Tag Archives: creative writing

Only Two Days To Go

In two days the winner of a copy of the novel , Something Missing will be chosen from the subscribers to www.glenicewhitting,com.

If you haven’t subscribed already why not take this opportunity to get your name on the list and a copy of the book could be winging it’s way to you.

The Perfect Australian Mother’s Day Gift.

A book that deals with two women and their life-long pen-friendship will be the perfect gift for Mother’s Day on the Sunday 14th May. This book and a bunch of gorgeous flowers would brighten any mother’s heart.

      Country Garden

Unfortunately for this competition Mother’s Day in  the UK was on the 30th of March 2017.

I guess. if you are in the UK  you could always keep your hard won copy for a more opportune time, maybe even 2018. I don’t know why, but the years seem to fly past at an ever increasing pace. Good heaven, soon half this year will be gone and we’ll be thinking once again of celebrating Christmas.

I’ll be drawing drawing the winner of the competition on the 2nd of May instead of the last day in  April because many subscribers are from England.  I must be fair to them . I will never get used to the fact that when it is Tuesday morning here it is Monday evening in London. You should see the times we have our MadeGlobal Publishing masterclasses. It’s usually aproximately 10pm Saturday night for English Authors while the Australian authors get 9am Sunday morning , And then there are authors from USA, Ireland, Belarus to name a few.

Best wishes to all who have taken the time and trouble to participate in this competition.

GOOD LUCK

Advertisements

Christmas: remembering fascinating family characters

Christmas is a time to remember the past and to dream for the future.

IMG_1577home

Tinsel is hung, solar lights flicker and laser lights dance on the water. Christmas has come to the Tidal Canals and we are celebrating another year of sun, sand, great neighbours and good cheer.

Beach bauble-

Today we drove past our old house in Edithvale and delighted in the changes that have taken place over the years. Opposite was Ma and Pop Whitting’s home and I couldn’t help smiling at my memories of Pop.

My dad was an engineer and pedantic about everything being correctly measured and assembled with care and attention to the finest detail. Pop Whitting used to drive him mad. Pop was a cockney lad  from England and near enough was good enough. I remember the day he decided that the refrigerator in the kitchen was taking up too much room so he grabbed a saw, and cut up the left side of the wall beside the refrigerator, across the top and down the other side. He then shoved the refrigerator back level with the kitchen wall. Brooms, pans and a mop went flying out of the broom cupboard in the laundry behind the refrigerator.

‘Where will I put my brooms?’ Ma cried.     ‘You’ll find somewhere,’ Pop replied. ‘At least you now have more room in the kitchen.’ I’ll never know how he managed to miss cutting the electrical wires inside the broom cupboard . Sheer good luck, I guess. To cover the jagged edges of the sawn kitchen plaster he simply tacked a wooden strapping edge around the fridge  and painted it the same colour as the walls. I’d love to go into the house one day just to see if the refrigerator is still recessed into the laundry cupboard.

Pop was an original, a one off character who lived off his wits. When he was eighty he decided one afternoon to climb a ladder and paint the guttering. No preparation, just slap on as much paint as possible to cover any dirt. He happily painted a section of the gutter before deciding it was time for a cup of tea. Balancing the nearly full open paint tin on top of the ladder he proceeded to climb down. On reaching the bottom rung he looked up in time to see the tin of paint spill all over him. Thank goodness he was wearing glasses because it covered him from his bald head to the tops of his shoes. Instead of standing still, he yelled ‘Ma’ and proceeded to slosh down the side way, around the back of the house and into the kitchen leaving a trail of white paint behind him. It was left to Ma to clean up and the rest of the guttering was never painted.

My dad, on hearing the news shook his head and said, ‘You mean he didn’t even sandpaper the guttering before he started?’

Family characters. How they fill our memories and our hearts with love. 

