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Tweaking Madd Magazine is a online collaborative eMagazine by communications students studying through Open Universities Australia.



Curtin University Australia Day Freedom A Gift For Daddy Just Jack Film reviews Book reviews Find-a Word Cartoon Writing Competitions

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Credits Editor Cheryl Van Hoorn

Assistant Editor Christina Fox

Production manager Michelle Jenkins

Production SUPPORT Kevin Bull

IT Support Dave Clifford Tami Brow

Business Administration Diane Connor Carolann Davis

Policy Publication Diane Connor Christina Fox

CarToonist Tony Jenkins

contributors Cheryl Van Hoorn Christina Fox Danika Allen-McAuliffe Manisha Kumar Tracy Ellison Carolann Beardmore

Contacts Editorial




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madD issue #001 — January 2012

Welcome letter TweakingMadd was a concept dreamt up in November 2011 by a group of online university students who wanted to utilise their developing writing skills, and have some fun at the same time! Each week since, members of the team have been meeting on Facebook to discuss elements of the magazine like who would write what, and how it would be done – plus the important stuff like colour schemes and layouts. It has truly been a collaborative effort by the group that has continued throughout the busy Christmas and New Year period. The dedication shown by the 17 members has helped get this first publication of the ground in such a short time. Each month, we will feature a variety of stories and features on everything from Travel, Fashion and Food, to Reviews, Tips for Uni and help at home with Mums and Family. The content will change, as will the roles and responsibilities of the team members – that way everyone gets a chance to mix it up a little. Our Ask in Advice Column and Writing Competitions will provide a way for us to

editor’s letter communicate with you – our readers. After all, we ARE communication students! Please help us grow our readership and further our own skills and ego’s by sharing this e-mag with your friends, family, and even those random people in your life like your paperboy. Have a flick through our pages, and save it for that time of day when the children are asleep in the house and you have 5 minutes peace to yourself. For those of you in an office like me – perhaps wait until the 3 o’clock blues have hit and go make yourself a cuppa – kick your shoes off under your desk and have a good read. Special thanks go to those in the team who have been busy battling colds, man-flu, children, in-laws, assessments and exams, as well as the myriad of other debacles we seem to have encountered. We really couldn’t have done this without you. If anyone would like to contact us please write to Let the fun begin! Danika Allen-McAuliffe

Why Tweaking Madd? Tweaking Madd is an e-magazine solely aimed at University students attempting to navigate the pitfalls of distance education through Open Universities Australia. Within this arena we will examine the pitfalls and issues that arise with this endeavour, give tips and ideas of how to handle the challenges that are unique to this method of studying. Included will also be fashion, travel, Dear Abby, and a host of other goodies to keep you in touch with the ‘real’ world as it often fails to be apparent when studying online; the world becomes the ‘other space’ that we both desperately avoid or chase after with frustration, longing and a certain degree of bewilderment. Welcome to our first issue and welcome to the world of Tweaking Madd. I hope you have an excellent time. Cheryl Van Hoorn

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Curtin University

road trip to a tertiary studies: ‘real’ university One step at a time Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Curtin University. My son is studying there, and I organised to go in to meet him for lunch, and to have a poke around and a look see before I met him. There is something very different between external study and being ‘on campus’. And, I think that it’s best described as culture & atmosphere. By Jennifer Murphy I walked around for about an hour, gazing (politely) at the many sights to be seen. I counted at least 4 different coffee shops, all buzzing with activity. On my travels I saw a student curled up sleeping on the grass (I hope they had an alarm on so they knew when the next lecture was). The library was like a bee hive of activity … so many students working hard, and so many levels of books! My main purpose was to find the second hand bookstore and locate a text I need for later in the year. After finding it, I looked at the other shelves to see what was available. I did get sidetracked and started neatening shelves and turning books the right way up … it’s the OCD side of me … managed to get out of there before I had re-organised everything! Had a wonderful chat to the sales lady, luckily it was quiet and she was happy to chat with me. I think that would have had to be the highlight of my gawkings! One thing you do miss out on as an external student is contact with other students. A place to share ideas, argue out theories/philosophies, swap ideas, brain storm, commiserate over hard assignments, and also, the general hum of people following their dreams. I have found a fair replacement, through

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maDd issue #001 — January 2012

Facebook Forums (discipline specific), where people can come together and share ideas, questions, experience and information. There is a time lapse/delay because people come and go depending on their own schedules. But, in the scheme of things, it is that sense of community and thirst for knowledge that can keep you motivated and learning. The biggest assets to studying are a willingness to learn, and supportive people around you … whether you meet them in person or electronically ... it’s connecting with others that keeps humanity humming merrily along.

