Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two birds and a sunset...

Well, you know what they say about counting chickens before they're hatched...

I'm afraid our candling predictions were accurate. We only had ONE baby chick ready to be hatched. The other eggs weren't doing their thang. And yet the mother had been sitting on them out in a rain lashed paddock of long grass for four weeks!

Anyhoo... that's Nature as they say... Mum's now happily back in the coop with her husband and his other wife. And the sweet little lavender baby is in the nursery.

While on the subject of birds. We had a lovely visitor in our Euodia tree -- a scarlet honeyeater, found mostly in rainforest in NE QLD.

To attract birds, we've planted as many flowering natives as we can, and over lunch, E & I counted the number of birds we can remember sighting here. Counted over 60 varieties.

Over the weekend, we had rather a lot of wind and rain as ex Cyclone Olga finished her dance around the Gulf and headed south to the west of us, down to the Channel Country. She left rather interesting skies in her wake.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


We have a keet (chick) peeping and cheeping and pecking at the inside of an egg!!! E is beside himself with nervous excitement. As a first time guinea father, he's doing everything right. Much more involved than when his first child was born (when he went home and fell asleep and a neighbour had to wake him with the news.)

Latest bulletin -- the egg is cracking!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

No babies yet...

Our eggs are still eggs... and we now have two mother guinea hens sitting on nests out in the rain. Last night we decided to candle some of the eggs that we're expecting to hatch. This process happens in a dark room and it involves setting a cardboard roll (or something similar) over a torch and then holding the egg over the tunnel of light so you can see the dark shape of the chick and the yolk inside.

And now we're not so sure... only one of the four eggs we tried looked as if it might hold a chick almost ready to be born. The other dark blobs were much smaller. From E's research the first of the thirty eggs that were laid should have stayed 'dormant' for want of a better word until the mother turned broody and began sitting on them. Then they should all start developing at much the same pace.

But, we dunno...

Anyway, on the writing front, I've had news from my editor that another book has been accepted. So my books for 2010 will now be:

March -- The Rancher's (or Cattleman's) Adopted Family

May -- Exectutive: Expecting Tiny Twins (# Book 2 in The Brides of Bella Rosa, a new series that starts in April)

September -- A Miracle for His Secret Son (in my editor's words -- a very powerful and emotional story)

At the moment I'm having fun with a very different style of book -- still for HM&B, but lighter in tone and rather experimental in style. I know readers don't like it when authors change their writing style too much, but I have to say it's great fun from a writer's point of view. Very refreshing and invigorating. Won't say too much just yet, because I still don't know if I can pull it off, but so far, I'm enjoying the process.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

a mercy dash

We're heading up the highway through rain and floods because, by E's calculations, the guinea fowl babies are due to hatch tonight. If we don't get there to bring them into safety and warmth, their mother will just abandon them in the rain and the long grass and they won't survive. Apparently, in the wild they have a 4% survival rate. Hope we can raise those odds.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's raining...

It's raining, raining, raining...

Thanks to ex Cyclone Neville and ex Cyclone Olga, we are being drenched...

This morning when I went to the bakery, I got out the blue floral umbrella I've had since I first went to England to meet my editor in 1998. Outside my office, the rain is falling noisily on window eaves and splashing in the open passageways in the centre of our building. It's so gloomy inside my office that I have all the lights on and the red Indian throw on the sofa glows in the warm light.

I love the monsoon season when Queensland loses all pretense of being the Sunshine State.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Settings and weather...

The cyclone season is here again, and this weekend we have one tracking towards Cooktown. This Cape York country (especially the orange area on the map) is where my next book The Cattleman's (or Rancher's)Adopted Family is set. My book actually starts with a low pressure system looming close.

We're in Townsville, but a cousin and his girlfriend are staying at our Tarzali cottage this weekend and keeping us informed (as well as looking after the guineas). Tarzali is inland, between Innisfail and Cairns and should be safe as long as the predictions are accurate. Good luck to other Far North Queenslanders. I always say that wind and rain make for good writing weather.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not lost in translation?

Google alert sent me a link to this blog and it was rather fascinating to read about the excitement of a Norwegian translator who's first translated book is my Blind Date with the Boss.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Great chance for aspiring authors...

Harlequin Romance author Donna Alward is holding a pitch contest at eharlequin this year and it kicks off today. If you’re interested in linking to the thread etc, it’s here:

The contest is for unpublished writers and runs all this week. The winner gets Donna for a mentor all year. Pretty cool...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

CD blues

I've written before about my love of audio books. Given our frequent travel back and forth between the city and the country, we've come to really look forward to our books on CD. For our last trip, I had a George Smiley story actually read by John Le Carre and another Joanna Trollope, and I was SO looking forward to listening to them.
Disaster, however, awaited us.

