Category Archives: Uncategorized

Meeting Other Writers And Sharing Ideas

It is so important not to lock yourself away in an attic to produce your latest work. Writers need to be with other writers, to share ideas, successes and discuss problems.

Last Sunday I caught a bus to the station and spent an hour reading as the train rattled its way to the city. Melbourne was buzzing. Buskers performed, played unusual instruments and generally entertained. The street market was in full swing. A French style black felt hat caught my eye but at $120 was soon replaced on its stand. The Yarra river was bustling with boats ferrying happy passengers and the coffee shops were full.

At the Vic Restaurant at the Art Centre under the spire I met a group of Hysterical Melbourne Historical writers.

It was so uplifting to sit and talk about our latest projects and discuss the highs and lows of the writing life. I know Pickle to Pie fits nicely into Historical Fiction but I’m afraid Something Missing and this latest book are a little too modern.  But it doesn’t matter. What matters is to be communicating with like minded people. It refreshed my soul and inspired me to jot down hasty notes in the train going home and pound the keyboard of my trusty computer late into the night.

 

Thank You, Dr. Charles French

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

A Teacher's Reflections

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

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

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

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Celebrating Women Writing History

An excellent Saturday afternoon at the Eltham Library talking with other authors about why we write history.

Catherine Padmore (on the left) from La Trobe University was excellent as chairperson for our panel discussion

Most of the authors attending write amazing books about Tudor Queens or fascinating people who have led interesting lives. I have eventually accepted that I write to unravel my recent history;  to delve into my past. To look back at the world of my parents leads to understanding them as people, their culture and their lives. By doing this often I come to terms with my past and finally understand many of the decisions I have made along this fascinating life journey.


Program: organised by

Wendy J Dunn, author of Falling Pomegrantate Seeds along with several helpers

Women’s History Month at Eltham Library
Panther Place, Eltham, Victoria Australia 3095

Generously supported by Eltham Library, Swinburne University and Madeglobal.

Eltham Library celebrates Women Writers of History by giving readers of history the opportunity to meet local (writers living in or near Melbourne) women writers of history in a series of readings and panels.

Sunday, March 5th
1.15 to 2.45
Panel discussion:
Why women write history.

Authors taking part:
Kelly Gardiner
Barbara Gaskell Denvil
Elizabeth Jane Corbett
Kate Mildenhall
Glenice Whitting
Kathryn Gauci

Chaired by Catherine Padmore.

2.45 – 3.15 Afternoon tea

3.15 – 4.45
Historical Fiction readings and book discussions.
Kathryn Gauci, Barbara Denvill and Wendy J. Dunn

Bookings taken by the Eltham Library, Phone: (03) 9439 9266, or book your ticket here: https://www.trybooking.com/256904

Saturday, March 11th

Starting at 12.30pm with readings from and discussion about their works:

Katie Holmes, Janis Sheldrick, Christina Twomey, Liz Conor

Afternoon tea

Starting at 2.30 pm.

Panel –
Liz Conor, Katie Holmes, Christina Twomey
What draws you to write about the past?
Chaired by Wendy J. Dunn
Bookings taken by the Eltham Library, Phone: (03) 9439 9266, or book your ticket here: https://www.trybooking.com/256928

March 18th
Meet the author day.

Elise McCune
Wendy J. Dunn

Afternoon tea

Rachel Rossignol
Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Bookings taken by the Eltham Library, Phone: (03) 9439 9266, or book your ticket here: https://www.trybooking.com/256912

March 25th

The powerful and different ways that non fiction and fiction tell the stories of the past, and why women are so good at telling these kinds of stories.

Professor Josie Arnold
Barbara Gaskell Denvil
Kelly Gardiner
Glenice Whitting
Chaired by Eloise Faichney

Closing celebration – wine and light refreshments provided.

History panel 5th march: Some possible discussion points to get us started on the topic of why women write history:

In preparation for this event I asked for a list of possible questions. When they arrived I quickly answered them in a stream of conciousness way by simply jotting down whatever popped into my head. Why don’t you try it. I found it an amazing, clarifying  writing exercise.

What was your catalyst for writing about the past?

