Kids, Don’t Share Too Much On The Internet!

I’ve never seen the dangers of online interaction, particularly for young people, demonstrated so well. Everyone who’s a parent, an aunt, an uncle, a friend – hell everyone who knows someone with a child – should watch this. In fact, there’s some lessons to be learned here for the adults too!

Have you checked your child's privacy settings?



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Ticket Inspectors vs Teen Girls: Shocking Footage

So, this video has been doing the rounds today both online and on television news. It shows three teenage girls being physically restrained by ticket inspectors at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne. In the case of one of these girls, a fifteen year old, she is being held face-down on the ground by three men.
I find these images deeply disturbing on many, many levels.

First, let me say that there is obvious fault on both sides. I’m not for one minute saying that these girls were completely innocent here – in fact, the behaviour by these girls is downright appalling. They’ve dodged paying their train fare and been caught out. It should have been a simple case of copping the fine they deserved and moving on. But it wasn’t. They’ve hurled abuse at the inspectors and attempted to get away. The language is enough to make a sailor blush.

However, did they really deserve to be treated the way they were? This incident escalated way out of proportion to the original offence. The video lasts for more than seven minutes and presumably the incident had been going for several minutes before a member of the public started filming it. Why was this allowed to continue and to escalate for so long before police arrived on scene? This is Flinders Street – there is no shortage of police in the vicinity. Did the Metro staff really think they were handling the situation well enough on their own without police intervention?

I’ll admit I don’t know what jurisdiction ticket inspectors have in detaining offenders but surely there needs to be a review of procedures. Either they have the right to arrest, in which case this incident should have been dealt with quickly, by properly trained staff. Or they don’t, in which case they had no right at all to manhandle young girls in this manner. So which is it?

These girls have been charged with a range of offences including fare evasion and assault. Are the inspectors facing any kind of disciplinary action or retraining?

What do you think?



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Call to outlaw smacking!

imageA call has been made by physicians to completely outlaw the smacking of children, citing the negative impact it has both during childhood and through to adulthood. They also state that although children will respond to a smack by stopping the undesired behaviour at the time thus giving the parents the sense of a “win”, children don’t actually learn any lesson other than to do what it takes not to get hit.

We all know that discipline is important but that should come in the form of consistent consequences for behaviour and an understanding of why particular actions or behaviours are not acceptable. For example, if I hit my brother it will hurt him and make him sad, rather than if I hit my brother I’m going to get hit. Punishing violent behaviour with violence is kind of absurd.

As adults we are protected by laws that are unequivocal in their statement that violence is not acceptable – if somebody assaults us, they will be punished by law. And yet our children are not covered by these same rights. And there the lines blur. Yes, you can smack on the bottom, but not the head. Yes, smack the child’s hand but don’t leave a bruise. What actually constitutes the leap from discipline to child abuse can be, for some people, a little blurry.

But will outlawing the smack actually protect children from the abusers who take so-called discipline too far? Or will it demonise otherwise good parents who know no other way to control their child? What kind of education would be implemented for parents to show them better ways of parenting? And how do you break through the defensive walls of parents who cry, “But it didn’t do me any harm!”?

What do you think? Do you smack your kids? Should it be criminalised?

You can read the article from the Daily Telegraph here:


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Anything for a laugh?

Yesterday Amanda and I, in our capacity as A.K. Wrox were invited to have a chat with some lovely folk at the Mid-Winter Words Festival in Portarlington. ‘Twas a great afternoon with lots of laughs and some signing of books which is always guaranteed to give us a happy!

Many great questions were posed by the audience, most of whom belonged to a local writing group, ranging from the question of Arrabella’s feminist wiles to the making of maps to keep track of her adventures. One question though has had me thinking. Amanda and I were talking about our sense of the ridiculous and how “over the top” we made our characters and their adventures – particularly when it came to the naughty bits. Then we were asked if there was anywhere we wouldn’t go. What would we consider going too far?

Now I must confess that I didn’t think too deeply about the question at the time. How far would I go? All the way, baby! I said that at the time I would have written almost anything to get a laugh out of Amanda – or a gasp of mock-outrage at leaving her in such a predicament to write us out of. And I thought that was the truth.

