Friday, June 30, 2017

Phallic Friday - coarse language

Yesterday there were some tweets that prompted this post - great tweets that made me think.

My publisher wanted an excerpt from Team Player to go on the blog. I'm not fond of picking excerpts because there's 80 000+ words, which ones do I pick?!? What do I want to convey? How far into the story should I pick? It's a nightmare. Anyway, I picked one - you can read it here.

Kate Cuthbert is my esteemed publisher, and she tweeted it with a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) warning, but made it fun by saying how those words were safe in her work.

They are in mine too (funny that!).

Kate's follow on reply to a comment, said she had a running tally of how many uni students she could offend with her "cunt is a feminist word" lecture.

I laughed when I read that, but then I got to seriously thinking. We don't have a lot of words to describe the female body. I refuse to use 'pussy' because it's a cat and I can't use it for a female body part, sorry. I can use scientific/technical terms like labia, vulva, vagina, clitoris, but you can only use them so many times. And in this extract, I wanted something that described the whole part, because Hannah was wearing jeans, so technically, Charlie couldn't be touching any of the individual parts. I run into a missing part of our language. What word can I use to describe this?

I can say - He shoved/placed/held his hand between her legs, or thighs - but it's not technically correct either. There are words to describe every other body bit. The equivalent area for men we have cock, dick, penis, manhood, balls, scrotum, sacs, junk, and however many others you'd like to use.

Please don't tell me to use 'lady parts' - I feel like I'm five.

I want a word to use. Quim is okay - but I'm not writing an historical.

I use 'cunt'. I use it proudly. I'm using it as a word to describe a body part. I'm not using it to swear, or using it in a derogatory manner. I wouldn't mind having another word so I could mix it up a bit...but I don't really have one.

I want to be mature about sex, so 'lady parts' or 'wet bits' or 'squishy softness' or whatever description like that really doesn't get the tone I'm after.

I'm not deliberately trying to provoke. I'm trying to use language I'm comfortable with, given my limited choice of correct words.

And I use swearing in my stories too. I could leave it out, but if I'm using cunt and people get upset, I may as well use the language many people use in casual conversation, like fuck and shit and damn and bloody. I'm writing contemporary erotic stories.

My clean other half writes without these words, and also without sex, so I know it's possible. However, I make a conscious choice to use these words. I make a conscious choice to write without censorship. I make a conscious choice to write about sex, to write it explicitly, and to keep it fun. I have no problem if you choose not to read it. 

After much thought, I agree with Kate that 'cunt' is a feminist word. It's a word we need to reclaim from derogatory connotations, because it's one of the few we have to uniquely describe our full genitalia. I'll keep on using it, proudly. Let's get it away from being 'crude'.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Story - covers

Here are my two B&W covers side by side. Both are footy stories but they're otherwise not linked.

What do you think?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Phallic Friday - Love

I'm quite a bit wild today, as last night the blues (NSW rugby league team) fell back into old habits and lost the frigging game. I'm going to behave and not have a huge rant, except for this comment. At the end of the game, after Joey (commentator; former player) ranted about the stupidity of NSW in the second half, Freddie (commentator; former player) asked Laurie (coach; former player) if he'd been sending messages for them to target JT who was playing without full use of one arm. Laurie looks dopey at the best of times but he gave a dopier look and said, "No. There's no point. You hassle JT and they just move him out to the wing and protect him." WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?! Moving their defense around is KEY to the game. It's how you get past them and score. Why did NSW lose? Why did they play stupidly? I think there might be an answer in that comment. Having said that, there's still 13 blokes (plus reserves) playing the game who could have easily done what had to be done, except they were too stupid to(o).

But LOVE. Love stopped me being wild. Love even stopped me being a one-eyes Blues fan.

Let me get off the game of football and look at the families at the end of the game. Guys bring their kids onto the paddock these days after the game. It's just what they do. Sometimes it's a bit old; not last night. Billy Slater was back in Origin after a horror run of shoulder injuries, surgeries, and rehab. And he was awesome.

I used to not be a Billy fan. I thought he was dirty, especially when he went feet first into tackles. It made me wild. But he was penalised, copped many serves about it, and changed the way he plays...which forced me to change my mind about him. Recently, he scored his first try back from injury at the Storm vs Dragons game when I was there watching (I may have even cheered loudly in the middle of all those Dragons' fans).

