Category Archives: blogging

Magical Moments: Part One

It was a Magical Moment when I heard that Pickle to Pie is being republishing by Ilura Press on Amazon.com and they will have it as a print on demand book. It will be available in this form from their website and at bookdepository.com

My second book Something Missing is available at Fishpond.com.au with free delivery

                               

It was indeed a Magical Moment when Chloe Trindall from the Godfrey street Memoir Writing Group had a short story published in the Women Who Write Melbourne anthology A New Beginning

Women Who Write, Melbourne is a supportive networking group for Melbourne women writers. They are open to writers of all ages, levels of experience and all genres.
The Facebook page is for members to engage with one another, keep up to date with what’s happening in the group and the writing community.
Every month they hold meetings in the Melbourne CBD and post details on their  Facebook page as well as any additional events they organise.

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I loved reading the excellent short stories by very talented authors. There is something for everyone in this anthology

The day of the book launch was portrayed as having the worst, most violent weather ever imagined and as I donned my ski jacket and armed myself with a scarf and brolly I wondered if I was crazy to catch the train and tram to Lu Lu’s cafe and gallery in North Melbourne for this book launch. But I was determined to go come hell or high water.

  

We had a wonderful time listening to extracts of prose and poetry. Unfortunately, because of the weather we all had to cram into the cafe section instead of being outside in one of the best courtyards in Melbourne

Why don’t you join this amazing group of writers on Facebook?

Twitter/Instagram @womenwritemelb

On Sunday it was the Christmas gathering of the Hysterical Melbourne Historical Writers

We met at the Vic restaurant under the spire of the Arts Centre. It was great to be able to swap stories and publishing experiences. Many thanks must go to Celia for organising these get-togethers.

Walking over the bridge near the Hamer Hall I was delighted to see the Christmas Tree in Federation Square.

Hamer Hall was also decorated in festive attire.

Godfrey Street Community House also had a Christmas get-together to thank Carol for years of tireless service. We will miss her so much but know it is time for her to be able to do the many things she wants to do. Many thanks Carol for all your kindness and support

Christmas is always a busy time spent catching up with family and friends and I love every minute of this silly season.

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The many uses of baking soda.

Like so many householders I had heard about the many uses of baking soda and had even tried a couple of times…until I put it back in the cupboard unsure of what I was doing. It definitely went into the ‘too hard’ basket. That was until I read this comprehensive article at plantcaretoday.com.

After reading about the many ways to use baking soda it is definitely back on my list. Tomorrow I’ll clean the outdoor furniture, deodorize my garbage bins and have the best tomato crop in Victoria (I hesitate to say Australia :>) This simple, useful, natural product has so many uses in health, personal care and household chores that it’s really a “must have” for just about everyone. Another aspect that makes Baking soda so appealing to me is that it plays a vital role in green cleaning.

In this article, are some great ideas to help you get even more use from versatile, affordable baking soda in your yard and garden. Read on to learn more.

What Is Baking Soda?

This simple, natural product is made up entirely of sodium bicarbonate, a highly alkaline substance.

When it comes in contact with acidic substances it bubbles. The bubbles give off carbon dioxide gas. This is the property of bicarb soda that makes it a good leavening agent for bread baking.

This property also makes it a good choice for settling upset stomachs. Its cleansing and mildly abrasive properties make it a good cleaning agent. It also possesses the ability to absorb and neutralize odors.

10 Ways to Clean Up Around Your Yard and Garden With Baking Soda

Bicarbonate of soda is a very safe cleaning product to use in the garden. It is non-toxic and will not harm birds and other desirable wildlife. Use it as a non-abrasive scouring powder or mix it up with other gentle ingredients to create custom cleaning products.

#1 – Deodorize your compost pile or bin. Add a tablespoonful of baking soda to a gallon of water to pour over your compost and/or simply sprinkle the dry powder over the pile and turn it in to help eliminate unpleasant odors. Don’t overdo it, though. Excessive amounts will slow down composting.

#2 – Deodorize your garbage cans. Sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda in the bottom of the can to absorb odors.

#3 – Make a simple baking soda and water cleaning spray consisting of 2 tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of water to use when wiping down lawn furniture, gardening equipment and the like.

#4 – Make a baking soda and liquid soap paste for use when scrubbing up flowerpots, birdbaths and feeders and more. Allow these items to air dry thoroughly before storing.

#5 – Make an abrasive scrubbing paste with equal parts salt, baking soda and warm water.

#6 – Use plain baking soda as a soft scrub powder to clean just about anything safely.

#7 – Clean your garden furniture. You can make resin garden furniture almost as good as new with a thorough cleaning using a simple solution consisting of half a cup of baking soda, a tablespoonful of dish-washing liquid and a gallon of very warm water.

Use a gentle scrubbing sponge to scrub the items and then rinse with the garden hose. For stubborn stains, make a scrubbing paste as described above. Use a soft scrub brush or soft scrubbing sponge. Don’t use a wire brush or steel wool (naturally) as this will damage the surface.

