Category Archives: Healing life stories

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.

Thank You, Dr. Charles French

This is my first reblog but I join many others in thanking Dr Charles French and Jennie for all their help and support over the years

A Teacher's Reflections

I posted on my blog yesterday, “A Gift of Charlotte’s Web.”  As I scrolled down to print a hard copy (yes, I have a hard copy of every blog post- it’s wonderful), I looked at the three suggested readings of similar posts.  One was titled, “Death and Dying and Chapter Reading.”  What? I could not remember the post, as it was quite old.  Well, I read it again, and it was terrific.

Then, I looked at the bottom of the post.  There was only one ‘like’.  One!  That ‘like’ was Charles French.  He has been a follower and supporter of my blog since way-back-when.

I learned everything I needed and wanted to know by following his blog.  I learned how to thank people, how to follow people, and how to reblog.  I learned, and Charles French kept reading and liking my blog posts.  His blog has become a favorite and a gold…

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On-line Madeglobal Book Tour

This is the program for the on-line book tour . I found it inspiring to address the questions presented to me. It made me think about my novel and my motives for recording this story.  I hope these questions will be helpful to other writers.

 

Mon 20th Feb – mylittlebookspace.blogspot.co.uk – blog post.
Tues 21st Feb – https://novelgossip.com
Weds 22nd Feb – https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com – video looked great.
Thurs 23rd Feb – / http://quietfurybooks.com/blog/
Fri 24th Feb – https://lindasbookbag.com/ – interview questions.
Sat 25th Feb – https://kirstyes.co.uk/ – an article on friendship.
After the book tour I had one more stop with Sally Odgers

Mon 27th Feb https://tinyurl.com/PMPGlenicewhitting

Something Missing

Glenice Whitting

Two women, two countries. Serendipity, life, friendship. Diane, a young Australian mother meets Maggie, a sophisticated American poet, in a chance encounter. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separates them. Yet all is not quite as it seems. Maggie is grieving for her eldest daughter and trapped in a marriage involving infidelity and rape. Diane yearns for the same opportunities given to her brother. Their lives draw them to connect. This is the story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever.

Below is what I sent to the different blogs and websites

Guest Post for Amy Sullivan at novelgossip.com (500-1000 words)  

Q: How did I come up with the idea for this book.

Purely by chance. I’m definitely a late bloomer. During my early years I never dreamt I’d become a writer. However, fate intervened and eventually I leant to write about people and events important in my life. I wrote from the heart and was true to myself. Something Missing, is based on my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. It was a chance to explore our unique relationship and eventually to understand my journey as a mature aged student. Something Missing, published by MadeGlobal Publishing, is the result.

The journey

I left Malvern Girls Domestic Arts School at fourteen to become an apprentice hairdresser, and later, wife and mother. When I turned fifty, goaded by my American pen-friend’s well educated letters I went back to school to sit for my VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education). My results meant I was offered a place at Monash University to study for my Bachelor of Arts where my majors were English Literature and Sociology. At the end of my course, thinking I’d eventually work as a sociologist, I needed one more class to complete my literature major. The only course available to fit in with my day job was a night class in fiction writing. I wrote a short story based on my father’s life about a boy, a great-hearted German Grossmutter and a man caught between two worlds. That story was highly commended in the Judah Waten International Short Story Competition. It didn’t win but I was hooked. However, the story haunted me day and night and I decided to continue writing, but needed guidance. To study for a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at TAFE (Technical and Further Education) was perfect and under the guidance of Australian author, Liam Davison, my story grew into a novel.

A play written in Ray Mooney’s class at TAFE, based on my hairdressing experiences, was performed during the Fertile Ground New Plays Festival. The result was acceptance into the Masters of Creative Writing at Melbourne University. During that time the manuscript of the novel was short listed for the Victorian Premiers Literary Awards and later won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest. Pickle to Pie was launched by Ilura Press during the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Publishing the first novel meant I could apply to Swinburne University for a PhD by artefact and exegesis and to my delight I was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship. Here was my opportunity to learn the rules of the craft of writing and know why I was breaking them. I grabbed the chance. But what would I write? What would my next novel be about? Would I follow on with another German Australian story and use all those files and folders containing years of research?

Instead, I did what most writers do. I decided to explore and record my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. It would be the story of two countries, two women and the lies they told each other that led to truth. I titled the story, Hens Lay, People Lie and my PhD focus would be autoethnography, (using my own experiences as research) and epistolarity (interweaving extracts from letters, journals, newspaper articles etc). In my journal I wrote, ‘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.

 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 unconsciously yearned for the education given to her brother and denied to her. And what did my elderly pen-friend gain from our correspondence? My journey had begun.

I began by introducing 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 had 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, style.

For four years I was 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. After completing the PhD I 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. It then took a huge leap of faith and much rewriting to take the story from literary faction into popular fiction.

It was an invaluable lesson. To be a writer I had to be myself and write the way I really wanted to write, down to earth, uncomplicated and honest. I made both Maggie and Diane third person narration, threw in a handful of suspense and Voilà… Something Missing was born. I was so excited the day I received the email that Tim Ridgway of MadeGlobal Publishing loved the story and would I sign the contract etc.

It is every writer’s dream to hold their book in their hand. 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 all the versions. However, there is an indescribable joy in being able to finally thank them formally, via the acknowledgment page, in the published reincarnation of the manuscript now titled Something Missing.

Thank you, Amy for hosting me at your site. It is greatly appreciated.

Video interview for Kristin Truman https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com

5-10 min video: produced by David Dunn and edited by Tim Ridgway. The video can be viewed at http://www.madeglobal,com

Interview: Glenice Whitting author of Something Missing with Wendy Dunn author of Falling Pomegranate Seeds about Glenice’s novel and her writing life.

Q1: Glen, what is Something Missing about?

Q2: Do you think you were supposed to write this novel? Why?

Q3: Tell us about your journey writing Something Missing?

Q4: When did it begin to solidify into a novel?

Q5: How is the experience of being published by MadeGlobal different from your first novel with Ilura Press

Q6: Where can we buy Something Missing?

