Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sunday Story - ARRA Book Signing

Sunday 24th March Sydney

Bankstown Sports Club

10 am - 4 pm

Will I see you there?

Friday, March 22, 2019

Phallic Friday - definition of pornography

Back to a Phallic post today because I saw this interesting article on the ABC website on Monday this week, discussing pornography and the current definition (or lack thereof) and a proposed new definition.

The article is written by researchers from Monash University, Melbourne, and since one woman is a PhD candidate, I'm guessing it's her PhD project. What a neat topic!?

The lack of a definition for pornography is something that I've noticed. People often ask why is what I write called erotic and not porn. The first time I was asked this, I was a bit floored. I said that I wasn't writing to arouse, but to explore a relationship fully, including the sexual relationship. It was my understanding that the primary purpose of pornography was arousal. My primary purpose in writing erotic romance is to tell a story and delve into a relationship. My primary purpose writing erotica is to use words to describe a sexual act. When I write erotica, I'm a little more focussed on the arousal aspect that with a romance, because I'm playing with words to create a mood/feeling.

The major point of the article is that in any of the current ways of defining porn, consent is not mentioned. In fact, many instances where consent is obviously missing, are still referred to as porn, when in fact they should be termed as a "sexual abuse". For example, child porn has no consent (because a child cannot give consent) and should be termed child sexual abuse. Revenge porn, is an act of revenge where one part of a broken relationship releases sexual information without the other's (or others')  consent. Rather than labelling this porn, it should be termed online sexual abuse.

The researchers say that changing definitions, and word choices, can be a powerful instigator of social change.

I love this article. I hope it gets a lot of air time, because these word choices do make a huge difference.

Thanks for the research Monash University, Sarah Ashton, and Dr Maggie Kirkman, Senior Research Fellow, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - Long-nosed Fur Seals

Fur seal at American River wharf (spotted on our first day)
Long-nosed Fur Seals (previously known as New Zealand Fur Seals) hang out around Kangaroo Island, which is one of the reasons that calling mobile animals by names that reference a country is all sorts of confusing. It's nice now that there's a push to use the Long-nosed name - and people on KI were quite strict about distinguishing which type of 'seal' you meant when you used that generic name.

These guys aren't the friendly, puppy-like ones. As the dolphin guy told me, these ones might look fun and interact a bit, and then they'll bite you for no reason. He also said these are the ones most closely associated with sharks. He reckoned if you saw a Great White around KI, you were most likely with the fur seals. And this information was good for me, because I'd been tempted to jump in and have a swim with the first seal we'd seen (the day before the dolphins), but there were other people around and I didn't. So that was a bit lucky - I may have been sporting a bite and that would have ruined the whole trip!

At the end of KI, there's Flinders Chase National Park, and the SE corner has Admiral's Arch and Remarkable Rocks. There's a colony of Fur Seals around Admiral's Arch, which is surrounded by rock platforms. So the fur seals do their feeding and then come to these rock platforms for a rest (except for the anti-social one we saw at the opposite end of the island!)

There are mothers and babies, teenagers and bulls on the rock platforms. You could stand there for ages watching them. Some sleep, but there are others who are just trouble. They go around waking up and stirring up trouble. Some play in the waves or the gutters in the rocks. Others climb up and down the rocks looking for a better spot to lie. It was fascinating.

Initially, we saw rocks, then you might spot one or two of the lighter coloured seals, and once your eye got in, there seemed to be hundreds all over the rocks. Little brown blobs scattered in shadows, under overhangs, right on a flat rock that you'd just overlooked. It was funny to watch people come down and go, "oh a seal," and then a few minutes later, "They're everywhere."

We spent some time watching the seals surf onto the rock platform. A couple of them seemed to be just off the edge, playing in the waves, and then they'd take a few waves before they made it up onto the rocks and able to walk higher. I wish I knew if they were playing, or learning techniques.

One seal we watched make his slow way down to a gutter. It took about 10 minutes, and it was like he wasn't sure he was going in (a bit like people at the beach when it's not a hot day). Then he eased his way into the water - no belly flop, but a gentle slide. Once in the water, he was playing - diving, rolling, sticking each flipper up, head up, tail up, rolling, swimming, chasing his tail. It was brilliant to watch and well worth us waiting so long!

