Category Archives: Opinion Piece

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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Sun Safety for Writers

In Queensland, Australia, we have started the long hot season of Spring/Summer/Autumn. Winter was a flop; one cold week does not a winter make.

With that in mind, let’s look at how a writer can avoid a bad burn.

Image result for vibrant sun

‘Vibrant Sun’ by Elspeth McLean

Using Sunscreen: There are many sorts of sunscreen for all levels of protection. For the newbie, I suggest the strongest protection levels, and learn to avoid the pitfalls of spell check, use a style guide like ‘Strunk and White’, and use a good dictionary to prevent embarrassing burns. Ask for help. Don’t let a bad burn put you off trying again. For more experienced writers, I suggest a writing group or a writing buddy for protection against the harsher weather conditions.

Wearing a Hat and/or a Shirt:  Sometimes, even the toughest skin is going to get a stinging burn if left unprotected. Prevention is easier than cure. Read the submission guidelines before submitting your work. Be a belt-and-suspenders type of writer and do your research before making a submission, and polish your submission to your best ability.

Moisturize: If you do get a burn, don’t neglect it in the hopes it will go away if you ignore it. Be proactive! Slather yourself with encouragement. Selfcare is important. Good friends will help you with those places that are hard to reach; go out for coffee with a writing buddy.

Getting a Safe Tan: The only way to become a published writer is to send stuff off.  You have to risk exposure to reach that goal.

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Filed under Humour, Opinion Piece, Personal experience, The Writing Life

Assumptions

I have lived my life with assumptions. Not about science or politics, but just general assumptions that I gained by growing up with my parents. I assumed that if I worked hard and lived right, by now I would be financially secure – nope. I assumed that I would have relatively painless childbirth because my mother had painless childbirth – wrong again. And I had assumed that my parents – being such young parents – would be around for longer.

As a small child, I had assumed I would be rich and famous by now. That one I managed to understand was unrealistic quite early on. I’m still hopeful, but also not stressed by the prospect of smaller expectations. People are reading my stories and that is a great satisfaction to me. Since I’m always working towards improving my writing, there is still the chance I might make it bigtime.

I guess we all think we are the exception to the rules of life. I though I was a golden child, one of the chosen ones, because I could write. I thought my parents were special, and would live forever. I didn’t think bad things could happen to us. Not us!

How could my brilliant and charismatic mother die so young?

In some ways, I have been very lucky. I have the world’s best husband, gorgeous and clever children, and the loveliest family and friends. I knew my mother for decades. I can write, and I have a room of my own, and my hubby supports my endeavours. I can still pretend I am shiny.

I am going to stop making assumptions and be grateful for the good things in my life.

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Submissions Diary

I keep a monthly submissions diary. Currently, for the month of April, I have more acceptances – and I’m including conditional acceptances – than rejections. This is a first for me.

I will have been working my own submission strategies for two years this July. These strategies include aiming for 100 rejections a year, and being more active in the writing community. Without acceptances, these are still paying off for me by improving my writing style and creating a valuable support network.

The start of the year has had more than its fair share of real life issues – but I’m still on track with the writing.

20190423_172933

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An open letter to the Australian fashion industry

Dear fashion industry: Just because it is summer doesn’t mean I want to show all my skin.

Please stop making every second blouse a ‘cold shoulder’ blouse. Only the young and fit look good in them, and they are useless outdoors in Australia – who wants sunburnt shoulders? I need a shirt that protects me from the sun.

Please stop skimping on the fabric for tops by stopping them at waist level length. I do not want to reveal my scarred tummy when I reach up for items in the supermarket. I do not want to have to pay for all the therapy for my fellow shoppers.

Please be aware that there is nothing more frustrating than finding a shirt I like, but it is only available in this year’s fashion colours, and I look ill in that very limited range of colours. Would it hurt to provide a larger range?

Australia has an aging population and an obesity problem. So how about designing clothes to flatter middle-aged, chubby women. Or I (and all my demographic) will be forced to shop in men’s clothing stores and you will lose money hand-over-fist.

No wonder I love cosplay…

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From my Facebook page

I wrote a long-winded post on Facebook, and suddenly realised that I should share this to the blog.

Rocket for SCIENCE

Reading ‘The Martian’ to understand the contrast between modern Science Fiction to the old school ‘hard’ science in fiction of ‘A for Andromeda’. I suddenly realise that there is a good reason why my mother hates Science Fiction, since she would have first encountered the over-technical ‘gosh, gee, SCIENCE!’ of the Forties and Fifties before the revolution of the Sixties caused by writers more interested in how people react to science than just the science. So many bad stereotypes.

At least ‘A for Andromeda’ tries to break away from cliches of the era and gives the women characters equal billing as protagonists and antagonists.

Yes, this is a sweeping generalisation. I do know that there are some very beautiful Science Fiction books written before the 1960s, that have fully developed characters and made sensitive observations of how science and technology could change lives. But they were the outliers. If you read the pulps from the Forties, there were rife with testosterone poisoning, but then, WWII probably influenced the tone of the era. It was an era of heroes fighting against impossible odds.