But the question has been niggling at me all day. Would I really? And the answer is no. While I think that there is no subject too taboo to write about, there is only so far I would go for a laugh. I would tackle any topic in my more serious writing – in crime or horror, but not so in the name of comedy. Why? Because there’s a lot that I just don’t think is funny.

A cheap laugh is just that – cheap. Anything that is done mean-spiritedly or that demeans another person or group just isn’t funny. Making a joke based purely on a person’s race or sex or sexuality isn’t funny. There’s nothing clever about it. “Jokes” like the mock-menu we saw recently for a political dinner were anything but funny. “Jokes” that appear immediately after the death of a celebrity – not funny.

In the past week I’ve seen too many examples of people trying for that cheap laugh at the expense of asylum seekers. Seriously not funny. The plight of desperate people risking their lives for a chance at a better existence – or any existence at all – are not something to joke about.

Satire has long been used to highlight society’s ills and that is something that both Amanda and I use a lot of. Would we use the example of asylum seekers as a joke? Of course not, but we most certainly would satirise the calls by the bogan masses to “stop the boats” and “f**k off, we’re full!” because that appeals to that sense of the ridiculous I spoke of.

What do you think is off limits? Do you think anything can be said in the name of comedy or is much simply in purely bad taste?



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Spine Tingling

A huge congratulations to the A of AK Wrox – Amanda Wrangles – and to the Crime Factory, for their short listing in the Spingtingler Awards for the anthology Hard Labour.

In case you didn’t know, comic-saucy-fantasy isn’t all that Amanda writes. In fact, she’s previously won a Scarlet Stiletto Award for short crime fiction with her story Persia Bloom, which can be found in the collection, Scarlet Stiletto: The Second Cut.

Hard Labour, published by the Crime Factory, features yet another of Amanda’s short crime stories, along with stories by many leading Australian crime writers.

It’s a well deserved short listing and I wish it all the best of luck in the voting.

More info here: Spinetingler Awards

hard labour


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When rape is OK?

I was startled and mystified; angry and upset – and frightened – when I came across this today:



Seriously, what is going on? It’s frightening to think that so many teenage boys view things this way. Do we have a generation of would-be rapists emerging, ones who won’t even know what it is they’ve done wrong?

Even more frightening though, at least the way I see it, is the number of young girls who seem to believe that their own actions can actually cause them to be raped. If they date for a long time or she gets him sexually excited, then it’s ok to hold her down and force himself on her? Really?

There’s not a single 0% to be found on this survey. For every single scenario there are boys and girls who believe that in that situation rape is OK.

Rape is never OK.


What are we teaching our children? In our homes? In schools? Through channels like the media, our law makers and law enforcers? Surely the first lesson in sex education is that we have the right to our own bodies. That nobody has the right to touch us in any way without our express permission. That we ALL have a right to feel safe. No matter what we wear, who we date, where we go or how we get there, or how much money a man may spend on us.

With results like this coming out of a survey of school kids, is it any wonder that so many rapes go unreported and so few of those are ever prosecuted?



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Cheers to the weird people!




Hi all,

Sometimes something just resonates so perfectly that you have to share it. Cheers to all you “weird” people – the creators who enrich our lives daily!




Don’t forget you can read the first 3 chapters of Arrabella for FREE right here!






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Lusty Good Fun! By A.M. Donovan

This review was first published on Amazon and on Goodreads.

In case you haven’t figured out from the title, this is not one of those deep, dark, serious books. It is intended for a tongue in cheek, playful romp. We have the Beautiful Heroine (complete with heaving bosom) the Handsome Hero (barely clad in a scanty loincloth) the Wise Wizard and a Flaming Fairy. If you like your fantasy serious, you will need to go elsewhere, but if your sense of humor is intact you will have fun. One game you can play with this is spot the reference. Yes, they do change the names, but there are references to the Twilight vampires, Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, Princess Bride, wizard of Oz, Neverending story, Supernatural (yes, Jared Padalecki is tall, so of course, they name a tree after him) and more! This is just 40 pages in and I have not listed all the references. The author(s) appear to draw inspiration from Monty Python, Douglas Adams, Xanth and Lust in the Dust the author(s) manage to spoof all of the current cultural icons (and several from the past) while still having an adventure tale that holds together with quite a bit of lust thrown in for spice. Definitely not intended for school libraries. But then neither was “Kilgore Trout”.
In the interest of fair disclosure, I did receive this book for free from Goodreads to do a review.