To clean outdoor furniture made of webbing material, rinse the item and then sprinkle baking soda over it. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then scrub it off

#8 – Clean your walkways and patios. Mix up a mild solution of baking soda and water (2 tablespoons/1 quart respectively) to wash down your sidewalks, driveway, patios and other paved surfaces. Tackle tough stains with a baking soda and dishwashing detergent paste. Once you’ve finished scrubbing, rinse the whole area clean with copious amounts of water from the hose. This dilution will help prevent plant damage in the surrounding area.

Although some baking soda can be beneficial to soil and plants, don’t overdo this cleaning routine. Excessive buildup of bicarbonate of soda around your walks and patio could result in plant death in these areas.

#9 – Soak up oil stains with dry baking soda. Just sprinkle on a thick layer and allow it to sit for 15 minutes or so. Sweep it up and finish cleaning up the oil stain with a baking soda, salt and dish soap paste.

But what about the garden.

a collection of uses for baking soda in the garden

Use natural baking soda for sweeter tomatoes, control powdery mildew on roses, battle slugs, weeds and more!

 

How Can Baking Soda Be Helpful In Your Garden?

When it comes to using baking soda for:

  • Natural Cleaning
  • Soil Amendment
  • Plant Care
  • Weed And Pest Control
  • Fungal Diseases
  • And More

The humble sodium bicarbonate can be a powerful ally.

6 Ways To Use Baking Soda To Care For Your Plants

#1 – Clean Plant Leaves

Plants need photosynthesis to survive and thrive. To help your houseplants make the most of the sunshine they receive, keep their leaves clean by wiping them gently with a damp sponge or soft cloth dampened with a very dilute solution of baking soda and water. Add about half a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda to a liter of pure, filtered water to make this gentle cleaning solution.

#2 – Give Your Plants A Boost

If your plants are looking listless, try watering with a combination of:

  • 1 gallon of pure, filtered water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Epsom salts
  • ½ tsp ammonia

Do this on a monthly basis to perk up all plants. Roses are especially appreciative of this treatment.

#3 – Stimulate Blooming

Geraniums, Begonia and Hydrangeas all like alkaline soil, and baking soda is an alkaline product. Make these plants a special monthly tonic consisting of one tablespoonful of baking soda and two quarts of water. You’ll soon see enthusiastic blossom production.

#4 – Keep Cut Flowers Fresh Longer

Two quarts of water and a tablespoonful of bicarbonate of soda is also an excellent solution for keeping cut flowers fresh. Be sure to change the solution every couple of days for best results.

#5 – Grow Sweeter Tomatoes

Use baking soda to make the soil in your tomato patch less acidic for sweeter tomatoes. Just sprinkle baking soda lightly over the surface of the soil surrounding your tomato plants and then water as usual. Less acidity in the soil adds up to less acidity in your tomatoes.

#6 – Use Baking Soda For Soil Testing and Amendment

Perform informal pH testing on your garden soil. Your garden plants absorb minerals from the soil through their roots. If your soil is too alkaline or too acidic, this process could be hampered. To get an idea of your soil’s pH, use baking soda and white vinegar to perform a home experiment.

Begin by collecting a couple of soil samples in small cups from your yard or garden. Pour half a cup of vinegar into one sample. If you see the soil bubbling, you know that it is alkaline and has had a reaction with the acid in vinegar. This typically means that it has a pH level of 7 or more.

If there are no bubbles, try testing your other sample with about half a cup of water and a tablespoonful of baking soda. If this causes bubbling, you will know that soil sample has a pH level of 7 or below. This soil is acidic and has had a reaction with an alkaline substance.

If your testing reveals acidic soil, you can amend it with baking soda by sprinkling the powder over the surface of the soil just before watering (as you would when sweetening tomatoes).

This should gradually reduce the acidity of the soil.

 4 Baking Soda Recipes to Cure and Prevent Plant Diseases

#1 – Prevent Fungal Disease Growth

Baking soda does not kill fungus, but it does create pH conditions that are hostile to its growth. [source]

As a preventative, mix a liter of water with a few drops of dishwashing soap and a teaspoonful of baking soda. Mix well and decant the mixture into a spray bottle.

Spray both the top sides and undersides of leaves in the cool of the morning so that the leaves will have plenty of time to dry during the day. This is a good treatment for all manner of garden plants.

f mildew or fungus have already set in, make a stronger mixture consisting of:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 tablespoonful of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoonful of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoonful of dishwashing liquid

Spray affected plants once a week on cooler, overcast days. Spraying this mixture in the heat of the day or when the sun is very strong can cause plants to burn. This is an especially effective mixture for use on zinnias, squash, cucumbers and lilacs.

#3 – Treat Tomato Diseases

Make a spray with an aspirin and baking soda solution to prevent and treat fungal infections and other diseases in tomato plants. Use this formula weekly.

  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 2 aspirin

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. You’ll need to let the soda solution sit for a few minutes to allow the aspirin to dissolve. Shake and spray.

An all-natural recipe is very effective and very popular for treating and controlling a wide variety of plant ills, including aphidsspider mitespowdery mildew and black spot.

