Category Archives: work prepublication

#CBCA2015 Celebrating Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week 2015 – Chloe Prime : Alien Space Vet, Chapter Two #BookWeek

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This week was Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week. In celebration of this wonderful event, that helps bring the spirit of fandom to children’s reading, I am going to pop up chapter 2 of Chloe Prime: Alien Space Vet. Chapter 1 is HERE for people that have missed it. Enjoy, and I hope you enjoyed all the celebrations around Book Week that took place.

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Chapter Two: Greedy Goldfish

The next morning Chloe lay in her backyard pulling faces at her reflection in her fishpond. Meanwhile her mother rushed about inside the house getting Chloe’s things ready for school. Chloe enjoyed listening to the gentle trickle of water running through her backyard and the feel of the soft blue-green grass on her stomach. She reached out her hand and gently ran it through the cool water, carefully not to scare the fish. Chloe laughed at her funny faces as she waited for the fish to surface for their feed. One fish nearly leapt out of the water in fright as it came up for air to the sight of Chloe flaring her nostrils and pulling her lips back over her gums. Chloe giggled excitedly at the response and kicked her legs up behind her; her metallic leg braces glinted in the sunlight.

Leg braces might have slowed some children down but not Chloe Prime. She had been born with hip dysphasia which meant that her hip sockets were out of phase with her legs and had not formed properly. Despite the braces, Chloe was an utter tear about. She could often be seen leaping about her backyard playing ‘Super Ninja Rabbeets’ with her best friend, the amazing Hippopotati, Joshua Suza.

Chloe stood up and moved around the fishpond that she loved scouting for fish. She followed the small stream that sprang from the pond winding its way around the lush green yard. Chloe stopped and flopped down on one of the two small bridges that crossed the stream. She reached out her hand and softly parted the ferns that grew around the water, peeking in carefully to check for fish. She was hoping to be able to hand feed a few of her favourite fish friends before heading off to school.

“Chloe…” A voice drifted out to the yard disrupting Chloe’s face pulling. “Have you fed the fish yet?”

“In a minute Mum.” The little girl called back, quickly rushing back to the pond.

“You’ll be late for school. You better get a wriggle on.”

Chloe wriggled cheekily on the spot and then grabbed a tiny cube of bread from a basket beside her. She hovered the cube over the water and waited. Pretty soon a large bright orange fish broke the surface, mouth eagerly open. Chloe gently popped a piece of bread in the gapping gob and watched the fish duck back under the surface. She repeated this process for a few minutes with fish of a variety of bright oranges and pearl white, and any splotchy combination of the two colours.

“Chloe.” Mum’s voice cut through the quiet garden again. “Hurry up Sweetie. I’ve packed your bag, and the school shuttle will be here soon.”

“Two more minutes Mum.” Chloe called back.

Chloe kept emptying her bread basket into the pond. SPLASH! All of a sudden a big greedy fish leapt from the surface and tried to snatch a piece of bread from another fish. Chloe gasped in shock.

‘No, no, no! Naughty Glen,’ Chloe scolded the silly, snatching fish. ‘You know you can’t have bread. It makes your tummy sad. You don’t want to have a sad tummy do you?’

Glen’s guilty gills could be seen skulking below the surface, and he looked pleadingly at Chloe with his big, sad, googly eyes.

‘Don’t pout Greedy Glen,’ Chloe said. ‘I’ve brought rice crackers for you.’

This cheered glum Glen up no end, and he did a little fishy dance flicking his tail in excitement. He positively leapt for the rice crackers and gobbled them all up. Poor Glen could not have gluten without getting a big, bloated belly. It was very unfortunate for a bread loving goldfish. Luckily for Glen he was owned by Chloe Prime who had always been very good with animals. She just seemed to understand them. Glen had been her first patient and possibly most difficult patient. You see Glen was a bit of a glutton and he loved gluten so he was not exactly forthcoming with telling Chloe his issues. So Chloe was forced to use scientific methods in order to help gluttonous Glen. As she fed her fish each morning Chloe had noticed that Glen always got sick shortly thereafter. As he always got sick after food she believed that it must be the food. So Chloe scientifically tested out different fish foods until she discovered that Glen would swell up with any foods containing gluten but was fine when given rice or oats. As a result of Chloe’s careful testing Glen remained a happy and healthy fish some seven years later.

Fortunately future patients were a little more forth coming with information. Dogs would walk past complaining that they itched. Cats would wonder by wanting more water. Frogs would hippedy hop along saying they wanted a friend. Chloe would dutifully pass on this message to their owners. But despite Chloe’s expertise with animals there was one little hiccough. Try as she might she could never quite seem to understand insects. Each morning when she finished feeding her fish she would sit, cross legged with her eyes closed, trying to hear what the insects had to say to her. Sometimes she thought she could almost hear their words but she never could quite work out exactly what was being said. And so Chloe Prime sat, crossed legged listening for a message, on that very morning.

‘Chloe Prime,’ Mum’s voice cut through Chloe’s concentration. It was clear from Mum’s tone that she meant business. ‘I can hear the shuttle, you better come now.’

Somehow Mum could always hear the shuttle a good five minutes before it came. She seemed to have supersonic hearing. Mum could hear all manner of things, there was no keeping secrets of any kind with Mum around. Chloe scrunched up her little nose and twisted her lips, annoyed to be interrupted before she could hear anything. She quickly tossed another handful of bread into the goldfish pond and rushed inside calling goodbye to her fish friends. She really did not want to be late for her first day at school and miss out on any potential exploits.

Chloe Prime was an adventurer to the core. She was only ten but exploration was in her blood and adventure was in her bones. Chloe was related to the late and great Sir Giovanni Colompedia. One of the greatest explorers that the galaxy had ever known, he had travelled the universe in the twenty third century. Colompedia had discovered many new sights; including the very planet that Chloe lived on now. The adventurous Miss Prime was ready for New Earth Beta Campus but was it ready for her?

The inside of Chloe’s home was quite different from the outside. The outside was all lush green trees and ferns mixed with the gentle sound of trickling water. There was a constant gentle hum of insects and the popping noises of air bubbles reaching the surface of the water. The air was cool and crisp and tasted of fresh moisture. Chloe dearly loved her backyard but she also loved the inside of her house. It was white and clean yet still homey and always smelt of something being freshly baked. Chloe ran into her huge kitchen where she found Mum waiting for her, school bag in hand.

‘Can I smell double jam space biscuits?’

‘Already in your lunchbox,’ Mum replied, helping Chloe put on her school bag.

‘Have you packed enough for Joshua?’

‘Of course,’ Mum smiled.

‘What’s for lunch?’ Food was very important to Chloe.

‘You’ll have to wait and see,’ Her mum gently replied, taking Chloe by the hand to walk outside.

Chloe was serious about food and she was serious about flavour. She always loved to try the different things her mum made. Some kids always bought food from the school lunchroom but not Chloe. She always brought something fresh from home. The rich mineral soil of Giovanus meant that all of Earth’s food could be grown along with new delicious alien foods. Chloe felt her mother was aiming to become an expert in it all. Chloe did not know what kind of food she liked best. She enjoyed tucking into an Earthly lasagne as much as snacking on Neptunian urchin fruit. All Chloe really knew was that she was assured of a good lunch today. And to be perfectly honest, does anything else really matter?