‘The Martian’ is all about fighting impossible odds. But the heroism is low-key. It is the humanity of our protagonist that defines him. Genre writing has moved away from being restricted by its genre and is moving into the realm of mainstream literature.

Yet, I’m still happy to sit down and watch ‘Rogue One’, which is all about explosions and white hats against black hats.

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Resisting Temptation

steampunk-book-as-vehicle

At the moment, I am trying to edit my Steampunk book and polish it so I can start sending it off to market. Except … I keep writing new short stories, and I finished a children’s book, and rewrote a creative nonfiction book about zombie bugs, all in the past nine months. As one of my writing compadres pointed this out to me at an informal get together, this isn’t getting my editing done.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am busy. But adding – and finishing – new projects is suspiciously like an active form of procrastination. It isn’t that I don’t love my Steampunk novel. It is just that the new projects are always just that bit shinier. Quicker to be completed and so quicker to send off to market. The structural edit seems to be dragging on, and I fear it is because I am dragging my heels.

Every time I dip into editing the steampunk manuscript, I want to add in new things. Should I blame my constant process and need for perfection? Normally, this means I am well and truly on top of a project. After all, I’ve complete books before this one. But I really want this one to be special. Magical! Absorbing! Detailed! Fascinating!

If I was listening to another writer complain about their need for perfection, I would be advising them to ease up and take it one step at a time. My staircase seems to be higher than the Empire State Building at the moment. Insurmountable!

At a meeting at my writers’ group, I did another chunking exercise today to try and get some control over the situation. All I ended up doing was coming up with some new (and excellent) ideas for adding foreshadowing to the first five chapters. *sigh*

Where will it all end?book-trunk

 

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Let’s Chat.

I haven’t visited the blog for a while because , for an unemployed, stay-at-home, my life is very busy. I have been sending off short stories and manuscripts with the goal of getting 100 rejections in this financial year. I write off applications for jobs (though I am beginning to think I am unemployable). And I write, of course.

Well, I have a bit of good news. One of my stories has been accepted for an anthology: Monsters Among Us, being published by Oscillate Wildly Press. This not only gave me a rosy glow of contentment, the acceptance letter had such treasures as “a strong plot, some magnificently striking imagery and immaculate prose structure”. I’m thinking of getting this tattooed on my arm, to cheer me up on those days I feel I can’t write a single decent word. I was pretty chuffed with “even at this early stage, a gripping page turner.”

This means my strategy to get 100 rejections is paying off. I got the idea from reading John Birmingham’s How to be a Writer, and a couple of other online writing blogs. If you don’t send off your work, you can’t get rejected … but you can’t get acceptances either.

supanova-gold-coast-2012

 

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What Orlando means to me, living here in Australia

The reason that the rainbow has become a symbol for sexualities other than straight, is because sexuality and gender are a spectrum, not a black and white phenomenon. A rainbow is a symbol of hope. It is a promise that – one day – there will be peace and acceptance. Today is not that day …alas.

As politicians rush to make political hay out of this tragic event in Orlando, let us remember that this tragedy wasn’t about politics, it was about hatred.  Hatred is born out of fear, and fear is born out of ignorance. He was an ignorant, fearful, hateful man who perpetrated this atrocity upon all those innocents. He felt threatened by the freedoms enjoyed by those precious young people who were dancing, and who were happy in a way he could not understand. So he washed that freedom away with bullets and blood.

The dead and maimed, and their friends and families, are not the only victims. The survivors will never be as carefree or happy ever again. The whole LGBTQIA community is shaken and more fearful than they were before the atrocity occurred in Orlando. This is community that is already under siege, fighting for their right to be accepted. They have to watch as haters gleefully celebrate the deaths of their innocent friends and relations.

Living in Australia, one might think it would be easy to put a comforting distance between this massacre and myself. Not true. To paraphrase John Donne:

Any person’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

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My Satisfaction and Disappointment in the 2016 Oscars

Jenny Beavan Oscar 2016

Jenny Beavan at the 2016 Oscars

Oh dear … my news accounts are full of the scandal that a woman didn’t dress up in a gown for the Oscars. There is a clip of men flinching away from her as she walks down to the stage to collect her Oscar. What is everyone’s problem. She dressed stylishly and for comfort, and I support her wholeheartedly. She designs costumes, that doesn’t mean she has to be a model for her designs. Not everyone likes to dress up in a ballgown (says the woman who wears trews to the Steampunk Charity Ball for two years in a row).For the haters … build a bridge and get over it.

The horror ... she isn't in a frock.

The Horror! She isn’t wearing a frock!

On the other hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of Leonardo DeCaprio. However, that might change after his awesome acceptance speech. This is a superhero move, using his powers for good. (I wasn’t too keen on his movie, but let’s ignore that.)

Leo

 

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