Friday, July 30, 2010


Yesterday afternoon saw this apparently unremarkable package arrive at the Russell Residence in one of the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
A short while later a certain individual (known to the followers of this blog as “Al”) could be seen happily perusing the contents of the package.
So what is it that I was so happily looking over?

I deigned to come out from behind the book, for book it was, and hold it up so Deb could snap me with it.Veiled in Shadows, Allan Russell, emblazoned across the cover.

It’s here, it’s finally here! A proof copy of my very own book!

To hold my work in my hands… what an amazing feeling!

It looks fantastic, exactly as I imagined it. The cover (my design) looks even better than I expected.
To say I am over the moon is an understatement. Publication is just around the corner. I just have to check this proof for errors in layout etc. Once I am happy, I give the go ahead to my printer Lightning Source. Then it will be somewhere between two and four weeks before Veiled in Shadows is available on Amazon, The Book Depository and to wholesalers.

Of course at that point the hard work of marketing my baby begins.

Wow, amazing. A bit scary too, but amazing!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


While I was away on holiday at Merimbula I was posting photos like this.

And this.

Then I was grumbling that despite the gloriously sunny weather I was cold.

People enjoying their Northern hemisphere summer looked at photos like this

and for some strange reason they didn’t take me very seriously.

Fair enough in tropical parts of Oz it never really gets cold.

However, it is winter down in the bottom half of the world and here in the southern end of Oz it gets wintery.

This Aussie for one thinks it is cold.

Now I have proof of the cold down this way.

On Saturday I took this

and this

See, I’m not just grumbling :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Swan Watch

Some time ago I posted about the artificial wetlands that have been created throughout the new subdivision where I live.

They have been created for a number of reasons, but mainly for controlling stormwater to prevent excessive erosion and scouring of natural waterways. A bonus is a good deal of green space through the urban area.

This small wetland is down behind our local supermarket.Many of the old River Gums (some hundreds of years old) have been left in placeThere is another tangible spin off: wild life has begin to call them home; or at least visit.

Birds like, Coots Black Duck And HeronsAre there most times I go past.

But just recently, down behind the reeds,A pair of swans has begun nesting.You can see in this piccie she has her eye on me, although she isn’t really worried as I was quite a distance away using a telephoto lens.

Australian black swans build a platform of sticks and vegetation out in the water to incubate their eggs. A typical clutch contains 4 to 8 greenish-white eggs that are incubated for about 35–40 days.

I am planning to check on there progress over the next few weeks.
Hopefully, I will be able to photograph the cygnets soon after they hatch.
If everything goes well I will post on the swans’ progress every Sunday until the babies are grown, or they leave the area.

Friday, July 23, 2010

And the Winner is…

I can’t believe it is a whole week since I last posted.
As usually seems to happen (all too often) the week has flown by.

I feel terribly negligent that I have barely been around the blogosphere this week, that I have failed to comment or respond to comments.

Most of all I have failed to announce a winner for my piccie giveaway!

I had intended to leave it till Tuesday our time anyway, because with international time zones the way they are I didn’t want anyone to miss out.

We are 18 hours ahead of the American West Coast and a full 20 ahead of Hawaii (For us Pearl Harbour and our war against Japan began on December 8, 1941).

But I am rambling, it is not Tuesday it is Friday. I have left this far too long as it is.

So with out further ado…

Drum roll please…

The winner is...

Christine of Inwardlydigesting!

Congratulations Christine!

Christine took advantage of the fact that I gave two extra entries in the draw to anyone who posted about my giveway and it seems to have paid off handsomely.

So according to the rules of the competition Christine can choose any three of my piccies from this blog. Once She has chosen I will organise 8” by 10” prints the piccies and despatch them by airmail.

Now comes the hard part for Christine, she has to trawl through my archives and choose.

I wonder which piccies you would choose?

Perhaps a piccie of odd little Soldier Crabs from one of my first posts?

A fiery sunset?
A rugged seascape?
The surreal mix of snow and a fire blackened landscape?
A mix of old and new?
Something grandiose?
The beautiful
The cute
Or perhaps restful?
Or just as likely three others picked from hundreds more...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Award (and a fantasy)

I said in my last post that I was hoping to be a bit more frequent with my posts. Ah well, so much for plans. This week has been as hectic as usual.

Tonight I am going to get to something that has been on the backburner for a while. Way back in June Denise at L’Aussie Writing passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to me.

Thank you Denise!

With this award comes a few duties. Those are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to fifteen bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason!

4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

Now I have decided to “cheat a bit” and tell part of an episode of my life in seven paragraphs so here we go:

When our kids were small, we (that is Deb, the three girls and I) lived for a couple of years all crammed in a tiny mill cottage surrounded by rainforest. The cottage is on a farm on the Dorrigo Plateau in NSW. It is on the “back block” of a property owned by my mum and her husband. Deb and I had decided we both needed to do further studies, so we sold our house and car (we bought a cheap second hand car) and lived rent free for a while to be able to study full time.

