Monday, April 8

Writing News

Writing News April 2019 - Part 2

April's turning out to be a very successful month for me. 

As I have flagged late last year, I'm very happy to announce that my first eco-tale (I am currently writing a series of seven tales) has now been published online by GRIFFITH REVIEW.

I'm very lucky to be in such amazing company of writers! 

A BIG THANKS to Catherine McKinnon and Christine Howe, as well as Ashley Hay (editor) and her colleagues at Griffith Review for bringing these stories to light!

Things we want to know but forget to ask - stories about the painted past and the precarious future, comprise also works by Christine Howe, Luke Johnson, Susan Ballard, Joshua Lobb, Catherine McKinnon and Tess Barber. Note: My work is published under my name, Friederike Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis, not my pen name, Freddy Iryss.

" 'Things we want to know but forget to ask' is a collection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry from seven talented writers in response to seven different artworks held by the Wollongong Art Gallery." (Griffith Review, April 2019).

Find the entire collection, including the artworks, here.

>>I'd love to get some comments from you!<<

Thursday, April 4

Writing News

Writing NEWS April 2019

Part of my 2018/19 goals is, as you may remember from my post to 5. Write more shorts and SUBMIT to competitions

Well, true to my goal, I have been writing away and sending off to many, many competitions in these first three months of 2019. 

And I have good news: THREE of my flash-Fiction stories, 'Match', 'Spacepirates' and 'Take Away' will be published mid 2019 in the SciFi anthology Worlds - Dark Drabbles #1, by Black Hare Press.

Admittedly, it was a challenge on many levels, last but not least to write the whole story in exactly one hundred words!

I also learned something about myself in the process. By pushing my self-made boundaries out (e.g. what I can and cannot write about), I entered another world of opportunities and possibilities that I haven't imagined before. 

> So it is true: if you can imagine it, it can come true!<

I know now that I can imagine and write about worlds set in the future that feel alien and yet strangely familiar and possible all the same. 

(Only - I really, really hope that what I have imagined in these two stories about spacepirates and newly colonised planets will stay what it is - Science Fiction!)

I'll post more about it when it comes out later this year!

Wednesday, March 20

WOW Word Of the Week #5

Happy World Frog Day, Everyone! 

Today, 20 March 2019, is World Frog Day and to celebrate the survival of about 7000 species around the globe and counting, today's WOW is FROG.

While more frog species are being discovered as we speak, sadly about 25% of the discovered ones are endangered. The Australian Museum created an app, called FrogID that allows to discover, track and record. It helps scientists like Jodi Rowley, a biologist with 'a focus on amphibian diversity, ecology and conservation, and a passion for communicating biodiversity conservation' at the Australian Museum, to observe and conserve these amazing creatures.
Read here about Jane Goodall and her role as International Ambassador for the Frog, appointed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008.



Old English frogga, and of Germanic origin. the word is related to Dutch 'vors' and German Frosch 1. From Middle English frosch, from Old English frosċ (“frog”), from Proto-Germanic *fruskaz , from Proto-Indo-European *prew- (“to jump, hop”). Cognate with West Frisian froask , Dutch vors , German Frosch, Norwegian frosk, Icelandic froskur.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am into frogs. A lot.

I think almost every room has either images, figurines, or books about frogs. They are everywhere: in pot plants, on table tops, my desk, shelves and t-shirts.


...and outdoors!

We even had real ones. But not as pets, no. We had two visiting frogs: One came only a couple of times inside the house, but stayed mostly on our tree in the front yard; the other  hung out in our kitchen for months).

Here is a pic of one of our visitors who stayed with us and became my muse:

I called him Fridolin.

He loved to hang out under a hibiscus cutting I planted in a pot in the kitchen, near the window. He would be at certain places at certain times of the day: for example, in the morning he was soaking up the sun (see picture under his personal umbrella). 

In the hot afternoons, he'd go and sit in the cool, dark TV room.

He was very friendly and unafraid.

Sometimes he disappeared for a couple of days, or so we thought until we found him sitting in another pot, in another room entirely!

Then one day, he didn't show for a week and I was worried and looked everywhere --and I found him, too late, under a heavy pot plant. R.I.P,  Fridolin.