Anyway, end of the game last night and they're interviewing Billy, when his daughter comes sneaking up to curl against his leg. My heart started to melt. When he finished speaking, he swoops down to hug her, and is swamped not just with his kids but Cameron Smith's (his Storm teammate) as well. Lots of hugs all around. Then he picks his daughter up and more melting on my couch.

Next time we see Billy, he's heading for the stand and his wife, and there's no deviation; he's on a mission. She's beaming and reaching for him. They kiss, then swamp each other in a hug. In that hug, there's so much love but also signs of all the sacrifice, cooperation, determination, and support.

I stalk her on Instagram. I started because I saw a timelapse video of her painting lorikeets. I can't paint to save my life; my artistic skills are stunted at about an 8 year old's level. She went from a few fine lines to this amazingly, bright, gorgeous painting with just a few sweeps of a paint brush (I exaggerate a bit!). It was beautiful to watch. Her art work is amazing (@NicoleRoseArt) but while admiring her art, I've come to admire her love of family.

Their world is not all about football. There's also kids, pets, horses, farms, friends, and love.

I know it may just be the rosy-coloured glasses of social media and TV, but I hope not. I hope this kind of love exists.

I tried to create some of this is in Team Player. I wanted the Glebe Gannets to have an atmosphere where family was important, where kids and wives mattered, where player welfare was a concern. I didn't want to write a story about the negative side of life or football. I wanted to write a story that made you smile. A story that picked up the good in life and football, and expand on that. There's enough shit in the world. Enough bad press for football. Enough stupid players (although there is one in Team Player - but I have a plan to reform him!).

I wanted Team Player to celebrate life and love. Like the Slaters did last night.

Do you believe in love?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - tailor

The last few weeks I've been talking about fish, after a fishing day with Dad. Today we're looking at the Tailor. The Australian Museum even calls it by the same name I do - bonus! You can find info here.

Since I was a kid, the Tailor has always earned my respect. It's a clever little bugger, with a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth that it uses incredibly well. If you're losing fishing tackle, you can bet you've got tailor around. And the Museum website says this is how they earned their name - their ability to cut fishing nets. It says they can grow to 1.2 m in length - but we've only ever caught small ones. This one is about 15 cm or so.

Dad and I were losing gear. I lost hook, swivel and sinker pulling in a fish, There one minute, gone the next. I was ashamed to have lost the fish, and it brought back awful childhood memories of losing many many fish for not pulling them in correctly, or whatever other silly thing I did. But I thought I was doing this okay. Anyway, I rerigged my line.

Dad had a baitless hook in the water while he sorted out a tangle (I know I shouldn't gloat about this, but I was so damn glad he had the tangle and not me, I was almost grinning from ear to ear as he detangled! As kids, my sisters and I had so many tangles and he got so frustrated at us. But having taken my niece and nephew fishing recently, I do understand why he was frustrated, I just didn't when I was the source of that frustration!). Anyway, when he pulled in his line, there was nothing at the end of it.

"I think there's Tailor," Dad says.

Over the day, I think we lost 3 or 4 hooks, a couple of swivels and sinkers to phantom attacks, plus a couple when pulling in lines. And Dad happened to catch one of the culprits. Again, I played with the photo to get the mean looking teeth shot, but the fish is quite elegant and attractive. It gives a good darting fight. And they taste great, but we didn't eat this one. I used to eat them as a kid. They have lots of bones but are sweet, well, that's what I remember anyway! Phew. My memory isn't wrong. The Get Fishing website says they're great eating fresh, but if you freeze them, they go soggy. I would have eaten them fresh on holidays after catching them.

Do you have a favourite fish for eating?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Team Player - Cover Reveal

My latest book, Team Player, is coming on 4 August. This is the MMF story I've rabbited on about for some time.

Let me show you my glorious cover! Do you like?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - bream

Following on from the last two Wednesday fishing posts (Flathead and Giant Toadfish), is today's catch from the same trip - a Silver Bream.

Before you get too excited, can I just say that I was a little creative with my photography with this fish. It's actually smaller than my hand, so it was nothing to be excited about! I just took the photo up close to give the impression of a much larger fish. If you don't know bream, you might be overly excited for my catch.