You’ll need:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 3-5 drops of Superthrive
  • 1 heaping tablespoonful of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoonful of seaweed emulsion or fish oil
  • 1 tablespoonful of dishwashing liquid as an emulsifier
  • 2 tablespoons of ultra-fine horticultural oil (e.g. Sunspray)

Mix all ingredients together and decant into a spray bottle or pump sprayer.

Spray plants monthly, late in the evening for best results. It’s a good idea to give your plants a good spraying with the water hose first to knock off beneficial insects as this mixture will kill them. Spray the entire plant, thoroughly to deal with fungal disease problems such as black spot.

Be sure to follow this recipe exactly, and don’t add vinegar (even cider vinegar) or any substance containing sulfur. If the Sunspray product you purchase lists “emulsifier” on the ingredients label, leave out the dish soap.

8 Ways to Use Baking Soda to Discourage and Eliminate Pests Naturally

When used regularly, carefully prepared, homemade baking soda concoctions provide safe and effective defense against a wide variety of pests, such as spider mites, aphids, silverfish, cockroaches, slugs, snails and more.

  1. For a very gentle deterrent that will effectively combat spider mites and aphids but will not harm beneficial insects combine:
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoonful of baking soda

Spray this mixture carefully onto the affected areas of plants every few days until aphids and spider mites are gone. This concentrated mixture is also effective against black spot fungus on roses and grape vines.

  1. Eradicate harmful insect infestations. If your plants are swarming with harmful bugs try this combination:
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • A dozen drops of dishwashing liquid

Spray once every three days until the insects have been eradicated. Follow up with weekly sprays using one of the lighter formulations to prevent reinfestation.

  1. Eliminate ant hills. Use baking soda and powdered sugar to create a fatal bait. Just mix the two ingredients 50/50 and sprinkle the mixture over the offending ant hill. The ants will eat the mixture and carry it into their nest where others will eat it.

They will be attracted by the sugar, but the baking soda will kill them. Be sure to use powdered sugar (not granulated) so that the two ingredients are thoroughly blended. If you use granulated sugar, the ants will pick it out and leave the baking soda behind.

It may take a while to kill ants this way, but it will eventually kill them all because they will continue to carry the mixture into the nest to be consumed by one and all.

  1. Kill gnats in leaf piles or the smelly compost pile. Mix four teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda with a gallon of water and a teaspoonful of biodegradable soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap). Pour or spray this mixture over your compost heap or leaf pile to kill off gnats lurking within.
  1. Repel a wide variety of insects. Mix up a concentrate consisting of:
  • 1 teaspoonful of baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of mustard oil

Store this in a plastic or glass container with a tightly fitting lid at room temperature. When you want to make an insect repellent spray, measure two teaspoons of this concentrate into one cup of warm water. Stir and decant into a small spray bottle to disperse around areas where you do not want bugs!

  1. Prevent ground dwelling pests. Sprinkle baking soda lightly on the soil around your crops to deter slugs, roaches and silverfish. Leave it dry and reapply after rain.
  1. You can also kill slugs on the spot by sprinkling them with baking soda, but don’t sprinkle straight baking soda onto your plants as it will burn the leaves.
  1. Get rid of cabbage worms. These hungry caterpillars love to eat brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli and kale. To kill them off, mix white flour and baking soda 50/50. Put this mixture into a shaker container or a powder dispenser and dust your brassicas.

Because the baking soda is buffered by the flour and because brassicas are rather rugged, this mixture will not damage their leaves. Apply the dust every day for three or four days. The caterpillars will ingest it when they eat your plants and will soon die off.

2 Ways to Use Baking Soda to Combat Weeds

Weeds and crabgrass growing along the edges of your walkways and patios and in cracks between pavers can be dealt with easily with a generous application of baking soda. It burns back foliage and feeder roots to eliminate current weeds and prevent future weed growth.

  1. Kill crabgrass and weeds in your lawn. Begin by wetting down the weeds or crabgrass. Follow up by applying a thick coat of baking soda directly to the plant’s leaves and around its root base.

Be careful to apply it only to the plants you want to kill. Don’t sprinkle it around randomly. Avoid applying on a windy day. Apply it thickly in a focused manner.

  1. Get rid of weeds along walkways and patios and in cracks and crevices. To eliminate weeds growing around paved surfaces, pour baking soda heavily on and around the weeds. Use a whisk broom to sweep the powder into sidewalk cracks or the space between pavers.

Check back and reapply as needed. Although a heavy application of baking soda will have some residual weed killing effect, be advised that rain and watering will dilute these effects fairly quickly. This natural powder works by desiccating foliage. It may not kill deep roots.

 

#10. Wash and beautify your hands. Baking soda makes an excellent, gentle scrub for grimy garden hands. At its simplest, just pour a bit of the powder into the palm of your hand and scrub away. Use a nail brush to get dirt out from under and around your nails.

For a little more “oomph!” add a few drops of liquid soap. If you have sticky sap on your hands, mix baking soda and a few drops of olive oil (or cooking oil, mineral oil, baby oil or petroleum jelly) in the palm of your hand and scrub your hands. Rinse with very warm water.