Personal Frog Fun Facts:

  • 'Frosch' is one of the first words our little bilingual granddaughter has recently learned, at 20 months!
  • Friends bring me frogs in all forms and shapes from their travels to Japan!
  • I'm sure I'll be reborn as a frog in my next life!
  • My first eco tale, A Tale From The Cabbage Tree Forest, Figtree will be published in April 2019 by Griffith Review and features a Yellow Spotted Tree Frog as the MC! (Needless to say, Fridolin was my inspiration!)
  • I studied at the same University as the Brother's Grimm, at the Philipps Universitaet in Marburg, Germany. And I sat many a times under this fountain sculpture, a cute version of the 'Frog King':


>>I would love to hear your frog stories! Leave them in the 'comment' section below!<<

Wednesday, March 13

Weekender Books - March 2019

                          Weekender Books - From My Writing Community

This weekender books blog is a special one because I present books by authors I met through my writing communities on social media. We always hear about how important it is to show agents and publishers that we have a great number of followers to be relevant. However, when I come across tweets where writers invite me to follow them back because they want to reach their target, I hardly ever do, because I don't want to be just a numbers collector.

Yes, I get it that it is important to be out there and be seen. But time (I'm sure everyone who landed on this page will agree) is precious and I only want to interact with other writers in a way that is meaningful. If someone just adds me in the hope I follow back to boost their numbers -- they really shouldn't. I follow people on twitter that I find interesting.

As 'Freddy Iryss' I'm still a newby on Twitter and Instagram. I have only recently joined #AusWrites and the #WritingCommunity on Twitter but have already 'met' some wonderfully inspiring writers. We chat, we play writerly games and I even won in a fun book-give away! Yay! (Shout out to S.J. Morgan!).

In any case, I'm getting more and more interested in what everyone's written and so I started reading. And the book pile is growing faster than I can read, because you guys are putting out so many great stories! I might have to come back and do another post with the next lot of books that's caught my eye!

Here is my scoop:

Heaven Sent by S.J. Morgan 
Tarin of the Mammoths - Cave Bear Mountain (book 3) by Jo Sandhu 
Swallows Dance by Wendy Orr

 Heaven Sent 

 by S.J.Morgan (Midnightsunpublishing, 2018)
 YA Contemporary Fiction

This is one of my favourite debut YA novels I have read this year. Fifteen, almost sixteen year-old Evie lives in less fortunate circumstances. There are her mother's poor boyfriend choice, which puts Evie in the perilous environment of drug dealers; then there is her father who is more of a vague idea than real to her; and her own physical limitations brought on by a brace she needs to wear for her her adult scoliosis, all of which make life rather hard for Evie. 

The sudden appearance of mysterious Gabe, who comes literally crashing through her bedroom wall, claiming 'he's been sent to save her', has Evie puzzled but hopeful. I, too, was still wondering all the way through how he's possibly going to manage that. Sure he is cute and older than her, but incredibly unpredictable and unreliable. He just as suddenly disappears as he seems to appear. Is he even real? A boy or an angel? 

However, things turn out so completely different than I imagined, with unexpected twists and turns that make this a suspenseful read. And the end --oh boy! I have to say, I did not see it coming! 

Physical and mental illness are cleverly written in and weave their way through the narrative almost like minor characters in their own right, which struck me as different. 

Recommendation: A must read when in-need-of-a-bigger-picture-than-my-own-life's misery-pick-me-up. Thought provoking and suspenseful.

Tarin of the Mammoths - Cave Bear Mountain 

by Jo Sandhu (Puffin, 2018)
Young Readers - Fantasy

I know, it is not a good idea to start with book 3 of a trilogy. Unfortunately, the other two books were out at my local library, which I guess is a good thing because someone else is reading them, too. Besides, in this case it wasn't difficult to catch on, because any holes were filled along the way. 

Tarin, the hero of this story, has news of his clan and is eager to find them after months of separation. But when his friends and travel companions, Kaija and Luuka, unexpectedly find their mother and the wolf cubs get kidnapped to fight for their lives against a bear in the Bear Festival, he can't just leave them and they all understand soon that the ties of friendship are sometimes stronger than blood ties. 

The pre-historic setting of the story, its characters and landscapes draw the reader into another time and space, one that's full of danger, hardship and fear. I appreciated also the historical elements and felt for the fierce and courageous clan composed of three children, an owl and two wolf cubs. I found the action and descriptions vivid and solid research shine through. I read Jo Sandhu, the author even travelled to Finland (always nice to see the authors to go the 'extra mile' for authenticity 😊😊). I find this award-winning novel delightful, probably in part because I am a trained anthropologist and find all cultures, past and present, fascinating. I can't wait to read the other two in the series!

Recommendation: When you want to have an adventure and expand your knowledge of cultures, customs and lore that are lesser known.