I think you can see why 7 days wasn't enough time to see everything on KI!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Story - Prince of Air and Darkness

M.A. Grant's Prince of Air and Darkness was waiting for me when I got home from holidays and I devoured it.

It's a m/m paranormal romance that has every paranormal creature I could think of mentioned :)

Roark is the Prince of Air and Darkness, the favourite son of the Winter Faery Court (favourite, probably because he's the only one who's stuck around!).

Finny is human, who possesses the ability to link with the energy of ley lines. This is something he can't yet control and is likely to kill him.

Roark and Finny have a strange relationship at the beginning. It's not hatred that keeps them apart, but Roark's thick thick walls. He is so guarded, so difficult to read and understand. Finny si sweet and incredibly likeable and open.

As the story progresses I fell for Roark. He's a fantastic character with such strength and purity of heart.

At times, this story was so incredibly human. It could have been a m/m set at a university campus...and then some mythical creature would appear on the page and bounce you right back into the paranormal. This wasn't at all distracting or a criticism, it's what made the characters so incredibly likeable, and what set up the series. It's the perfect premise - a place where everyone is mixing and 'equal', with just a few tensions that are escalating among the rumours of the possibility of war breaking out.

If you like paranormal, m/m romance - grab this book!

If you enjoy an emotional story telling, grab this book!

I hope you might enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Fearless Friday - trying a new genre

This week, in my quest for fearlessness, I'm trying a new genre. Don't worry, I'm not giving up on erotica and erotic romance. That's sticking with me! But I'm spreading my wings a little more and going to try to let my mind go to places that have scared me before - the paranormal.

I LOVE reading paranormal stories. They let me escape into worlds where there are different rules, different forms, different expectations. I completely love reading about the mythical and mystical.

If I sit down to write it, I freeze. My brain goes, "Ha! No way would anyone believe that! How stupid an idea. Why would you think that'd work?" It also tells me I can't world build, that it's too hard, that I wouldn't know where to start.

It lies.

I build a world with every book I write. I might use a place I've been to, and describe things I've seen, but many many times the rest is all a fabrication. That whole world around Team Player was make-believe. I don't know the behind-the-scenes of footy teams. I don't know how their friends and family react, interact, feel. I made it all up. It's my world that I created.

And if I can create a world where threesomes become accepted, where two male footy players are allowed to love, then surely I can play with myths and fantasy. Surely I can let loose dragons and shapeshifters and vampires and werewolves. Faeries and goblins, elves and reindeer. Surely I can open up my mind to linking myths and magic. Superstitions with rumours and folklore.

And so...if I'm being that fearless to create worlds, then I need a new me to distinguish between sweet me, raunchy me, and make-believe me. So, I'm thinking of going out on a limb and creating a website where all three of mes are linked. Where you can click to come here to raunchy me. Where you can explore the sweet me, or the paranormal me. And where you can buy my books from me.

At the moment, so many things are in the 'difficult' and 'almost impossible' baskets ... but I'm working on learning and changing and being brave so these baskets empty out and everything gets into the 'doing' and then the 'done' baskets.

So... a few more weeks and I'll hopefully get A Real Online Fantasy under my control. I'll launch my beautiful new cover, have the book available as an ebook and a print book. And I have new erotic story (no footy player in sight this time) being written, and a paranormal series in the wings (ie research and planning stages).

This being fearless can be sometimes exciting!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - raptors

Kangaroo Island has a place called Raptor Domain. We saw some brochures about it and a private show was advertised where you could hold a wedge-tailed eagle. We were in! There were 3 of us and 3 people were allowed in the private show - perfect.

We saw 5 birds - Australian Raven, Barn Owl, Masked Owl, Pacific Baza and Wedge-tailed Eagle. I think the brochure said 6 or 7, but we spent so much time with each animal we were thrilled with the ones we saw. We chatted a lot to the keeper, Dana, who just loved birds, knew a lot and shared it easily. 

Casper the Barn Owl
The Raven came out first and they’d taught it to pick up rubbish and put it in the bin! It had been rehomed from the National Park where it had been ‘attacking’ people eating at the outdoor cafĂ©. It was much happier with his new role - and so were the diners. The bird doesn't just randomly pick up rubbish, it came with a 'don't litter' message, which works well with the huge environmental focus on Kangaroo Island.