Australian Christmas

Part Three: The journey to recovery

The last thing I remember is waiting on a trolley outside the operating theater , my fingers crossed, hoping I was doing the right thing. Dr Lawrence and the anesthetist both came in and said in unison, ‘We know, no Gelofusine.  Now go to sleep.’ I woke up in a four bed ward with no pain. I couldn’t believe it and thought that maybe I was still numb from the anesthetic.

bed

2.08 am…..2.09 am. Why can’t I sleep? I’m still not in pain, which is amazing. A catheter means for the first time in years I have the opportunity of sleeping through the night, but I have tubes in me I don’t want to crease or bend . I know I need to sleep to heal and try to close my eyes and relax. Useless, so I drag out my journal and start writing. It is my salvation as the minutes slowly tick by…2.19 am.

ward

I turn on a small down-light and a nurse pulls the curtain around my bed so I won’t disturb the other patients. Their regular even and deep breathing makes me wish I could do the same. I have made up names for them all. Opposite is Dementia Doris. Beside her is Happy Helen and next door is Pacemaker Pearl who has sleep apnoea and snores loudly above the regular hiss of her C pack machine. A considerate nurse offers me earplugs but I reassure her the snoring makes me feel at home. My husband starts with a stage one whistle and progresses to a stage three guttural snore. I’m usually asleep by stage three. It is the lullaby to my nightly dreams.

At least I am resting comforted by black scratchings on paper and I have all tomorrow to doze to my heart’s content.No cleaning, paperwork , classes to organise or honouring the promise to catch up on filing and tidying I keep saying I’ll do…one day. Paul and Marian are visiting again tomorrow and we will chat and laugh at ordinary things.  Last night they fixed my phone, rang relevant people, kept Alan informed and arranged for my trip home. All I have to do is eat, sleep and heal.

paola Rafa  menu brochure

I do just that. The meals are superb, as good as any five star restaurant. It only takes two night’s stay in hospital with wonderful nurses like Paola and Annie who treat with compassion and respect, spoon feed and calm two dementia patients. One old lady keeps calling out all night ‘Where am I? Where am I? I want John. Where is my Mum? Where am I?’ The nurses gently tell her she is in Cabrini Hospital but in five minutes she has forgotten and it all starts over again. How sad to not know where you are or what has happened to you. About 3am I hate to see her distressed and toddle over to her bed taking my ‘bag’ with me. I put my finger over my lips, ‘Shh’ I say. You’re in Cabrini Hospital and it is late at night’. ‘I want John’, she says. ‘And Mum.’      ‘They’re asleep,’ I reply. ‘Well bully for them’ is the answer. I laugh all the way back to my bed.

The next morning I blissfully shower on my own. Dr Lawrence calls and informs me that I’m better than ever and tomorrow Paul can take me home…if the catheter  is removed, I void twice, two ultra sounds show my bladder empty and my bowel behaves itself.  Fortunately all happens according to plan and I am soon heading down the freeway.

Conclusion

I follow instructions to the letter. No lifting and plenty of rest, but I am, and have been all along, pain free. A week after the repair when I step into the Godfrey Street Neighbourhood House ready to take the Memoir Writing group I realize how lucky I am to be able to get anything fixed before it breaks and that I can survive an anesthetic. I have gone from making sure I have a medical power of attorney signed and sealed to facing the future with confidence. I hope more women my age research and talk about their ‘girly bits’ and see a professional about any problems ‘down there’. In the meantime the receptionist at Bayside Womens Health gave me a sample of a pH Plus intimate wash  which helps promote a healthy pH balance. I didn’t know such a product existed.

imagesCAI3LCOJ

Next week I promise to post a light-hearted Christmas piece

 

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

books quote

wendyjdunn@optusnet.com.au

Three and a Half Inches Behind

Be nice to your children, they choose your nursing home

stories

I was visiting a friend who has just moved into assisted care. This newly built aged care facility provides permanent care, dementia care, nursing services and palliative care and is a long way from the basic nursing homes my mother used to talk about. She believed the old saying, Be nice to your kids, they choose your nursing home.  

