Tag Archives: poetry

Quotes to live by

To be your own person takes courage and determination
To be who you want to be takes dreams
To live life to the fullest takes love.

I don’t know who said this, but I often refer to this quote when feeling down or when life has taken an unexpected turn. It has the power to lift my soul: to inspire me to keep going, to take one step at a time until the emergency has passed and life is calmer. It reminds me of all the good things to aim for and to live life with love.

It also reminds me how powerful and inspiring words can be.

purole flowers      spells

Happy writing

on the wheel

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
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!


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


Nothing Sacred

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

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

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

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

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

‘He who ruminates on the entrails of birds

Has us by the balls’

Caesar rolls his eyes as he dismisses

The bevy of soothsayers from his pillared halls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloria MacKay: Throwing Sticks and Skipping Stones

Gloria MacKay, (born in the USA)


This is one of those books that entices you to leave dishes in the sink and the floor unswept until you finish the last story. At least that was what I wanted to do, but as always, the phone rang, emails needed to be answered and problems solved. However, no matter how much life disrupts your precious reading time you will thoroughly enjoy this book. For me, knowing the author makes the experience even more delicious.

gloria 2

Throwing Sticks and Skipping Stones contains bite sized true life story excerpts, life lessons, thoughts and rants on every subject possible. this is a  well-written book I was able to delve into one satisfying, thought-provoking story at a time.

For instance, on Monday, before heading off to a Dr’s appointment, I read High Tides and enjoyed the references to the sayings of Mark Twain.  In the waiting room it was Taking Care of Your Edges. After lunch with friends, Running Fast Through Fields of Yellow Tulips. That night in bed, glasses balanced on my nose, Hocus Pocus. My dreams were filled with marvellous magical imaginings.

Tami Brady comments : Some of these topics make you laugh until your sides hurt. Other stories remind the reader to take advantage of the important things in life. All of these stories are entertaining.

I found on reading these stories that I completely relaxed and the busyness and worries of the day melted away.

About Gloria

She  was born in Seattle. Gloria strays, occasionally, farther than she can throw a stick or skip a stone, but always finds her way home. She like writing stories about the pacific northwest of the USA: the beaches, forests, people and mountains. For ten years she read the stories she wrote on KPLU News-for Seattle and the Northwest. The radio station encouraged her to read what she writes: about women and children and men and fog and death and taxes. Collectively, non-selectively, is the presence of her four sons, four grandchildren, and their families and friends who cement time and distance together. Gloria’s writing appears in various anthologies including Forget Me Nots from the Front Porch (Obadiah Press) and Don’t Sweat Stories: Inspirational Anecdotes from Those Who’ve learned How Not to Sweat It (Hyperion).


Chalk Dustings, a fascinating collection of Gloria’s poetry and prose, is published by Aquillrelle.

In 2001 the Fifty-Plus News  publicised a short-story competition. I joined nine other winners at a celebratory gathering in Melbourne. There I met one of the judges, a kind be-whiskered man, Alan Wheatley who encouraged me to write for his Australian literary ezine. I submitted to Bonzer and Bonzer Plus for years and enjoyed belonging to this international online writing community.

Gloria heard about Bonzer in 1994 from Helen Polaski, the editor of The Rocking Chair Reader, an anthology that was publishing one of Gloria’s stories. She became an integral part of both Bonzer and Bonzer Plus when she was appointed editor.

At a Bonzer conference in Adelaide I was thrilled to finally meet Gloria. We discovered we shared an overwhelming passion for writing from the heart and soul and revelled in discussions about our current writing projects. We kept in touch on and off via Bonzer. When Alan Wheatley died, so did Bonzer and I lost touch with my Bonzer friends.

Recently I posted Writing from Mourning here at wordpress , and who should send me a comment, but Gloria. We live on opposite sides of the globe but we now use the magic of the internet to talk about writing. It seems strange when I tell her about Melbourne’s frost encrusted mornings while she swelters during ‘the warmest, driest, burning, sunnyist month of her existence.’

Recently a parcel turned up at my door containing several books and I couldn’t wait to read the funny, pithy anecdotes of life in America. I’m sure many followers will relate to her poem from Chalk Dustings, Reader’s Lament.

Words await me

out there in the dark,

on the table by the couch

next to my glasses.

My new skinny navy blue wires

and those oversized gold ones for older readers,

bifocals precisely incised. I can read with either.


In the morning I always find them together

where the books are

as though there’s been a party

and I wasn’t invited.

I don’t like to turn off the lights

and go to bed, leaving unseen words behind

like children I have met

or chocolates in a box,


but even readers need sleep.

So there I lie twitching legs

and sweaty head not meant to dent a pillow

reusing worn out dreams

like threadbare jeans

while down the hallway pages wave

as words creep out in conga lines

slithering through the night.

 Last night I took both books to the Mordialloc Writer’s Group meeting run by Mairi Neil. Everyone wants to read them and took details on where and how they can be purchased. I know they will enjoy the books as much as I have. However, next Monday I will lend them to my cousin who has just moved into residential care and wrings her hands when she says, ‘I have nothing to read.’

Reviews for Throwing Sticks and Skipping Stones

By John Paul Newbury

  • Who can forget the smells and sounds of childhood? Well Gloria sure doesn’t forget. They are as clear to her today as they were when they began. Events, ordinary and not so, stay fresh in her mind ready for the day of release into white. Her well is so deep, the vault so huge that Gloria will go on writing anew well beyond the time many lay down their pens. Chalk Dustings contains unpretentious words, not so iambic, some rhyme many don’t, they flow, river-like, straight into her beloved Puget Sound. Don’t know where that is? Well you will have to read Heather’s review of Gloria’s other 2012 offering. Gloria presents poems and verse; some might say short stories though these extensions span rhythmic and melodic lines. The words have meaning, natural nodes, marching in tune to music you start to hear, reminding me of the Nietzsche quote: ‘And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music’. Gloria hears the music.
  • By Mary Trimble
    CHALK DUSTINGS by Gloria MacKay is a rare slice of homespun philosophy. MacKay’s unique view of life, evident on every page of poignant poetry and insightful prose, is sometimes charming, sometimes witty. Her wisdom gives you something to think about while recognizing life as a mixed bowl of beans. MacKay’s poetry, laced with wisdom and observations, is rich with truisms. She shares with us heart-warming wisdom that only someone who has really lived can do. Scattered throughout the book, short prose defines life according to Gloria MacKay. She manages to impart amusing yet milestone moments that have defined the person she is. One of my favorites is the last, “Salt Is More Than a Seasoning,”in which she shares her love for Puget Sound. The piece gives life to a body of water that many would take for granted.
  • CHALK DUSTINGS is a book you’ll put in a special place, the kind of book you’d be proud to give to someone special in your life.

What stopped this writer from writing?

Life in all its complexities.


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.


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.

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