Sale: Little Loves, to Dark Matter Magazine

Thrilled to be able to announce that I have sold Little Loves, my space wasps, to Dark Matter Magazine for publication in 2021!

It’s a little piece of flash fiction that explores my healthy fear and respect of nature. Little Loves stems piece of research I read about predatory wasps suggested their brain chemistry is manipulated by the egg-laying sting of the wasp, and this then forces the poor creature that plays host to do what is best for the wasp larvae.

It also draws on a particularly gross hoax from my uni days about breast cancer and creepy crawlies that started to circulate, documented by Snopes here. Content warning, it’s a gross image and possibly NSFW. If you are grossed out, you might be a trypophobic like me – meaning fear or disgust of closely-packed or irregular holes. (Do yourselves a favour and don’t go looking at mango worm infestations). The idea of something implanted beneath your skin has been a gross-out for me since the era of the original Goosebumps.

These come together into a little body horror that you will be able to read next year over at Dark Matter Magazine. Their first issue is publishing one of my faves, OJ Cade and a host of other wonderful authors. Fresh off their Kickstarter, the team have discounts coming for early subscribers and it would be great to have another mag in genre.

Head on over to to check them out and I will let you know when my piece is available for purchase, if any of the above is of interest to you.

Adventure Escape Room: Ukiyo

Ukiyo – bringing gameplay to life in a narrative escape room adventure

Ukiyo is a new, narrative-style escape room set in a detailed and whimsical Japanese setting, which can’t help but be compared to the delightful, child-like worlds of Miyazaki.

Only half can be trustedLead through a half-empty warehouse to a little dark waiting room, you wait for the game’s team to instruct you in the gameplay. A picture book describes the set-up, starting with the story of The Crumbling Prince, who waits for his missing friends, the Children of the Grove. Notes are scribbled on the walls, only some of which can be trusted.

You play in masks that either have headphones or lights built-in, as one of the four following characters:

  • Mask of the Moon – for the team’s leader and puzzle master, seeing what is hidden
  • Mask of the Sun – for the team’s cohesive and helpful player, a light in dark places
  • Mask of the Wild – for the caring team member, a rescuer
  • Mask of the Lost – for a communicative team member, hearing the voices of the unseen (pictured)

Ukiyo Mask of the LostYour task is simple: enter the garden and meet with the crumbling prince, Kuebiko.

You move into a garden with a wooden ramp leading to a Japanese-style rock garden with a blossoming cherry tree and a small water course running through the middle. The game involves moving about in this space, crossing the waterway. Some of the gameplay is accessible but not all activities would be suitable for someone with limited physical mobility.

Ukiyo is like being physically placed directly into a puzzle game, where combined quests and some side-quests all link back together into the main story arc. The players with Masks of the Lost and the Wild can talk to the voices they hear, and Kuebiko seems to be fully responsive. The players are encouraged to speak to the prince, and he can often supply hints.

Mask of the wild tree hugger

Uncovering the secret of the room took our experienced team about an hour but 1.5 hours is allotted for each team. The Crumbling Prince is the first episode, with the next instalment currently undergoing final testing before likely availability in a month. Costs for this episode currently vary from $59 to $79 per person, with lower costs for 4 players.

Whether the name and styling of the room live up to the art movement or the original inversion of the Buddhist meaning, Ukiyo’s name is a clever word play, and absorbing, fun activity for a small group. Each of our team agreed, the room was well worth the visit and we look forward to returning for the next adventure soon.

Ukiyo is offered by the same Brunswick escape room team who brought us Deep Space and more information about their offerings can be found at their website

Intrepid adventurers with their unreliable host

Book review: Brothers of the Knife, Dan Rabarts

Review of Dan Rabarts’ Brothers of the Knife, a rollicking fantasy with an unlikely hero.

Akmenos is the disappointment of his hatching, with no sorcery or battle skills to make his parents proud. The son of Bane, head of the Emperor’s sorcerous Hornung Coven, is a cook in the castle kitchens, a role suiting his aptitudes and interests.