In December Something Missing, was published by Madeglobal Publishing.com and is available from www.madeglobal.com or www.glenicewhitting.com Book depository (free postage): https://www.bookdepository.com/Something-Missing-Glenice-Whitting/9788494593765

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Something+missing+glenice+whittingAmazon Kindle books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MQKMUZZ?tag=theancom-20

Darcia Helle quietfurybooks asked me to answer questions

Q1:What inspires you

Other people’s life stories. I’m interested in how people cope with life situations and love to hear other people’s stories. One of the benefits of being older is that people sit next to you on public transport and talk about their lives. I think it is because you look safe and comfortable with the time and interest to actually listen to them. This is of course coupled with the fact that they possibly will never see you again. And I love people. I find them and their stories fascinating.

Often when I’m sitting in front of my computer working on my latest project a snippet of conversation pops into my mind and I’m off writing again, weaving it into the story. I will take a situation, a relationship, a particular longing, a moment of insight and work on it, change the gender or the class or make the characters older or younger.

Out of respect for the people I meet I disguise them completely and they would never see themselves in any of my work. However, when MadeGlobal asked what my next novel would be about I immediately thought of a conversation I had with a grandmotherly woman on the train who excitedly revealed she was having an affair with a widow in the same retirement village. My reply to MadeGlobal Publishing was, ‘It will be about two elderly women hairdressers and one has multiple affairs’. Already during my Memoir Writing class at a local Community House, in our stream of conscious writing time I’m jotting down the bones of this story.

Q2: What books have most influenced you?

The only book in our household when I was growing up was the Bible. My parents believed in the Protestant work ethic. We were told not to loll around reading but to ‘Go outside and do something useful.’ How amazing that books have become my life.

When writing my first novel I doubted my ability and questioned whether I could write well enough for people to want to read about a deliberately concealed German heritage. I was constantly told, ‘Not another immigrant story’. At this time I read Sally Morgan’s My Place. Here was a down to earth, simple story about a girl struggling to come to terms with her aboriginal ancestry where curly the dog was determined to nuzzle the visiting inspector’s private parts. I was inspired. If Sally could write about her life so simply so could I.

The same thing happened when I was struggling with Something Missing. My American pen-friend sent me a copy of Helen Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road. Written entirely in letter format this powerful little book is about the love of books and words and reminded me of my pen-friend. I started out writing a similar book using our correspondence as the basis of the story. However, this was very limiting and I wanted to write with a broader stroke. It was then that I read Australian author, Elizabeth Jolley’s Miss Peabody’s Inheritance and loved it. Elizabeth Jolley has a wry sense of humour. Why couldn’t I write something that was somewhere between the two books I loved? After that, during my time at Swinburne University I researched a long list of epistolary letter based novels. Here are several thought-provoking books I found helpful.

Adelaide, D 2008, The household guide to dying, Picadore: Pan Macmillan, Sydney.

Balint, C 2004, Ophelia’s fan, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest.

Behn, A 1684, Love letters between a nobleman and his sister, Randal Taylor, London

Shriver, L 2004, We need to talk about Kevin, Harper Perennial, New York

Turner N 1999, These is my words: the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901, Harper Collins New York.

Turner, N 2005, Sarah’s quilt: a novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, Thomas Dunne Books, New York

Turner, N 2007, The Star Garden: a novel of Sarah Agnes Prine, Thomas Dunne Books

Q3: Are you a morning or night person

 Definitely morning, although I have been known to burn the midnight oil. Most of my writing is done between the hours of 3am to 6am. The house is quiet, the telephone doesn’t ring and I am free to write uninterrupted to my heart’s content. My husband is snoring oblivious to my tapping and I slip back to bed before he wakes, content that I’ve done my word count for the day. When writing a novel I live, eat and breathe with the characters. I relate to both Maggie and Diane, understand them, empathise with them and have mental conversations with them. When I think about it I’m really quite scatty when I have my teeth sunk into a novel. Thank goodness for an understanding family. They know I’m weird and accept it.

Q4: What is your favourite food

 A slab of old fashioned boiled fruitcake. In Something Missing, when Diane and the well educated American, Maggie meet for the first time in Outback Australia, Diane dives into the campervan and produces a boiled fruitcake, wrapped in Alfoil, kept for just such an occasion. That is the beauty of this fruitcake. It keeps indefinitely. It became a symbol of Diane and Maggie’s friendship; rich, fruity and totally satisfying. As a matter of fact it is 4am and I have two cooking in the oven at the moment. From tomorrow there will be a steady stream of visitors and I must be ready to provide lots of coffee breaks. There is nothing better than a slab of fruitcake with your coffee. Here is my mother’s recipe from her old, handwritten and food stained cookbook. At the top of the page, she always put the name of the person who gave her the recipe.

Boiled Fruit Cake (Miss Day) Two elderly sisters, both called Miss Day lived two doors down from us.

1 teas mixed spice, 1/4 lb butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1 lb mixed fruit, 1 level teas carb soda

Method: Put into large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Take off and let cool, then beat in 1 large egg and add 1 cup Self Raising flour and 1 cup plain flour sifted together. Cook mod oven (300-325) for ½ to 2 hrs. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Q5: What is your idea of perfect happiness

I can think of many things; my wedding day, the birth of my boys, grandchildren and just being alive. Many people don’t get the privilege. However, on a very personal satisfaction level I must say the moment when you hold your book in your hand. To flip through to the acknowledgement page and see where you’ve been able to formally thank everyone who has helped you along the way and proved their faith in you was justified. There is no other feeling like it. It is unique, very special and something you hug around you when life gets tough.

Thank you, Darcia for hosting me at your site.

Interview for Michelle Doorey: Academic Armour: Diane tells her story

After meeting Maggie I somehow I felt as if the universe, fate or something was falling into place for me. She recommended books to read, opportunities presented themselves, friends recommended courses, people and places to be. Ever since I was fourteen I had made my way in life and was now a successful wife, mother and hairdresser. But always I felt as if something was missing; my thoughts and suggestions devalued and disrespected. Was it because I was a poorly educated woman? The everyday derogative comments would pierce my heart and damage my self esteem. Big brother would say, ‘No use you entering that writing competition. I’ll beat you.’ And he did. When I asked my parents about going to High School they laughed and replied, ‘You? High School? No way. You’ll only get married and have children.’

I remember resentfully vacuuming my brother’s bedroom and taking great delight in hearing his B.B. gun pellets ping when they hit the housing of the carpet cleaner.

Maggie’s letters inspired me to become a mature aged student and go back to school where I embraced every educational opportunity that came my way. No matter how scary. I wanted to be well educated like Maggie, write like Maggie. During classes I gave 110%, loved to study and found that I could succeed. I had finally found my wings and soared to the moon.

