Diagnosing Vitamin Deficiencies Through Your Tears!

So this is really cool! Scientists are developing ways to diagnose vitamin deficiencies through your tears! They are especially focused on children, for whom vitamin deficiencies can have a significant negative impact on their growth and development. Also of interest is a way to test quickly, simply, and easily long before physical symptoms manifest, because if you can catch the deficiency when it’s still moderate and before physical symptoms have occurred, obviously you can get better health outcomes for the patients.

Anyway, totally random, but it’s Friday, my brain is melting a little from being back in full-time work, and I thought it was super cool :o)

The League is BACK!

Starting this week, my monthly contribution to the Darkness & Good blog for the next little while will be chapters from my book, The League of Absolutely Ordinary Superheroes! In keeping with the spirit of the D&G blog, the offerings are raw and unedited – but hopefully you’ll enjoy them regardless 😉 A couple of things to note:

  1. Yes, if you’re a loooooong time reader you’ll recognise the first half of this story 🙂
  2. Not keen on serials in case the author doesn’t get around to finishing them? NEVER FEAR! LAOS chapters are scheduled through to the end of the year, which is halfway through the book. Tune in next year for the probably-thrilling second half!
  3. Yes, when all the chapters are FINALLY released there will be an ebook. Is true. Hurrah for the end of next year, I guess? O:)

4? No. I think 3 is it. So there you go: new story, pretty story, read story: go!

Darkness & Good button with red text on a white background, with shadowed, dark grey leaves in the background. The leaves have red ribs and stems. Link goes to http://darknessandgood.blogspot.com. The League of Absolutely Ordinary Superheroes

Practising In Public, Or, I Have A Book Coming Out in May :3

Years ago, I read an article that prompted somewhat of an epiphany. This is not, in and of itself, a noteworthy event, as this is something that happens with rather astounding regularity in my life. I guess when you read a lot, and when you read widely, this kind of thing is also just called ‘Learning More Stuff’. Yay learning! Yay stuff!

But anyway, this particular article (which I’m sure I linked to at the time but can’t for the life of me find on the blog at present*) was about a distinguishing factor between writing and a lot of other art-forms: namely that in many art-forms, practising in public is not only permissible, it’s actively encouraged. Painting pictures? You don’t have to be a painterly genius for the school to let you exhibit your work. Learning an instrument? Recitals are generally actively required, whether you sound like you’re strangling a cat with tomato sauce or not. Writing? …Yeah, probably just better put that notebook down and not show anyone your writing until you’re *good*, okay, honey? There’s a lovely sane writer person. *pat pat*.

The article, and subsequently I, took umbrage with this notion. Why NOT practise in public? Look at The Martian, for example. It’s arguable but also pretty intuitively obvious that the book only ever became as great as it did because the author took a risk and practised in public, garnering assistance and feedback along the way that made the book what it was.

Look. I don’t want to get too hung up on this idea; I just wanted to note that you know what, writers? Sometimes it’s okay for us to share stuff with The Reading Public that we know has flaws.*****

Segue. In 2010, I wrote a book. It was a book-of-the-heart, the first book I wrote straight through without blood, sweat or tears, and it was magical, and elating, and glorious. It was a book, actually, for my sister, not because the plot mirrors her life or anything (and even less so now than in that first draft) but because, at the time, it felt important that I could give her the gift of happy escapism for a while–and it dovetailed nicely with a fragment of an idea I’d had rolling around in my head for a while.

Segue. It’s 2017. This book has gone through about 7 drafts, at least 4 of those with relatively major changes, though it’s not like it was ever gutted and torn up for parts like some of my other novels. The resultant story is still largely the same shape as the original, just better. More book shaped, less like a whimsical object from my head.

Segue. It’s still 2017, and I have an emotional collapse on Twitter at a bunch of my writing friends. The Twinny One immediately gets onto Skype; she understands what the problem is in a way that’s hard for me to articulate on Twitter, and also in a way that’s hard to articulate on Twitter, she knows the solution. It’s the goalpost, she says.