And what do you know...I call this fish the wrong name! In reality, it's a Yellowfin Bream. The trusty Australian Museum has corrected me again. You can find the bream webpage here for more information. Gosh, you'd think I'd know something I've been catching since I was a kid, wouldn't you!?!?! It seems not.

Anyway, let me tell you what I do know. These guys are fun to catch. Bream are kind of shy feeders. So they almost 'peck' at the bait. If you're holding the fishing line, it's like little grabs at it. But when they get hooked, these guys fight like billyo. You're pulling them in, and they're constantly swimming away, or trying to, fighting you with every molecule of their being. It's the size of my hand, or smaller, yet it's been the best fun pulling it in. It's not the pisss-zing of the line racing through your hands like when a big fish takes off. It's not the dead weight of an octopus or a crab. It's not the darting runs of a flathead. It's constant fighting against you, even though there's no way of the fish winning. As a kid, that was so reassuring. You could wrestle with this fish and feel a sense of accomplishment at not losing it in the struggle to land it. You might be able to tell that I've lost my fair share of fishes!

Silver Yellowfin Bream and Reddies (Red Bream, which are baby Snapper, or at least I think they are!) were my favourite fish to catch as a kid and I don't think it's changed. They have that row of dorsal spines you can see in the sunlight in the photo, but other than that, they're pretty harmless. You can easily hold them to unhook them without being spiked (unlike the flathead). And they're polite - once you hold them, they usually lie still and don't thrash around. This is important for a kid wrestling with a fish and a hook, trying not to drop the fish and get the line tangled, and have your dad yelling at you. NOTE: I'm wrong again, the Museum website says that there is a strong spine in the pelvic and anal fins (the ones underneath the body; anal being closest to the tail) - but the fish usually lies these down (like in the photo) and I've never had a problem with them (polite fish, see :) ) The fin that lies just behind the gills is the pectoral fin and it's non-spiny.

As an adult, I still enjoyed catching these guys. I enjoy that I can pop them back in the water, without contemplating anything else, and hopefully they'll live to see a long life. They grow up to 65 cm in length, so this baby has a way to go!

Do you have a favourite fish to catch while fishing?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sunday Story - writing rambles

I've been editing Team Player this week, and I know I have quite a different writing style to most people, and I know when I'm lost in my story the world could vanish, and I know I love Lyle and Charlie so very much...but I've had a weird experience with reading. I'm not sure that it's related to my editing brain being on, but it could be. I'm going to talk it through.

Two of my favourite romance writers had new books out this week. I waited until I finished edits to read one (last night), but the other one somehow got opened a couple of nights ago (oops! I have no self control).

The first one I began reading...lost me. Early on in the story, I had no clue about details. They seemed to be missing. I had to read and read to find out what the hell was actually happening. Most scenes were like this - about half way into the scene, it started to come clear what the activity was they were doing. I didn't find it added to the suspense - this wasn't a suspense. It read like a first draft. And if I was new to this author, I wouldn't have kept going. I would have stopped reading because it was bloody annoying. And the book was through a publisher, a big publisher, and had editors mentioned, so presumably had been edited. I have to assume the editor understood what was happening, because it hadn't been changed. So it was just me. Which concerned me. I don't think I'm a bad reader. So I went to Goodreads to see what early reviewers said, and that was even more confusing. Early reviewers commented that the story was confusing and the initial pages left them thinking something was missing, yet they kept reading and it got good stars. So I'm none the wiser. And I don't know how you ask a friend "what happened here?" when maybe nothing happened and it's just me who's a picky pedantic bitch.

Then last night, my reward book for finishing edits. OMG. Hated it. My reward book that I was ever so keen to read...and it's no reward. What the heck is happening to me?!?!?! The guy is a girl, for sure. There are hardly any masculine traits in him. I can't believe him at all.



What's happened to me?

And more importantly, how the heck do I get out of this reading slump? I suppose there are a few (snort - a billion) books on my TBR pile, so I'll just have to keep reading until something grabs me.

What do you do if you hate a book by a favourite author?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Phallic Friday - Margaret Court's comments

Have you heard about the tennis legend, Margaret Court's views on marriage? It's been in Australian media and there's an article here if you're interested.

