“King of the forest, old Silverback, fell down with a thump on the soft mulch-littered ground, and the whole forest held their breath. They realised something was wrong.”
A teaser for my children’s short story which I am SUPER excited to announce is now finally available in print as part of the Sutherland FAW anthology Webs of Life; a collection of short stories written by the many talented writers in the group.
It has taken several months of planning and organizing, and we can’t wait to officially launch the book at our Writers Unleashed festival on Saturday 17th August at Gymea Tradies in Sydney.
Also had my first taste of a writer’s reading yesterday. My workplace organised a BBQ and had me read the story. Was nerve racking and exciting at the same time. Happy to say the story was well received with lots of laughter and congratulations from everyone.
Enjoyed sharing that part of my life with my colleagues. To work at a place that encourages and supports employees in a life outside of work is heart-warming.
I’m feeling a bit more like a real writer today and it feels damn good.
If you would like a copy please DM me. Pre-orders before the festival at a discounted rate of $12 plus postage.
The sign of a great book for me is when I can’t wait to read how it finishes, but when I do I want to continue reading and stay in the story; stay with the characters that have come to life, come into my life. When seeing ‘the end’ makes me feel both sad and good inside.
That is exactly how I felt reading and finishing A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird. One of the better books I have read lately; a book that will stay with me for a long time.
It’s a beautifully written story about the Willas, one female character during three stages of her life; eight, thirty-three and ninety-three. Each character with their own distinct voice yet linked together expertly. It’s a story of life, healing and acceptance woven into a wonderful concept of time travel and being able to meet your younger and older self.
Some of my favourite lines in the book were:
‘Fabulous wrinkles from talking and laughing and crying. Living and wrinkles, they go together’
‘Because it’s good to share ourselves. That’s what happens over bikkies and a good cuppa’
I could go on but I will let you read the book and find your own little gems.
I can highly recommend this book. It’s sad and uplifting, and totally draws you into the world of the Willas.
In the back of the book there is a list of book club questions.
This one intrigued me:
If you could time travel back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
For me it would be ‘ Don’t stress about what you can’t control or change. Most challenges are not life threatening and work themselves out with time’
What would you tell your younger self?
Love to hear your answers, or feedback if you have already read this great book.
Today’s positive…after a big but productive afternoon with my writers critique group it’s nice to kick back with a favourite author. Especially when enjoyed with a glass of red on a balmy summer evening.
Do what you love, follow your passions, make your heart sing. Whatever you call it, it basically comes down to self love, and what do they say makes the world go around? LOVE.
When I follow my passions I am excited to start each day and looking forward to my future. The positive effect is enormous on both my mental and physical state. It is part of HEALTHY LIVING.
Last weekend I indulged in a writing course through the Australian Writers Centre on Creative Writing. Courses are often expensive, but this one was worth every dollar. I spent 2 days in their Milson’s Point classroom with a group of ten other aspiring writers and Pamela Hart as our teacher. Inspirational, intimate, professional, fun, encouraging are just a few adjectives to describe the weekend.
So what made this weekend so worthwhile, and what did I take away from the teachings:
1. To follow my gut in my writing ⁃ The teacher reassured me to go back to my original novel start.
2. Know your characters = plot ⁃ Work out your characters. This will bring out stories and plots
3. The more complex you make your antagonist the more believable they will be ⁃ Life and people are complex and cardboard characters makes for dull reading
4. Come into scene late , exit scene early ⁃ No need for too much ‘setting the scene’. Often you can cut out bits and go straight to the important part of scene. Same applies to the end. Finish on a high point.
5. Change pace ⁃ Keep pace interesting to continue to captivate the reader. Slow down after fast pace action scenes to provide a breather. Pick up pace after slower descriptive scenes. Escalate pace towards the end.
6. Never summaries an emotional high-point. ⁃ A high-point should end the chapter not drag it out.
7. Main characters journey ⁃ The main character has the biggest internal journey
8. 1st draft – telling story to yourself ⁃ Just write your story without worrying about being perfect enough to show to anyone else. Write to get the story down.
9. Opening of novel/cover/blurb must ⁃ Grab the reader enough to want to keep reading ⁃ A promise to the kind of book it will be ⁃ Provide orientation
10. Structure of novel ⁃ Orientation; set the scene ⁃ 1st turning point; major event in 1st or 2nd chapter ⁃ Complications; events moving the plot along, relative to story ⁃ 2nd turning point; 2/3 into story ⁃ Climax; pace quickens, protagonist must actively be involved. ⁃ Resolution; answers questions from 1st turning point.