During the academic journey that followed I soon realized that success did not depend on gender, intelligence or having a gift from God. It all boiled down to how passionate and enthusiastic you were and how much time you were prepared to devote to your course, study and research. During those years of study I discovered many past and present women and men, who investigated a topic, teased it out and came to their own conclusions. It was time for me to stand tall, enter the conversation and add my hard won knowledge to the literary and social discussions.

When I’d completed the journey from VCE to PhD I found I did not need to use the prefix Doctor and no longer would take to heart the jibes and jokes of male friends. Many times I’m told, ‘So you’re now a doctor. I wouldn’t let you operate on me.’ Or, ‘you should know that, you’re a doctor.’ Instead of walking away hurt and belittled I quietly reply, ‘I’m a doctor of creative writing. Ask me anything about that and I’ll give you an answer.’ I am finally secure. Unassailable. The cultural arrows of my generation now bounce off my academic armour.

Since graduating I’ve had to watch that my pendulum does not swing too far and I become inflated with my own importance. I am a small cog in a big wheel. However I now understand the how, when and why of my life and I’m thankful for that chance meeting with Maggie in the Australian Outback, the years of inspirational pen-friendship and the opportunities presented to me. Many women do not have the privilege.

Thank you, Michelle for hosting me at your site. It is greatly appreciated.

Guest blog post on friendship for Kirsty Stanley:

 What makes a good friend?

 This question really got me thinking about the many friendships I’ve had over the years. Friends who have come into my life at a particular time to support, help and advise. Childhood friends, hairdressing friends and academic friends. Many became lifelong friendships but none have been as constant, or as inspirational as my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. Something Missing is based on that pen-friendship because I wanted, through my writing to try to work out why this friendship, in spite of the odds, survived. What was it that made it last all those years and endure the ups and downs of life which so frequently destroy relationships? A clue for me was a quote I use at the beginning of the book by American author, Irving Stone, ‘There are no faster or firmer friendships than those between people who love the same books.’

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and be understood. When I began writing our story I never meant to write a novel. I set out to record our friendship and letters in an attempt to understand how and why our chance meeting permanently changed us. Why this pen-friendship inspired my academic journey from VCE to PhD. I also wanted to reveal how fragile friendships can be, how easily they can break only to lead to truth when both parties finally understand and are understood.

I am always amazed how friends come into our lives when we need them most. It was a chance meeting at our camp on Coopers Creek near the Bourke and Wills Dig Tree in Outback Australia. I was thirty-five and working full time as a hairdresser, plus being a wife and mother. However, I always felt there was something missing in my busy life. My campfire friend was sixty. I didn’t know it at the time but her adult daughter had suicided the year before and left a permanent hole in my friend’s heart.

She came from well educated parents, married her much older college professor and researched and typed his published journal articles. They had retired and she was so proud of his success. I grew up in a working class family where boys were educated because they would become the bread winners. My fate was to go to a Domestic Arts school to learn cooking, sewing and how to balance a budget for a family of four. The only book we had at home was The Bible. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separated us. However, my pen-friend’s educated letters, although often intimidating, also inspired me. She wrote about interesting people and exotic places, recommended books and poetry to read. She opened my eyes to a world of literature. I never replaced her daughter but became her work in progress. My pen-friendship put a bandaid over the hole in her heart.

I started writing our story as part of my PhD by artefact and exegesis at Swinburne University. By this time my pen-friend was over ninety. When she died I was devastated. I know I should have expected it but somehow I felt that my friend would always be there. My writer’s journal remained closed, the novel and exegesis frozen. How to write the unsayable? I could not continue. The story, balanced between fact and fiction meant that half my writing was in the real world. I was telling another woman’s story as well as my own. I had worked through many writing issues, and told numerous stories of literary and personal goals, but I came full circle when faced with my pen-friend’s death. At the heart of the novel were two real women. Now one was lost and the other one was grieving.

Time is a great healer, and by moving more into fiction I finally finished a third rewrite now titled Something Missing. My pen-friend’s life is permanently part of mine. I miss her feisty nature and her wisdom and bless the day we met on the banks of Coopers Creek.

Thank you Kirsty for hosting me on your blog site.

Lindas book bag: https://lindasbookbag.com. Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Glenice. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?

Hi, Linda. It’s hard to know where to begin. I am an Australian author with two published novels. However, I didn’t start writing until I was in my fifties. I think you could call me a late bloomer. But I love writing anything and everything, including short stories, plays, film scripts, and of course novels. I discovered my passion for writing when I returned to study as a mature aged student. The journey took me many years from VCE to a PhD in creative writing. At the moment I look forward to teaching a group of women how to write their memoirs. We meet every second Wednesday at a Community House in Bentleigh, Australia. My second novel Something Missing has just been published by MadeGlobal Publishing.

Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about Something Missing?

The novel is based on my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. It is about two women, two countries, chance meetings, life and friendship. I think the best way to tell you about it is to give you the blurb.

Diane, a young Australian mother meets Maggie, a sophisticated American poet, in a chance encounter. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separates them. Yet all is not quite as it seems. Maggie is grieving for her eldest daughter and trapped in a marriage involving infidelity and rape. Diane yearns for the same opportunities given to her brother. Their lives draw them to connect. This is the story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever

When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?

I never dreamt of becoming a writer until I returned to study. To finish my literature major for my Bachelor of Arts I needed one last subject. The only class that fitted in with my day job was fiction writing. A story I wrote was highly commended in the Judah Waten Short Story Competition. It went straight to my head and I fell in love with writing. I guess the rest is history.

You’re a playwright as well as a novelist. How different or similar do you find writing in these two ways?

They are entirely different genres. I learnt how to write dialogue in Ray Mooney’s playwriting class when studying for a diploma for Professional Writing and Editing at TAFE (Technical and Further Education) college. Writing dialogue is so different from everyday speech. However, learning how to write engaging dialogue has helped me immensely when my characters speak for themselves in my novels. I feel that most writers benefit from courses that teach them how to write for different genres such as film scripts, playwriting, novels and non-fiction. Writing is a craft and it helps to know all the aspects of that craft.

.You have a Ph.D. in Philosophy (Writing). How has this impacted on your style as a novelist?