As an added advantage, the mild abrasive properties of baking soda will help exfoliate the skin on your hands leaving them nice and smooth. Be sure to follow up with a good moisturizer or the skin will feel quite dry very soon.

Precautions When Using Baking Soda In The Garden

  • Use baking soda concoctions carefully. Don’t spray them around willy-nilly or use them excessively because buildup can cause damage to your plants.
  • Do a patch test before spraying any solution over your entire garden. Just apply the mixture to a couple of leaves and wait 24 hours before treating your entire crop. If the solution seems to burn the leaves, dilute it and try another patch test. Keep adjusting until you hit the right strength.
  • Protect heating elements, electrical wiring and metal items from exposure to baking soda as it can cause corrosion.

What Are The Drawbacks of Using Baking Soda In The Garden?

Although baking soda can be a very effective tool in your collection of natural gardening techniques, you should not rely upon it entirely. If overused, its efficacy will dwindle with the passage of time. You will soon find yourself using more and more of it with less and less effect.

This is why it’s always a good idea to establish a schedule of sound garden management.

Be sure to plant your seeds, seedlings and grown plant specimens properly with the right kind of soil, drainage and sun exposure.

Keep your plants properly pruned for good air circulation. All of these steps will keep your plants strong and help prevent problems with pests and fungus.

Use baking soda in combination with other natural methods of deterring pests and weeds, such as heavy mulching with coarse organic matter to prevent weed growth and keep your plants’ roots well protected. Rotate natural garden spray recipes to prevent having pests and fungus build up a resistance to any single product.

Remember that an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. Baking soda and other natural garden remedies all work best as preventatives.

If you do not practice good garden management and your plants become heavily infested with pests and fungus, these types of solutions will probably not be of much use to you. Consistent care is key to success with all natural plant care products.

If you would like to see some helpful videos just visit plantcaretoday.com

   

Writing Awards: Fingers Crossed

MadeGlobal Publishing entered Something Missing into the Nita B Kibble Award and I’ve entered the novel into the International Book Award. Now if only all the planets would align…Fingers crossed.

According to A Dictionary of Superstitions by Oxford University Press, to cross my fingers will prevent bad luck and I may therefore get what my heart desires.

A Dictionary of Superstitions

Nita B Kibble Literary Award

Since the inception of the Kibble Literary Awards many Australian women writers have received prizes, each benefiting from Nita Dobbie’s foresight and vision. Perpetual Trustees have the responsibility to maintain the Trust into perpetuity. To ensure female authors continue to benefit from the prize, the awards are now offered on a biennial basis, and the next to be awarded in 2018. Works published after 4th December 2015 are eligible to apply. Something Missing was launched at Swinburne University on the 11th December 2015.

MadeGlobal sent four books and I had to supply proof of citizenship (birth certificate/passport) with the two cover letters and the completed application form.  I feel very positive about this one. I’m definitely an Australian author and this book is about two countries (Australia and America) two women and a life altering pen-friendship.

The International Book Awards

Sponsored by American Book Fest

Now celebrating the 9th annual award’s program, winning a 2018 International Book Award will, according to the blurb, give my book added “prestige, honor and tells prospective book buyers, librarians and media professionals to take the book seriously!”

If only :>).  File:Hands-Fingers-Crossed.jpg

For this award I needed to send a copy of Something Missing, an entry fee (larger than expected because of the exchange rate ), a completed entry form, Promotional material (photos of myself and the cover of Something Missing, blurb, book tour questions and replies and a cover letter) With a bit of luck, this  story about two women and the similarities between the Australian Outback and the Arizona Desert, many Australian and American readers will enjoy reading about Maggie and Diane’s drama and friendship.

All I have to do now is sit back and wait, with my fingers crossed until the short lists are announced next year.

I’ve told everyone I have to wear black opal for good luck till then (p 294)

 

File:Black Opal.JPG

Michael Ball and Alfie Boe: Meet and Greet

Last night, two of the most cherished performers with two of the greatest voices in the UK were in Melbourne for one night only.  Michael Ball and Alfie Boe were on stage at Hamer Hall. 

 Alfie Boe and Michael Ball

Image may contain: 2 people

I could not believe my good fortune when the email arrived

CONGRATULATIONS!

You have won a VIP Meet & Greet Experience with Michael Ball & Alfie Boe!

This consists of:2 x tickets to see Michael Ball & Alfie Boe live in concert

A meet & greet with Michael Ball & Alfie Boe at the show, including photo and autograph opportunity

A copy of the Alfie Boe & Michael Ball CD ‘Together’

A copy of the Michael Ball & Alfie Boe tour programme

A commemorative concert laminate and lanyard

To claim your prize, simply respond to this email and indicate your preferred concert date and location:

 5 October 2017 – Queensland Performing Arts Centre – Brisbane, QLD
7 October 2017 – Arts Centre Melbourne – Hamer Hall – Melbourne,    11 October 2017 – State Theatre – Sydney, NSW
14 October 2017 – Adelaide Entertainment Centre – Hindmarsh, SA                      16 October 2017 – Crown Theatre Perth – Burswood, WA

Image may contain: 2 people

I immediately asked Carol-Anne to come with me. What she doesn’t know about stage productions is not worth knowing. I loved her theatrical stories and I soon got to know all about Ball & Boe and their musical journey

They performed many songs that many people have covered before, but they did something different to them. And the voices! they were individually superb and totally amazing when harmonizing.