Structural Workshop with the Divine Dr @KathrynHeyman – #SydneyWritersFestival

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If loving Kathryn Heyman is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. There, I said it. Everyone else in the Structural Intensive workshop hosted by the Sydney Writers’ Festival was thinking it, I just said it. You would be hard pressed to find a more dynamic presenter, and the best bit was, that Dr Heyman had substance to back it up. I’ll be perfectly honest, I am not going to detail everything that she covered, partly because I wouldn’t do it justice, and partly because if you want to truly learn from Kathryn Heyman then you need to go and do a workshop/course/mentorship with her yourself. What you get out of a course is a deeply personal thing because we are all on different paths in this writing journey. BUT this would be the world’s shortest blog if I gave nothing away for free so here goes…

One of the first sound bites that really moved me was when Kathryn Heyman said, “Your fear drives why you write.” Now I’ve heard, “if it scares you do it,” “go where the fear is,” and all those other common things before but on that cold, wet, Friday, where I had arrived drenched, late, with a slightly broken umbrella and the memory of my kids crying ringing through my brain, this phrasing, and this women really hit home. For me, I’d got my money’s worth all in that one hit. Because, I’ll let you in on a little secret, come closer, even closer, shhhh, closer, I’m going to whisper this so listen carefully, every single novel I have written deals with exactly the same issue, no matter what the genre or target audience. My chick lit novel coming out in July has a main character who has an intelligent, and quirky main character who happens to have incredibly low self-esteem so can make some pretty dumb choices. My children’s novel coming out next year has a very confident main character but the backstory that never gets explicitly covered is that the mother is deeply scarred and traumatized individual trying to be that super mum who gets everything right. Memoir From the Madhouse (I’ve never shared an excerpt from that so will pop it at the end of this) looks at why we are who we are, how our past demons drive us. I could go on but in a nutshell, I write women’s fiction, no matter the genre, no matter the age range, and the story is always – What happened to the little girl that nobody loved. Fuck, I hope she turned out okay. Until Kathryn Heyman said, “Your fear drives what you write,” I did not realise that I had written the exact same story over and over again as I grappled with my fear. It’s kind of liberating to know that I am on a cathartic journey. It’s even more liberating to know that I love that story and I will tell it over and over again, in as many ways as I like until I am ready to put that issue to bed. Because that story needs to be told. That story needs to be told not just for me but for all those little girls. I’ll keep speaking out. I’ll keep publishing for you. I hope you will join me.

Now I think you can understand what I meant by saying that this writing gig is a deeply personal journey and you have to go sit at Dr Heyman’s feet yourself to get what you need. However, I won’t be a total spoil sport, there were plenty of general things that were good for everyone. Mainly, it really helps to have a concrete, physical manifestation of conceptual matter. So if there is an obstacle, how about getting another character to embody that. If you have some sort of transformation make sure there is some sort of event or location that can act as a metaphor rather than having it all inside the character’s head. If the character has an internal desire, give it a physical manifestation, as in what action or situation would demonstrate that the desire had been met or totally failed. I’m leaving it there because as I keep saying, you have to go learn from Kathryn Heyman yourself in order to get the real benefit.

 

As promised, and true to my blog’s about section, unedited, unkempt, and untamed, here is an excerpt from Memoir from the Madhouse.

 

I am running, running faster than I’ve ever run before. The cold from the dew damp ground runs up my bare legs and covers my naked body with goose pimples. But still I run on. The warmth is fleeting, the wind is chasing me, and they are hunting me. I run naked in the cold dark night and all the while I think – I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy.

Out of my periphery I see a nurse approaching me. I let out a delirious laugh and keep on running.

‘Run, run, run as fast as you can…’

The wind whips away my words and I still run on. The ground starts to gently slope downwards and in the darkness I lose my bearings. I trip. I roll. Arms and legs flail at impossible angles. The world slows down as sky and earth blur into one. I smile and think about what has brought me here, starkers, in the dead of night, chasing demons, in the psychiatric hospital’s grounds.

 

6 Hours Earlier

I sit in Consultation Room 2 staring at my psychiatrist. I have no idea what he is saying. His voice is so soft that I can only make out every second sentence if I’m lucky. Regardless I nod like I understand. I don’t want him to think I’m rude or worse, stupid. My constantly interrupting to say, ‘Eh?’ or, ‘What?’ only results in him repeating his mumbles anyway. So instead I just nod along like I agree.

‘Are you anxious about going home tomorrow?’ Finally a sentence I can hear.

‘No,’ I lie.

Of course I’m anxious. I’ve got newborn twins and a two year old. They’re hard work. I have to somehow keep on functioning, no, mumctioning, despite the fact that the twins won’t sleep, which means I can’t sleep either. All work and no sleep makes Robin a dull girl. Perhaps they could be trained to settle one another. One cries and the other rubs their back, then they roll over and swap jobs. That’d be pretty sweet but although I’m in the nuthouse even I know that won’t happen.

‘Really?’ my psychiatrist raises an eyebrow. ‘Last time you were supposed to go home you had such an anxiety attack that we had to transfer you to a medical hospital.’

I shrug. More words are spoken that I nod thoughtfully along too. God only knows what I’ve agreed to in these sessions.

‘Do you like cap guns and pillows?’ Nods in agreement.

‘Do you still wet the bed?’ Nods thoughtfully.

‘Do you have a Christ complex?’ Nods politely.

‘Do you like the smell of your own farts?’ Nods vigorously.

He probably thinks I’m the biggest psycho to ever have graced this Crackpot’s with Babies Unit. No doubt I’ve inadvertently agreed to having a fetish for gingerbread men, partaking in cock fighting as a chicken, and having to burp three times every time I hear the word purple lest the world ends. Not surprising that Doctor Huang is so shocked by my casual attitude.

Truth be told I’m just quietly packing shit. My husband and I have arranged for a babysitter to come for a few hours a day during baby rush hour. 4 – 7 sucks with the under threes. They’re cranky, they need baths, they need dinner and they need to go to bed. Times that by three and I seriously struggle. The babysitter coming at these times doesn’t help me rest. Just helps me make sure none of my kids are neglected. I want to rest. We can’t afford rest. Fucking money.

‘A lot can change in a week.’

Prepublication: What Happens in Book Club…

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As those of you who have read my ABOUT section will know it states that this blog is – “The works of Robin Riedstra unedited, unchecked, unkempt and totally untamed. Read them if you dare travel through the grammatical jungle.” So I thought I should give you a sneak peek at roughly the first 5,000 words prior to editing. Typos, grammos, and the occasional just plain wrongo, all there. I think you’ll still have plenty of fun reading it. Will post a link when the editing is finalized and the book is live on Amazon.

What happens in Book Club… is unashamedly Commercial Fiction for Women. I am a woman, I write stories that I’d like to read. So if you hated all things Bridget Jones, Pride and Prejudice, Devil Wears, Jane Eyre, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Wuthering Heights, and Sex in the City… For the love of your sanity read no more! What Happens in Book Club… opens at the end of Gwyn’s book club’s meeting about Fifty Shades, it is awkward to say the least and the women decide that they need a year of classics to cleanse their minds. But unfortunately this doesn’t help Gwyn, who now seems to see sex and sexy sexing in every text she reads. Mr Rochester, Mr Clerval and Mr Bingley never looked so good… and so bad. 😦

Warning: Contains a sexy silver fox and my love of my hometown Sydney is very apparent. Think of it as Sex in the SYDNEY. Lol.

What happens in Book Club…

Bookclub cover websiteIt was over. We all stared at each other in awkward silence. The dirty deed had been done, empty wine glasses sat on the dingy bar table between us and we did not quite know how to move forward from this point. There needed to be empty shot glasses lined up as far as the eye could see for the women in the book club to be able to meet each other’s gazes again.

