Tag Archives: Anita Heiss

Tania Chandler: #Robinpedia

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Dreams can come true.

Who is Tania Chandler? She’s a crime writer, an Australian, and an all round rad shiela (is that how you spell it?). Like all cool writers she lives in Melbourne… I live in Sydney. Graeme Simsion, famous for the world wide smash The Rosie Project, has described her lead character as “flawed and troubled as any hard-bitten dick.

Tania’s novels are known for taking the archetypes from crime fiction and shuffling them around. Her character Brigitte has all the hallmarks of the femme fatale yet is the lead character. Aidan has the typical traits of the strong and silent police officer who drinks too much yet is relegated to the love interest category. Tania’s playing around with tropes gives her novels a fresh and light feel despite them dealing with distinctly dark subject matter.

Why does this cover scare me so?

Her debut novel Please Don’t Leave Me Hear published through Scribe  has a super creepy cover. I don’t know what it is about it but it gives me a serious case of the willies (damn you Graeme Simsion, now I’m even giggling at this). It was shortlisted for best debut novel by BOTH the Ned Kelly and Davitt awards. 

Her sequel, Dead in the Water, which was brilliantly reviewed on Newtown Review of Books by a complete genius, has a sex scene between a married couple with three kids. That deserves some kind of an award in itself. Married people getting all sexy for sexing and what not is a rare occurrence. Usually married people are either sleeping or having fumbly sex but this couple gets it on like Donkey Kong. I award Tania Chandler a Vag Badge, for sexifying married life with kids.

Tania Chandler’s website is here.
Find Tania Chandler on Facebook here.

Find Tania Chandler on Twitter here.

Read Tania Chandler’s article about the dreaded second novel, anxiety, and imposter syndrome here.

If you have information you’d like to add to this entry please leave it in the comment section.

If you’d like to know more about Robinpedia go here.

Quick follow up note: Graeme Simsion has also been credited with ensuring Anita Heiss has the best calves in Australian writing.

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20 Real Life Wonder Women

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In honour of Wonder Woman Day I’d like to share with you twenty real life wonder women. Some I know and some I admire from afar. [Warning : I’m dyslexic, grammar nazis run for your lives]

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Anita Heiss
Scholar, writer, possessor of the best calves in Australian writing, Anita Heiss is the embodiment of Wonder Woman in the Australian writing scene. When she’s not writing highly successful books, ranging from non fiction to choc lit to children’s books, she’s off running marathons to raise money for charity, or teaching other people how to write. I’m not even exaggerating. Did I mention she has a PhD?

Calista Spiro
Actually that’s Calista Spiro MD, soon to also be PhD. She’s a General Surgeon, a PhD candidate, a friend to the nurses, and an angel to her patients. On top of this she finds the time to be a great mum, a warm friend, eat food, and shower. I can only manage to do two of those things, and probably only 60% of the time. Yet Calista manages to do it all. She truly is a wonder woman.

Canna Campbell
Forget sugar daddies, it’s all about the Sugar Mamma now. Financial wizard, savvy business woman, social media expert, and TV presenter… and that’s just on her lunch break. I’m convinced that there is nothing that this money expert can’t do. She even gives fashion advice.

Donna Colombini
This babe left school to follow her dreams to become a hair dresser. She consequently became the best hairdresser I have ever met. So she set herself a new challenge, teaching others at TAFE. She then went to university, all the while juggling her career and her children with her studies. This year she was named NSW/VET Trainer of the year. She is living proof that with passion and enthusiasm you can rise to the very top. But this isn’t even her greatest attribute. Donna is the kindest person I know. Always available with a smile and lovely words. A role model for kindness and compassion. And I am sure that anyone who has ever met her would testify to this fact. She is the kind of woman I strive to be.

Emma Viskic
Concert clarinetist, award winning writer, mango hater. She’s a supporter of the arts and artists. Generous with her outreach to others and is hilarious… I’m jealous of her and am going to go have a little cry for a moment.