When I finished the PhD I’m sure I sounded as if I’d swallowed a dictionary. Words like epistolarity and autoethnography were part of my vocabulary. I had to take my head out of the clouds and come down to earth. However, studying for my doctorate meant that I knew the rules of the craft of writing and I understood why I was breaking them. Something Missing is the third rewrite of the novel that was the artefact for my PhD. To publish I needed to turn it from literary fiction into popular fiction and I’m very happy with the outcome. I feel that all the courses I’ve taken have helped me improve my writing. And isn’t that our aim? To do whatever we can to be the best writers we can be.

 

Education is one of the themes of Something Missing. Why did you choose this theme?

I grew up in an Australian culture that educated the boys at a High School because they would be the bread winners of a family. Girls went to a Domestic Arts School to learn cooking and sewing. We were going to be a wife and mother . Our family lived by our golden rule. He who makes the gold makes the rules. I happily became a wife, mother of two boys and a hairdresser but I always felt there was something missing in my life. My well educated American penfriend’s letters constantly showed me the advantages of a good education. In her letters she recommended books to read, authors to admire and one day I decided to accept her challenge and go to TAFE.

How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?

I can’t put enough emphasis on the need to research every tiny part of your novel. Even though you may be writing fiction, dates of major events etc. must be correct or your reader will not believe in your story. You can’t have your biologist not know about her natural world. My main source of information is the internet. I source articles, journals, newspaper clippings, and always verify if the information is coming from a reliable source. There is a lot of misinformation out there  For every writing project I always end up with at least three large files of printed research questions and answers. I’ve also discovered that a good editor will soon pick you up if you’ve made a mistake.

 Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

I love it all. I relish the struggles and the challenges as well as the joyous feeling when everything flows and falls into place,

 What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I’m an early bird. I get up at 3am and write till 6am. At this time the house is quiet, the phone doesn’t ring and I can still slip back to bed before my husband wakes, unaware of my tapping. There is such joy in snuggling under the bedclothes knowing that I’ve completed another section of my work in progress. If possible, it pays to have a room of your own and mine is a bedroom converted into a study/writing room. It is lined with books of all shapes and sizes, plus all my research folders which I can’t bear to throw out. You never know, I may need them one day.

Female friendship is crucial to Something Missing.  To what extent do you believe women need other women in their lives to be happy?

It is a wonderful experience to have someone in your life, woman or man who supports you and nourishes your soul. However a woman friend understands you and a good friend is willing to forgive your mistakes and still be there for you through good times and bad. It is wonderful to have a friend by your side to share your happiness. They cannot make you happy but are there to celebrate with you when you are. I have some amazing friends and I just can’t think of life without them.

Something Missing has a cover that suggests female friendship regardless of age to me. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?

MadeGlobal sent me a cover design that featured two other women. My reaction was instant. They were too young and one had brown hair. They didn’t look anything like my mental picture of Maggie and Diane. One woman had to be young and blonde and the other older and grey. Tim sent me a link to a website where you can buy photos of women and therefore be sure of not having any copyright problems. I chose the two photos currently on the cover because, to me, and thankfully to you, they showed the friendship of the women in spite of the age difference. And, being an ex hairdresser they both had to have the right hair colour. Somehow the photos of these two women felt right and I always go by my gut feeling. I love the cover Tim has produced.

If you could choose to be a character from Something Missing, who would you be and why?

Diane. I based her on myself and through her I explored the second part of my life journey. I find this is a benefit of writing biographically based fiction. Or faction as one of my friends calls this style of writing. In my first book Pickle to Pie I dealt with my ancestry. In Something Missing I worked on understanding the second stage of my life. My third book has to be about two ageing hairdressers and one has multiple affairs. That would be fun.

 If Something Missing became a film, who would you like to play Diane and Maggie and why would you choose them?

Meryl Streep for Maggie. Meryl is such a talented, older actress who I admire. She would be able to play the feisty, well educated Maggie with a subtle air of superiority. Nicole Kidman would be perfect as the younger Diane. Nicole has amazing acting skills and would suite the physical appearance of Diane. She would also be able to convincingly portray the extent of Diane’s adulation for Maggie.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

Anything and everything. Mostly books written by fellow authors. I believe that writers support other writers and I try to do the same.

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Something Missing should be their next read, what would you say?

That’s a hard call, Linda. I’d have to say they should read Something Missing next because…the story’s about women, friendship, understanding each other and lies that lead to truth.

 Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

Thank you, Linda for showcasing me on you blog site.

 

For Sally Odgers blogspot (500 words)

There are many momentous life events but there is no greater personal happiness than the moment when you hold your published book in your hands. You hug the feeling around you like a warm blanket to keep out the wintery chills of life. It is a rare moment of bliss, and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first book or fifth.

Recently, with the launch of my latest book Something Missing I find myself humming The Wind Beneath My Wings because it reminds me of so many people who have supported and helped me along the way. All my writing projects have been a team effort and I have a long list of people who have inspired me over many years. How wonderful to have the opportunity to thank them via the acknowledgement pages of my books. To publish is one way of proving to them that their faith in me as a writer is justified. Most writers need to pluck up courage to send their work to others for feedback. However, I’ve discovered that other women writers support, encourage and inspire you to reach for the stars.

Years ago, when I was a budding author and did not realize that my academic journey would take me from VCE to a PhD in creative writing, I sent a chapter of my first novel, Pickle to Pie to Sally for assessment. My mouth was dry and I had sweaty palms waiting for her reply. To my relief she sent me a detailed report of my writing that was not only encouraging but also gave me some insightful ideas of how to lift the work up another notch. Her tick of approval at a time when I was still finding my feet was invaluable. Over the years, many other women have selflessly helped me on my writing journey which eventually became one of self discovery.

My debut novel, Pickle to Pie published by Ilura Press was based on my father’s life. It is about a boy, a great-hearted German Grossmutter and a man caught between two worlds. An unexpected bonus of writing his story was that I finally came to terms with my long hidden German ancestry.

This latest novel, Something Missing published by Madeglobal.com deals with the next stage of my life. It reveals how a chance meeting and thirty-five years of pen-friendship with an older American poet inspired and changed my life.

Tim of Madeglobal Publishing summed up the novel when he wrote, Something Missing is about two women, two countries. serendipity, life and friendship. Diane, a young Australian mother meets Maggie, a sophisticated American poet, in a chance encounter. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separates them. Yet all is not quite as it seems. Maggie is grieving for her eldest daughter and trapped in a marriage involving infidelity and rape. Diane yearns for the same opportunities given to her brother. Their lives draw them to connect. This is the story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever. This book will appeal to women aged between twenty and ninety-nine years and men who wish to understand them.

