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NaNoWriMo is here!!!
Whether you log into the NaNoWriMo website or just write on your own it's time for NaNoWriMo. Best of luck to everywriter.

Maskerade the Play – Terry Pratchett

Saturday night I dragged some family members to Maskerade, a play based on a Terry Pratchett book. Kicking and screaming they were, well screaming with laughter. It’s a tremendously funny play, bringing to life some of the scenes that are harder for the reader to imagine, bringing to life some of the smaller characters that aren’t given much book time.

The play was put on by Gemco Players and is on till Election night so you still have a few more nights to get there, it’s well worth the money. My OH is not a Discworld fan and spent the evening laughing and smiling.

They put a lot of attention to detail so you really have to watch carefully. If you look at the photos you’ll begin to understand. They provided some free snacks during the interval including Nanny Ogg’s Strawberry Wobbler. Diet? What Diet?

Strawberry Wobbler

Strawberry Wobbler. These tasted quite nice.

As is usual in plays put on by small theatre companies some of the actors do double or triple duty and there is one person you must watch out for, the boy with dreadlocks does several characters and has put lots of thought into each of them, some he does with a severe state of class. Having said that many actors put in a lot of little bits of acting so while you’re watching one person you have to watch everyone else as well.

The ice creams were normal ice creams but each one had a ring of cardboard to turn it into a witch’s hat, as you can see from my ticket I still have my cardboard.

Two people from our Discworld Committee were in key roles. Carmela played Nanny Ogg with verve while Damien was a very convincing Mr Bucket and Michael kept the lighting under control. I would have loved to have stayed behind afterwards to have a few words with them and tell them how much I enjoyed their performance but as I had to get up at stupid o’clock the next morning we ran out the door very quickly.

One last thing I have to say. I have so much respect for these people. They have day jobs but they still go on to spend hours and hours each week putting in so much time learning lines, rehearsing and then putting on plays. Kudos!


These here chairs is where Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg sat.

Maids of Honour

Maids of Honour


Our very expensive ticket and souvenir.

Witches Hat

Yep. Had to take a photo.

Edit: In case you want to buy the book or the play here are the links. Booktopia has several copies of the book but I’ve chosen the one with the nicest cover and here is the play.

Friday Photos

Sometimes I’ve found I’m too busy for my own good, this month has been one of them. Not only have I been trying to keep up with Ginger Ale sales but I’ve also been focussing on other work. I still have the election to go as I’ll be working that but I’ve done several days doing some intense listening and talking (hopefully I’ll be given the all clear to talk about it) and last night I noticed some things I’ve missed due to being too tired to think straight. Eagle eyed readers will have noticed the absence of Alphabet of Authors yesterday, I just plain forgot. As I’ve had to be out early too many days this week I’ve been writing my articles earlier that week so when I went to write for Thursday I completely forgot to look at the calender and wrote about some other stuff instead. This means I missed writing Alphabet of Authors, it does mean other people blogging along with me will have a chance to catch up but it also leaves me feeling very embarrassed. Meep!!


Found this egg in our garden the other day. I suspect it’s not viable any more. There were five of them scattered around the area in varying stages of breakage. Very sad.


Miriam Margolyes is a lovely lady and wonderful actress. Her Dickens characters are very colourful. Some people might remember her bringing Professor Sprout to life in the Harry Potter movies. This flyer is for a play she’s appearing in for MTC. You can find booking details here.

Vote for Hunny

This year I’m working the election and we’ve all signed an undertaking that we won’t make any political comments. This is mine.

For those few people who haven’t read Harry Potter and absolutely must own them this is the cheapest set I could find on Booktopia. They do have the individual books and it is cheaper to buy them separately so feel free. Or borrow from the library as you choose.

You definitely need Winnie the Pooh, every generation should read the gentle wonderfulness that is A. A. Milne. This is the cheapest book they had that looks to be all of Winnie the Pooh.

Little books

Looking for something different to talk to you about today that wasn’t a book review and I came across these gorgeous little books. I’m seriously considering starting a collection of miniature books as they are just so, so cute and will take up much less space.

