Category Archives: short stories

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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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.

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.

A Wintry Sunday in Melbourne

A dull overcast sky, drops of rain and wind straight off the glaciers of Antarctica didn’t stop me from catching a train for the hour trip from Carrum to Melbourne. Arriving at Flinders Street station I caught a tram to Melbourne University and walked to the La Mama Courthouse Theater in Carlton, Victoria Australia.

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Tucked in my pocket was a Mother’s Day present from Jason, Karen, Tahlia and Caxton. Two tickets to see the 4pm Sunday performance of Bijou: A Cabaret of Secrets and Seduction. A one woman play by Chrissie Shaw set in a French cabaret after world war two.Kathy, myself and others sat in chairs around small tables on which, strategically placed was a candle, a half filled glass with an obvious lipstick stain and some feathers on a stand. Tiered seats rose behind us but we were part of the performance, a cabaret audience on the floor-level stage.

We are in a cafe-bar in Paris 1933. A wine, a chat, the music plays…Chrissie Shaw enters from a side door and instantly command our attention. She is a ravaged figure in faded finery and fake pearls. The evening takes an unexpected turn. Madame Bijou, former queen of the Demi-Monde, (the term refers to a group of people who live hedonistic lifestyles, usually in a flagrant and conspicuous manner) unleashes a string of intimate, colourful memories, taking us backwards in time to the shadows of her youth

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This intriguing cabaret gave us a glimpse into the private, sensual world of a riveting ageing Parisienne who tells her life stories of seduction, survival and revealing intrigues accompanied by music and songs by Satie, Weill, Hollander, Bruant and others sensitively accompanied on the piano by Alan Hicks. The songs introduce the year and set the scene for for the aging Madam Bijou’s memories and stories.

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We came away having run a gauntlet of emotions from dismay at the tragic revelation that, as a child, Bijou witnessed the death of her father, sadness for the loss of innocence when she was groomed and seduced at fifteen by a person in a position of trust, laughter at the silliness of her many conquests, and amazement at how she survived in France during and after war had ravaged the country and the world.

La Mama is a favourite haunt of mine and I’ve seen many community plays written and produced by Ray Mooney of Holmesglen TAFE play writing class. The theatre is nationally and internationally acknowledged as a crucible for cutting edge contemporary theatre since 1967. Valued by artists and audiences alike, La Mama is treasured for its continued advocacy of those seeking to explore beyond mainstream theatre.  A not-for- profit association it is essentially a playwright’s theatre, a place where new ideas, new ways of expression can be tried out, a place where you can hear what people are thinking and feeling.

We had dinner in an old Italian restaurant and I could not resist recounting tales of times spent in Lygon Street Carlton during my Masters Degree days at Melbourne Uni. It was so much fun to revisit old haunts, such as book shops, coffee shops and devour a steaming bowl of pasta with a glass of red on a cold wintry night when our breath fogged the windows.

It does the heart and soul good to take a holiday and visit the theatre for an evening of make believe.

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)

Isabelle’s Cafe La De Da

Isabelle’s annual Easter Cafe La De Da raises funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. 

Isabelle may only be seven years old, but when she was five she decided to follow her parent’s example and find ways to help others in need.

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The Children’s Hospital in Melbourne Australia  improves the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents through healthcare, research and education.  It is an amazing place: bright, cheerful and giving the best care and attention possible to very sick children. Their motto seems to be,

The impossible will be done immediately, miracles take a little longer. 

But the hospital is always short of funds to help desperately ill children.

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Three years ago, Isabelle’s imagination sparked when she watched the TV  coverage of the Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.  Seeing children in wheelchairs and suffering from so many disabilities saddened her. She wanted to do something to help.  The idea was born to have Isabelle’s pop up cafe.

She decided to call it, Isabelle’s Cafe La De Da. The name makes me smile. In Australia, the expression la de da is used as an expression of derision directed at affected gentility or pretentious refinement. You are being very posh, up-market and putting on the airs and graces. It means you can dress up, wear all your bling and celebrate. Family and friends  would have fun gathering at the house for good food and hot coffee knowing all proceeds from the day would be sent to the Royal Childrens Hospital . The family also decided to save every spare coin to be counted at the end of the day and added to the grand total. They had a large wicker basket full.

