Category Archives: Writing the unconscious

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.

On-line Madeglobal Book Tour

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

 

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

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

Something Missing

Glenice Whitting

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

Below is what I sent to the different blogs and websites

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

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

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

The journey

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

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

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

Instead, I did what most writers do. I decided to explore and record my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. It would be the story of two countries, two women and the lies they told each other that led to truth. I titled the story, Hens Lay, People Lie and my PhD focus would be autoethnography, (using my own experiences as research) and epistolarity (interweaving extracts from letters, journals, newspaper articles etc). In my journal I wrote, ‘I am writing an epistolary, autoethnographic novel grounded in both feminism and post modernist paradigms with the aim of revealing women’s hidden stories in the hope of instigating social change.

 What lofty aims, but here was a chance to use our letters, interspersed with text, to explore the influence this elderly poet had on a young woman who unconsciously yearned for the education given to her brother and denied to her. And what did my elderly pen-friend gain from our correspondence? My journey had begun.

I began by introducing an older American woman’s voice in first-person narration; an elderly Australian woman in second person; and the young Australian mum in third person. The story had embedded dialogue, following author, Debra Adelaide’s example, where only the formatting and actions of the characters, rather than dialogue marks, reveal to the reader who is speaking at that time. The elderly Australian woman would reveal the pitfalls and joys of writing a novel in a humorous, tongue in cheek, style.

For four years I was caught up in a world where my mind kept bouncing backwards and forwards between my creative writing of this novel and the formal academic exegesis. After completing the PhD I took a long hard look at what I’d written, and following the suggestions of American author/editor, Cindy Vallar, I inserted quotation marks to all the dialogue. It then took a huge leap of faith and much rewriting to take the story from literary faction into popular fiction.

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

It is every writer’s dream to hold their book in their hand. It gives them a chance to thank all the people who have helped along the way. There have been so many people I could list who have patiently and painstakingly worked with me through all the versions. However, there is an indescribable joy in being able to finally thank them formally, via the acknowledgment page, in the published reincarnation of the manuscript now titled Something Missing.

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

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

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

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

Q1: Glen, what is Something Missing about?

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

Q3: Tell us about your journey writing Something Missing?

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

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

Q6: Where can we buy Something Missing?

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

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

Darcia Helle quietfurybooks asked me to answer questions

Q1:What inspires you

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

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

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

Q2: What books have most influenced you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q3: Are you a morning or night person

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

Q4: What is your favourite food

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

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

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

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

Q5: What is your idea of perfect happiness

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

Thank you, Darcia for hosting me at your site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest blog post on friendship for Kirsty Stanley:

 What makes a good friend?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Kirsty for hosting me on your blog site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

For Sally Odgers blogspot (500 words)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sally Morgan: My Place and False Heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About The Author

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

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

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.

Barb Biggs: The Accidental Renovator. A review

A Paris Story

How do you accidentally buy a Paris apartment?

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This is a smart, snazzy, witty story set in the romantic city of Paris. As I expected, I am really enjoying reading Barbara Biggs’ latest book The Accidental Renovator. It is a sassy, ironic, exuberant book that holds your interest from start to finish. Smart, funny and written about the real world in a way that will make you sit up and take notice.

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Barbara Biggs is also author of In Moral Danger, The Road Home and Chat Room. At 14 Barbara’s grandmother sold her to a pedophile; at 16 she was in a psyche hospital; at 18 she was a prostitute in Japan; at 19 she escaped Cambodia weeks before it fell to the Khmer Rouge; at 21 she caused national headlines and received death threats; at 30 she became a journalist. By 40 Barbara was a property millionaire. Just imagine her life in the years following. So how did Aussie Barb end up writing about renovating an apartment in Paris?


Incorrigible romantic, writer and renovator Barbara Biggs thought she knew about sex and real estate. Then she went to Paris. The self-described ‘foot-in-mouth Aussie chick’ can’t help ‘just looking’ at apartments for sale. Big mistake. She speaks little French, knows no one in Paris and has never thought of living there. But when the agent assures her the owner will insist on the asking price, she makes a low offer ‘just for fun’. It is accepted—and her life goes haywire. Biggs smuggles in a handsome Australian builder to renovate the apartment.
But he doesn’t speak French, doesn’t have any tools, and when the budding romance goes sour he vanishes and Barbara’s dream renovation becomes a nightmare. Undeterred, she joins the Lazy Pigs Millionaires’ Club and is soon lunching in grand chateaux, partying until dawn and learning about continental men in the nicest possible way. Then she writes about it.