Over the past years, I’ve discovered a method of study that works for me. In a word “Externally”. Finally, I can work at my own pace, cut through the waffle and the regular attendance issues, and just learn learn learn … by Jennifer Murphy

I started with TAFE, and was fortunate in being paired up with some fantastic supportive lecturers, who encouraged motivated (sometimes with a big stick) and prompted me to step outside my boundaries and look further … step by step. Through this study, I have completed the equivalent of Year 12 (Cert IV) … something I didn’t manage when I was 17 … so, it took a while, but I did it. Had to laugh, was on an excursion and talking to a group of youth and mentioned that I’d finally finished Year 12, one lass (aged 15) looked at me and said “they kept you down a while didn’t they?” … I did the mental math and said “Yep … 23 years, I was the oldest kid in high school” One TAFE lecturer has supported me through 2 qualifications, and through her prompting I enrolled in University. I asked if it would be better to do Diploma, or skip straight to Uni … she said “just do it” … she loved her university experience, and wanted to pass that onto others. I ‘just did it’ and enrolled with Open University Australia with much trepidation. So, here I am, mid 40’s approaching the end of my first university unit, and thought I’d share some of the wisdoms that I’ve learnt over the past 11 weeks. Who I am is important … the tutor wants to know what “I” have learned, not anyone else … therefore, I need to keep my sense of self, I’m learning for ME, not to become a robotic essay machine. This has taken me some time to come to terms with … but

reality is … why fight it? I am the product of many years, experiences and influences; these are valuable resources when relating to people and topics. “Don’t be fancy” … this is a direct quote from one of my wonderful friends who is mentoring me through my study. Stop trying to prove that you’re intelligent, just read the work, answer the question, and move on. This has taken a lot of the stress factor out of learning. If in doubt, ask. If still unsure, ask again!! One of our family mottos is ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Get’. I found that this to be useful in a few different areas. Firstly, I was told by well-meaning people that Cert IV’s wouldn’t get me any credit for Uni. I decided to formally ask, sent in all my paperwork and certificates (I have 3 of the darn things) and lo and behold, I was awarded 2 open elective credits! That’s a savings of $1,500 and 3 months! I did the happy dance! Secondly, it’s part of the tutor’s job to help you understand … so asking is good. But, be prepared! Don’t just ask because you can, try to work out what you don’t know, and then ask … and 9 times out of 10, there are others who want to know the same thing, just too scared to ask. I know that there are more lessons ahead of me, and I’m looking forward to meeting the challenges, step by step … because life, learning and education are all part of the great adventure!

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Au s t r a l i a Day



Thoughts on Australia Day An explosion of WOW, that’s what it is. It comes in big moments and it comes in small. I got to watch a movie called “Miracle” about the 1980 US hockey team winning the gold against the odds. I could tell you where I was during the event. On that Friday night when the team won against the Russians and on Sunday when they won the gold, my world lifted and bam, there was a WOW explosion. I couldn’t contain my excitement. A line that stuck out was “Do you believe in miracles?” The WOW told me I did. It’s now the end of another year and I have been thinking back over the year gone by. It is difficult to gauge how much change has taken place and how those changes have affected me. As you move through the year you never know what the outcome of events will be and how you will be affected. We spend this time of year in reflective thinking on these events, paying tribute to those who has passed away, what has taken place in the world to make us stop and think. Along the way though have we truly missed those little miracles that renew our belief? Have we become too busy to note those small moments? The question is do we miss those little moments that make us stop and go WOW a notation that something is still right in the world even for just a few minutes. Some

The cool breeze wisped through the old giant sequoia tree, the rustling brought me out of my haze. I wrapped the old green woollen blanket around tight, right now it was my life line; it gave me peace. It was early, the sun’s burning rays hit low behind the evergreen mountains, the smell of lavender hit my nose as I slid my hand along the wooden bench that had become my bed for tonight, it was solid timber, a low honey brown and smooth as silk. I had travelled for days and too many nights to get away. My ribs ached; my right eye was still swollen as I tenderly touched around it, wincing in pain. The bruises on my neck and face evident of the torture and agony that I had endured for far too long; I sighed. The relief that flooded deep within me was overwhelming as I choked back tears. I will not cry I demanded from myself, I had cried enough the past years, I had felt my heart tear slowly into pieces every time he laid his hands on me, every time another woman called for him, every time he told me how worthless I really was. We were happy at first, isn’t that how all the stories started? Dreams of a house, of little children running and playing, growing old together, by the end of it I was taking the pill when I went to work in the mornings for fear of bringing a child into my world, into my hell. But even the pill couldn’t stop fate as I gently rubbed my stomach. The things he demanded from me humiliated me, left me soulless and sometimes unable to move for days. Then the apologises came, I could say stupidity made me stay, but the truth was the fear he

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events we don’t think about and then others we stop and reflect on. This is where I was when Steve Jobs passed away, even though it was expected I still found myself sad and grieving. It wasn’t until the days following that the full impact of just how profound an effect he had on my life without realising it. For all of us that have use a computer or listen to music, for all of us that find our banking easier, entertainment closer and the ability to have a closer relationship with those we hold dear, Steve. His magic changed our lives. Then there are miracles – those little things that occur over the year that have surprised us, things that have helped us to realize dreams and to let dreams go. Earlier this year my daughter Alisha gave me a gift I never thought I would have….a grandbaby. Hope of her having a child had been abandoned and I had secretly given up being a grandma. She is due in just a few weeks, and containing my excitement is difficult. To put it bluntly I can’t wait. I have reconciled myself to be ok with NOT going home for the birth but I am of certain knowledge that what time I spend with her will be magic, another one of those miracles. She is now married to the baby’s dad and it is with gladness that I see they are truly happy.

