Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quiz: What do yoga and crazy-hot sex have in common?

Arching your back like a vixen?  Thinking “I should do this more often”? Sleeping like the dead afterwards?

Buzz, one of my two stories in the Harper Collins anthology URL Love, is set at a health retreat.  A seriously serious health retreat.  No meat.  No iced vovos.  No talking.  And definitely, definitely no mobile phones.

So what happens when a good girl breaks the golden rule?

Buy URL Love to discover which position is even better than downward dog.

Ros J

Buy URL Love: From Texting to Twitter, the Hottest Online Love Stories.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Frances and Joni outtake #4

Another snippet from the continuing saga of Frankie and Joni. Frankie's thoughts turn to Nick and other things as she spends her first night in captivity. Up a tree. Dont ask....

Frances shook her head, peering into the semi-gloom at the roughly hewn ceiling she could just make out. This would be doing Nick’s head in too. This lying around. He was like her - a doer. Not in the same way, sure, but in attitude, absolutely.
Nick was more physically capable. The kind of guy who could build a shelter, ride a horse, shear a sheep, kill a beast, slay a dragon, navigate by the stars and no doubt sail the seven seas.
A man who was good with his hands.
And a nice bloody change from let’s-get-a-man-in-to-do-it Edward. Cheating-embezzling-bastard Edward.
Soon-to-be-divorced Edward
Of course he was also very good with other parts of his anatomy. The way he could make her clothes fall off with one look and how he consistently found just the right spot without the need for a GPS tracking device, was really quite amazing.
Frances stared at the ceiling and smiled. Even now memories of their exploits in bed last night were causing her head to spin. She shut her eyes. The man’s adventurous spirit and rough, tilling-the-land hands were going to give her enough fantasies to last several lifetimes.
Who knew sex could be that good?
Her eyes fluttered open. A lovely floaty feeling invaded her bones and she shut them again on a sigh and giggled.
Yes, giggled.
Her eyes flew open. Had she actually giggled?
What the hell? Frances didn’t giggle. Grown women did not giggle. Little girls with Shirley Temple curls giggled.
The thought was absurdly funny and she giggled again.
“You okay?”
Zeke’s sleepy voice wafted through the screen door and brought her back to reality. “Sure,” she said, even though she knew she wasn’t.
But a weird drifty feeling was swirling inside her and it seemed to make the not being okay, somehow okay. Make the urgency of getting out of here suddenly not such a crashing priority. But in the morning she was going to show Mr Shepherd of the Apocalypse. She was going to give that man, Brian – Master Brian - a piece of her mind.
Frances rolled on her side to stop the room from spinning. The low flame of the lantern twisted before her multiplying in a kaleidoscope pattern. Brian’s head flickered in the centre of each one like a disembodied ghost.   
She muffled another giggle. Brian....
Seriously, who would associate anything apocalyptic with the name Brian?
Brian conjured images of a slightly myopic accountant. Nothing remotely end-of-the-world-ish about Brian.
Zoran. Now that was a world-is-nigh name.
Or Lucifer.
Or Darth. Come to the dark side, Frances.
Frances stifled another giggle.
These were names honed from the fiery depths of an apocalyptic dawn. Seriously, if you were going to go to the trouble of coming up with such a ridiculous name – Lambs of the Apocalypse – why on earth wouldn’t you, as leader, change your own name accordingly?
What was one more crazy fantasy in this bizarre alternate world they all seemed to be living in?
Master Zoran, Shepherd of the Apocalypse.
Now, that said don’t fuck with me. Bow down before me or perish in the everlasting fires of damnation!
That was hail and brimstone.
Frances shook her head. Master Brian could do with a good business coach.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I hate 50 Shades of Grey (even though I’ve never read it).

No, not because it’s saucy (bring it on). 

And not because I’m jealous as hell that EL’s first book has sold a gazillion copies and redefined fiction for the next God-knows-how-long (although God knows I am).

Not even because I’m a feminist (which I am) and am worried about the questionable sexual politics I hear discussed at every single event I attend (which I’m not – the characters are consenting adults so knock yourselves out as far as I’m concerned).

The truth is, I can’t wait to read it.  The only reason I haven’t read it so far is that I have just had my fourth child and in between running around like an unpaid taxi, breastfeeding and doing laundry five times a freakin’ day I don’t even get time to read mail from the Tax Office marked “urgent”.  So I feel like I’m officially the only woman in the entire world who hasn’t read it.  But even that’s not why I hate it.

The reason I hate it is that I have had it up to my armpits with hearing talk about the “new” phenomenon of “Mummy porn”. 

So, actually, I guess it’s not 50 Shades of Grey I hate at all. 

It’s every simplistic, puerile, sexist gobshite of a journalist/tv anchor/social commentator who thinks (a) “mummies” are somehow are a different species from every other woman on Earth and (b) there is something new, funny or wacky about their sexuality.

Fact.  (Almost) every woman on the planet is reading the book, not just “mummies”.  Why is so interesting that, among all those women reading this book, women with children are too?

Fact.  “Mummies” do not somehow miraculously change in desire, identity or nature because a child passes through their bodies and they become responsible for it. Newsflash - “Mummies” are sexy people, that’s how they got babies in the first place.

The argument seems to go that 50 Shades legitimised “mummies” reading sexy stuff because initially, they could read it on their e-readers, discreetly, so no-one needed to know what outrageous harlots they were.  And then, after a while, they discovered everyone else was reading it as well so that made it ok too.

The hypothesis is ridiculous.

Most mothers I know are not shrinking violets nor do they require permission  from other people to make decisions.  They are, in fact, not afraid of anything, least of all their own interest in reading some racy fiction. 

They will take on their mothers-in-law, schools, and entire systems if they have to. 

They are fearless and ferocious.

The term “mummy porn” belittles not just mothers, but all women.  It reduces us and makes us the objects of (somewhat affectionate) scorn. We do not talk about “daddy porn”, because let’s face it, it would be a tautology. Most Daddies have read or viewed material way more hardcore than 50 Shades. 

But then, unlike women, men are not defined as “Daddies”, even once they are.

So.  Here’s the thing. 

Women can read what they like, be they virgins, seniors, or (God forbid) mothers. 

We always have, and I’m pretty sure we always will.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sister Napped outtake #3

Frances has just met her kidnappers, a cult called The Lambs of the Apocalypse.....

“Come on,” a gentle voice said next to her elbow, “I’ll take you to your room.”
Frances, reassured by the kindness of the voice and Ken’s defence of her – and that there must be a “room” somewhere in this wild Gondwanaland (hopefully with a flushing toilet) - pocketed Des. She didn’t protest as Zeke took her by the elbow.  She was utterly knackered, her wrists, ankles and now knees hurt like hell and she needed to pee so badly her sphincter was barely holding its own.
But tomorrow, these so-called-lambs were going to fear her silence!
“Zeke, is it?” Frances asked as she stumbled along beside him trying to see by the light of one flame.
“That’s right.”
“Is there a loo in my room? I really am very desperate to...”
God, the final indignity, having to talk about bladder function to a strange man who was part of what she could only assume some elaborate kidnapping scheme, or at the very least a bizarre form of practical joke.
Just as well they’d kidnapped her instead of Joni. Her sister’s Woolworth’s bladder would never have withstood the rigours that Frances’s has been put through – there would have been an accident in the back of the car for sure!
“Spend a penny,” she ended lamely.
“We have drop toilets,” Zeke informed her. “This way,” and he peeled off to the left.
How on earth he could even see where he was going was beyond Frances. She did notice that Zeke, who towered over her and whose hand at her elbow felt as big as a meat cleaver, also had the most prominent eye-balls. Remarkably so. They could surely have won him the part as Geoff Goldblum’s stunt double in The Fly.
They were obviously an asset in this apparent black hole.
“Here we are,” Zeke said as he opened a door Frances had practically run smack bang into.
A waft of composting waste, human and vegetable, permeated the dank night air and sat in her nostrils like giant globs of fetid snot. 
Frances, who had quickly become reaccustomed to five star facilities, guessed suddenly that drop toilet was not a euphemism for a loo with an adjustable seat height. But considering she was ready to squat where she stood and empty her bladder in front of a bug-eyed man, beggars couldn’t be choosers.
Zeke placed the torch handle through a metal ring inside the door. “That should help you see what you’re doing.”
Frances smiled weakly, not absolutely sure she really wanted to know what the inside looked like or even what she, Frances from Kew, looked like inside it, but human bodily functions knew no dignity. “If I’m not out in a minute you have my permission to come in and get me,” she murmured as she held her breath and went in.