Emily Maguire
Award winning writer of fiction and non fiction. Board member of the NSW Writers Centre. Feminist. Teacher. And she’s super nice too. I did a course with her a few years back and she still let’s me pick her brains. She’s a wonderful mentor to writers and a credit to the Australian writing community.

Helen Petrovic
Helen is hands down the best unpublished writer I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This is not an easy thing to achieve as I am lucky to have many talented writer friends and acquaintances. She is professional, productive, and incredibly talented. Whenever I think about the fact that she hasn’t been picked up by a publisher I just want to give up on writing. Her work is so visceral yet eloquent. Her talent leaves me speechless.

Jan Cornall
Jan was the very first person I did a writing course with. She opened my eyes to organisation and self belief. Without her I would never have started this blog. I owe her a great debt and so much love.

Jennifer Byrne
JByrne is perfection. Her eyes sparkle, her wit sparkles, everything about her sparkles. She hosts a show about books, I love books. She’s nice to obsessed fans who scream out, “Oh my God, I love you,” then faint at her feet. She is the queen. Love, love, LOVE, the Byrne of J.

Kate Forsyth
I can sense regular readers of this blog rolling their eyes at this point. She’s gushing over Kate Forsyth again? Yes! Yes, I am! And you will darn well gush with me or go throw yourself down a toilet. Kate Forsyth is an incredible writer, internationally published and celebrated, AND a Doctor of Fairy Tales. Literally. She has a PhD in Fairy Tales. This is the coolest thing I have ever heard of. Wonder Woman indeed.

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Kerri Sackville
I just took a peek at her FB page before writing this, as I do regularly, and she’s writing about running around the kitchen screaming FUUUCK. She makes me laugh so much. When she isn’t making me laugh she’s off being a writer, columnist, and TV presenter. Because why not do one thing brilliantly when you can do several, brilliantly. 

Leah Kaminsky
You know what, I’m just going to put the link to her Robinpedia entry here. She’s so mind-bogglingly brilliant that it would blow the word length of this blog entry out of the water. But here’s a quick summary, she’s a doctor, an award winning writer, has television credits, and I hear she can embroider. She is so Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is looking at Leah, and wondering why the UN didn’t name her ambassador instead of her.

Lee Lin Chin
Queen of Australian television, and she beat Wonder Woman in a fistfight once. The UN initially approached her to make this day about them but she just maced them and kept on walking. I don’t even mean pepper spray, I’m talking about the medieval weapon. She just keeps one on hand. You may be cool but you will never be Lee Lee Chin cool.

Lisa Fleetwood
She’s one of my besties and I love her! She is incredibly driven. Last year she self published her memoir Destination Dachshund. It became an Amazon bestseller. She organised every aspect of her launch as carefully as any publishing house, with press releases and adverts. She amazes me that she truly can do it all. I am so proud to be her friend.

Oliver’s Mum
Growing up Oliver’s mum took me under her wing as if I was her third child. She’d greet me with hugs, take me on family trips to exciting places, and always make me feel as if I was wanted and special. I can’t articulate how thankful I am for her presence in my childhood because I keep tearing up every time I try to write this section. But, you are one heck of a woman and I wouldn’t be the mother I am today without your love. I still think of you fondly and often.

Pamela Freeman
The cheekiest character you’ll meet in the Australian writing lineup. She’ll tell you that she’s well behaved but that twinkle in her eye gives it all away. Direct, honest, funny, passionate, diverse. That pretty much sums up Pamela who also publishers under Pamela Hart. Yeah, she writes for kids and adults. Picture books, chapter books, fantasy, crime, historical fiction, and whatever the heck she wants. Her drive and diversity are her super powers. Such an incredible range of successful genres from the one writer. And she’s real. She’s not an amalgamation. I’ve met her, definitely real, definitely one person, despite her superhuman talent. And yes she has a PhD too.

