Category Archives: Somebody Has To Say It

A Secure Heart by Charity Parkerson: On Sale

A Secure Heart
On Sale Jan 22nd – Feb 5th for only $1.99

Re-released with new cover and edits January 8, 2013
What does it take to secure a heart? For the Smith Security Services team it’s Flowers, Chocolate, Wishes, and Sparks!

Flowers: Fashion Designer Flower Calloway’s next big show could make her famous all over the world, but she ends up uncovering a few secrets that could break her heart instead.
 
Chocolate: A quick trip to the store for some chocolate therapy, and a fateful encounter with a few gorgeous men, shakes up F.B.I. Agent Genie Cook’s once secure life.
 
Wishes: For Jacob and Gracie, it is love at first sight, but it will take more than a few wishes to hold them together when Jacob’s career threatens to tear them apart.
 
Sparks: Twin brothers Weave and Bob are hardened fighters, but two special women are going to have them throwing off sparks instead of punches.

Boundaries in Erotica

Boundaries in Erotica
I recently guest-posted over on D.C. McMillen’s blog on the topic of boundaries in fiction, and more specifically in erotica. There have always been topics that are taboo, and it seems like The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty breaks a great deal of them. 

Hop over to D.C.’s blog for my discussion on whether the conduct of the characters in the book is criminal, immoral, or just downright yucky. Note that while I am aware a book can have a world that operates by different rules than ours, and that therefore conduct which we find unacceptable can be acceptable within that world, I don’t believe Anne Rice has established such a sufficiently three dimensional world with alternative rules as to make the reader stop applying their usual sensibilities – and thus the debate. 


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Club Fantasci: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty



November’s Book of the Month for Club Fantasci was The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice. The book certainly seems to polarise readers, and it had that effect on myself and my co-hosts. Watch the Hangout below to see what we thought of this rewrite of the classic Sleeping Beauty.


Reviews by the co-hosts will shortly be available on the Club Fantasci website and will be linked here as soon as they go up. 

Next month, we have another erotic fantasy – Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Tune in to see the Hangout on December 29 at 7pm CST or, it being the holiday season, check it out while recovering from a post-holiday hangover!

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British English Vs American English

British English Vs American English


I had never in my life met someone who didn’t know there was a difference between British and American English until I joined Twitter. Everyone in Australia seems to know, and it seems that knowledge is widespread in Canada and Britain as well. I also know many Americans who do know there are differences, but by the same token the only people I’ve yet met who didn’t know were also Americans (not that I have, of course, interacted with people of every country on Earth).

I respect your right to change your own language, but I draw the line at being told I’ve misspelled something just because I’ve used British English. The most notable example was when someone tweeted a response to my tweet of my blog post, including the word ‘judgement’ in the title. This person helpfully pointed out I’d misspelled ‘judgement’. Um, no, that’s correct spelling in British English. 

This person clearly hadn’t even read my Twitter bio, or they might have twigged to the fact that a lawyer, of all people, is highly unlikely to be misspelling a word like judgement. To add insult to injury, this person didn’t even have the courtesy to apologise or acknowledge their mistake when I replied it is correct spelling in British English – and I was polite about it too. This level of ignorance is up there with the Republicans who wanted to come to Australia after the election because we have a male, Christian president – but at least that was also amusing!

That was an annoying experience, but far more concerning how this affects writers. It’s not generally required to change British English to American English when submitting novels to American markets (thankfully, because that would be painful and laborious, and quite frankly I’d need an editor for that), but some short story markets do require it, and I tend to change all my short stories for the American market just to avoid the debate. Aurealis in Australia is the only market I know which requires all submissions to be in British English. Worse than this inconvenience, is the fact I know authors who self-publish using British English (because, hey, that’s their native language) and then get bad reviews from ignorant readers who complain that the book contains multiple instances of bad spelling and had a poor editor, because they don’t know those words are British English. 

I don’t run around leaving bad reviews of books written in American English because of spelling errors, so why is this happening in reverse?

I have a theory. For reasons I don’t entirely understand, books written in British English are often converted into American English for the American market – this includes not just changing spellings, but changing a word where the name of something in British English isn’t the same as it is in America e.g. a ‘Mac’ in Britain is a raincoat, and these types of words get changed. Harry Potter, for example, was changed significantly for the American market. If you bought Harry Potter in America, I can guarantee you it’s different to my copies purchased here in Australia. 

The reason for this, I’m told, is because Americans don’t understand British English. Say what? American English isn’t translated into British English for the UK, Australian and Canadian markets. What are publishers trying to say? That we’re cleverer than the American market, or it doesn’t matter if we don’t understand? Well I do understand, and I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t understand, and that’s because I’ve been exposed to American English from a young age.  If this tendency had never been catered to, the American market (as a whole, and distinguishable from the individuals who comprise it) would have as much knowledge of British English as I have of American. 