11. Write even when inspiration is lacking ⁃ So true, the muse will arrive when we sit down to write
12. Connect with other writers and beta readers a must. ⁃ Have experienced this myself since starting my writing journey. A writer’s life can be lonely, and connecting with other writers is vital for sanity and for learning. This weekend I organised for my class mates to provide me with name and email and sent out a group email to everyone, so we are now all connected.
These are just some of the learnings from the weekend. The teacher covered so much more and provided terrific handouts that will help me in rewriting my current WIP.
The weekend gave me confidence in my writing and in the next step. The learnings I took away are invaluable. Part of me wished I had done it earlier, but with my novel already done I could also relate to a lot more.
It was absolutely a ten out of ten course and weekend. I was tired and head spinning on Sunday evening, but my heart and soul was full of healthy smiles, and I now have a certificate to add to my collection of learnings.
This weekend is about doing what I love; to read, write and take photos.
I am on the train to Katoomba to take part in a writing workshop, The Art of the Sentence, run at Varuna Writers House by the talented author Michelle de Kretser. It runs for four hours this afternoon and I will stay overnight. It is my weekend away from the rat race. Tomorrow I can indulge in photography. Katoomba is in the Blue Mountains and a stunning place for getting interesting snaps.
My stress level is reducing the further away from the city I travel. The landscape is changing from sky scrapers to trees reaching for the sky. The heavy clouds emanate calm and serenity. Like an old nurturing blanket covering the world.
I am glad I caught the train. I love how I can read and write on the train and let someone else worry about driving the train.
Recently started a novel by a fellow twitter friend Joanna Nell called The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Village. Love it so far. Joanna’s descriptions of the old folks in the village is so real. She makes me laugh out loud and want to cry at the same time.
Back to more reading. I will continue this post later this weekend once I am in Katoomba.
Saturday Writing Workshop
I walked to the Varuna Writers House on the outskirts of town. The walk consisted of a number of steep hills, but the scenery of old stone houses and flower laden gardens kept me entertained.
Varuna House itself is astounding. A winding dirt road and tall trees hides this gorgeous gem; a colourful old stone house set in a well kept but natural looking cottage style garden. You wish to linger. To just be. You can check out their website here
Veechi Stuart, the Executive Director of Varuna House, came out to welcome me in the front garden and led me into their afternoon tea area as I was early. Her friendly and mild manner made me welcome and at ease straight away. Not unlike visiting a family home.
The workshop was run by Michelle de Kretser, an editor and author of many novels for which she has received awards, latest being The Life to Come which received the Miles Franklin Award.
It was Michelle’s first workshop and it made everyone at ease. We were beginners, even the teacher. Michelle ran an excellent workshop over the four hours presenting her knowledge, making us question, leading us in the right direction and providing us with several great tools to go away and revisit our writing.
The main part I took away from my experience was:
I have so much more to learn
Every word/sentence is optional, unless it is essential
Review every verb and make sure they are strong
To finish a sentence on a monosyllable strengthens it.
Avoid repeat words
Mix up sentence length
Remove yourself from the story and just review each sentence to make them tighter.
Put work aside after each new draft before next edit. Do something else for at least a week.
Start one of your edits from the back to avoid fatigue and less work being done on last chapters.
After a short rest in my hotel room I took myself out for dinner at a popular local Italian place called Paladino’s. It was packed, the vibe friendly and the food impressive. Walked back to my hotel room with a full stomach and a smile on my face
Sunday Photo Time
Just love my little get away weekend. It is amazingly quiet here in Katoomba. My hotel, the Metropole Guesthouse, is near the main part of town, and yet I had the most peaceful night’s sleep. Every time I woke up the silence astounded me. No humdrum of traffic, police cars or drunken Saturday night party goers like in Sydney. I am ready for another day of playing tourist in this lovely mountain town.
Got up early to beat the threatening rain and walked towards Echo Point hoping to take photos. I didn’t make it before the wet weather set in. Breakfast somewhere cosy and warm tempted me and led me back up the main street to Pomegranate, a cafe known for scrumptious organic food. Indulged in two large coffees and a delicious plate of Eggs Florentine. Figured I had earned it with so much hill walking.
Despite not making it to any popular view points I got several photos around town. You can see them on my next post
On my train trip back to Sydney I got inspired and wrote my entry into the monthly Furious Fiction competition run by the Australian Writers Centre. Wish me good luck. In summary I enjoyed every bit of my weekend away. I recommend it. Indulging in what you love doing does wonders for your wellbeing. Go do it.
Today’s positive…I was listening to my favourite podcast on the way to work this morning when I heard my name mentioned. I had left a review a few weeks back on ITunes and it was read aloud. I just sat there at the red light with a massive smile which lasted all the way to work.
Do yourself a favour and check out their podcast So You Want To Be A Writer and let yourself be entertained by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo.