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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Buzzing Brain and Sore Feet

As mentioned in my last post...three weeks ago *cough*...our writers' festival, Carnival of Words, was finally upon us.  The doors opened to the public at 1 pm but several of us were there at 11 am to set up.  I'd brought my LED light 1.8m Christmas tree and two boxes of tinsel, baubles and sundry other decorations to help set the Christmassy atmosphere.  Balloons were blown up, a barbecue was set up for the sausage sizzle, coffee, tea and an urn of hot water organised and eskies filled with ice for bottled water and cans of Coke readied plus authors' tables and audience seating organised...all this completed by 12.30 pm.

The authors arrived in ones and twos, chose a table, set out their decorations and books for attendees to peruse and hopefully purchase.  All was ready, the sound system was checked and Nerida Marshall, facilitator, organiser and all round Superwoman (despite rolling her ankle and injuring her ribs in a mishap yesterday) welcomed everyone and introduced the MC, talented actress and funny woman, June Horden.

The first speaker was S.T.A.R.S (Screen,Theatre, Artists and wRiters Studios) Patron, internationally renowned author, Peter Watt.  Also a volunteer fire officer, Peter writes for six months of the year, and performs his firefighting duties the other six months during bush fire season, which is currently upon us.

As well as talking about his books, he also spoke about his firefighting duties and how he mentioned to his coordinator that he wouldn't be available on Sat 21 November because of his appearance at our event.  He had no sooner finished his talk and sat down, when he was up again making his apologies because he'd been called out to a fire...he'd brought his firefighting and safety gear with him, grabbed those and raced out the door to meet up with his crew.  Without our brave and dedicated volunteer "firies" life would be pretty grim for those in the path of an inferno.

* * * * * * * *
After Peter's dramatic exit, we had excitement of another kind...talks and readings from authors who embraced a wide range of writing genres.  Raffles were drawn throughout the afternoon and we had a huge range of prizes for winners including books very kindly donated by all authors present.  

The "barbie" was fired up and soon the delicious aroma of barbecued sausages and fried onions permeated the venue with the rumbling of stomachs threatening to drown out the speakers!  I was assisting with refreshments and drinks along with Barbara Harding Gaskell and we experienced a stampede once the announcement that the sausage sizzle was ready.  Appetites satisfied, thirsts quenched and legs stretched, the second part of the day began with an invitation to visit the authors for questions, book purchases and signings before the next few authors spoke.  I was lucky enough to be invited to speak about my book "Old Age and Villainy" and I also read out an excerpt which, I feel (hope), was relatively well received.  I didn't get booed off the stage, anyway...a good sign!

Below are some photos which I managed to take before the event began.






































Barbara (standing) whom I helped with the refreshments and Sue, who looked after the raffles and anthology sales.


\
Dee Dee McCarthy, horror novelist and author of "New Soil".



Roman Harambura, self-empowerment motivator, philosopher and author amongst many other hats he wears, author of "Entrapment" and "The Book of Knowledge, I'Am Alien", taking the opportunity to avail himself of some refreshing rock melon (cantaloupe).


Michael Mason, author, who graciously took time to smile for the camera.







































S.T.A.R.S. Founder and organiser of Carnival of Words, Nerida Marshall, with Patron and international author, Peter Watt (before he disappeared to undertake emergency firefighting duties).




Dr Elisabeth Puruto, author of "Over The Mountains, Not Over The Hill" , and adventurer extraordinaire, signs a copy of her book for a lucky purchaser.

These are only a handful of the talented authors and speakers we had over the course of the day.  

The event finished around 5 pm, we tidied up, put things back to how they were and retired outside to the outdoor picnic area for wine and nibbles on a balmy summer evening.

After dropping one of our members off on the way home, I decided to unpack the car the next morning before going out for breakfast with one of my writer friends, made my way upstairs and collapsed in a heap in the recliner.

I had two very disgruntled cats who, after demanding where the hell I'd been since 10.30 that morning (it was 7.30 pm before I was home again), studiously ignored me until I went to bed.

...and so begins another day.



Sunday, 2 November 2014

Freebies!

