Friday, December 21, 2012

Does it feel a lot like Christmas to you?

Christmas has snuck up on me this year. I've been so busy focusing on other things that the festive season has passed me by entirely. And now here we are, December 21. The boys are on holidays. The Builder is on holidays. Technically, I am on holidays, but with deadlines in mid-January, there's no such thing as a holiday.

Having said that, I am taking a break from blogging. Two weeks. Some may say I began my break about a month ago, so sporadic have been my posts. But this is the start of the official Official Break.

So I'll be back on January 7, all rested up and raring to go. I'm hoping to do more writing-focused posts next year, and to bring back the Q&As with industry experts. Let me know in the comments if there's anything else you'd like to see at the Fibro in 2013.

In the meantime, here's wishing you and yours a happy and peaceful festive season. Look forward to seeing you all at the Fibro next year.

Is it beginning to feel a lot like Christmas to you?

PS: I'll probably pop into Facebook and Twitter over the hols, so come and say hi!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why, yes, I am a collector

I never thought of myself as a collector. I am not one for groups of objects. I don't have a thing for pigs, or cats, or owls or any of the other things that other people collect to great effect. In my head, I am a Minimalist. I live in a cool, clean house of straight lines and clear surfaces. In reality, this is not the case (hello Lego, Ninjago, Nerf, etc), but I've never actively gone out of my way to add clutter to my home.

This morning, however, I realised that I am a collector. I know this, because I cleaned out my wallet. It wasn't closing anymore. It was bulging, the zipper straining.

I am a collector of receipts. Big ones, small ones, useful ones, useless ones, I have them all. About 45 of them in total this time around.

One day, they're going to be worth a lot of money. I just know it.

Do you, like me, put every receipt you're ever given straight into your wallet, and then carry them around for months? Or are you... sensible?

photo credit: Herr Olsen via photopin cc

Sunday, December 9, 2012

50 Shades of the Pink Fibro

It's been a long time since I've written about pubic hair. Partly because it seems to have been a long time since anyone had any - or so some sections of the media would have us believe - and partly because my days at CLEO are long behind me. But today as I was tweeting lazily with some of my favourite Twitter folk, I happened to ask Mrs Woog at Woogsworld to set me a topic for today's post.

Her response?

There was a time when such a brief would have been part of my daily life. Those were the days in which I was writing everything from scripts for Role Plays for the Bedroom (sealed section), to road-testing faux leather Catwoman outfits complete with cat-o-nine tails and underpants with far too little fabric, to ultimate guides to blow jobs, to (one of my personal faves...) 'Your Vagina: What's normal, What's not', to ... well, you get the idea. My mum was very proud.

At the time, it was fun and silly and we figured it was allowing women to get in touch with the playful side of their sexuality. Or something. Then 50 Shades of Grey came out and every woman I know went to pieces at the things they'd 'learned' from the book, and I wondered where they'd all been for the past 25 years. I'm pretty sure that, between them, CLEO and Cosmo covered off a lot of that territory, though they may have drawn the line at 'Paddle Your Way to Pleasure' or 'Paint Your Room Red: the ultimate guide to BDSM'. Then again, I haven't seen a sealed section in a while, so I could be wrong about that...

Anyhoo. Where was I? Oh yes, pubic hair. When I was doing some preliminary research for an excellent book idea* once, I had the opportunity to discuss the whole Brazilian wax concept with a marketing expert. He said to me, "Ask any woman why she does it and she'll tell you it's 'cleaner' and 'more comfortable'? She'd never admit that it was all about Social Identity, about being part of a group." I tested his theory. He was right. Every woman I asked gave the same response. Even when I said 'But... the pain?', I was assured that 'it got better the more you did it'.

So somewhere along the line, we all became part of the Porn Star social group and the 'Hello boys, how do you like me so far?' approach to pubic beauty became the norm.

Personally, I have no problem with it. Anyone who wishes to take it all off should do so with impunity. Given that denim shorts are now riding somewhere around the ribcage, I can see where a pubic hair might ruin the line, so to speak. Where I do object to it, however, is in the example to young women. And younger girls.

I read somewhere that there are men in the early 20s who've never experienced the joy of fishing a stray pube from their teeth. Because they've never seen a stray pube. Ever. Warning bells begin to ring loudly at this point.