See, seven years is Quite A Long Time to work on a book, really. Especially when your goal is to make some kind of living out of this. And over those years, numerous times, people have told me (kindly, for my own sanity’s sake) to put Sanctuary down, to shelve it, to walk away.

I don’t walk away from books. I’m terminally incapable. So being told to abandon this one is heart-wrenching, and I’m scared I’ll never finish it, and I’m scared I’ll be forced by time or people or circumstance to abandon it, and secretly I’m just plain old scared that I’ll never be good enough to edit a book to The End. Editing, y’all, is HARD, HARD WORK. Taking this story, this image, this idea that you have in your head and translating it into something that not only makes sense but is just as compelling for others as it is for you? HARD.

But for the first time, Liana puts it in words that seep into my head. It’s not that I’ve changed as a writer in those seven years, though it’s also that, and I most certainly have, in leaps and glorious bounds (though some days I still stumble and crawl). It’s not, as I heard this to mean, that I could do better, that I could write better than this, that I need to be constantly revisiting Sanctuary to update it with the new skills I’ve learned.

It’s the opposite. It’s not that I’ve changed as a writer so much as that I keep moving the goalpost. Of course the book will never be DONE if I keep applying new criteria to it; no book I ever write will be done if I work like that.

There are still some flaws in this book. I know they’re there, but fixing them would mean gutting the book and starting over, and I don’t have it in me to do that yet. Maybe one day I would, but I’m faced with a choice: I can let the book go, or I can hold onto it for another seven years, picking and prodding and angsting and hoping to someday get it ‘right’. I need to let it go. But letting go doesn’t have to mean shelving it. It can also just mean at last, finally, calling it done.

Practising in public, you see.

So here it is: my glorious piece of imperfection, a tiny part of my soul carved into words and made flesh of its own. I’m calling it done, I’m writing The End, and I’m turning it over to you, my wonderful, wonderful reader. I hope you’ll love it. But if you don’t, that’s okay; I’m practising in public, and I’ve done what I needed to do. Finally, I’m letting this glorious beast go.

A teal book cover with light exploding from the centre of it. Shadowed butterflies fly out and up from the light, and the title, Where Shadows Rise, overlays the image in a serif font with decorative curly elements. It's pretty. Very, very pretty.
Where Shadows Rise
Sanctuary Book 1
Coming May 24, 2017
Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | and more 🙂
(print and ebook)
(yay)
(isn’t the cover *astounding*?)


The fairies have a secret they’re just dying to protect…

Emma knows breaking the rules can get you into trouble; it nearly got her sister killed. That’s why Emma’s stuck in backwater Nowra, Australia, under temporary witness protection with no friends—and no life.

So when Emma has to break the rules to retrieve the runaway family dog, she decides the fairy she sees is clearly a guilt-induced hallucination. Problem is, hallucinations don’t usually send you invites to Fairyland—and shadows don’t usually chase you home.

It would be easy to ignore the invite.
It would be sensible to avoid the shadows.

But when Emma’s only new friend is snatched by the shadows in the middle of the night, Emma knows she has a decision to make: stick to the rules and leave her friend and dog to die, or risk her own life to save them.

CHAPTER ONE

THE DOORBELL RANG. That doesn’t sound exciting in and of itself, but let me assure you: it was the most heart-pounding thing to happen all week. It was my birthday, I was home alone, and because of the stupid witness protection business, I’d been stuck in the house all summer. I hadn’t even been allowed out to see friends, because we’d arrived in town at the end of last year with only three school weeks to go—so I didn’t have any friends.

Well. I had friends, but they were back in Melbourne, and I wasn’t allowed to contact them for fear someone would track down our new location. Lucky me.

Anyway, it was my birthday, I was alone because Mum and Dad had gone to do something regarding birthday surprises and Anna had inexplicably chosen to go with them, and the doorbell had just rung. I stared at the closed door, heart pounding, while our chocolate Labrador, Veve, tried to chew it down. Was I going to open it?

Of course I was going to open it. The chances of it being a mobster were slim to none; for starters, a mobster wouldn’t have rung the bell.

 

A teal book cover with light exploding from the centre of it. Shadowed butterflies fly out and up from the light, and the title, Where Shadows Rise, overlays the image in a serif font with decorative curly elements. It's pretty. Very, very pretty.
Where Shadows Rise
Sanctuary Book 1
Coming May 24, 2017
Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | and more 🙂

 

* Granted it is 10pm on Sunday night and I just spent 10.5 hours of my day marking things and my brain is leaking somehow out my ears and it’s goo, all goo, everything is goooooooo.**

** The number of times I mistyped ‘good’ for ‘goo’ just then is shameful. And probably indicative of my Tired. And possibly indicative of my subconscious’s determination to be optimistic? Sure, let’s run with that.***

*** Better than running with scissors.****

**** Imma get back to the main article in a second, I SWEAR. Any second now. Aaaaaany second…….

***** Of course, just as the right to voice your opinion does not include the right to be taken seriously, so too practising in public does not shield you from having substandard work received as such. I don’t advise this course of action unless you have a thick skin, or aim to develop one.

#MadeItMonday: Are We Sick Of Cake Yet?

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

I really hope not, ’cause that’s literally all I got this week. Unless you wanna see the killer school resources I made, hardy har har. Anyway, this time multiple iterations of Cake: the SmallBoy needed cupcakes for a school bake stall, and a kid at my school needed a birthday cake. Woo. Cake. Yeah. #enthusiasmftw!

(Except I forgot to take a picture of the cupcakes, which is a shame, because they all sunk really badly, and it would have been amusing to prove that sometimes my cakes fail Really Badly :D)

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’m (so not) A Morning Person

I am really, really, REALLY not a morning person. My tutor group/roll call/whatever you call it when you just get together for 15 mins to make announcements and mark the roll at the beginning of the school day students when I first started teaching knew that it was their job to watch me wake up in the mornings: tutor group was 8:50 – 9:10, and as the clock ticked over to 9, BING, all of a sudden I became human and functional. Ask me tough questions before 9am, and you’ll get puzzled confusion 9/10. I’m better at mornings now that two young kids have deprived me of sleep for collectively seven years of my life, but yeah, still not a morning person. Not at all. Not even kind of sort of remotely. Early mornings fill me with either rage or tears or both.

Last year, I had co-curricular duties at school from 7:30-8:30am every Wednesday. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how stupendously horrifying this situation was for me 😀 And to top it off, this was my co-curricular partner*:

* Who, let it be said, was a Really Nice Person, so I’ll forgive them 😉 😀

Let me know in the comments – are you an early bird or a night owl, and how do you cope with being made to do the opposite??

Releeeeeease The Unicoooooooorns!!

…Wait, what? The unicorns? Why are we releasing unicorns? And honestly if you’re talking about the unicorns in the Darkness and Good anthology by Amy Laurens and Liana Brooks which is OUT TODAY, releasing the unicorns is SERIOUSLY Not A Good Idea. Like, at all. You do want to *live*, don’t you? DON’T YOU???

Besides. If you died, how would you order your copy of this amazing anthology? YOU WOULDN’T. And then you’d NEVER get to read the ALL-NEW CONTENT that we wrote JUST FOR THIS ANTHOLOGY that you’ll never, EVER get to see ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD!!

Plus you won’t get to see that we really can actually Write Kinda Good and that when we say the Darkness and Good blog is drafts only, we actually do mean it.

Look, the anthology’s actually pretty good, okay? And it has pictures. Pretty pictures. I should know, ’cause I drew them. /nodnod. And these are the fan-favourite stories from the blog, so they must have at least SOME merit, y’know? And, like, the anthology’s on sale for the next month for $2.99, AND if you buy it direct from Inkprint Press you get both the epub AND the mobi files! (Or, y’know, you can buy it in print from Amazon and get the mobi file free if that’s your thing.)

