The lovely people at Solaris Press have sent me a proof of my new book.
Shine’s life is usually dull: an orphan in a family of powerful mages, she’s left to run the family estate with only an eccentric aunt and a telepathic cat for company.
But when the family descend on the house for the annual Fertility Festival, Shine is plunged into intrigue; stolen letters, a fugitive spy and family drama mix with an unexpected murder, and Shine is forced to decide both her loyalties and her future.
Shadow in the Empire of Light is due out in August
The beautiful Mountain Ash forests on the Black Spur outside Healesville are my favorite place in the world. Their spicy peppery earthy smell is the perfect fragrance, the smell of home. After the grief and collective loss of beautiful places and animals in the New Years bushfires, I decided to visit the Black Spur. These are some of the most flammable forests on earth and they haven’t burnt in a while. We have 2 more months of fire season to go. So I went there last weekend.
I’d love to see recent pictures of you in your favourite place in nature.
The Inaugural Australian Role Playing Industry Awards were held last night at the beginning of ARCANACON 2020
I had the great honour to be one of the judges along with Reece Carter and Melody Watson. It was a tough Gig. Who knew so many Australians were doing such excellent work writing roleplaying games and related items? We chose a very fine group of works out of about 15 other very fine works.
Game of the Year – Good Society (Jane Austen) by Vee Hendro and Hayley Gordon from Storybrewers Roleplaying https://storybrewersroleplaying.com
Best Scenario – Reign of Terror (Call of Cthulhu does the French Revolution) by Mark Morrison, Penelope Love, James Coquillat, Darren Watson https://www.chaosium.com/reign-of-terror-pdf
Best PDF only product – The Facility by Mikhail Bonch-Osmolovskiy self-published on DriveThroughRPG and itch.io
Best Rules System – Good Society
Best Art work – the Disk of Ryleh by Allan Carey of Type40 https://type40.com.au/
Best Electronic Product – Syrinscape The Waterdeep DUNGEONS & DRAGONS RPG Adventure SoundPack syrinscape.com
Best Cartography – The Facility
One late night meal break about six months ago, a bored Protective Services Officer drew a picture on a piece of paper towel and stuck it on the wall.
Since then many of P.S.O’s who staff Zoo Station on a rotating roster, have added little cartoons/sketches to the wall signing them with their departmental numbers. Such a pleasure to open up and see what popped up last night. Some are quite talented, some seem to be tracings of pop culture figures but if you can’t draw… – well my favourite is one labeled Mick the Stick which is just a line. My least favourite is of a certain American President. Does he have to be everywhere?!! (an no I shall not put him in here.)
I’m getting ready for my shift in the backroom of the Junction, when the Station Master calls out, “You ladies might like to stay in there. There’s a guy walking around out there naked.”
Feeling sorry for the passengers outside who must face this spectacle without a place to hide, the other “lady” and I search round in the lost property locker for any old clothes. The only thing we can find is a lost MacDonald’s uniform. Possibly giving that to the kind of person who walks around naked at a railway station will get us into trouble. One would hate to offend a multinational corporation.
It’s spring. One of my regulars, a large cheerful man with out of control hair, (and Herald/Sun political views 🙁 ) is building a shed/bush hut/office/bunker and he’s brings all the materials down from Bunnings by train. About five times a day he gets off carrying long lengths of pine or large sheets of chipboard.
Meanwhile a large brush tail possum has been roaming round the station for the last few days. Possums are nocturnal creatures and for one to be roaming around during the day is a sign that they’re ill or have been kicked out of their hollow by another tougher possum. Judging from the wound on this guy’s face one of these scenarios is true. But I’m not overly worried about him. He’s the size of a large cat, has serious claws and is well enough to climb trees. He is so not bothered by us humans. Also he has enough sense to cross the railway line by the pedestrian crossing after looking both ways.
A terrible scream came from platform 2 yesterday. Some poor passenger jumped out of his skin when the possum appeared out of the rubbish bin he was using. The possum sat for a while looking disgruntled and then climbed down into the next bin. When I took its photo it was calmly chowing down on some apple cores. The wound seems to be healing nicely.
By the way – My sick magpie pulled through. The dangling leg healed at an odd angle but can now be stood on while dragging worms out of the ground. So a happy ending there after all. (Except if you’re a worm.)
Here’s my beloved central station resplendent in icing and with a tram circling it on a rotating disc – winner of Batter, Bake, Build – Melbourne University’s Architectural baking competition.
Click through here to learn more about the competition and see the other entries.
Its 22.30 one Sunday evening and we are once again chivying people off trains and onto buses so that men can work on the tracks. We tend to do a circuit of the quiet station calling out, “Replacement buses outside the station,” to everyone because no matter how many announcements they make over the PA, someone always misses them and gets angry about there being – “No announcements!”
My Indian workmate is going down the escalators ahead of me and coming up towards us on the opposite escalator are an ordinary-looking elderly couple in their 60’s – probably someone’s Nan and Pop.
“Replacement buses outside the station!” she calls helpfully to them as she goes past on the escalator.
And the man turns and says calmly to her retreating back –“Don’t yell at me, you black c**t!
I’m shocked, appalled and unfortunately speechless. I glare at them but they don’t meet my eye as they go past. They are as expressionless as if he’d said nothing – bored people on an escalator. Is saying such an awful thing just every day for them? Like shopping?
I should have said something. But perhaps she didn’t hear him and if I’d spoken out – called him the racist bastard he was – she would have known what he said. And no one needs to hear that. But if she did hear it and I said nothing, what will she think then? That I agree? That would be awful!
I say nothing to her and she doesn’t mention it. She doesn’t seem upset. Maybe she didn’t hear him. Or horrifying thought – she’s used to it. We do get a lot of abuse on these bus nights and it must be even worse if you stand out as different.
But I should have called this guy out as a racist bastard. Shoulda! Shoulda! I’m so furious when I think of it. Why did my words fail me at the time?
One of the matriarchs of the tribe of magpies who thrive around my stations, has broken her leg maybe even a hip or rib – a bad break which causes her to huddle on the ground with her wing all askew. But she’s survived 5 days and, more importantly, nights now. She sits like a duck among the grasses and the customers throw her bits of food. She can fly and perhaps she has found a safe place to huddle in a roof or tree at night.
Concerned zoo volunteers encouraged me to ring the zoo vets. You have to be a true animal lover to be a zoo vet- willing to come out a chase a wounded magpie round a golf course in your own time. They’ve come out twice with nets and boxes but she’s too smart and quick for them – still fit and vigorous despite the leg.
“Perhaps you could try and throw a coat or something over her and then wrap her up” suggests the vet. “Then ring us and we’ll come right out and get her. But be careful. They have a savage bite.”
As if I need warning. I’m scared of that huge beak. (so are most of the customers – sometimes feeding the magpies looks more like a mugging) And I’m scared of the rest of the tribe too. Australian magpies are sophisticated social creatures with long memories who regularly blind school children in territorial disputes.
I’d be willing to be more courageous if I was more certain of the cause. But the zoo vets say they will probably have to euthanize her if they catch her. And she’s still alive and full of beans and pecking at her fledglings when they try and move in on her food.
Do I work towards this death for her- she may be in a lot of pain – or shall I let nature take its course? She may get better. Although probably not. She may survive with one leg. Lots of birds do. Or she may die a horrible slow painful death or be eaten by an urban fox. I do wish she could sign one of those voluntary euthanasia forms.
So that is my Magpie Dilemma.