Swallows Dance 

by Wendy Orr (Allen & Unwin 2018)
Historical Fiction

Leira, the heroine of this story, is about to be initiated into the priestess class, when the volcano on their island erupts. The devastation that follows, leaves Leira's mother with serious physically and psychologically wounds. Leira and her family flee on ship and find refuge in Crete. But only hostility, prejudice and starvation awaits them.  The older woman, her grandmother in all but name, cannot carry the burden of their survival on the unfamiliar island of Crete. And so it's up to Leira to forget about being high-born and privileged and enter the workforce of the hardest working, lowliest labourers. 

This is a contemporary story told in the ancient setting of the Bronze Age, a concept to which I'm particularly partial. My husband is a Bronze Age archaeologist and Greece has been my second home since I was a teenager.  Swallow's Dance spoke to me on several levels: its prose, interspersed with free verse, flows beautifully - it is Leira's song. That her name carries the same word origin as lyra (or in English: lyre), a string instrument used in the recital of lyrical poetry, is emphasising her role as a barde even more. 

Swallow's Dance is a beautifully crafted story about the hardship that comes with having to flee one's homeland. I read it as an ode to ancient Greece but also as a timely reminder of those seeking asylum, those who are being rejected on grounds of prejudice, while having to come to grips with their own displacement, dislocation, loss and grief. But it is also a story about hope, change, resilience and the powers of re-inventing oneself if necessary. We know that books can evoke empathy. This book will raise questions in readers, we all should ask.

Recommendation: When you need to read a strong female character's story. Not an entirely quick or light-hearted read, but illuminating and rewarding, nonetheless.

That's it for now. I hope these morsels have made you curious and you'll pick a copy of these stunning books. If you have read any of these books, I'd like to hear from you. If you haven't, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, February 20

The Incredible Freedom Machines - Picture Book Review

The Incredible Freedom Machines

(Scholastic, 2018)

written by Kirli Saunders and illustrated by Matt Ottley

Tags: Picture books, reading, imagination, self-empowerment, perseverance, overcoming limitations, borders and boundaries

When I first brought this book home from the Wollongong Writers Festival, I left it on the coffee table and my husband Steve commented how much he loved the art work in it and read it straight away. 

This is something worth mentioning as he usually ignores the weekly piles of fiction books, including picture books, that invade our living space. (He only reads non-fiction). So I was very impressed, but not all surprised that he did notice it: its pastel colour cover is evocative and opens up questions. What's the girl looking at through that telescope? Where is she and why is she there? What is the piglet looking at in the opposite direction?

After I heard Kirli Saunders and Matt Ottley talk about it in one of the WWF 2018 sessions, I had to have it. 

It's a beautifully collaborative narrative, where visuals and text not only come together but narrate different layers. It's the kind of book one revisits and see's different meanings in image and text.
Kirli Saunders reading at the WWF 2019

The story is about pursuing an idea of self-empowerment; at the same time, the images show exactly what this could look like with a nice twist in the end that opens up the floor of possibilities to the reader.

The Plot

A young girl, who lives in a caravan park in what seems a desolate environment, surrounded only by desert and rocks, hears about the incredible freedom machines. She longs to have one, too, as she becomes aware of the boundaries and limitations around her. 

Through her telescope she looks out for one her size. Because there is none, she 'grows' one herself with a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance. On good days she flies and discovers the abundant world of nature on land and under the sea.

          "As she grew in a world sewn together by boundaries, 

                                   she saw the need and hunted for one."

Once she's got her incredible freedom machine, she travels beyond her boundaries and limited world and discovers a colourful world full of wonders and creatures.

"Her incredible machine would take her to the
                                most abundant untouched places.

And she would learn from these new places and creatures...
"She would soak up their secrets and return a little more entire."
...and transform:

"With her freedom machine, she was everything she had ever dreamed of being"
The pictures include some subtle details, such as the girl's pig companion which is a piglet that always looks in the opposite direction of the girl. There are also names on some of the dream machine such as 'Foreword' and 'Chapters' which drop a clue to the reader that the dream machines are all different, but for some it's a motorbike, for others it's a book.


Sometimes our surroundings can be limiting and full of boundaries. The only way to escape them is by being creative, patient and persevering in our pursuit of adventure, knowledge and contentment. Motto: Let's use our imagination.


Kirli Sanders explained that she, as a poet, found the process of crossing arts and doing a picture book kind of natural, which is the more reason why I recommend reading picture books like this one to YA and grown ups. They hold so much poetic and philosophical beauty in word and picture  that everyone can enjoy, no matter the age, gender or cultural background.