The problem we have now is that this practice in the past has generated a level of ignorance in the American market that now we have to perpetuate the practice in order to avoid bad reviews saying words are misspelled. My horror reached new peaks when Momentum Publishing here in Australia (the digital imprint of Pan McMillan) stated they publish all their digital books in American English, even though the authors are Australian and would have written it in British English. I know why they’re doing it, I’m just appalled it’s become necessary.

What are your thoughts on this practice? Why do you think it started? Do you think it should continue? Were you aware, generally, of the differences between the two styles of English? Do you see value in all parts of the English-speaking world being aware of the general differences between British and American English? Do you think British English should be converted to American? How about American to British? If you’re an American writer, how would you feel if asked to convert to British English? And how would you feel if you were required to convert to British English, but I wasn’t required to convert to American English? I’m fascinated to hear others viewpoints on this issue. 

If I ever self-publish, I can see myself putting a big notice at the front that says the book is written in British English! Not that it will help – people don’t read that stuff. 

A particular sore point for me because the word ‘artefact’ appears frequently in my novel, and I’m heartily tired of being told I’ve misspelled it
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Scotland: The Pipes Call Me Home

Scotland
I don’t recall how old I was when I first heard the bagpipes and drums. Not very old. Younger than ten, almost certainly. It was a Saturday, and my brother and I were out with Dad, which meant Mum was at work. I know that beyond a doubt because there’s no way my mother would have stopped to listen to bagpipes – no, she would have hurried us past that ‘horrendous noise’. Which is not to say I don’t love my mother, only that her perspective on bagpipes is very different to the rest of the family. 

Mum stopped work in 1992, so my memory of the bagpipes predates that, and hence how I know I was ten, or younger, and my brother likely eight, or younger. Quite small. But the memory is vivid. I remember where it was, and the tartan, and the kilts, the pipes, and the man with the drums with what looked, to my young mind, like pom pom drumsticks. I was fascinated by the way he swung them – not sticks, but on strings, up and over to beat the drum. 

What I remember most, though, is the haunting dirge of the pipes, speaking to my young heart in a way I didn’t understand, but a way that would stay with me for a lifetime. There was something about that unearthly music that cut straight to the soul, and the three of us stood mesmerised by the music for I don’t know how long. It was a sound I have never forgotten, never will forget, and that stirs my blood and conjures images of home. 

My mother is Australian, descended from English and Welsh. Perhaps this explains her deep-set dislike of the noise. For her ancestors, the wail of the pipes was not a happy sound.

My father identifies as Australian, but was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and didn’t legally become an Australian citizen until many, many years after my first encounter with the pipes and drums. My brother and I are Australian-born, but half Scottish by descent, and legally dual nationals. For all three of us, there is something in the sound of the pipes and drums that calls us home, not to a land of droughts and flooding rains, but to the moor and the heath, swathed in purple heather, to the rocky crags of the Scottish highlands, shrouded in mist and rain. 

In 2008, I travelled to Scotland, so great was the desire to see this place of my ancestors’ (indeed, my father’s) birth. We went many places on our honeymoon, but like the pipes, I’ll never forget those first moments in Scotland. 

My husband was driving, and I sat in the passenger seat, staring out the window, with a bemused smile on my face. A huge sense of contentment, and indeed homecoming, engulfed me as I stared out at what was, to my eyes, an unnaturally green landscape.  Despite the fact the scenery itself was alien, a great sense of belonging reverberated through me down to my very bones. The landscape is rugged, harsh, and unforgiving, and you can see how the environment moulded the Scots – tough, resilient, stoic. 

My husband, who also has Scottish roots, later admitted to me that he experienced a similar emotion. Within two weeks of our return home, we were homesick for Scotland, and planning our return. Alas, we’re still waiting, but we’ve set the year – 2016. We’re halfway there now, and the ache in me when I think of it – so close, and yet so far – is deep and long.

Since then, I’ve learned the feeling I experienced when I first heard the pipes (and every time I’ve heard them since) is not unique to me. Many people report feeling the same when they hear the pipes, and they all seem to have Scottish heritage. What is it about the bagpipes that speaks to us, even though we’ve never been to Scotland and may never go? Is this something peoples of other cultures experience? And yet the bagpipes seem unique in being almost universally despised by anyone who doesn’t have Scottish blood.  

I sometimes look for pictures to soothe my longing for the highlands – for it is the highlands specifically I miss, more than the lowlands. But many of the pictures I find, certainly a great number of the commercial images, those in calendars and the like, are not what I remember of Scotland. For instance, an image of the sun breaking through the clouds over Loch Ness. I don’t remember the sun. I remember clouds, and mist and drizzle, and cold, and yet I didn’t care. I am not a photographer, but I’ve shared some of my favourites with you. 

We’d never live in Scotland. We’re too accustomed to the warmth of Australian climes. But if we could, we’d live 6 months of the year here, and 6 months there. Home is where the heart is, and mine is divided, between two different worlds, between Australia and Scotland. 



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