It has been an interesting journey finding these excellent blog sites, writing articles, making videos, answering questions and commenting. I hope my experiences will help other writers embarking on their first on-line book tour 

I am currently teaching Memoir Writing at Godfrey Street House in Bentleigh Victoria Australia and love to encourage and help people to write their stories.

Our Australian Christmas 2016

Christmas was filled with sun, sand and happiness and lovely gifts.

We caught up with so many family and friends and Jason, Karen, Tahlia and Caxton were here for a very special Christmas morning.  A night boat trip around the canals to see the Christmas lights was a highlight.
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 Christmas morning the sun shone through the window and the seagulls made a racket hoping there would be some interesting treats later in the day. They were not disappointed. Santa bought bikes and under the tree were toys and games. Wrapping paper was quickly torn away to reveal hidden treasures.

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Boxing day both our sons and daughters -in-law were with us plus Alan’s sister, Betty, John , Carol-Anne and Margaret.

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We cut the cake from my Book Launch. At the book launch on the 11th December Wendy Dunn presented me with a fantastic book-shaped cake with the front cover of Something Missing proudly displayed on top. I couldn’t bear to cut it so froze it to share with my Queensland family.gold-coast-family

New Years Eve we were caressed by the last rays of the evening sun and joined other families sitting on the sand to watch the sun slowly sink beyond the blue waters of Port Phillip Bay. Later, jet skis dashed past, well out of the way of the many swimmers enjoying the welcome coolness of the water. Children played cricket until it was too dark to see the ball while others enjoyed the swings, slides and other activities at the beach-side Keast Park foreshore playground.

In the darkness at home we lit a brassier filled with pine cones, ran along the sand waving sparklers in either hand and popped party poppers. The multitude of  colourful streamers covered our outdoor deck.

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How wonderful to start a brand new year. It feels like opening a special new book with empty pages just begging for some interesting events to be recorded.

May 2017 be a year of fun, good health and happiness.  With fingers crossed we all made New Year resolutions. Hopefully they will last…at least until February.

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Happy New Year to all fellow bloggers.

May all your writing dreams come true in 2017.

Mentone Public Library supports local authors

How fortunate we are, in the city of Kingston, (Victoria, Australia) to have someone like Julia Reichstein to support and nurture local writers. Via her Author for All Seasons events at the Mentone Public Library , she not only showcases local writers, but also supportive organisations such as the Mordialloc Writers Group.

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This group meets every second Tuesday to workshop work in progress and has seen both my novels in their raw form.

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For over twenty years, creative writing teacher and author, Mairi Neil has been the founder and mainstay of the group. Her editing expertise is legendary. Through her tireless efforts many local writers have had their stories published in the eight anthologies produced. I count myself fortunate to be amongst them.

I was delighted to be with her and members of the group to showcase our latest anthology of essays, Kingston Our City.

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Julia also invited me to give an author talk on Saturday, 26th November 2016 and has sent out fabulous flyers showcasing my book cover for my latest novel to be published this year by MadeGlobal Publishing.com. Another Victorian author Wendy J Dunn has had her third historical novel Falling Pomegranate Seeds published by MadeGlobal in 2016.

book-cover-new Something Missing is about Diane, a naive young married woman who knows that there must be more to life than hairdressing and mothering and needs to discover what it is. When she meets in outback Australia, an older, ‘educated’ American she is attracted by Maggie’s self confidence and broad literary and general knowledge. Diane instigates a pen-pal relationship in the desire to absorb wisdom from Maggie and her knowledge of the world. Something Missing is a story about growing up, growing old, of love, lies and reconciliation.

To promote and publicize this latest novel, Julia has already contacted a long list of local and wider Melbourne media. Fingers crossed they all respond and accept the challenge. The Mentone Public Library is at 36 Florence Street, Mentone Vic Australia 3194. You can see the work Julia does for the community and the aims and focus of this library at the following internet sites. http://mentonepubliclibrary.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.mycommunitylife.com.au/Community/Mentone-Public-Library

Below is the flyer she has sent out for me.

MENTONE PUBLIC LIBRARY
PROUDLY PRESENTS
“AN AUTHOR FOR ALL SEASONS: SERIES SIX”

WITH AWARD-WINNING LOCAL AUTHOR:

Glenice Whitting

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https://glenicewhitting.wordpress.com/

Glenice will be talking about the process involved in publishing Pickle to Pie (Ilura Press) and her latest novel, Something Missing by  MadeGlobal Publishing.com.

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MENTONE PUBLIC LIBRARY SPEAKING DATE:

Saturday, 26th November 2016
Entry:
Gold Coin Donation Welcome
Please RSVP by: Thursday, 24th November 2016
Bookings Required:
Phone: 03 9583-8494
Email: mentonepubliclibrary@gmail.com
Mentone Public Library…Where Print Becomes Personable

With people like Julia, Mairi Neil and the Mordialloc Writers Group writing is no longer a solitary occupation. It is a shared experience with like minded people who care.

Sally Morgan: My Place and False Heritage

Some books go straight to your heart and inspire you to work harder, try harder.

Lisa Hill’s Reviews from Indigenous Literature Week at wordpress ANZ Litlovers 2016 | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog made me think about the book that gave me the confidence to embrace creative writing. It was Sally Morgan’s My Place;  the story of being part of an Aboriginal family who, due to the shame attached to being aboriginal in Australia, ensured that Sally grew up believing the family came from India.

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My ancestry was German, but until I was in my twenties I believed our family came from Belgium. When my father  died I couldn’t sleep. Every night was spent sitting at my computer trying to recapture in words so many of the stories he had told me (after he turned eighty) about his life as the first child of German immigrants born in Australia. Stories I felt could be lost forever if I didn’t commit them to paper..now. But the fear was always there. Would I be a good enough writer? Would the family understand? Would anyone be offended? How truthful could I be?

It was then that I read My Place and it struck a chord.

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If Sally Morgan could write in a down to earth manner the story of her aboriginal family life and denial of ancestry, well, so could I. With renewed confidence, and after many years, Pickle to Pie was finally born.

