in my real life) who says, "Oh, how fantastic. I'll be there."

And this brings me back to the Madonna/Whore discussion I began last week. I feel like I'm being called a 'whore' by doing this event. What's wrong with discussing sex? What's wrong with Lana's foursome? Why shouldn't Lana have younger men? Why can't I get up and say it's my imagination that created these characters and their sex scenes?

Why can't I say, "No, I haven't had sex with 3 men, but I have thought about it." or "No, I haven't had sex with 3 men at once, but I have had 3 different partners so I can imagine how that might be all at once."?

Is it so terrible that I have sexual fantasies? Is it so terrible that I put them to a story where others might enjoy them too? Is it so terrible that I have gone beyond my own fantasies and pushed towards what my characters might want to do (or what my editor required/suggested)?

I'm going to be a Whore. I'm going to tuck those butterflies away and be proud of what I write. I haven't killed anyone. I haven't harmed anyone. I've created word pictures. And that should be celebrated.

Any tips for calming butterflies? :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunday Story - women's sexuality

There's a great post here about a book called, Doing It, which is a compilation of stories by women about sex, edited by Karen Pickering.

There's a paragraph that's really stuck with me, mostly because it's a reflection on some of the thoughts I've been having (see Friday's post). But here it is -

"Pickering hopes that a teenager or young woman experiencing her own sexual awakening will read Doing It and ‘take away that her body is her own.’ The act of silencing women, or only permitting them to speak when what they have to say both aligns with and indulges the male gaze, is rife in a society where women have historically been categorised as, in Anne Summers’ words, either damned whores or God’s police. Many of the individual women telling their stories in Doing It are marginalised for their failure to conform under patriarchal structures, and are rendered not only silent but invisible. The most important principle underlying the collection, Pickering says, is that ‘however your sexual self is constructed, it should at least be constructed by you.’ As a reclamation of that ownership, Doing It is radical for the multifaceted nature of the desires it reveals."

There is so much in this post, that it makes me want to go out and grab this book!