This is where I started my journey Tiny Sherlock Holmes book.

A bit of googling gave me the feeling miniature books are going to be a lot more expensive than I thought as the presses that made them are now out of commission. You can find them in all sorts of languages including Hungarian.

Take Jozsef Tari’s collection for example. He’s even created a website so you can go and drool over them safely. Some are in English, some in Hungarian and I did see some German with a quick glance. He’s even written some of his own. And then there’s this one which is a miniature book in a miniature book. The image at the top of this link is most beautiful.

Looking at this link I now know why I get annoyed with articles that aren’t dated. It talks about an event for miniature book lovers this month but doesn’t say what month or year it was written. Gah!!

At this point I’m giving up as my quick google of Miniature Book Collections brought up 4.2 million results and three pages of that is enough. I’m jealous already.

The Dragons of Ordinary Farm – Tad Williams & Deborah Beale

The Dragons of Ordinary Farm by Tad Williams & Deborah Beale

The Dragons of Ordinary Farm by Tad Williams & Deborah Beale

Poor Tyler and Lucinda. Their mother wants to go on a retreat for the holidays but what to do with them? Then the invitation comes from Gideon Goldring, a great uncle they’ve never heard of, their mother jumps at the chance to send them to Ordinary Farm. After a five hour, mostly boring, train journey they arrive. Things aren’t quite right and they don’t take heed of the words in the book, flaming cows? They think they’re in for a boring summer…

I picked up this book solely for the word ‘Dragons’ in the title and no other reason so I had no preconceptions at all. I was filing photos on my computer the other day noticed I had lots of books about dragons so when I saw this at the library it was a must read. I was not disappointed, I loved this book.

I did struggle not to speed read but I suspect that’s just me being really impatient this month as I’m rather over-committed and trying to get through things quickly, also, I seem to have this expectation that children’s books will be a quick read and this one isn’t quite as quick. There’s a lot in it, you need to keep your eye out for myths and legends and references to real world events. It would be a great book to tantalise someone’s brain into researching various words such as fawns, griffins or the phoenix, all of these are treated as if they are normal beings and deserve space and time.

There’s some time travel within these pages. It could be the great catalyst for someone needing to do a class presentation. They could take one of the characters, research when and where they come from before presenting it to the class. Often you need to do an historical figure but sometimes the student balks so this would be a good way of getting them them to do the project.

As it turns out there are two books in the series and this is the first. I’ll link to both through Booktopia as Angus & Robertson is so slow today. Both books would be great as gifts to someone between the ages of 9 and 11. The Dragons of Ordinary Farm and The Secrets of Ordinary Farm  (is currently on an excellent special) I’ve chosen ones that will arrive by Hogswatch.

Mondayitis – The Crocodile Man

There are few times I’ve been as scared. When that croc caught me by the arm leaving an exciting scar was one time but this time I was left on the Island with a croc attaching itself to my leg and the boy out of sight, I hoped he could hear me shout.

Akimbo appeared as if from nowhere, he walks so silently for a boy not treading on any twigs. I yelled for the paddle, Akimbo grabbed it fending off the croc very quickly. Bleeding I managed to get out of the water but couldn’t stand, one generally can’t with a broken leg. Again Akimbo was quick to help. He tore off his shirt and used it as a bandage to slow the bleeding.

Now how do we get back to the mainland? The croc had shredded our inflatable boat so that was out. Akimbo had an idea that he could swim but the waters were infested with crocodiles so I forbade that. Then he had another idea to use a large log he’d seen as a canoe. This sounded a very dangerous idea to me but he insisted he had to do something and there was nothing else to do so I very reluctantly agreed. I had a duty to his parents to get him back safely and so far it didn’t look promising.

It wasn’t very long before he was back with the ranger, I was settling in for a much longer wait with my heart in my mouth the whole time. Akimbo is very quick and resourceful. It seems he fell in part way across the river, managed to swim the rest of the way before realising he had no key to start the truck. He put some wires together and hey presto! The truck moves!!!

When Akimbo saw the ranger he was very quick to change trucks, telling his story as quick as can be. They were with me before I could think too much more about my dilemma.

