Sunday, December 30, 2007

On turning Seventy

This morning I exercised my newly acquired privilege under the current water restrictions of watering two hours later than those younger than seventy, standng in full view in the front garden hand watering with a hose, hoping for the dramatic arival of authority to interrupt the task.

Sadly, I was left to water in peace.

Other than that, turning seventy has been a non-event. I don't feel any different. I still face the future with excitement, certain it holds many more challenges to be faced and overcome. My move to popular fiction still holds a delicious sense of uncertainty (my Friday Pitch to Allen & Unwin expires on January 18th. If I've not had a response by then, it has failed and Plan "B" comes into operation).

The Fair Trader, at Shadowrose Publications, is still in limbo because the publisher is back in hospital again (she spent most of September there). When she wrote apologising for the delay, my response was "Bugger the book, get well first." I hope she took it to heart.

The Widowmaker, at Whiskey Creek Press, is still on schedule for a May, 2008, release and I'm looking forward to the edits when they arrive. They will decide whether Whiskey Creek form part of Plan "B" or not.

I really enjoy edits. They're concentrated learning...and I have so much to learn.

It's a great life (still)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm having a ball!

Rewriting the opening story of the Marrak family saga as is pure bliss. I'm back in the world I knew intimately for fifty years and was the background of my life almost since birth. My father loved it, returning whenever possible.

I'm talking about the Sea.

I've enjoyed writing romance, there are still four books to be released under Amy Gallow's name, and my future books will all carry a strong romantic theme, but it's great to live the story as well.

Back to work.

It's a great life.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Fair Trader

This is my preferred cover mock-up for the Shadowrose release of A Fair Trader. I like it because it refers to the opening words when Ruth, the heroine, is watching the sun sink into the western horizon and hoping to see the fabled green flash as the last rays of the sun is refracted through the water.
In forty years seagoing, I watched the sun disappear below a watery horizon in every kind of weather and have a very healthy scepticism about the "flash", but I sailed with people who would swear they'd seen it and were quite offended when I laughed.
Ruth didn't get to see it either, but I don't suppose it mattered to her at the time.
It's a great life.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Rejection Blues - I think not!

This year I had six books accepted and two released so the first rejection of the year didn't loom as large as it might have done.

It was very courteous, praising my writing style for smoothness and readability, but regretting that the story just didn't draw her in.

She was right! The romance was almost an afterthought.

In 1997, I grasped the chance to retire and try my hand as a full time writer and chose to write romance. My first contract came in 1999 and the publisher required a female pseudonym for marketing and Amy Gallow was born. Since then she had done quite well, publishing four print books in Australia and having seven books accepted in America, with three already released.

I will miss her, but my stories have shifted incrementally from simple romances to the complexity I enjoy and I fear she has written her last book.

The pirate series will come out under my own name and I will return to the First Family stories and rewrite them as the science fiction/fantasy they really are.

It's a great life.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Inside this writer's mind

A writer friend asked the question in her blog, "What's it like inside your mind?" and it started me thinking.

She spoke of characters from her stories, as did some of the comments, roaming around, falling out of bed, using items from her other stories, but none of this rang true for me.

The creative process fascinates me. An idea is triggered by some stimulus and my thoughts become restless, probing for connections, testing their strength, discarding weakness, in a logical progression...until, often quite abruptly, it will leap back to an earlier connection and follow an entirely new path to a totally unexpected result.

The closest physical analogy I can draw of the process comes from a description by Edward de Bono (I think he was writing of Water Logic). He postulated a beach full of octopi, dumped in a random order, their tentacles seeking connections and forming synapse-like patterns in a blind, gestalt-driven search. Thinking of any one octopus stimulates it, driving it to a more frenzied search, individual tentacles lashing, it's primitive mind cataloguing each contact and remembering their nature. This produces a ripple effect among the other octopi and soon they're all thrashing about until they reach a result that produces a feedback surge to the original octopus and a path is formed between the original idea and this new outcome.

Like all analogies, it fits only where it touches, but it gives me a good working model, and that's enough.

It's a great life.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Coffee break over. Back on your heads

The above is the punch line for a very old joke-one I first heard in secondary school-but it's very appropriate.

We came back from our trip to visit our latest grandson and found ourselves baby-sitting two other grandchildren whilst our eldest child, a daughter, celebrated her anniversary with a game of golf, a meal and the theatre. Today was spent cleaning the house of its two weeks accumulation of dust, catching up with friends, mail, etc., and reformatting a manuscript at the request of a publisher.