Then, in conversation with my delightful beauty therapist, comes the news that mothers are taking their teenage daughters - under 16 - to salons for Brazilians. Um, seriously. How many pubes do you even have at that age? My delightful beauty therapist will not perform Brazilians on girls that young, but there are, apparently, many that will.

Okay, it's hair, it grows back. I get that. But we are setting precedents, saying that pubic hair is Not Okay. Why is something that, generally speaking, is seen by few people in your life anyway Not Okay? Do I want my boys growing up in a world where pubic hair on woman is Not Okay? Er, no, I'm not okay with that.

Being a journalist, I went looking for a reason for pubic hair. Surely, it's not just there to set up 'Collar and Cuffs' jokes? I needed an expert. There's always an expert. I even managed to find a few for the infamous Hairy Armpits story.

Over at, there's a whole article about how waxing (and particularly shaving, which makes my eyes cross when I consider it within the frame of a Brazilian) creates opportunity for infection (take that 'cleaner'!) and that it provides 'cushioning' from friction (take that 'comfortable'). There are also thoughts on how the pubes trap pheromones, making us sexually attractive to others.  

I still believe that Brazilians are a matter of choice. Whether a woman deafforests her Map of Tassie is entirely her own business. But I also believe that young women need to be aware that it's not the only choice.

In fact, I foresee a future in which those thick, luxuriant bushes of the 1970s make a comeback. If only for the shock factor alone.

*Excellent book idea not entirely abandoned

photo credit: fatboyke (Luc) via photopin cc

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Social media for writers - play to your strengths

I'm not usually one for New Year's Resolutions. I'm of the opinion that setting yourself up for failure in the first five minutes of a new year is a recipe for disaster. But this year I'm going to make one. And it's not one I would have even considered 12 months ago.

I resolve to streamline my social media.

There's no doubt that there's a push for writers to promote themselves online. To create a 'presence', to build a 'profile'. But if you dip your toes in all the options available, you end up with no actual time to write. You're so busy chasing hither and thither, chatting here, pinning there, that what used to be 'procrastination' becomes your job.

This is not always for the best.

I think the key is to find the social media channels that work best for you, and stick with those. I should know. I've tried just about all of them.

When I first began blogging, I jumped headfirst into Twitter because a) it would help to get my blog 'out there' and b) it's a great place for smart alecs like me to have fun. If you like words and you like smarts, Twitter can be like the best party you've ever been to.

After Twitter, however, came Facebook - first a Fibro page, then an Allison Tait page, then, after I decided that two pages was ridiculous, just the Allison Tait page.

Then I was told I really should get on Pinterest. So I did. And it's a lovely place to while away a few hours sorting through soothing pictures of bathrooms. I can see how it works for some blogs as a traffic driver, but I've slowly realised over three years of blogging that I'm not really in this for spikes in traffic. I'm looking for readers, for writers, for community. When my most popular pin became an image of a DIY Christmas Tree created with photo frames, I began to wonder...

I've also tried Instagram. I very much enjoyed taking images of my garden for the #yearinmygarden meme, and I do like the insight into other people's lives that it shows, but I don't really want to share any more of mine than I already do.

Which leaves me, where?

I'm breaking up with Pinterest and Instagram. It was fun while it lasted, but for me, they're not the marrying kind. Pretty but not longterm. It's not them, it's me.

I'm a words girl. I need to play to my strengths.

So, in 2013, you'll find me here on Twitter. And here on Facebook.

But mostly at my desk. Writing.

Which social media channels are your favourites - and why?

Monday, December 3, 2012

What I read when I'm writing

There's something about writing a lot that makes me want to read a lot. Perhaps it's the intensity of burying myself in the quagmire of my own brain for long periods that makes me long for the light relief of diving into someone else's. Perhaps. Possibly it has more to do with general procrastination...

Anyhoo. During the month of November, whilst I was busy writing 45,643 words for NaNoWriMo (my final count... I know, so close...) on my children's novel, I also read the following books:

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (loved)

Borderlands by Brian McGilloway (okay)

Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin (I love Rebus, and was excited to see him back.)

The Black Box by Michael Connelly (Ditto Harry Bosch.)

A heavy emphasis on crime there. I find that when I'm writing a particular type of book, I tend to read everything but that genre. Using a completely different part of the brain gives the writing muscle a little rest. Or so I convince myself.

I started Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, but so far it has not grabbed me. Which disappoints me, as it has grabbed so many others. Perhaps it just needs more attention...

What are you reading at the moment? Have you read Gone Girl? Did it grab you?

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