Category Archives: teaching

May 2019 Be Kind To You All

Another Christmas and New Year have been and gone. I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies. The lead up to Christmas is hectic, the holiday season is fun and the wind-down enjoyable. But now we have to pick up the threads and get stuck into this brand new year.

I love this old postcard with a traditional Scottish toast wishing everyone well for the coming year. Here it is for friends and family. I wish you all well and every happiness in the year ahead.

It will be a full year of teaching, writing, book launches (others, not mine because I’m still working on my 3rd book ) and attending writing groups, giving workshops on How To Write A Memorable Memoir, and attending conferences etc. The passion is still there.

  

Marketing is always a problem. There are so many books now available on Amazon and Kindle that my two books, Pickle to Pie and Something Missing are now well down the ladder and I simply don’t know how to breathe new life into them. However, I am eternally grateful for all they have given me and my academic journey means I am alumni to Monash, Melbourne and Swinburne Universities. Fantastic.

However, at this brand new start to this new year my horizons are broader. I am optimistic that as the world gets smaller so our hearts will get larger and we will embrace people different to us and wish them peace

Family is very important to us. Our eldest son and wife left for a snowy Christmas in the USA and Canada and sent photos and texted often. We have the grand-dogs for company while they are away. Our youngest son, wife and two grandchildren drove down from Queensland for a great Christmas get -together. He did all the cooking and we had a lovely time. We played Uno and swam in the canal. The memories will keep me warm during our cold winter months but for now I’m simply enjoying life and taking advantage of every moment of sunshine, warmth and Summer living.

Patterson Lakes comes alive during these warm days. People have barbecues, sit on their deck drinking coffee (or something stronger) and watching the kayaks paddle past on the waterway outside our doors.  The birds are a joy to watch as they swoop and play. We see pelicans, sooty terns, swifts, ducks…even the laughing duck and the ever present seagulls squabbling for anything left over. The plover’s call at night lulls us to sleep.

May you all have a wonderful year filled with happiness and joy

  

November Event: Sip and Savour Panel Discussion

Sip and Savour Historical Flavour evening with the HNSA (Historical Novel Society Australasia)

 

Nov 8, 6:30 PM · Mail Exchange Hotel · Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
HNSA Melbourne Chapter presents Glenice Whitting, Lynne Leonhardt & Alli Sinclair in conversation with Robert Gott.

The featured authors will discuss stories of immigration – of migration to Australia and connections to the old country.

Central to memories of the old country is feasting – sharing of food and drink evocative of the old country. In that vein, the panel discussion will be accompanied by beverage pairings – from Australia, Germany and Italy.

Tickets ($25.00) can be purchased from Trybooking: https://www.trybooking.com/VRJZ

Ticket price includes wine/beverage sample and cocktail supper. Venue: Mail Exchange Hotel: Function Rooms 688 Bourke St, Melbourne. (corner of Bourke Street and Spencer Street, opposite Southern Cross Station). Enter via the Bourke Street entrance, down the escalators, through the Bistro. Function rooms face onto Bourke Street.

Come and join us and other writers at this event.

I’m taking the train to Southern Cross Station so I can enjoy tasting the wines from such different countries

Bios

Glenice Whitting is an Australian author and playwright and has published two novels. She was a hairdresser for many years before she became a mature age student and was awarded entry into the Golden Key International Honour Society for academic excellence. Her Australian/German novel, Pickle to Pie, was short -listed for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. It co-won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest and was launched during The Age Melbourne Writers’ Festival. The old German scripture cake recipe is in the back of  Pickle to Pie

Lynne Leonhardt grew up on an orchard in Donnybrook, Western Australia. As a young adult, she worked in London and travelled extensively. She studied music and English literature at the University of Western Australia while bringing up four children, and later completed a PhD in Creative Writing at Edith Cowan University. Her first novel, Finding Jasper (Margaret River Press, 2012) was longlisted for the 2013 Dobbie Award. Her second novel, is scheduled for publication early 2019 .

Alli Sinclair is Australian born but spent her early adult years travelling the globe: scaling mountains in Nepal, Argentina, and Peru, rafting the Ganges, and riding a camel in the Sahara. Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery. Alli now lives in Geelong, Victoria.

Robert Gott was born in the small Queensland town of Maryborough in 1957, and lives in Melbourne. He has published many books for children, and is also the creator of the newspaper cartoon The Adventures of Naked Man. He is also the author of the William Power series of crime-caper novels set in 1940s Australia: Good Murder, A Thing of Blood, and Amongst the Dead.

About HNSA

HNSA Melbourne Chapter is a local chapter of the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA).

The Melbourne chapter meets for monthly lunches and supports an annual panel event series. HNSA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HNSAustralasia/ HNSA Melbourne Chapter Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/242775092782782/?ref=br_rs

Happy 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magical Moments: Part Two

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

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

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

  

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.

End of Life Nursing

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

Dr Susan Bardy, RN (Ret), PhD (UniSA)

small susan 1
My background in palliative care consists of 22 years active clinical
work in the Mary Potter Hospice at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What now?

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

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

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

waratah

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.

12791126_10208072571513500_278176866120505409_n (2)

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.

la de da

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.

stuarts pic

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.

friends

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.

isabelle

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

yum

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

bunny

Wendy J Dunn: The Light in the Labyrinth

I am delighted to be able to showcase the inspiring books and successful career of my long time writing friend and colleague, Wendy Dunn.

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. Born in Melbourne,  Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter. Her fabulous author website is well worth a visit .

Wendy J. Dunn

She is the author of the published 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, her first young adult novel. Paperbacks are $16.99 at Amazon.com . They can also be downloaded as a kindle book.  Dear Heart How Like You This? costs $2.99 and The Light in The Labyrinth is currently $5.99. Both books would make excellent Christmas presents.

While Wendy continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, she no longer wonders if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but instead is 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.

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1) by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg

Wendy tutors at Swinburne University in their Master of Arts (Writing) program. She also works as a literature support teacher at a primary school. Her credentials are inspiring. She has a BA Dip Ed Grad Dip MA and PhD in Creative Writing

THE LIGHT IN THE LABYRINTH

The Light in the Labyrinth
Author: Wendy J Dunn
Publisher: Metropolis Ink
ISBN: 9780980721928

Pages: 340

A Queen fights for her life.

A King denies his heart and soul.

A girl faces her true identity.

All things must come to an end—all things but love.

“…The Light in the Labyrinth is quite the read – no matter the age of the reader. And yes, thanks to Kate, a new voice has been added to the well-known haunting melody – a voice that mellows and matures as the story evolves and yet retains a touch of bittersweet innocence right to the bloody, inevitable end.” – Anna

IN THE WINTER OF 1535, fourteen-year-old Kate Carey wants to escape her family home. She thinks her life will be so much better with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and the aunt she idolises. Little does Kate know that by going to attend Anne Boleyn she will discover love and a secret that will shake the very foundations of her identity. An attendant to Anne Boleyn, Kate is also swept up in events that see her witness her aunt’s darkest days. By the time winter ends, Kate will be changed forever.

At Amazon.com I was delighted to see that The Light in the Labyrinth had 52 customer reviews. The most interesting was a review by Anna B
          An Extract of  Anna’s Review
When The Light in the Labyrinth landed on my desk, I was somewhat hesitant. Yet another book about Anne Boleyn, this enigmatic lady who so enthralled the king that he broke with the Holy Church for her sake – what new insights could possibly be offered? One chapter into the book, I no longer cared about new insights. I cared about prickly, confused Kate, Anne Boleyn’s fourteen-year-old niece.Katherine Carey is a resentful, angry young girl. She considers her mother a fool for marrying beneath her, she is jealous of her new half-siblings, condescending of her commoner step-father and the only thing little Kate wants is to go to court and serve her adored aunt, Queen Anne. In Kate’s book, Anne is everything her own mother is not: fashionable, witty, powerful – and of course, extraordinarily happy, now that she has achieved her ambitions and become queen.

Kate’s mother, Mary, does not want her to go to court, but at long last she relents, even if her demeanour clearly shows Kate just how much her mother hates letting her go – or is it fear that causes her mother’s face to pale? Kate doesn’t care. She is going to London, to live with the queen and to finally see her brother, Harry, who for the last few years has lived at court, despite being younger than Kate. She vaguely recalls her mother’s distress when Harry was taken from her – several years ago – to be brought up elsewhere, and she doesn’t quite understand why her brother was so brutally separated from his family, but conveniently blames her mother for it. In Kate’s opinion, everything is her mother’s fault – a typical adolescent reaction.