The past deals with my own life and writing about it is a great way to sort stuff out. To see what really happened and why. My writing records the recent past. Pickle to Pie is about a boy, a greathearted German Grossmutter and a man caught between two worlds. It was my way of dealing with my fathers death and growing up in Parkdale to a parent of German descent. Something Missing deals with the next stage of my life. In 1975 I met my older American poet penfriend and reveal how that friendship changed our lives.

Do you prefer your protagonists to be actual or fictional figures?

I like my main characters to be based on fact and veiled in fiction. For authorial freedom I always turn the story into fiction.

Some writers choose well-known historical figures while others inhabit lesser-known ones – what choices have you made and why?

My choice is to write about everyday, non famous people. I believe their stories need to be recorded and their voices heard.

What was the most challenging aspect of your rendering of the past?

The most challenging aspect was the amount of research involved to make sure dates of major events were correct and to attend to every small detail. The grossmutter makes herbal tea and then reads what kind of leaves. Definitely not chamomile because that is made from flowers. Spearmint

What ethical dilemmas kept you up at night?

Worrying about how other people would react to my novel. Had I portrayed the motives of my characters correctly? If , heaven forbid, someone thought they recognised themselves would they be upset?

What is your sense of the relationship between the characters’ past and our present?

We learn by understanding the past. By understanding the past we can come to terms with our present.

 How do you approach ideas of authenticity in historical fiction?

Research and more research from reliable sources. It is an essential part of writing historical fiction

 What lessons have you learnt through writing the past?

By writing about my past I can now see it clearly and put to rest many things which worried me in the past. I have come to terms with my hidden German heritage and understand why my father was so withdrawn and self protective. I also now understand why I was so self driven to achieve academically and how, and why I became an author instead of a social worker

 How has writing as an Australian affected your approach to these people and events?

I try not to let nationality influence the way I think and feel about people in the past. However, it is only natural that my Australian culture and values influence the way I write. Therefore I seek help and advice from people of the nationality I’m exploring. For Pickle to Pie German born Herbert Etienne translated old postcards and helped me with my research. For Something Missing, I sent the manuscript to American author and editor Cindy Vallar and followed her advice.

How does your gender influence your approach (to history, to fiction)?

Being a woman living in a patriarchal society definitely influences my approach to fiction and to writing history. I find the cultural expectations and the roles women play affects their lives and those around them. To write about cultural values and inconsistencies means my stories often strike a cultural chord with other women. I am telling their stories as well as my own.

My First Video

Becoming a writer stretches you. You find yourself trying different things, making a video is one of them. Below is my first video made with the help of Wendy and David Dunn. Such supportive and kind people willing to extend themselves to help another in need.

Less than a week to go

I can’t believe it is less than a week to the book launch of Something Missing at Swinburne University Sky Lounge.

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The book launch is on Sunday 11th Dec , 3pm on the 3rd floor of the AMDC building of Swinburne University on the corner of Burwood Rd and William St. I believe there is a lift when you enter via the Burwood Road entrance. I hope the link below leads you to a map of the campus and parking should be available in Williams Street. I can’t wait to catch up with everyone.

www.swinburne.edu.au  SWINBURNE.EDU.AU

It has been an amazing lead up to this free event and my big day, hosted by Swinburne University

Tuesday it was a radio interview with Neil on 3WBC 94.1fm’s Roundabout program. I blogged about that last time

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Friday was another radio interview with Graeme for Southern Radio 88.3 fm

Saturday was an author talk with Julia at the Mentone Libraryimg_4337 img_4343

 So many fabulous, supportive friends came to cheer me on and to celebrate the publishing of my latest book by Madeglobal Publishing. My wonderful and talented friend and colleague, editor, teacher and writer, Mairi Neil blogged about the day and I could resist posting it here.

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Introducing Glenice Whitting

It is a privilege to introduce my dear friend Glenice Whitting to you today, although looking around the room no introduction is necessary for so many here, who are already aware of Glenice’s writing ability and talent.

Glenice has been a valued member of Mordialloc Writers’ Group since 1999, and we were lucky to workshop her writing, and later publish early excerpts from both her novels in our anthologies:

Pickle to Pie first delighted us in the story Grossmutter And Me published in 2000 in the anthology Casting a Line and we gleaned the first hint of Glenice’s latest novel, Something Missing, in 2004, with the story What Time is it There? in the anthology Eleven O Four.