 Poinciana...beautiful and spectacular trees.  They'll be flowering soon!



Mitzi, being daft






Sadly these beautiful little beetles aren't seen much any more.  We call them Christmas beetles because that's when they're around.







I posted these photos on my old blog some years back but thought they were worth a revisit, especially the poinciana flower and the iridescent Christmas beetle.  We're losing so many species of animal life now, I'm glad I've got this photo to remind me of some of the beautiful things we've lost.

* * * * * * * *

Right...I mentioned freebies in the title.  First of all, click on the link: 

https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1158185 

for a free excerpt from "Old Age and Villainy".  I would appreciate it if you could answer three short questions I've included and let me know what you thought. Be honest, I don't mind if it's not to your liking.

If you decide you want to read more, the whole book is free on Kindle Matchbook for the next 48 hours.  Help yourself and I hope you enjoy it.


                                                               * * * * * * * *

Our 2014 Carnival of Words is being held on 22 November and Nerida, who runs our writing group along with other affiliated groups, has been busy organising it for the last few months. The theme this year is multicultural with authors from diverse communities throughout the Gold Coast showcasing their books and culture.  It's an exciting event and I'm really looking forward to it.  Click on the link below to see what it's all about.

http://www.starsgc.com/carnival-of-words/

                                                               * * * * * * * *

Book Review:

Hell's Corner - David Baldacci (Grand Central Pub USA 2010)

If, like me, you're a fan of spy thrillers, you'll thoroughly enjoy this book.  Baldacci is a cross between Le Carre and Clancy but in his own inimitable style leads the reader on a hunt of twist, turns and betrayal that leaves one breathless.

Oliver Stone is a retired assassin.  Retired as in being hung out to dry by his own government. But this same government calls on Stone when a bomb goes off close to the White House without any discernible reason the security agencies can find.

The next 613 pages lead you on a story involving an agent from MI6, the Russians, the Mexican drug cartels and even briefly bring in the Chinese.  There are double agents, traitors and false trails, with a few assassinations added to the mix, finishing with a most surprising twist.

I've read a lot of Baldacci's books, notably the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series, but Hell's Corner surpasses anything I've read previously.  A great book, hard to put down and one of those which leaves one disappointed it has to end.  To me, that's the mark of a damn good writer!


                                                                * * * * * * * *

Enjoy your week and I hope your Christmas plans are progressing well.  

Monday, 13 October 2014

Spring Has Sprung...With a Vengeance!






This shot is taken from my balcony and shows a small poinsettia, in the centre, so covered in flowers its leaves can't be seen.  Unfortunately the photo doesn't do justice to the colour which is a beautiful vibrant red.















Below is the striking miniature bougainvillea just showing in the bottom left-hand corner of the previous photo.  Believe it or not, it's been flowering like this since I moved here almost four months ago.  I love looking at it as the flowers are such an intense but cheerful colour, with various shades of pink, depending on the age of the blossoms.

























Finally, my two fur-faces.  Mitzi (top) prefers the shaded aspects of the balcony now the weather's warmer while Bella (below) is a sun lover like me.  Although now the sun is becoming hotter, she's goes for the dappled sunlight under the outdoor setting.  They're fascinated by the water and will sit for ages, either outside or on a convenient window sill, watching the ripples and fish jumping.


It's been three weeks or so since my last post but I have been busy.  I'm currently typing up some work for one of our writers group members who is not particularly au fait with computers. Karen writes the most beautiful poetry and I'm putting all her work on a flash drive so none is lost.  As she has masses of poems, some of which are quite long, it's taking me a while but the upshot of it all is that I get to read this wonderful poetry before anyone else does!

I've also been working on a short story for the 2015 Commonwealth Writers competition, the deadline of which is 15 November...next month.  It's taken me longer than usual because I've had to research quite a lot of detail.

The final task which has kept me with my head down is the second edition of "Old Age and Villainy" which I have finally finished.  I've added extra content and hopefully, it will go on sale in the next couple of days.  I'll also have an announcement to make at that time...stay tuned!