In the secure section’s tranquility room a small white haired woman snuggled under a soft covering watching laser light ‘stars’ dance on the ceiling. Bright eyes met mine and I sat beside her. She grabbed my hand and beamed at me. ‘Hello’, I said.’How are you?’

‘Three and a half inches behind’. I stroked her hand and spoke quietly for a while eventually saying, ‘I must go now. She patted my arm, ‘Three and a half inches behind’ she said with a smile. When I reached the door I heard a quiet, ‘I love you’.

certificate

For twenty-five years I’ve been a research volunteer with Melbourne University’s Womens’ Healthy Aging Project and have learnt a lot about, menopause, H.R.T, post menopause and lately, dementia and Alzheimers.

According to the current literature Dementia, also known in my mother’s day as senility, is a broad category of brain diseases that cause long term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember clearly . So much so that a person’s daily functioning is affected.  The most common affected areas include memory, visual-spatial, language, attention and problem solving. Most types of dementia are slow and progressive. By the time the person shows signs of the disease, the process in the brain has been happening for a long time. At the moment there is no cure. Globally, dementia affects thirty-six million people and is on the increase. More people are living longer and dementia is becoming more common in the population as a whole.

Senility has been around for a long time. My mother often told me that when she was eighteen she was sent to look after her Gran who was senile and needed constant care. It was a daily struggle just to get Gran dressed. After fighting with her to get some sort of clothes on, Mum would try to put on Gran’s leather buttoned boots. Gran would clench her teeth and plant her foot on the floor. They would struggle for about half an hour before Mum finally got the boots on and buttoned. Mum would give her grandmother a bag of tangled pieces of string for her to unravel. It kept her busy all day. At night Mum would mix them all up again and hand the bag back to Gran the next day.  Only when her Gran was dressed and occupied could Mum escape to do her own chores.

Not every dementia patient is as difficult as Gran. They can be as sweet and lovely as Three and a Half Inches Behind. WHAP research has found that the story of each patient recorded in a book assists people to  understand how to help dementia patients  live as calm and enjoyable a life as possible.

page 1     page 2     page 3

The new three story building that is home to my friend houses elderly people with physical and mental problems and is better than any luxurious Retirement Village I’ve ever seen. Large private rooms with an en-suite, wide hallways, comfortable lounges with aquariums and electric fireplaces complete with realistic flame effect. Friendly, caring staff. These facilities are a far cry from the urine smelling shared rooms of the nursing homes of my mother’s day.

lounge dining hair

I remember sitting next to eighty year old friend, Mickey when we flew through a violent storm in a tiny eight seater plane. After a particularly loud boom of thunder, she bent forward, put her fingers in her ears, closed her eyes and muttered her mantra, ‘Never a nursing home, Never a nursing home.’ Mickey would not have such a fear of being sent to a home if she had seen one of these new Aged Care Facilities today.

page 6

But to get into one of these top class aged care facilities is still a trauma and, if you cannot get a government funded place, can cost the earth. I don’t know what the answer is, but I am so happy for my friend. Her physical condition has improved since being there and her mind is still as sharp as a tack.

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

Product Details

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Product Details

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Product Details

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

Product Details

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Product Details

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.’

Product Details

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.

 IMG_3186

May the words flow freely. Happy writing everyone

The Memory Healer: Julie Filarski

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams

(Henry David Thoreau) 

Writers are dreamers. How many have dreamt of holding their published book in their hand, but scratch any author and you will find a long history of trials, rejections, false starts coupled with tenacity and enough perseverance to make a marathon runner proud.

jfilarski

Julie Filarski is an author who knows all about perseverance She also knows the benefit of learning the craft of writing. She was writing the first drafts of her fantasy fiction book, The Memory Healer   in 1998 during a TAFE course in professional writing and editing. The manuscript was published by TWCS (The Writers Coffee Shop) Publishing House in 2014. It takes the reader on an exciting metaphysical journey of time travel, incarnation and regression. Once I’d started reading I couldn’t put it down. Instead of doing my chores I left dishes in the sink, the floor unswept and curled up on the couch until I’d devoured the last word. I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in past lives.

the-memory-healer 2

The Mordialloc Writers’ Group with Mairi Neil at the helm meets every second Tuesday to workshop members’ stories, swap information about books, competitions and publishers, chat over coffee and support each other. Maureen Hanna brought along Julie’s book (currently available from Amazon Australia).  I noticed her name in the acknowledgements and could not resist asking Maureen how she’d become friends with the author.