Akimbo will go far, silent when he needs, quick thinking and a mean mechanic. I am very grateful his parents allowed him to be with me that day, I would not be with you now.

Akimbo and the Crocodile Man by Alexander McCall Smith

Akimbo and the Crocodile Man by Alexander McCall Smith

You can buy this book from Angus & Robertson.

Farmer Boy – Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I was young I read a series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, reading a whole series back then wasn’t quite as easy for me as it is now. I had to either borrow from the library, track them down at a second hand book shop or hope someone would buy them for me for a present. I wasn’t very good at speaking to the librarians and requesting they be brought in from another library so I waited to see if the books turned up on the shelf and the other two methods were just as unreliable so mostly I only read part of the series. I’ve been waiting to read Farmer Boy for far more years than I care to remember so when I saw it in the library a couple of weeks ago I grabbed it.

Wilder was born in 1867 in Wisconsin. Her books are her life story written so that people of all ages can enjoy and begin to understand about life in that era and in that place. She died in 1957 and these books were made into a TV series from 1974.

Farmer Boy is the story of her husband’s childhood. Almanzo Wilder was born in 1857, this book details roughly a year in his life near Malone in upstate New York. It’s a fascinating story not least because of the detail but also because as a nine year old Almanzo is expected to work a full day as if he is a fully grown man. They live on a farm with cows, pigs and grow the bulk of their own food. This book gives much detail of the workload Almanzo is expected to do and the little free time he has. Sometimes he can be spared and goes to school but this seems to only happen in the coldest of weathers and he has a two mile journey to take on foot to get there.

One thing that struck me about the schooling was the attitude of some of the students. The big boys attended rarely and they were really against the teacher. One teacher they’d terrorised physically so much he actually died from his injuries, they were boasting about this and the father was boasting about his boys killing the teacher. The current teacher spoke to Almanzo’s father and borrowed a whip from him, i.e. he had to physically best the big boys before they would respect him and not beat him up.

Like all of Wilder’s books this is a good read. She wrote an autobiography before her books were turned into children’s books and this is being published today, edited by Pamela Smith Hill I can only find it available at the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. If you wish to buy her children’s books (bear in mind they’re good for any age), they’d make a great Christmas present there’s a box set available at Booktopia.

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday Photos

Books @ Novotel

I had a seminar at the Novotel this week. I really liked their bookshelf but I don’t understand why it was downstairs outside the seminar rooms and not in a lounge. They had a good selection of books though.


Some student thought this was funny. I’ve been at Monash a bit recently and this was in the room. In an emergency thump before panicking.


Some interesting art installation at Monash University. Many of them look like letters but we couldn’t figure out if there was a word there.


For those with digestive problems. You know who you are.

C is for Michael G Coney

In this third episode of male science fiction writers in alphabetical order I’m looking at Michael G Coney. Never heard of him? That’s not my problem. He embodies the idea that you don’t need to be a science person in order to write good science fiction, Coney started his working life as an accountant.

He’s only written a handful of novels but many short stories have come from his fingers and so many of them have been published in anthologies. His first novel, Mirror Image, reminds me somewhat of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick. In Mirror Image you have amorphs who are so good at passing as humans they think they really are human.

In looking for a ‘C’ author I pulled these three anthologies from my shelf yesterday and discovered Coney has a short story in all of them. If the list on Wikipedia is correct he’s written almost 70 short stories and had most of them published.

New Writings in SF 15, 17 and 19 edited by John Carnell

New Writings in SF 15, 17 and 19 edited by John Carnell

A writer to challenge people’s ideas, it’s good his skill was recognised before he died in 2005. He’s received a British Science Fiction Association Award for Brontomek, a Best Novelette Nebula Award and five Prix Aurora Award Nominations. Previous winners for the Nebula are Isaac Asimov so he would have received stiff competition.

Someone must think he’s important enough as today three of his novels are being published in a new publication. You can buy it here while Angus & Robertson have a number of his novels in epub form, here is Syzygy and Fang, the Gnome.

Not forgetting the linky so you can play along wherever you are.