Dropped suddenly into deep political machinations and named as a Prince’s murderer, Akmenos flees, with only the tools of his trade, and few supplies. What follows in Dan Rabarts’ Brothers of the Knife is unstoppable adventure for this unlikely hero, who really just wants a good cup of tea and for life to return to normal.

While the novel on the whole is light-hearted, there’s a few pointed looks at privilege, and the unseen benefits of being part of a ruling class. Akmenos is always quipping, but gets on with trying to do good on his journey. It has the punny heart of a Pratchett book, and misses no steps in a rollicking good adventure.

There is some detailed world building, which is the hardest part of writing novels in a fantasy world. Dan has kept this to a minimum but the narrative calls for multiple explorations of the realm. The pace kept the reader from exploring too deeply, and I wonder if those parts of the world will feature more heavily in later books.

It’s a refreshing change in fantasy to have a character who just is, not black and white, not a soldier or a savant, and not predestined for greatness. Akmenos is an any man, with a nose for the finer flavours of life.

Brothers of the Knife is Dan Rabart’s first solo novel in the Children of Bane series, and recommended for adult to mature young adult readers. Dan also has an impressive back catalogue of fiction if you’re intrigued, which you can find out more about at

Book review: The Stonor Eagles, William Horwood

William Horwood was already a favourite, but this novel has elevated him once more in my eyes.

James MacAskill Stonor, the baby of his family, is the straw that broke the camel’s back in his parent’s unusual marriage. The Stonor Eagles follows Jim as he navigates life from an idyllic but unhappy childhood in Deal, Devon, to a complex adult life, explored through his work as an artist. His greatest achievement is the Eagle series, built on mythological stories of the endangered sea eagle, first told to him by his broken father, who carries guilt for the destruction of the last breeding pair on his home of Skye, and embellished on by the artist.

The three arcs–of the artist, the art, and the eagles–are tied tightly in an elegantly interwoven narrative. There are many places where you don’t see the parallels coming in each arc until they are upon you.

Horwood manages an exquisite damning of man and progress, of broken families and dreams, but leaves the reader on a note of hope. A gentle reminder that you can come home again.

The Stonor Eagles is literary in feel and scope, but the plight of the eagles strikes a deeply fantastic tone to the story. I would highly recommend this to anyone who cares about what we do to the planet, or enjoys a good redemption story. William Horwood was already a favourite, but this novel has elevated him once more in my eyes.

Goodreads reading challenge

I don’t normally measure the numbers of books I read in a year, though I do try to review those I do read written by my local community and friends.

This year I’ve decided to participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve set a modest (for me) challenge of 50, and I’m about 3 into that now.

I’m also going to try and post reviews for all of them but not going to hold myself to it, particularly for significantly older releases.

The challenge is a great way to encourage reading, and even better if you review. Hot tip: authors love it when you leave a review, regardless of how you felt about the book. It’s also a great way to pay forward that book you got on loan from a friend, or for minimal royalties from the library.

I’m curious: how many books to you read in a year? And what’s on your list for 2019?

Day on the Green: Florence and the Machine

Dusk’s multicoloured cloak enrobes the hills outside Geelong, softening the dry brown grass hills into something beautiful, a burgeoning moon rising of over the hill. This is when Florence and the Machine take the stage.

A wild will-o-the wisp trips across the stage, a heart and head of burning, fierce joy. Her gossamer wings and tail spinning and swirling across the stage in frenetic exultation.

She entreats us to dance and to love one another in the practiced cadence of a spoken word poet, something childlike in her voice. Ensnaring us in gothic magic, the age-old trappings of song.

The supplicant crowd moves, undulating, swaying, hands clasped and smiling, unrestrained in formless dance. A girl draped over her mother’s hip, bedecked in a flower crown, smiles beatifically at the crowd. Another rides high on her father’s shoulders, silhouetted against the bright stage lights. Babies tucked beneath arms, wrapped in blankets in their carriers, their mothers swaying as the babes slumber on.

As the last notes fade, last sunlight sunk beneath the weight of evening sky, we the crowd file out under soft fairy lights and the stars, carrying away picnic rugs and baskets, throats husky and hearts buoyant from those free moments in the half-dark where we could just embrace the unrestrained joy of being.