Selwa Anthony
The face of fabulousness in the Australian book industry. She is a literary agent that has clients such as Tara Moss. Unlike the stereotypical literary agent (who only exists in people’s imaginations) that is only interested in boring and sad stories, Selwa Anthony is excited about passion and connection. She brings a sense of fun, class, and above all else, sass to the Australian writing world. She’s a woman that probably even Wonder Woman herself wishes she could be as fabulous as.

Tara Moss
A picture says a thousand words.
Image by http://valerhon.com/

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Toni Jordan
Love her. Her skin looks like she eats sunshine. She is the most glowersome person that I have ever clapped eyes on. She is just so lovely to everyone that she meets. You honestly feel like you’ve been kissed by a rainbow after you meet her. I loved her work before getting the opportunity to meet her… okay I threw myself at her after a screening of ABC Book Club one day before security could catch me… because she is an amazing writer with such wonderful characters. She also has the best sock collection in the Australian writing community. Bet Wonder Woman doesn’t have that!

Virginia Gay
Virginia Gay I love you, let me count the ways. Actually numbers aren’t really my thing so how about I talk about it instead? I just love the energy that Virginia Gay gives off on the screen. She is just the most captivating actress. Whenever she’s in a scene my eyes are always on her because she just burns with intensity. I don’t know what it is but she’s just magnetic. But on top of being a brilliant actor of screen and stage, she loves books and is a feminist. She’s younger than me, yet she’s my hero. Love her energy. And if you don’t follow her on twitter then you better get on it, she’s hilarious.

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I’d love to hear about the wonder women in your life. Please do leave a comment about them.

Brace Yourself; Book Recommendations Are Coming

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The Holiday season is upon us and every mother flipper is in need of gifts, Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and so many more http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson246.shtml . Heck, there are even some birthdays. It’s a gift heavy month in the Western world.  So here are the books I’d recommend… apart from my own, buy it for yourself,  consider it your gift to me.

Let’s get started!

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The Princess Betony books by Pamela Freeman. They are gorgeous. They’re small so the perfect size for little hands with beautifully designed covers. These books take the princess stereotype and subverts it. A great balance for any child that has been over exposed to less progressive princess merchandise.

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Hansel and Rose by Caroline Magerl. The art in this picture book is simply incredible. It’s a book about belonging, loss and hope. So many important lessons and feelings simplified. A great book for your young early-primary aged friend.

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The Callahan Split by Lisa Heidke. Tennis, sibling rivalry, professional ambition, and some romance. What’s not to like. I did offer to design the book cover for her, she didn’t go for it for many reasons  (the book isn’t about Tom Selleck, I’m not a designer… she doesn’t know me. So many reasons) but I still think it’s a great read.

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Tiddas by Anita Heiss. Say you read parts of my serial because you wanted to read about a book club but thought my characters were “unbelievably slutty” and “Neanderthals” then this book probably has the depth you’re seeking. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not an uptight jerk who slut shames characters you’re going to love this book because it is sensational. It explores so many complexities in friendship and personal choice.

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The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. Combines masterful story telling, the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and WWII. If that’s not enough to get your interest then you’re dead to me and I don’t want to know.

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The Little Book of Anxiety by Kerri Sackville. Fuck The Little Book of Calm, this book is the book you want. I don’t care if you swallowed The Little Book of Calm, you need to get this book which shares tales from the author’s own anxious life. If you’re an anxious lady, Kerri gets you.

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Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. Full of magic and mystery this is a captivating read for all Fantasy addicts. Juliet Marillier always produces exceptional novels so you can’t go wrong buying anything of hers.

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Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres. Kickass sci fi by a kickass writer. Get this one and read it. I don’t want to sound like a total horn dog but there are some exciting characters in there. Somebody pass me my salts.

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And as for anthologies, you cannot go past Cranky Ladies of History. It is just spectacular and the name says it all. I cannot recommend this one enough. Get it, get it, get it!!!!! Seriously, look at that cover. The whole thing is gold.

