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April 14, 2014 / diannegray

The storm has moved on

I’ve been offline for a few days. Thanks to everyone who contacted me here or by email and on Facebook to see how I was weathering the storm.

Last week, severe tropical cyclone Ita threatened to hit the coast to our north as a category 5 storm with wind speeds of 300+kmph. On the Beaufort Wind Scale this is a 12+ – the most powerful hurricane you can get. Just before it hit the coast it was downgraded to a category 4 with wind speeds of around 250kmph. Then it hung around and hung around and very slowly moved south towards us. By the time it hit our region during Friday and Saturday it was a category 1 with wind speeds of about 100kmph.

We had spent most of last week tidying up around the farm as if we were expecting visitors. We didn’t want any flying debris.

All my windows and doors survived in tact. We lost part of a mango tree. We had some flooding.

I told you I always wanted an Olympic size swimming pool.


Where there was once a road there was now water

The water cleared up very quickly after the storm passed as you can see by the photo below that I took this morning.

Front after2

all clear now

Once the water in the creek had gone down we took the dogs for a swim.

Below is what the creek looked like before.

Creek before1

Creek after1

The dogs loved paddling in that extra bit of water

So it’s all business as usual at the RUC now. I’ll be catching up on your blogs and will (hopefully) finish my book trailer for The Everything Theory. I’ve had some great responses to the other trailers I’ve made and have put on YouTube.

For all those who are south of me, good luck with tropical cyclone Ita. She’s still moving down the coast and causing flooding. Stay safe all.

April 8, 2014 / diannegray

Come on, we’re going for a walk

One thing I love to do on a Monday morning is to take a stroll with Restless Jo. I’m pretty sure I’ve been around the world and back several times on her blog. So I thought it was about time I joined in and took you on a walk of my own. Now this isn’t Spain or Monsaraz, it’s just my little corner of the world in Australia’s far north.

Make sure you wear some light and comfortable clothing and don’t forget your hat (or a towel will do)

Here are some facts before we start:

Climate: Tropical

Average yearly temperature: 27C (80F)

Average yearly rainfall: 1992mm (78in)

Main produce: Sugar cane

Main tourist attraction: Great Barrier Reef

Best house: The RUC (I just had to add that in) :D

This walk is a nature walk through the Cairns Dome. Even though we have most of these creatures around the farm (apart from the crocodile – yay)  I chose the Dome because, unlike the animals that fly and run around the farm, these ones stay still for easy shots.

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth

The Tawny Frogmouth is my favourite. It’s a bird but often mistaken for an owl. Wikipedia tells me that the Frogmouth birds have been around for about 56 million years.


Papuan Frogmouth

Papuan Frogmouth

The Papuan Frogmouth is also a bird (don’t call it an owl or it may frown at you). They are bigger than the Tawny Frogmouth

I just had to add the duck in here!

King Parrot

This King Parrot was listening intently to my latest story ideaKookaburra

Kookaburra – his head is a bit blurry because I think he was laughing at my towel hat

Curlew - these cute birds scream in the night and saound like train whistles

Curlew – these cute birds scream in the night and sound like train whistles (or a child screaming)

Black cockatoo

Black cockatoo (who looks like he’s about to tell a joke). A cockatoo walks into a bar…

Blue-tongue lizard

Blue-tongue lizard

Salt-water crocodile

Salt-water crocodile (don’t smile at him!)

Cat fish

Holy catfish!


If there’s such a thing as a pretty lizard, this is it


So there you have it. I hope you didn’t trip over or get sunburned or bitten by anything (I don’t have insurance).


To everyone who helped with my book trailers last week I’m sending big hugs! I’ve done a few more and have put links next to my book pictures on the right of this page. Please feel free to check them out (and let me know if they’re enticing or just plain boring).

Have a great week!

March 31, 2014 / diannegray

I’ve been mucking around with trailers

Oops - wrong photo. Not THAT kind of trailer

Oops – wrong photo. Not THAT kind of trailer

Sorry about that – I actually meant book trailers.

I was reading Margo’s post “How to Create Your Own Book Trailer” about two months ago (yes – I’m a bit slow off the mark) and I thought it looked interesting so I gave it a try.

It took me about four hours to make two trailers. Now you know I’m not the most creative tool in the shed, so don’t laugh too much when you look at these. I used the royalty free music and photos Margo mentioned in her post as well as some of my own photos that you may recognise.

Let me know what you think. Remember – I have very thick skin (except when I chase the dog who is running away with my sun glasses and I and trip and skin my knees) so feel free to make any suggestions to improve on these.

I’m figuring I’ll probably put them on Goodreads and I don’t want them to go viral on Lifebuzz as  2014 World’s Worst Book Trailers. So please don’t be shy and let me know if they’re ready for the scrap heap.

They’re not long (about 50 seconds each) for those of you in a hurry. And I’m not ever sure they will actually work…

If you don’t want to look at them (or can’t) just let me know if you’ve ever tripped over and skinned your knee.

The Everything Theory

Let Sleeping Gods Lie

If they don’t work I’ll just go back to the drawing board…

March 23, 2014 / diannegray

I smell a rat

I’ve always been very careful not to leave any food out no matter where I live. Not only is this because I like a clean house, but I despise rats and mice. They carry nasty things like Weil’s Disease (Leptospirosis). 

