Category Archives: creative writing

A Knee Replacement and Procrastination

So you book yourself in for a total knee replacement. How wonderful to be able to say. ‘I’ll have a 70,000 k service and a new shock absorber, thanks.’

Because I’ve already had a 50,000 k service and a new front suspension (two hips) with a new knee I guess I’ve earnt the title of Robo Mum. At least I won’t limp and have that dreadful nagging pain once the offending knee joint has been replaced. Nothing could go wrong. Right?

I love the quote by Robbie Burns,
The best laid plans of mice and men oft times goes astray

All went well. The surgeon and anesthetist did a fabulous job, I was sent to rehabilitation as planned, staples were removed and after intensive physio I was discharged. My son took the day off to bring me home.

One week later I went to my local GP to take off the last plastic cover. To my shock he said he couldn’t do it because the knee was obviously infected. It had been hot and tight but I’d put it down to the knitting, healing process.

I hurriedly saw my surgeon who found that a staple had been left in. He removed it. But…I am a very allergy prone person who is allergic to sulfur, penicillin and, as we now know, most antibiotics.    From then on it was weeks of nausea and vomiting, trying one antibiotic after the other. I couldn’t keep any food down and was living on oranges and lemonade. At least it is one way to lose weight…although I wouldn’t recommend it as a way to lose six kilos

Carol-Anne Croker kept me supplied with a freezer full of nourishing soups and yummy treats until the last antibiotic, plus a daily dose of youcault and yogurt is actually working. How wonderful to feel you are finally on the way up instead of down. I can’t wait to resume my life again. Many thanks must go to so many wonderful friends who supported, encouraged and sustained me during this difficult time

But what about writing that third book? It ground to a halt with all this going on and I just don’t seem to be able to pick up the threads again. It will happen. The passion is still there but I am definitely  procrastinating. And it’s not the first time.

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2018 on the Canals

It is January 2018 and life is slowly coming back to a more normal pace after the excitement of a hectic 2017 Christmas and the New Year

   

Christmas on the canals can be chaotic. Most houses decorate with laser showers, flashing trees, reindeer and motifs, plus inflatable giant Father Christmases. The reflections in the water add to the display.

Every year, before Christmas, after dark we have a steady stream of boats of all shapes and sizes, all crowded, some decorated with lights, others unlit, filing past to view the reflected lights. We refer to it as the evacuation of Dunkirk.   This year, to add to the confusion, we had unlit jet-skis darting in and out amongst the pleasure craft.  I had my fingers crossed that all the children were wearing life jackets.

I love sitting in the dark on the deck, coffee cup in hand, watching luxurious pleasure craft complete with gorgeous girls sipping champagne and older nautical men juggle for position with overloaded wooden runabouts packed with Mums, kids and beer drinking Dads. I hope for the best as I watch in disbelief at the risks people take in the name of ‘entertainment’.

I decided to wait until now to go take my kayak to see the lights reflected in the water. I added flashing port and starboard lights, an LED back light and donned my bright yellow reflective jacket before paddling out onto the canal. There was not a boat in sight and I reveled in the peace of being out on the water, listening to the gentle breeze rustling the palms. A cormorant watched me quietly coast past before diving for his supper. Circles appeared on the water’s surface. At first I thought they were made by bugs but when I floated gently past I realized they were made by fish coming to the surface to feed.

I had the canals to myself and delighted in drifting , paddling and admiring the fabulous decorations. I know how long it takes us, with Paul and Marian’s help, to decorate our home.  Paddling past many unlit jetties, especially when the moon hid behind the clouds I realized why Paul had insisted on taping four canes to the end of our jetty . The unlit jetties were difficult to see in the shadows and loomed  dark and menacing.

The grand-dogs Ambar & Tashi, on holidays with us, greeted me on my arrival, but it was with regret that I dragged my kayak up the beach and onto the lawn.

Over the summer months I will definitely go again. I know there won’t be any decorations and the house will have returned to normal but…Oh! …the serenity.

And next time I’ll put my port and starboard lights further up so I won’t keep hitting them with my paddle.

Happy 2018

I love starting a fresh, clean New Year. I always have a brand new completely empty notebook ready to add my hopes, dreams and New Year resolutions.

This year I’m going to exercise more, eat less, watch my weight doesn’t get out of control and finish that third book. Fingers crossed etc etc.

Looking back at last year’s journal I find that what I’ve written is a more realistic jotting down of what actually happens. It can be nothing like what I’d hoped and dreamed but on the first day of this amazing brand new year I am totally optimistic and everything seems possible.

I’m teaching Memoir Writing again this year and will thoroughly enjoy being with a group focused on writing their stories.

I’d like to thank everyone that has touched my life in a positive way last year for all your kindness and support. You mean the world to me.

May 2018 be filled with happiness, good health, good will and love for you and your loved ones

Magical Moments: Part Two

Another Magical moment was our last meeting of the Memoir Writing Group at Godfrey Street Community House. Most of us are writing life stories but some are using the Memoir genre to tell their tales. I’m delighted to say that we have bonded into a group that welcomes others and give excellent feedback on the writing in progress. Most of us continue our stories during our 15 mins splurge (or stream of consciousness writing). I can’t wait to start 2018 but we all have a list of inspirational quotes and exercises to keep us writing over the holidays.

Last but not least was the Swinburne University Alumni Christmas afternoon tea. Beautifully presented with a Charleston Theme glitz and glitter. I had a great time catching up with Wendy and Peter Dunn, Breda and Alfred. We sat around a small table decorated with tall feathers and were waited on hand and foot. The afternoon tea was superb consisting of ribbon sandwiches, beautiful cheeses and tiny fancy cakes plus an unlimited supply of wine, soft drink, tea and coffee.

Christmas is a magical time of catching up with family and friends.                   May your Christmas be filled with happiness, peace and love.  

  

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.

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)

 

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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

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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

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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.