Monday, July 16, 2012

More Sister Napped: down to business...

Another taster of book two, Sister Lit-ers.  And it's not all beer and skittles for Frances and Joni...

Joni held the paper bag against her face as the paramedic had instructed, but it was just so hard to do it and scream at the same time.  It required the kind of multi-tasking her father, Carter, had always accused her of being incapable of.  Maybe he was right after all.
Anyway, fuck deep breathing.
“We shouldna called the cops, they’re gonna kill her, they’re gonna fucking chop her up, it’s gonna be like those fucking serial killer movies or the fucking ear thing with Van Gogh,” she wailed piteously through the bag.  Each time she made to take the bag away, Lex’s steady warm, brown hand guided it gently back again. 
“And God knows what they’re gonna do to poor Des.”  Visions of Des’ furry corpse hanging from the rearview mirror of the kidnappers’ white van like a macabre trophy danced before Joni’s eyes, and she screamed again.
Nick spoke firmly.  “No, Joni.  Lex did the right thing.  They know we’ll call the cops.  They expect it. It was just an… ambit claim.  They’re just trying to spook us. Keep the upper hand.”
The truth settled like acid in Joni’s stomach. Mission Accomplished, arseholes.
Nick spoke again.  “They’re not gonna do anything to Frankie that might risk their investment in this.” His mouth was a forbidding line. “And we’re gonna need the cops right now.  And all their resources.”
Joni knew he was right but she felt a moment of crystalline clarity and her tears dried instantly, like liquid paper.  She looked Nick and Lex right in their eyes.  “Just so we’re clear.  If my sister dies because you suck-arses called the cops, I’m never speaking to either of you again.”
Lex and Nick both nodded earnestly.
“We get it,” Lex confirmed.
“Check,” Nick echoed.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sister Pact - the sequel!!

So, we’ve finished writing the sequel to Sister Pact – working title Sister Napped.
Because Frances gets kidnapped.  By a cult.
As you do.
And Joni has to come to her rescue….
Hijinks ensue….
The book is currently with our fabulous editor Anna and nothing's offical yet but we wanted to post some sneak peeks here to give everyone a little taste of what happens to Joni and Frankie after they leave the Island. Any or all of them may not make the final cut - hell the entire book may be thrown out the window!! - this is just for fun!
Set up - it’s the morning after their arrival in Cairns the previous evening, their first night back in civilisation and on a proper mattress in over a month. Which Nick and Frances have put to very good use.....
Frances woke to the rude shrilling of a telephone the next morning. She cracked open an eyelid, rolled on her side and reached out, groping for the phone in the darkened room.
Nick stirred beside her as Frances tucked her legs up. He dropped a kiss on her shoulder blade and curled himself around her.
“Frances, this is Bernice Trotter, Endurance Island’s publicist, we met briefly yesterday? Your first interview is in an hour.”
Frances groaned. “What time is it?”
“It’s six am.”
“Six?” Frances groaned again. “I thought I was done with rude awakenings?”
She’d lost count of the number of times she and Joni had been woken in the dead of night or crack of dawn for some form of ritual humiliation. She hoped this media stuff wasn’t just another way to make them look like idiots.
“All the morning shows, want a piece of you. I’m sorry.”
Frances didn’t think Bernice sounded very sorry at all. Yesterday, Bernice had reminded her a little of her father’s secretary, Geraldine Merriweather. On the phone, at half past stupid hour, she sounded exactly like the old harridan.
Polite. Unflappable. Immovable.
Good old Gerri (as her father fondly referred to her) had regarded her boss’s daughter’s with spinster-like suspicion and spoken to them with a frosty, unamused, upper-crust voice. Even as an adult, Gerri spoke to Frances as if she were the Queen and Frances was the toe-sucking party girl.
She could quell rebellion or erase sticky finger prints with one look. Like Mary Poppins’s evil twin.
Even Joni had been terrified of her when they’d been kids. 
Nick skimmed his palm over her hip and Frances squirmed. “But we came second,” she ended lamely, feeling ten years old again.
“Quite. Make up will be along in twenty minutes.”
“Who’s doing the interview?”
“Someone called Mel and Kochie from Sunrise. I believe they’re the Australian equivalent of Richard and Judy.”
Frances was left in no doubt that Bernice found such a thing laughable. That anything Antipodean could be remotely comparable to the stalwarts of British television was an outrageous transgression.
 Nick’s hand drifted lower and Frances eyelids fluttered closed as she lost her place in the conversation.
“Hello? Hello? Are you still there?”
Frances sighed as the imperious voice snapped on a mental chastity belt and tightened it several notches.
“Yes, thank you, Bernice.”
“I’ll see you in the Daintree Room in forty minutes.”
Oh goody, Frances thought as the efficient publicist hung up and she settled back into the curve of Nick’s body. A day with uptight, straitlaced Bernice.
She’d much rather spend the day with easy-going, debauched Nick.
Stay tuned for more snippets from the second book! And if you cant find Sister Pact in your local bookstore please go and ask them to order it in - you'll make our day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On books and babies...