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Clan Destine Press Catazine

Clan Destine Press has released their new catazine and it’s chock-full of booky goodness!
With articles by Kerry Greenwood, RC Daniells, Alison Goodman and many other fabulous authors – including, of course, us! – there’s sure to be something for every kind of reader.


2012 Clan Destine Press Catazine


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A.K. Wrox: Creating a Fantasy Brand to End All Fantasy Brands

 Writing duo A.K. Wrox were guest lecturers at RMIT University in Melbourne last week.

Evelyn Tsitas – journalist & blogger, PhD student & sessional tutor in Creative Writing – blogs for CDP about how the session with her Master of Creative Media students went down.

They came, they saw, they were amazing.

A.K. Wrox pulled no punches when talking about their rise from mums, who love to read and write fantasy and crime fiction, to published authors ready to take on the world. They instinctively realised that to be successful in the 21st century world of publishing, you have to hustle.

A.K. Wrox – the Melbourne writing team of Amanda Wrangles & Kylie Fox – whom I had the pleasure of meeting them through Sisters in Crime Australia are, like me, both are winners of Scarlet Stiletto Crime Writing Awards; and, also like me, are writer-mothers.

They are also serious Facebook junkies and have harnessed social media to their great advantage in both writing and promoting their book. So much so that this article could be subtitled, ‘How to write and promote your book on Facebook’.

In fact, my friendship with the writing team has been almost entirely through Facebook except for the Sisters in Crime writing events where we catch up face to face.  Online, I follow and ‘like’ as they share their lives and the trials and tribulations of the writing life, and mothering journey.

I was therefore amazed to meet a slender Kylie Fox in the corridor of Building 36 on Swanston Street as I arrived for the class. Why surprised? Because Kylie is half-way through her fifth pregnancy; so, even more amazing is Kylie’s enviable energy.

First up, even with four young children, Kylie has no time for writers who complain they have no time to write.

“A writer writes every day,” she said. “Sometimes however, I want to watch Sons of Anarchy – for research, you understand! That’s fine, but it’s a choice. I make that choice without deluding myself. I am watching TV not writing. I think we all have to be honest as writers about our time.”

Of course, the actual writing is only half the story. A.K. Wrox came to RMIT to share the other, often more difficult parts of becoming an author: getting published and promoting the published book.

From the moment the writing duo began speaking to students taking part in my 12 week Entrepreneurship for Writers course, A.K. Wrox had their audience eating out of their hands – almost literally.

The first thing they did was hand out copies of their gorgeously published fantasy spoof Arrabella Candellarbra & The Questy Thing to End all Questy Things.

Good marketing tip #1: get potential customers (and reviewers) to hold a copy of ‘the product’ in their hands. The session ended about two hours later with the authors signing their books and getting the group to pose with them (and their books) for photos. Oh, and a friendly request that if anyone wanted to post a review on facebook or goodreads it would be most appreciated!

Felix, John, Elizabeth and Inku

Amanda & Kylie


Before that, the session turned to the business of writing. The who, what, where, why and how of getting it done, getting ideas and getting it out. Some words of advice: research – it’s easy to get sidetracked;promotion – start at least a year before your book is published; collaboration – with the right person, who is at the same writing stage as you, it can be fun. But collaborate with writing equals only; and write, write, and write more – work on your own work all the time, as well as collaborative work.

The first questions from the group, who’d all done their homework ‘drilling in’ to the A.K. Wrox website and blogs was: “How did you write the Arrabella Candellabra on Facebook?”

It turns out that what A.K. Wrox have done is replicate a part of the university writing process, albeit by themselves, at home and with many children running around. Instead of the e-learning tool Blackboard in which they could privately post blogs or writing material to each other, they created a private Facebook page and wrote installments to each other.

“We both use Facebook – a lot – and we were comfortable with doing it that way even though we both lived near each other,” Amanda said. “It was easier for us to write late at night when the kids were asleep.