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Imagine my surprise on reading the fist page of The Accidental Renovator to see, ‘I’d come to visit my French friend Lucy in Nancy, a university town three hours east of Paris.’ I was immediately back in Novel Writing Class, along with Barb and Lucy Mushita in the Professional Writing and Editing Course at Holmesglen TAFE. At that time Barb  was busy writing  In Moral Danger. Later, Lucy published her novel Chinongwa and I launched Pickle to Pie.

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Biggs’ first book was a 2003 autobiography about her life up to the age of 22. The book tells of her sexual abuse from the age of 14 by a well-known criminal barrister. It explains the damaging after effects following her abuse, including time spent in a psychiatric hospital, escaping Cambodia weeks before it fell to the Khmer Rouge and being a prostitute in Japan. It also describes how she attempted suicide four times, received death threats and caused national headlines – all before the age of 22.

In Moral Danger   The Road Home: What Price Redemption?      Product Details

The Accidental Renovator shows how far Barb has come, not only in her life but as a writer. Both Lucy and I wish Barb good health, joy and every success.

Writing a Memoir?

How to make your story come alive

Writing a memoir might seem easy because you already know the story-after all, its your own. But to write a fascinating account of your life, you not only have to tell your tale compellingly, you also have to master plot, character dialogue, theme, and the other essential elements of great writing.          (Victoria Costello)

I’ve always found that belonging to a writer’s group or attending and even running a class where you workshop your story helps me as a writer. It inspires me to keep on writing. The prompts, exercises and inspirational examples help get the story out of  my head and onto the page.

You may simply want to record your story for your family, or may want to write it for a larger audience. But whatever your aim, it helps to know how to craft your story into a gripping yarn.

Don’t hesitate to stand on the shoulders of others. Learn from those who have gone before you. I read everything I can lay my hands on relating to the story I’m writing. Dishes are left in the sink, beds remain unmade but reading helps me to understand how other writers have overcome some of the problems I may be facing.

Here is a list of some of the books and authors who have helped me on my writing journey.

The Artist’s Way: A spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

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Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

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Naked, Drunk and Writing, Shed your Inhibitions and Write a Compelling Personal Essay or Memoir by Adair Lara.

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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

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Experience has taught me that if I’m going to write anything beyond the mundane I must accept the need for crappy first drafts. Anne Dillard, in The Writing Life says,

‘When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. soon you will find yourself deep in a new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year’

Friends often ask when the book will be finished. My reply is ‘How long is a piece of string.’ Some people can write a complete memoir in half the time it takes me. Everyone is different. A book may take from one to ten years to complete, but who cares as long as it is a labour of love? The passion carries you through until you complete the journey. When writing the story based on my father’s life I pinned a quote from Bryce Courtney onto my wall.

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

Maya Angelou, author of the acclaimed memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings says,

‘What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’ you know. And it might be the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced I’m serious and says, Okay, okay, I’ll come.’

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Fellow blogger and close friend, Mari Neil has a blog titled Up The Creek with a Pen. In her blog  A little moderation Goes a Long Way she believes writing classes are here to stay. I certainly hope so.

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May the words flow freely. Happy writing everyone

Writers come from all walks of life and choose many different paths to achieve their dreams

Coping with challenging theories

We live in a wonderful world that is full of charm and adventure. There is no end to  the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.’—      Jawaharlal Nehru

Writers come from all walks of life and choose many different paths to achieve their dreams. My way turned out by chance to be an academic pathway. I have never regretted the change of direction or the journey that unfolded. However, I constantly worried whether I could achieve my creative writing dreams. I soon discovered all I needed to do was embrace the fear and enthusiastically  accept the challenge.

When I began my Masters by coursework and minor thesis at Melbourne university I did not have the university based background of many students. Returning to study after leaving school at fourteen and still working as a hairdresser meant taking evening courses. I began VCE at TAFE followed by a Bachelor of Arts at Monash. By the end of the BA I had discovered my passion for writing. From there, instead of doing the usual Honours year at university, my priority became to complete a diploma of Professional Writing and Editing back at TAFE. Therefore, when I decided to tackle a Masters of Creative Writing at Melbourne University I did not have the required research background.