My early days were spent in exploring college, then exploring the rest of the world and producing a family, with the sure knowledge I would return to college life to take those classes that would finally allow me the degree I always have always wanted; to become a writer. I have always carried a note book with me, written short stories, and romance, whatever bounced into the moment demanding to be told, those things that moved me; another of life’s miracles. I have taken copious notes about special times and how I was affected by them. Once my grand baby arrives I will write her a letter about who her grandma is and what a huge miracle and a WOW moment her life is to me. With the New Year brings two special milestones in January. One is a wedding anniversary to Phil of 11 years. The other is becoming an Australian citizen on Australia Day 4 years ago. I always wanted to get it on the true blue day for it being more special and important. Life here is so different than in America. It’s more laid back and people are accessible and easy to talk to. It was a simple process but I had worked so hard to get my residency and it all felt normal, like I had come home after being gone for years. I always dreamed of coming to Australia but never imagined I would live here. Dreams came true to and I

freedom instilled in me, the threats he drummed into my head day and night. “If you ever run, I will hunt you down and kill you”. Twelve words. I knew he could hurt me with his hands, would he kill me? Deep down I knew with a blink of an eye, it wouldn’t take much for him to wrap his calloused fingers around my neck and squeeze hard enough to suck the life out of me. I started to hide money, on my break I went and opened an account at a bank near my work. I started putting as much as I could without attracting suspicion. My pay went to his account, when he gave me my allowance I put more than half away, a little

over fifty dollars a fortnight. It had taken me a long time to make up the two and a half thousand I had hidden in the lining of my little bag. The beatings escalated, nothing I could do was right, he found fault in everything I did, I could never say no. The news of my pregnancy was the hope and encouragement I needed to leave. I couldn’t stay and survive; he would kill me and my baby. Protectiveness burned through my veins as I escaped one night he was with one of his other girls. I had packed a meagre bag of possessions. I didn’t want anything that would remind me of the eight years of torture I had endured. I caught a flight to Brisbane, than

see and live in the same country as the Opera house and have driven across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. These are places I have seen in pictures my whole life and could only aspire to see. Now I am honoured to live on their soil. Australia has taught me about mateship and the game of cricket, Watched AFL football and see players take nasty hits and not get up, but also take hits and get up like it’s nothing. Learned to eat a meat pie and Vegemite, learned about the ANZACs and how special the boys overseas really are. The Aussies are a bunch of fun loving, beer drinking, and cricket loving true blue mates that would do anything to help you out when you’re in a jam. Aussies know how to throw a great party, but still keep safe doing it. This Australia day I hope that you have great dreams for the New Year ahead and hope that you have that one thing that helps you still believe in that one moment to go WOW; everything with the world is really OK. So, on this Australia Day, just one question for you……do you still believe in miracles?

Christina Fox

travelled further into Caboolture. The town pub needed a worker in exchange for a room, food and a little pay. It would be enough for me. It would be enough for my baby. I could give my baby a life without violence but with much love and tenderness that had been absent in from my life for far too long. I could breathe again without fear of retribution. I had a new home, new friends, I could finally enjoy my freedom.

Manisha Kumar

tweaking ma Dd issue #001 — January 2012  05

A Gift For Daddy

A Gift For Daddy “Am I really going to do this?” Sarah asked herself. “I could get into a lot of trouble if Mum finds out.” For days Sarah had been racking her brain trying to figure out how she was going to give her dad his birthday present. She’d done all of her chores and even some of her brothers’ to make sure she had enough money to buy it. Now she wasn’t sure she was even going to get to give it to him. Sarah’s mum was always preoccupied with the clinic and looking after the family. She didn’t have time to listen to Sarah’s problem. She needed to think. She headed out to the back yard, towards the big Jacaranda tree and sat on her favourite swing. Swinging back and forth, staring up at the sky between the tree branches, Sarah began to relax. It was the best way for her to think. “I could ask one of my brothers to help, but which one? Maybe Alex would help me. But then, if I asked him, he might go and

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tell Mum.” She swung a little higher, getting that funny feeling in her stomach. Even though it felt weird, Sarah kind of liked it. “If I asked Jake he’d help me for sure. But I don’t want to get him in trouble.” Sarah dragged her feet along the soft lilac flowers on the ground, coming to a stop. She had made a decision. She had to do it by herself, when everybody was busy. With that, Sarah ran upstairs. She put on her best dress. Staring out the window while brushing her hair, Sarah noticed that the wind had picked up, blowing all the fallen leaves across the yard. Putting on her shiny new shoes, Sarah wondered if she had a bag big enough to hold her father’s present. She took one last look in the mirror, making sure everything was perfect. She hoped her dad would be proud of her today. In the car, Sarah thought about how she could secretly slip her dad’s present to him. Everyone would want to talk to her mum when they arrived. Nobody would be looking for Sarah. She could slip away

quietly. Hopefully she would find her dad, give him the gift and make her way back to her mum and the rest of her family before she was missed. Sarah was so deep in thought she hadn’t noticed her two brothers fighting with each other from the front and back seat of the car until they were half way to the church. “I told you Jake, I’m the oldest, so I get to sit up front.” “That’s not fair Alex,” Jake whined. “You’re only older by a couple of minutes.” He then slumped down in his seat, choosing to stare out the window for the rest of the trip. Sarah rolled her eyes. Even though they were the same age as her, she couldn’t believe how immature Jake and Alex could be sometimes. Arriving outside the church, Sarah was surprised how big it was. But she was more surprised at how many people were standing around out the front. They would surely keep her mum distracted while she went in search of her dad. I must remember

to ask Mum who they all are. As soon as her mother stepped out of the car, Aunt Rose silently hugged her. This is my chance. Aunt Rose’s hugs last forever. Mum will never know I’m gone. Hoping no one would notice, Sarah headed to the church, and went around the side looking for a way in. She had a bit of trouble at first. She had found the side entry, but the door was old and wouldn’t budge. She looked back the way she had come to make sure nobody was watching and tried again. This time Sarah pushed on the door with her knee, turning the handle at the same time, all the time taking care not to get her dress dirty. It worked. Closing the door behind her, Sarah spotted her father. She smiled sadly. This was not how Sarah had wanted to see her dad again. She slowly walked up to him. He was so quiet. She wanted to cry but there wasn’t time. There would be time to cry, but later. She was here to give her dad his birthday present. Sarah was two steps away from the open