It is rather fitting that Kate enters London via London Bridge, having to ride below the garish display of the rotting heads of the king’s executed enemies. She is entering a dark world, a labyrinth of conspiracies and undercurrents, and very soon Kate’s entire universe will be severely rocked as she uncovers secrets about herself – and about the court. Even worse, it does not take Kate long to understand that her beloved aunt is far from happy. In fact, Queen Anne is distraught, living her days on a knife-edge of fear and hope – hope that she might yet give the king a son, fear of what he’ll do if she doesn’t.

While it is Anne Boleyn’s subsequent fall from grace that is the main theme of the book, this is really the story of how Kate grows from a truculent difficult child to a very young woman of integrity and courage – brave enough to confront the king, mature enough to see in him a confused and angry man who no longer knows who to trust.

In Kate, Ms Dunn gives us a complex and credible character, one it is easy to love and care for, despite her initial despicable behaviour towards her mother and step-father. Forced by circumstances to take on far more responsibility than she is ready for, Kate more than rises to the challenge, even in those moments when all she experiences is suffocating fear. The story is told in third person, consistently from Kate’s perspective, but here and there the author has inserted Kate’s own thoughts, taken from her secret journal, and these first person passages add depth to Kate’s personality.

Had The Light in the Labyrinth only dealt with Queen Anne’s unhappy end, it would have made for quite the dreary read, no matter how much life Ms Dunn blows into her cast of characters. Fortunately, she has added a sweet and innocent romance between Kate and her future husband Francis. All that teenager angst that goes in hand in hand with first love is excellently depicted – and quite, quite timeless, causing this reader to smile in recognition.

Ms Dunn has obviously expended a lot of effort on her research. It shines through every casual description of rooms and gardens, clothes and pastimes. A myriad of characters populate these pages, but Ms Dunn does a good job of only properly introducing the truly important, while the rest blend into the colourful background of scheming courtiers and invisible servants. Even more important – and especially in a book aimed at a YA audience – all this information is expertly woven into the fabric of the tale, thereby avoiding any heavy-handed “info-dumps”.

All in all, The Light in the Labyrinth is quite the read – no matter the age of the reader. And yes, thanks to Kate, a new voice has been added to the well-known haunting melody – a voice that mellows and matures as the story evolves and yet retains a touch of bitter-sweet innocence right to the bloody, inevitable end. It is with regret I close the covers on Kate’s story, and I can but doff my cap and applaud Ms Dunn for a work most well done!

DEAR HEART, HOW LIKE YOU THIS?

Glyph Award 2003 ABPA Dear Heart How Like You This

A woman who sees her destiny as England‘s Queen.

A King who destroys what he no longer wants.

A poet’s love that will never be forgotten.

May, 1536. The poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, released from imprisonment in the Tower of London, is in his father’s custody. From almost the beginning of his life, Tom has loved his cousin Anne Boleyn, content to sit at her feet while she sang her love songs to another, if doing so gave him just a moment in her company. Now he is heartsick and despairing, having witnessed her juridical murder by Henry VIII. Only wanting to escape from the recent memories now rending his heart, Tom recounts his story, a story which narrates too the tragic tale of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII.

Dear Heart, How Like You This? ~ “Seriously one of the best books
ever written about Anne Boleyn.”

I know that Wendy is currently writing her third book and I can’t wait to read it. I wish her every success in her writing career

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wendyjdunn@optusnet.com.au

Writing Healing Life Stories

For writers, writing is how they make sense of their world.

There is a long human tradition of writing to make sense of events that effect the self. Writing can be a way to heal the emotional and physical wounds that are an inevitable part of life

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Some people use writing as a way to work through emotional issues by privately writing of grief in personal journals and diaries. Others write and publish memoirs such as the heart-rending Paula (1995), in which Chilean writer Isabel Allende interweaves autobiographical fragments into a letter to her dying twenty-eight year old daughter. Two recent memoirs about coping with the loss of a loved one are Megan O’Rouke’s The Long Goodbye (2011), about mourning her mother and Joyce Carol Oates’s A Widow’s Story (2011).

The most touching of all is perhaps Sandra Arnold’s Sing No Sad Song: losing a daughter to cancer (2011). These books add to a growing sub-genre that includes Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking (2005), a memoir of her husband’s death, daughter’s illness, and the wife and mother’s efforts to make sense of a time when nothing made sense. In her latest book, Blue Nights (2011), Didion mourns the loss of her family, youth and ability to write. David Rieffs’ Swimming in a Sea of Death (2008) is a loving tribute to his mother, the writer Susan Sontag, and her final battle with cancer. In a similar vein, Anne Roiphe’s Epilogue (2008), explores late-life widowhood.

