Book Launch

Today is the day. My little book is now out in the world.

I have mixed feelings. I always knew – on some level – that my first solo effort would be about animals. But I also thought it would be speculative fiction as well. Life is always throwing surprises at you.

Reviews:

Summer Brook Spring is an amazing book as it really captures the essence of living in Queensland. I love how the character of Freya is so relatable to me and how the girls are so different yet get along so well. My personal favourite part of the story is when the girls camp out with the calf and its mother. I just find it so heart-warming. Overall it is an amazing book for all ages. Logan (10)

When I first started reading this book I could tell that it was going to be one of the best books based in Australia that I have ever read, and it was! I do find it annoying how the father wants to take the Nan back to London though but I would guess you meant us to feel that way about it. I also think Freya is brave for doing the things she did in the first week being there because personally I would never sleep in half a shed with a calf, the calf’s mother and a girl I met within the week. Now to recommend this book to all genders, ages 8-12 Taylor (11)

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Filed under Book Launch, Farm Book, The Summer Brook Farm Books

‘All the Murmuring Bones’ review

I had been a very happy reader over the past two weeks. I received both All The Murmuring Bones and The Tallow Wife And Other Tales, books by Angela Slatter, in the mail. I read them, and then reread the two volumes that share the setting of the stories: The Bitterwood Bible And Other Recountings and Sourdough And Other Stories. It’s been a delightful romp through Slatter’s complex and mythopoeic universe.

As you can see, All The Murmuring Bones has a different publisher to the other three books, who have all been published by Tartarus Press. Titan Press still managed to give the book a stunning cover image; it’s just a pity that all four books don’t share the same presentation. And that is probably my only nitpick. (I’m annoyed I haven’t the Sourdough in hardcover.)

Unlike the other three books, this is a novel and not a collection of stories. One of the features that delighted me was hints and flickers of the previous stories from her collections, used to create depth to the history of the family of the O’Malleys. The protagonist is Miren O’Malley, the last pureblood scion of the seagoing family. It is her bloodline that is a pivot to the entire plot, spinning and steering the action like a ship’s wheel. Miren is more than just a ‘plucky’ girl character running away from an unhappy betrothal, as her complex feelings about her family give her a motivation not often seen in fairy tale literature – she needs to save not just herself, but many other people who have had interactions with her family.

The book’s antagonists are members of Miren’s family, her grandmother, Aoife, her distant cousin, Aiden; and the mysterious sea-queen. The sea-queen is both the source of the family’s curse and the source of the family’s prosperity. It’s Slatter’s genius that creates a creature that can be both sympathetic and monstrous, like Medusa.

Angela Slatter’s prose is as lush and vibrant as a jungle, and it is often referred to as Gothic, as it is dark and dangerous and can haunt you for weeks after you’ve finished reading any of her books. It’s easy to get so distracted by her poetic details that you have to go back and reread a page to keep track of the action (well, that is the case for me). It’s not a book to dip into, because then you miss all the machinations that went before. Plan on having a day free when you start reading All The Murmuring Bones.

All the Murmuring Bones can be read as a stand alone book, but I recommend having a book binge by reading all four books in one fell swoop. Then you can appreciate the interplay between all the stories. Get trapped in Angela’s net.

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Filed under Angela Slatter, Australian Author, Book Review

Adventures with Cats

Yes, I am something of a cliché, an author with cats. I generally avoid mentioning my cats (and my family) when I write my author’s bio. But my furry family has been undergoing a change. We have a third cat who visits on a daily basis, and yesterday Bruce spent the entire day with us. I’m putting that down to the rain – it rained all day.

And yet, no Bruce today (so far).

Bruce is a black tom cat with lovely manners; his nickname is the ‘Soot Sprite’. He always asked politely to come inside. He is taller than my girls, but much skinnier. He doesn’t seem to have another family, because he was neglected and too thin when he first started turning up. He isn’t our cat, but he is always welcome to visit. He has a deep and croaky voice and he always says ‘goodbye’ when he is leaving. He is called Bruce because his full name is Bruce Man Bat Wayne – his expression resembles the Batman’s mask.