Next month is the Carnival of Words, an annual event to showcase Gold Coast authors and their work.  This year's theme is multicultural and there will be some fabulous entertainment including a flash mob, which we're currently working on, along with a sausage sizzle, a children's lantern parade at dusk and entertainment from some of the local multicultural groups.  It's also another reason why I've been working so hard on OA&V...I'm one of the *cough* featured authors, which is very exciting for me.

It's always a high energy day.  We're looking forward to it, especially after it's over, the public has departed and we've tidied everything up...then we'll sit down to well deserved wine and nibbles!  One thing I've noticed about my writer friends...wine is always featured any time two or more get together...funny, that.

* * * * * * * * * *
Book Review

Beauty by Louise Mensch (2014 Headline)

If you've never heard of Louise Mensch, it's because she was formerly Louise Bagshawe, now writing as Mensch.

"Beauty" is the story of Dina Kane, an unwanted and unloved child who was denied the advantages her elder brother had.  Instead of bewailing her fate and wallowing in self pity, at a prodigiously young age Dina's steely determination sees her slow rise to the top of the billion dollar beauty industry. She has setbacks but claws her way out of those, however, there is someone determined to stop her at all costs...even to the point of murder.  

Set in New York, this pacy, racy and mesmerising saga combines intrigue, money and sex into one extremely readable book, which I finished at 4 am this morning because I couldn't bear to put it down.

I loved Ms Mensch's protagonist...Dina is a gutsy, but compassionate character and I badly wanted her to succeed and also to find love and happiness.  Yes, it has a happy ending and I liked that very much.

I'm an unashamed chick lit fan and this is chick lit at its best!  Enjoy.

* * * * * * * *
I hope this finds you all well and not stressing too much about Christmas, which is zooming closer each day.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Another Post!










I want to come back as a cat who has an owner like me...


















one who spoils me rotten, lets me sleep on the bed whenever I want and also allows me to rule the roost!.



* * * * * * * *

I've finally hung a couple of prints that I've had for quite some time.  I'd asked the complex manager if I could hang them and he consented but suggested using hooks that stick to the walls and can be removed without damaging the paint work.  Unfortunately, it's taken me all this time to remember to buy these!  They are now hung rather than taking up room on the dressing table inn my bedroom.

There's a bit of story as to how I came by these prints. When I was working in the eye clinic, some years ago the practice manager had one of his redecorating urges and decided to replace all the pictures around the waiting rooms and in the specialists' offices.  I came across these ones and was immediately taken with them.

I went to see Peter, the practice manager, and asked him what he was going to do with them.

"Throw them out!  Why, do you want them?"

"Ooh, yes please!"

"Help yourself.  It saves me having to get rid of them."

I was delighted and hurriedly took the two prints back to my office.  I showed my colleague who then asked me if there were more to be thrown out.  Upon hearing my "yes", she rushed out, coming back a little later with three that had appealed to her.  We were so pleased with ourselves.


These are numbered prints painted by Kenneth Jack.  The one on the left is in acrylic of a derelict farmhouse in Tatong, Victoria and the other is mixed media of a street scene in Rochester, also in Victoria.

I love Australian paintings and my favourite artist is Darcy Doyle whose paintings are so evocative of life in the country during the 50s and 60s or thereabouts...and he paints the flowering jacarandas so well.

I was at a young friend's place for a barbecue some years ago and noticed she had a small framed print of his.  I commented how much I like Doyle's paintings and my friend agreed with me then casually announced she had the original in the bank!   I nearly fell over as his paintings are extremely popular and not cheap to buy.  Her parents had bought the original for her as an investment when she was born.  Since Darcy Doyle's death not so long ago, my young friend now has an extremely healthy legacy sitting in the bank!

* * * * * * * *

Book Review:

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do, Allen & Unwin 2010

I bought this book when it first came out and a couple of days ago felt compelled to re-read it.

For those outside of Australia, Anh Do is one of our most loved comedians and tv presenter. His parents fled Vietnam, arriving here when he was two years old and this story tells of their harrowing journey.  They were attacked twice by pirates, almost lost their lives in a storm and survived starvation and thirst after their meagre provisions were washed overboard.