So, what did you get up to on the weekend?

I walked (crawled, hobbled…?) through a wall of fire to give form to this life that’s spent so long tumbling and wondering inside of me.

Bit like writing a book really. 

Perhaps with a little more swearing and screaming (marginally).

Like writing, there was fear, albeit a sharper and more primal one than the nagging self-doubt that plagues you as your fire up your lap-top. 

In birthing, as the waves of pain crash into you and leave you slick and panting, you feel a different kind of fear. An awful, biting terror.  Nipping at you with practised incisors.  Leaving you terrified of the next assault even as you will it closer to bring the end in sight.

Like writing, there was isolation. 

Forget your lover and your doula.  In birthing, as in writing, there is a moment when your world narrows and you know you are truly alone. The realisation smacks into you, ices your skin and makes your legs shake. 

But it also focuses you.  Woman up.  It’s time to summon all the female parts of you – the witches and medicine women of the ages – and get on with it. Alone.

So.  Some things are the same.

But some things are very different.  The product, most of all. 

Like a book, your baby comes, in the words of Kahlil Gibran, ‘through you but not from you’. 

Like a story, it has been waiting for you to give it form.

But it is the parts that are its very own that make you wonder and delight.

As I held my wet and slippery baby to me, feeling the final pulsing of the cord that joined us, all I could see was the completeness, the perfection of him.

When you finish a story, and you hold it up to the light, mindful of its imperfections, you feel exposed. You wonder who else will see.

As I save a final draft, I feel myself closing a lid, turning a page.

With my baby boy, I hold my breath at his beauty as I fall into him.  I wonder how something so tiny-shiny and complete can have been born from the flaws and uncertainties of me.

As I look into those eyes that have somehow been here before, I see the potential and possibility of him.  Arcing off in a thousand different directions. 

All the things I will see, and all the things that will come after me.

My here and now, and my immortality, wrapped together in his soft skin.

It is a strange feeling, to have done so much, worked so hard.  Not to polish a final piece of work, but simply to deliver him to the first page of his own story.

Monday, May 14, 2012

By Ros - I promise my blogs won’t always be about my Mum but…

But today is Mother’s Day.  And more than that, it’s my first Mother’s Day without her. And it hurts.

It goes without saying that every mother is unique.  Each brings her own special blend of love, wisdom and insanity to her clan. But the thing is, my mother really was unique.  Not just as a Mum, but as a person.

In another time, another place, she could have been anything.