Michael is a legend of musical theatre and Alfie is Britain’s most popular tenor. Both have played leading roles in Les Miserables and who could forget such songs as ‘Bring Him Home, Empty Chairs and Empty Tables and my favourite, I Dreamed a Dream. They sang these to a standing ovation. They held the audience in the palm of their hand. It was more than a concert it was a full on experience.

Their teamwork began in 2006 when they bonded on the musical theatre production of Kismet playing at the London Coliseum.  They found that they were both on the same wave-length. They cheerily brush aside the rules in their respective fields, are brave enough to try anything from Elvis to opera and ignore people who say they can’t step outside the box and sing something different. It’s that joy and spirit of musical adventure and superb harmonizing that resulted in them producing a CD titled … what else but Together. I’m delighted to see that their second album is nearly ready. The title? Why Together Again of course.

To listen to their glorious voices and to get an understanding of why they are so popular please go to Youtube and watch some of the videos. That way you’ll understand why I’ve become a full on fan.

MEET & GREET EXPERIENCE
Top priced ticket within first 4 rows on the floor to see Michael Ball & Alfie Boe live
Meet & Greet with Michael Ball & Alfie Boe
Professional photo opportunity with Michael Ball & Alfie Boe
Autograph opportunity
Michael Ball & Alfie Boe tour programme
Commemorative concert laminate and lanyard
Exclusive Michael Ball & Alfie Boe tour gift created for package purchasers
Designated check-in with our on-site event staff

On stage was and the superb voices of West End music theatre STAR, Michael Ball along with the fabulous classically trained Alfie Boe as well as a fifteen piece band ( including strings and brass) and three amazing backing singers.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this was the BEST live concert I have ever experienced!

bunch

Kindred Souls

What joy it was last Sunday to catch up with kindred souls at the Historical Novel Society of Australasia 2017 conference at Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia.

My time was limited but everyone was kind, considerate and understanding.  To be surrounded by supportive authors made me feel as if I belonged to one big family and I began to reflect on how important they had all become in my life.

 Dr Wendy J Dunn, author of three books, the latest published was Falling Pomegranate Seeds: the duty of daughters has walked beside me for many years and sent so many opportunities my way. Dr Dianne Murray, author of Printed Ink was down from Sydney and I  couldn’t wait to talk to her face to face. Elisabeth Storrs, another prolific author, of the Tales of Ancient Rome, an historical fiction series set in the early Roman Republic and the little known civilization of Etruria, met me off the train and took me to where I could sign in.  And so many others too numerous to mention here. It was a great life-affirming day of fun and companionship with like minded people. I was delighted to be part of this supportive group of talented authors.

As writers we all know how health issues and family can quickly take all our time and energy. We put our lives on hold for a little while until things improve. During that time it is the kindness and support of family and others that carries us through

I thank you all

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men oft go awry

To quote Robbie Burns, ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men oft go awry‘.


Or my favourite saying, ‘If you want to make God laugh tell her your plans.’ by Anne Lamat

Anne Lamott

Life took a different turn this week when I called triple O for my husband. The paramedics were amazing. They gave him morphine, an ECG etc and stayed with him while he was being transported to Frankston Hospital. They waited with him until he was admitted into the emergency department where he stayed in one of the acute rooms overnight.  He was eventually stabilized and transferred to the Westernport coronary ward on level two. Son, Paul was a tower of strength and constantly stayed by our side. It makes all the difference to be able to discuss what is happening and to have someone always beside you during such a volatile situation.

The week before, my husband’s sister  had a fall at home resulting in a fractured femur. An ambulance was called and she was admitted to the Port Phillip ward on level four. Paul and I ended up running between both wards giving them updates on the others condition.

It tends to put life into perspective.

Far away at the back of my mind was the commitment to present Something Missing & Pickle to Pie at the Mornington Library’s Live and Local night and at the Historical Novel Society of Australasia academic programme talking about The Lie of History. My power-point presentation and both talks were printed and waiting for me on the couch downstairs.

I managed, only just, to present at the Mornington Library after Paul drove my husband home after discharge at 5pm and stayed with him. However, I quickly made my apologies at interval in the proceedings

I’ll still be presenting during the HNSA conference academic programme The Lie of History at 10am tomorrow (Sunday) but will be heading home straight after even though my husband is going okay. The conference organizers have been wonderful. It is greatly appreciated.

Thanks heaps to Paul for putting his life on hold to spend many hours beside us and to all who have been so caring and supportive.