Tomorrow, all things being equal, I will open up my current work in progress and start reading it, immersing myself afresh in the situation, worming my way into the characters.

It's a great life.


Friday, November 09, 2007

A sobering thought

We visited a 94-year-old uncle yesterday. An ex-seaman who sailed on the Murmansk and Malta convoys, he was on the Queen Mary when she sank the cruiser Curacao in mid Atlantic whilst carrying American troops to the UK in preparation for the Invasion.

His mind is alert and sharp, but his body is failing, leaving him bed-ridden and practically blind.

We talked of old times, Jack Dempsey's bar in New York, ships we knew, etc, but the effort soon exhausted him and we had to leave. Time and distance will soon separate us again and this may have been our last meeting.

I will regret his passing. He is the last survivor of his generation of my family, but I couldn't wish him to stay, locked in partial darkness with only his memories to exercise his mind.

It's a great life (Sometimes)


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A lesson learned

My second review of Feodar's World and my royalty statement from New Concepts came yesterday and each reinforced the other in suggesting the series started with New Blood should have been a single book directed at another market entirely.

I'll suspend work on books four and five until I've used the lessons learned in writing a series on the Marrack Family series about pirates/privateers and the contemporary romances with Whiskey Creek Press and Shadowrose have appeared. (Hopefully The Countess and the Privateers will establish me in another genre in the meantime)

At some time in the future, I'll withdraw New Blood, Feodar's World and Rachael's Return and then rewrite the whole story of Peter and his creation in a single volume, probably 300,000 words plus.

In the meantime, our visit with the latest grandson is going great. We had a great trip up from Melbourne, spent two days at Binalong(Where "Flash" Johnny Gilbert is buried and near the family home of "Banjo" Paterson, of "The man from Snowy River" fame)

It's a great life


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some memories never die

A blog entry of a writer friend brought back a memory I thought I'd safely buried and the bitterness of it was as bright and new as the day it happened.
It was the at the height of the anti-Vietnam rallies and I was caught in the traffic jam outside Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, my car stopped alongside a tram stop. Standing, waiting for a tram, was a senior ranker, a sergeant I think, and the medal ribbons on his breast included three for personal bravery. I didn't know him personally, but his unit badges proclaimed him a fighting soldier from a battalion that had covered itself in honor in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The demonstration was proceeding noisily down the other side of the street, one of the major Melbourne thoroughfares, and a group broke away from the main stream and, evading the police cordon, approached the soldier. One young woman, grubby in her frenzied support for a cause she may have barely understood, spat in his face.

Anonymous in my civilian clothing, I eased the car door open, prepared to go to his support, but he dealt with it magnificently, regarding the young woman with quiet contempt while the spittle dribbled down his face. The police intervened at that moment and led the group back into the stream of people.

"Can I give you a lift, Digger?" I asked, shamed by my inaction.

"No, thank you. I'm just going to the station." He waved aside my apologies for the incident. "Some of my friends died to give her the right to do that. I honor their memory."

The tram came and he got on and stood wiping the spittle from his face with a handkerchief as it pulled away.

The next day, the Army issued an order restricting the wearing of uniform to within the precincts of the Barracks.

For myself, and the rest of us with personal experience of Vietnam, we understood the protesters better than they thought and the young woman was just an unfortunate side effect of their frenzy, but turning the Australian uniform into something to be hidden from sight hurt.

Even after all these years, it still does.


Friday, October 26, 2007

A guest has arrived

Our younger daughter's garage is being dismantled and replaced because the structure had become dangerous and this left a gaping hole in their fence so their border collie has come to stay with us until the fence is replaced.
Indigo has spent at least half her life with us, for our daughter and her husband lived here until they could afford their own home, so the house and yard are familiar. She's a typical Border Collie, excitable, full of energy and hasn't an enemy in the world. For ninety percent of the time, she can be controlled by voice, but the other ten percent ranges from embarrassing to hilarious and her daily walks are exciting. She'll run till she drops chasing a thrown stick (she has no interest in balls)

Fortunately, there's lots of bike track, ovals, parks and gardens nearby and at six a.m. (her preferred walk time) not too many people around.

I'm not sure whether I'll be glad or sorry to see her go home next week. Walking a dog like her is much more strenuous than simply walking and we come home afterwards and both collapse for a time.