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Synopsis of Sally Morgan’s My Place. This is a story of a young Aboriginal girl growing up to false heritage and not knowing where she is from. Recounts of several of Morgan’s family members are told. The story setting revolves around Morgan’s own hometown, Perth, Western Australia, and also Corunna Downs. Morgan has four siblings, two brothers and two sisters. She faces many challenges, such as fitting in at school, getting good marks for acceptance in University, and living life without her father.

Looking at the views and experiences of three generations of indigenous Australians, this autobiography unearths political and societal issues contained within Australia’s indigenous culture. Sally Morgan traveled to her grandmother’s birthplace, starting a search for information about her family. She uncovers that she is not white but aborigine–information that was kept a secret because of the stigma of society. This moving account is a classic of Australian literature that finally frees the tongues of the author’s mother and grandmother, allowing them to tell their own stories.

About The Author

Sally Morgan is an experienced author and photographer. She has written more than 250 titles for both children and adults. Her main interest is in the natural world and environmental issues, but she writes on all science and geography topics. A former teacher and chief examiner for A level biology, she is now a full time writer, When not writing, she helps out on her organic farm in Somerset.

Reviews from Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ Litlovers 2016 | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Asylum Seekers and Refugees Recipe Book

Asylum seekers and refugees have a wealth of culture and many recipes to share.

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They also need all the help they can get and many ethical people are finding ways and means to promote their cause. Ilura Press have published Every Bite Takes You Home and Lisa Hill’s wordpress post at ANZlitlovers is a review of the book Breaking the Boundaries, Australian activists tell their stories,

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Edited by Yvonne Allen and Joy Noble the book, Lisa’s blog, and Every Bite Takes You Home are an interesting exploration of the refugee crisis and all cast a positive light on the asylum seekers/refugees debate.

Last  Wednesday I went with Mairi Neil to the Kathleen Syme Library in Carlton, Victoria, Australia to help Ilura Press celebrate their publication of their fabulous story/recipe book. I was delighted to see that all profits go directly to assist asylum seekers and refugees via the organisations, Stand Up, ONDRU, and Foundation House .

Every Bite Takes You Home invites us to share in the journeys of sixteen remarkable asylum seekers who have found a home in Australia. Each person’s unique story, blended with the memories of their favourite recipes and traditions, reminds us that food can unite us all, generating acceptance and understanding across diverse cultures and societies.

David Manne – Executive Director RILC said, “These are intimate accounts of remarkable resilience, courage, and survival—giving a powerful voice to those who have so often been rendered voiceless in our community.”
Sabina Hofman and Christopher Lappis of Ilura Press are the most ethical people I have ever known. What an amazing experience it was to have them publish my novel, Pickle to Pie. They produced a high quality book I was proud to hold in my hand. They have carried on their tradition of quality and attention to detail in Every Bite Takes You Home . Any home owner would be proud to have it grace their coffee table. 

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The authors of this beautiful book are Gaye Weeden & Hayley Smorgon with photography by Peter Tarasiuk & Mark Roper

“All the elements combine: the stories, the portraits, the photos of food, the recipes, the layout and design, to produce a book of heart and soul.”
Arnold Zable – Author; President of International PEN Melbourne.

 

All author and publisher profit from the sales of the book will be donated to STAND UP, ONDRU, and FOUNDATION HOUSE to directly assist asylum seekers and refugees.
 

After tasting some of the recipes last Wednesday I can’t wait to try some on my family. Australia has gained so much from the influx of people from different countries and the result has been the inclusion into our menus of many culinary delights from many nations, ie  Italian, Greek, Egyptian, Asian to name a few. In my youth it was meat and three vegetables at most meals and spaghetti came in a tin. Now fresh pasta, ravioli, rissotto and spaghetti bolognaise, along with many exotic Asian dishes are regular favorites at the family dinner table.    Let’s celebrate our Australian cultural diversity and welcome asylum seekers and refugees with open arms.

PURCHASE A$62 (HARDCOVER)

End of Life Nursing

This is a follow up post about an important aspect of life. Death is inevitable – none of us will escape it. How we end our lives is important, not only to us but to our families and that may mean having a palliative care nurse help us on our journey. Palliative Care is not about dying but about living with a serious
illness. Dr Susan Bardy’s books Caring vs Curing and Choosing End of Life Nursing deal with this often buried subject and I have posted her words below.

Dr Susan Bardy, RN (Ret), PhD (UniSA)

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My background in palliative care consists of 22 years active clinical
work in the Mary Potter Hospice at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide.

After a long, nearly fulltime employment as a registered nurse, I
attended university, graduating with two degrees that led to ongoing
postgraduate work.

After retiring in 2006 I concentrated on completing a
PhD in the area of palliative care. I have enjoyed being a full member of
the Palliative Care Council SA for its entire existence, and have followed its
progress during my clinical years.

After graduating with a doctoral degree I offered to be involved with the
workings of the Council in a voluntary role. The result is speaking
engagements representing what is now called Palliative Care South
Australia Inc, which is headed by Tracy Watters as CEO and Dr Mary
Brooksbank as President.

Palliative Care is my passion that did not diminish after leaving clinical
practice. By choice I was a bedside clinician, which I think is easily the
most satisfying role that a nurse can take on. Now meeting people in the
community my main objective in talking about Palliative Care (PC) is to
reassure them that PC is not about dying but about living with a serious
illness.

Many illnesses, such as many cancers, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron and Parkinson’s diseases can become chronic.  Palliative care offers a complimentary caring model alongside traditional medical involvement.
Palliative carers concentrate on making possible quality living with an
illness that often takes some time before it becomes life threatening.

Palliative care of the disease is effective by offering comfort measures. These
include emotional support, dietary advice, physical exercise or even
beauty advice for women. And all this while active treatment is still in
progress. The whole family unit feels the benefit by becoming familiar at an
early stage with the philosophy of Palliative care.

Later, when eventual deterioration of the sick person comes to pass, as it
inevitably will, this type of care will be acknowledged as a treatment
component of the actual disease. The extended family then will readily
accept the support of this specialty. Death is inevitable – none of us will
escape it. Ending life with a terminal illness is a slow lonely process.

My research addressed the question of why some nurses chose to work in the
field of palliative care. I am one who willingly stepped into the role of being
with patients at their most vulnerable time – when diagnosed with an illness
that eventually becomes life ending.

My studies reflected on the role of the Palliative Care nurse. My doctoral research question asked how and why my nursing transformation came about. What was it that influenced me to move from a curing model to comfort caring only?