The Highs And Lows of The Writing Journey

As authors we are constantly told to write and share our journey. I decided to send a blog article to the Historical Novel Society of Australasia (HNSA) before presenting on a panel Sunday week (10th Sept) at Swinburne University

Here is a copy of that article and accompanying email by author Elisabeth Storrs

An inspirational story that gives heart to ‘later bloomers’ – Glenice Whitting joins us on the HNSA blog. https://hnsaustralasia.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/writing-and-publishing-hidden-stories.html

Glenice will be appearing in the ‘The Lie of History’: How the Mirror of the Present Shapes the Past for its Own Purposes with Wendy J. Dunn, Diane Murray, Gillian Polack, and Cheryl Hayden in our academic programme. http://hnsa.org.au/academic-programme/

Writing and Publishing Hidden Stories – by Dr Glenice Whitting

Writers often dream of being published and getting their work ‘out there’. I am no exception. I had just completed my Masters of Creative Writing at Melbourne University when my first novel, Pickle to Pie co-won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest. This meant a cash advance, plus publication and I was beside myself with excitement. Pickle to Pie was the story of a boy, a great-hearted German Grossmutter and a man caught between two worlds. It was a record of my father’s life. In his late eighties he would sit for hours telling me, or whoever would listen, the stories of his early life as a boy with a German name living through two world wars and a depression. After he died I discovered a box of old German postcards and decided to write his story. In the process I came to terms with my previously hidden German heritage.

In any society, there are many forms of cultural and personal censorship that prevent the telling of tales considered unpalatable, unsavoury, subversive or insignificant. The result is that written history can be one sided, dominated by strong cultural groups, the stories of minorities unvalued and unrecorded. These stories cry out to be heard and with every life extinguished, we lose part of our collective memory. Writers can give voice to neglected stories of human beings who have been damaged deeply by world events.

To be a guest speaker at the Historical Novel Society’s Conference Academic Program Session four at Swinburne University is a dream come true. On the 10th September from 10am-11am our focus will be on the Lie of History. It is my chance to give voice to the children of German descent who lived in Australia during the last century and struggled to come to terms with their opposing worlds.

I had promised myself, if Pickle to Pie was ever published that I would give up my day job. Hairdressing had always augmented the family income through good times and bad. After the book launch I stuck to my promise, sold the salon and walked away to a life of poverty. I knew I was not a J K Rowling, but I was happy.

My second novel has just been published but it has been a long road to publication. This manuscript has had at least three reincarnations with a change of title each time. Each version has its own merit and has taught me something valuable about the craft of writing. The novel, ‘Something Missing’ began life as ‘Hens Lay, People Lie’: my artefact for my PhD at Swinburne University.

I had often toyed with the idea of studying for my PhD but never dreamt it could happen. However, to be awarded an APA scholarship meant the opportunity to study at Swinburne University. I grabbed it with both hands. With the help of two supervisors I could learn the craft of writing and understand all the rules. I would then know why I was breaking them. I decided to do what so many writers do. I chose to write something close to my heart. Something entirely different. This time it would be based on my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet, a story about two women, a life changing pen-friendship and the lies they tell each other. I wrote in my journal, I am writing an epistolary, autoethnographic novel grounded in both feminism and post modernist paradigms with the aim of revealing women’s hidden stories in the hope of instigating social change. I believe this embedded story of the journey of self discovery and friendship will carry with it the possibility of nothing less than the restoration of faith in human kind.’

What lofty aims, but here was a chance to use our letters, interspersed with text, to explore the influence this elderly poet had on a young woman who left school at fourteen to become a hairdresser: a woman who unconsciously yearned for the education given to her brother and denied to her. My journey into epistolary fiction using letter, diary and journal extracts, plus snippets of poetry, had begun.

I began work using an older American woman’s voice in first person narration; an elderly Australian woman in second person; and the young Australian mum in third person. The story would have embedded dialogue, following author, Debra Adelaide’s example, where only the formatting and actions of the characters, rather than dialogue marks, reveal to the reader who is speaking at that time. The elderly Australian woman would reveal the pitfalls and joys of writing a novel in a humorous, tongue in cheek, vein.

For three and a half years I am caught up in a world where my mind kept bouncing backwards and forwards between my creative writing of this novel and the formal academic exegesis.

Friends warned me that I would have a meltdown post PhD, but I was convinced that would not happen to me. I was too strong, too resilient. That sort of breakdown only happened to other people. The wail of the ambulance soon bought me back to earth with a thud. I asked my adult son what section of hospital I was in. He replied, ‘The resuscitation room, Mum.’ Two weeks later, just home from hospital and feeling weak and tired, I had resigned myself to missing my already paid for graduation ceremony. My son hired a wheelchair, determined I would make it.

There were only three PhD degrees awarded that night. I waited in the wings for all the BA’s, Masters and double degrees to be awarded before my son wheeled me over to join the queue waiting for their turn to hear their name called and to climb the stairs to the stage. Determined to walk under my own steam, doubts filled my mind. What if I couldn’t manage the stairs? What if I fainted, collapsed, or worse still, threw up when the chancellor, in all his finery handed me my much sort after certificate. What if…

To leave my wheelchair and walk on stage wearing the hired floppy Tudor bonnet and colourful gown was a highlight in my life. I had an overwhelming feeling of achievement and self worth that no one could take away from me. Afterwards, I thankfully joined my peers on the stage and proudly marched out with the academic procession only to flop into the wheelchair waiting by the door. The mature aged student journey from VCE to PhD had required passion, dogged determination and guts, but it had also been the most exciting, exhilarating time in my life. I knew I would miss it and all the friends I’d made along the way.

