Season’s Greetings!

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, etc etc to all my readers! Hope you all have the opportunity to gather with loved ones and celebrate.

This year has been amazing and I am thankful for so many things: First and foremost, of course, is my family – my partner, who supports  and encourages me  in all things, and my beautiful children, whose smiles brighten my day. I’m thankful also for my writer’s group without whom I would NEVER have been motivated to get this far!! I’m grateful for all the editors who’ve read my work, those who’ve accepted my pieces for publication, but also those who did not, yet gave me words of encouragement to keep writing, and try again.

I’m grateful to Allen & Unwin, from who I have won numerous prizes this year, (they have filled my bookshelves! Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson, Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith, Sharp Shooter and Sharp Turn both by Marianne Delacourt, The Boy Under the Table by Nicole Trope, The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton) and had some great opportunities – joining in the blogging read-along of The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier, and another great opportunity I’m really excited about – The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. The book was delivered by my very friendly Australia Post lady today, and I was so excited about it I’ve put my current book aside (Cloudstreet by Tim Winton) and started on it already. (The Storyteller is due for release next year – look out for it – I only started it an hour ago and I’m already a quarter of the way through. It is brilliant! Jodi Picoult certainly does not disappoint with this one – the way she manages to delve so deep into the complexities of human emotion, and the human condition (I think that really is the best term for it), is absolutely amazing!!)

Oops – I seem to have digressed somewhat! I am thankful for you too – my readers and followers. It’s a bit strange sometimes – sometimes this feels a bit like a journal, a place to offload the random thoughts I occasionally have. So thank you for reading, liking, and commenting!

Again… I hope you all have a beautiful day where-ever you are and whatever you’re doing.

Blessed Be!

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A Perfect Place for Surprises

I wanted to show you my favouritist place in the whole world! (yes, I know favouritist isn’t a word lol – but it needed to be emphasised here)

Lee's Paddocks

This is The Paddocks (not quite it’s real name, but we can’t have everyone flooding the place!). I’ve been here about half a dozen times since my first visit almost 15 years ago. It’s a 5 hour walk – at a steady pace, although on saying that we did stop to admire the views a lot! I haven’t been here since before my son was born – I haven’t been on a bushwalk anywhere since before my son was born, at least 7 years ago!

The Paddocks is an absolutely glorious spot to go Bush Walking here in Tassie. It is the location in my story Sanctuaryas best I could describe it at the time. Description however, is not my strong point, so while I was there I set about practising that skill, taking particular notice of all the sights and sounds and smells. This is what I came up with…

Footfalls on the trail are muffled by the layer of leaf litter, broken occasionally by the crunch of twigs and and silenced by the soft spongy moss. Out in the open, crossing the paddocks – with their damnable button grass – is harder. The button grass grows in high clumps, close together, creating deep narrow ravines. The choices are to using the grass itself as stepping stones… sort of… or try and walk between the grasses, though when the base of the clump is halfway up to your knee this can be tricky (and what about snakes!!). Thankfully most of the paddocks have walking tracks where the button grass has been thinned out – but we did head ‘cross country’ a couple of times as we explored the area.

The scent changes; on the first day the sun shone brightly, warming the air and releasing the sweet scent of rotting leaves and hot moss, and surprising me with a fragrance that smelt distinctly of chai tea, even though none of the spices used in the drink grow here.  On our way out the temperature had dropped. We had enjoyed a thunderstorm on our first night, listening to the sporadic rain on the tent, as the flashes of lightning lit up inside and the thunder rumbled almost instantly overhead. Rumbled is not strong enough actually. For a moment, at least, the storm was directly over head – and the thunder thundered! It didn’t roar, or roll, and rumble seems a far more gentle word for what we experienced. It boomed, cracked through the sky.

But I’ve digressed a little. Because of the thunderstorm, it was cooler on our way out. The air was cold, fresh, crisp. The myriad of scents obvious the previous day were muted now, barely there.

The scenery was as breathtaking as always. Everywhere is green – all different shades. And varying shades of grey and brown as well, from the tall trees with their moss covered bark to the wet rotting stumps. But now and again there is a surprise of colour. Fungi mostly, brightening the bark. The odd flower – tiny purple and white ones, some with yellow stamens. And out in the open there is the brilliant blue sky and the distant mottled green mountains.

And on our way out we took a fork in the path – one neither of us remembered being there, from our separate trips – and discovered the most amazing waterfall – so tall, absolutely stunning.