Anyway. I’d better go. Some stupid person set the unicorns loose and now the fate of the world’s uncertain. I, for one, do not want to die a unicorn related death any time today. Or, for that matter, tomorrow. So yeah. Imma go round up unicorns. You… go read a book, or something like that.

😉
A

Darkness and Good: 38 fantasy and science fiction short stories by Liana Brooks and Amy Laurens

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Why Artists MUST Be Paid

Writers deserve to be paid. Artists deserve to be paid.

The reason is this: If you don’t pay people to make art, only those who can afford to will make it. Only those who have sufficient income to allow them leisure time, time spent not actively pursuing ways to ensure the survival of their family, will make art. Which is fine, until you realise that it’s playing into the very trap we modernly denounce history for: it’s privileging privilege. The reason we don’t know a whole lot about the lower classes of a lot of historical societies, not first hand at any rate, is not because these people weren’t educated/literate and thus able to write down accounts of their lives. That’s part of it, sure, but written literature is only one of a handful of ways of learning about a people.

Art is another. And art, historically speaking, was almost exclusively made by those in a position privileged enough to allow them the time to make it. No, these artists were certainly not always upper class; but when they were not, they usually operated under some sort of patronage system. The rich may not have physically, mentally made the art, but they sure as heck paid for it and dictated what was to be made. There are good reasons why Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Richard III, and others are they way they are, and every one of those reasons is political. He was paid by the rich to entertain them; you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face, not if you want to keep having a face. (Ha ha).

So. This is why we must pay our artists, and pay them well enough to live: that people from all walks of life may make their art. All walks, not just the privileged.

And if you can’t see why that is important, well… Eh, that’s a whole other post.

#MadeItMonday: Snuggle Blanket

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

This is literally the only thing I have made this week apart from school resources and the occasional bit of uninspiring food with which to feed myself + fam, so you know. Snuggle blanket it is.

And no, I didn’t just randomly decide to make a blanket in the midst of one of the more chaotic weeks of the school year; this was a purchase through the family Etsy shop 😉

Close up of sewing machine foot in the process of stitching white or cream satin binding to a baby pink cotton fabric with a darker pink 'classic winnie-the-pooh' print on it. The scene is dark, lit only by the light of the sewing machine.

 

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

The Most Intense Marriage Proposal Ever o.O

As if not most intense marriage proposal ever. I am actually speechlessly in awe of how much effort this guy put in to arrange the whole thing. Like, whooooooooooa. #impressed. Clickety-click on the image to make it biggier B-)

(Source: My mum sent this to me on Pinterest originally, but I also found it at 9Gag here.)

Congratulations! You made it to the bottom! You win the prize of leaving a comment to let us know the weirdest/wildest/craziest/most intense marriage proposal you’ve heard of in real life! 😀 (But seriously, please leave a comment at let me know! ;))

Sing Oh For The Want Of A Phone

You wouldn’t read about it. (Unless, of course, you are here now reading this text, in which case, SURPRISE! You are about to read about it!) You know how my wallet has been missing for a Significant Period Of Time? Well. WELL.

Episode nine-hundred-million in Amy Does All The Things: This Time, A Baby Shower Cake. This baby shower cake, in fact, if you are interested in pictures (and if you’re not, you might want to blink for a moment, ‘cause Imma post one here anyway HA).

Front shot of cake, a single-tier 23cm round cake covered in fondant (with sharp corners!), sprayed gold, with a glittery gold dream catcher centered on the front side of the cake (it extends above the edge of the cake by about a centimetre); three sprays of purpley-blue wisteria are arranged around the bottom of the cake at the front on the white platter; they are filled out with three baby pink daisies, three white daisies, some white daisy buds, a few wisteria leaves, and a gold glittery feather or leaf made to match the dreamcatcher.