Anh tells of growing up in the suburbs of Sydney and of his parents' wonderment and gratitude of life in Australia compared with Vietnam.  Told in Anh's inimitable way, this book will make you laugh out loud, cry and shake your head in amazement at the humility and fortitude portrayed throughout.  It's one of the most inspirational stories I've read, underlining once again the strength of the human spirit against almost impossible odds.

What I love about this memoir is that Anh Do writes the way he talks.  I watch anything on tv that he's either in or presenting and can hear him speaking as I read.  To me, that is the mark of a great storyteller and it's apparent Australia thinks so, too, as his book has won several awards.  It's available on Amazon for Kindle download at $A14.24 if you're interested in reading Anh's story.

I have another friend who was also a refugee from Vietnam...one of the "boat people" as they were called then.  I recall commenting to Son (pronounced "Shahn") that it must have been terrible growing up in a war zone.

Her reply, "We didn't know any different" shocked me to the core and I realised then how lucky we were to grow up in a country not torn apart by conflict, able to be safe wherever we went and not have to worry about where our next meal was coming from.  I also felt ashamed of my complacency and of taking so much for granted when there are others, even today, suffering as we've never known.  It made me think...

* * * * * * * *

Wow! Two posts in a week...that has to be some sort of record for me nowadays, unlike several years ago before I got into Facebook!

I've just had a phone call from a close friend inviting me for coffee and cake.  What a lovely surprise for a beautiful Sunday!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Cheers!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Here Comes the Sun, Also Bushfires, Drought, Storms and Cyclones...and Poetry Writing

If you're thinking, from the above heading, that Australia's weather is insane...you'd be right! It's spring at the moment and that means bushfires, continuing drought inland and very little rain.  Summer brings humidity, storms and cyclones...and continuing drought inland if the monsoon rains only stay around the coastal areas.  It's a harsh climate, unpredictable in its severity but I, and most of my fellow countrymen, love Australia regardless.

The pictures below were taken about 9 am yesterday morning.  I'd gone for my walk a little earlier as storms were predicted for late morning.


 Above:  No clouds let alone a sign of any storm.










Yep, I actually wet my feet and the water was surprisingly pleasant...in the shallows!












I also wriggled my toes in the warm sand and it felt so good!













One of the large old casuarina or she-oaks lining the shore...welcome shade in the heat of summer.









As for the storms...I heard thunder in the evening, there were a few spits of rain and that was it for where I live.  They were small scattered cells and pretty localised to a few select suburbs on the coast.

* * * * * * * *

Our next writer's meeting is on 27 September and we were asked to submit a poem. Nerida, our wonderful facilitator and leader, likes to give us various genres of writing to keep us on our toes!

One example of this was last year's anthology entitled "Hauntings: Dark Tales of Truth and Trickery".  I don't write horror and don't really like reading it either.  Fortunately, we were given leeway in that our attempts didn't have to be true horror but could be fantasy, whimsy, humour and even true tales from strange events we may have experienced.  

And so to poetry.  I'm not a poet...unless it's a naughty limerick.  "There was a young lass from Nantucket"...on second thoughts, maybe not.  I put it off and put it off...procaffinating as one wit on Facebook called it.  Procrastinating while drinking coffee...very apt in my case.

During the weekend I put my newly acquired poet's cap on and set to work.  I was mildly pleased with the result...a poem about writing a poem!   I'll put it in a post after the meeting and you can let me know what you think.

* * * * * * * *

To more mundane things.  I emptied my freezer.  I do that periodically...run my frozen meals and other supplies down before refilling so I don't have food stored for months on end. Of course, that means I have to defrost and clean it.  Fortunately, it's only a small chest freezer which fits nicely under the bench...big enough, plus the freezer in the fridge, for my needs.  

Anyway, it's all defrosted and clean ready for my new supplies of meat which I'll pick up this afternoon.  I feel quite virtuous now.

On that note, I shall end.  I hope your week is not too arduous and that you have something nice planned for your weekend.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Very Fortunate Week



The first rainbow I've seen since I moved here.