Some people may think they’re cute and others may be surprised to know there actually ARE creatures that I prefer dead rather than alive. My brother-in-law told me yesterday that he had found a rat in the house next door to us on the farm. This surprised me because their house is as clean and sterile as a hospital. But he thinks they’ve come out due to the weather – loads of rain and then loads of sunshine.

This morning I woke up to find something had enjoyed my avocado and banana. YUCK!
Rats!Now the traps are set and I’m tooling up to go to war with this menace.

When I looked at this photo, I remembered I should have shown you the bar I have now finished. When we got the RUC the bar was covered in blue laminate. I ripped off the laminate and sanded and polished the wood below. It was a big job because the bar is 3.5 metres (or 11.5 feet) long. I’m pretty proud of it!

*As an update to my last post – the website that was giving away my books has now shut down. I’m not sure if it was because of this post or if there were other complaints made (YAY to the power of social media!).

March 18, 2014 / diannegray

Free books, piracy and scams

This morning during my pre-dawn-caffeine-fix-blog-post-reading-time I read Carrie Rubin’s Be Careful What You Search For.

As she states in this post, Periodically I Google the name of my book to see if there’s anything out in cyberspace I’ve missed. Every now and then I stumble upon a review or listing I hadn’t noticed before.

What she found was a reader looking for a free copy of her book and an unflattering comment about it’s cover. (I love Carrie’s posts, they’re always interesting, informative and highly entertaining. If you don’t already know her I strongly recommend you pay her a visit.)

After reading this post I got to thinking maybe I should check my own books to see what’s happening in cyberspace.

What a shock!

I came across a site that has all my books for free to download. Not only in every format but also in audio. I’ve never produced an audio book and was dying to know how they had done this. I didn’t want to download any of them (because I had a distinct feeling that this was a scam website and I didn’t want to invite the malware fairy to a party on my hard drive) so I sent an email-link to my son in the hope that one of his tech-savvy friends could check it out safely.

I also went to the Scam Adviser website (always a handy place to go) to check the status of the site offering freebies of my books.

What I learned from Scam Adviser:


  • This website is 37 Days old
  • The website expected life (365 days) is relatively short.

Analysis Details:-
Although this website appears to be based in United States there are other countries involved and you should review this information carefully and decide if it is as you expect. This website is very new, and as such doesn’t have an online reputation yet. As with all new businesses, we suggest that you take care and if necessary get in contact with the owners before placing an order of value.

The website has been newly registered with a short life expectancy, which follows the pattern used by many fraudulent and fake selling websites. Please be vigilant and take extra care before providing any payment information.

So there you go. If you’re looking for free books you may just end up getting more than you bargained for. With all the so-called ‘share’ sites out there where you can download music, movies and books, no wonder the scammers who want to infect your PC with hideous malware are developing sites like this. They know people are constantly looking for freebies and this is an easy way to infect your computer and collect your data. The old Latin saying caveat emptor is alive and well in this online world of ours.

Carrie also pointed me in the direction of S.K Nicholls’ site and her great post The Author Delusion – Your Book is Free. Reading this post is a scary indication of how widespread piracy is.


On a lighter note - while I was searching for free copies of my books and reading these posts I was also trying to eat breakfast while snapping pictures of a crop duster flying over a neighbouring field. It swooped my house a few times (with the duster OFF, thank goodness!)

It reminded me of the dragonflies I had seen last week :D

crop duster1

crop duster2

crop duster3

I hope you all have a great week and if you search for yourself or your books and find anything interesting, please feel free to share it here (unless it’s X-rated and then a private email will suffice) 


March 15, 2014 / diannegray


On my walk to the creek with the dogs yesterday I realised I wasn’t alone. I looked up to find a cluster of dragonflies following me.

I juggled my glass of wine to get a few shots with my phone. I didn’t aim, I just waved my phone around in the air in the hope that I would capture something (okay, now you know I’m just a scatter-gun-shoot-anywhere-and-hope-for-the-best kind of photographer!)



Just in case you can’t see these monsters in the above photos I’ve expanded part of a picture and put it below


I’m lucky in the fact that I actually love creatures of all kinds. I have friends from the colder climates who visit and feel a little uncomfortable with the amount of insects we have here.

I called one of my sons who also lives in the tropics and he informed me that the emergence of the dragonflies means the ‘wet season’ is over.

Are you also getting subtle (or not so subtle) signs of the season change in your part of the world?

March 10, 2014 / diannegray

The RUC – update

Last year we moved an old Queenslander to our property.

I thought I’d put some pictures up here to show how the block has changed in the last 16 months (has it really been that long?)

The old cane cutter barracks we used to live in years ago

The old cane cutter barracks we used to live in

The old barracks being demolished

The old cane cutter barracks being demolished

The old barracks is gone

The old cane cutter barracks is gone

The old Rugby Union Club (RUC) is moved in on the back of a truck

The Queenslander (an old Rugby Union Club or RUC as it is fondly known) is moved in on the back of a truck (in two halves)

The RUC is set in place

The RUC is set in place

The RUC has a new roof put on

The RUC has a new roof put on

The RUC is wrapped in new cladding

The RUC is given a coat of paint and wrapped in new cladding

So – what’s left? you may well ask…

We need to put stairs at the front of the veranda where the gate is. There are internal stairs, but I’d like the ‘butterfly’ stairs put on as well.

We need to finish the bathroom and the lounge room and then last (but certainly not least for the men around here) we need to finish the ‘man-cave’ underneath as well as skirting around the base to cover said ‘man-cave’ :D

What a job!


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