Maureen met Julie in 1998 at Casey TAFE, Berwick, at the beginning of the first term. They were both part-way through a Diploma of Arts. (Professional Writing and Editing) With another member, Linda McKay, they formed a group within a group of writers studying Novel 2.

The friendship was immediate and class nights always ended at McDonald’s just across the road from TAFE. They also met each week and lived close to each other.

Julie was working on an historical romance, ‘The Pointer on the Way’. Linda had researched an ancestor of hers, murdered on the gold fields in 1870 and was telling his story.  Maureen was writing a fictionalised version of her childhood.

They began to workshop each other’s writing and the different styles of writing and genre made them all rethink their work. The result was a rewrite of Julie’s novel which became a paranormal/time travel romance set in the fictional town of Port Brandon, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia titled The Memory Healer.

Years later they are still very good friends but as Julie, Linda and Maureen now   live in different locations the chance to catch up is more difficult. However,  they manage it about five or six times a year and the friendship remains as strong as ever.

The Memory Healer

To give you some idea of the story…

On a wet summer morning in the historical township of Port Brandon, South Eastern Australia, talented artist and psychic Beth Montgomery reluctantly agrees to carry out a psychic assessment of Carrington House. She soon becomes frightened by a string of nightmares that could be warning her not to tamper with the metaphysical.

Despite her fears, she braces herself for what is to come and continues to unearth the secrets of the past. As soon as she enters the historical home, the image of a distraught Victorian maid appears, and then a young woman manifests on the staircase. Beth is transported to another era, where a magnificent four-poster bed, an engraved watch, and an exquisite ring evoke fleeting memories. When Beth spies a calendar, the date fills her with dread, but she cannot remember why.

Returning to the present time, Beth agrees to work for the irresistible Dr Matthew Jamieson, the new vet in the district. Each time they meet, memories of another lifetime flood her heart. She senses an eternal bond between them, but with two unfaithful partners in her past, she is reluctant to become romantically involved with him.

As her passion for Matthew intensifies, she regresses to 1895. In her past life as Mary Clark, she meets the darkly handsome Samuel Methven and falls in love with him on sight. But is he as honourable as he seems? Faced with Samuel’s apparent betrayal, Beth is plagued by fears that Matthew will also be unfaithful to her.

She knows that to learn the truth, she must return to her past life, but that means facing an unbearable tragedy. Does Beth have the courage to move between lifetimes and relive that dreadful event? Will she be able to discover whether her soulmate was faithful to his twin soul?

Intrigued? I’m sure you will enjoy this interesting and thought provoking story

Friendships Between People Who Love The Same Books

There are no faster or firmer friendships than those between people who love the same books (Irving Stone)

My cousin Julie is part of my life, part of me.

For many years we have shared the trials, tribulations and joys of our lives, including books, quotations and inspirational verses. I pass on to her any that I enjoy and she does the same for me. Recently we have exchanged the Desiderata , The Rosie Project, Cleo, Tumbledown Manor and the complete book of Great Australian Women.  Last month she moved into assisted care and had to clear her unit.

She has passed on to me her most treasured books; prizes awarded when she attended Fintona Girls’ School many years ago. Books by Jane Austin, RD Blackmore and George Eliot. With love I have placed these new additions to my book ‘family’ amongst fellow companions and I will care for them, love them but most of all enjoy them and think of her whenever I do. They are here in my safekeeping. Hers to visit or take home whenever she likes. However, later they will be passed on with love to whoever needs them at that time and I will be guided as to who that is when that time comes

Julie used to teach piano and music is part of her life. When feeling blue, listening to classical CD’s always sooths her soul. Books to me are like her music to her. They are my Bach and Beethoven. Old friends who comfort, exhilarate and transport me into so many different worlds. I don’t sit and read line by line like Julie. I dip in, flick through, but always find what I need at that particular time. My books are not worthy tomes, they are about everyday life and are dog eared, preloved, tatty, often garage sale gleaned and anyone searching for first editions lined up in library neatness will be disappointed. I make no apology. From the crayon scrawled Dr Suesse to the thesis written in longhand on aboriginal children in schools during the last century thrown out by an uncaring family, to precious school awards, they are my treasures.