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A Gift For Daddy

coffin, reaching into her bag. She had her hand wrapped around her dad’s present when she heard her mum. “Sarah, what are you doing over there?” asked her mum. She sounded angry. Sarah had her back to her mum, so she couldn’t really tell. Sarah could hear her mother getting closer and froze for a second, trying to figure out what to say. With her hand still in her bag holding the gift, she quickly let it go, grabbed a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. “Nothing Mum, I just wanted to say goodbye to Dad before they closed the coffin,” she replied. Sarah turned around and began walking towards her mother, thinking about how she was going to get her father’s gift to him. I need to find a way to distract her. “Sweetie, I know you were very close to your dad, but you shouldn’t have disappeared like that and not told anyone. I was worried.” “I’m sorry Mum, I won’t do it again. I thought I’d be back before you noticed I

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was gone.” Hugging her mother, Sarah suddenly remembered all the people outside. Looking up at her mum, Sarah asked her who they all were. “Well Sweetheart, some of them are people who have been helped by your dad one way or another. Some of them are his work colleagues and the rest as you know, are our family and friends.” “How did Dad help them Mum?” “You know that your father was a surgeon, right?” Sarah nodded her head. She remembered her mum and dad telling her and her brothers about it before. “Well, he was a surgeon who specialised in organ transplants. Some of the people you see here today have been saved by having your dad operate on them. They wanted to pay their respects and give their thanks.” Starting to cry, Sarah hugged her mum even tighter. More than ever, Sarah felt the urgency of getting the gift to her dad before it was too late. “I’m sorry Darling, I didn’t mean to upset you,” whispered her mother, stroking Sarah’s hair. “You didn’t Mum. I just really miss him,” sobbed Sarah. “I know you do sweetie. We all do.” Drying her eyes, Sarah looked up at her mum and smiled. It was only then that they heard footsteps. They turned around to see Alex coming down the aisle. He was in such a hurry he almost tripped over his shoelaces, which always seem to be untied. “What’s the matter Alex?” asked Sarah. Alex held up a hand indicating for them to wait. He was bent over and had to take a few deep breaths before he could speak. “Mum, I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” His face was as red as a beetroot. “Well, now that you’ve found me, you can tell me what’s wrong.” After a few more breaths, Alex said, “Aunt Rose says the priest isn’t here yet. She tried calling him but there is no answer.” “This is all I need right now!” exclaimed Sarah’s mother. “Thirty minutes before the service is meant to begin and he’s not here? This can’t be happening.” Turning to Sarah, she said, “I want you to wait right here, ok?” Watching Alex tie his shoelace back up, she said, “Alex maybe you should stay with Sarah. Also, get yourself a drink of water.” No, Alex has to go with Mum otherwise I can’t give Dad his present. “I’ll be alright Mum. Besides you need Alex to show you where Aunt Rose is.” Sarah’s mother still didn’t think it was a good idea to leave Sarah alone. “Ok, but I want you to promise me that you will wait right here until I get back.”

Sensing that it was the only way her mother would leave, Sarah put her hand behind her back and crossed her fingers. “I promise. I will not move from this spot.” With Alex already out the door, Sarah’s mother had no choice. Looking at Sarah, she said, “I’ll come back as soon as I can.” Forcing a smile for her mother, Sarah plopped herself down in one of the pews. She would sit here for a minute or two, just in case her mum or Alex returned. After her mother left, Sarah closed her eyes and started to think about the day her dad had died. About 10 minutes after her father had left for work, Sarah’s mum, her brothers and herself were about to get into the car when their mother’s mobile phone started ringing. Sarah was holding her mum’s phone while the car was being unlocked. She recognised the number as being from the hospital; she figured it was her dad. Sarah decided to answer the phone, thinking that her mum wouldn’t mind. “Hi Dad.” It wasn’t. It was his boss, Michael. Sarah handed the phone to her mum. “Hello Michael, what’s up?” Sarah couldn’t hear what was being said on the other end, but from the look on her mother’s face, it wasn’t good. Wanting to know what was happening Sarah found it very hard to wait. But she did. She waited until her mother had ended the call before asking any questions. Sarah, Jake and Alex stood in front of their mum, watching tears streaming down her face. “Kids, I don’t know how to tell you this, but there’s been an accident. Your dad never made it to work.” It took a while to find out what had happened. Sarah’s mum had been too upset to talk straight away. Eventually, she calmed down enough to tell Sarah and her brother’s about the accident. Apparently her dad had been sitting at a set of traffic lights when, out of nowhere, a car came screaming around the corner and slammed straight into his side of the car. Somebody who had seen the accident happen called the police and an ambulance. When the ambulance officers arrived, they checked on her dad and found no pulse. After trying for a while to revive him, they feared they were losing him. One of them began looking for his I.D. Having found his wallet, they noticed that his license showed he was an organ donor. Knowing that there was no time to lose, they called the hospital and were put through to her father’s boss. This was the other reason Michael had rung. Even though Tom was registered as an organ donor, Rachel was listed as his next of kin, and she had to give permission for his