And now I’ve said my piece – I’ll show you a few snippets:

Splashes of Colour
Splashes of Colour

I've walked this track at least 6 times before, and never knew this waterfall existed! Sometimes amazing things happen when you follow new trails.
I’ve walked this track at least 6 times before, and never knew this waterfall existed! Sometimes amazing things happen when you follow new trails.

During our walk inspiration struck, a couple of times, and I managed to jot down a few ideas, including one for a historical novel, based in Tasmania during convict times, and including a bit of fantasy and magic too.

But that is not my most exciting news from my weekend – my most exciting news is that my gorgeous man (who suggested the bush walk in the first place) proposed to me on the banks of the river, as we paddled our sore and swollen feet in the icy water. OMG! It was the last thing I expected at that moment. A wonderful surprise! 😀

The Ring
The Ring

Top 10 Aussie Books to Read Before you Die

First I’d like to say hello and welcome all my followers and likers! Please feel free to come and join in the conversation and share your thoughts! 🙂

The other day I watched “The First Tuesday Book Club”. I’ve been wanting to watch it since it first came on television, several years ago, but for some reason or another I’ve missed every episode.

I watched this one online.

I found it really interesting to see what books had reached the Top 10, as voted by viewers all around Australia, all year long. I was most ashamed to note that out of the 10, I had actually only heard of 6, and I’ve not read any of them!

The ten were:

1 – Cloud Street by Tim Winton

2 – The Book Theif by Markus Zusak

3 – A Fortunate Life by A Facey

4 – The Harp in the South by Ruth Path

5 – The Power of One by Bryce Courtney

6 – Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

7 – The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsey

8 – The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

9 – The Secret River – Kate Grenville

10 – Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsey

The top 50 Australian Books are listed on the First Tuesday Club Website and I am embarrassed to say that I have read only one of those!  So the task I’ve set myself is to read at least the Top 10, over the coming year. I headed to the library this morning, and a pleased to say that I came away with Cloud Street by Tim Winton, and have ordered Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The trouble is that at the library there are many many books ( 😛 ) – not just the few I want to read right now. And over the last few weeks I have seen many other books and authors to add to my reading list, some of which I found today, while browsing. So along with Tim Winton’s Cloud Street, I also brought home A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, How to Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, A Gentleman of Leisure by P G Wodehouse, and A Cat, A Hat and a Piece of String by Joanne Harris.

I’ve already started A Cat, A Hat and a Piece of String and it is, of course, fantastic. A collection of short stories by Joanne Harris, her voice is so easily recognised and I feel a sense of joy as I delve again into her stories. It’s been such a long time (several months at least) since I’ve read anything of Joanne’s and I’ve no doubt I’ll finish this book in no time!

Have you read any (or all) of these books? What did you think? (No spoilers please!) 🙂

Feel like your story isn’t ready?

So, I’ve finished a story. It’s been edited several times over, and is as good as I can get it, for this moment at least.  Sometimes I know a story is good when I send it out, most times I don’t – most times I feel embarrassed that I am sending out such drivel!! Sometimes those stories that I know are good, are accepted, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes the stories that I feel are drivel are rejected but sometimes, much to my shock, sometimes they’re actually accepted, given honorary mentions in competitions even.

I just finished reading Orson Scott Wells “How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy”. He has some very interesting points, but the thing that struck me the most – (probably because it reminded me in some way of Nick Hornby’s comments – that as writers our job is to write, and not judge our writing) – was Orson’s chapter entitled “The Life and Business of Writing”.

His advice, on stories that may or may not be ready for publication goes something like this:

“When your story is finished, let it go do it’s work. Don’t wait for it to gather dust on your shelf. Sure, if you let it sit there for a year and pull it down and look at it again, you’ll find all kinds of dumb mistakes that you’d never make today because you’re so much better now. But then, if you had sent it out and it had been purchased by a magazine, it would be appearing in print right now, and while you would still find those flaws in it, at least you would have been paid for it and your story would be in print and – here’s the good part – your readers will like the story just fine the way it is.”

He goes on to say that he is NOT advocating that writers should send out second-rate work,

“But a year from now you should be writing the story that you care about and believe about at that time, not reworking this year’s story…”

“Because the more you fiddle with your story, rewriting this paragraph or that one, the more likely you are to make it worse. There are things you instinctively do when the story is in it’s first rush out of your head that are truer and better than anything you’ll come up with as you second-guess, revise, intellectualize.”

 

So there you go! If you have a story, sitting there, waiting to be sent out in the world – Be Brave! Send it off – you might be surprised! And if you’ve already been brave – feel free to share your story with the rest of us – were you successful when you thought you wouldn’t be, or vice versa?