Life without Indigo will certainly be different.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Sneezing Season

It's a worse than usual year for hay fever and I am a woeful sight, subsisting on antihistamines and still miserable.

It is only the last ten years when it has affected me and I'm not sure whether conditions have worsened or I have deteriorated, but I suspect the latter. (The increasing concoction of medication that comes with age is possibly a factor as well.) I'm quite certain that if I took a family pet to the vet in the state I'm in, they'd take a look at my age and suggest it might be kinder to put me down now rather than let me suffer. We're kinder to our pets than to ourselves. (I am joking...I think)

Oh, to be at sea again, hundreds of miles from the nearest land, in mid Atlantic, like my heroine from The Countess and the Privateers. She's not suffering from sore eyes, running nose and sneezing so often her ears ache.

The progress has picked up a little since I realized I had to involve Talleyrand and Fouche` to justify the efforts made by the villain to capture the ship. I am continuously amazed at how neatly historical facts suit this story. It is almost as if my subconscious had been storing specific knowledge to trigger my imagination.

It's a great life, hay fever or no.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The best laid plans

Mid October is approaching and the WIP, The Countess and the Privateers, another slight name change, is languishing at thirty thousand words, its wordage creeping rather than growing.

There's nothing wrong with the story, I'm still as excited as I was in the beginning, and the plot is developing very nicely. The problem lies outside it, in a family trauma not affecting me directly, but still very distressing to those I care for. Like everything else, it will pass and, hopefully, leave no lasting scars, but my concern for them keeps tugging away at my concentration and I find myself staring into space rather than writing.

Worse than that, the normal uncertainties and delays of a writer's life seem suddenly mountainous and I find myself seeking reassurance wherever I can. Intellectually, I know this is merely a knock-on effect of the other, but the needy brat, who still populates a distant corner of my mind, is screaming for comfort and won't be hushed.

It's a selfish reaction in giving comfort to others for a part of you to call, "Me too!"

It's back to 1802 for me, where the privateers are gathering,


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Soldier's Woman has a new home

Shadowrose Publications have accepted the Americanized version of A Soldier's Woman and are looking at Snow Drifter, which would bring the last of my Australian published books to the US.

Mitchell's Run made it as Mitchell's Valley. A Fair Trade will be released this month as A Fair Trader and The Widowmaker will come out at Whiskey Creek Press in May 2008. It will be great to see them tread a broader stage, because I enjoyed writing every one of them.

It's a great life!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rachael's Return is out

I emerged briefly from my troglodyte writing cave to find New Concepts had released Rachael's Return and this banner will appear on The Romance Studio website.

I spent a few moments happy dancing around the cave and now it's back to 1802 and an exciting voyage to Jamaica, battling privateers turned pirates and treachery on board.

It's a great life


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time to Focus

The edits are done for Rachael's Return and A Fair Trader and the former is due for release this month with A Fair Trader to follow within the next thirty days. I've submitted a partial of The Countess and the Pirates to Samhain and have four weeks (on past experience) to complete the manuscript.

That means Focus, Focus, Focus.

All the time-wasting habits must go to the wall. Yahoo groups will get a single glance during the morning hour of administrative duties, as will my fellow author's blogs and nothing more. I hope the world doesn't end in the next four weeks, because I mightn't even notice.

See you sometime mid-October.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

The number of the Beast and other things

Mitchell David, our second grandson, joined the clan on Wednesday evening around 6.15 pm. He weighed in at 6 lbs 6.6 ounces and Shelley, our daughter-in-law, noticed the conjunction of sixes into 666 and wondered if it was an augury of some kind, then she looked at Mitchell David's paternal line and wondered no more. Both are doing well and are home already.
Rachael's Return has cover art now and it is the first example I've approved unconditionally since my days with Rocky River Romance and I can tick off another family name from my list with our first granddaughter satisfied. (The family is growing faster than I can write)
A Fair Trader has reached the edits stage with the accolade of "the cleanest manuscript the editor has ever worked on". This is the very nice lady who called me a "Wordsmith", so she's definitely on my Xmas card list.
It's a great life.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Coming Soon

Rachael's Return, the third book of the First Family series has made it to the "Coming Soon" page of New Concepts Publishing. There's no artwork yet and no indication of when, but it's good to see movement.

Feodar's World, the second book received a mixed review at Romance Reader at Heart. The reviewer, Julie, chose it because she'd read Mitchell's Valley and loved it enough to want to read what she thought was my first sci-fi story. It is neither my first, nor is it predominantly sci-fi, although the setting is a space ship initially.