‘I think now that Fifty Shades is done we should cleanse our loins with a classic of some sort,’ Selene finally broke the silence. She was the leader of our little book club. Bright red lipstick, slick black hair, and dark brown eyes. If she would just wear a short black dress instead of business suits, she would fit right in on the set of a Robert Palmer video.

‘I think about a year of strong women is in order,’ Mac agreed vigorously. Her face was almost as red as her hair. She dabbed absentmindedly at a wine stain on the frilly long sleeved blouse she was favouring of late. It must be another pirate phase or failing that Shakespeare?

The rest of us still just stared at our hands too embarrassed to look at one another. Some had flicked through Fifty Shades and only read the sexy bits, desperados; some had flicked past the sexy scenes, prudes; and others had stopped reading because the sentence structure made their brains hurt, snobs. Either way, Fifty Shades had stirred up something inside of us that nobody wanted to name or discuss. Our book club was usually so boisterous that we disturbed other patrons. Thank God we knew how to drink, otherwise we would have been far too much bother. Instead, we were welcomed each month. Well, at least our wallets were. However, that once a month shrill disturbance at the Longie had been practically a whisper this evening. We should have drunk more wine. All that was on the table between us was a few empty glasses and E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey standing erect in the middle of them. It almost seemed to pulsate and call out to people, ‘Look what these naughty girls have been reading.’

‘So, Pride and Prejudice?’ Selene asked.

There was a general murmur of agreement before everyone but Selene, Mac and I fled the scene.

‘Well, that was awkward.’ I finally found words.

‘No shit, Gwyn,’ Mac slumps back in her chair and drains the remains of her seventh wine glass.

‘What was up with you?’ Selene clearly does not have a bad case of loving me this evening. ‘We rely on you to say inappropriate things at poorly positioned moments to lighten the mood.’

‘To be honest after reading about a lot of sex I don’t want to talk about it, I just want to go out and have it. Just a lot less rapey.’ Unfortunately, as a boring schoolteacher, reading about a bunch of erotic sex was about as close as I was going to come to… well… cumming.

‘Perfect. Why didn’t you say that?’ Selene challenges me. ‘It would have opened up a whole lot of conversation.

‘I don’t want to talk about sex with those women!’ I am utterly aghast. ‘They’re old enough to be my mother.’

‘Actually,’ Mac has apparently appointed herself as my fact checker, ‘only seven of our members are old enough to be your mother.’

‘I just wasn’t feeling it today,’ I mumble into my hands.

‘I’m feeling something.’ Mac has managed to un-potato sack herself and is sitting bolt upright, breasts stuck out as if attempting to push their way out of her pirate shirt into her intended target’s hands.

‘You were quiet tonight ladies,’ the barman flashes his perfectly white teeth at us. As he collects our glasses, he pushes a strand of blonde hair away from his eyes. His electric blue eyes run a warm current up my spine. ‘I missed your laugh red.’

Mac dissolves into giggles on the spot.

‘Yours too red.’ He is looking at me. I feel like I am being struck by lightning as he focuses the full force of his charisma on me.

‘First week back at school,’ I purr. Every man has a sexy schoolteacher fantasy. ‘Those kids are running me ragged.’

‘She isn’t really a red-head,’ Mac throws water on our moment and it fizzles out. ‘I am.’ Dear God, are her breasts growing.

His tractor beam shifts from me to Mac and she meets it head on with her laser green eyes. Ugh, of course she will win. Damn those green eyes. All I can shoot back at him is a poor imitation of his own, much more spectacular, blue.

‘I’m sure I’ll find out one day,’ he flirts back, then walks back to the bar leaving Mac with a wink to keep her warm.

‘He’s so hot,’ Mac swoons back into her chair hugging her wink to her chest.

‘He looks like a lost Hemsworth brother,’ I sigh.

‘Forget that!’ Evidently, Selene is still not happy. ‘You better bring your A Grade Ditz routine next month. Your weird humour always makes them open up. And that is what we are here for. Info.’

‘Sorry,’ I frown at my hands. ‘It’s Maureen’s fault.’

‘She wasn’t even here’ Selene rolls her eyes at my seemingly poor excuse.

‘Yeah, but she’s so wild. She would have put a firecracker up this evening’s arse… and… well… I’m just horny,’ I confess.

‘We’re all bloody horny,’ Selene explodes.

A silver fox businessman at the bar looks over at us.

‘Get a bloody vibrator,’ Selene is clearly still unimpressed with my excuses.

Hemsworth from behind the bar stifles a snicker.

This is not my night.

Selene sits for a while fuming until she finally calms down. ‘Sorry. I’m just frustrated. We’re only running this book club so that we can find out what women want so we can write a great book, but tonight we got nothing! How does that help me get published? I’m just so frustrated. I want to write Fantasy, but nobody wants to publish fairy stories, so we try to write something people want but the people aren’t speaking to us. This should have been a slam-dunk. That book was so popular. They should have been gas bagging away like nothing else telling us what worked. But no. It’s just… I mean… I’ve gotta head.’ She kisses Mac and I on the forehead and says, ’emails tomorrow girls,’ and then vanishes.

‘I’d like someone’s head,’ Mac drools. She has somehow managed to get her hands on her eighth glass of wine whilst Selene and I argued. The tip of her delicately upturned nose is already starting to turn a far too merry shade of pink. It is going to be a long night.

*          *          *

‘Did Hemsworth see me throw-up?’ Mac is looking at me with such pleading eyes as I strap her into her taxi that I find it within my heart to lie to her.

‘No.’

‘Did he see me trip over?’

Yes, it was at that point that he called you this cab.

‘No.’

‘Good.’ Mac smiles for a moment and then starts to cry.

I smile sympathetically at the driver before standing up, closing the door, and rapping the taxi on the roof to let him know he is good to go. I stand back, breathe in the fresh night air, and stretch out my neck after the strain of carrying Mac to the cab. I cannot be mad. Half the time it is me.

The North Sydney Street is practically empty at this time of night. Wednesday nights are not known for their wildness in these parts. I am sure Coogee would be off the hook right now but it is nice and peaceful here. I need a taxi of my own but it could be a long while. A miracle, a yellow glowing beacon comes swinging around the corner like a golden gift from the Gods, hooray, I am saved from waiting for hours for cab never to arrive and eventually walking home.

I go to put my arm out to wave the taxi down but I am beaten. The silver fox from the bar has just exited the bar and already has his arm out waving down the taxi.

What an arse hole.

The taxi pulls up and he opens the door then pauses and stares back at me. He has the most amazing blue eyes that I have ever seen. His perfect lips break into a grin and he calls out to me.‘Care to share a cab?’

I do not know where he is going but I do know that this is probably my last chance for a cab and so going a few minutes out of my way to drop him off is probably worth it. Besides, there are worse ways to spend an extended cab ride than gazing at that perfect mouth. Then again, my mother did tell me not to get into cars with strangers.

Well I guess that decides it then.

I nod enthusiastically and charge forward.

*          *          *          *          *

I stare out at a sea of bored faces. Fifteen-year-old boys and girls are sitting slumped in their chairs as if I am their cult leader and have just given them a spiked communion. Me teaching Geography is definitely one of the signs of the apocalypse, so there is probably some truth to this metaphor.

‘I’m bored,’ whines a girl wearing more eyeliner than I actually own.

I want to yell at her, ‘It’s only the first week back, how can you be bored already? There are no boring subjects, just boring people!’ But I do not.

‘Well of course you’re bored,’ I respond with a sniff, ‘this is Geography, I’m not a miracle worker.’

The class giggles in response. Always a good idea to humour the teacher.

‘Seriously Miss, this is so stupid, when am I going to have to know about coastal management?’ Eyeliner questions me with a pout from her highly glossed lips.