My motherʼs unexpected death with cancer was responsible for showing
the way. She died in the hospice unit of the hospital where I was employed.
Sitting by her side showed me another aspect of nursing that attracted me to
a career change. I transferred to the Hospice after mother died and
remained there for twenty years. Acute care of patients taught me much
about nursing but did not satisfy my wish to give effective personalised
patient care. It seemed that there was never enough time for the often distressed
patient.

Hospice nursing was different. There, arranging a pillow and moistening a dry lip was one of the most significant care issues. Working in the hospice I learnt to
embrace notions of clinical competence, a sense of calling, compassion, empathy, and comfort with death and personal mortality.

In the hospice I experienced the power of interpretation that holistic care
brings into play and is at the heart of the palliative approach. Coming from
acute clinical nursing I stopped and asked myself what was it that I
brought with me to the care of dying people. The research had a number of
the answers, and in the meaning making process I was joined by a
group of palliative care nurses. They helped me to explore the coming to,
and being effective in, a care model that does not have an expected
positive outcome.

Findings of my study presented attributes that best describe palliative
care nursesʼ qualities, and that are essential building blocks of nursing
patients with time-limiting illnesses. These qualities are in part innate and
personal but a number of the following attributes are acquired by experience
at the bedside of sick patients. I find them valid and a true picture of my
and colleagues experiences:
1. Comfort with death and dying
2. Comfort with personal mortality
3. Intensive caring
4. Companionship with suffering
5. Emotional strength
6. Non-judgmental understanding

In essence, the principle dynamics affecting nurses to take on palliative
care is that often they are not comfortable with the disregard some
general nursing practitioners for the holistic care of patients with life-limiting
illnesses. This was demonstrated by interview results where a number
nurses spoke of the way they felt extremely comfortable in hospice units
where there was time for whole person care of their patients.

What now?

After my many years of practice across the nursing profession, my
wish now is to be in the community. I wish to share my knowledge and
practical experience by comfortably speaking of palliative care as a branch
of health care that is there to give a helping hand to people with serious
health problems.

I am grateful to Palliative Care South Australia Inc. who gave me the
opportunity to join in being a frontline promoter of an important health caring
model.

The next World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is on October 8th 2016

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Caring vs Curing

An email arrived from Susan Bardy, a fellow PhD friend from Adelaide. It bought back so many memories of an unexpected friendship and an exciting conference in Illinois USA.

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Susan Bardy is a palliative nurse devoted to the care of people who are nearing the end of life’s journey. Her thesis, Caring vs Curing is being published by The Australian Theological Forum and is available at a reduced price via the order form below. Knowing Susan it will be an empathetic, thoughtful and excellent book, not only interesting to read but one you will want to keep in a prominent place on your bookshelf .

ORDER FORM
Caring vs Curing
ISBN 9781925309300
Name: _________________________________
Institution: ______________________________
Address: _______________________________
____________________ Postcode: ______ Country:______________
Telephone: _____________________________
Email: ________________________________
􀂉􀀃I would like to order _____ copies (PRE ORDER PRICE AUS $20
until 30 May)
(+AUS $6 Postage and Handling)
TOTAL AMOUNT: _______________
PAYMENT
􀂉􀀃I enclose a cheque/money order made out to ATF Ltd
Or Charge my 􀂉􀀃Master Card 􀂉􀀃Visa
Card Number :
Expiry date: / 3 digit security code:
Signature:__________________________
Return form by fax or post:
ATF Ltd
PO BOX 504, Hindmarsh SA 5007
Ph: +61 08 8232 2093
Fax: +61 08 8223 5643
Email: hdregan@atf.org.au

keynote address

When I was studying for my PhD in epistolary fiction at Swinburne University  in Melbourne we were expected to attend and present a paper at two overseas and two national conferences. When I heard of an amazing conference to be held in Illinois USA, I knew I had to attend. However, no one else was going and I ‘d never been overseas on my own before.  My mind raced through all the ‘what ifs’ until a friend gave me Susan Bardy’s email address saying, ‘She is a wonderful woman, a marathon runner, who is a nurse and is also studying autoethnography’. I contacted her and we hit it off immediately. We agreed to meet for the first time at the conference at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.

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As per usual I was trying to travel on a shoe string. The fares alone to the USA cost a fortune but because all the USA university students had gone home for the summer break , for a pittance I could stay at the university student village.

The trip to the conference meant I had to travel with only carry on luggage from Melbourne to Los Angeles, catch a domestic flight to Chicago and straight onto a flight to the twin towns of Urbana-Champaign in Illinois. After travelling nonstop for 35 hrs I arrived about 6 pm only to find myself at a tiny airport with no way of getting to my accommodation. The only taxi was quickly grabbed by weary travelers and I was saved by a friendly couple who gave me a lift to the student digs. They even let me use their mobile phone to ring security to come and unlock the front door and let me in.

To say that my room with shared bathroom was sparse was an understatement. There was nothing in the room apart from a bed and mattress. No jug or even a blanket. Later, I managed to borrow a blanket from the security guard. However, I did have the bathroom to myself because the room next door was empty. The view from the window was lovely but I would have killed for a jug to make a cup of coffee, or to pour hot water over two minute noodles.

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The next day was free for me and a treasured writing friend and her husband took me out for the day to lunch in a house in an Amish Community.

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I knew Susan was arriving later that evening but we hadn’t worked out where or how to catch up with each other. When my friend took me back to where I was staying in Hendrick House we pulled up behind a taxi. I just knew it was Susan as soon as I heard her deep Australian voice.  We were inseparable from then on.

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The email that arrived said, ‘I must come over to see you sometime in the year. I Imagine we will talk until the cows come home’

Professor Ian Maddocks my palliative care examiner noted that my writing should be widely read as it’s value is in bringing ‘new notice’ to my message that would bring added knowledge for all health professionals and carers. In fact by giving talks to community groups I found that the community at large benefits from knowing what to expect.I stress how quality of life can be enhanced with care that is holistic no matter how close any one is to end of life. My idea in doing the PhD was to share what I learned over 20 years in caring for people with life threatening illnesses. The books are going achieve that I think.

The books are in final print at present and the order forms are the way to get them now. After publication it will be online. I will keep in contact with you and let you know developments.

It has been a long time between drinks. I wonder how you are and what
you are up to these days? I am now a member of Rotary International through my local club and I speak with local clubs about palliative care.