I've been extremely fortunate this week with two exciting events happening.  The first one was when I received a message from the archivist at the State Library of Queensland asking for permission to add my blog to their archives.  Wowee!  I was rapt, as you may imagine.  A friend of mine, also blog writer, had that happen to her a couple of years ago and I remember being very impressed when she told me about it.  It never occurred to me that my blog would one day also be chosen.  As well as being archived with the State Library, it means the National Library of Australia would have access as well.  Apparently they look for blogs depicting life in Queensland and like to have these for reference.

The second exciting event was that a short story I had written was placed second in the annual short story competition held by the writers group to which I belong.  It will also be included in the 2014 anthology "Your Story Makes You Special".  I'd submitted two entries and the one I'd written about my grandmother was the successful story.  The anthology will be available in November.

The above, combined with my book launch last month, have given me a real high...life's quite exhilarating at the moment! 

* * * * * * * *

There was a chain of events yesterday which caused some mild mayhem for me and the cats. although Bella wouldn't agree that it was mild.  I was sitting at my computer, Mitzi was on the bed snoozing and Bella was sound asleep in the recliner, her usual spot.  As I mentioned last week, we've been having very blustery winds and being on the first floor with the balcony facing south, I've been feeling their full force.  Consequently, there have been allergens blowing around which often trigger a bout of sneezing.  This one extremely loud and forceful sneeze, however, caught me and the cats by surprise.  Mitzi shot under the bedclothes in alarm while poor Bella leapt straight into the air and landed on the floor.  Just as all this was happening, there was a loud knock on the door.  I jumped up, tripped over Bella who let out a yowl of fright then banged into a small occasional table, knocking it over with a crash.  Cursing roundly I righted it and hobbled over to the door to be confronted by my rather startled neighbour from upstairs who was very kindly delivering a parcel which had been left at the office by the postie.

I'm now sporting a lovely bruise on my shin and a sore muscle in my back as a result of all this. I'm not sure why the muscle is sore, but I noticed it once all had calmed down and I'd regained my equilibrium. Bella and Mitzi escaped unscathed with only their dignity ruffled.  As for the neighbour, he probably worried there's a houseful of nutters who've moved in downstairs and are doing their best to wreck the place.

* * * * * * * *

Book Review:

Hey True Blue, autobiography, John Williamson (Penguin 2014)

For Aussie readers of my blog, John Williamson needs no introduction....I think every Aussie knows the words to "True Blue".  For others outside our island continent, he's Australia's No 1 country singer and passionate lover not only of the unique Australian bush but of all things Australian.

His autobiography tells of his beginnings as the son of a wheat farmer from Quambatook (Quamby), a dot on the map in the southern state of Victoria.  It's written in typical straightforward, down to earth prose about John's life as a singer...the pubs, clubs and other venues where he's performed along with the bushies, characters and celebrities he's met during his performances in the cities as well as the Outback.  John makes no attempt to hide his Aussie accent in his singing and it's because of this he has become Australia's true blue Mallee boy.

I found it a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting book, written in a flowing easy to read narrative. Highly recommended for an entertaining read with John's sometimes larrikin personality stamped on every page.


The book is very new as evidenced by the library stickers on the cover.  No holds, no renewals and return in seven days!

I hope the week is kind to you.  Until next time...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Very Rare Post!

There are no cat photos today...they went on strike and refused to cooperate!

The subject of the first part of this post is about food.  It's rare for me to post about food because as much as I love eating, I don't really like cooking.  I had to learn to do that when young, my mother was determined to teach me by getting me to cook dinner for our family one day a week.  Although I think my dislike actually stems from my years married to a farmer and having to cook three two or three course meals a day plus making sure there was always something in the cake tins as no cup of tea or coffee could be drunk without an accompanying slab of cake or half a tin of biscuits!  It became a chore because there were all the other things that had to be done as well.  Never mind, they all got done and no one died of food poisoning!

Yesterday, I went for my weekly shop.  It was one of those weeks where I'd run out of everything...toilet rolls, cat food, shampoo, laundry liquid, food...you name it, I'd run out.  