Mental note: bring sunglasses to class, gloss is back in, big time.

Mental, mental note: I love gloss, buy more… and put some glitter on that list. And tampons, ugh, my lower back is killing, I’ll be needing them soon.

I try not to let out a sigh. I felt the same level of What the fuck is happening to our society? when I was asked why we had to study The Removalists last year. Apparently, domestic violence just is not an issue anymore. I take a deep breath to calm myself so that I avoid giving an impassioned speech that will only proceed to alienate the student, a feat I did not manage last year. I still remember the parent phone call after I had reduced their seventeen-year-old daughter to tears with current domestic violence incidents in the news. Making kids cry is not cool. I proceed to attempt to meet her needs in a way meaningful to her.

‘Tell you what,’ I bargain, ‘we get through all our work for the week today and we can watch an interesting show instead of working on Friday.’ Ah, the evil genius of the teacher, using media and celebrities to make points that our lame selves cannot. They will get educated quite happily if I tell them they are not learning.

A general murmur of agreement comes from the class and the previously roofied class turns into a class on speed. It is my turn to slide down in my chair in a rohypnoled state. I stare at the clock. I have an important chat date with the girls at 3:05pm. It is important, it is tradition… it is habit. We always have a chat catch-up at 3:05pm. It is the one thing I can rely on. I may spend my rent money on shoes, I might forget my own phone number, I might even forget that I am a non-smoker and have a few cheeky cigarettes on a big night out… okay, a few packs, BUT, I know that every weekday, like clockwork, I will have a flurry of emails from the girls at 3:05pm. Easy for me, it is the end of my school day, but how the girls manage to schedule it in everyday is a miracle to me. A miracle that I am not going to question. I am just thankful that my high flying Executive Assistant pal Selene and my Banker buddy Mac can make time for a cretin like me.

TICK

The minute hand moves from 3:03 to 3:04.

‘Okay guys, time to pack up.’

A flurry of noise and activity erupts that makes me believe that perhaps I have just announced the end of the world. This may explain why the students are constantly bringing stashes of food to class. Always better to be safe than sorry.

‘Remember to put your chairs up on the desks,’ I yell over the thundering storm.

‘Miss,’ a tall boy I always have to remind to take off his baseball hat, complains as he no doubt will every single lesson, ‘No other teachers make us do this. It’s so Primary School.’

Ouch, the ultimate insult. Unfortunately, I happen to like cut and paste, and glitter, so would make a most excellent primary school teacher.

‘Yes, and that is why I have got the cleanest floors out of everyone,’ I dutifully give out my standard response. ‘If you make it easier for the cleaners, they’ll treat you right.’ I finish it off with a wink and the lanky boy blushes a bit. Oh dear, another one. I will have a week of being stalked followed by months of being called a lesbian. Oh what fun. I hope that he is more creative in his toilet graffiti than the last kid. A picture of a stick figure with enormous boobs with my name written next to it is just so last season.

The bell goes and without awaiting any instructions, the students run for the hills.

I open up my laptop. Our group email has already started.

Selene: How’d you end up?

Mac: Drunk, but thankfully managed not to embarrass myself and got home in one piece.

Selene: Sure you did.

Mac: Seriously I did. Ask Gwyn.

Me: I had sex.

Selene: We need to meet now.

Mac: What the fuck?

Mac: Bullshit!

Mac: You lie!

Mac: Yeah we need to meet.

Mac: The Usual?

Mac: Come on guys, you’re killing me. The Usual?

Mac: 5pm?

Mac: Guys!!!!!!!

Selene: Chill out Mac. It’s been like 5 fucking seconds, not everybody types as fast as you do.

Mac: Shut up mole.

Selene: Game on mole.

Me: You’re both moles. See you at 5:30pm.

Mac: Fine. 5:30pm. You better be on time.

Mac: None of this 154 minutes late shit.

Mac: *15 minutes

Mac: Any details to share in advance?

Mac: Who was it?

Mac: Did I speak to him?

Mac: Guys?

Selene: See you at 17:30.

Mac: You girls suck!

*          *          *          *          *

When I arrive at the Usual, Selene and Mac are already sitting at our usual table. Nice and close to the dark timber bar and a high table with high stools so we can semi stand and not have our thighs go all squidgy on the seats. It may be our Usual but we are not animals, we still want to look hot. Just not actually utilise that hotness to its full potential. Mac is tapping at her wristwatch with a frown whilst Mac is staring meaningfully at the ornate, silver watch hanging around her neck. I am only five minutes late but clearly she and Selene got here early in anticipation. How did they get out of work early for this? Why did they get out of work early just for me?

‘Sorry I’m five minutes late,’ I say dumping my over-seized beige, faux-alligator skin handbag on the corner of the table.

‘Seriously, you’re the first one to get off, how can you be the last one here?’ Mac is not happy with even a five minute tardy. Selene comes across as the uptight one but deep down it is Mac. She adjusts her frilly pink blouse and squints those green eyes at me. I swear she knows her eyes are special so she uses them as a weapon as much as possible.

‘Apparently she was the last one to get off,’ Selene smiles into her wine glass. I laugh in return. Sensible Selene is here customary black business suit. How many of those things must she own? At least one hundred and fifty.

‘Oh shut up you two,’ Mac is frustrated. ‘So, details? Who was it? Was it Thor?’

Ahhhh, now it makes sense, she is worried that I have been getting my hand on the God of Thunder’s hammer.

‘Come on, spill.’ Selene as always is simple, direct and to the point.

‘Ladies, chill, at least buy me a drink before violating my privacy.’ Two sets of eyes stare at me. One set green, the other brown, but identically unimpressed. ‘Okay, at least let me buy myself a pint before you start in on me.’

I spin to get up and nearly clash with an unfortunate looking bar tender.

‘Hey Gwyn,’ he is like a puppy, practically panting, ‘a customer ordered a pint and then decided they wanted something else, so I thought I’d bring it over to you. I know it’s your usual.’

I thank him for his generosity but assure him he really should not put himself out on my behalf. He stares at me with big cow eyes, which let me know that it is far too late for that.

I turn back to Mac and Selene.

‘We need to find a new Usual.’

‘No,’ there is no arguing with Selene. ‘You made your bed, now you lie in it.’

‘How is this even my fault?’

‘You shouldn’t have flashed him,’ Selene responds flatly.

‘But I was drunk, it was late, we should have moved onto a new location by then. I clearly remember saying that we should leave. I know that you never stay at your local to disgrace yourself.’ I plead.

‘I’m more interested in hearing how you disgraced yourself last night,’ Mac butts in, ‘and with who.’

‘Do you remember the Silver Fox?’

Two heads shake no at me.

‘There was a hot older business man, really good suit, amazing smile, dimples? He was there with a bunch of other suits, and stood at the bar.’

I am met with shrugs.

‘Well, him.’

‘So, not Thor?’ Mac asks.

‘Not Thor,’ I respond slightly frustrated. ‘Mr Grey.’

‘What?’ Selene is looking at me incredulously.

‘You know, like in the book.’

‘Oh my God!’ Mac is staring at me aghast. ‘You didn’t read the book. He doesn’t have grey hair.’ Not reading the assigned book is Mac’s equivalent of swearing in church. I am a little stunned by the attack.

‘I know,’ I raise my hands trying to placate her rage, ‘I read it.’ She is still glaring at me. Clearly, she does not believe me. ‘I just thought it was a funny play on words. And he was all hot and businessy and we’d just been reading about all hot and businessy so I thought…’

‘Why not fuck an old man?’ Selene interrupts bluntly.