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Cafe La De Da opened its doors for business on Easter Friday with a vast array of delicious Easter treats. Isabelle took the day very seriously. Everything had to be just right. Dad, in his chef’s apron, would cook an all day breakfast for the many family and friends who called and participated. The main food was followed by an amazing array of muffins, macaroons, stacks of pancakes plus scones, jam and cream. Her Mum would bring out her best china and ensure the guests had everything they wanted. Isabelle would be maître d and welcome people when they arrived, take orders for coffee, and offer treats. She tempted us with chocolate bunnies, brightly coloured Easter eggs and delicious macaroons.

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Everyone was having a great time and Isabelle was free to experiment. The result was an offering of hot scones covered in raspberry jam, smothered in cream and topped with brightly coloured chocolate smarties. Does it get any better than that? Just in case you are inspired to make a batch of scones and have Devonshire tea with your family and friends,  here is a quick and easy recipe.

DT@The Victoria Room Tea Salon #5

Quick and Easy Scones

3 cups SR flour in bowl

2 tabs sugar

Pinch salt

 

Melt 50g butter in saucepan

Add 1 cup milk

Whisk in 1 egg

Add this to flour mixture

Quickly make into a stiff dough (may need a little extra milk)

Place on floured bench & quickly knead, cut into shapes with a cutter or a glass. Brush with egg and milk

Place on floured baking tray and pop into hot (250) oven for 10-15 mins

Serve with raspberry jam and whipped cream (multi coloured chocolate smarties optional) Makes 18 med sized scones.

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Last year, Isabelle received a certificate acknowledging her donation of $485.00. Her Mum and dad framed it for her and it held pride of place on the tablelast year

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This year (the third year she has run this fundraising event), with huge support from her staff, family and customers, she managed to raise a whopping $708.10 for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, an increase of 46% on last year, and a total of $1,433 over the last three years.

Children learn from the example set by their parents. Isabelle has great role models in her life and it is wonderful to see her develop into such a caring soul. I feel she also believes The impossible can be done immediately, miracles take a little longer.

Good Friday Appeal 2017

The 85th annual Good Friday Appeal on Friday 25th March 2016, brings together the community to raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital.

The strength of the appeal lies in the thousands of volunteers who give freely of their time and their talent. Many groups and organisations fundraise throughout the year, in order to publicly present their grand totals during a live telethon broadcast by Channel 7 on Good Friday.

The Channel 7 telethon is an opportunity for people to view the miracles performed at the hospital, to ring through their donations, and in many instances hear their contribution acknowledged publicly.

Royal Children’s Hospital | Give that they may grow!

Happy Easter to you and yours

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More Than Four Seasons?

Next week it is Easter. The shops are filled with chocolate eggs and bilby bunnies.

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Already the Australian days are cooler and soon, on the 31st March, all Victorians will turn back their clocks one hour and embrace daylight saving. Of course this will put my time at odds with our family in Queensland. Queenslanders argue that they have enough daylight as it is, so their time stays the same. However, all states in Australia agree that the continent has four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter

However, the first Australians understood that this continent has more than four seasons. Daylesford Nature Diary: Six seasons in the Foothill Forests is based on the six seasons Aboriginal communities used to understand the changes occurring in the flora and fauna around them. Tanya Loos, Daylesford naturalist and local newspaper columnist, lovingly illuminates the world within and around a Wombat Forest bush block – from that mysterious bonking at the bottom of the garden to why there are suddenly so many green parrots in late summer.

 

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Acutely observed, the Daylesford Nature Diary reintroduces the six seasons for Victoria’s southern foothill forests in all their splendour.

Part What Bird Is That?, part Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, the 36 tales of nature contained in the Daylesford Nature Diary are insightful in the knowledge they impart, while whimsical in tone.

Starting with early spring and heading round to winter, Tanya provides a series of sketches of the birds, plants and animals putting in an appearance each season. Not simply the rare and endangered, but those you might commonly expect to catch sight of from the back door.

Gently threading her way, Tanya instructs us on how the natural order of things is attuned to the rhythm of the six indigenous seasons. Life beats to their pulse.

The diary also includes a full colour, beautifully illustrated wheel calendar by Anne Mason of wall poster size as a reference and guide

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All my life I have enjoyed regular camping visits to the area known to me as The Grampians, now referred to by their original indigenous name, Gariwerd. I love every inch of these beautiful mountains, in particular a scary outcrop called The Jaws of Death. Two ledges of rock cantilever over a massive drop to the valley floor below. How could any man, woman or child resist testing their courage?

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At the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre is featured the six seasons of Gariwerd.

Six distinct weather periods are recognised in the Gariwerd seasonal cycle. These are genuine seasons that relate to climactic features as well as referencing environmental events such as plant flowering, fruiting and animal behavioural patterns.
For thousands of years, the lives of the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung have been intimately linked to this seasonal cycle.
Understanding the land through seasonal observations was once essential to survival. Today the cycles are a vital tool and contribute to the management of Gariwerd.

 

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By understanding the six seasons, you can begin to understand Gariwerd and its people.

This morning I struggled into my wet-suit and plunged into Patterson Lakes for my early morning swim. It was cold, darn cold and I decided that from now on I would either kayak or bike ride until  warmer days arrived. But whether I wait six seasons or four for warm weather to return, I really don’t mind. Every season has its beauty and I love them all.

Tying the Knot

We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect.

 Anais Nin. 

Who wouldn’t like to write about a special day and relive the memories? Everything was perfect the day Ainslie Sterling married Ty Johnstone. The sun shone on a couple totally in love and celebrating the best day of their lives.

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Marybrooke Manor in Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges Victoria Australia  is an old country manor nestling amongst tall trees. They know how to discreetly organise the perfect wedding where everything runs like clockwork; smoothly, quietly ticking along without a hitch.

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When I saw Ainslie walk down the aisle she took my breath away. I already knew that she is a beautiful person inside and out and that if she wore a hessian bag for a wedding dress she would still look gorgeous. I was not the only one to have a lump in my throat and wipe away tears. I noticed Ty was also having trouble controlling his emotions as he saw his future wife, on the arm of her father walking towards him.

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And how could my nephew, Stuart Sterling be the father of such a grown up young woman? I remembered a young, lanky boy coming to stay for holidays and going with us on outback camping trips to Innaminka. Of days he spent playing in the back  yard with our two boys. My Dad skidding his FJ Holden around a big tree at the top of the street with them screaming, laughing, calling, ‘Do it again Gramps, pleeeeese.’ This ethical, kind man walking his daughter down the aisle and giving her hand in marriage to Ty Johnstone was definitely Stuart,  but where had the years gone?

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It seems like only yesterday that Ros and Stuart married and how beautiful it was to see their love for each other as they took their vows. Now the second eldest of their five children was marrying the love of her life. Life has a way of whizzing by until an occasion such as this pulls us up with a jolt and, when we now belong to the older generation, we realize how short it can be. I know for one I intend to live for the moment and enjoy every minute of the rest of this fabulous journey.

chapel

How romantic to have a garden wedding and I was delighted when we were told no photos allowed. It meant that we could all relax and enjoy the moment without thinking of videos or jumping up, leaning over, in an attempt to take the perfect photo. There were professional photographers employed to do all that . I settled down and relaxed. The love for these two young people was palpable and I made sure the love-heart good-luck trinket was ready and waiting to later slip on her arm and join the happy horseshoe trinkets from others wishing her well.

garden 2  garden drinks

The newlyweds, four beautiful bridesmaids, four handsome groomsmen all relaxed, laughed, talked and celebrated together on the croquet lawn,

crochet

Tradition. It keeps us grounded, gives us a feeling of continuity. Mother, fathers, aunties, uncles, grandparents had all come to wish the young couple joy and happiness.

joy and cousin

The reception was time for everyone to have fun. After the bridal waltz,  a fabulous wedding breakfast, Stuart’s great speech about how it takes not only parents but a village to raise a child, the cake was cut and everyone danced the macarena.

1 kiss wedding dinner happy

We stayed at Marybrooke Manor overnight after fare-welling the newlyweds who fled to their accommodation through an archway of well-wishers after first throwing the bouquet. The following morning they boarded a plane to an undisclosed location for their honeymoon.

group

Who knows what the future holds but everyone at that wedding wished this lovely young couple every happiness and blessings for their life together. As I waved goodbye I saw Ainslie and Ty’s parents and ‘village’ gathering around them and I knew they would be there to support them throughout their lives. Stuart and Ros’s family, Amelia, Bailey, Finley and Isabelle beamed love to their sister and her new husband and cuddled Ros and Stuart. It reminded me of one of my favourite poems. A family is like a circle, the connection never ends, and even if at times it breaks in time it always mends. A family is like a book, the endings never clear, but through the pages of the book love is always near.

We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect

This post has given me the opportunity to do just that: to relive, enjoy and share with you the love, joy and happiness such a day brings.

Thank you Ainslie and Ty Johnstone for sharing with us your special day.

!cidbear hugs

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.

quote

 

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

love

Nothing Sacred

Nothing Sacred, a verse novel by Linda Weste was launched at Museo Italiano last Wednesday.

Nothing Sacred is a novel written in free verse poems. This imaginative work of fiction evokes the lives of characters including Clodia Metelli, Clodius Pulcher, Catullus, Cicero, Caesar, Caelius and Pompey during 66–42BCE, the final decades of the period of antiquity known as late Republican Rome. It can be bought from Scholarly Publishing for $24.95. Just follow the link.

Poems by Linda Weste have been published in Best Australian Poetry and Australian literary journals. She lives in Melbourne. Nothing Sacred: a novel in verse set in late republican Rome, is her first novel. The book was launched by Dr Paul Skrebels previously from Adelaide University and was attended by Associate professor Marion Campbell of Melbourne University along with many writing friends.

Dr Linda Weste holds an MCW and PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne, and is a recipient of the Felix Meyer Scholarship for Creative Writing. Her creative practice includes poetry and historical verse novels.

Linda read several poems and finished with WOULD BE SACRED on page 105.

‘He who ruminates on the entrails of birds

Has us by the balls’

Caesar rolls his eyes as he dismisses

The bevy of soothsayers from his pillared halls

Linda’s words evoke stirring images. We feel the work as we read it and the poetry makes the Roman experience a real artistic truth.

Lygon St Carlton was buzzing with people out to have a good time, eating, drinking, and catching up with friends. I’d traveled from Carrum to attend the launching of a book by writing friend Linda Weste.  I had never even heard of the Museo Italiano in Faraday Street and I couldn’t wait to find out more. From their website I saw that they are an Italian Resource Centre showcasing the Italian migrant experience.

Museo Italiano displays and interprets the experience of Italian migration, and the culture created by Italians in Australia. Italians come from many different backgrounds. with strong regional affiliations that continue to inform Italian-Australian identities. Italians departed from Italy for many reasons to seek opportunities in the New World. Italian-Australians have developed a unique culture by relating their traditions, knowledge and customs to local contents and values.

I noticed they had a photographic exhibition about the migrant camp at Bonegilla. Recently I’d stayed with friends who live on a farm at Wodonga and they had taken me to see what was left of the old Bonegilla  Migrant Camp. Only a few huts remain but volunteers were working to restore them. Unfortunately, when I arrived for the launch I was told that the Bonegilla exhibition had been taken down that day. Such is life. I’ll make sure I see it next time.

Wandering around the many rooms looking at all the photographs lining the walls my mind went back to how much Australia owes to these hardworking migrants who helped shaped this country. I remember many years ago sitting in the sidecar of my father’s belt driven Indian motor bike. We struggled up a steep the hill near Rowville and waved back to a line of Italian prisoners of war walking along the road. Years later it was Italian migrant, Guliano Maionchi and his unlimited hospitality when I visited his orchard in Sommerville. His Palamino sherries and dry ginger sipped under a cool grapevine arbor were legendary.  He gave my two boys a calf called Moosle who followed them everywhere they went.

Walking around the Museo Italiano, seeing the now familiar scarf covered heads of the women and hard working men I reflected on how much Australian culture had gained from the input of migrants such as these.

To attend Linda’s book launch was a highlight of the week. To see and understand the wonderful work done at the Museo Italiano to validate and promote Italian/Australian culture over the years was an added bonus.