Matilda the Masked Owl
We then met Casper the Barn Owl. he took a liking to Dad and sat on his lap a few times before Dad was covered and protected by the blanket. And just quietly, Dad was pretty taken by the owl, especially how incredibly soft his feathes were. Casper did a fly by over us to show how soundlessly owls fly. Their feathers are shaped in such a way that they make barely any noise in flight, which is great for swooping on unsuspecting mice. All I felt as he went over was a breath of air. Incredible.

Matilda the Masked Owl was our next visitor and again, softest feathers out. Masked Owls are a lot larger than Barn Owls, and although Matilda have very dark feathers, not all Masked Owls are this dark.

The Pacific Baza used to be called the Crested Falcon.In the photo you can't see her crest very well as it's lying flat while she eats a meal worm. But the crest gave her a bit of a pigeon look. But those they're big and bright. They're right at the sides of her head and she watched every little thing that was happening. There was nothing pigeon like about the gaze. 

Pacific Baza
She wore jesses, and I asked quite a bit about them. I thought the bird may take some adjusting to having leather straps on their feet but apparently not. Horses are always stupid when their legs get bandaged as they seem to lift their legs ridiculously high, almost as if they're trying to step out of the bandages. Birds don't seem to be bothered at all. And it didn't appear as if they has to adjust their flight either. Maybe raptors adjust automatically because they often use their talons for hunting, so carrying extra size/weight in their feet is instinctive. Some of the owls start with jesses which are removed when they're no longer deemed a risk of taking off. Dana wasn't sure that the Pacific Baza woudl ever be rid of hers.

Jack, Wedge-tailed eagle
Finally, Jack the Wedge-tailed Eagle came out. He was magnificent. The size difference from the owls to the eagle was incredible, not to mention the weight when they're on your arm! Dad held him first and I took so many photos. Then it was my turn.

Jack was seated on my out-stretched left hand and my right hand had to go into my pocket. If I raised my right hand, I might scare the bird (and I imagine he may attack...but that wasn't said, it's just what when through my mind). Since that was in my mind, the first few moments were interesting as Jack and I sized each other up. I could see that massive beak and it was at about the level of my soft nose, and a lot of scenarios went through my head as I battled fear. But we came to some agreement to trust each other. Jack stopped staring, ruffled his feathers, relaxed on my arm, and I relaxed as well.

Me and Jack, when we're relaxed
We've been hand-feeding King Parrots for some years (and sometimes I offer the cockatoos when I'm feeling brave) and I didn't realise how much that would impact my eagle holding. My hand and arm were quite used to remaining relatively still. I could judge what the bird was going to do - Dana gave me a warning before he ruffled his feathers, but I hadn't needed it because I knew he was going to do it just as she did. That's because King Parrots do the same thing. If you flutter your hand when they're ruffling and relaxing, they go. I knew to remain still as Jack ruffled and relaxed. A bird so very much larger, and yet the philosophy remained the same. How very cool.

Dana and Jack cuddles
After we'd all held Jack, Dana then gave him smooches and cuddles. I could never have imagined anyone doing what she did. It was beautiful to see how much they adored each other. In a way, I wish she'd done that first so I had no fear when holding him... but in another way, I'm glad I had to work through that fear to do something completely incredible.

I thought the dolphins were awesome, and this was a very close second.

If you're ever on Kangaroo Island, don't miss Raptor Domain. They have shows through the day where the birds, as well as reptiles and venomous critters are displayed. It's not a zoo or a wildlife park. It's a rehab and education centre, and it's awesome.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Fearless Friday - all care, no responsibility

I'm amending my Wednesday post today - because it's Friday and I should be fearless, plus its International Women's Day which has made me think more deeply.

I was not responsible for my father or husband. They are both adults and are quite capable of deciding if they wanted to swim, and were capable of swimming, with dolphins. I may be good at swimming, but it was not my responsibility to look after them because neither asked me to, and both are capable of that. I may be female and wired to nurture and care, but it's not an obligation. I chose not to have children so I could fulfill what I wanted to do in life, that does not mean I need to have anyone act in the role of a child and demand my full attention and responsibility.

I am strong. I am fearless. I have boundaries. I look after every myself.