The cottage had no mains power. We had a small solar panel with a truck battery that provided our lighting. We had a refrigerator that ran on gas. Heating, cooking and hot water were provided by a slow combustion stove. I used to cut firewood for the stove from regrowth timber on the farm.

Our house used spring water. Although we were on a ridge high on the western side of the Dorrigo Plateau (about 3600 feet) the spring that fed our house is still higher. The spring is on the other side of the valley and the water is fed by gravity down a long pipe all the way to the valley floor and then up to a holding tank behind the house.

We used to drive an old four wheel drive three miles down a muddy track every day to take the older girls to school. Luckily the local state primary school was literally at the bottom of “our driveway”. When we needed to go into town for supplies we drove four miles down a different track to “the front block” where we kept our road car at my mum’s house.

My favourite thing of all was to get up soon after dawn. The plateau to the east would still be covered with morning mist. It was like looking out over a still sea of white. Through the mist would come the noise of the dawn chorus of the birds. In particular there were lyrebirds which are incredible mimics. They mostly mimic other birds, but will mimic other sounds they hear. I have heard them mimicking things like chainsaws and camera motor-drives. I have never seen the dance they do as they sing (they are very shy) but their song is amazing anyway. You will get a tiny patch of forest with all these different bird calls coming out one after the other. Then at the end of the sequence the lyrebird sings his own song before beginning again.

The time living up there was amongst the happiest in my life. But alas the needs of growing girls and the need to go back to the workforce meant we had to leave our patch of paradise and go back to the ‘real world’.

Now our girls are all but grown up, and it doesn’t look like it will be too many years before they achieve independence, I am cultivating a fantasy. In that fantasy Deb and I move back to our mountain paradise. I dream we will build a writer’s retreat. There we will host other writers who need a break with peace and quiet only broken by birdsong and the wind. So with the income generated by the (very reasonable) fees we will charge I will be able to devote myself full time to writing.

Like I say it’s a fantasy.
But you never know.

Now for the fifteen bloggers I want to pass this award to:

1. Niki at Wool ‘N Nuts
2. Angelique at Vampires and Tofu
3. Jennifer at Ten Lives and Second Chances
4. Elspeth at It’s a Mystery
5. Lisa K. at Writing on Thin Ice
6. Shannon at Book Dreaming
7. B. at B miler Fiction
8. Carolyn at Checkerboard Squares
9. Rebecca at Sonshine Thoughts
10. Kyna at Crystal Coast Gardener
11. Charmaine at Wagging Tales
12. Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction
13. Alexandra at The Publication Follies of Alexandra Shostak
14. Sharon at Random Thoughts (the rules said discovered recently and I figure tonight is as about as recent as it gets).
15. Amanda at a Library of My Own (I have been following Amanda for a while but she has changed blogs because she no longer lives in NYC )

Please forgive me if you have already been given this award. I just don’t have time to check tonight. I am sorry for displaying such a cavalier attitude, but you are just going to have to deal with the trauma as best you can :-)

Now finally a couple of piccies.
By The way on the subject of piccies My last post features a giveaway check it out!

So the piccies, I am a bit pressed for time tonight so just three piccies of two birds I snapped on my recent holiday.

The first two are of a Crimson Rosella, another of our gaudy parrots. Not quite as friendly as the Rainbow Lorikeets I posted a while ago, but I think just as beautiful.
Finally a small woodland bird, an Eastern Yellow Robin.
These guys are not really shy, but they are quite active so this is the first time I have managed to photograph one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

OOPS! A Missed Anniversary. (Oh and a Giveaway)

I’m back from my holiday at Merimbula. I realised the other day while I was driving home an important anniversary had passed.

Before you all think I am in the doghouse for missing our wedding anniversary, things are not that dramatic.

The anniversary I missed was my first blogiversary (probably not a word but what the heck).

It was on the Eighth of July 2009 that I posted the first time.

My blog is a year old!

The nerd in me notes I have made 137 posts since then which means I have averaged a post about every 2.7 days.

I have posted 795 piccies over the twelve months, most of them my own photos.

My list of followers has grown to 143 since Kathleen Jones found my blog just a few days after I started.
Kathleen’s blog is well worth checking out by the way. Kathleen is a published author and poet who resides in a gorgeous spot in England’s Lake District (when she’s not spending time with her partner Neil in Peralta in Italy).

I would like to say a big thanks to all of you who have followed my wanderings and a bigger thanks to those who have taken the time to comment. Comments seem like the icing on an already pretty enjoyable blogging cake.

So where to from here?