I always knew making each book of the series stand alone was going to be difficult because the concept of a world created by a dying veteran of WWI, the French Foreign Legion, WWII and Korea where he and the family he creates there, become telepathic immortals with the ability to translocate physically is not quickly explainable and the plot is complex.

Julie found it confusing from page one, but she was generous enough to recommend it to anyone who'd already read New Blood.

Whiskey Creek Press are still releasing The Widowmaker in May 2008 and Shadowrose publications are anxious to release A Fair Trader soon and are looking at the other books of my backlist.

My work in progress has gone through a couple of name changes as the story develops, but seems to have settled down to The Countess and the Pirates. It's going well and I hope to have the first three chapters to accompany a query letter soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"The best I've written so far."

I'm deep in the initial chapters of a new series about pirates and the women who love them. It opens with the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 and the heroine is returning to Jamaica after her first season in London. The temporary peace with Napoleon has thrown a flock of privateers out of employment and they have reverted to piracy, etc.

The story's going great guns and I'm enjoying the writing so much, I made the above comment at breakfast, only to have my partner smile knowingly and remind me that I say this with every new book I begin.

Stephen King, in his very readable book, "On Writing", admits to the same feeling, so I'm in good company.

Its a great life.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


When I first started writing professionally I came across "wordsmith". It wasn't familiar so I looked it up in the dictionary.

Wordsmith: a fluent and prolific writer with a talent for words; a professional whose vocation is writing; a journalist.

It gave me a goal. More than anything else, I wanted to be a wordsmith!

Yesterday, an editor who knew nothing of me beyond my manuscripts described me as a 'Wordsmith" and, influenza virus or no, I felt good. It was, to me, the ultimate professional accolade.

As an aside, it seems Shadowrose Publications may release my early books taken off the shelf by the demise of Rocky River Romances, starting with A Fair Trader, the Americanized version of A Fair Trade. I've done the artwork questionnaire and am waiting for the edits.

More later.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Four, and definitely counting

Shadowrose Publications offered a contract for A Fair Trader, the Americanized version of my Rocky River Romance book, A Fair Trade and I accepted it. This will be my fourth contract for this year and I have two possible additions in the pipeline. To say I'm a little elated is a major understatement.

Sleep last night was an unattainable illusion beyond a few catnaps and I was up early toiling away at administrative tasks such as updating my website and spreading the news. This is the last of those tasks before I open my WIP and get down to my real work.

It's a great life


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Great Day at the Office

I began writing as a detailed planner, my engineering background demanded it. I’d take an idea and play with it until I could see its potential and then build a structure to present all its elements in a logical pattern, with mini climaxes dotted a precise intervals, subplots initiated and carried forward to their culmination, everything in its precise place. Only then would I start to write. (I tell the story of using a very complex project planning software, one I used professionally and taught others how to use effectively, to plan one story, complete with critical paths etc, and it’s true.)

These days I’m more likely to begin with a character, a general idea of how I’d like him/her to develop, and dump him/her into a situation I think might provide this development. I then write forward with the only goal of having my character react naturally and let the situation develop, making me as much the observer as the reader and probably with less idea how the story will develop(which requires a gigantic leap of faith on my part).

What happens next always surprises and delights me. A some point in the story, nearly thirty thousand words into it in this case, everything clicks together and I have the complete structure in my mind.(Not the details, just he structure.) My reaction is always the same. I sit grinning like a fool, then get up and prowl around the house, hugging to myself the feeling of success, until I can sit down at the keyboard and begin turning it into reality.

The two thousand words, I’d struggled to produce each day to this point, flow onto the screen so easily I’m tempted to keep going, but I don’t. I have a life away from the keyboard and it deserves my attention.

The end of the first draft beckons now, (from thirty thousand words in the future) with its final skim through before I put it aside and begin another manuscript and go back to the struggle until its time to return and do the hard work of crafting my creation into a readable whole. (It usually takes me twice as long as the first draft to achieve this and I have one waiting for me.)

Back to writing for me.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Critique Groups

I joined an online critique group a few days ago, my first foray into this area. I've always been wary of such things, partly because I'm not a natural joiner and few of the group forays I've previously made proved worth the time they consumed. (I find writing time precious and anything that competes with it has to pass stern tests)

I made my first critique too quickly, I should've read more of the previous crits first, and, because this was the writer's most obvious weakness, I chose to "show" rather than tell.