Writing the Unconscious was a seminar-based subject that explored the implications of theories of the self and how the unconscious affects modern artists and the creative process. Thank goodness this subject’s lecturer was Dr Dominique Hecq. She is a talented, nurturing and understanding soul and I tested every ounce of her patience. We were studying philosophers such as Donald Winnicott, Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) and Jacques Lacan 250px-Lacan2I had never heard of them, leave alone studied them. My decision to give my presentation on Lacan was because it was just before the Easter break and I would have the four day holiday to recover from my hairdressing job and constant study. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for. One student said, ‘How brave of you to choose Lacan’ and I wondered what she was talking about, but my knees quivered. Here is an extract from my writing journal

Lacan, plus Freud, dash de Saussure, accent Levi-Strauss

 A spotlight bold and bright highlights my desk. In the shadows papers festoon every inch of the floor and the filing cabinet is a hanging garden of paper. Outside, the sun is rosebud pink under dark clouds and will soon rise above them, lost to me for another day. Why am I doing this? Why study until my eyes won’t focus and my head tips towards the computer screen hoping for some support? The only time available in this busy life is between three and six AM and today I’m giving a presentation on, who else but that poet/theorist Lacan, or Lacoh as the French would say.

I look at what is written on the computer screen. Scratchy figures slash and divide. The hieroglyphics of a distorted mind, my mind that grapples with the Rebus puzzle of The Agency of the Letter…since Freud.

In a Rebus puzzle often attention is drawn to some part of the picture, often by an arrow or underlining, indicating that this is where we should be looking for the clue. Here the arrow points to the first AID, and thus the answer is first aid.

Snores, loud and sonorous. Sound sleep at last. A cough. He will soon stretch, yawn and reach for me. In pyjamas and ski socks I must slip back to bed and pretend that I haven’t moved, not a muscle, not a twitch for an entire night. “Want a cup of tea?“ I watch the wisps of steam rise and feel acid gnaw at my insides. Today. Today I give my presentation. A week of intense study, a week spent locked up with a dead Frenchman who wants to tease me, taunt me, frustrate and fascinate me. He has become more intimate more real, and I possibly know him better, than the body in the bed. And best of all? He can’t answer back.

My brain feels like melting jelly. It slops within my cranium. If I tip forward the top of my head will fly open and a river of words, theories, algorithms and metaphors will spill over the kitchen floor, into the laundry and out into the yard. Steady girl, you’re losing it. You still have until 3:pm before you have to catch that train. Plenty of time to pull it all together. Saussure Nothing is working, John Muller is not helping. Joan Gallop is taking me down the feminist path. I’m fascinated with her thoughts on the Name of the Father, and is that what she really feels about the phallus? Maybe….tick, tick, tick Back to Muller. Has he got the key? I flip pages, faster and faster looking for the door to the secret garden. The black lump in the base of my stomach drops even further. If I had a penis it would be petrified by now. No makeup, still in my socks and clutching my oldest cardigan around me I open the door.

“Come in, come in, how is your new home? Do you miss Victoria.” They are unexpected, uninvited. “Not putting you out are we?” “Not a scrap. The house is a mess but I’m sure you can cope with that.Toasted sandwiches? Cheese and tomato?”

“Goodbye. See you next time you’re down.”

Print the presentation. Where is he? Where has he gone? I wasn’t away that long. Couldn’t Lacan wait? Instead, he has slipped into the shadows, buried deep in an unconscious inaccessible to me. Nothing makes sense. Signifier, signified, symbolic system, simmering symptom. SSssssss. Es in German means the Id. Lacan all over the bed, rocking my beliefs, spinning in my head and dragging me down on the floor. To weep, to moan, to curl up in the foetal position. beaten, betrayed. Too late, too late. Calls from downstairs. Pain that transcends my own, that call me back, to caress, to care. Can I go? Can I leave my husband for Lacan? Husband insists, he will be okay. Go girl go. I catch the train just in time. Signifier, signified, symbolic system, simmering symptom. He has returned. Out of the shadows leaps Lacan to bless, to inspire, to invigorate and lead. logo_home Giving my presentation on Lacan at Melbourne university was a turning point in my life. I learnt to overcome fear and ‘go for broke’ as the saying goes; that nothing is as bad as I think it is going to be. But most of all, I learnt to take a chance and no matter what the outcome, I would survive. The world opened up for me and I now live by that philosophy. Accept the challenge, face the fear and go for it. .