Over the last two decades nurturing and teaching local writers, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard: ‘I’m writing a novel’ ‘I could write a book’ ‘I want to write a novel.

Sadly, few follow through with the task or achieve their goal. They may give up by choice or circumstance, or they don’t put the work into the manuscript to realise publication, the traditional or even non-traditional way.

Having a published book in your hand is no mean feat – the journey is not for the faint-hearted. You need dedication to the craft, incredible determination and effort, as well as talent. Networking and luck such as serendipity can play a part, but overwhelmingly it is sheer hard work and a belief in self that finishes the book. And if you are looking for success you need to write a story others want to read.

Glenice ticks all the boxes: she has created recognisable characters and interesting worlds we can identify with – both novels are mainly set in Australia and span historical periods many will recognise. However, they also cover universal themes of family relationships, love and grief, desire, disappointment – real life! Her storytelling style sweeps the reader along and we turn the pages!

Glenice has worked tirelessly at being the best writer she can be, her personal learning curve an inspiration. She went back to school as a mature age student, onto university studies that culminated in a PhD in creative writing.

She has drawn on her own life experiences for her novels, which makes them resonate but has added that infinitesimal quality that good writers possess – imagination!

Enjoy her presentation.

And we did!!

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Thanks Mairi for all your help and kindness over the years. Writers supporting other writers. How good is that!

Rebecca Jane: Public Relations

Last Friday I met Rebecca Jane in a coffee shop in Lilydale Vic Australia.

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We are going to work with MadeGlobal Publishing to plan how we are going to market my latest novel, ‘Something Missing’.

Rebecca is studying at Swinburne University for her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Creative Writing and Literature. Her minor is in Film and Television. At the moment, we are simply discussing how best to market my latest book.

The book launch is only 10 weeks away and there is so much to do.

Wendy Dunn and Swinburne University have kindly arranged to launch my latest novel, ‘Something Missing’ at 3pm Sunday 11th December at Swinburne University at Hawthorn. . We still have to decide on the final book cover but Mary Jane Neil designed this one for me and I’ve passed it on to the publisher. I feel it captures a story about two countries,two women, a life altering pen-friendship and the lies they tell each other.

possible-book-cover-for-something-missing-gw

This is a free event, but to ascertain numbers for catering please obtain your ticket for the launch via this link:  https://www.trybooking.com/230231

It is so good to see the book launch actually in print. It makes me feel it may all actually happen. How wonderful it will be to hold this book in my hands and know that it will be in hard copy as well as on Amazon.com as a kindle book.

Check out Rebecca’s interesting interview at Wendy Dunn’s website 

No emails, but I Can Still Blog

I am annoyed, frustrated and yes, angry.

Last Sunday, Telstra, without notifying me, deactivated the email address I’ve had for years. Five days later they are still trying to restore it.

At the time I was emailing MadeGlobal about my latest novel and clicked ‘send’. My email didn’t go.  A notice popped up, ‘Please type in username and password.’ I followed instructions. Twice. Nothing moved. Nothing was active. I desperately hit ‘send’ again, praying that the email I’d just completed would wing its way to MadeGlobal’s submissions editor.  The email didn’t go.  Again. It is then that I notice no emails are coming in.

My ipad skype calls. A friend in England says, ‘Are you alright? My email bounced.’ A Facebook message from America asks the same question. I am so touched that they care but also upset to think that they are worried about me. My fingers working overtime, I rang Telstra, A voice in India told me, ‘Your email account and address has been cancelled.’

To be a writer, or anyone these days for that matter, to have no email is a disaster. I rely on it, need it, want it restored…Right Now!!!

The submissions editor had given me a link to Dulwich Picture Gallery in London featuring the paintings by little known artist Winifred Knights. The exhibition reminded me of a study a fellow Swinburne University PhD-er is currently researching about an unrecognised Australian painter, Clarice Beckett.

Later today I’ll post a blog about these two amazing women.

Our Memoir Writing Group

We write for pleasure, but whose pleasure? Our own? Do we want to keep our stories to ourselves or do we want to share them with others?