This is Artemis, who mostly goes by the name of Bean (because she thinks she is a hooman bean). Artemis suits her, as she loves to be worshiped like a goddess, and she hunts constantly: butterflies, lizards, dragonflies, and birds (alas). Bean also suits her, as she has sweet toe beans. She is our original cat, a rescue from the RSPCA. She has lots of personality and isn’t a polite girl. Indeed, she is something of a bully to the other cats. But she is also snuggle bunny and very chatty; that kind of love is irresistible. She also has the widest range of vocalisations I’ve ever heard, from the softest mew to a resonating wail (when she need to sing the songs of her people).

Then there is Tilly Mint, who we adopted when her original owner tragically passed away. We didn’t change her name, to avoid confusing her. Tilly is sweet-natured and polite; she taps ankles and mews when she wants attention or bikkies. It sounds like she is saying ‘ma’am’. She also uses her lush tail to signal her mood. She loves being brushed and petted, but isn’t too keen on being picked up or sitting on laps. She gets lost in the backyard, so I’m not sure she is terribly bright. She is often the target of Bean’s temper; she hides on a dining room chair under the tablecloth – but her tail always hangs down. Her voice is soft and sweet, just like her, and she is chatty. Tilly is also quite timid.

Both Bean and Tilly hate strangers at the door and storms. They were terrified during October’s massive hail storm – it sounded like the world was ending – and since then heavy rain or hail sends them into hiding. When Bruce turns up, Bean gets territorial, particularly if he decides to have a snooze on my bed (her territory). Tilly sniffs Bruce’s nose and since he is nicer to her than Bean, I think she likes him quite a bit.

The Stand-off!

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The more things change…

…the more they stay the same.

The Australia government has been going through another series of revelations about the misogyny of our male politicians. No surprises, ScoMo, our PM, has proven to be useless at facing the challenge the problem. Today, when many women are marching to air their grievances against the ingrained unfairness of our society, he has offered to meet with a few women indoors, in his offices, rather than going out to face the activists and protesters.

No surprises there. He is tone deaf about reading the zeitgeist.

However, he’s going to have to wake up and get ‘woke’. No more depending on Mrs Morrison to tell him the realities of the female opinion on rape. No more ‘I believe him, he told me what happened’ when the other side can no longer speak.

No more hiding behind distractions – it’s time to take hold of the hose, Scotty from Marketing. Own the problem.

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Women’s History Month Article

For Gillian

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My First Solo Book

Summer Brook Spring

Above is the link to my book. Don’t you just love the cover …

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Filed under Author, Iron Bridge Publishing, The Summer Brook Farm Books, Writing Career

Feeling Sad

One of the best people I know passed away on the last day of January.

Aiki Flinthart was on the cusp of becoming truly famous. She was going to run her ‘Fight Like A Girl’ workshop at WorldCon – and people might think that the Covid lockdown had postponed that until WorldCon could be safely run again. However, Aiki found out well before WorldCon2020 that she was living on a shortened schedule. In January 2020, she discovered she had tumours in her brain, her lungs, and liver, and she was dying.

Aiki – being Aiki – didn’t let this slow down her plans, just alter them. She managed to put together an AMAZING anthology, with people like Neil Gaiman and Robert Silverberg. Seriously, go buy Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins. Aiki was an editor’s editor. She kept coming to meetings of our writing group, inspiring us all to keep writing NO MATTER WHAT. She managed to get an Aiki Flinthart residency up and running at the Queensland Writers Centre. She kept writing the whole thirteen months she lived after the cancer diagnosis.

She was worried the brain tumours would strip her of her intellect. That didn’t happen. She was still signing books and making plans right up until the last week in January, when the cancer was steamrolling its way through her body. I could never be so brave!

On a personal level, we had some phone calls that made us both weep. And laugh. And swear. She gave me a crown to remind me that I am a queen of writing. We got together for coffee and gossips, and can’t I tell you how much I appreciate her sharing some of her precious time with me.