My book is being launched in Adelaide on May 22nd 2016

Congratulations Susan. 

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ANZAC DAY: Memories Impossible to Record.

Sometimes it is impossible to record family stories. Several years ago, I was relaxing with my uncle under a shady tree and asked him to tell me about his experiences during the second world war. He looked at me long and hard, finally shook his head and said, ‘You should not have to live with those images. Never ask me again’. This same uncle when asked a question about the life of his older brother, since passed away, said,’If your father didn’t tell you, then I’m not going to.’

When you get answers like this it is time to forget that you are a writer, forget trying to record stories that may be lost forever and to respect the right of others to own their own stories. However, do write what you can to keep family stories from disappearing.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them                  

In Australia and New Zealand, as the last post sounds at the dawn services on the 25th April these lines taken from the poem For the Fallen Poem by Laurence Binyon – The GreatWar 1914-1918 are spoken at every ANZAC ceremony. In Australia’s Returned and Services Leagues, and in New Zealand’s numerous RSAs, it is read out nightly at 6 p.m., followed by a minute’s silence.  It is a time of reflection, a promise never to forget those who lost their lives. It is part of my life, my web of memories.  I stood beside my father in front of my mother’s coffin, his military training obvious in the set of his shoulders and his grief stricken, tear-less face. He lived by the saying, what can’t be cured, has to be endured. I will always remember hearing him promise her ‘At he going down of the sun and in the morning, I will remember you.’

 

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Laurence Binyon’s poem begins:

They shall not grow old as we grow old. Age shall not weary them or the years condemn 

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Another story is about Harry (Pop to us) Whitting who served in France during the first world war.  He was one of the fortunate ones to return home. Gassed in the trenches and suffering from malnutrition and an ear infection he was sent back to Australia on a hospital ship. He met Elsie (Ma) at an army hospital. She was a seventeen year old nurse and Harry was presumably eighteen but Pop Whitting lied about his age to enlist in the army. They fell in love, married had five children and celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. He never talked about the war but a large picture of him in cavalry uniform hung in the hall of the rambling home in Edithvale. Aged 86 he was weary and the years had condemned but he was still a jovial cockney lad at heart. However, he no longer looked like the vigorous young man in the photo .

 

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A war memorial stands in the centre of a grassed reserve at Beauty Point, where the Patterson River flows into Port Phillip Bay at Carvvrum, Victoria, Australia. I remember when there was a discussion about moving it to some other place so the prime piece of real estate could be developed. The community uproar and disapproval was overwhelming.

 

Research revealed in 1915 six local firemen went off to war together-but only one returned. In 1921 that man launched a public appeal for the funds for the statue and inscribed base. It was imported from Italy and cost 340 pounds when the average weekly wage was just four pounds a week. Bought with public funds, the ‘Little Soldier’ does not belong to the city of Kingston. He belongs to the people of Carrum and cannot be moved without their consent. Our solitary soldier still stands in pride of place as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives .

Incensed by the mere thought of moving the monument I decided to write a story from an elderly woman’s point of view.

My Soldier

ANZAC day. The last post has long sounded. The plaintive call lingered in the early morning mist and slowly died as the first flush of dawn lightened the sky. The speeches are over, marchers gone. I bend to touch the delicate blossoms placed at the base of the tall granite column. Blossoms that will soon fade and die. Red roses, bright camellias and a handpicked bunch of hardy daisies that will outlive the others by a mile. How many years have I come to this spot? Too many to remember. Beauty Spot, it is called. An integral part of Carrum, right on the mouth of the Patterson River. A place where mothers bring their toddlers to play and fishermen sit on the low stonewall dreaming of the catch of a lifetime. There is the fresh clean smell of salt and spray: a fitting place to close the eyes and dream of what might have been, to remember the handsome face, coiled puttees, khaki clad faded figure in the ornate frame over the fireplace.

The diamond you slipped on my finger that wintry night in June flashed promise and hope. The dream of manly boots next to my fluffy slippers. A line full of nappies and a cradle to rock. The joy of a family to cook for, a family to love.
That last night we danced and clung to each other before we hurried home to the rented two-roomed flat. The next morning the gate squeaked and I wept into my pillow.

I quietly read the words forever-inscribed in stone. To the imperishable memory of the soldiers of this district that gave their lives… Simple heartfelt words from a grateful community. I am always surprised at his simplicity. This is not an ostentatious crowded statue with flags flying and rifles raised in anger.
Here is one solitary soldier standing upright and alone, hand gripping his rifle barrel, the butt resting on the ground. At ease, but ready and waiting for…, what?

I have never known war, but when I gaze at him I can smell the acrid smoke, hear the whistle of shells and the cries as mates fall. I have lived my life under sunny skies and yet I can identify with his quiet sadness, his overwhelming sense of loss. The telegram read, ‘We regret to inform you that corporal T K Wells VX1068 of the AIF Infantry…’ I thought of planting a tree. At least then there would be something living and growing.

Recently I drove in heated comfort past an Avenue of Honour where row upon military row of silent trees flashed past in the khaki haze of a misty morning. Tall old trees, some over fifty years, planted when young soldiers fell. They no longer stood at the edge of endless paddocks. Ballarat was running out to embrace them, to include them into the teeming life of what is now a city. There were so many trees. Each one a son, daughter or husband and I saw the ghosts of their kin stretching back as far as the horizon. Like a stone in a pond, so may lives caught up, like mine, in the far-reaching circles of the wars to end all wars.

I was shell-shocked for months until it finally seeped into my unwilling brain that you would never again be by my side, your arm around my waist as you kissed everything better. But life goes on and I have known love. Not your love but the worn tartan slippers beside mine in front of the dying fire are comfortable.

I shiver as I gaze up at the long list of names etched into cold stone and run trembling fingers over the rough rock. So many did not survive to witness this new millennium, to drink in the beauty of spring blossoms, or to come here year after year. I gaze up at his strong young face and wonder what he would think of my knotted veined hand pressed against my heart. Time shall not weary them…
The glow in the west bathes him in gold as I sit and dream. And there’s talk about moving him. Some people want a car park, others, townhouses with sweeping bay views. Cart him away to some easily forgotten spot? Over my dead body. I’ll not let them take my soldier. Not this time.

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The shrine of remembrance and the eternal flame Melbourne Victoria, Australia