Instead, she brought us everything.  She brought us the world.

She had a big worldview.  She wanted us to go, do, travel, taste, explore.

But be good while we were doing it. And don’t forget to call home.

I miss her.

She was compassionate, and just.  In the big things, and the small.

She was a feminist, an activist, a socialist. At a time and in a place when none of that was easy, or expected.

And I miss her.

She was infuriating.  Opinionated. She wouldn’t let it go until you agreed.  Or were too exhausted to keep up the fight.

To my Mum, the words “I’m going to write a letter” did not herald the start of correspondence.  They were a battle cry. 

But she had more passion in her little finger than most people have in their whole bodies, their whole lives through.

She was not moderate, insipid, mediocre. She was alight, alert, alive.  And so smart.

And by God, I miss her.

My Mum was the most fun.  She could talk, laugh and entertain like there was no tomorrow.  She taught me how to make pikelets, cubby houses, friends and stories.

I will never forget her.  How soft her skin was.  How good she smelled, like baby powder and clean cotton. The way she loved us.

Every day, when I look at my babies, I know I want to be like her.  I hear her in my head.  Saying you’re never too big, or too old, to say sorry.  Saying no-one is just a drop in the ocean, every action counts.  Saying she loved me, loved me, loved me.

Thanks for 37 years Mum.  And for the legacy you left.

The best bits my babies will get are the bits that came from you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Anatomy of a Book Launch by Ali

Have a kick arse book.

Look fabulous. Check.

Invite lots of fabulous people.

Have Champagne. Lots of Champagne. Check!

Have an important person do the actual important stuff. Check.

Have witty speeches full of amusing anecdotes that don’t go on forever. Check.

Our fabulous agent Clare Forster officiated!

Do a reading that makes people laugh. Check.

 Sign like crazy! Check.



Thanks to all out fabulous peeps - family and friends - many of whom had travelled great distances  to be with us. We had a blast and we sold out!!!

Anyone been to any good signings lately?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Doing it for themselves...

When you tell people you’re writing a novel with your sister, the first thing people generally ask is: How?

And, because you want to be taken seriously and not sound like a mother-of-four who copes with the insanity of her life through the ingestion of vast amounts of alcohol, you don’t say “by drinking lots of wine together until a plot takes shape.” Cheers.

You talk instead about the careful chapter and character planning – all true.

You touch on the method – each writing one of the main characters in alternating point-of-view chapters – again, true. 

You explain the assiduous editing and re-editing to make sure the story is continuous and there are no major crossed wires.  Like one of the secondary characters being called a totally different name by each of you (glad we picked that one up).

But there is so much more to the how.

There are the late night conversations after you’ve read your sister’s latest chapter and laughed so hard you wet your pants.  (Four kids remember, it doesn’t take much.  Hang on while I squeeze out a few quick rounds of pelvic floor exercises.)

There are the times you take the agreed plot down some wild tangents and totally surprise each other.  Mostly because, somehow, it works.

And there are the beautiful moments when you call your sister up with a crazy new idea and she says: “You know what?  I was thinking exactly that too.”

For me, the best thing about writing a book with my sister was that it was like having a conversation with her.  The tangents.  The funny anecdotes.  Somehow dragging yourselves back to the point.  And putting the world to rights.  Just like women do.

The second thing people ask is: are you mad?  AKA: I would kill my sister if I had to work that closely with her.

Our mother (God rest her pessimistic soul) was a fan of this question.  She feared her beloved daughters would end up at loggerheads.

But what she (and maybe we) didn’t realise when we started this journey is that maybe we were exactly different enough, and exactly alike enough, to make this mad idea work.

Different enough to give our two crazy heroines some spit and spice.

Alike enough to laugh at the same things, want the same things, have the same work ethic.  Be big enough to admit when something wasn’t working.  Be honest enough to say when something mattered and had to stay.

So Mum, wherever you are, you didn’t need to be afraid.  Because all of that – the humour, the work ethic, the honesty – it all came from you.

So here’s to sisters. And to the mothers who make them.  Now that deserves a cheers.