‘He wasn’t old! He was one of those just going silver guys, still young and fit.’ So fit, so hot, strong body, abs that you could carve a mountain with, so fucking hot. Hard body pressed up against me, lips mashing, tongues touching, hands gliding along skin, hot mouth running along my neck, hands clutching at my thighs, buttocks, lips teasing nipples.

‘Are you still with us?’ Mac is waving her hands up and down in front of my face.

‘Sorry, I was just having a flashback.’

‘A flashback?’ Selene is frowning at me with her WTF face. ‘You went to war last night? With the Grey Man?’

I nod slowly and my crotch twinges at the memory.

‘Sexnam,’

‘Sounds intense,’ Mac is leaning forward, eyes bright with anticipation for details.

‘I’m now suffering from PTSD, Post Tremendous Sex Desire.’

‘That’s hot,’ Selene says.

‘That is hot,’ Mac gives a confirmation on that.

‘He really loved my hair,’ I can still feel his hands running through my hair. ‘He said he has a thing for gingers.’

‘You’re not a real ginger,’ Mac’s rebuttals come virtually automatically these days.

‘My hair might be fake but my orgasms certainly weren’t.’

‘Orgasms?’ Selene picks up on the plural.

‘Oh yeah, multiple orgasms.’

‘I need a vibrator,’ Selene always knows just what to say.

An Irish backpacker sitting behind us swivels around with his best attempt at a suave grin pasted onto his sweaty face.

‘Ladies, have you ever heard of an Irish eight-pack…’

‘No!’ Selene’s word is final.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

‘Have you read it?’ Mac is looking at me accusingly over my pint. She seems to be attempting to coordinate her drinks with the colour of her bronze sequined top. A new level of fashion obsession even for Mac. Is she into disco now? I have only just got used to her pirate princess look.

‘Read it?’ I am slightly offended, ‘I’ve taught Pride and Prejudice!’

‘So you’re definitely prepared to speak at tomorrow’s book club meeting?’

‘Of course!’ Our routine, pre-book club, book clubs are not usually so hostile. ‘Why are you getting so sassy? Save your arguments for the Longi. We don’t want to taint our usual hang out.’

‘By flashing our tits at the barman?’

‘It was my bra!’

‘Settle down girls,’ Selene has had enough of our bickering. ‘They should be thankful to see Gwyny’s B cups. But, to be totally honest, you were awfully quiet last month. It kind of stuffed up the whole vibe of the evening.’

‘I’m sorry. I was just embarrassed. I already told you, I just didn’t want to discuss sex with those women. They’re old.’

‘Too embarrassed to talk about it but not too embarrassed to fuck about it,’ Mac spits out.

‘Woah, what is your problem?’ Sure Mac is feisty, and she loves our book club, but this is ridiculous. ‘Have you got your period or something?’

‘Ohhhhhh,’ I can see Selene shrink down as if she wishes to duck for cover. If it is true it will snap Mac right out of it, if it is not, there might just be a catfight in our Usual.

‘That is so insulting,’ Mac sniffs loudly then breaks into a grin, ‘but yes I do.’

I nod understandingly and we touch hands.

‘Let me get you a nice Sav Blanc and we can talk about Pride and Prejudice further.’

‘You going to bang a Darcy this month?’ Mac asks as I am walking away. I shake my head and laugh. She is too cheeky sometimes.

I sidle up to the bar. The middle aged bar manager puts a pint in front of me. I may be just a tad too predictable.

‘I’m grabbing a drink for Mac too.’ He slaps a white wine next to it. Well, at least I am not being predictable on my own. ‘I should get one for Sel whilst I’m here.’ He stares at me, no automatic response for Sel. She seems more strict and proper than Mac and I but deep down she must be the wild one. After all, she even changes her drinks. ‘I think she’s favouring dirty martinis this evening.’ He raises his eyebrows at me and I cannot resist winking at him, ‘That’s right, dirty.’

When I return to the girls the bar manager is still blushing.

‘What did you say to him?’ Mac asks indignant.

‘He does have grey hair,’ Selene says. ‘She probably put the hard word on him.’

I snort loudly as I try to repress a laugh. One fuck a month ago and they are still banging on about it. We need to get laid more often.

‘So?’ I ask, getting us back on track, ‘Do we love it or hate it?’

‘Love the idea of having a good shag with a sexy businessman,’ Selene helpfully answers.

‘But not with the bar manager at our Usual,’ Mac responds.

‘I know, don’t shit where you eat.’ I am resigned to the fact that we are not going to be doing our regular pre-bookclub discussion this evening. I will be needing a lot more pints.

‘Or flash your tits at your food.’ Mac does not miss a beat.

‘Okay. But is it alright if from time to time I flash my bra at a side salad or something?’

‘You do what you need to do to get us free drinks,’ Selene says with a wink. ‘Meanwhile, I’m not feeling Darcy.’

‘Me neither,’ I agree, ‘but you can’t say that. The ladies will flip. Particularly the older ones.’

‘I’d like me a slice of that Wickham,’ Mac is bobbing on her seat as if she is grinding to sex music. ‘He’s a bad boy but you know he’d be good in bed.’

‘What about poor old Bingley?’ I ask, ‘He’s a nice guy.’

‘He’s totally whipped!’ Selene nearly spits out her dirty martini in horror. ‘Seriously if he was alive now he’d be living in his parent’s granny flat with his tragic sisters.’

‘No.’ I shall defend my sweet natured Bing. ‘He’s a good boy, he’s just a bit Cinderellee.’

‘That’s not a word,’ Mac interrupts.

‘Oh, it’s a word!’ It should be a word. ‘He’s all dominated by his wicked stepsisters.’

‘He doesn’t have wicked stepsisters.’

‘I’m using creative license!’

‘Whatevs,’ Selene says flatly, ‘he’d be a fumbler in bed.’

‘I think Mrs Bennet gets a bad rap,’ Mac muses thoughtfully. And with that, we are back on track. No more sex talk, no more teasing over silver foxes with strong arms, pulling me into him, my nails digging into his broad shoulders, spreading my legs as wide as I can eager to have all of him inside of me.

‘Sexnam?’ Selene is staring at me, Mac is nowhere to be seen. ‘Mac was so engrossed in her thought about the novel she failed to notice you’d departed.’

I start guiltily.

‘Has she gone home?’

‘No she’s just gone to the can.’

‘Sorry.’

‘It was that good, huh?’

‘Yep,’ is all I can utter in reply as my vaginal muscles contract as if searching for the Grey Man’s cock.

Selene pats my hand sympathetically.

‘I really do need to get a vibrator,’ Selene says as if thinking aloud.

Mac comes rushing back across the bar looking really excited.

‘Girls, I have had the best idea!’ Her face is flushed with her own brilliance. ‘Instead of hiding the fact we don’t like Darcy, how about one of us admits to it. You know, get the ladies really fired up. Add some spice to our meeting.’

‘Great idea,’ I nod. ‘Last month was so quiet that we could use a good shake up.’

 

They Call it Chick Lit with Anita Heiss- @AnitaHeiss as the cool kids call her #writensw

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My first writing course of this year was with Dr Anita Heiss at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre and it was fantastic. The energy that she brings to a room is as impressive as her credentials. And with 12 books to her name and a PhD in Communications those credentials are pretty darned impressive.