I needed fruit and stopped off at the greengrocer in the shopping village where I found a most unusual fruit.  It was a melon called piel de sapo, which translates to "toad skin".  I looked it up and it's one of Spain's most popular melons.  I'd neither seen it nor heard of it before but there was a plate of sample pieces.  I like sampling new things and tried a piece.  It was beautiful! My taste buds shouted "halleluja!" so...I bought one.  I sliced it in half and here's what it looks like.









Piel de sapo..."toad skin" melon.








The flesh is very sweet yet tangy and much tastier than a honeydew melon which I find rather bland.












To my delight I also saw mangoes for the first time this season.  They were two for $5 which is really cheap for early fruit.  They weren't huge but certainly a reasonable size.


A plate of diced mango to which was added muesli and Greek yoghurt for breakfast this morning.  Ummm yummm!

The next food item I bought was a pack of four RSPCA-approved chicken breasts for $13.  I bought them from Coles because I find their chicken breasts aren't plumped up with saline or whatever is used by some supermarkets.  What you see is what you get.  I once brought some chicken breasts from another supermarket, nice plump ones, so I thought. Once cooked, they had shrunk to half their size with 1.0 cm or more of fluid in the bottom of the dish.  I couldn't believe how small they actually were. I was wary of buying Coles' chicken breasts at first but as the chicken meat supplier I normally purchased from was no longer at the farmers' markets, I decided to try Coles and was pleasantly surprised.

I bake one chicken breast for 30 - 40 minutes in a 180 degree C oven, after brushing with oil and seasoning with garlic salt, in an oven proof dish, turning it halfway through the cooking time which will depend on the type of oven you have.  Apart from the oil brushed on at the start, I add no more to the dish.

I had about half the chicken breast for dinner last night accompanied by a mixed leaf salad, tomatoes, red capsicum, avocado and cottage cheese as dressing.  Today's and tomorrow's lunches will be cold chicken, salad and avocado on rye.

The above will probably be the first and last post I write on food...

* * * * * * * * 

Now for bit of a whinge and moan about the weather.  Oh, it's sunny enough and we had some lovely rain last weekend which, with 75% of Queensland drought declared, was extremely welcome with more rain due in the next day or so.  No, what I hate is the wind and have we been having wind!  For about the last fortnight or maybe a bit more, it's been blowing a howling gale.  We've had one or two days with no wind and it was beautiful.  I could have the door onto the balcony, as well as all the windows, open without being blown inside out.  Unfortunately, the next day the strong winds would be back.

Today I did my washing.  Being in a unit complex we have no washing lines but every unit has a dryer.  With the energy costs going through the roof, I only use mine when I absolutely have to.  I have a large clothes rack on wheels which is ideal for hanging washing on and I can bring it inside if it starts to rain.  Today, the winds appeared to be even stronger with one powerful gust sending my laundry to the other end of the balcony.  I looked up in time to see the rack go sailing past the floor to ceiling window, coming to a crashing stop against the railings which fortunately, being metal, are very strong.

I decided to wheel the rack inside but when I tried to do so, the wind was so gusty I had a real struggle.  Eventually, I managed and shut and locked the door with relief...then started straightening everything inside which had been swirled about by the wind.  I do hope it dies down soon, I think everyone's heartily sick of been blown around...I know I am!

* * * * * * * *

Book Review

The Final Cut - Catherine Coulter and J T Ellison (Penguin 2013)

There is or was (I think she may be deceased) an author of historical novels of the same name, but this Catherine Coulter writes crime novels, and does so very well, too.

In this particular instance, she has teamed up with J T Ellison, a thriller novelist in her own right. Together they've crafted a fast paced, page turner in which we are introduced to Detective Chief Inspector Nicholas Drummond of Scotland Yard.

Nicholas flies to New York when he hears that colleague, Inspector Elaine York, has been murdered.  Elaine was the guardian for the "Jewel of the Lion" exhibit of the crown jewels of London featuring the infamous Koh-i-noor diamond from the Queen Mother's crown.