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In our group our objective is to produce an extract from our work in progress and turn it into a publishable short story for our end of year anthology.

Today, for me, is ‘Back to Normal’ day. Our fortnightly Memoir Writing Group workshops  begin today for the next semester. The house, post burglary,  is protected within and inch of its life. With much help and guidance from Paul, we now have, along with new deadlocks, ‘Ring’ Video doorbells that chime when someone is at any of our doors and takes a video which is stored in The Cloud. We are locked up tighter than Fort Knox. I know, it’s a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but it feels like we have done the best we can to protect ourselves. It’s time to move on.

Today our Memoir Writing Group resumes at the Godfrey Street Neighbourhood House in Bentleigh and I can’t wait to hear what members have been doing over the holidays. We all have writing projects ‘on the go’ which we share with each other for help and feedback. When we meet, we also write a 15 minute splurge where we just ‘go for it’ and write whatever comes into our heads. Before we start we knock that editor critic off our shoulder and tell it to take a holiday. There will be plenty of time later to revise and get things right.

I believe that everyone has a story to tell. The memoir writing group assists and encourages us to do so in a safe and friendly environment. Members read and discuss historical and personal events from their own point of view. They may wish to write a memoir for their family, or to publish for wider distribution. I am in awe of the talent in our group and can’t wait to hear the next installment of their work in progress.

We are all passionate about writing and I try to make the class handouts on the craft of writing as relevant to our writing as possible. Later in the year, with their permission I hope to showcase members and their work in progress. I’m sure you too will fall in love with their unique and different stories.

Why not grab a pen and start recording your life story in the pages of an exercise book? In the beginning, don’t worry about time lines or order. Just jot things down as they come to you. You can always sort it out later.

The book that most changes your life is the one you write.

Perseverance, Positivity, Practice and Patience

Post robbery, (19th February) the replacement car has still not arrived. It was promised on the 30th March. This week it was going to be on Monday or Tuesday. The recent update is for today. I wait with baited breath and fingers crossed that it actually arrives.

However, the lessons I’ve learnt through writing are standing me in good stead. When you are a writer you learn all about perseverance, how to remain positive, to  practice your craft of writing and to be patient. I remember the positivity of my novel being short listed for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. The perseverance needed to withstand seventeen rejection letters from publishers before it won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest. The practice of the writing craft and patience needed to revise the manuscript before the delirious joy of publication.

I am so grateful for these skills when they spill out into everyday life and become part of my nature, part of me.

I have been fortunate. Paul has lent us his car so we can at least continue with our day to day existence. With Paul and Marian’s generosity we are still able to go shopping, visit friends and are not isolated in any way. But we have had it for over a month and it’s time for it to go back.

In the meantime, I’ll call on my writing training and will persevere, be positive and practice patience.

dream it

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Another New Year. A chance to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. I hope you enjoy this wholesome, healthy New Year recipe. Share it with your friends over a cuppa. I’m sure it will become a favorite.

newyear

Recipe for a happy 2016

Take twelve whole months, clean them thoroughly of bitterness, hate and jealousy. Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.
Cut each month into 28, 30 or 31 different parts, but don’t make up the whole batch at once, prepare it one day at a time.

Take the following ingredients, and mix well into each day:

One part of faith, one part of patience, one part of courage and one part of work.
Add to each day, one part of love, hope, generosity, and kindness.
Blend with one part of thankfulness, one part of meditation and one part of good deeds.
Season the whole with a dash of good spirits, a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play and a cupful of good humor. Pour this into a vessel of love, cook thoroughly over radiant joy, garnish with smiles and serve with a cherry of cheerfulness.
You’re bound to have a happy year.