Often I find scraps of paper buried between the pages, such as ‘Live more in your heart and less in your head’ or ‘There are two dominant energies, love and fear and love conquers all’. Boring to some but often photocopied and sent with love to uplift others. These days I also find many inspirational verses on Facebook and love to see people sharing these treasures.

FRIENDS

Through laughter and light

And the dark soul of night.

Deep rooted as a tree.

Our mothers were cousins. They whispered together and walked hand in hand. Every Sunday, side by side, their voices soared in harmony. Handbags hanging, they linked arms and, with heads close together, magpie chattered, oblivious to the world. They laughed, cried, told jokes, criticised their husbands and praised their babies.

Julie was eight when I arrived.

Julie’s parents had elegant Christmas parties. I admired ruby glass from afar and ate jelly cakes and lamingtons, never spilling a crumb. Julie played Beethoven on the grand piano. I saw her wear dresses that with a tuck would be mine.

Julie went to college, studied at the Conservatorium and sang in the Sun Aria.  She whispered of love. Her family disapproved but she married her ‘commoner’. I saw her look of defiance and the family’s look of defeat.

We  met weekly in the Botanic Gardens where we laughed, cried, told jokes, and tended our babies.

The battered doll is bruised to the core

Convinced no one will love her any more.

 Julie grabbed her music, called a taxi and fled to a flat.

Julie lies quietly in the hospital bed.  ‘The cancer operation will be a success,’ she says.  I lie beside her, our heads touching. We sip Chardonnay in elegant glasses hoping the nurses will leave us alone. We talk for hours until the late bell tolls and I train home filled with courage.

Julie is fighting. She has chemotherapy, loses her hair. We sit in cheery waiting rooms amongst smiling faces beaming love to anyone near.  Life seems precious and eggshell fragile as we talk with others of hopes and plans.  ‘I will beat this,’ she says.  ‘I will be well.’ Seeing her confidence I also believe.

Julie cuts her hair, rents and laughs at her family. “They tell me I must save for my old age,” she says.  She travels to Assisi convinced she is cured.  Sits six hours on top of her luggage at Calcutta station talking to soldiers.  Lives in an Ashram where she silently peels vegetables, takes cold showers, swirls in dervishes.  She lives in her tracksuit. “But where is the love,” she cries as she travels to England, Austria, America and Italy. “Where is the peace in the world?”

Julie is happy. She sits in Yoga lotus when we talk on the phone.

Meditates in her special place, mentally cleansing her body and soul.  I see her graduate as a Yoga teacher, write a book Love and Light and help others through cancer and HIV Aids.

One night, we light a candle, sit cross-legged on the floor our hearts soaring with symphonies and talk about Chin Maya, Satyananda yoga, her Swami, our angels, our chakras, our energy. “Live now,” she cries.  We discuss  life, love, miracles and healing and…

Through love and light

Soul mates set free.

Deep rooted as a tree.

‘What does she mean to you’  is asked of me

What stopped this writer from writing?

Life in all its complexities.

flowed

The funeral of a friend, the blue screen of death on my beloved computer and the overwhelming urge to clean up years of clutter. All things that everyone experiences at some time or another. However, coming one on top of the other they were enough to make me stumble and forget to nurture myself. I fell off my trusty steed and needed to once again go confidently in the direction of my dreams.

This post is my way of getting back on the horse. To once again feel the wind in my face and the joy of writing.