He teams up with Savich and Sherlock, FBI agents whom readers of Coulter's novels will know from her previous books.  Someone is planning to steal the Koh-i-noor and they need to stop the theft.  They discover The Fox appears to be cleverly dodging their traps meanwhile setting traps and false trails for Drummond.  He needs all of Savich's computer skills as well as Sherlock's gift for reconstructing a crime scene to chase The Fox to ground. The big question plaguing them though is the identity of The Fox,

With twists, turns and bodies on nearly every page, I couldn't put this book down until it's very surprising end.  This is Coulter at her best and I thoroughly enjoyed every tense moment.

* * * * * * * *

As always, I wish you a pleasant and happy week and weekend.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Of Plumbing, Advertising, Wine and Other Things

But first of all, the obligatory picture of cats!


Just checking before going out onto the balcony...a.k.a. spying on the neighbours!

Russ, the complex manager, caught up with me the week before last and asked if I'd noticed any leaks anywhere.  You know, wet patches in inexplicable places.  No...he wasn't insinuating I was incontinent; apparently there was water leaking through the ceiling of the unit directly under mine.

Consequently, a plumber arrived a few days later and one of the valves on my hot water cylinder was leaking.  I don't know how long it had been going on but the tray on which the cylinder sat was completely rusted through.  

On Monday of last week, the cylinder was emptied, pulled out and the extent of the damage was laid bare.  It had been leaking for so long (long before I moved in) that water was actually going right through the unit below to the basement carpark!  

After a couple of hours the rusted tray was removed, the faulty valve replaced and arrangements made for a replacement tray to be made up and installed later in the day.  Fortunately Russ had warned me the day before that the water would be turned off so I was up early to have a shower and get a load of washing done.  Oh, I also made sure the jug was filled as I'm not nice to know without my morning coffee.

Now that's been all fixed up I'm hoping my power charges will drop.

* * * * * * * *

As you may or may not know, I had the launch for "Old Age and Villainy" last month.  It went very well and there was a gratifying number of attendees a lot of whom kindly bought copies which they then asked me to sign.  I felt a little bit famous.  Nerida, the facilitator of the event and our writers' group, said nice things about me and also presented a bottle of wine.  She knows me well.

As I have booked a table at the Carnival of Words being held in November, the proceeds from the launch were invested in some advertising material, shown below.  The annual event is to showcase Gold Coast authors and their work.  This year's theme is multicultural and as well as book sales and author talks, there will be various activities including multicultural group displays.  It runs from 9 am to 3 pm and will be a great positive energy day. 


I plan to wear this T shirt on the day.  I wanted a picture of the book cover but I couldn't upload that onto the particular graphic supplied for the T shirt.


I also designed the banner for my table. Again, I wanted the cover of the book, but the printing on the banner went right across it, as you can see with the Phyreupp logo.  I ended up using that as my work will be published under Phyreupp Books, to keep proceeds separate from my everyday banking.  Makes it easier at tax time.

When I say I designed the banner, I had my printing done through Vistaprint, an online printing company who have a large range of templates for users to design their own advertising and merchandising products or for an extra charge they will do it for you. They were recommended to me and I must say they are very good.  Reasonable prices, timely delivery of goods and generally easy to deal with.  Very important for us Indie authors!  Unfortunately, I found limitations as with the T shirt and the logo but in general, I'm reasonably satisfied with the results.  

Oh dear, I've just noticed the blog URL is incorrect...it should be oldageandvillainyv2, rather than just "2" at the end.

I haven't done a lot of writing although I managed to get my two Winter Snap competition entries in, two days before the comp closed (you may remember both stories I submitted last year were successful, one being a finalist and the other gaining second prize), and I wrote another short story for our annual anthology, which comes out in November.
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Last week I made my usual trip to the our local shopping village for groceries.  I also needed some facial moisturiser but saw some anti-ageing serum and bought that too.  When I tried to use the serum that evening, the pump top wouldn't work.  I retrieved the packaging and receipt and a couple of days later went to exchange it for one that worked only to find there were no more.  With the refund I bought a bottle of wine instead.  Priorities...or moisturising from the inside.

