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More renovations

So next weekend we will be gutting the bathroom, toilet and laundry. Gutting is about the only task that Tom volunteers for when it comes to renovations. That, and testing out any new tools and gadgets he happens to have purchased due to extreme 'necessity'. The man loves to wreck things.

For me, well, I prefer putting things back together. Hence why I am taking two weeks off work to project manage the renos. At the end of the two weeks (maybe three) we should hopefully have brand spanking new rooms! Am really looking forward to the end result.


Women in history month: Hatshepsut

Some of you may have seen the newspaper articles about the Cranky Women of History anthology, which aims to tell stories of women who bucked the trend and who forced the world to accept them on their terms. Some of these women were murderers, some were queens, some spies, and some were pioneers in a racist world - fighting for theirs, and others' rights. And some were gods...

Everyone has heard of Tutankhamun, the boy king of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. Tutankhamun wasn’t famous for being a pharaoh, though. He was famous because Edward Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered his nearly intact tomb in 1922. In reality, he was little more than a blip on the dynastic radar, especially as he was overshadowed by his father/stepfather, Akhenaten. Akhenaten wasn’t the only interesting figure of the Eighteenth Dynasty, however. The Eighteenth Dynasty was populated by fascinating kings. No one more so than Hatshepsut, the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, a figure who ruled during the fifteenth century BCE.

A woman king.

A god.

Limestone statue of Hatshepsut wearing male clothing, but with a female form (statue is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, source

Hatshepsut wasn’t the first woman to become king (or Pharaoh as it became in the Eighteenth Dynasty), nor was she the last. But out of the 31 dynasties of Egyptian rulers, only six of the kings were known to be women - although this number is contested. It could potentially be higher, with Akhenaten’s wife, Nefertiti, also suspected as having ruled after his death.  But most of these women came to the throne, not as King’s Mother (a title of power and prestige) but as king. And these women were not afforded the praise and honour of King’s Mother after their deaths – these women had their names obliterated from the record, images destroyed and their monuments reinscribed.

Hatshepsut has long been regaled as one of the most successful pharaohs of Egypt and was renowned for her building projects, but she remained a forgotten figure of history for thousands of years. For the non-archaeologist/history buff, it is only in recent times that you may have heard of her, as archaeologists claim to have discovered her body on the floor of the tomb of her wet-nurse, Sitre-Re. The body had been left without even a coffin for protection. Analysis regarding a tooth found with remains in canopic jars (funerary containers that hold viscera) found a link between the jar and a mummy found within the tomb. The mummy was thought to have died in middle age, the woman suffering from diabetes and bone cancer.

Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thutmose I and Ahmes, and according to inscriptions in Djeser-Djeseru at Deir el-Bahari, Hatshepsut was sired by the god Amun himself, and that her godly father had always intended she rule Egypt. But it was her half-brother Thutmose II who took the throne after their father’s death, with her at his side as his wife – as God’s Wife. She had one daughter with her brother-husband, their child named Neferure. In her youth, Hatshepsut was thought to have been a warrior.

Hatshepsut's mortuary temple, Djeser-Djeseru at Deir el-Bahari (source Dan Lundberg:

After Thutmose II’s death (possibly from heart disease), Hatshepsut quickly had his son by another wife, Thutmose III, placed on the throne. But, as she was not King’s Mother, she could not officially rule on his behalf. It has been suggested that it was after Isis’ death, Thutmose III’s  mother, that Hatshepsut decided to take the throne. But the date of Isis’ death is not known. Nor is it known why Hatshepsut took the throne. There are theories: that Hatshepsut had already been ruling the throne from the shadows for years; that she may have needed to take power in order to hold the throne for Thutmose III; that she had wanted to consolidate her own power and ruling as king achieved this.

Whatever Hatshepsut’s reasons, she did decide to take the throne. And she never handed it back. Once a king, always a king. Pharaohs were gods. While she officially had a co-regent in Thutmose III, he didn’t ascend to the throne until after her death. There are also theories – some quite unflattering to him and women in general, with popular ones focusing on the evil stepmother role – as to why he didn’t fight for the throne, why he didn’t take back what was his by force. But he never did. And he later became known as the Napoleon of Egypt. So here was a man, cunning, clever, a fighter, who allowed his step-mother/aunt to rule Egypt for over two decades – two prosperous decades.

And rule she did. Hatshepsut’s official name was Maatkare, which is thought to mean ‘Maat is the soul of Ra’ or even ‘the proper manifestation of the sun’s life force’. The word maat meant divine order.  She took on the official regalia of her office, which was designed for male kings. In life, the Pharaoh was associated with the god Horus; in death, Osiris. So while females could be kings – and in fact, ‘king’ was not a gendered word for the Egyptians – the gods associated with Pharaoh were male.