When I sent Paul a photo of the blue message on my computer screen the text back read, ‘It doesn’t look good. I’ll call in after work’. It reminded me of years ago when he gave me my first computer. Several years later I rang him saying that the screen was blank etc. and asking what could I do. His reply was, ‘Have you got a shovel?’ ‘Yes’ Well dig a hole and bury it.’ I love his sense of humour. Repeating what he did then, he has once again replaced my laptop with this amazing new model plus a new matching printer. He also managed to save all my documents, files, folders and programs. I now have no excuse not to write.

computer

I love to write anything and everything, across genres and back again. but most of all I find myself writing autobiographical stories based on life experiences.

Recently a friend sent me a lovely card containing reflections by Emily Mathews

‘Like leaves upon a summer breeze, hearts are stirred by memories-those happy-to-remember things. like childhood friends and old porch swings. Family stories told for ages, daydreams tucked between life’s pages. Teardrops spent and laughter shared. Questions asked, adventures dared. Memories stir the heart because there’s joy found in ‘the way it was’.

I believe everyone who wants to tell a story can if they start by writing down one story and then keep going. It sounds simple but it’s far from easy. Maybe record stories in an exercise book, or if , like me, you like writing on a computer, keep a simple private blog.

What I love is the sheer joy of writing. the intimate relationship between me and the page. I treasure my family and writing friends and through writing I hold communion with my deepest self.

Writing fills my heart, my pages and my life.

class jpg

A writer’s Journey

How do writers discover their love of writing?

Some authors have always been readers and writers. They have grown up surrounded by books and have imagined or written stories all their lives. Others discover, like me, their love of writing by chance.

Follow your dreams

fear

“Write one page on anything you like,” our VCE English teacher said. The other students started to write, but I felt numb, apart from an overwhelming fear that made my hands shake. I knew my children were proof that my body was fertile, but what if my mind was barren? I wrapped my bulky cardigan around me and commenced to scrawl anything, just as long as the paper wasn’t blank.

How many girls were told, “She doesn’t need a higher education. She’ll only get married and have children.” So we tucked our dreams, along with the hand-embroidered linen, into our glory-box.

My life moved on from the frenzied earning and child rearing years. I remember sitting in the Robert Blackwood Hall, witnessing my son receive his university degree and thinking about the difference in our education. At fourteen, I’d left Malvern Girls’ Domestic Arts School to start an apprenticeship. Over the years, in an attempt to self-educate, I’d tried to read the dynamo labelled school books in the bookcase, but they were hard to understand. How could I relate to my two sons? Already they were trying to talk to me in a foreign language of hyperlinks and megabytes. I felt an overwhelming desire for knowledge and decided to go back to school.

Could I cope? What if I failed? My mantra became, ‘one day at a time’, and like a learner swimmer flung into the deep end of the pool I clung to my life buoy of supportive teachers and classmates.

Several weeks later the worst was over and I was part of a triathlon team. We powered forward, exhilarated in heart and mind. With the help of dedicated teachers the code was finally broken to my son’s books and they revealed so many previously hidden biological facts and literary treasures. Acceptance at TAFE, and later Monash, Melbourne and Swinburne Universities, resulted in a joyful ongoing journey of discovery, but the greatest discovery of all was my own innate ability to learn, and most important of all, to write.

small final pickle cover Inspiringwomenm book powerpoint slide Top-002.bmpplay

These days, the long hours tapping away seem only minutes. I write anything and everything and beside me is a novel, Pickle to Pie. What writer worth her salt hasn’t written The Book? It was with great pleasure, via an acknowledgements page, to formally thank the many supportive and inspiring University lecturers, TAFE teachers, writing friends, the Mordialloc Writing Group, my family and friends who have helped me on my journey. Their kindness and generosity has changed my life and I no longer have a vague feeling of ‘something missing’.

I am no longer at ‘school’, but after finally completing the writing journey from VCE to PhD I want to say to other mature aged women who yearn for knowledge and need the help of others to show them the way, “Don’t be afraid to take the plunge. It is never too late to follow your dreams.”

quote8