But what am I thinking, if I have learned one thing from The Australians obituary for Colleen McCullough it’s that I should mention her appearance straight up. So forget about Dr Anita Heiss’s credentials for a moment, she has spectacular calves. I have to say the best calves I have seen on any lecturer. Now I don’t want other lecturers getting all uppity with me complaining about how this isn’t fair because I haven’t seen their calves because they always wear long trousers, because quite frankly I can only physically objectify what I can see. So if your calves are so magnificent then put on some shorts damn it and I’ll mention them next time, like all reputable journalists do. I also saw some rather impressive deltoid action as she hefted a sturdy table over head to set up her room. Oh yes, she set up her own room. She set up her own room in a killer pair of heels. Books, awards, PhD, internationally recognised and setting up her own room. Must admit I was slightly aghast and let out a little squeak, ‘Let me help you,’ but she was already pretty much done so all I did was pop two chairs out and put some props on tables.

As for the actual course. It was fun, it was informative and it was practical. Anita took us through her process for writing – synopsis, character profile, chapter break downs, research, writing, editing, and celebrating – and took us through activities for each. Well not the celebrating one, but Anita, should you ever like to have a vino, call me. I won’t go into detail for each one because… well… to be honest… that would kind of be cutting Anita’s grass. She is good enough to do talks and workshops for up and coming writers, giving back so to speak, so for maximum benefit you really need to attend in person.

Although I will not share all the ins and outs of Anita Heiss’s course I am willing to share the first 2,000 words of the project that I am currently working on. It is a first draft, and I must confess that I am one of those cheeky buggers that doesn’t edit until I’ve finished the complete first draft which won’t be until mid Feb, so there will be plenty of typos, spellos, grammos, wrongos and nonos. Just take your editing hat off, sit back, relax, and just enjoy the ride. We can spoon afterwards.

What happens in Book Club…

It was over. We all stared at each other in awkward silence. The dirty deed had been done, empty wine glasses sat on the dingy bar table between us and we did not quite know how to move forward from this point. There needed to be empty shot glasses lined up as far as the eye could see for the women in the book club to be able to meet each other’s gazes again.

‘I think now that Fifty Shades is done we should cleanse our loins with a classic of some sort,’ Selene finally broke the silence. She was the leader of our little book club. Bright red lipstick, slick black hair, if she would just wear a short black dress instead of business suits she would fit right in on the set of a Robert Palmer video.

‘I think about a year of strong women is in order’ Mac agreed vigorously. Her face was almost as red as her hair. She dabbed absentmindedly at a wine stain on the frilly long sleeved blouse she was favouring of late. It must be another pirate phase or failing that Shakespeare?

The rest of us still just stared at our hands too embarrassed to look at one another. Some had flicked through and only read the sexy bits, desperados; some had flicked past the sexy scenes, prudes; and others had stopped reading because the sentence structure made their brains hurt, snobs. Either way, Fifty Shades had stirred up something inside of us that nobody wanted to name or discuss. Our book club was usually so boisterous that we disturbed other patrons. Thank God we knew how to drink, otherwise we would have been far too much bother. Instead, we were welcomed each month. Well, at least our wallets were. However, that once a month shrill disturbance at the Longie had been practically a whisper this evening. We should have drunk more wine. All that was on the table between us was a few empty glasses and E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey standing erect, it almost seemed to glow and call out to people, ‘Look what these naughty girls have been reading.’

‘So Pride and Prejudice?’ Selene asked.

There was a general murmur of agreement before everyone but Selene, Mac and I fled the scene.

‘Well that was awkward,’ I finally found words.

‘No shit, Gwyn,’ Mac slumps back in her chair and drains the remains of her seventh wine glass.

‘What was up with you?’ Selene clearly does not have a bad case of loving me this evening. ‘We rely on you to say inappropriate things at poorly positioned moments to lighten the mood.’

‘I wasn’t feeling it today,’ I mumble. To be honest after reading about a lot of sex I didn’t want to talk about it, I just wanted to go out and have it. However, as a boring schoolteacher, reading about a bunch of erotic sex was about as close as I was going to come to… well… cumming.

‘I’m feeling something.’ Mac has managed to un-potato sack herself and is sitting bolt upright, breasts stuck out as if attempting to push their way out of her pirate shirt into her attended targets hands.

‘You were quiet tonight ladies,’ the barman flashes his perfectly white teeth at us. As he collects our glasses, he pushes a strand of blonde hair away from his eyes. His electric blue eyes run a warm current up my spine. ‘I missed your laugh red.’ Mac dissolves into giggles on the spot. ‘Yours too red.’ He is looking at me. I feel like I am being struck by lightning as he focuses the full force of his charisma on me.

‘She isn’t really a red head,’ Mac throws water on our moment and it fizzles out. ‘I am.’ Dear God, are her breasts growing.

‘I’m sure I’ll find out one day,’ he flirts back, then walks back to the bar leaving Mac with a wink to keep her warm.

‘He’s so hot,’ Mac swoons back into her chair hugging her wink to her chest.

‘He looks like a lost Hemsworth brother,’ I sigh.

‘Forget that!’ Evidently Selene is still not happy. ‘You better bring your A Grade Ditz routine next month. Those bitches rely on it to make them feel good about themselves.’

‘Sorry,’ I frown at my hands. Selene rolls her eyes. ‘I’m just horny,’ I confess.

‘We’re all bloody horny,’ Selene explodes. A silver fox businessman at the bar looks over at us. ‘Get a bloody vibrator.’ Hemsworth from behind the bar stifles a giggle. This is not my day. Selene sits for a while fuming until she finally calms down. ‘Sorry. I’m just frustrated. We’re only running this book club so that we can find out how women think and write a book for them but tonight we got nothing! How does that help me get published? I’m just so frustrated. I want to write Fantasy, but nobody wants to publish fairy stories, so we try to write something people want but the people aren’t speaking to us. It’s just… I mean… I’ve gotta head,’ she kisses Mac and I on the forehead and says, ’emails tomorrow girls,’ and then vanishes.

‘I’d like someone’s head,’ Mac drools. She has somehow managed to get her hands on her eighth glass of wine whilst Selene and I argued. It is going to be a long night.

*          *          *

‘Did Hemsworth see me throw up?’ Mac is looking at me with such pleading eyes as I strap her into her taxi that I find it within my heart to lie to her.

‘No.’

‘Did he see me trip over?’ Yes, it was at that point that he called you a cab.

‘No.’

‘Good.’ Mac smiles for a moment and then starts to cry. I smile sympathetically at the driver before standing up, closing the door, and rapping the taxi on the roof to let him know he is good to go.

I stand back, breathe in the fresh night air, and stretch out my neck after the strain of carrying Mac to the cab. I can’t be mad, half the time it’s me. The North Sydney Street is practically empty at this time of night. Wednesday nights are not known for their wildness in these parts. I am sure Coogee would be off the hook right now but it is nice and peaceful here. I need a taxi of my own but it could be a long while. A miracle, a yellow glowing beacon comes swinging around the corner like a golden gift from the Gods, hooray, I am saved from waiting for hours for cab never to arrive and eventually walk home. I go to put my arm out to wave the taxi down but I am beaten. The silver fox from the bar has just exited the bar and already has his arm out waving down the taxi. What an arse hole. The taxi pulls up and he opens the door then pauses and stares back at me. He has the most amazing blue eyes that I have ever seen, his perfect lips break into a grin and he calls out to me,

‘Care to share a cab?’

I do not know where he is going but I do know that this is probably my last chance for a cab and so going a few minutes out of my way to drop him off is probably worth it. Besides, there are worse ways to spend an extended cab ride than gazing at that perfect mouth. Then again, my mother did tell me not to get into cars with strangers. Well I guess that decided it then. I nod enthusiastically and charge forward.

*          *          *          *          *

I stare out at a sea of bored faces. Fifteen-year-old boys and girls sitting slumped in their chairs as if I am their cult leader and have just given them a spiked “communion.” Me teaching Geography is definitely one of the signs of the apocalypse so there is probably some truth to this metaphor.

