I’m moving!

movingMy blog is moving to a self-hosted site, using wordpress.org , so I can keep my blog and my job under one electronic roof. It’s all about work-life balance.

If you used to get updates from my blog via email, you may have to hit the subscribe button on my upgraded site again. But thanks to the magic of WordPress and the Jetpack plug-in, the upgraded blog should appear in your reader soon.

I look forward t0 seeing you at www.clearlyedited.com!

Image credit: adapted from a morguefile.com photo


Indigenous Writing and Editing Project


Last Thursday, I went to a seminar on editing Australian Indigenous texts, held by the Indigenous editors of black&write! The editors, Ellen van Neerven-Currie and Linda McBride-Yuke, were the inaugural recipients of the Indigenous editing mentorships offered by the Queensland State Library. We participants were given a deadly* tour of the many indigenous languages of Australia, along with creoles, and local varieties of English – all presenting issues for the unwary or unaware.

They gave us a reading list and also a capacious book bag with the above picture on it. I plan to put both to good use.

There are a couple of free online highlights on the reading list:

The Little Red Yellow Black Book: An introduction to Indigenous Australia has an online gateway.

Writing Black: New Indigenous Writing from Australia is available as a free iBook.

Now for the ‘not free’.

If you would like to go book shopping, Magabala Books lists their black&write! prize winners here: http://www.magabala.com/books/black-write-winners.html
of their books are available through the major e-book stores.

UQP also maintain a list of Black Australian Writing: http://www.uqp.uq.edu.au/CategoryBookList.aspx/62/Black%20Australian%20Writing
Their books can also be found in the major e-book stores.

If Australian Indigenous chick lit is your thing, then check out Anita Heiss – also available at an e-book store near you.

* ‘deadly’ means ‘excellent’ in Indigenous Australian English

Describing people 101

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a writer can really put his hoof in it. Take, for example, Nathan Myer’s description of Otis Hope Carey, an indigenous Australian surfer:

‘With his apeish face and cowering hair-curtains, I expect little more than Cro-Magnon grunts from his mouth. I am caught off guard by the clarity and eloquence of his speech.’
From <http://stabmag.com/otis-carey-is-suing-nathan-myers-and-surfing-life/>

Astonishingly, this was published. Any editor worth her (or his) salt should have picked this one up and put a big red line through it. Just put the keywords together into these easy equations :

‘apeish face’+ likely to emit ‘Cro-Magnon grunts’=pretty insulting to anyone

‘apeish face’+ likely to emit ‘Cro-Magnon grunts’+indigenous Australian=Why don’t you just go poke a red, raw, angry nerve?

Even when the young man you have insulted seems pretty cool and has said elsewhere, ‘I don’t give a fuck what you say about me unless it’s positive.’ Everyone has their limits.

A single red line and a little thought would have prevented this from become a legal matter.* A moment’s empathy wouldn’t have been wasted either.

If people of indigenous descent take personally Australia’s history of putting Social Darwinism into bloody practice, then good on them. For those wondering about the extent of the cruel attacks made on Aboriginal communities, check out the measured and scholarly assessments made by Lyndall Ryan and Raymond Evans in Passionate Histories (2.8 MB and free!) for Tasmania and Queensland respectively. Or check out the Conniston Massacre (1928) for a brief snapshot.

History matters, and we live with the consequences long after the events.

And for the record, Otis Carey is actually quite good-looking. Well out of my age band though.

* ‘cowering’ needs a red line too, and ‘WW’ next to it; but that’s a side issue here.

A grisly beard, gristle and the gruesome

When I read today that Bill Bryson has a grisly beard, I immediately imagined his beard blood-soaked and tangled with splinters of bone and gristle. That seemed a little out of character for Mr Bryson, so I assumed it was a typo.

It’s the sort of niggly error that computer spellcheckers won’t pick up – but an editor should.

I always imagine blood and gristle when I read ‘grisly’ but despite the resemblance between the two words and a possibility that a gruesome scene may involve gristle, there doesn’t seem to be any other connection.

Here are the relevant entries from the Macquarie Dictionary Online:

grizzly/ˈgrɪzli/ (say ‘grizlee)adjective (grizzlier, grizzliest)
1. somewhat grey; greyish.
2. grey-haired.

grisly/ˈgrɪzli/ (say ‘grizlee)1. such as to cause a shuddering horror; gruesome: a grisly monster.
2. formidable; grim: a grisly countenance.
[Middle English; late Old English grislic horrible. Compare Old English āgrīsan shudder]

gristly/ˈgrɪsli/ (say ‘grislee)
adjective of the nature of, containing, or relating to gristle; cartilaginous.

gristle/ˈgrɪsəl/ (say ‘grisuhl)noun cartilage, especially when found as inedible matter in meat.
[Middle English and Old English. Compare Old English grost cartilage]

Note: If you are a member of a state library in Australia, you may be able to get free access to the Macquarie Dictionary online.

Murder and the taste of limes


With leather gloves, I seize these bugs, as they breed, as they eat tender leaves and buds. The air stinks and my skin sometimes burns with the acrid juice they spray in fear.

‘I’m amazed how quickly the desire for limes made me a murderer.’

‘No, you were already a murderer. What’s interesting is how quickly you became a mass murderer,’ remarks my husband, casting an analytical eye over the crushed bodies beneath my feet.

I do this so we can squeeze limes into our tea, our beer, our curry, and so we can eat death marmalade.


But enough about what I get up to in the weekends. There is much more intriguing  (and free) weekend reading online. SQ Mag, an ‘International Speculative Fiction eZine’, includes SF, bizarro, horror, fantasy and the supernatural. In the March 2013 issue, I lingered over ‘The Stills’ by Jeremy C. Shipp. The story makes my weekend activities look quite benign. I like that in a story.

And the blog begins …

with the weekend.


Editorial assistant Rakki-chan hails from Japan and is completely bilingual. She can say ‘meow’ and ‘nyan’ with equal ease. You just have to listen for it. Honestly.

This weekend’s recreational reading comes from free online fiction magazine Strange Horizons. Strange Horizons’ chosen genre is speculative fiction, which they view as a ‘vibrant and radical tradition of stories that can make us think, can critique society, can offer alternatives to reality’. They believe that this tradition should be global, inclusive and diverse. Writers of short sci-fi, fantasy, slipstream and the like should definitely take a look at their submission guidelines.

In keeping with the idea of global diversity, Rakki-chan, the Japanese-Australian feline, has selected her favourite story from the Strange Horizons archives. Naturally, narcissism dictated the final choice; one of the characters is a cat – named Baby Boo. I’d be a spoiler if I said anything more, except to say that ‘Red Matty by Nisi Shaw is very readable, and we read it twice.