Posted in Blog

Home, Away, Home Again

We’ve been away. The thing about going away is, no matter how wonderful the trip, it’s always such a relief to get home. I don’t know if it’s the journey, or the strange bed or the rich food but being away is always more draining to be at home and it certainly makes me appreciate my own little corner of the world.

Our trip this time was to South Australia, a state I’d never visited before. We spent time with my younger brother, visited Hahndorf (which apparently was the first settlement set up for non-English settlers) and saw the pandas at the zoo. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen pandas in real life so I was thrilled. The place we stayed was very close to the water, so we had a lot of long walks on the beach.

And despite all that, I am so glad to be home again.

Posted in Blog

What the Wrestling Can Teach You

My husband loves the wrestling. As in, incredibly athletic men and women inside a ring pretending to fight in the most spectacular way. Wrestling may be fake (please, don’t look so shocked) but I have no doubt the talent and endurance (and injuries) of the performers is completely real.

I don’t mind the wrestling either, but the thing I love most is the stories. The writers are masters of conflict and tension (for a great article on conflict, check out this post on Writers in the Storm). The stakes are always epic, the rivalries are always intense, and the characters walk through ever shifting shades of grey. These characters don’t just want to win (we all want to win), they’re willing to do anything to win. Coz, let’s face it, the writers need to create characters that people don’t just like, they need to write characters who’s t-shirt people want to wear.

I assume that’s why my husband has those shirts, anyway.

Posted in Blog

Friends Make the World Beautiful

Over the weekend I went away with some women I’ve been friends with since high-school. We soaked in the beautiful hot springs on the Mornington Peninsula and airbnb-ed (yes, I did just use it as a verb) a house in Dromana.

I’ve known most of these women since I was thirteen and one of them since I was seven (at the most). They know things about me that no one else could possibly know. And, they love me for who I am, even when I don’t love myself. I always say that you only need one good friend to survive high-school – two as a bonus in case one of you is away – but I was blessed with a large group of friends who I knew always had my back. I’m further blessed that some of these friends have grown with me into adulthood.

Love and friendship are easy to give, they’re also incredibly powerful. When the world feels scary and confusing, it’s tempting to withdraw from others but it’s a temptation, I think, we need to fight. Because it’s friendship that makes the world a beautiful place.

Posted in Blog

Australia Day

I know what you’re thinking. Today is Tuesday but this is not a two-sentence story. I know, but yesterday was a holiday because Australia Day fell on a Saturday this year (and Australian’s love a long weekend). So I spent yesterday frolicking at the beach with my family and that’s put me a bit behind.

The thing about Australia Day is that, it’s not really Australia’s Day – not for everyone. Australia has a long history of brutalising and demeaning non-Anglo people, beginning with the Indigenous people of this country after colonisation followed the landing of the First Fleet on January 26th, 1788.

Australia’s history is not unique. All over the world colonisation brought pain and suffering to the indigenous people of different countries. The past cannot be changed…but people, ideas and sentiments do change.

Modern Australia is not the Australia that once was. Australia Day is a reflection of the sentiments, ideas and beliefs of a certain time. Thankfully, that time has passed. And I have no doubt that my grandchildren will probably celebrate the wonderfulness that is Australia on a completely different date.

And it will be a day that all Australians – Australians who’s ancestry is over two-millennia old and Australians who are freshly arrived and everyone in between, can enjoy and take pride in, together.

And hopefully it will be in February, because we really need a long-weekend slotted in there.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews

The Mouse and His Child

I’ve just finished reading The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban. When I was little I watched the animated movie many times. There’s a scene in the cartoon where a rat beats an old wind-up donkey to death and, unsurprisingly,  it always stayed with me. I saw the book at a book-fair and picked it up for $2, for old times sake really.

mousechilddonkey

It was a brilliant book. While I recognised a lot of scenes from the movie (including the scene with the donkey) there was so much more to it. Even knowing how it would end, I couldn’t stop reading about the toy mice’s journey from the toy-store to the cruel word and their quest to become self-winding and autonomous.