‘I’m bored,’ whines a girl wearing more eyeliner on her melon than I actually own.

‘Well of course you’re bored,’ I respond with a sniff, ‘this is Geography, I’m not a miracle worker.’ The class giggles in response. Always a good idea to humour the teacher.

‘Seriously Miss, this is so stupid, when am I going to have to know about costal management?’ Eyeliner questions me with a pout from her highly glossed lips.

Mental note: bring sunglasses to class, gloss is back in, big time.

I try not to let out a sigh. I felt the same level of What the fuck is happening to our society? when I was asked why we had to study The Removalists last week, because apparently domestic violence just isn’t an issue anymore. I take a deep breath to calm myself so that I avoid giving an impassioned speech that will only proceed to alienate the student, a feat I did not manage last week, and proceed to attempt to meet her needs in a way meaningful to her.

‘Tell you what,’ I bargain, ‘we get through all our work for the week today and we can watch an interesting show instead of working on Friday.’ Ah, the evil genius of the teacher, using media and celebrities to make points that our lame selves cannot. They will get educated quite happily if I tell them they are not learning.

A general murmur of agreement comes from the class and the previously roofied class turns into a class on speed. It is my turn to slide down in my chair in a rohypnoled state. I stare at the clock. I have an important email date with the girls at 3:05pm. It is important, it is tradition… its habit. We always have an email catch-up at 3:05pm. It is the one thing I can rely on. I may spend my rent money on shoes, I might forget my own phone number, I might even forget I’m a non-smoker and have a few cheeky cigarettes on a big night out… okay, a few packs, BUT, I know that every weekday, like clockwork, I will have a flurry of emails from the girls at 3:05pm. Easy for me, it is the end of my school day, but how the girls manage to schedule it in everyday is a miracle to me. A miracle that I am not question. I am just thankful that my high flying Executive Assistant pal Selene and my Banker buddy Mac can make time for a cretin like me.

TICK

The minute hand moves from 3:03 to 3:04.

‘Okay guys, time to pack up.’

A flurry of noise and activity erupts that makes me believe that perhaps I have just announced the end of the world. This may explain why the students are constantly bringing stashes of food to class.

‘Remember to put your chairs up on the desks,’ I yell over the thundering storm.

‘Miss,’ a tall boy, I always have to remind to take his baseball hat off, complains as he does every single week, ‘No other teachers make us do this. It’s so Primary School.’

Ouch, the ultimate insult. Unfortunately, I happen to like cut and paste, and glitter.

‘Yes, and that’s why I’ve got the cleanest floors out of everyone,’ I dutifully give out my standard response. ‘If you make it easier for the cleaners, they’ll treat you right.’ I finish it off with a wink and the lanky boy blushes a bit. Oh dear, another one. I will have a week of being stalked followed by months of being called a lesbian. Oh what fun. I hope that he is more creative in his toilet graffiti than the last kid. A picture of a stick figure with enormous boobs with my name written next to it is just so last week.

The bell goes and without awaiting any instructions, the students run for the hills.

I open up my laptop. Our group email has already started.

Selene: How’d you end up?

Mac: Drunk, but thankfully managed not to embarrass myself and got home in one piece.

Selene: Sure you did.

Mac: Seriously I did. Ask Gwyn.

Me: I had sex.

Selene: We need to meet now.

Mac: What the fuck?

Mac: Bullshit!

Mac: You lie!

Mac: Yeah we need to meet.

Mac: The Usual?

Mac: Come on guys, you’re killing me. The Usual?

Mac: 5pm?

Mac: Guys!!!!!!!

Selene: Chill out Mac. It’s been like 5 fucking seconds, not everybody types as fast as you do.

Mac: Shut up mole.

Selene: Game on mole.

Me: You’re both moles. See you at 5:30pm.

Mac: Fine. 5:30pm. You better be on time.

Mac: None of this 154 minutes late shit.

Mac: *15 minutes

Mac: Any details to share in advance?

Mac: Who was it?

Mac: Did I speak to him?

Mac: Guys?

Selene: See you at 17:30.

Mac: You girls suck!

*          *          *          *          *

Anita does have some Chick Lit writing tips publically available on her website that you may find interesting https://anitaheiss.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/some-tips-for-writing-chick-lit/ I highly recommend reading them. But I also recommend going to her courses. She is so fresh and invigorating that you will come away inspired and ready to embark upon some new challenges.

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The Kids and YA Festival: #NSWWC the sour grapes version

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I think for many of us at the Kids and YA Festival, at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre yesterday, the highlight was the Pitch Competition. At the beginning of the day we were able to put our names into a box and at the end of the day six names were to be selected at random and those people were allowed to pitch. What we needed to bring was a one paragraph pitch and the first page of our completed manuscript. I like many others did just that, despite the fact I’m not 100% confident that I have my head around this whole how to pitch bizzo. I found myself crossing my fingers like a four year old hopefully as each name was drawn silently willing my name to be drawn.

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Unfortunately my paragraph and my first page remained unneeded, unnecessary and uninvited in my sweaty, burrito stained lap. Turns out my willpower is not so flash. When the sixth person finished there was a collective sigh. What surprised me was that it was a sigh of relief that their names hadn’t been called, what surprised me even more was that mine was a small sigh of sadness for not being picked. Apparently I have more confidence and belief in myself than I had thought. Perhaps this INFJ (introvert) is becoming an ENFJ. Stranger things have happened. So here is my pitch that I wrote without knowing how to pitch and my first page. It was quite different from those presented. The boring school teacher in me took things quite literally and the first sentence says the genre, target audience and title. I then briefly state what the heart of the story is. I shall have to think of a way to jazz it up!

Chloe Prime: Alien Space Vet is a fantasy adventure ideal for bedtime reading with middle Primary School aged confident readers. It is set on the planet Giovanus in the year 3021, but some things never change – the first day at a new school is nerve wracking, friends are the best and the worst, and nothing motivates you more than needing to go to the toilet. Join action ready Chloe Prime and her best friend, the studious Hippopotati Joshua Suza as they travel through space and school together, learning to communicate with insects, battling the academic wilderness and doing whatever it takes not to get weeed on.

Chapter One: The Night Before the Day After

BANG!

Chloe Prime poked her head out above her blankets and eyed her wardrobe suspiciously. Had it just made a noise? She watched and waited for a few minutes. Nothing. Perhaps it had all been in her imagination. A flight of fancy? She nestled back under her covers.

BANG!

Chloe pulled her covers down again and glared at her wardrobe. Honestly, this was getting ridiculous. She had to get a good night’s sleep for the first day at her new school tomorrow. This just would not do.

BANG!

Chloe vaulted out of bed and stood in front of her wardrobe in a fighting stance. Her hair reared out from her head in crazy curls, ready for action. Her legs were encased in a metallic exoskeleton, which made her look every bit like a miniature cyborg, with medusa hair, at the ready. If there was a monster in that wardrobe she was going to have at it.

‘I came here for a bedtime story and to kick butt,’ ten year old Chloe challenged her empty cupboard. ‘And I already finished my story.’

Whoosh!

Kent Prime came running into his daughter’s room closely followed by her mother. Chloe turned to see her father staring at her in shock.

I’ve just realised the title of this blog is entirely misleading. It really doesn’t have enough vitriol to truly be sour grapes. Hard to get truly bitter about a process that uses random selection and your brother’s best friend from year eight ends up winning. But I made a promise in that title so I really owe it to you to live up to it (if I don’t live up to the promise I have made the reader a certain writing teacher will kick my butt), so I’m going to give it a red hot go!