Using my recently gained title of Dr Glenice Whitting I sent my edited and, according to me, perfect manuscript out to publishers and waited for the offers to come rolling in. Nothing happened. Slowly, relentlessly, one after the other a stream of rejections arrived. ‘Thank you for sending Hens Lay People Lie, however…’

I was caught in a catch-22 situation. To get a publisher I needed an agent but to get an agent I needed a publisher. I also took a long hard look at what I’d written, and following the suggestions of American author/editor, Cindy Vallar, I inserted quotation marks to all the dialogue and renamed the manuscript ‘What Time is it There?’ Still the rejections arrived. It was ‘too academic’ too many voices, too literary, too hard to read and so on. Had I, over the years of study, begun to sound as if I’d swallowed a dictionary? I knew I had to, once again, rewrite the manuscript. It took a huge leap of faith to take it from literary fiction into popular fiction.

The third reincarnation is the one that is published. It was an invaluable lesson. To be a writer I had to be myself and write the way I really wanted to write, from the heart. I took out the overarching second person narrating character, made both Maggie and Diane third person narration, threw in a handful of suspense and Voilà …’Something Missing’ was born. It had gone beyond academia, beyond epistolarity into what is now called, popular faction. I was over the moon with excitement the day I received the email from Tim Ridgway and Melanie V Taylor of the international MadeGlobal Publishing. They loved the story and would I sign the contract?

Madeglobal Contact Form

It is every writer’s dream to hold their book in their hands. It gives them a chance to thank all the people who have helped along the way. There have been so many people I could list who have patiently and painstakingly worked with me through Pickle to Pie and all three versions of Something Missing. However, there is an indescribable joy in being able to finally thank them formally, via an acknowledgment page.

It is invaluable for a writer to participate in conferences and to be part of the Historical Novel Society of Australasia. The HNSA provides the opportunity to talk with readers and authors and discuss writing and promoting ideas. The members are so supportive and it feels like you belong to one large family. Why don’t you join us during this stimulating and inspirational weekend filled with talks, feedback and historical writing workshops? Go to HNSA and check out the program.

Glenice Whitting left school at fourteen to become a hairdresser. Her journey as a mature-aged student too her from VCE to PhD in creative writing. Her debut novel, Pickle to Pie, was published by Ilura Press. Her latest novel, Something Missing, was launched at Swinburne University in December 2016. Both books are available from Dymocks book stores and at her websiteSomething Missing is also available though Made GlobalBook Depository, and Amazon. Connect with Glenice on her website or on Facebook at Writers and their Journey.

As part of our HNSA 2017 academic program, Glenice will be discuss: The Lie of History: How the mirror of the present shapes the past for its own purposes with Wendy J Dunn, Diane Murray, Gillian Polack and Cheryl Hayden.

Admission to the academic programme is free but bookings are essential. You can find more details about Lie of History session on our website or buy tickets here.

HNSA 2017 Conference

The HNSA 2017 Melbourne Conference is being held on 8-10 September 2017 at Swinburne University.

This celebration of the historical fiction genre will showcase over 60 speakers discussing inspiration, writing craft, research, publishing pathways and personal histories in our weekend programme. Among the many acclaimed historical novelists participating are Kerry Greenwood, Kate Forsyth, Deborah Challinor, Libby Hathorn, Lucy Treloar, Sophie Masson, Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott and Arnold Zable. The HNSA’s speakers’ list is available on the HNSA website.

In addition to the two-stream weekend programme, there will be ten craft based super sessions and two research masterclasses.You won’t want to miss our interactive sessions on armour and historical costumes either! Purchase a ticket and you will be entered in the draw to win a $100 Dymocks Gift Card.

Historical Novel Society of Australasia Sept 2017

To be a guest speaker at the Historical Novel Society’s Conference Academic Program Session four at Swinburne University is a dream come true.

On Sunday the 10th September from 10am-11am our focus will be on the Lie of History. It is my chance to give voice to the children of German descent who lived in Australia during the last century and struggled to come to terms with their opposing worlds. I also want to reveal what it was like for a woman growing up in the USA and Australia during the fifties and sixties. These stories are often the hidden stories of the past. Unrecognised and forgotten. They need to be recorded and told.

SUNDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2017

ACADEMIC PROGRAMME

 TIME

10.00 am -12.30 pm (2 hours plus tea break)

Entry for anyone wishing to attend the academic program is free but bookings are essential due to limited space. http://hnsa.org.au/academic-programme/
VENUE

LEVEL   5,   ROOM AMDC  506

AMDC Building
Swinburne University of Technology
Hawthorn Campus

 10.00 am – 11:00 am Session Two
THE LIE OF HISTORY’: HOW THE MIRROR OF THE PRESENT SHAPES THE PAST FOR ITS OWN PURPOSES  

There is no question that we are constructions of our own times, and the writing of history is always shaped by those who recount the past for their own purposes. How does the mirror of the present day reflect and dictate the telling of history? Do we filter a version of history that tells more about us than the times of long ago through what we choose to reveal and erase? Dr Wendy J Dunn will discuss these questions with panel members Drs Glenice Whitting, Diane Murray, Gillian Polack, and Cheryl Hayden.

