Sunday, 25 October 2015

COVER REVEAL - for "Marry Me", a Candy Hearts romance

All I can say is, "How AWESOME is this?!"  I couldn't have asked for a better cover. Fits the story perfectly.

Release date: in time for Valentine's Day, 2016.
Her Grace is giddy with delight over this evocative cover.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Where's my luggage?

A friend of mine recently flew back home. She's arrived. Her luggage is still on its way.  Reminds me of a story from the last time I traveled.

Several years ago I flew international. I checked in my luggage at my local airport. The lovely ladies at check-in took our luggage, tagged it, and off it went. "You're flying a long way today."  Yes, we are.

Wasn't the first time I'd traveled international, so I knew the routine: since we had several hops, we'd fly into the next airport, collect our luggage, check it and us in for the next flight, then twiddle our thumbs for the next several hours. Hong Kong and Narita (Japan) airports are really lovely, clean, have lounge services for coach passengers and are staffed by friendly, soft-speaking multilingual folk.

Several hours/days/years later we end up in SanFran. In contrast, American airports are noisy, loud, dirty, woefully under-serviced and Customer Service is an unknown concept.

Fifth verse, same as the first, we waited at the carousel for the luggage.  His Grace's luggage came. Their Ladyship's luggage came.  Mine....  MIA.

So I went up to the service desk. "Hello." I asked the Woman With Attitude manning the desk,"I'd like to know, where is my luggage?"

Apparently, that was the wrong question to ask. She took my luggage claim check, scanned the barcode, then proceeded to give me a really vigorous lecture about how there was no way she was going to find my luggage and bring it here, and what was I doing asking for my luggage anyway? Besides, there was nothing she could do because my luggage had already been booked onto my connecting flight and she was not going to get it back for me. Sorry, but it was already on its way to the next destination.

Apparently, "where is my luggage" is Merican for "Why is my luggage not immediately right in front of me? Gimme my #@&# luggage NOW!!!" Whereas in Strayan is means, "I'd like to know the location of my luggage, ta."

Well. Time for some Aussie mind games with someone who needs to go back to Customer Service school.  "So, is all luggage automatically transferred to the next flight?" By now His Grace and Their Ladyships had joined me.

Woman With Attitude assured me it was.

"You missed a few," I told her, handing the rest of our luggage over to her.

Then she threw a fit and tried to blame us for taking our luggage when we shouldn't have, et cetera. I was starting to regret having laid eyes on her.

By this time, her manager had noticed and came over. "What's the problem?"

She lays into him with the same attitude and level of voice she used on us, explaining to him how we'd taken (she might have used the word 'stolen') our luggage when we should have just let it go through, and so on...

Meanwhile, us Aussies are rolling our eyes. The manager saw this, shut her up, and asked us for the story.

I told him. Or rather, I started telling him when she interrupted and told me that's not what happened. Apparently, and this was news to me, I'd come over demanding where my luggage was, being real rude and a whole lotta other untruths.

To my delight, he shut her up again and told her to take a break. She stormed off.  May I never see her again.

The manager asked if I had demanded my luggage. I told him no, I simply wanted to know the location of mine. After all we had everyone else's.

He leans over the desk, peers at our destination tags and got a funny frown on his face. "All luggage intended for other destinations should have been checked through." Turns out in the US if luggage isn't at its final destination, it doesn't leave the loading dock, but is loaded directly onto the plane. This saves US Customs unnecessary inspection times in their major incoming ports like SanFran.

He takes our luggage, and gives us an apology for many, many things.

Eventually we fly out of that place and end up at our final destination. I was grateful we got to go through Customs there. I dread to think of what might have happened had we to suffer through yet another example of SanFran's hospitality.

Her Grace still loves travel. Just not to the US.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Finding the Strong Place

I'm religious. I make no secret of it, and I openly practice my faith. My faith and the beliefs I learn keep me strong in a drifting world. I'm glad I have this pillar of strength to cling to when the current fights against me.

This week I was saddened to hear about some (more) bad things happening to women (women-I-know and women-who-know-women-I-know).  One of the things that has saddened me is hearing about how prevalent sexual harassment is in Academia. Yes, it is prevalent. I've been a victim of harassment in academia during my undergrad studies. In fact, now that I think about it, I can't name a woman of my acquaintance who has ever said she's never been harassed. That's a sad symptom of a degenerate world.

One issue from Berkeley came to light this week about a supervising professor getting his widdle wrist slapped after four courageous women came forth about his ill treatment of them. Berkeley's response was not sufficient, according to the scientific community at large. However, before you go off and tar Berkeley with the yellow paintbrush of cowardice, please give them some credit for doing something, even if they are woefully out of practice in dealing with such things.

Much discussion online ensued.

In Academia, this sort of behaviour, for the most part, is ignored or even flipped against the victims. I hope it leads to more universities having the courage to call their harassers on their bad behaviour. The more they practice these actions, the better at them they will become.

I believe that leaving these harassers unchecked does more harm than good to our science communities. They chase away dozens if not hundreds of potentially strong talent. Those few who remain are hampered because they spend too much energy fighting harassment--energy that could be put to better use doing science.

If the universities think they are doing the better thing by not alienating their champion researchers, they are not. The scientific value of one sexual harasser, no matter how talented, will never outweigh the collective scientific value of all the victims he hampers or chases away. Never.

Part of the perpetual discussions on these and other issues, which always comes out when something like this happens, is how poorly women are still treated, even after two hundred years of feminism.

Yet women still stand up and say something, even when they are threatened with rape, violence and death.

A friend shared a scripture with me for ponderizing this week. It seemed very apt for those who dare to stand for righteousness in a world that would tear them down: Job 27: 5 - God forbid that I should justify you; til I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.

A few days ago I spent the weekend enjoying General Conference at church. One of the speakers, Russell M Nelson, gave a beautiful talk entitled, "A Plea to my Sisters"--"We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices."

How rare it is in today's world to hear such a powerful message from good men to women. Elder Nelson also quoted other men who share this same message: "President Packer declared, 'We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. …

“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.'”

It is good to hear men, powerful men--leaders in their communities, utter these words in places where millions can hear them.

I wish more men would say such things more often. Men listen to other men. Until men, on the whole, learn to value and listen to women, perhaps they will listen to men like these.

The world can only be better for it.

Her Grace is glad stuff like this gets preached openly in her faith.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

As Long as I Can See the Sky, I Know Where I am Going

I grew up in a mountainous valley with some distinctive peaks.

No matter where I went, I always knew where I was in relation to those mountains. Also, I had this innate sense of direction that was pretty reliable in knowing which direction was which. If I was in another valley or another state, I knew which way was north.  (Except for one place in Arizona. For some reason, north and south were flipped in my personal compass and I never knew why.)

As an adult, I moved to a place of no mountains. Yes, there is a scarp to the distant east, but it's well below the tree line to be of any navigable use.  It took me some time to get used to. Even now, I still have issues with my personal compass. There are lots of places in my new land that I can't get a handle on which direction is which. I've always wondered if there was some sort of strange magnetic ley lines that messed with my internal compass, or if I was just bad at navigating without any mountains.

Then I realised, I was looking to the land, not the sky. How odd. After all, ever since I was a child, I have always been a stargazer. Even if it was the land that was messing me up, one thing has always remained constant, no matter where on the planet I was, and that was the sky.

Since then, I haven't gotten lost. Daytime or nighttime, as long as I can see the sky, I know where I am going.

Her Grace even knows where she is going if it's a dark, cloudy night. She knows she is going to stay put until a navigable point comes along.