This mourning of mothers, daughters, sons, husbands and friends shows the reader that their experience is not unique. They are not alone.

Last year I ran workshops concentrating on teaching the craft of writing and discovered that many students were recording their own traumatic stories. They wanted to make sense of their lives and hoped sharing their experiences would help others. The stories were far reaching and covered how life threatening illnesses, drug addiction etc. changed the lives, not only of the person involved, but also the extended family.

For this reason I’ve decided the 2015 workshops beginning in April at the Living Now Wellbeing Centre, Studio 7/14 Hartnett Drive Seaford will focus on the writing of Healing Life Stories.  The ten week course begins Tuesday April 14th until June 16th (10am -12noon).  If interested ring 97724566

Writing can heal your life. It allows us to find our creativity, write our stories, become more whole and expand our horizons.

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Random notes jotted into an exercise book helps us to sort the tangled web that is our lives. My début novel, Pickle to Pie began in this way. Ostensibly I was writing my father’s story, but after the book was published, I realized it was my way of dealing with my hidden German heritage.

small final pickle coverBefore I was born, because of the ill feeling towards German people after two disastrous world wars, my Australian born father renounced his German ancestry. He also changed the family name by deed poll from Schlessinger to Sterling. When I was seven I found an old photo album in the bottom of a wardrobe and asked my father why the sombre groups of people looked different. He hesitated then replied that in 1885 his grandparents migrated (not from Germany) from Belgium. I didn’t meet my German grandmother until I was twelve and by then knew not to ask questions. The feeling of release once the story of my father’s life was published was incredible. I finally understood the whispered background to my childhood and could let go of the past.

Recently completing my second book, ‘Hens Lay, People Lie’ I now see that I’ve done it again. Written a story that explores my life journey. This book has moved beyond my childhood to enable me to make sense of my adult life. However, when I was three quarters of the way through writing the manuscript about two women, two countries and a life altering pen-friendship, my penfriend died and I was grieving. I found myself trying to writing while mourning. At first I couldn’t write, until I realised how much words like regret, love, loss, guilt, memory and remorse have power over our lives.

Hélène Cixous, a French feminist philosopher, claims that, ‘Words are the doors to all other worlds. At a certain moment for the person who has lost everything, be it a being or country, language becomes the country. One enters the country of languages’ Cixous 1992: 19).

cixous 2When Cixous was eleven, her father died. She describes this event as having a formative influence on her as a writer. Loss and the need for consolation became key motivating forces in her writing life. Her advice to those struggling with trauma in their lives is, “We should write as we dream; we should try and write, we should all do it for ourselves, it’s very healthy, because it’s the only place where we never lie.

IS TRAUMA WRITING CATHARTIC, OR IS THE WRITER RETRAUMATISED?

If the writer revisits painful emotions there is extensive literature about the risk of slipping into depression (Kammerer & Mazelis 2006; Stone 2004; Wurtzel 1999). Joy Livingwell, online columnist for the Neuro Linguistic Programming website, for example, warns of the danger inherent in reliving grief when she advocates that it is essential for the person involved ‘to get the useful life lessons from less-than-positive memories, without getting upset or re-traumatized’.

Therefore, if writing can be cathartic, it can also be dangerous. To avoid the danger of slipping into depression, writers need as safe space. A journal can be such a safe emotional space; a gap between reality and imagination where feelings and emotions can be intuited, articulated or performed. A space to write. Yet, there is the constant danger of being brought undone by your own words: stabbed by your stories, bowled over by both understanding and misunderstanding. Terry Williams writes: ‘Words are always a gamble, words can be like splinters of cut glass’. Writers attending the 2015 Healing Life Stories workshops will explore this aspect of trauma writing and learn how to protect themselves.

I’ve found writing can take you places you’ve never been before; some good, some bad. However, for me, writing about my life has been an uplifting experience. It has enabled me to let go of the past and move on with anticipation to the next exciting stage of my life journey.

You can write your healing stories about yourself or someone else important in your life  either for your own benefit or with the aim of helping others. When writing the story of my father’s turbulent life,  I found myself writing with passion and compassion. Above my computer is a quote by Australia’s famous author Bryce Courtenay 

‘There is no greater tribute than to lovingly record a life.’

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