organs to be donated. It had been an easy decision, given his line of work. “Of course, Michael, take what you need. It’s what Tom would have wanted.” After explaining to her children about the accident, Sarah’s mum seemed to switch to auto-pilot. Sarah thought it was her mum’s way of dealing with things. She started by ringing Tom’s parents. Sarah was glad she wasn’t the one having to make the calls. “Are you ok dear?” Her thoughts were interrupted by voices. Someone was asking her a question. Opening her eyes, Sarah found she was not alone. Looking up from her lap, Sarah saw the person who had been asking her a question. “Yeah, I’m ok Grandma. I was just thinking about Daddy.” “I know sweetheart. So are all these people. They’ve come to say their goodbyes to him.” Sarah hadn’t noticed all the other people. Looking at her watch, she groaned. The service was supposed to start soon, providing the priest turned up, that is. How am I going to give Dad his present with all these people here? Sarah had no choice but to wait until everyone, including her grandmother, left. Even though her father had already passed away, Sarah felt it was important to give him his birthday present. She knew he would never see it, but she still wanted him to be buried with it. After about twenty minutes had passed, everyone had paid their respects and gone back outside, leaving Sarah once again on her own. This is my chance. I have to do it now before anyone else shows up. Sarah stood up and approached the coffin. She took one last look around to make sure she wasn’t being watched and took the gift out of her bag. She was about to place it in beside her dad when she hesitated. Sarah looked at the gift. She had spent so much time and care making sure it was wrapped nicely, but it didn’t seem right anymore. She hurriedly ripped the paper off and then put the gift in with her dad. A few minutes later, someone came in to close the coffin. It appeared the priest had arrived and the funeral would be getting under way shortly. The doors opened and people were allowed to take their seats. Sarah took her place with her family in the front pew and waited for everyone else to be seated. While waiting, Sarah smiled with the thought that no one would ever know that a photo of Sarah and her dad on hers and her brother’s last birthday - their 13th - would be forever with him as he was laid to rest. Sarah had always been especially close to her dad and now, she would remain close to him for all eternity.

Tracy Ellison

tweaking mad D issue #001 — January 2012  07

Just Jack

Just Jack

Jack never knew what hit him. Coming to, Jack opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn’t. “Son of a...” His pounding headache had just been made worse from the glare of the sun. He shielded his eyes and tried again. “A bit better.” He tried to sit up but the unusual tingling throughout his body and the numbness in his arms forced him back down again. “Where the hell did that come from?” Lying there, Jack tried to remember what had happened. Why was he lying on the ground near the ladder? Why couldn’t he remember what he had been doing? The more he tried to think, the louder the pounding in his head got. After a few minutes, the tingling and numbness had subsided a little. “Ok, sitting up, take two.” Still shielding his eyes with one hand, Jack used the other to pull himself up into a sitting position. Once he was confident he would not have to lie back down, Jack briefly felt around his head, checking for blood. “No blood. I guess that’s something.” Then he felt a bump near his right temple that felt like the size of an acorn, but was probably more the size of a peanut. “Explains the headache.” Taking a moment to look around, Jack started piecing things together. There were gardening shears on the ground to the left of the ladder and trimmed branches in front of the ladder. Looking up, he noticed the power lines near the trees. “Of course. What an idiot!” He remembered everything. Jack had been standing near the top of the ladder, pruning the oak tree out the

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front. He had accidently clipped the power line running to the house and got zapped. He had then fallen off the ladder and bumped his head on a nearby rock, causing him to lose consciousness. Jack decided he would be more comfortable inside lying on the couch. Now that he had full feeling back, it was much easier to stand up. Looking at the ladder, Jack thought about tidying things away before Marie and the kids came home. He didn’t want to have to explain what had happened, because then she would start worrying and asking silly questions. As much as Jack loved his wife, these were two traits that he couldn’t stand. Jack just wanted to put the whole incident behind him. He felt stupid for being so careless. As inviting as the couch seemed, Jack took a few minutes to stow the ladder and shears in the garage. He then grabbed a garbage bag and put the tree prunings in it, which he then placed in the boot of his car. Looking at the power line near the house, it was hard to see where he’d clipped it. Feeling satisfied that he had covered his tracks; Jack headed inside and went in search of painkillers. He knew that if he didn’t do something about it now, his headache would only get worse, especially if he nodded off at some point. Jack had woken up with migraines before from failing to relieve his headaches before going to sleep. Jack went straight to the bathroom and found some aspirin. He was tempted to take something stronger, but figured it

might not be a good idea in case he had a concussion. After all, he had hit his head pretty hard on that rock. “Which reminds me, better have a look at the bump while I’m here. See how big it is.” Jack winced as he felt the lump. “Stop being a pussy fella,” he said to his reflection. “I knew it. It’s the size of a peanut. Barely noticeable.” Jack grabbed two aspirin and gulped them down, followed by some water. After some thought and feeling the immense pounding in his head, he took two more. Heading back down the hallway, Jack could not wait for the aspirin to kick in. His head was killing him. He walked into the loungeroom and went straight to the sofa. As ugly as it was, it was really comfortable. Jack remembered the day he came home and saw it for the first time. Marie had bought it while he was away on business and not told him about it. It was white with these huge pink roses all over it and sitting either side of it was a pair of matching chairs. Marie liked frilly, flowery things. Everywhere you looked, there were flowers or frills or both. Jack hated it. He preferred a more contemporary look. But he let his wife choose everything so that she would be content. Spotting Marie coming out of the kitchen, Jack couldn’t control himself. “Marie, enough is enough. I know you like this kind of thing, but I don’t. How can you expect me to sit on that,” he yelled, pointing directly at the lounge. “Jack calm down. I knew you would say that. Just give it a try for me please. It really is comfortable,” she said, motioning Jack towards it. “I promise that if you can’t