I am not responsible for any one else.

I can love, and l do, but that does not make those I love my responsibility.

We each have our own lives to live, our own journeys to make, and we're responsible for that; for ourselves.

I've been watching the males in my life, and they don't feel the responsibility for me that I feel for them. Somehow I got hard wired to think I have to look after others. I don't. I need to perish that thought.

I can care. I can love. It doesn't mean I am responsible for them.

Do you think I've said it enough to de-program my brain?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - dolphins

OMG! I've just been to Kangaroo Island and I'm going to bombard you with all the critters I saw while there. My favourite encounter first - swimming with dolphins. When I got home, I couldn't sleep, and I wrote this (below) so I'm pasting it here and only the names have been edited. I hope it captures my emotion.

Feb 25th, 2019

Today was incredible. The water was crystal clear, green, gorgeous. Not cold, perfect. The day was sunny, a bit of a breeze, hot. The Dolphins came to check us out, a mother and calf first, then a single. Then we met the pods as they came up beside us...or did we go to them? They're interested in the boat, coming to see, to ride the waves, to look at us.

After some time of watching them come, we're at the back, ready to slide in with them, mask and snorkel on, my camera in hand.

I should have looked after Mr E and Dad but I didn't. I lost myself in dolphins. They swam by, clicks and squeals and squeaks. Huge and small. The largest ones nearest to me, watching, ready to protect their pod.

And me, not even thinking of my pod, just off on my own, revelling in the experience. Then our time is up. Back to the boat. Dad and Mr E don't look good, both pale, breathing hard, looking unwell. Fuck. I should have cared, stayed with them. I help Dad up, get his gear, ply him with water. Watch him cough and hack. More fresh water. Mr E looks on, stoic, not wanting water, not all that happy.

The next group are in and I take some shots, I try my best to care but I've already shown my true colours.

An opportunity to go in again. I'm there. I'm in again. Before I do, on the back, I see the couple with the small boy. The boy has not swum but his parents have. And I understand them. I feel some camaraderie.
Then I notice the lady, standing with a beautific smile, hands cradling her stomach, a small bulge that the sun-smart shirt sticks to. I wonder if she's pregnant but it's not something I can ask a stranger. I ask if she's okay, if she enjoyed it. She beams. Beautific becomes luminous. "My baby became active when the dolphins swam past." Oh, my heart almost melted. We spoke of it, of them, of the experience, the joy.

I mention the baby movement to the photographer on board. She's more excited than either of us. Now all three of us are buzzing. We allow the pregnant lady to get in alone. We watch the dolphins came around her, circle her. She's ecstatic, grinning, thumbs up. Her baby responds again, rolls and is active. The dolphins click and chatter as they pass her.

We go in again, and again. Again and again. Maybe 6 times. Each time is different, exciting, incredible. I talk, I roll, I swim, I follow, I twist and turn, kick and crawl, but there is no way to keep up with them. I watch them glide past, tails pulsing, as I lumber almost unmoving compared with them.

In an interlude I spot fish, inquisitive fellows who came swimming right up to me, posing for my shot. I snap weed and jellyfish, patterns in the sand, the boat and the boat's movement.

The captain, picks us up, drops us off. Easily. Flawlessly. We slip into the water as the pod arrives. They circle, sweep around us, check us all out.

They're huge. Solid, big, grey, some stick to shadows, lurking at the edges of the pod. Once I looked closely, a shark or a dolphin? But I felt no fear, just a burning curiosity and a feeling of belonging...and not belonging at all.

When it was time to go, we took off with some speed and the dolphins were there, they knew, it was playtime. They rode the waves, leaping from the water, joyous, exuberant, showing off their skills. It was the most incredible way to end the trip. A buoyant, exuberance for all.

A deeply moving day, because of the incredible experience the lady with her baby shared with us. The joy of seeing her face, her hands cradling the new life inside, the care of her little boy.

I don't think Dad and Mr E enjoyed it anywhere close to how I did, but I think they enjoyed the day. The view from the boat was quite amazing. If I manage to have energy tomorrow, then I think Mr E may be a lot happier. I don't think he can comprehend the impact the ocean has on me.

I don't think I'll ever forget this experience.


If you want to do this, here are the details. Enjoy!!