And I would never have picked it up if not for the book-fair and a bit of childhood nostalgia.

We tend to be attracted to what’s shiny and new but old stories have so much to offer. The Mouse and His Child was first published in 1967 but it’s themes are timeless. The writing style of older books is very different to modern style, often with much more description and author intrusion, but they’re often beautiful and poetic because of an author’s artistic license.

If you get a chance, keep an eye out for The Mouse and His Child and in the mean time blow the dust off some older stories for a chance of pace.

mousechild

Posted in Blog

The Balancing Act

We all have different pulls on our time. For me, I have two children (aged 4 and 6), a husband (although he’s pretty self-sufficient it’s nice to actually spend time with him), a writing career that I’m trying to get started, family, friends, neighbours, chores, pets, hobbies, a ‘to-read’ pile. You might have all these and more. The fact is, we all need to balance our lives otherwise we end up overwhelmed and under-satisfied.

Continue reading “The Balancing Act”

Posted in Blog, craft, Something Different

Can you help me?

I’m currently doing a rewrite on Child of War, the manuscript I’ve been trying to find a good home for. After rejection number four (or is it five?) and some reading to improve my skills (may I suggest The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke) I decided to put my current work in progress away for a bit and do some tweaking on my ‘finished’ manuscript.

With that as background, I’m looking for your comments. I’ve copied the first 200 words below and I would be grateful if you would read them both and let me know which (if any) you prefer and why.

Be brutal (but constructive). I’m keen to know what you think.

1)

Hunger slapped Jedda awake, clawing at his insides. His eyes snapped open, and he sat up. Nothing ruined a good sleep like the knife of hunger twisting in your stomach.

Pale yellow light sliced through a gap between the thin floral curtains, and caught in the dusty cobwebs that looped down from the corners of the room. There was a cat-shaped damp patch on the wall behind Jedda’s bed and he gave it a friendly pat, “Morning Flossy.”

Jedda stretched, pushing the tips of his toes out from the end of his bed, and swung his legs over the side. Cain’s bed was already empty, the thin covers pulled up over his pillow, his sketch pad and nub of pencil resting on the corner of the narrow set of drawers the divided their beds. Jedda stood up and shoved the edges of his blanket onto the mattress. He dragged a pair of jeans and a t-shirt out from under the bed, gave them a quick sniff, and pulled them on. With a yawn he headed for the kitchen.

Mum was standing at the sink, steam rising from the water and condensing in the curls of hair around her face, her cheeks flushed pink from the heat. She was scrubbing a cast iron pan and the water slapped and gurgled in the basin. She glanced at Jedda with brown eyes that matched his own.

2)

Jedda was going to die. He knew it. His heart, smashing against his ribs like it wanted to break out from his chest, knew it. Even his fingers, curled around a rough skinned branch,  stiff-jointed and burning, knew it. He was going to die at seventeen, and a virgin, and when he fell to his death it would be all Cain’s fault.

He edged his foot upwards, searching with his toes for another branch that he could use to lift himself higher. The slick, worn, sole of his sneaker slid on the damp bark. A shower of pine needles pattered over his hair and fell down the back of his coat collar where they bit at his skin. He hugged himself closer to the tree trunk and tried not to look down.

“Jesus Jedda. Could you hurry up?”

Jedda gritted his teeth. “I can’t find a foothold.”

“Just a little bit higher. Keep going…keep going. There. Can you feel it?”

Jedda’s foot connected with the stump on a broken branch. He wriggled his foot forward until it poked into the arch of his foot and his knee was almost in his chest. He bounced, once, twice, on his other foot, sending another fall of pine needles to the floor, and pushed up with his other leg. His chest scraped against the tree, sweat pasted his fringe to his forehead. With a final grunt he was standing on the stump, his other leg dangling free.

So. Which is it? 1 or 2? And why?