Other people have written eulogies that surpass anything I could say about Aiki. She was a fighter, physically, she lived twice as long as first advised, but being a fighter was also a part of her personality. I don’t mean she was a grump that picked arguments; she fought to be a better writer, a better friend, a supporter of the writing community, a better wife and mother, and she shone like a bright, brave blade in a drawer of plastic knives.

I was very lucky to have known her, and even luckier to have her as a friend. I would wish that on all of you, to have a friend as wonderful as Aiki Flinthart, but there will never be another Aiki.

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Filed under Aiki Flinthart, Personal experience

Do I need an author website?

I’m getting a quite a few publication credits and I have actual books coming out this year. I know a lot of people rush into getting websites before they have anything to offer, and I never wanted to be one of them. However, I am at a point where people might start looking for me online (maybe?).

The thing with a website is that it can make or break your ‘brand’. My problem … I do a heck of a lot of different things! I write both fiction and nonfiction, articles, short stories, and books, in different genres, and I write for children and adults! Once upon a time, it would have been Steampunk aesthetic all the way! I’m still tempted by that – but then it overshadows everything else I do.

Thinking about a website means getting someone to design it for me (I know my limitations!) and set it up. It means getting a domain name and an email for the site. It means opening myself up more to possible fans – and critics. Do I want to be that vulnerable?

Then I remember how much I was encouraged when I first got business cards that stated I was a writer …

What to do, what to do.

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Filed under Personal experience, Writing Career

In Lockdown Again

I live in the Greater Brisbane region, and we have just started a three day lockdown. This created a sudden rush of hysteria in the panic buyers, who spent Friday depleting supermarket shelves of milk, bread, eggs, and other items (lockdown commencing at 6pm). I know that some people feel that having a fully stocked pantry gives them a sense of control. However, I still have to wonder why … after all, the cows won’t stop providing milk and the bakers won’t stop baking.

My biggest disappointment is that I will now be cancelling a trip into the Queensland Writers Centre, and that out first writing group meeting of the year has to be postponed. It is the second event that rips at me like dragon claws. The best of us is dying of cancer, and this was probably our last chance to see her – ever. She can’t risk socialising with her immune system at its lowest point.

It seems so unfair that Covid is stripping even these small pleasures away from her.

I know a lot of people thought 2021 was going to be a better year than 2020. The truth is that every year brings new challenges to be overcome. We have to learn to live with the hand we’ve been dealt. I’m so lucky to have my family and my books and a career that involves staying home and in isolation. There is food in my fridge and pantry. My husband has a job. Thanks to social media, I’m not even isolated from my tribe. And yet … I miss hugs. I miss being able to plan an outing without the fear of infection of Covid.

Back in 2017, I didn’t know how lucky I was. Now I do. Maybe this is the lesson we all needed to learn.

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Filed under Personal experience, Writing Career

Welcome to my Life, 2021 edition

This year has started out very well, career wise. Daily Science Fiction has just notified me that they have accepted a third submission. On the very same day, I was advised the first book in my Summerbrook Besties series – which I refer to as my farm books – is now up for pre-order. Fate decided to keep me grounded by having maggots invade my kitchen bin – EWWWW! Nothing says ‘down to earth’ as much as cleaning up crawlies.

Still, the horror of invading crawlies is good inspiration for my Gothic themed project. Everything is grist for the mill!

I’m not making New Year resolutions as such for 2021. I have my five year career goals, I have my short term career goals, and I have my personal goals (be kind), and they aren’t just to make me feel better about starting a new year. They make me feel better about myself on a continuous basis. If that makes me sound like a grind, so be it. I’ve hit the combination that is working for me and I’m not fiddling with the magic.

I hope you had a safe and happy holiday season, and I look forward to chatting with you all throughout the coming months.

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Filed under Autobiographical, DailySF, Farm Book, Personal experience, Submissions, Writing Career