It was only after her death, during the end of Thutmose III’s reign – some 20 years after her demise – that the process of wiping Hatshepsut’s name from the records began: her statues were smashed, her cartouches chiselled from walls. While originally thought to have been a rebellion against the woman who had usurped his throne, it is now proposed that Thutmose III may have undertaken the process to provide greater legitimacy for his son, Amenhotep II.

But despite this, no one could completely erase the 22 year reign of a female king who ruled Egypt through an undeniably prosperous era and who was one of the greatest builders the country had ever known.

Hatshepsut, female king and god.



So we've been renovating the outdoor toilet. This is because in April, we'll be gutting the inside bathroom etc. In order to have a working toilet on the property during this time, we're going to use the once spider-infested monstrosity that was the outdoor lavatory.

But the loo now has some improvements (other than being less spider-infested), namely a swish mosaic! It also now has a pressed tin ceiling, a new coat of paint, and will soon have a new hand basin.

But here it is at the moment, with added mosaic!

mosaic.jpg large


Memorable song lyrics

I was driving back from fieldwork today (damn you peak hour traffic!) and heard a song that was a bit of a blast from my past: Zero by the Smashing Pumpkins. I have always been in love the following lyrics:

Emptiness is loneliness
And loneliness is cleanliness
And cleanliness is godliness
And god is empty, just like me

And it got me thinking. What other songs have lyrics that have really stuck in my mind? Sometimes, I've even written short stories from them. Here's a short list:

I consoled a cup of coffee, but it didn't want to talk (Jewel, You were meant for me)

I smashed the mirror just to look whats behind
Picked through the pieces just to see what I'd find
I found my heart and it broke like glass
(Powderfinger, I don't remember)

I want your love and
I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
(Lady Gaga, Bad Romance)

She acts like summer and walks like rain (Train, Drops of Jupiter)

Light up a cigarette she said
And calm the fuck down
(Live, Voodoo Lady)

What are some of your favourite lyrics?


Aurealis Awards

I just wanted to congratulate all the short-list nominees for this year's Aurealis Awards!! Looks like an amazing line up!

The announcement is here.


A real archaeologist?

So yesterday I had to go pick up a vanity unit from a bathroom retailer. We're going to pop the little vanity in our outdoor loo (yes we have one, and yes we are going to use it). When I was there, I had a chat with the sales guy who had sold me the vanity in the first place.

Sales Guy (SG): "So what do you do?"
Me: "I'm an archaeologist."
SG: "Really? ... No, what do you do?"
Me: "Really. I am an archaeologist."
SG: "Seriously? I've never met an archaeologist in real life before."
Me: "Well, you have now."
SG: "So, is it like Indiana Jones at all?"
Me: "...No."
SG: Looks at me.
Me: "It's a lot more boring."

I have this conversation a lot. The variant of this is:

Person: "So what do you do?"
Me: "I'm an archaeologist."
Person: "Really? ... No, what do you do?"
Me: "Really. I am an archaeologist."
Person: "Seriously? I've never met an archaeologist in real life before."
Me: "Well, you have now."
Person: "So, how many dinosaurs have you dug up?"
Me: "None. I wish."
Person: Looks at me.
Me: "If we've hit dinosaurs, we've dug way too far."
Person: Confused look.
Me: "Paleontologists dig up dinos, archaeologists dug up human stuff. But dinosaurs are cool."

A lot of archaeologists get very pissy with the second variant. I don't care. I like dinosaurs.



I read a really interesting - and depressing - article the other day on the recently deceased novelist Elizabeth Jane Edward.

But it brought up an all too common point about chick-lit; how it is often viewed in a derogatory fashion. How the term itself is demeaning. I often hear the same derisive opinions about the romance I read (paranormal and regency romance). That somehow, it is less worthy because of its genre. And that the authors are less deserving of praise as a result.

I know other writers who've told me as much.

It takes a lot of work to write a book, any book, and do it well enough to have someone publish it. And then to have people read it and enjoy it. To say it is shit because it focuses on how two people become involved in a relationship is bullshit. Sadly, most of those who criticize the genre are men. And yes, there are women who knock it, but I don't come across them anywhere near as often.

And I find the romance bashing by men rather ridiculous. A; because lots of the men ridiculing the genre have yet to pick up a real romance novel (not just something with romantic elements) and B; I've lost count of the number of men I know in real life who were extremely keen to find a partner settle down and have their own HEA.

And so we come to dick-lit, defined in the article linked above as 'pulsating action novels' and stories driven to highlight the plight of a tormented hero (read Aicha's description, it's worth it).

