Category Archives: review

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.

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Meet And Greet Author Day

 

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

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

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

 

Best Tip of the day

A Sales point reader

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

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

Location Photo

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

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

 

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.

Wendy Dunn, Author and Friend: Falling Pomegranate Seeds

I have known Wendy Dunn for many years. Recently we both completed our doctorate at Swinburne University. Believe me, those study bonds run deep.

Women collaborate and support each other. There is no competition, no one-up-man-ship, just genuine friendship.

Wendy on the radio

As soon as Wendy’s name is mentioned images flash through my mind of being in a warm loft of an old stone winery on a cold Melbourne winters day. Wind whistled through cracks but we were cozy. Best of all,  Wendy had arranged and found funding for this amazing venue for a workshop with author, Christine Balint. All this small group of writers had to do was sip mellow red wine and write, write, write. The result was an anthology titled Journeys.

journey

She is my close friend  and a  talented author who is always honing her craft

This third Tudor book published by MadeGlobal Publishing is no exception. It is engaging, entertaining as well as being informative. Through her books, I have learnt how people of Tudor England lived, loved and survived. In an exciting and new way they opened a previously closed window on a section of English history I knew nothing about.

Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters (The Katherine of Aragon Story Book 1) by [Dunn, Wendy J.]

About Wendy

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, is her first young adult novel.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter–named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne.

Gaining her Doctorate of Philosophy (Writing) from Swinburne University in 2014, Wendy tutors at Swinburne University in their Master of Arts (Writing) program.

For more information about Wendy J. Dunn, visit her website at www.wendyjdunn.com

Wendy J. Dunn

 

An announcement from MadeGlobal website

Wendy Dunn – Hot new release
Posted by Tim Ridgway on August 25th, 2016 at 9:33 am
Falling Pomegranate Seeds: Wendy J. Dunn
Hot New Release

Wendy J. Dunn’s book “Falling Pomegranate Seeds” was launched on 20 August, and it’s already listed as number 3 in Amazon’s coveted “Hot New Releases in Tudor Historical Romance” category, just behind Philippa Gregory’s new book “Three Sisters Three Queens”. Well done Wendy!

If you’ve missed all the hype and news about this book, then it’s time to catch up – people are loving the way Wendy has told the story of Katherine of Aragon in her early life… this book is the first installment in a series and takes us up to Katherine preparing to leave Spain for England.

GET THE BOOK HERE at Amazon.com

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All writers, whether published or not, need support, encouragement and inspiration. This connective network may be found in a writing group or being amongst like-minded friends who you know will support and care for you through thick and thin. I am so fortunate to have the MadeGlobal team, especially Tim Ridgway and Melaine V Taylor, a totally supportive family and great writing buddies who watch my back and point me in the right direction. Bless you all.

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,

Breaking the Boundaries

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)

Mairi Neil and Kingston Our City

It is Saturday afternoon in sunny Melbourne. The Allan McLean Hall is packed with people attending the launch of the ninth anthology by the Mordialloc Writers’ Group.  Kingston Our City is also the celebration of twenty years of fortnightly workshopping stories.

KingstonmycityFinalCover copy,

 

 

The founder and organiser of the group is Mairi Neil and with the help of her two girls, Anne and Mary Jane (who designed the cover art) she has compiled, edited, formatted and published not only past anthologies but especially this latest one.  This year Mordialloc Writers also dives into the digital age. Mairi has produced an ebook of Kingston Our City.

tamsin Mairi and Bill 2

Every writer knows how important it is to belong to a like minded community where they receive constructive comments about their work. Many become firm friends, not just writing colleagues. They laugh, swap pre-loved books, discuss the writing and publishing industry, politics, the human condition and are working on the meaning of life.

friends

Our community writing group has been meeting at the Mordialloc Neighbourhood House for twenty years and for our anniversary anthology we reflect on our relationship with the City of Kingston.    We have reminisced about wartime precautions on Parkdale beach and the transformation of suburban streets by developers. We have reflected on the City of Kingston’s creation by negotiation and amalgamation, Patterson Lakes created by feats of engineering.    There are snapshots of dances at Moorabbin Town Hall, surf lifesaving carnivals, Edithvale billycart shenanigans and cycling to school, the demise of horses and the rise of hoons, joyous beach weddings and sad farewells. Stories woven around everyday life and observations to trigger your own memories.   Perhaps you’ll remember when the pace of life seemed slower and be grateful for improved services. As you enjoy this collection I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion as the writers – Kingston in Victoria Australia is indeed a great place to live.

In recognition of Mairi’s inspirational contribution two orchids in a pale green ceramic pot were presented by Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers and ‘Ambassador’ for Australian Literature.

 
       5 mairi

We added two bunches of Singapore orchids to the two potted orchids, plus cellophane and purple ribbon. The result was a joy to behold.

Lisa Hill’s words below managed to convey what everyone in the hall wanted to say.

Lisa Hill: ANZlitlovers award winning blog

It’s lovely to be here today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mordialloc Writers’ Group and the publication of the 2015 Anthology. As a passionate advocate for Australian books and writing, I am always excited to be in the presence of authors and as I look about me I know that whether published or not, the writers here today are using their gifts to bring the Australian experience to life using the magic of words, and I salute them all.
But all of us here today know that the real magic behind the words on the page is a great lady, our mentor and friend, Mairi Neil. It was Mairi who started this group 20 years ago, and who has nourished it with her wisdom and skill for what is, for some of our younger writers, a lifetime. It is Mairi who does all the behind-the-scenes organising, from the complexity of applications for council funding, to bringing the tea and biscuits. It is Mairi who listens most acutely as we workshop our pieces of work, praising and encouraging, gently suggesting improvements, using her professional writing and editing skills to nurture each piece to fruition. It is Mairi who has supported some of us to professional publication and paid opportunities. It is her unfailing presence each week which is the stimulus for us to write more instead of giving up. It is Mairi who manages the anthologies from selection of the theme to the finished product, spending long hours editing our work so that it emerges triumphantly as a polished piece of writing for others to read and enjoy.
All those of us who know Mairi well know that these decades of voluntary work have all been accomplished at the expense of her own writing career and despite personal tragedy and confronting health problems that would have overwhelmed an ordinary person. Mairi’s courage and indefatigable spirit is an inspiration to all of us, and for once, I have to admit, that words fail me when I try to thank her for all that she means to us as individuals and to the community that she has enriched with all these years of patient, unsung and heroic work on our behalf.
Congratulations, Mairi, and thank you.

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MORDIALLOC WRITERS’ GROUP

TUESDAY WORKSHOPS
8.00PM

 457 Main Mordialloc Victoria AustMordialloc Writers' group anthologies copy

MEETING DATES FOR 2016

FEBRUARY 2nd  16th

MARCH 1st, 15th and 29th

APRIL 12th &  29th

MAY 10th & 24th

JUNE 14th & 28th

JULY 12th & 26th

AUGUST 9th & 23rd

SEPTEMBER 6th & 20th

OCTOBER 4th & 18th

NOVEMBER 1st & 15th

DECEMBER 13th 2016–Break for summer holidays

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