Darn that Sorting Box. Someone needs to seriously question the impartiality of that box. It clearly had an anti Ravenclaw bias! (I did the sorting hat online and that’s where it put me so I’m assuming this is a solid fact) My daughter played in a box until it broke last week and clearly it was a cousin of the Sorting Box and it used that against me. Darn you Sorting Box and all of your kind! I shall never, EVER, use a box again!!! Shakes fist.

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Doctor Who Fan Fiction – Enter The Rani: Origins of The Rani

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Enter The Rani (Part 1)

The Doctor lies. People tend to forget this simple fact when thinking of his feats of bravery and daring do. They think of him as kind and gentle and above all else good. But above all else The Doctor lies. What are his true origins? How was he really born? What is his age? What is his name? Who are his true enemies? He would have the universe believe that I am an enemy. That I am an amoral scientist who is capable of the greatest evils ever perpetrated. A woman who will do anything regardless of consequences in the name of science. He lies. I am Ushas and this is my story.

I am an anomaly. Some would say an abomination that should never have been allowed to come into being. Yet my parents called me a gift, and a friend once said I was an impossible miracle. Whatever the word used, whatever the connotation is, I am different. You see, the circumstances of my birth are quite unique by Time Lord standards. I was born to a mother and a father, not created with many other beings on a genetic loom as is customary. I was conceived in a manner considered base and barbaric. A lustful indulgence of man and woman that the Time Lords had long thought they had moved past. But my parents, great scientists in their own right, had been stationed in the remotest corner of the universe, in a barren galaxy, on a small planet known as Earth. They were in the very heart of India, the perfect place to study humanity. For within this microcosm existed extremes of abundance and beauty but also desolation and poverty. This vibrant influx of extremes made this land the very best and very worst of humanity. My parents hated it, yet they loved it. Even once returned to Gallifrey they longed for the dry heat that clogged the nostrils with sweetness and saffron dreams. That sense of magic and open awareness that in the entire universe they had only found in India. Indeed they fell so in love with this land that they embraced it as their own and began to not only study the customs of humanity but to fully immerse themselves in them. My father began calling my mother his Queen, his Rani, and they fell deeper in love the longer they stayed. I am a direct result of that immersion in culture, that love. My mother unknowingly used up what would be her last regeneration to push me into the world just as the locals did. This was a decision that she said she never regretted, she called me her Princess. Said she would do it again in a double heartbeat. My father clung to us both, his Queen and his Princess; you could scarce find a happier family. Yet in the end, all this was taken from me, despite our love.

When my parents’ tenure on Earth was up we returned to Gallifrey. I was but a small child but I knew that I was different and for many unwelcome. My mother was stripped of her remaining regenerations by The High Council of Gallifrey as a result of her petty humanistic indulgences. She was shamed and stripped of her Time Lady status, given the remaining lifespan of the humans she had come to love so much. My father begged them for leniency. He told them of how they were scientists who simply involved themselves in their research – without experiencing life as the humans did how could they ever understand them? He pleaded with The High Council to punish him as well, so that he may share her punishment. He wanted to give her half of his regenerations. The High Council were unmoved. Cold, unfeeling, arrogant, they never changed. We hated them but we loved each other. My mother insisted that if this was to be her last life then we were to pack all that would have been into that short period. We loved hard, we laughed hard and we studied hard. We were to make the most of the one lifetime that we had together. And so despite our mistrust of The High Council I was still indoctrinated in the ways of Gallifrey so that I too could have a full life witnessed by my mother.

At the age of eight I was taken to look into The Untempered Schism like all children of Gallifrey. Some howled in terror at the sight, others ran in confusion, some simply collapsed. No me. I looked into this gap in space and time and The Time Vortex revealed to me my purpose in life. I too would become a great scientist like my parents, and I would unlock the secrets behind regenerations. I would give my mother back her lives. Nothing would stop me, including The High Council. I had been inspired. My parents accepted my vision as clear and true because it was their vision at the Schism that had inspired their path which had eventually led to India. So it was decided that I must begin my training at the finest school on Gallifrey, the Prydonian Academy. It was there where I would meet a bumbling boy who would become my dearest friend and my greatest downfall. For this boy’s mistakes would ultimately cut short my future at the academy, and result in me fleeing Gallifrey with the secrets of regeneration still eluding me.

THE STORY OF THE RANI AND HER DAYS AT THE ACADEMY TO COME

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Chloe Prime: Alien Space Vet

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Chapter One: The Night Before the Day After

BANG!

Chloe Prime poked her head out above her blankets and eyed her wardrobe suspiciously. Had it just made a noise? She watched and waited for a few minutes. Nothing. Perhaps it had all just been in her imagination. A flight of fancy? She nestled back under her covers.

BANG!

Chloe quickly pulled her covers down again and glared at her wardrobe. Honestly, this was just getting ridiculous. She had to get a goodnight sleep for her first day at her new school tomorrow. This just would not do.

BANG!

Chloe vaulted out of bed and stood in front of her wardrobe in a fighting stance. Her hair reared out from her head in crazy curls, ready for action. Her legs were encased in a metallic exoskeleton, which made her look every bit like a miniature cyborg, with medusa hair, at the ready. If there was a monster in that wardrobe she was going to have at it.

‘I came here for a bedtime story and to kick butt,’ ten year old Chloe challenged her empty cupboard, ‘and I already finished my story.’

Whoosh!

Kent Prime came running into his daughter’s room closely followed by her mother. Chloe turned to see her father staring at her in shock.

‘Monsters, Dad,’ Chloe quickly informed her father. ‘In the cupboard. I’ve got them pinned.’

Kent Prime attempted to move further into Chloe’s room.

‘Get back!’ Chloe yelled. ‘It’s too dangerous! Save Mum.’

Chloe’s father laughed and closed the gap between them, scooping up his daughter.

‘There are no monsters here Little Miss Lady.’

‘Are you nervous about school tomorrow?’ Chloe’s mother asked.

‘What?’ Chloe snorted in surprise. ‘I’m excited about school. I just happen to have a rather serious monster problem to deal with.’

‘I’ll deal with any monsters,’ Chloe’s father said. ‘You just go to bed. Besides you know that they’re more scared of you than you are of them.’

‘But Dad, what if there are ghosts, or fairies… or I heard that sometimes little time travelling pirates come breaking down your…’ Chloe began.

‘No buts, no brownies, no bandits! You need your rest if you’re going to be on the school shuttle on time tomorrow morning,’ Kent Prime tutted his daughter. ‘Besides you know all our wardrobes are double coated with Kevlarized Graphene. Nothing is getting through.’

‘But what about bears? You know… sort of hiding in the cupboard rather than coming through it?’ Chloe was grasping at straws by this stage. She knew she would never win this argument, and she was getting quite tired anyway. Her mother kissed her goodnight.

‘Don’t you worry about any bears, Sweetie,’ Mum said, as she walked out of the room. ‘I’m sure you can just talk your way out of trouble without fighting.’

Chloe shrugged doubtfully but cuddled up to her teddy Sinbad and began dozing off with images of swashbuckling bears, whispering to fairy ghosts, in her head.

TAP TAP TAP

At this point Chloe leapt out of her bed and flung her cupboard open.

SQUEAK!

‘You! What are you doing in there? You know you’re not supposed to come inside.’

Squeak squeak squeak?

‘Oh alright. I’ll see if I can sneak into the kitchen and find you something but then you really must go outside.’

Squeak.

‘Yes, I know mice don’t really love cheese.’

Squeak squeak?

‘No you can’t come. Mum will freak if she sees a mouse in the kitchen.’