“The book grew organically, we each pushed each other and then we took our work, cut and pasted from the bits on Facebook, to our Wednesday writing group.”

Luck was on their side. Despite being well outside the usual writing haunts of the inner suburbs of Melbourne, A.K. Wrox were blessed to find a local writing group with clout. Run by crime writer and publisher Lindy Cameron, who has 17 years of crime fiction writing under her belt, Amanda and Kylie flourished. Oh, I should mention that another writers’ group that all three belong to, also includes New York Times best selling author Alison Goodman (Eon & Eona).

“Lindy would read our installments to the rest of the group and the response was great; we realised we had a book,” said Amanda. “It gave us confidence.”

Kylie added: “As the publisher of Clan Destine Press, Lindy wanted to publish our book, but decided to show it to fellow author Kerry Greenwood first, in case her friendship with us was clouding her judgment.”

Kerry is a household name since her 20-book Phryne Fisher series is now also the popular Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries currently screening on Australian television.

A.K.  Wrox agree that being published by a small, independent publisher such as genre fiction specialist Clan Destine Press enabled them to have a lot more input into both the editing and promotional side of the business than if they’d been with a big, commercial publisher.

So, how did they tackle marketing? A.K. Wrox were adamant that a website was the way to go. They set up a free WordPress site and enlisted help from YouTube tutorials. “If we can do it, anyone can,” they agreed.

Amanda added: “We wrote our book on Facebook, so that seemed the logical place to start the marketing campaign. So along with a website and our blogs, we had a Facebook page for our book. While we don’t have a large number of people signed up, we know it has a wide reach.”

A.K.  Wrox even got their collaborative writing name via Facebook, fielding suggestions from other writers as to what to call themselves as a writing team. The clever suggestion melds their names into a sassy, unforgettable moniker.

“One of the best things about sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter is that it’s gradual,” said Amanda. “It’s that ‘long tail’ of marketing you hear about. And it works!”

Self-confessed Facebook junkies they may be, but A.K. Wrox treat their marketing like professionals, avidly monitoring the number of hits they get each week and keeping a close eye on how far their stories travel.

The duo also put themselves ‘out there’ on the web to review other people’s books, both as a profile raising exercise and to support other writers. Kylie focuses on crime and Amanda on young adult fiction.

“It’s up to you as an author to get behind your own work and promote it,” said Amanda. “You need to create that initial buzz and you can’t rely on anyone else to do it.”

Their tips: think outside the box and look at every opportunity for marketing; and don’t be afraid to ask people!  For instance, A.K. Wrox plan to make a YouTube trailer for the next book in their series, and it will feature a local hip hop band they know. They’d want it to have the feel of the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night. They have also done conventions such as Supernova; and had life-size cardboard cutouts made of their characters.

“It turned out they weren’t too expensive as we got a deal from someone who was so excited to be making them instead of something corporate”, said Kylie.

The authors are also making cameo brooches for promotion, a little different than the usual bookmarks, and again featuring the book’s characters from the fabulous fantasy cover artwork by Ran Valerhon.

A.K.  Wrox have an instinctive feel for social marketing, knowing how to give a bit of themselves but not too much. Amanda has been sharing her husband’s battle with a rare auto immune disease via Facebook; and writes unflinchingly and with love and no self pity. Kylie posted the scan of her latest pregnancy. They do writing appearances wide and far, wearing their trademark black. So it’s hard to believe them when they say they are both naturally shy.

“Facebook gives us time to find that witty retort or create the perfect comment,” said Kylie.

Finally, the last bit of advice A.K. Wrox gave the class is that Australian authors should realise that the industry in this country is very, very small, and you can’t afford to burn bridges or not reach out to people. You also have to have a good web presence because the first thing any potential publisher will do when they have your manuscript in their hands is google you!

It is perhaps not surprising that like the authors themselves, they left urging the students to be generous and be involved. Amanda is now a convener of Sisters In Crime Australia, and both manage to support to other writers and the publishing industry by reviewing other writer’s work. Anyone seeking an answer to how they have come so far in a relatively short space of time need only look at how much they have given back to the writing world they love.

Amanda’s blog:

Kylie’s blog:



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