get comfortable on it, I will send it back.” Jack was not convinced, but if it meant getting the sofa out of here, he’d do it. Lying down, he immediately felt relaxed. In fact, Jack was so relaxed that he nodded off. Half an hour later, he was awoken by the sounds of his boys playing in the front yard. He sat up and gazed out the window, watching his boys and smiling. Jack loved being a dad. It was the reason he got up in the mornings. Before the two boys, Sam and Keenan, had come along, Jack had been a workaholic. But that all changed the day he and Marie brought the twins home. Jack vowed to spend more time at home with Marie and the boys and for the most part has been able to keep his word. Occasionally, he has to go away on business, but never on weekends. That was family time. It was also time to do any repairs or maintenance around the house. It was for this reason that Jack now found himself sinking into a deep sleep. Little did Jack know, but this was all a dream. He had not woken up after the fall. He was still lying on the ground when Marie and the boys came home. They were unable to wake him and he was now in hospital in a coma. The doctors were unable to tell Marie much, except that there was a possibility that he would never wake up.

Tracy Ellison

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Film Reviews r e vi e wed

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 r e vi e wed by

Carolann Beardmore

What is it with Twilight? I mean they are not the smartest pieces of literature in the world and they are far from the best movies (The finale of the Harry Potter franchise was pure magic, pun intended) but with Twilight it is a phenomena that works on many levels and has caused a divide, the passion that these movies represent are a case point in time. By Cheryl Van Hoorn.

TWILIGHT: AN EXPOSITION People either love them or hate them. I personally was gone on the log line of the back of the first book and religiously read them over and over again. They touched something in me that I could not fully explain with the exception that they bring possibilities. It is the predilection that we all have toward possibilities that make the world turn. For me I simply wanted nothing more than to be a part of Edward and Bella’s life. To me they are truly matter of story; they were nothing but story. However I am aware of the fact that as much as people love these stories they also dislike them intensely. These books invoke a passion with in the general populous that is both profound and seldom seen in movies. One person has termed the movies and books to be ‘the mills and boons of vampires.’ With a secret chuckle I agree with this, however Stephanie Myers was just taking the legend of the vampire to a legitimate conclusion.

The original Dracula by Brahm Stoker was essentially a love story. The count fell for sweet Mina and Mina was mesmerized by his sensuality and was placed in the role of passive heroine that needed to be rescued. Within this as well is the underlying sexuality of the world that Dracula inhabits. During his stay with Dracula, Johnathan Harker is placed in the situation in which he is drawn into a forbidden, sensual world that could only be (due to the times the book was set in) shown by Mr Harker being nuzzled to death by the Wyrd sisters in what Stephen King calls a metaphorical head job. This theme of sensuality and sexuality was extended further in Ann Rice’s ‘Interview with a Vampire’. Here the possibility of a vampire who was not slave to his thirst was raised. Louie wandered the streets of New Orleans trying to take form of his existence and work with what he had. Buffy took this a step further not only

with the romance she shared with Angel and his devotion to her. The reason this was made possible is due to the fact that Angel’s soul had been returned to him on the cusp of a gypsy curse and he was doomed to suffer eternity with the pain and knowledge of what he had done. However he fell in love. This has consequence that no one could foresee. And then came Stephanie Myers with the Cullen family and the terms of vampirism is changed forever. These vampires don’t behave because they are governed by a soul. They have taken the decision to not kill humans on a moral basis. So where does this lead us? Back at the beginning. These works will forever and a day will be argued about, denigrated, loved and possessed for time to come. Love or hate them they have redefined the world according to vampires.

The Twilight saga has swept the world from America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and now Australia. Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and now the fourth instalment Breaking Dawn part 1. Breaking Dawn, part 1 is the first of the final of the epic. ‘Breaking Dawn’ follows is the first instalment in the fourth book of the series. The movie took in 285.5 million worldwide in its first week end, according to the Wall Street Journal. If you are fan of the twilight saga and have seen all the movies, then I am sure you will love this instalment, leaving you breathlessly waiting for more. The movie begins with Edward and Bella’s much anticipated wedding, and their honeymoon on the breath taking Isle Esme. While on honeymoon, Bella becomes pregnant. And here her troubles begin. As Jacob again attempts to save Bella from the Cullen’s a bond of friendship forms between Jacob and the Cullen’s and he breaks away from the Quileute pack. In Jacob’s attempt to save Bella he is forced to choose between his pack and a fierce battle ensures between Jacob, himself and with the Cullen’s, against the remaining Quileute’s after the defection of Seth and Leah to Jacob’s pack when Jacob embraces his true heritage. As the movie ends on a cliff-hanger die hard Twilight fans must wait for Part 2, due for release in November 2012. The director (Bill Condon) has bought all the elements of the book into the movie. It is funny, witty, suspenseful, romantic and tragic and breathes shades of the first movie into screen place, more so than the preceding two. I personally loved it; and believe it is a must see for any twilight fan.