She wrote an open letter to express her views on gay marriage. As a pastor of a Church, and a conservative older Australian, I'm not entirely shocked by her views - they are ones many in my family hold and espouse. If she wasn't a tennis legend, and didn't have a sporting arena named in her honour, I imagine it would have gone unnoticed.

I'm surprised that someone of her standing in sport, would take such a public stance on a topic that surely she knew would cause issue. Although, maybe that's exactly why she wrote the letter. Maybe she wanted to use her name to back her views.

It's natural that we pick up the views of those we associate with and think they're the views of the majority. For us, they are the views of the majority, even if that's not reflected in the wider community. Often we don't know the views of the wider community because of our isolation, or insular living. This seems to be exacerbated when you become older, more established, and mix less widely. It's also exacerbated by social media where you friend like-minded souls and don't branch out.

I've always liked differences. I like to see other's views. I like to think about options someone might present to me. I like to be exposed to new things, to try them out, to think about them. That's my personality.

I remember as a kid saying, "But everyone will do that, I want something different." Mum used to roll her eyes, and sometimes try to rein me in a little, but mostly my parents let me be different - for which I'm very grateful.

I hope as I get older that I keep trying to be open to differences and not close up.

I often speak without thinking, and sometimes reflect views that I later, after thought, regret.

We are each entitled to an opinion. We live in a democracy where opinion is valued. Sometimes opinions can open a can of worms, and often the opinion-maker was unaware of that before speaking.

I hope Margaret Court was aware of what she was saying and the ramifications of her views. I hope she realised that the world is a changing place, and as an older citizen she may no longer represent the majority.

Opening a can of worms, without knowing, is my biggest fear every time I have an opinion because I hate confrontation.

How are you with voicing your views?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - flathead

Is it big enough to keep?
As well as the Giant Toadfish, Dad and I caught some more identifiable and useful fish in the river a couple of weeks ago.

Flathead are one of my favourite fish to catch because they give you a good fight when you're pulling them in.

Here are some of the flathead we caught. In NSW, flathead have size restrictions, so here's Dad with his trusty measuring stick checking the size of the fish I caught.

There are different types of flathead - we caught Dusky Flathead. Duskies have to be over 36 cm, and if it's over 70 cm, you may only keep one. Bag limit is 10 fish.

Hook removal and underbelly
If the flathead was a bluespotted or tiger, then they only need to be 33 cm long to be potable. Still a bag limit of 10.

If you're interested in NSW saltwater fish limits, the DPI has them here. To fish in NSW, you also require a fishing license, unless you're a child or a senior.

Dusky Flathead are found in estuaries and bays, and can be found over sand, weed, silt, mud, gravel. They often vary in colour depending on habitat. And they have wicked spines, so be careful handling them. It's not just the obvious spines down the midline of the front and back, but at the sides of their head, there's kind of a tip of bone, and there are wickedly sharp, pointy spines there too that hurt like blazes if they catch you.

Dad told me that if the spines get you, you should rub the underbelly across the wound to stop it hurting - not sure if that works because the fish that spiked him as he was releasing it, jumped out of the net a little too soon for first aid to occur.
Top view

Two before release
I'm not a huge fan of eating flathead - mostly because of the bones. But flathead tails are exquisite and they don't have so many bones.

Do you have a favourite fish?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Football - State of Origin Game 1

State of Origin was on during the week, so I thought after my rants last year that I should say some good things for a change!

NSW picked a team that I was much happier with - less hothead and blowhards, more professional footy players - and a captain who lets his football speak for him. Boyd Cordner leads by example, and sets a good example.

I was hopeful that they might win, or at least have a great game, especially given the injuries and missing players Qld had. They overshot my expectations.

The NSW team played like a bunch of absolute professionals. It was impressive, and a really good turn about from the last decade of teams.

Unfortunately, the NSW media the last few days have been a bit tough to take, claiming NSW thrashed Qld and spruiking a new dynasty.

I didn't see the game like that. Sometimes I wonder if I watched a completely different game.

