On Martha Jones, unrequited love and female empowerment

The other day I was reading a blog post about Amy Pond, the first companion to the eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who. The blogger’s contention was that although Amy was awesome, in and of herself, the plotlines she was given were awful because they all rotated around Amy as Woman — a love triangle, a marriage, a baby.

I’ve seen this argument made many times and I’m inclined to agree, although I still really enjoyed Amy and Eleven. (Rory was a bit wet, but he grew on me.)

In the comments to this post, the consensus was that the superior companion in the reboot was Donna, because she wasn’t defined by her relationship to the Doctor, unlike Rose (who he fell in love with) and Martha (who fell in love with him). These comments were all written back before Clara and Twelve, so she didn’t factor into the debate.

Now, Donna is far and away my favourite, because of her strength of personality, heart, and the amazing character growth she experiences. Of all the companions, she had the most tragic end to her story. I mean, Rose’s was sad as far as it went, but then she got a clone of Ten to shack up with, and who wouldn’t be happy with that?! Donna lost everything. All that growth. All those experiences. I honestly think she would’ve preferred to die. *sob*

On the other hand, I think Martha deserves a little more credit. She was fiercely intelligent in her own right, stubborn and brave. Sure, she fell in love with Ten, but have you seen David Tennant? Besides, he swept in, saved the day and pashed her in the course of the adventure. My ovaries would have exploded on the spot!


Martha didn’t just swan around after the Doctor and sigh. She didn’t pine (unlike Rose). She loved him, but once she realised he was never going to love her, she was independent-minded enough, smart enough, to realise that continuing to be around him was actually bad for her. Because she knew she wanted a partner — which not all women do, I grant you, but she did — and he would never be it.

I found Martha’s departure from Doctor Who to be uplifting, unlike all the others so far. Every time I see that scene, I clap. Because she did it with dignity.

You go, girl!

Martha Jones 1

Martha Jones 2

Martha Jones 3

Martha Jones Ten

Martha Jones 4

Martha Jones 5

Martha Jones 6

Martha Jones 7

Bloggery: 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. This probably won’t interest anyone but me, although the fact my most successful post this year was about hyphens isn’t lost on me.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ding dong! From me to you…

It’s been a hella crazy year. I released a book with Turquoise Morning Press and prepared two more for release early next year. I self-published a novella and sent my boy to preschool, where he learned stuff and flourished. And the best thing is that I continued my friendships with a bunch of awesome writer and reader friends, and met new ones!

To everyone that’s read Isla’s Inheritance, left a review, or even just provided moral support during this crazy ride: I LOVE YOU GUYS!

It’s Christmas here and, although I’m not religious, I love it because I have a small boy and he loves it. Plus, what’s not to love about catching up with family and friends, and eating delicious food? Nothing, that’s what!

It’s a tradition (three years running now) that I celebrate Christmas on the blog with a song. So here’s one for the whole family. Merry Christmas (or other holiday of your choice).


Chocolate, coffee and a lunatic with a gun

LindtI want to write something on the Sydney siege at the Lindt café, which ended so tragically early this morning. But at times like this, words fail me. When I think about what the poor hostages and their families went through my brain responds with a welter of feeling that basically translates to NOPE.

Still, I’m going to try and get something down here. Please bear with me.

I don’t live in Sydney. But I know the Lindt café—my son had a series of tests done at the Sydney Eye Hospital, just across the road from Martin Place, back in February. We had afternoon tea at the café; the food, drink and service were all excellent, and it was definitely the high point of our trip. (The photo above is one I snapped on my phone, probably giddy with delight … and sugar.)

I’m the sort of person that tends to take refuge in humour when I’m anxious or upset. Laugh or cry, I guess you’d say. When I heard about the siege yesterday morning, one of my first thoughts after I’d confirmed the whereabouts of friends who work in the CBD was, “What kind of madman has such a beef with coffee and chocolate?!”

So I tried to laugh. I’ve done my share of crying too.