Possibly the best idea of all is to buy all of these for yourself and forget the world for a bit. You deserve it. Happy reading.

Please note that these aren’t all new releases, some are old, some are new… some are borrowed and some are blue.

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

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

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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.

Book Review – Tiddas by @AnitaHeiss #aww2015

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aww-badge-2015Okay, here is my first review as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge. I’m not exactly sure how to do it, so let’s just take a deep breath, hold hands and get through this together. I’ve chosen Anita Heiss as my first author to review as I believe that she would be a firm, yet gentle, writer. Perfect for my first attempt at this. So here goes….

Tiddas- by Anita Heiss

Love that the main characters of this novel are slightly older than what is standard in this genre. There seems to be lots of books about women in their 20’s, 30’s then a big gap and they start again over 60 with some saucy senility texts. This book fills a big fat gap that has just been waiting to be filled.

I’m in my 30’s and loved this book. It’s about friendships, it’s about success, it’s about questioning what your dreams are and negotiating your own morality in the face of friends and society. Heavy themes but covered in a very fresh way so that you do not feel lectured at. Loved it.

tiddas

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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“All I Want For Christmas Is You” … and books, mainly books

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Trust me, he wanted a book not that sweater.

Have you left Christmas shopping until December? Have you just realised that stores are now zoos full of rabid animals? Never fear, I can and will help you… well,  not so much me as books. Books can and will solve your problems. So here are my Christmas recommendations for those of you without the time to think.

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Where Do You Hide Two Elephants? by Emily Rodda. Ridiculously cute picture book.

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The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody. For the lover of fantasy. Added bonus, yes it is a series. We fantasy geeks love a good series.

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Impossible Quest Series by Kate Forsyth. The first two books are already out. Get into them before they blow out Harry Potter style. Fantastic kids series.

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The Protected by Claire Zorn. Incredibly moving YA novel about grief, resilience… I actually have to stop writing about this novel now because I’m tearing up just thinking about it. It’s powerful stuff. I’ll leave it at that.

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The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss. Non Fiction exploration of stereotypes and beliefs thrust upon women/Tara Moss. That description does not do it justice at all. Captivating read. Just go out and get it for any and all women you know.

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Under Siege by Belinda Neil. A memoir about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It rings true for a lot of mental illnesses though, such as depression and anxiety,  not only PTSD, so is highly accessible.

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Holiday in Cambodia by Laura Jean McKay. For you travel bug friend. Get Destination Cambodia by Walter Mason as a companion piece. Your friend will love you forever. I’m trying not to literally laugh out loud remembering the “dangerously jolly” scene in Destination Cambodia.

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The Black Dress by Pamela Freeman. Get it for the woman who wants to read about strong women and also anyone with an interest in religious history. A truly excellent read about Mary MacKillop.

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Yes, you can believe the hype. Buy it for yourself for Christmas.

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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. For your historical fiction loving friends who enjoy some romance.

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The Nightingale by Fiona McIntosh. Another beautiful romantic historical fiction novel.

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Fishing for Tigers by Emily Maguire. For the Literary snob who secretly likes it a bit sexy. In other words,  exceptionally well written but they get down to business.

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Avoiding Mr Right by Anita Heiss. For the woman who likes the idea of chick lit but needs something with a bit more depth.

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Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan. Styled as young adult but so brilliant. Honestly,  it’s for any adult, young or old, human or seal. A beautiful take on the Selkie myth.

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Blood and Circuses by Kerry Greenwood. Love a light murder mystery and the cover is very cool. Seriously, I know you can’t judge a book by its cover but… well… we do.

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Animal People by Charlotte Wood. Slightly traumatising but oh so good. For your friend who likes a bit of real life grit.

Okay Christmas peoples,  go forth and part with your cash. Probably online, so you can avoid the people. Mwah.

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