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Book Review:

A Father At Last by Julie Mac  (Escape Pub 2013)
I love a book which causes a strong emotional reaction and this poignant story did it for me.  A contemporary romance set in Auckland, New Zealand, A Father At Last tells of Kelly's shock when she has an unexpected encounter with Ben, her childhood sweetheart.  She tries very hard not to succumb to the familiar strong attraction as she has a secret that she doesn't want Ben to know.  Ben, however, has his own dark past and because of this Kelly feels she can't allow him back into her life.  There are other issues causing Kelly anguish and it is during the resolution of these that I found myself reaching for the tissues.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book...it's a good one for a lazy weekend or holiday reading.

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That's all for this post, it's time for my second and last coffee for the day.  Enjoy what's left of the weekend and have a great week!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Cats - Cosy, Comfortable and Complacent!

 Bella curled up in "her" recliner.
























(Below)  Mitzi settled on "her"side of the bed.





Both cats taking advantage of the winter sun - on "their" bed!



















Neither of my cats has been particularly affectionate in the past.  Oh, Bella would make herself at home on my lap occasionally; Mitzi hardly ever, and neither liked being picked up.  They did adore having their heads scratched and I'd get tired of doing that before they tired of having it done.

Since I've moved to my new place, their behaviour has radically changed.  Both cats have become much more affectionate now that the initial settling period has...well, settled.  I've picked Mitzi up several times without her scratching me to bits and she continues purring!  Bella is still not over keen on being picked up but jumps up on my lap at every opportunity (which makes it rather hard to use the keyboard at times).  In fact, there's been the odd stoush when one's on my lap and the other also wants to be there!

Bella hates the cold.  Yesterday she was curled up nice and comfortable on her chair when I opened the sliding door to let the breeze in for a bit.  Ok, it was a cool wind, I admit that, but the look I received should have had me six feet under.  She jumped down off the chair and stalked into the bedroom to lie on the bed in the sun. 

Mitzi, on the other hand, doesn't particularly worry about the cold...or water for that matter.  Bella hates water with a passion which is usual for most cats.  They're chalk and cheese...I guess coming from different litters explains that.

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Yesterday, for the first time in months, I decided to visit the Farmers' Markets at Bundall to buy some of my all time favourite chicken, macadamia and honey sausages.  To my intense disappointment the "chicken guys", as I call them, weren't there. Another stall holder told me that they no longer go to those markets now.  Looks like some detective work will be called for to track them down although I have a feeling they do go to Palm Beach markets.  I shall check it out.

I didn't come away empty handed though.  Stockman's Meats had a great special...1 kg of bacon for $8 - and I grabbed the last pack!  I also picked up a pork porterhouse sirloin roast which was a bonus as they don't have those often so I was very happy.  I cooked the pork last night, seasoned with garlic salt, and it was melt in the mouth delicious.  Pork sandwiches 
for lunch today...yum.

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Book Review:

"The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul" by Deborah Rodriguez (pub. Bantam Aust 2011)

I loved this story about five very disparate, remarkable women of various nationalities during the resurgence of the Taliban and all that event signified.  It's fiction but the author has lived in Afghanistan which gives authenticity to the background of the story.  There's drama, humour, romance and danger all mixed up in a very readable tale set in what is probably the most dangerous country on the planet. 

Although, extremely different in content, for some reason I put this book in the same bracket as Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird".  I think it's because it's one of those beautifully written books that one never forgets, no matter how many books one reads.

I really do recommend it for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Rating:  *****

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As those of you on Facebook know, I have the launch of "Old Age and Villainy" this coming Saturday afternoon, 26 July 2014.  I'm looking forward to it (I think).  I'm not particularly comfortable with being the centre of attention but we'll see how it goes.  Wish me luck!  

If anyone is interested in buying a copy (AUD10 plus p & p), contact me via email robyn_lee1@bigpond.com and I'll send a copy off to you or you could download it to your digital reader via Amazon.com.au.  I think the price is $2.99 or something like that.

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Well, it's the start of a new week and I hope those of you living in Australia are coping with the coldest winter in a very long time.  Living in Queensland, where the average daytime winter temperature is 22C F, the cold is a shock to the system...in my case anyway!  Until next time...