An Ode to Vaguebooking: Arguments That Never Happen in the Spec Fic World


An Ode to Vaguebooking: Arguments That Never Happen in the Spec Fic World


Dear Fellow Writers,

Recently there was a vague Facebook status on a popular page (a vaguebook if you will), that indicated that writers are not allowed to write about the same topics as each other, especially not if they are friends. The status publicly shamed people who wrote about the same topic as the poster and anyone who dared to say that it isn’t cool to try to publicly humiliate those who write about the same topic as you merely for writing in the same field were called bullies. Ironic. So let’s see how this would play out if it is in fact appropriate to bags topics and deny your friends and others the right to write about the same issues as you… as we all know about six degrees of separation we can’t just leave it to divide topics amongst those nearest and dearest because they’ll somehow be connected to the big players. So let’s see what this would look like on a large scale. Let’s look at the celebrated writers.

I personally would need to throw out a bunch of work because I recently read a wonderful book by internationally acclaimed Kate Forsyth where she recasts an old tale (The Beast’s Garden) so that means I would have to scrap the “Asylum” series that even Garth Nix himself felt had merit (oh yes, that’s a shameless brag, shameless and proud – I did a course with him and he read my first chapter). I really quite liked it… shit, better throw out Snake Song whilst I’m at it. An established writer has already done this kind of thing so I’d just be a “random” or a pretender and never as good, that’s what the vaguebook post stated. I apparently would totally deserve a public dismissal if I ever tried… But then again, Margo Lanagan writes retellings of old folk lore, Tender Morsels, READ IT, it is brilliant. And I’ve heard that Kate Forsyth and Margo Lanagan are friends so I guess Dr Forsyth would have to pull all those books from shelves… but oh wait, Juliet Marillier wrote Daughter of the Forest, one of the best spec fic books of all time in my humble opinion. Does this mean Lanagan and Forsyth would both have to pull work from publication? My brain is about to seep out of my ears now that I think of Sophie Masson. They all breathe fresh life into old tales. And I’m pretty sure they’re all friends. (This assumption is based on hearing them speak at festivals and avidly following them on social media.) I’m pretty sure they all recommend each others books too. Oh my brain.

It’s pretty clear in the Spec Fic world that nobody owns a topic or sub genre or issue or whatever. There is enough unique voice in each and every one of us that we can write about the same things without it being a threat to anyone else because we will all do it our own way.

Thank you Australian Speculative Fiction Women Writers for showing the true spirit of writing comradeship. You are an inspiration to me daily and you do the whole writing community¬† proud. I’m thankful for your generous spirit towards up and coming, and established authors alike. May we all be more like you and raise more people like you too.

My heart is bursting with Speculative Fiction pride at the moment but…

I’d like to note this same kind of comradary is seen in other genres. To give just one example, both Lisa Heidke and Anita Heiss write fabulous “Chick Lit” novels and are best friends. At least from my cyber stalking they seem to be. And both encourage upcoming writers beautifully.

In the blogasphere there is Kerri Sackville  (also an author) and Lana   Hirschowitz that come readily to mind. They are constantly referencing each other on their pages and even sharing some of the same stuff. They are always encouraging of people commenting and participating. So this encouragement in writers isn’t just in the novel world. It is on Facebook, on Twitter and on Blogs.

Writers by and large are awesome and generous. Don’t let anyone vaguebook you into thinking otherwise.

If you are unfamiliar with any of these women please search them out and follow their pages/blogs/tweets/books. Support those who support others.

Stop Telling People They Can’t Talk About Their Miscarriage


Recently “Every Child is a Blessing” posted two pics that went viral.


The pictures above went viral not because they were just another picture of women pre and post birth but because these pictures were dedicated to the “taboo” subject of miscarriage. Whether or not I love the execution of the image is irrelevant, people have complained it is adding salt to the wounds, because I certainly appreciate the sentiment. The stigma surrounding miscarriages needs to end.