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And if that fails bring out the champagne or Grossmutters Scripture cake. Scripture cake is also known as “Bible Cake”, “Scriptural Cake” and “Old Testament Cake” and was extremely popular in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  The cake was meant as a way to teach young girls baking and Bible verses.  The cake was sweet to eat, and a chance to modestly exhibit knowledge of the Bible.  It was fun in the form of an early trivia game, and a great dish to take to a church supper.  The original recipe didn’t include the ingredients only the amount next to the scripture.

scripture cake apple fig walnut

Grossmutter’s Scripture Cake

1 cup butter                              (Judges 5: 25)

3 ½ cups plain flour                  (1 Kings 4: 22)

2 cups sugar                             (Jeremiah 6: 20)

2 cups rasins                             (1 Samuel 30: 12)

2 cups figs                                (1 Samuel 30: 12)

1 cup warm water                     (Genesis 24: 17)

1 cup chopped almonds            (Genisis 43: 17)

6 eggs                                      (Isaiah 10: 14)

1 tab honey                              (Genisis 43: 11)

pinch salt                                  (Leviticus 2: 13)

1 teas mixed spice                    (1 Kings 10: 10)

2 teas baking powder               (I Corinthians 5: 6)

Method: Follow Solomon’s advice for making good children, (Proverbs 23: 14) or you can cream butter and sugar, add honey, eggs and water. Sift flour and baking powder together. Proceed as in ordinary rules for cake making putting in the fruit and almond last of all.  The raisins should be seeded, figs chopped and almonds blanched and split. Beat well. Place in a large tin and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Bake in a hot oven approximately 2 ½ hours. Biblical references are from the Authorised King James Version of the Bible.

Öffentliche Silvesterparty am Brandenburger Tor

There are so many ways to wish family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers a Happy New Year. I have German/English heritage and for some unknown reason in our family it has always been the tradition to have a Scottish toast. We’d raise our glasses and in our broad Australian accents recite

Lone Scottish Bagpiper stock photo                  Snowman, greeting card, vector illustration vector art illustration

May the best ye’ve ever seen
Be the worst ye’ll ever see
May a moose ne’er leave your girnal
Wi’ a tear drap in his ee
May ye aye keep hale an he’rty
Till ye’re auld eneuch tae dee
May ye aye be jist as happy
As we wish ye aye tae be.

If you are like me you may need a translation:

May the best you’ve ever seen
Be the worst you’ll ever see
May a mouse never leave your store-room
With a tear drop in his eye
May you all keep hale and hearty
Till you’re old enough to die
May you all be just as happy
As we wish you all to be

We’d link arms and sing  Auld Lang Syne by Robbie Burns as the clock struck twelve. These days I listen to it on YouTube.

During this festive season I wish everyone I meet a Happy New Year and whatever your race, religion, gender or sexuality, whatever language you speak, wherever you are right now, let’s all make sure that we have an amazing 2016.

May this coming year be filled with Peace and Joy 

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Happy Christmas 2015

May it be filled with joy and happiness

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So much for me being organised this year. Here it is Christmas Eve and I’m sending you all greetings. My excuse? The heat. We have air-conditioning downstairs and only a portable one in our bedroom. Great for sleeping at night but during the day upstairs is like the second rung of the oven and my study seems to be the hottest room of all. Hence I’ve been staying downstairs and using the heat as an excuse to be completely slothful.

Australian Christmas

Teaching has finished for the year and I don’t start back with my Memoir Writing class until next February. What a great excuse to read the pile of books beside my bed. Fun stuff, but serious as well. I have The Velodrome by Liam Davison. A dear friend gave me a signed copy. A treasured gift and so very special. Liam died on the Malaysian flight  MH17 when it was shot down over the Ukraine killing all 298 people on board. I have such wonderful memories of a generous teacher of novel writing. He was my Melbourne University referee and his reference enable me to do my Masters  degree at Melbourne University. I also attended his farewell dinner from Chisholm TAFE where I met Carol-Anne Croker who convinced me to continue studying and to do my PhD At Swinburne University. Carol-Anne and Mairi, who gave me Liam’s book have walked beside me every inch of my academic /creative journey.

I have just finished a thought provoking book Poems from the Madhouse by Sandy Jeffs and am ready to start an anthology by fifteen Maine (USA) writers. My writing Group has been going 20yrs and we published our latest Anthology in November titled Kingston our City. It is going to be online as an ebook. My new novel still isn’t published but I’m considering making it an ebook in the New Year. I guess while the summer is here I’d much rather swim each morning or take my kayak for a paddle. Later I’ll do something…Honestly I will :>)

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Recently, when walking the dogs around the streets of Hampton I actually saw this holly growing and couldn’t resist taking a picture on my iphone.

May you all have a happy Christmas and may we, at this special time, remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

dove