Well, maybe disaster is a bit melodramatic, but disappointment is certainly accurate. The very first disk got stuck in our CD player and subsequently the whole (six stacker) thing ceased to function. No matter what we tried or how many pages of the car's maitenance handbook we trawled, we could only get an Error 99 message flashing at us.

On returning to the city, we took the car to a car-audio place and it cost $75 to have the library's disk extracted, and we were told that the whole unit was damaged and would have to be replaced.


When someone at the library stuck a see-through plastic label on the CD with the library's logo etc, he/she let a little bit of plastic overlap into the hole in the centre of the CD. This teensy bit of plastic caught on the drive shaft in our player and seized up the whole thing.


Dear reader, be warned: check out those centre holes in your CDs very carefully.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The odds of finding true love...

According to yahoo news...
A university student has discovered that finding the perfect partner is only 100 times more likely than finding an alien.
Economist Peter Backus, a 30-year-old tutor at the University of Warwick, has calculated that the chances of ending up with his dream woman are just 1 in 285,000, reports Click Liverpool.

Backus used a famous maths formula known as The Drake Equation, which was originally used to estimate the existence of extra-terrestrial life, to determine why he was single.

The complex equation takes into account the number of women in the country, then narrows it down to those aged 24 to 34, who live in his home city, are single, have a university education and would share a physical attraction with him.

In his "Why I Don't Have a Girlfriend" thesis, Backus found that of the 30 million women in the UK, only 26 would be suitable girlfriends."So, on a given night out in London there is a 0.0000034 per cent chance of meeting one of these special people.

That's a 1 in 285,000 chance, so it's not great," the PhD hopeful surmised.

The Drake equation, developed in 1961 reads N = R* x Fp x Ne x Fi x Fc x L, and helped scientist Professor Drake predict there could be 10,000 civilisations in our galaxy.

"The research may sound depressing to people looking for love, but the good news for singles is, it's probably not your fault," Backus said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The last few nights we've been bombarded by brown beetles. (Another untold joy of country life)
The poor things -- every summer, as soon as the rain comes, these plain brown beetles struggle out of the ground only to end up stunned and on their backs on our veranda, or smashed against our windows, or, worse, into the car headlights.
We don't have screens at Tarzali, so we have to shut all the windows and listen to the sounds of beetle suicide. Last night I was reading in bed, hearing the soft but tragic bump, bump, bump against the bedroom window. I couldn't stand it any longer, had to abandon the book, but the split second (I swear... the absolute, exact, split second I turned the light out, the noise stopped as if the beetles had been in the middle of flinging themselves at the glass and were then propped in mid air.

In the morning, the front veranda was covered with beetle carcasses, and of course, how the guinea hens loved that!

But I decided I needed to know how this whole attraction to light thing happens. (As a romance writer I've written often enough about similarities between moths and flames and falling dangerously, headlong in love, but I've never really understood the science behind it). The answer is interesting, and as we might have guessed, the moon plays a part. You can read about it here.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Verandas baked with musky sleep,
Mulberry faces dozing deep,
And dogs that lick the sunlight up
Like paste of gold

These lines from Kenneth Slessor's poem Country Towns remind me of January in Australia.
As you may almost certainly have noticed, I gave myself a blog holiday after Christmas. Relaxing at Noosa with family members was just so ... well... relaxing, it seemed almost too much effort to drag myself to the laptop. The weather was fine and hot, the surf gorgeous and frothy as sparkling wine and the board games were as much fun as ever.
But now I'm back in the north, and driven by a New Year and conversations with my daughter, I'm in the middle of a detox. Gosh, have you ever tried giving up caffeine? I was shocked by how hard and painful it was. I had no idea that my habit of frequent cups of tea had such a strong hold on my body. It was like the worst kind of debilitating hangover. Why do we do these things to ourselves in January?

Anyway, I'm now having one or two cups a day again (have had a weekend of serial visitors and how do you manage that without cups of tea? or glasses of wine for that matter?), but am trying very hard not to let the number of cuppas creep back up to... well... to where they were.

We've been doing the entertaining during a maintenance run to Tarzali and in between visitors we have been working hard, cutting grass, planting trees, watching over the guineas. There's a new clutch of eggs, which Elliot's talking about taking back to Townsville to hatch. The mother sits out in long grass in the rain (this is the wet season and we've had massive downpours) would you believe? And because she's not a good mother, the babies' chances of surviving once they're hatched are v low.

And as we head back to T'ville today, (possibly with a cargo of eggs) I'll be thinking hard about the book I have to start writing. This is the longest break I've had from writing. Usually I feel twitchy and as if something's missing in my life, but I must say that this break has been good for me. I feel refreshed, re-invigorated and all things beginning with "re."

Happy New Year!