Book Reviews r e vi e wed

The Hunger Games Trilogy r e vi e wed by

Cheryl Van Hoorn As Twilight is entering its decent into its finale this year, another series of books stand to pick up the mantle of hero and romance set against impossible odds; ‘The Hunger Games’ By Suzanne Collins. The books themselves are set to be classics and are a scathing indictment into the realms of reality TV and the extremes that people will go to. The premise of the first book ‘The Hunger Games’ Explores the basic themes of back breaking work coupled with starvation and controlled by an arena spectacular that begins with the reaping every year. Many years ago, the Country of Panem (Latin for bread and Circus’s) was embroiled in a civil war. The Capitol of Panem eventually wrested control of the country. In reprisal the Capitol requires submission of two children, one male and one female to take part in the arena spectacle of the Hunger Games. Each child is picked at random from a barrel. The game, pitched in an arena is basic survival and a fight to the death. It is a mix between

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‘Lord of the Flies’ and 1984. The concept is fascinating. The writing is excellent and the development of characters wonderful. Suzanne Collins takes from the elements of such television shows as survivor and other reality TV shows and mixes war themes and that of survival training with stunning and gruesome results. The ‘Edward, Bella and Jacob’ of these books are Katniss, (Winter’s Bone’s academy award nominated Jennifer Lawrence) Gale and Peeta. Gale, Katniss’s best friend and fellow survivor of her district and Peeta her game partner and rival. Katniss’s focus has been on survival; she has no room for love and does not notice Gale (Australia’s Liam Helmsworth) affections or Peeta’s worship from afar. The arena forces her into a situation with Peeta where she must love him to survive.

In ‘Mocking Jay’ Katniss and Peeta’s battles move from the arena back into their real world which is every bit as dangerous as it is in the arena. Katniss assumes that once outside the arena things will be as normal as can be expected under the circumstances and though independently wealthy from her win she has less freedom than ever before. No longer driven to hunt, Katniss still does with Gale anyway, her way of still being part of his world. However Katniss’s rebellious nature and unassuming charisma has landed her and all she holds dear in more trouble than she could count on. In a reckless act to save her life and Peeta’s she fanned the spark of another reveloution. To save herself and those she loves Katniss sets forth on a tour of the districts with Peeta in an attempt to extinguish that spark. ‘Catching fire’ is the last book in the series and places Katniss once more at war, not only battling this time for the little girl that she battled for in the first book and no longer battling for those she loves, she is now battling for the entire Panem. The hopes and the dreams of an entire nation ride on her small shoulders and she again

has to tread light as there is danger both from within her own camp and without. For her to succeed she must decide where her priorities lay and more importantly decide who is enemy and who is foe. For Katniss she must chose to be Mockingjay whilst protecting those she loves and displacing the regime that has allowed for its children to be fed to the masses for entertainment. In order to keep what she loves and liberate the people of Panem she must rise like the phoenix from the ashes of her world and fight through yet another arena. This trilogy has the hallmarks of becoming a classic and parallels are already being drawn between the Twilight Saga. However aside from the love triangle these books have more in common with the Lord of the Flies and Nineteen Eighty Four coupled with our social love of public humiliation and fascination with war. They are a chilling read and worth the time. With the first move due to hit the cinema’s 23/03/2012 it will be interesting to see if these movies have the same impact on the general public as the Twilight Saga has had.

tweaking ma Dd issue #001 — January 2012   09

toenail clippings — Find a Word

WRITING Tracy Ellison


10  tweaking

ma Dd issue #001  — January 2012










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Writing Competitions

writing competitions for 2012 ROMANCE The Laurie

Received by Feb 1, 2012; finalists notified by May 1; winners announced at Romfest June 21-24. First chapter (25 pp max). Font restriction: Courier, Dark Courier or Courier New 12 pt or TNR 14 pt $25 by PayPal / Email only. 3 trained judges.Top 3 in each category final. Final judges: HR (Tessa Woodward, Avon); Contemp (Deb Smith, Belle Bridge Books); Para / Fantasy (Debra Dixon, Belle Bridge Books); Inspirational (Tina James, Harlequin); RS (Allison Lyons, Harlequin); YA (Leah Hultenschmidt, Sourcebooks).

be interviewed on WOW Blog; all winning entries published on WOW! Women on Writing website, all receive e-book pack, all receive Amazon gift certificates. http://

Cleveland Rocks

Edeadline Feb 14, 2012; winners announced May 12. First 7,000 words + optional 1 page synopsis. $15 NEORWA members, $25 nonmembers / By Email. 3 finalists per category. Final judges are editors or agents. Contemp; ST; HR; MS w/RE; Para; RS; YA. Winners of each category receive refund of entry fee, a winner’s certificate and a contest winner logo graphic. http://www.