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Leadbelly – John Silvester and Andrew Rule

Whats on in spring

Glen Eira Library What’s on in Spring 2014

Back in October I took my mother to a talk hosted by the Glen Eira Library. Billed as ‘Underbelly of crime writing’ it looked thoroughly interesting. The speaker was Andrew Rule, co-author of Leadbelly: Inside Australia’s underworld wars, crime writer for The Herald Sun.








Ignore his dour look, he’s entertaining. A good speaker with an excellent grasp what makes a good talk and how to keep people interested and entertained. He told us about various criminals he’s written about over the years some of whom are petty criminals and some are gang leaders. Rule had us in giggles with some stories and worrying about his safety with others. I had to buy his book, it just felt mandatory.Andrew Rule


Leadbelly by John Silvester and Andrew Rule

Leadbelly by John Silvester and Andrew Rule










To the book. This is true crime and much better than the John Safran book I mentioned a few weeks ago. Entertaining is not a word that comes to mind with this book, informative and chilling, yes. Leadbelly is in two parts, one is the gangland murders that make up the series of Underbelly while the other is the murders and arrests that encapsulate how the police lost the safety that was their uniform. While googling both Rule and Silvester I came up with this article by Silvester, it has brief references to some of the murders (both police and otherwise) detailed in the second part of the book.

It is a totally fascinating book, chock-a-block with facts and challenging to read. It gives facts about the criminals and their arrests or murders or both. I remember hearing about some of the murders and wondering how dangerous Melbourne was to live in at the time, reading the book has brought much of this back to me. There were 30 murders over 10 years and at the time it looked as if the police were powerless to stop them. Just to give you some idea of how widespread they were here is a list of just some of the suburbs where a murder took place (in no particular order):

  • Templestowe
  • St Kilda
  • Port Melbourne
  • Beaumaris
  • South Yarra
  • Sunbury
  • Chadstone
  • Essendon
  • Coburg
  • Armadale
  • Kew

Then to give you a visual of how widely varied they are I’ve created this map the flags are just the suburb and not the specific street, if you want more details you’ll have to read the book (funnily enough you can buy this here). There’s about an hour’s drive between some of these suburbs, some were low socio-economic while others were high socio-economic i.e. there’s little sense in the killings by looking at the suburb.

There are some details published in the book but generally only those about people who don’t care or don’t need to care. Some names have been shortened to an initial while other people are referred to by pseudonym. There are two main gangs talked about, the Carlton Crew and the New Boys.

Photos have been printed in this book, they are photos of the deceased sometimes while they’re alive and other times after they’re dead.

Finishing with a quote from the book.

In the underworld, fringe benefits can be tempting, but the redundancy package is distinctly unattractive. It is small, made of lead and arrives suddenly. You don’t even see it coming.

Mondayitis – A Somali Star

I adorn artwork, this artwork is much treasured and has been sold well through the Bakaara Market. My artist intends her artwork be for the people and left for the people to see and be inspired, Keinan had other ideas. He took one of my artwork to sell in the Bakaara Market. It sold well, just like my artist’s father’s work, Keinan took more from the streets, my artist did not know he was doing this.

One day my artist took her father’s painting to Bakaara Market to sell. They asked for more by my artist. They did not know they were talking to her but assumed the artist was a boy. There was an innocence in the artwork, they said. People had tried imitating them, they said, but we can tell the difference. There is even a belief Somalia can change in them, they said.

This both annoyed my artist and made her happy. She was annoyed as her works were designed to be left out for everyone to see not be stuck in people’s homes. She was happy to get the recognition her works deserve. This is all very dangerous for her as al-Shabaab thinks artwork is unIslamic, she could be taken away.

I hope she will continue, she provides hope for Somalia and money for her family. Her father and her brother have not returned. Life is hard is Mogadishu without men in the family, life is especially hard with al-Shabaab.

Through My Eyes: Amina by J L Powers

Through My Eyes: Amina by J L Powers

Ed: This book is a powerful voice, it shows the conflict in Mogadishu and by extension, Somalia through the eyes of a young girl. Here is a link where you can buy it (I will receive a small commission with your purchase.)

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