Miscarriages are often treated as if they are shameful secrets that need to be hidden away. People would deny that they thought this way but the actions of many actually indicate that they do. Women are indoctrinated that they should never tell anyone that they are pregnant until 12 weeks in case they miscarriage. Why? Because if people don’t know that you were pregnant than it doesn’t matter? That you’ve tried and failed and can keep the shame secret? That you’ll not be sad if others don’t know? These and other reasons are utterly illogical. Once a woman is pregnant and has decided to keep that baby, their hopes and dreams for that baby grow just as fast as the fetus. It isn’t just a collection of cells to the woman, it is the hopes and dreams of a rosie cheeked baby. A warm little person to hug and hold. A human being to love and nurture. It is real and it is growing and the mother is using her own body to feed and protect that little bundle of joy. In short, they love that baby. The pictures represent those dreams externalised that will never come to be with that pregnancy. The loss of that dream isn’t any better because people didn’t know, in fact it is harder. Harder because you have to endure that grief without support and because of this stigma of not being allowed to talk about it, you can’t even ask for support.

People are often highly insensitive to woman who have had miscarriages because of that taboo. I myself was told after mine that X person had also had a miscarriage in the past but thank God she hadn’t told anyone but immediate family because then nobody knew and therefore it was better for her. The message was pretty clear that it was “better” for people not to know. That telling people after your first ultrasound was unacceptable. One must wait until the second ultrasound. It was on my second ultrasound where I was told that there was no longer a heartbeat and that it was a case of fetal demise. I needed to get a babysitter for my daughter so that I could go to the hospital because my body was not letting go naturally. I’d put on the same amount of weight as if I had had an alive fetus.

The fact that my best friend knew and could offer me sympathy and support was a blessing. The fact that others also knew was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because insensitive women told me how it would have been “better” if others didn’t know, but a blessing because so many women I knew then opened up to me that they had miscarried before. That they were there to talk because they knew how much support was needed because they were denied it. They were expected not to speak about it and just soldier on because they knew that is what was expected of them. That because the baby wasn’t full term it didn’t count.

(Just a quick side note, none of my children reached full term. My daughter reached 35 weeks and my boys 32 weeks. All happy, healthy, alive and perfectly real and worthwhile to this day.)

But those hopes and dreams do count and one does grieve when those are literally ripped from their body and one does need support. And most importantly people deserve support and there is no shame in having a miscarriage, only sadness. The woman has done nothing wrong. It is sad, and it happens. But there is no fault and there does not need to be a secret.

So I’m glad that those pictures went viral. I’m glad that people now can visualise what the women have actually lost. And now maybe people will have compassion for women when they have a miscarriage rather than trying to shut them down with their insensitive comments about how people shouldn’t mention they’re pregnant until 12 weeks, or thank goodness it was so early on so it doesn’t matter. It does matter. People knowing will allow women to get support and stop being silenced.

And for the record, the greatest miscarriage risk is at 7 weeks not 12.

So hopefully now people will start offering support rather than lectures or dismissive statements. If you don’t want to be supportive of a grieving friend that’s fine, but please admit that the problem is with you, not because they told someone in your opinion to early or because the baby wasn’t “real enough” in your opinion. It’d be appreciated if people were honest that the problem was societal bias and not the grieving no-longer-mother-to-be.

Miscarriages aren’t a shameful secret that people shouldn’t know about. They’re sad and tragic and people need the support of loved ones to get through it, NOT secrecy and shame.

Reasons Why I Might Cancel Last Minute



1. I might be exhausted. I’ve got 1 year old twins and a 4 year old. That’s wonderful but exhausting.

2. One of the three kids could be exploding with vomit. They love to share illness and when they’re sick they need mum.

3. My babysitter fell through.

4. I don’t feel comfortable going out at night. I haven’t felt safe being on my own at night since I was raped at 16. I really do make an effort to do things at night but it makes me physically ill each and every time. Don’t get mad at me for the times I don’t go, please be thankful for the times I do go because it is seriously a big fucking deal for me each and every time. And yes, I might be meeting you somewhere so you think I’m not out alone at night but the journey there and back is on my own. It doesn’t matter how you try to convince me that my fears are stupid they are still there. Generally I just say no straight out to evening events but I have been trying to expand my confidence. I can’t always get myself over that line. You want me over that line, then you need to walk with me over it. Simple.

5. You’ve invited me and my kids and the kids will be batshit crazy tired and angry and I just can’t put them through that.