International Writers Competition

Postmark by March 15, 2012; winners announced ~May 31. $3, $5 per poem. Else: $5, $10 for entries under 3,000 wds; $10, $20 for entries 3,000-5,000 words. Mail. Can pay via Paypal. Nonfiction Division: (A) Previously Pubbed Article / Essay / Column / Nonfiction Book Chapter; Unpublished or self-published for rest of categories: (B) Article / Essay / Column / Nonfiction Book Chapter. Fiction Division: (C) Short Story (D) Novel Chapter. Children’s Lit Division: (E) Short Story / Nonfiction Article / Book Chapter / Poem. Poetry Division: (F) Free Verse / Traditional. In each category: 1st Place $100 plus certificate; 2nd Place - $75 plus certificate 3rd Place - $50 plus certificate; Honorable Mention certificates will be awarded in each category as warranted. Contests/Contest_Guidelines/contest_ guidelines.htm

Merritt Contest

Open to authors who aren’t PAN-eligible. Do not need to be RWA member. Received by midnight CST, Feb 14, 2012; winners announced May 2012. 1st 25 pp + synopsis (5 pp max). $25 SARA members, $30 RWA members, $35 others / Electronic. Pay via PayPal. Final Judges: Contemp (Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks); HR (Tessa Woodward, Avon); Para (TBA); RS (Patience Bloom, Harlequin) Women’s Fiction (Kate Seaver, Berkley). All finalists receive certificate. Winners in each category receive plaque and a year’s electronic subscription to SARA’s newsletter, The Love Letter.


Great Beginnings

Published or unpublished authors submitting unpublished, uncontracted ms. Published authors must not be published in category entered within past 3 yrs. March 1, 2012; finalists announced March 30; winners announced April 30. 1st 5 pp of ms, 25 lines max per page (projected length min 50,000 wds). $10 Email entry. Can pay via PayPal. 3 judges, lowest score dropped. Final judges: Contemp, HR, Para, Mystery / Suspense, YA. The 1st Place winners receive $10 Barnes and Noble gift card, a bookmark and a certificate. Others receive certificates. All 11 finalists will be recognized in the Romance Writers Report. Breakup

Unpublished as of deadline. Received by May 1, 2012. Most tense argument, breakup, or black moment (10 pp max), setup / synopsis (3 pp max) which will not be judged. $30 / electronic entry. Paypal OK. All judges are trained, PRO members or published authors. Each entry receives at least 3 scoresheets. Finalists judged by TBA editor. Categories: Contemp, Fantasy / Para, HR, Erotica, Inspirational, YA, RS, Chick Lit. Heat Levels: Sweet, Sensual, Ultra Sensual, Erotic, Highly Erotic. All entrants receive a certificate of participation. http://www.alaskawriters. com/membersites/akrwa/about.html

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Writers of the Unemployed Short Story Contest

All stories dealing with unemployment or economic hardship will be accepted. Feb 3, 2012; winner announced March 2. 7,500 words or fewer dealing with some theme relating to unemployment or economic hardship. Free / All submissions must have the author’s name and contact information on the top of every page, and should be sent to Winner will be published on Profeta’s website. submissionguidelines.htm The Sandy

Unpublished, uncontracted by deadline in novel length fiction. Ms length 90,000 110,000 wds; children’s 40,000 - 60,000. Entries capped at 250. No self-published. Received by midnight Feb 12, 2012 first 20 pp of novel plus synopsis (2 pp max). 24-25 lines per page, TNR 12 pt font, chapters must start 1/3 down page. $30, $35 by PayPal or check / Email only. 1st round evaluated by 2 judges. A 40+ discrepancy will result in 3rd judge with lowest score dropped. 3 highest scoring entries in each category advance to final round. Finalists have 1 wk to edit entries before submitting to final judges: Romance (Sue Grimshaw, Ballantine & Bantam Dell); MS (Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency);

Suspense / Thriller / Mystery (TBA); Fantasy / Sci-Fi (James Frenkel, Tor / Forge); Children’s / YA (TBA). 1st Place winners receive $60; 2nd Place receive $35; 3rd Place receives $15. All receive certificate. http://www. php 100 Words or Fewer Writing Contest

Feb 18, 2012, winner announced March 17, 2012. Story (100 words max) relating to one of the two categories. $15, $10 for checkmark evaluation. $35.00 for critique. Online. Pay via PayPal or by check with permission. Categories: Eating, Uncommon Character. Stories must relate in some way to one of these topics. Final Judge is Dr. Erica Bauermeister. $400 First Prize in both categories. $50 Runner-ups in both categories. http://www.100wordsorfew Flash Fiction Contest

Midnight PST Feb 28, 2012. Capped at 300 entries. 250 words min to 750 words max (title not included in count). $10 (extra $10 if you want a critique) / Online submission. Pay via PayPal. (Assume) judges are Women On Writing editorial staff. You will be provided with your scores (1-5) in each category, and personal editorial feedback for each category as well. 25 winners. 1st-3rd Place receive cash prizes ($300, $200, $100); 1st - 3rd plus 7 runners-up will

Writers of the Future

Open to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than 3 short stories in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment and at least 5,000 copies or 5,000 hits. Postmark by midnight March 31, 2012 / Works of prose, up to 17,000 words in length. Free and writer retains all rights / Mail. All types of science fiction, fantasy and dark fantasy. No poetry or works for children. No excessive violence or sex. Cash prizes of $500, $750, $1,000 every quarter. Annual cash prize of $5,000. http:// Killer Nashville Claymore Award

Anyone. Entry must not be under contract. Postmark by May 31, 2012. Winner announced at Killer Nashville Awards Banquet Aug 25, 2012. First 50 pages / $35 by check or PayPal / By Mail. 10 finalists will be judged by Five Star Press / Tekno Books. Any subgenre of mystery or thriller, incl political thriller, cozy, police procedural, private eye, romantic suspense, paranormal, and historical. Winner receives engraved replica of a Claymore dagger. Winner / top 3 finalists receive free admission to Killer Nashville and Awards Dinner. All Finalists will be considered for a publishing contract. http://www.

Manisha Kumar

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