Good books: a power beyond measure

Late last year, when at a writing retreat, I picked up some second-hand books at a little bookshop cafe called Brunch Cafe. (Side note: a lovely place to stop in The Dandenongs, breathe in the books, browse with delight for your bookshelf and palate.)

My holiday plans included lofty ideas of reading them all, and I lugged them with me to every part of my meandering holiday.

Last week, I finally started on The Stonor Eagles by William Horwood. I’m a big fan of his Duncton Woods books, and I honestly cannot rave enough about the spectacular yet horrifying reflection they hold up to society and religion (think Animal Farm, but about trials of heretics across the history of Europe).

To my delight, I discovered a sweet little love note between the books pages, its writer and receiver forever a mystery.

The Stonor Eagles simultaneously reminds me why I want to be a writer and how far I have to go (Hi imposter. Thanks for stopping by; there’s the door!). With one page and one scene, Horwood riled my misanthropic heart with the merest description of the human desecration of the sea eagles of Skye.

How these symbols on the thinnest, pulped slice of a dead tree can transport you half way across the globe in an instant, have you weep for beings that exist only in the hearts and imaginations of the writer and readers.

This is what great writing does. And it’s a power beyond measure.

2018 Round-Up

This post will be short as I don’t feel like I achieved much, but I recognise the imposter’s rancid breath in my ear in this.

So, to acknowledge all the good in 2018, there was:

  • First professional sale and publication, thanks to Jeff Wheeler and the Deep Magic team
  • Publication of my oldest and most treasured story, Sleepers
  • Nomination by the publisher for the Pushcart Prize, a prize specifically for indie and small publishers and their work, again thanks to the Deep Magic team
  • Prioritising my writing for the first time in almost a decade, wherein I began learning to revise
  • Getting to attend two awesome writing retreats, where I had a marvellous time with good friends
  • My new local crit group who are awesome and helped me with one of my newest short works, now out on sub
  • Meeting so many wonderful writers at different community events and conferences
  • I’ve been tremendously lucky and acknowledge the sheer privilege of having the resources to prioritise my writing this year.

As for 2019, I want to continue to improve my craft through more writing, critiques and practice.

And read more. I really miss reading.

And time with the fluff. And the husband.

So, the wishes from me to you are for the time to dedicate to the pursuits you love, and more cuddles with furry loved ones.

That’s my 2019 plan after all.2018

Literal depiction of NYE at our house.

Deep Magic Fall Issue

Deep Magic, Fall 2018 Issue. Ed: Jeff Wheeler

If you follow my social media pages, you’ll know that I have a story out in the Fall 2018 issue of US-based ezine, Deep Magic. Look at this stunning cover; don’t you want to fly away to these adventures?

If you bought the mag and read, please head over to Amazon or Goodreads and leave a short review. It really helps metrics and authors like me!

I very much appreciate the selections Jeff Wheeler made with this issue. Each story has women at its beating heart, and drive the outcomes to embrace their own stories. Put alongside, it creates a

I’m sharing the TOC with 4 other fine authors. Without further ado…

Charity West, Love in the time of holodecks

Charity is clearly my writer sister. Love in a time of holodecks follows Katyn through treacherous mines into immersive entertainment (she slipped a little reference in to Star Trek – that’s my kind of writer!). Katyn’s desperately needed time out is interrupted by an intruder from the upper echelons of her world and he’s ruining the fantasy. Without ruining the story, there’s the Wild West, chase scenes, betrayal and romance. Our stories are each other’s natural companions, and I’m thrilled to share a TOC with Charity.

Cameron Johnston, The Dying Glass

A young girl’s mother is to be dedicated to the Temple of Mirrors in search of her god. The people in the mirrors live and she communicates with her deaf daughter in their own sign to tell her that it is all very wrong. An intriguing premise with excellent world building and one fierce protagonist whose disability is an asset. My first reading of Cameron’s work and I will definitely search out some others.