So, if we have chick-lit, it stands to reason there's dick-lit. After all, the action books I've read are stories you read for fun, like chick-lit. So unless we get rid of the term chick-lit, we should embrace them both.


New Year

Wow, it is hard to believe it is 2014 already.

I didn't bother with new year resolutions this year, as I never seem to manage to get to them all. But so far, the year has started well. I had a story accepted in Liz Grzyb's Kisses by Clockwork anthology, which is really exciting. The TOC is here, it's a great line up, even if I say so myself!!

So happy new year to everyone! I hope it is a great year.


So I've been away on fieldwork. It was nice; the sun, the extremely compact soils, the flies...But thankfully, there were no spiders. Which meant the trip was a success. The job involved doing excavation work on a variety of properties in Central Victoria. There were two property owners that requested I call before descending with shovels, trowels and crowbars. And so I did. I had to arrange appointment times to access their properties because of 'problem animals'.

Problem animals. It may make you think of dogs, bulls or even geese. But none of those were the culprits. No, it was their goats.

One was locked away before we arrived, because she just loves to 'make friends'. Apparently, this entails the goat sidling up to a person before butting them 'gently'. After checking the animal out (who I may have referred to as 'you evil slit-eyed freak')*, I determined she had pretty long, shiny horns. I was glad she was on the other side of a fence. Especially after I badmouthed her.

The second goat was nowhere in sight at the start. We began digging and finished 3/4 of the hole when three cows and two goats come bounding up to their owner who was watching us with bemusement as we dug a hole in his very nice paddock. The cows kept their distance, but the two goats were curious. One, Buttons, more so than the other. Buttons was named as such not because she was as cute as a button, but because she has a habit of butting people. She was a light, cream colour and was as much of a kleptomaniac as my cat, Saxon.

Before we knew what was happening, Buttons was trying to eat one of the Traditional Owner's backpacks. While he was trying to deal with the furry problem, the goat nicked off and began nibbling on the other Traditional Owner's arm. After deterred from this behaviour, the goat tried to steal a discarded glove from the other archaeologist. And then, when I went to grab my trowel, I found it in the mouth of Buttons, who was trying to sneak away with her prize.

Her owner called her a menace and tried to shoo her away, but the goat snuck back and tried to make off with another item when he got distracted. We were all laughing at Buttons' antics while the owner was mortified by her bad behaviour.

So the moral of the story? When it comes to working on rural properties, goats are your biggest worry.

*I do actually think goats are pretty cute. Their eyes are strange, though.


Notions Unlimited

Notions Unlimited bookstore is an awesome book store located in the south-east of Melbourne. The owner, Chuck McKenzie, is a great guy who supports local Aussie fiction and indie press, as well as being a writer himself.

And he needs help and recommendations for his store. So please, if people want dark fiction/scifi/fantasy books or games and don't know where to go; go to Notions Unlimited. It's worth your time and you'll help keep an amazing store open.




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April 2014


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Book News


Bloodstones, edited by Amanda Pillar, will feature tales of urban fantasy set in the contemporary world.

Due out 2012.


Damnation and Dames, edited by Liz Grzyb and Amanda Pillar, will feature 16 tales of paranormal noir.

Ready for an adventure? Then put your coat on and step into the world of noir...



Ishtar. Powerful, sexy, and very, very deadly. And due out in November 2011! This outstanding novella collection contains gems from Deborah Biancotti, Kaaron Warren and Cat Sparks!



Each story in this collection has been inspired by a track from the album, Scenes from the Second Storey. Quirky, dark, insightful and sometimes downright disturbing, these tales reflect the emotions and images our authors experienced when they heard ‘their’ song from The God Machine's record.

Scenes from the Second Storey was published in September 2010. It features stories from Kaaron Warren, Robert Hood, Cat Sparks and Paul Haines among many other talented Australian authors.



Are you looking for a dark chocolate anthology full of tales about the Morrigan goddess?

The Phantom Queen Awakes is available now. It features stories from Elaine Cunningham, CE Murphy, Anya Bast and Katharine Kerr.



The award-winning Grants Pass is a post apocalyptic anthology, edited by Amanda Pillar and Jennifer Brozek, features stories by Cherie Priest, Ed Greenwood and Jay Lake among many other authors.


"Grants Pass is a remarkable, disturbing, and worthwhile read, and one that is likely to stay with the reader for some time to come."

- HorrorScope


Voices is available for sale now. You can purchase a copy online or at Fantastic Planet, Perth, and Pulp Fiction Books, Brisbane.

"Every story in Voices is of high quality, and the editors should be commended for their high standards. This is one of the best anthologies of dark fiction to have been released recently, and is highly recommended."

- HorrorScope

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