Wednesday, February 13

WOW - Word of the Week #4

It's so hot at the moment here in Australia, with many floods, bush fires and temperatures at an all time high all around the country. Apart from Global Warming, it makes me also think of my childhood days spent in central European winters, with snow knee high and soft it makes you want to jump into it and play snow angel. I sometimes look at old photos and they bring back that feeling that only cold, winter days evoke.  

                                   Winter in the Black Forest, mid 1990s            (Photo: FKV)


Flindrikin adj. n., v. Also flinderkinflindrekinflinderskinflinterkin (Ork.); flinri(c)kin-en,flim-flandrikan (Uls.2 1929); and curtailed form †flyndrig.[′flɪn(d)rɪkən]

Iadj. Light, flimsy, unsubstantial, esp. of material (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Abd.28 1952); showy, gaudy (Uls.21929); of persons: frivolous, empty-headed; flirtatious (Fif. 1808 Jam.) (
IIn. Something light, flimsy and unsubstantial, esp. of cloth or garments (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Kcb.c.1900; ne.Sc. 1952); also fig., of persons (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.), “an impudent woman, a deceiver” (Ayr. 1825 Jam., flyndrig), of a very thin oatcake or scone (Bnff.13 1914), of a slight snow-shower (Ork.51952). 
 III. v. To beguile (Ayr. 1825 Jam., flyndrig).[O.Sc. flindrikinc.1580 in Watson's Choice Coll. II. 54, in the sense of frivolous, a frivolous person. The word appears to be orig. a noun, of Du. orig. with dim. -kin ending, meaning “a butterfly,” cf. E.Fris. flinderkeflinnerk, id., cogn. with Flinderv.2 In Sc. the form seems to have been confused with that of the ppl.adj. in -in(g) and to have been used as such.] (Dictionar o the Scots Leid)

English is limited when it comes to the description of snow. For example, in German, there are definitely more words than one for snow. But there is a language that describes the different forms of snow so intricately, that puts even the Inuit myth of having fifty words to shame and that is the Scottish language.

Who would have thought that the Scots have more words for it than the Inuits?  In fact, Alison Flood in an article in the Guardian  claims in an article in the Guardian that the Scots have 421 words for the white stuff.

Flindrikin is one of my favourites. First, I like the sound of it. Flindrikin - it sounds fun. Second, its meaning, a ''slight snow shower is just one of my favourites natural winter phenomenon. It is so soft and dry it is hard to even build a decent snow man with it or have a snowball battle. It doesn't take any other shape than a powdery form. It's a lot of fun to ski through it when it's on top of a more firm snow layer, leaving a dramatic snow 'wave' in one's wake.

I'm not sure if I will ever use it in a story - but it would make a cool character name (if the description fits). Otherwise, I guess it would have to involve at least a Scot or the story set in Scotland. I've never been to Scotland, but it's on my travel wish list!

> Have you described a winter landscape with words other than snow? Or do you know a story that mentions flindrikin? 
I would love to hear from you <

Wednesday, January 30

WOW _ Word of the week #3

  WOW - Word Of the Week #3

This word came up in my recent readings on gods, mythologies (mainly Greek and Norse) and when I looked up its meaning, found that the sound of the word doesn't reflect the 'weight' of its meaning. Or is it just me? 

Here's the definition:


 derives from the Latin noun tutelarius, meaning "guardian." "Tutelarius," is composed of the word tutela ("protection" or "guardian") and the suffix  "-arius," that implies belonging and connection. The words tutelage and tutor have the same roots "Tutelary" can be an adjective or noun referring to a power (such as a deity) who acts as a guardian, like a deity or a spirit.

1having the guardianship of a person or a thingtutelary goddess
2of or relating to a guardian
I was actually surprised about its relation to the word tutor. I have been working as a tutor for many years, but had never looked at its deeper meaning until I came across this word. But I guess I shouldn't be as the work as a tutor can be seen as guardianship of knowledge and of the passing on of that knowledge.

Tutelary -Dragon - guardian spirit

When I searched for images on the internet, I found dragons amongst deities. Smaug was the guardian of the Dwarves' mountain full of gold and riches. My son made this beautiful dragon, which I call Æthelflæd (yes, named after Lady Æthelflæd of Mercia, warrior ruler of the 10th century), who, now that I'm thinking about it, was also a guardian in her own right. I love it when it all comes together like this!

>What kind of intriguing tutelary can you think of?<

Leave your comments below:-)