This is how racism takes root…

By now surely everyone knows the case of the eight men convicted of picking vulnerable underage girls off the streets, then plying them with drink and drugs before having sex with them. A shocking story. But maybe you haven’t heard. Because these sex assaults did not take place in Rochdale, where a similar story led the news for days in May, but in Derby earlier this month. Fifteen girls aged 13 to 15, many of them in care, were preyed on by the men. And though they were not working as a gang, their methods were similar – often targeting children in care and luring them with, among other things, cuddly toys. But this time, of the eight predators, seven were white, not Asian. And the story made barely a ripple in the national media.

Of the daily papers, only the Guardian and the Times reported it. There was no commentary anywhere on how these crimes shine a light on British culture, or how middle-aged white men have to confront the deep flaws in their religious and ethnic identity. Yet that’s exactly what played out following the conviction in May of the “Asian sex gang” in Rochdale, which made the front page of every national newspaper. Though analysis of the case focused on how big a factor was race, religion and culture, the unreported story is of how politicians and the media have created a new racial scapegoat. In fact, if anyone wants to study how racism begins, and creeps into the consciousness of an entire nation, they need look no further.

via This is how racism takes root | Joseph Harker | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Stolen Poem: Too Soon Old

The following poem is currently doing the rounds of social networking sites with the title of “Crabby Old Man” and was supposedly written by a dying old man in a nursing home. After a little investigation I learned that the poem was lifted from the real author’s web site and circulated with a heart warming but false story.

It’s a beautiful poem, but the real author–Dave Griffith–needs to be attributed.

What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking, when you’re looking at me?
A crabby old man,  not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food,  and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, ‘I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice, the things that you do.
And forever is losing a sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?  Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding,  as I eat at your will
I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.

A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet.
Dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap.
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five, now I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At Forty, my young sons, have grown and are gone,
But my woman’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead.
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years, and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old man, and nature is cruel.
‘Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart.
There is now a stone  where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass, a young guy still dwells,
And now and again, my battered heart swells
And now and again  I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living life over again.

I think of the years, all too few gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, open and see..
Not a crabby old man; look closer… see… ME!!

via Tennessee Granddaddy: Too Soon Old.

Writing Australia

By providing excellent professional development opportunities across the country and a voice for writers, Writing Australia is building the sense of a national writing community.

Writing Australia’s mission is to promote and develop Australia’s literature sector through brokering a range of national programs and partnerships for the benefit of Australian writers.

via Writing Australia.

DoJ rejects B&N/Authors Guild objections to settlement | The Bookseller

The Department of Justice has rejected objections raised by the public to its proposed settlement with HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster over alleged e-book pricing collusion and the agency model. Bookseller Barnes & Noble, American author association the Authors Guild and a group of US independent publishers including Grove/Atlantic and Perseus had been among those to lodge complaints.

The settlement with the three publishers, agreed in April, enjoined the publishers to terminate the Apple agency agreements, not to enter into any contracts that prevent retailers from setting their own e-book prices for a two-year period, and not to “enter into any agreement with an e-book retailer relating to the sale of e-books that contains a price Most Favoured Nation”.

Macmillan, Penguin and Apple rejected the terms of the settlement and face trial on 3rd June 2013.

The DOJ received 868 public comments to the proposed settlement, with nearly 70 in favour of the settlement and the remainder opposing it. “Most of these came from publishers, authors, agents and bookstores that acknowledged an interest in higher retail e-book prices,” the DoJ noted.

via DoJ rejects B&N/Authors Guild objections to settlement | The Bookseller.

An interview with Kylie Chan…

“That’s my excuse for everything – I’m old, don’t mind me,” says Kylie Chan, internationally published novelist and self-confessed computer geek.

It seems an unlikely self-description for the successful author of two trilogies set around ancient gods living in modern Hong Kong, but Kylie is a normal mum who spends most of her time in front of a computer when she isn’t driving her family or friends around.

She describes her fiction as ‘…about an Australian woman who falls for a Chinese god who’s living in today’s Hong Kong. It has gods, demons, martial arts, a Love That Can Never Be, violence, sex, all that good stuff.’

Kylie defines success as ‘…making enough income to support my family. Since leaving my ex and returning to Australia, it’s been something of a struggle…’

At times, the single mother has had to take two jobs to get by, but Kylie is now beginning to earn enough to live solely on the income from her writing.

“It’s been tough,” she said. “Three times in my forty-odd years I’ve had to give away all my possessions and move to a completely new location where I had no family or friends to support me. The first time I did this was with a six-week-old baby.”

She married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese ceremony and spent 10 years living in Hong Kong running a successful IT business before moving back to Brisbane with her two children.

Relocating to Brisbane after life overseas was hard, but Kylie said “everybody in Hong Kong lives on top of each other… towards the end of my time there, I was suffering so badly from the pollution that I had to use steroid eye drops so that I could see.”

“It’s been a long road,” she said, “but I’ve learnt a tremendous amount about different cultures and learnt to be confident and self-reliant.”

Kylie values self-reliance in her own life. “I just do my best to care for my family without looking up to anybody,” she said.

When asked who inspired her, Kylie replied, “I’m less about idolizing the exploits of others and much more about doing what needs to be done in my life right now.”

Most important to her are her children and her writing – in that order. She said, “[i]t’s hard as a mum not to make the kids a priority – I say yes to many things when I should really say no!”

Her readers are nearly as important as her family. “I owe a duty to the fans who’ve bought my books to provide them with a great story that’s worth the money they spend on it. [Writing and family] are my life, really,” she said.

Kylie is happy with the way her life has unfolded. Focus and purpose have led to a successful writing career.

“I wouldn’t swap a day of any of it for a more comfortable existence,” she said.

Published under Harper Collins’ Voyager imprint in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, the Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang trilogies are available in all good bookstores.

For more information visit

Rocky Wood (president of the HWA) interview

A wonderful interview with Rocky Wood, president of the Horror Writers Association (US) and a wonderful guy.

An Interview with celebrated Stephen King expert Rocky Wood – Charlotte Books |

Rocky is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS in the United States.

A recent winner of the Bram Stoker Award for non-fiction for his book Stephen King: Uncollected and Unpublished from Overlook Connection Press, Rocky has recently co-released Witch Hunts, a graphic novel detailing the time of the Salem witch trials, with Lisa Morton and illustrated by Greg Chapman.

Witch Hunts will be officially launched at Notions Unlimited Bookshop in Chelsea Victoria on August 4th. Both Rocky and Greg will be attending to sign books, and there will be bookplates available bearing the signature of US co-author Lisa Morton.

2012 PM’s Literary Awards winners announced

2012 PM’s Literary Awards winners announced.

The winning titles are:


  • Foal’s Bread (Gillian Mears, A&U)


  • Interferon Psalms (Luke Davies, A&U)


  • An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark (Mark McKenna, MUP)

Prize for Australian History

  • The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia (Bill Gammage, A&U)

Young adult fiction

  • When We Were Two (Robert Newton, Penguin)

Children’s fiction

  • Goodnight, Mice! (Frances Watts, illus by Judy Watson, ABC Books).

The winners of each of the categories will receive a tax-free cash prize $80,000, with each shortlistee receiving $5000 tax-free.

eBook revenues double in 2011

The future of ebooks looks good, according to new stats that have come through regarding the growth of the market-share of electronic publications versus print.

“E-book revenues across trade publishing topped $2 billion in 2011, more than doubling from $869 million in 2010, according to the latest figures from BookStats.

In 2011, e-books represented about 15% of all trade publishing revenues versus 6% in 2010, according to the report, a joint venture between the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.

That 15% number may seem low compared with the 20% (and higher) numbers that some publishers have been discussing for fiscal 2011 results, but the BookStats report includes many small and mid-size publishers that may not derive as much of their revenue from e-books, not to mention cookbook publishers and children’s book publishers that may also lag behind large trade publishers.”

Don’t Stop the Presses!

Books and the printed word are dying.
That’s what people are saying, and have been since eReaders first came heavily onto the scene in the late 2000s. There were eReaders before then, but they were not widely known or widely used. Now, we have Kindle and Kobo and Sony eReaders. And because of all these, the printed word is allegedly dying.
Turn up to the Y-service club of Bendigo Biannual Book Fair, held every year on the Easter long weekend and then again in October, and you would be hard-pressed to see an eReader anywhere.
For the people who attend, and there are a lot of them, it’s all about the printed book. They open at nine in the morning, but by eight, the line is already up the block and around the corner. The event is going from strength-to-strength.
Every year, over 10,000 books are donated to the YMCA for what used to be their once-a-year Easter book fair. Running for over forty years, it’s proved so popular that it has now been scheduled for twice every year.
“The first year we took a profit of $50,” said Peter Unmack, Y-Service Club secretary. “Most of the books were donated by the YMCA members and their families. Now we have a donation bin that’s emptied three to five times a week!”
Funds raised are channelled directly back into community projects, many youth-related: the Bendigo Youth Choir, the Discovery Centre, the YMCA’s B-Central Youth Hub, residential housing, and local women’s support groups.  Most recently the Fortuna Group CFA received financial assistance to complete storage facilities for a new forward command vehicle, enabling it to be more conveniently located in central Bendigo.
The books sell for between 50 cents and $3.50, and they sell very well indeed. It’s hard to move through all the customers, as they’re packed in like sardines. All kinds of people attend the fair, of all ages.
“We get everyone,” said Peter. “Lots of students looking for text books, older people, mothers and kids… The support from the public has been quite incredible. Some people wait for Easter to get their year’s supply of reading, and leave with boxes full of books.” The Fair has grown so big that the Y’s men have sought help from other groups, just to cope.
This year the Y brought in other organisations, such as the Scouts, to help, said Peter. “And the Y-Service Women are invaluable – invaluable! They do a great job of keeping the books nice during the Fair,” he said.
“I love it,” said Dawn Roach, a very satisfied customer. “I get lost in the place, and could spend hours there.” Dawn is a regular at the Book Fair, lining up with all the other eager buyers, rain or shine.
“I love the concept of pre-loved books, and you can save a lot of money. It’s also a place to find obscure titles and authors,” she said. “Being a uni student and an obscure person, I love the fair. It provides a more diverse range than a bookshop does.
“Bookshops sell to a market, and they buy according to what they think will sell. The fair runs on donations, and who knows what can turn up there. It’s fantastic.”
“I love the sale,” said Leah Gregory, another satisfied customer. “I find all sorts of treasures here.
“I go and have a look on the first day of the fair, and then once more on the closing day,” said Leah. “At that point they’re practically throwing them out the door at ten dollars a box.”
The number of people who attend the fair for the three days it runs are amazing. Locals and non-locals all clutter the aisles, looking for that one book they’ve trying to find for years. Sometimes they’ll find it, but even if they don’t, they’ll walk out with many surprise gems they’d never expected to find.
Many, many people love to read, and many of them love to read a physical book. “Books aren’t dying,” said Peter. He may be of the non-internet generation, but he was given a laptop for his seventieth birthday, and can now see both sides of the reading coin.
“Downloading books is an alternative way of reading, but people still have the wish to read printed material and have the object in front of them.”
The YMCA Book Fair can be found at the Mundy Street Stadium, 49 Mundy St Bendigo, during the Easter long weekend and in the month of October. Donation bins for books await your unwanted books right now.