Tim Boiteau, The Ropemaker

A sing-song fairytale piece, this follows the Ropemaker and the hunt for her king. Dark and more than a little weird, it’s a little slice of darkness in the Fall Issue that adds nuance to the whole collection. The gender-flip in this piece reflects how troubling the treatment of the ever-after ending is.

Noel Wallace, Dream of Glass, Walk on Thorns

A fairytale in the best traditions of dark curses and magic, but coloured with sweet sisterhood and loyalty. Byrony, cursed with bones of glass, sets out to face the witch who condemned her. Her unlikely companion, loyal but aged knight, Sir Vermont, accompanies her or faces dismissal. The bravery of the princess resonated–she goes to face down a being of great power with the only defence being her love, mind and compassion.

Recent reading, October 2018

It’s been an age since I blogged regularly, and I have half a dozen reviews I should have done, so I will write short reviews and post them up in other places later this week.

Angela Slatter, Verity Fassbinder trilogy, Vigil & Corpselight

Vigil, Verity Fassbinder series, Angela Slatter. Jo Fletcher Books.A little late to the Verity party, I whittled down by TBR pile to finally pick these up. Verity Fassbinder is a detective for the weyrd (read magical and fantastic creatures of fable and yore) of Brisbane, who you meet in Vigil, at the murders of sirens. Verity haunts familiar parts of the city – which I treasure seeing lovingly sketched in fiction – to hunt down the culprit. In Corpselight, she hunts angels and a missing baby, all while pregnant herself. Verity faces literal hell to get answers.Corpse Light, Verity Fassbinder series, Angela Slatter. Jo Fletcher Books.

Verity is a snarky bad ass, tromping all over. She’s an entertaining headspace to inhabit and I like the transposition of old-world creatures in current-day Australia. These works are quite different to Angela’s Bitterwood Bible and others, which I think are still my favourites, but these books don’t stop long enough to let you linger. The last in the trilogy, Restoration, is out now, so if you love seeing Australia in your fiction and a good detective story completed, this trilogy is for you. It’s definitely skipping to the top of my list.

Cat Sparks, Lotus Blue

lotus-blue-sparksTalk about desert settings and we immediately leap to thoughts of Frank Herbert’s Dune, but Cat turns that trope around to comment on environmental destruction, climate change, survival and war.

We follow Star and her sister on caravans winding through deserts, brimming with fatal storms, man-eating lizards and relics of an ancient war. While buried and mostly forgotten, the technical monstrosities built by ancient civilisations wait only to be reactivated.

I loved the worlds of this book: the land ships, lizards, sentinels. Still with clueless kids landing themselves and possibly the whole world in trouble. Lotus Blue is one of my favourite reads of this year.

Nnedi Okorafor, Binti: The Night Masquerade

Binti: The Night Masquerade, Nnedi Okorafor. Tor pubIn the last of a trilogy of novellas, Binti has returned home from intergalactic university with her friend, Okwu. Inalterably changed, she faces rejection from her own conservative society for the changes she’s undergone. Her father’s people, Enyi Zinariya, have called on her to keep changing and broadening her understanding. And there’s a war brewing between her planet and Okwu’s people, the Meduse. She’s far from home when the hostilities start and it may take all her skills as a harmonizer to put it right.

A fine conclusion for this trilogy which I have reviewed before (Binti). A journey of coming to accept yourself and others for who they are. I’d highly recommend embarking on the whole set.

The Everlasting Sunday, Robert Lukins

Robert Lukins, The Everlasting Sunday. University of Queensland Press.The Everlasting Sunday magnificently captures the atmosphere of a post-WWII English home for wayward boys. There’s rambling adventures, clandestine meetings with jazz and alcohol, cemented together with a flawed yet interesting cast, and rounded out with the sort of friendships made only during the tough times.

Once he hits full stride in the novel, Robert’s work is an evocative exploration of the setting and characters. His voice in the novel retains the very best type of story-telling from classic English literature, in keeping with the period. We keep our protagonist at arm’s length throughout the narrative and the ending leaves the reader with many questions still unanswered. Events of the climax felt at odds with the rest of the narrative in its brutality.

Overall though, a highly engaging and well executed debut – congratulations Robert! (I know Robert through work so it’s a special thrill to read his work.)