This instalment of Doing All The Things involved finishing work, heading home to collect the fam + one extraordinary Canadian, packing All The Things into the car (because Cake, and trust me, when I say All The Things and there is Cake involved, I pretty much actually do mean ALL the things, forbearing only that proverbial kitchen sink), and driving 2.5 hours to my mother’s house. This is because I am a super sane individual who would never agree to make a cake for someone interstate during term time that they wanted ready for collection at 730am on Saturday morning.

AH HA HA HA HA.*

Oh yeah, SANE, that’s totally me.

Ahem.

ANYWAY, I’d also had a particularly emotional day at work, and packing All The Things was busy and intense because I was rushing because I really, really wanted to get to Mum’s asap so I didn’t have to stay up ucod***** to finish the derned cake. Lodged somewhere in the back of my consciousness was the fact that my phone was running flat, and I needed to grab my charger so that once we finally arrived at Mum’s, I could put set phone on to charge.

I grabbed the charger. We arrived at Mum’s. We hastily made beds for the small people (well, person; the larger of the small people is big enough for a non-small-person bed) and put them to bed, and lo, I dug into the cake. (Literally; I had to level the thing off first and foremost, har.)

And then there was this super lovely moment where husband revealed the good news he’d alluded to when he’d collected me from school: He’d Found My Wallet.

Rejoice!

Celebrate!

Sing oh for a wallet in its place!

…If only the story ended here. But it doesn’t, and because you are a Well-Trained Reader and because I have used Adequate Amounts of Foreshadowing, y’all know exactly what my next words are going to be (squee, mind-reading!):

I can’t. find. my phone.

As of writing this my phone has now been missing for five days and I have to say, it’s gigantically more of a pain in the bee-hind than losing my wallet ever was. I HAVE NO PHONE. This leads to tremendously awkward situations like realising I have a scheduling clash****** and having to pull a call out ON FACEBOOK to ask for babysitting assistance.

Or like my husband being called to say the baby need collecting from daycare because: Sick, only I’m the one with the car but also did I mention no phone, and him having to send me emails about this and me being three steps away from class (I lie: I was actually IN the classroom when I read said email, though to be fair the students weren’t yet, nor had the final bell gone. PHEW.).

BLAH.

PHONELESSNESS.

WHAT EVEN IS THIS.

And we don’t even have a landline, so I am all like HEY I NEED TO CALL— and then I’m like BUT WAIT NO I CAN’T.

So you know. Doing All The Things, new subtitle: Perpetually Hunting For My Stuff. Or you know. Just, My Life: Losing All The Things. Or at the moment: Do All The Things (Except All Those Things That Require A Phone).

THIS IS SERIOUSLY CRAMPING MY STYLE, Y’ALL.

MY STYLE.

CRAMPING.

Oy.

Also, vey.

And if you have spare positive thoughts you could send towards my phone, I’d definitely appreciate them <3

* To be fair, I did practise being assertive and informed them that the cake could only be collected at 11:30am, because I did require SOME sleep after all.**

** “Some” in this case means about 5.5 hours; I finished up at 2am for the night***, showered, went to bed, and groggily arose 15 minutes after my alarm went off, at 8:30am.

*** This is one of those TOO TIRED TO OPERATE DO NOT DRIVE HEAVY MACHINERY moments, because I literally could have gone to bed 1.5 hours earlier but I broke the first batch of ganache**** and didn’t make quite enough the second time >.<

**** By which I mean, I was stupid enough to assume that even though white chocolate ganache is a finicky little bastard to work with, because I had been successful once before I would thus be successful again, at late notice, running short of sleep. Spoiler: I was not successful.

***** Until Crack Of Dawn (TM)

****** Wait, no, realising I had a scheduling clash was caused by my own stupidity, not by losing my phone. Though if losing my phone was caused also by said stupidity we can extrapolate that possibly this splitting hairs. Woo, extrapolation! *\o/* <— (a pompom-waving person, in case that needed clarification)

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