My nephew could only watch the first half of the game, so I messaged him some random comments through the second half so he didn't miss out completely (he's a Tigers and Aaron Woods fan). Strangely enough, my messages reflect the game I saw and the view I have that NSW were lucky, and, admittedly, created their own luck too by being a really solid team. They backed each other up. They worked together. They each did their job.

My messages (on right) show 4 potential tries for Qld, 3 of those in the last 10 minutes. If Qld get these tries, any of them, it could have made it a very very different game, possibly even result.

Tedesco made 2 try saving tackled.
Dugan whacked the ball from Guerra's hands.
Cordner and Dugan hold up Boyd.
Tedesco wraps up a kick.

Given in the first half that there were a couple of NSW tries that involved luck (like Fafita's one where O'Neill coughed up the ball), I think NSW were lucky to win. Yes, they played well, yes, they deserved to win, but I don't see a thrashing here.

I saw a great game. I saw a big improve from the Blue. I saw areas where Qld can, and will, improve.

I'm looking forward to a fantastic Game 2!

If you watched, how did you see the game?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Phallic Friday - gay men and football

I just read an article on that prompted this post. I was wondering what I could write! This is the article here.

The article, by Matt Young, is about why he can't consider attending a football (league or soccer) game. He's a flamboyant gay man and he fears being in a testosterone-laden crowd where terms such a "f**got" and "p**f" are common shouted in abuse.

He also links to an article about a country AFL player who came out as gay, which is here.

This topic interests me because this is what I explored in Team Player, out sometime soonish.

As an avid league fan, I wrote Deep Diving with a MF relationship, mostly because I had been sitting at the footy daydreaming. But while I was writing it, and watching players interacting, and sifting through social media for inspiration, I was struck by a thought - what if a player was gay?

I knew that being gay wasn't something that the sporting media, and public, would be very receptive about. I struggled to imagine how an elite player would ever 'come out' and continue playing at the elite level because the scrutiny on them would be immense and possibly crippling. I imagine that some team mates would not take kindly to the information, and that could make it even more difficult for a gay player.

Women don't seem to have such a strong homophobic reaction, so I imagine that women would be more intrigued or nurturing...although, some women would be as bad as some men.

So I began to think about a male-male relationship in rugby league and how the guys might try to hide their sexuality and their relationship. Then I wondered how an alpha male might feel if he was attracted to a younger team mate, who was gay and interested in him, yet he'd not acknowledged his bisexuality before.

My mind went crazy thinking up scenarios and issues and Team Player fell out of my thoughts.

But in all my imaginings, I struggled to believe that a gay guy could continue to play an elite team sport after his sexuality was known. And this is largely because of the issues Matt Young talks about in his article - it's a testosterone-fuelled environment. It's a homophobic environment. It's an environment where spectators, and player to some extent, don't think about their expletive-laden, politically incorrect, verbal attacks on players, referees, other spectators.

Depending on where you sit in a footy crowd, it may not be the family-friendly environment that you hope. It can be rude, crude, and embarrassing. It can be scary. It can be horrifying. It can be some place you need to remove yourself from. I don't think that's improving either. And it's not the majority of spectators - it's a few who ruin the game for everyone.

We go to the games near us, we have season tickets, and so do many of the people around us. They're generally good, nice people. Last time, the MIL came and had a ticket a bay away from us but early on sat with us. When she went to find her correct seat, the family behind us said they had a spare and she was welcome to stay the row behind. Lovely people - kind and generous. But they did call the opposition by a variety of names through the game, none of which were politically correct, or something you'd want kids hearing or saying (yes, they have kids of their own!).

Sometimes, I think people don't notice what they say in the heat of the moment - and they parrot what others say. So, 'w*nker', 'p**ftah', 'f*ggot', 'd*ckhead', etc are all yelled, often without malice, but also without thinking of the impact those words have on the people in earshot.

I understand why Matt Young would be hesitant to attend a game - you've no idea who you'd be sitting near, and that can be concerning. It takes a long, long time to change people's attitudes, so I think it will be a long time before we have openly gay men in elite team sports, and probably a long time before all people feel comfortable in a passionate sporting crowd. Which is a shame, because some people at the footy are great. And maybe if you've been going from a when you were a kid, you become somewhat immune to the yobbos.

Have you ever felt unsafe in a sports crowd?