@pamelahartbooks is the Solution to All Your Princess Problems #AWW2015



I know many of my friends with little girls have long been lamenting the stereotypical nature of the Disney Princess byproducts. Books about pretty gems, activities about missing your long hair, long dresses that are unsuitable for play and a fire hazard. My own daughter has even coped flack at preschool for not wearing enough branded Princess paraphernalia from two other little girls.

I have to admit my daughter loves her Disney Princesses and I love watching the movies with her. They’re fun, they’re bright, they’re colourful and they’ve got catchy tunes. What’s not to like? Well some of the messages for our little ones are questionable, particularly in the spin off products. They focus on vanity and materialism in a far greater way than the movies do. So what is a parent to do that doesn’t want their kids inundated with that kind of message at such an impressionable age?

In steps Australian writing superhero Pamela Freeman with her Princess Betony books. These books are gorgeous. They’re the perfect size for tiny hands, have beautiful covers and even have a satin ribbon sewn in for a bookmark. They have all the elements any Disney Princess fan could possibly want but they’re so much more. These books takes the princess mythos and subvert it. Yes, there is a princess, yes there are beautiful dresses, yes there is a castle BUT then when the day needs to be saved Princess Betony puts on her adventure clothes and gets down to business. She’s tough, she’s smart and she knows that there is more to life than finery and materialism. My daughter is four and loves Princess Betony. Her five year old cousin similarly loves her as does her twelve year old cousin.

So for those of you having a Disney induced meltdown and contemplating a wholesale Princess ban, I’d like suggest trying the Princess Betony books by Pamela Freeman first. It’ll give some balance to those movies that we all love.


Why All Allergy Sufferers Should Boycott KFC




My name is Robin and I am allergic to chili. In my younger years my allergic reaction was so mild that it went unnoticed and was simply passed off as a dislike for chili. In my 30s it has progressed to the point where even mild seasoning that contains chili immediately results in me becoming covered in sweat, followed soon after by vomiting and migraines. The after effects can last days and I have been hospitalized with severe gastritis as a result of the acidic build up. As such, whenever I eat out I always, ALWAYS, ask if the food has chili. If it does I either order something else or the restaurant / café generally want to help out and modify to remove the chili. Because they are devent human beings that want to treat their customers with dignity and respect. This is not the case at KFC. At KFC the store staff refuse to answer me. I have contacted them via email, this was there response :

Unfortunately I am unable to answer your question with specific information given the formulation is proprietary.

So there you have it. They don’t actually care if you eat food that you’re allergic too. They couldn’t give a shit. Now obviously I am not going to eat there. They were good enough to let me know that their chip seasoning has chili. I am aware that often things get cooked in the same oil and therefore everything would be contaminated. Gluten intolerant people understand this concept all too well.

KFC have an allergy fact sheet, it applies to gluten, seafood, peanuts, and dairy. The well known allergies. Apparently if you have a high profile allergy they’re willing to put on a display that they care but if it is uncommon they won’t budge. Evidently it is a publicity stunt not because they don’t want someone to eat something that they are allergic too.

So I would urge all allergy sufferers to rethink eating any KFC products as quite frankly they don’t care if you get sick or not, they won’t let you know not to eat their products unless you have a well publicized allergy. Rewind twenty years before peanut allergy information was well known, this is what they would have done to you. Rewind fifteen years before gluten intolerance was well known,  this is what they would have done to you.

Please take a stand with your fellow allergy sufferers and say no. No KFC. And if you’re a friend of an allergy sufferer stand with them and say “the formulation is proprietary” is not an okay answer to give to someone. It might be legal for KFC to withhold information from people that can make them seriously ill but it is utterly ammoral. Not only that, it should be damn well illegal. It should be illegal to refuse to let someone know if you’re going to poison them. People have a right to know if you’re playing Russian Roulette with their life or not. Take a stand, freedom for allergy sufferers.

Thank you for your time.

How to Stop Domestic Violence


1. Don’t hit your spouse, significant other, children, stepchildren, foster children, or anyone under your care.

2. Don’t make excuses for people perpetrating abuse. It isn’t just a robust relationship, it isn’t tough love
It is a crime, it isn’t the victims fault. Report it as the crime that it is.

3. Persecute these crimes as you would any other. DV is no less of a crime than a “Cowards Punch.”

4. Take care of our vulnerable instead of taking advantage of them.