The HNSA conference is from Friday 8th Sept to Sunday 10th sept http://hnsa.org.au/conference/programme/ and the aim is to promote reading and writing of historical fiction.

My Abstract: Writing Hidden Stories

In any society, there are many forms of cultural and personal censorship that prevent the telling of tales considered unpalatable, unsavoury, subversive or insignificant. The result is that written history can be one sided, dominated by strong cultural groups, the stories of minorities unvalued and unrecorded. These stories cry out to be heard and with every life extinguished, we lose part of our collective memory. So how do writers give voice to neglected stories of human beings who have been damaged deeply by world events?

 

    

The Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) promotes the writing, reading and publication of historical fiction, especially in Australia and New Zealand. The HNSA was formally established in 2014. The society considers the historical fiction genre to be important to both the entertainment and education of readers as it contributes to the knowledge of the reader and provides a valid perspective beyond the viewpoint of the historian. Both the imagination and dedication of historical novelists present an authentic world which can enrich a reader’s understanding of real historical personages, eras and events. The HNSA conferences enable readers and writers to celebrate this genre and showcase the best of Australia and New Zealand’s literary talent.

Meet And Greet Author Day

 

Wendy Dunn and I are the Australian author representatives of the MadeGlobal publishing family and had our own table complete with our books, bookmarks, and our Madeglobal giveaway pens. An incredibly talented author, Kathryn Gauci took this lovely photo of us. Also authoring at the event was Rachael Nightingale, Elizabeth Corbett. Barbara Denvil and many others

It was a fabulous opportunity, not only to promote and distribute our own books but to support and learn from other authors. We were looked after by the library staff from the moment we arrived and even had our own authors lounge with free tea and coffee.

The photo below was taken of me in front of a green screen and my book superimposed. Amazing. Many thanks to Wendy Dunn for sending it to me via email.

 

Best Tip of the day

A Sales point reader

Two authors had sales point readers plugged into their iphones. I was fascinated by how easy it was for a reader who wanted to buy a book but didn’t have the cash on them to simply swipe their credit card. This is something I’m definitely going to look into buying over the next couple of days.

Mill Park Library was an excellent opportunity to  meet, greet and share writing journeys with other authors. This iconic library building  at 394 Plenty Road Mill Park Victoria opened in 2002 at a cost of $8 million and was the first library in Victoria to be designed on the concept of a hybrid digital/print library.

Location Photo

The Debut Day is an opportunity for emerging local and debut authors to connect with new readers and with each other. Writing can be a lonely occupation and most authors relish chatting to others and sharing experiences. The library was set up EXPO style! Authors promoted their books, chatted with readers and amongst themselves and even sold copies on the day.

We all thoroughly enjoyed the day chatting to our readers, meeting each other and talking about our writing journeys. We all agree that the first draft is written from the heart. After that we revise, revise and revise. To all budding writers always remember…

 

The Unspoken Secret

How I’m writing my third novel.

I never choose a story. The story chooses me. During my two writing classes at Godfrey Street Community House I always have at least twenty minutes stream of consciousness writing. We call it a splurge.  The idea is to knock the critic off your shoulder and with no thoughts about grammar or punctuation you write whatever comes into your head.

Doing this form of uncensored writing with other members of our group frees me from fear and perfectionism and the aim is to grow as a writer. It may not be my best work but the idea is to write from the heart.

So what has kept bubbling to the surface of my writing mind? I find I am having great fun writing my third book. Every time I put pen to paper, or tap away on my computer I find myself writing about two aging hairdressers and one has multiple affairs. However, the main focus of this book is revealed in the working title The Unspoken Secret. What else could it be about apart from old age. As an elderly friend said, ‘When you turn eighty…God help you.’

After reaching three score years and ten it is impossible to avoid the signs. The affects of gravity are everywhere and everything about you is dragged downwards. Your skin is wrinkled, you lose an inch in height and you have to wear glasses if you want to see anything clearly. But would you have believed that one day you would be old? That it is a fact of life? No. It is the unspoken secret

The only way to cope with the stark  reality is to make fun of it and simply get on with living.

The Senility Prayer. 

Grant me the senility  to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

I am having so much fun writing this book and by having time for me I am able to relate to others more fully. We recently flew to the Gold Coast to spend time with our two grandchildren. Aged ten and seven, Tahlia and Caxton lead active lives.

     

I watched them run around netball courts, soccer fields and football grounds and reveled in their athletic abilities

I clapped and cheered when the Broadbeach State School Choir won their way into the finals in August.

They are growing up so fast and one day they too will suddenly find that years have gone and it will be time for them to begin to understand the unspoken secret. I hope my book will help them to laugh at and find the funny side, plus the benefits of growing old. After all…who would complain about growing old when many people don’t have the privilege.