Probably more of the same. I hope to post a little more frequently (because I’ve been a bit slack lately). Generally I guess I’ll post more piccies as I take them (or more realistically sort them, I’ve got over 2,000 that I have taken just in the past few weeks).
Hopefully I’ll also have more news about my book Veiled in Shadows in the near future.
I guess I’ll talk about the WIP from time to time.
My family and work will also no doubt feature.
Other than that I suppose I’ll just run with ideas as they take me.

In celebration of my blogiversary I’d like to run a little giveaway.
What am I giving away? Well it seems to me that the obvious thing to give away is some of my piccies.

So to that end the lucky winner will receive three 8” by 10” prints of any of my piccies from this blog. The winner chooses the piccies they want.
Just a few caveats: a small number of the piccies on the blog are not mine, I can’t give away prints of those; and a few piccies are cropped from larger images and would not print well at 8” by 10”, if the winner really wanted those I could organise smaller prints.

The rules to enter the give away:
The competition is open to people anywhere in the world.
You must leave a comment on this post.
You must be a follower of my blog (new followers are welcome to enter too).
Now my mercenary side comes out, if you post about my giveaway on your blog I will give you an extra 2 entries.
I will keep entries into the giveaway open until Sunday the 18th of July 2010 to give people time to enter.
Once I have chosen a winner at random (my decision will be final) I will contact the winner so they can choose the piccies they would like to receive as prints.

Now because a post from me would feel naked without piccies:
Rocks and Waves at Bermagui (an hour north of Merimbula)The “Blue Pool”, BermaguiMimosa Rocks National ParkBeach + Nobody, Mimosa Rocks National ParkEastern Grey Kangaroo and half grown joey, Mimosa Rocks National Park
Banksia Flower and bud, Mimosa Rocks National ParkBanksia seed pod (open)Tathra Warf at sunset.Tathra Bay at sunset

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Merimbula day 2

Well the internet here is still dodgy at best. To get any reception I have to sit under a shelter outside in the cold to get wi-fi reception.

Yes, yes, I know that to those in the Northern Hemisphere our winter does not seem all that cold. In truth we have been having absolutely glorious weather down here on the NSW south coast (until this morning). It has been sunny every day with very little wind, temperatures up to about 16 or 17°C during the day. Way nicer than a typical dreary, wet Melbourne winter.

But it is still coat weather in the mornings and in the evenings. In fact as an ex-Queenslander I think it is pretty cold whenever it’s below about 20°C.

Thanks to my current internet woes I will have to keep my Uncle Harry-esque tourist guide to the minimum. (Sorry Uncle Harry).

So on day two of our holiday we headed south to the relatively sleepy port of Eden. Eden is a most beautiful patch of the coast. It is about six to seven hours drive from either Melbourne or Sydney and because the south coast is seen as ‘cold’ it has really avoided the tourist boom that has (in my opinion) ruined the north coast of NSW and south coast of Queensland.

Eden sits on the large Twofold Bay. This beach lies in the outer part of the bay (I guess that would be the outer ‘fold’).

Far across on the south side of the bay stands Ben Boyd’s folly. I posted about the tower last year. It was built in the early settlement period as part of the whaling industry.This piccie is from my post last year.
The town of Eden largely stands on a rugged promontory that extends far out into the bay.The original port of Eden sits in ‘Snug Cove’. The cove is sheltered from the worst weather by the headland.

A small fishing fleet calls the port home.A large tug serves as a reminder that the bay holds a modern port away on the south side. Down on the south side of the bay is a large woodchip processing plant, and the tug is used to manoeuvre bulk carriers into their berths.

I would post more about what we’ve been doing for the past couple of days, but I’ve had enough of the cold so good night!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Merimbula Day 1

There is intermittent wi-fi coverage where we are staying at Merimbula, so I am going to try to put up a post.

After a six hour drive we arrived just before dark on Thursday evening.
In the morning I awoke to the screeching of parrots.
High in the trees the Yellow Box flowers were out. These little guys, Rainbow Lorikeets, were feeding on the nectar.

Because they were high in the trees I was content with a few (not very good piccies).

After brekky we went for a stroll down to the beach. Because of the winter cold (looks nice and sunny doesn’t it?) there was no question of swimming so we poked around the rock pools on the headland.I snapped a few piccies of starfish and

Sooty Terns, these guys fly thousands of miles to Oz shores where they winter.

I thought these weather ravaged rocks were worth a piccie.After the beach we drove into town for lunch. The girls headed back first and when Deb and I got back we found they had made some friends.

These Rainbow Lorikeets are wild birds, but with the tourists around they have clearly become used to being fed.They are so comfortable with people they will perch on hands (this is E’s).Lu was getting covered with cute little birds.They were using any vantage point.I have included this piccie because as I snapped it a wing flicked across the shot.This little guy was giving photographic direction to Io.Finally, a close up to give a real indication of the spectacular nature of these guys’ plumage.