The first thing I encountered when I logged onto Twitter after work yesterday was a racist tweet from someone purporting to be Jewish, tarring all Muslims with the same hateful brush as the gunman. The second was from the Australian Defence League, a bunch of bogan wankers who are our equivalent of the Westbro Baptist Church. Only dumber. They were attempting to incite a riot.

It made me feel sick, and the idea that there might be some sort of racist backlash against innocent Muslims filled me with dread. Aside from anything else, you just know that’s what this nutjob was hoping for—because creating that sort of backlash might result in young Muslims who see their hijab-wearing relatives hurt being radicalised. It’s a win for the bad guys.

Still, then something amazing happened. A woman on a train yesterday afternoon saw a Muslim lady take her hijab off and hide it.


Seeing this, another woman, @sirtessa, started a hashtag with the details of which bus she catches: #illridewithyou (Read more here. It’s powerful stuff.) And suddenly everyone was tweeting what bus or train they’d be on this morning, volunteering to ride with anyone who was afraid of retaliation.

This is one of the reasons I cried, you guys. Australians like to make a lot of “mateship”—that sense that we’re all in it together, and that you look out for others. “Mate” is defined pretty broadly at times, to include anyone you have something in common with. Some days I’ve felt like it’s all words. #illridewithyou proved me wrong.

It was breathtaking. It made me teary. And I’m proud to be Australian.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the hostages that died, and with the surviving hostages and their families. I can’t imagine how you are all feeling right now. I hope those that were injured, including the police officer, recover swiftly, and that all the hostages are able to heal mentally as well.

I don’t take public transport, given the peculiarities of my circumstances. Still. If I did, I’d ride with you.

Privacy and victim-blaming

Warning: this is a ranty post. If you don’t feel like reading a ranty post, come back in a day or two. I’ll put up my review of Dancing on Knives by Kate Forsyth. We can talk books and drink coffee together.

Although I may be shouting into the void here — the points I expect I shall make have been made already, by other, more sensible folks — I feel like I need to add my two cents.

Dr Who bow tie


On my drive to work, after I’ve dropped my son off, I listen to one of three things: a) an audiobook, b) News Radio, or c) “old fogey radio”.

The old fogey radio station is rather inauspiciously called 666. It’s the local AM station run by the national broadcaster. They have a gardening show on Saturday mornings; it’s that kind of station. (I actually quite like the gardening show.) Mostly I enjoy it — it’s nice to have some local news, and during the day they do shows about the local art galleries, writers, cool ways to volunteer in the community. Good stuff.

This morning, however, I got WELL GROUCHY! The host was talking about the nude photo hacking “scandal” involving Jennifer Lawrence and a bunch of other female celebrities. He claimed taking nude photos of yourself was weird, and that he hadn’t been able to find anyone who’d done it. He made a disparaging comment about how maybe only celebrities did it, because (and I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember his exact words) they were strange. One of the female hosts, who was doing a spot to talk about something else, agreed with him.

I had so much steam coming out my ears it’s a wonder I didn’t crash the car.

When I got to work, I sent him an angry text (which he read out on the radio, so I got to annoy everyone, I’m sure). I pointed out that the reason he hadn’t been able to find anyone that took nude photos of themselves probably had more to do with the radio station’s demographic than anything else. He got pseudo-offended that I was calling them old.

Now, in my defence, the average 666 listener has got to be between 40 and 65. And I listen, so I’m including myself in that “too old to take nude photos” category. I’ve never taken a nude photo of myself and uploaded it to a “cloud”. I barely understand what the “cloud” is, in a technological sense, and don’t use it because I FEAR CHANGE. And DICKHEAD HACKERS.

But I know a LOT of young women take nude photos of themselves, and share them with partners. Do I think it’s a good idea? Not particularly, because you never know where they will end up. But it’s not uncommon. I think if a presenter on the national broadcaster’s youth station, Triple J, asked the same question, they’d get overwhelmed with calls.

And all of this is beside the point, anyway. The point is, regardless of whether you understand why she did it or not, Jennifer Lawrence, like all the other celebrities affected, is entitled to her own privacy. If her husband is interstate — or hell, in the next room — and she wants to add a little spice to their relationship with a naughty picture, she is allowed to do so. They are consenting adults. (That’s where sexting becomes a grey area, by the way — when either party isn’t an adult yet. Then it can be legally child porn, even if it’s between two 15-year-olds. Don’t do it, kids.)

To suggest she brought it on herself by taking the photo is victim-blaming. It’s slut-shaming. She deserved it because she took the photo. Wore a short skirt. Had too much to drink. Flirted with the guy.

See where I’m going with this?

(For the record, I sent another text message to the radio station with this second point, although I don’t know if it got read out, because by then I was running late for work.)

Jennifer Lawrence and the other celebrities didn’t ask for it. By taking their pictures, they weren’t giving permission for them to be stolen. By uploading them to Apple’s supposedly secure Cloud, they weren’t giving permission for them to be stolen. They are the victims. They were robbed, and now people — some people, at least — are denigrating them for it.

They are the victims. Don’t suggest otherwise.

Once again, Merry Christmas

Last year, I posted a Christmas message with a video. So, as is the grand old tradition of this blog (YES YOU CAN HAVE A GRAND OLD TRADITION AFTER JUST OVER 12 MONTHS SHUT UP THAT’S WHY), I shall do the same again this year.

For those of you that partake of such things, have a wonderful Christmas (or other festive season of your choice) and a happy new year. For those of you that don’t, well, enjoy the public holidays, anyway!

This is one of my two favourite Christmas carols EVER. The Straight No Chaser CD is the only one I listen to at Christmas.

My other favourite Christmas song I linked last year. But it makes me cry.

And as my final gift to you, here is a picture of a puppy under a Christmas tree.


Updates, and a call for content

I’ve been up since 5.30am (it’s now 7.22am as I write this, and I’m about to leave for work). So this is a bit of a rambling post. Please forgive any incoherent bits.

This is completely unrelated, but here's a photo of a carved timber-and-metal raptor I saw at a woodworking showroom last weekend. It's only $15k - buy it for me? :)

This is completely unrelated, but here’s a photo of a carved timber-and-metal raptor I saw at a woodworking showroom last weekend. It’s only $15k – buy it for me? 🙂

On Lucid Dreaming…

A few months ago I blogged about the importance of critique partners. I talked about the different approaches to getting feedback—whether you’re a perfectionist who edits your work before letting others read it, or whether you’re a sharer who is happy to let people see it and provide feedback when it’s still in its raw state.

I’ve done a little of both with my three manuscripts. But yesterday I just sent my latest manuscript, Lucid Dreaming, to my beta readers after a pretty thorough edit. Two of these beta readers haven’t read for me before, which made me even more anxious about them seeing my writing. Also, all of my beta readers are sheer awesome, which is a little daunting.

Of course, last night I couldn’t sleep. I felt all adrift. These are the classic signs that I need to embark on another project, to keep myself busy and not fretting. (Have they opened the document yet? Do they hate the first chapter? What if they notice that I’m  faking it?) I have edits of Isla’s Oath to get on with, but I printed the manuscript before I moved temporarily into my parents’ house, and then, like an idiot, put it in a box. So that’s going to have to wait till we move into our new home—which is in about a fortnight.

Once I’m done with Isla’s Oath, the plan is to start on the third book in the trilogy. So I need to do some plotting there too.

On zombies…

I’ve spruiked The Zombie Project a few times here, and posted my short. If you want to read the whole set but can’t be bothered looking for all the stories, the amazing Chynna-Blue has put up a master post that details all of the contributors thus far, and links to the stories.

So now there’s no excuse. :p

(Spruiking is Australian slang for speaking in public, usually trying to promote or sell something. If you’re wondering.)

On blog content…

I’ve already contacted the ISP to start the process of getting broadband set up for the new house. But it could take weeks, and I can’t blog from work—so I’m looking at scheduling a bunch of posts for the next few weeks. If you are interested in writing a guest post or being interviewed, drop me a line at cassandrapage01_at_gmail.com (replace _at_ with @). The only catch is I’d need your post/answers by about 4 October at the latest.

Four ways to see your writing anew

Plotting: an artist's impression (image: Wiki Commons)

A plotters journey: an artist’s impression (image: Wiki Commons)

Drafting a novel is like hiking through a huge forest. Your approach to the impending journey may vary: some of us come up with a detailed map, set their feet on the a path and power on through, while others see the edge of the trees, think “let’s see what’s in there”, and wander in. Most of us have approaches somewhere in the middle: we might know where we want to end up, but not have a specific path in mind. Almost all of us get distracted by things along the way; sometimes the distractions turn out to be just that, while other times they are a valuable addition to your journey.

But there’s an idiom that also applies to a writer who is in the middle of or has just finished drafting a novel.

I can’t see the forest for the trees.

Whether you love your work or hate it, when you type THE END, you are not seeing it clearly. Everything from being able to discern the dead wood, those scenes, characters or chapters that don’t move the story forward, to spotting typos is harder. You don’t have the altitude. You’re still in the trees.

So here are four ways to see your work differently: to get a Google maps perspective on your forest.


This is the first and most important, which is why I gave it shouty caps. If you can possibly avoid it, don’t jump straight back into editing. Give the manuscript a few weeks to stew. Read a book (or five). Write something else. Go on holiday. Spend some time with the loved ones you’ve been neglecting. You’ve written a novel, which is a thing to be proud of. Celebrate, but not by re-reading it.

This point should be applied in conjunction with one or more of the other suggestions, below. The only exception is if you’re up against a hard deadline that doesn’t give you the luxury of time. I’m not talking about a pitching contest you want to enter—there will always be more pitching contests—but something with legal ramifications, like a contractual requirement.

2. Read it in hard copy.

Speaking of trees (sorry about that, forests of the world)… This is my favoured approach. I wish I could get the necessary distance while still reading my words on a screen, but that’s the place where I drafted it, and I just can’t. On paper I can see misspelled or misused words, tracts of exposition—they all leap out at me. Usually I do a dirty word search before I hit print and make those amendments to the soft copy (looking for the crimes against English that I know I commit when drafting). Then I sit down with a pen and have at it.

This does have the drawback that I have to enter my edits onto the soft copy afterwards. It’s tedious but, for me, worth it.

3. Change the appearance of the words.

If you draft in Arial, try looking at your manuscript in Times New Roman. Or Comic Sans MS, if that’s what floats your boat—just remember to change it back before you submit it to any agents or publishing houses. I know some people who actually format their book and read it on their Kindle, to try and put themselves into the role of a reader rather than the author.

As an aside, I do this with all my blog posts. I write them in Word, do one proofread in the WordPress data entry screen, and then do a final check in the blog preview screen.

4. Read it aloud.

Obviously this is better for picking up line edit problems—passive sentences, overused words, that sort of thing—rather than structural problems. Although if you get bored reading a scene maybe that’s a sign the scene could go. There are also text-to-speech programs that you could use if you don’t want to read your 150,000-word opus aloud for fear of never being able to speak again. (And, um, if that’s your first novel I also recommend reconsidering the length.)

I’m tempted to add a fifth point here that says “see point one”, but I won’t. You get the idea.

Do you have other tricks that you use to let you see your words afresh?

Call for guest posts!

Blogging old school. (Image from Wiki Commons.)

Blogging, old school. (Image from Wiki Commons.)

As some of you may be aware, I’m in the middle of getting my house ready to sell. My days lately have been filled with cleaning, boxing and rearranging—and today I plan on gardening. At night I tend to feed and wash the child, then put him to bed and collapse unconscious myself.

But because I want to keep up with the content so you don’t all abandon me (sniff), I put a call out on Twitter seeking people to write guest posts on writing and publishing. I’ve got a few awesome folks already working on posts for me, but I thought I’d put the call out here as well.

If you’ve got something to say in around 500 words about writing—the process, grammar, editing, seeking a publisher, self-publishing or anything else that springs to mind—send me an email (cassandrapage01_at_gmail.com) and we can talk! 🙂

My favourite grammar joke

Laugh, damn you! LAUGH!

Laugh, damn you! LAUGH!