It was not well received and I wondered initially if it were worth the effort I'd put into it..

My second crit was more cautious (not in content, but in approach). The writer was much more competent and it only needed minor errors highlighted, but I'd discovered a basic fact about these groups--doing a crit requires much more trust than offering your work for one. (you can choose to ignore another's words)

It was a moderately long passage and I finished the crit(using their recommended method of inserting the comments direction into the text using capitals) and then I sat and read it several times (It is a measure of my focus that I still missed a simple typo that turned "think" into "thing"). Still not satisfied, I put it away for several hours and enjoyed the visit of all, bar one, of our grandchildren. After tea, when they'd been bathed and gone home, I sat and read it again. It was the balance between highlighting effectively what I saw to be errors and the method I had to use to achieve this that bothered me the most.

In the end, I sent it off and returned to my real work, Kayelle, having forgone five, possibly six, hours in the exercise.

It's a great life (but I sometimes wonder)


Monday, July 16, 2007

Works in Progress

My current work in progress is the fourth story of the First Family from New Blood. It has the feel of a good story, particularly as I'm attempting a different structure from the others, but there are many more judgement calls to be made and each one has taken time. Achieving some success with the previous stories in this series has raised the bar considerably.

There are times when the work creeps forward as I juggle possibilities, sometimes even stalling as the moment of decision looms. Other moments have me jumping from place to place in the manuscript and writing furiously as a decision opens up unforeseen possibilities and I hurry to record them. Always my internal editor questions, demands excellence, derides foolishness and taps an impatient rhythm on my shoulder.

In the beginning there was occasional applause for this piece of writing or that from this conscience figure. Now, the best I can expect is grudging absolution and a demand for more and better writing.

It's great life.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Workaholic Blues

I was not always a workaholic.

The malady grew, undetected, through the years, parallelling my increasing responsibilities, until it became so much of me I had to arrange a physical separation between my work and my home life. The strategy worked most of the time, but there were outbreaks to be curbed.

It is more difficult now. My office is only a few steps away and writing has a tempo imposed by the release of new books. This makes it easy to impose self deadlines to meet some imagined advantage of keeping your name in the public eye, especially when the failure of a publisher reduces the body of your work available to readers. There's a terrible temptation to work harder, write faster, to replace those books in the market.

Marketing is another excuse. Small house publishers, the ones likely to take a chance on emerging and makee-learnee writers like me, do not have the funds to promote their books and the burden falls to the author. I've gone through the initial stage of frenetic energy, interrupted by trips to New Zealand and Europe/UK, and have settled to a level of measured effort directed as intelligently as I can, although the prime requirement still seems to be a sufficient body of work in the public domain to sustain interest.

I guess I'll just struggle along, trying to balance the conflicting demands of my family, my muse and commercial realities.

It's a great life. (I think)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Demanding Muse

There are moments in writing when the muse needs wooing, others when she teases and tantalizes, but the toughest are when she demands total effort and is satisfied with nothing less than your best.

The fourth story of the First Family series creeps forwards, ideas tested and discarded. Six thousand words trashed because they led into a blind alley. What remains is good, but my muse demands more, forcing me to dig deep into all I've learned since I began this mad obsession with writing.

Kayelle, the heroine of this story, is twenty-two and younger than the others. Headstrong, willfull, hungry for life, she frets at restriction and is impatient with delay. Jean-Paul, on the other hand, is wary of his attraction to this beautiful child, particularly as he finds himself doing uncharacteristic things, his emotions taking charge and tempting him into what seems in retrospect, little better than rape in his eyes.

Kayelle doesn't see it that way.

I'll leave you and get back to the problem.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Recycling is Hell

I'm back in the fourth story for the First Family series and my mind is made up. No more attempting to recycle the stories of my failed Australian publisher. If the two submissions I have in at the moment work, good. If they don't, too bad.

They were good stories, written for Australian readers and a time capsule of my writing style at the time, but Americanizing them and updating their style is surprisingly hard, particularly the style change. It's not just changing telling to showing, the characters themselves no longer ring true and it dates the storyline. Coming back to the present, so to speak, was such a relief and the unnamed fourth story is flowing along with only the story problems to occupy my mind.

This is the major change in my writing style. I know my characters, I know my background and I record their activities. It gives an immediacy to my writing and I experience the story as it happens, just like the reader.

As I've said before.

It's a great life.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A comedy of errors resolved

I sent off one of my WIPs yesterday. It was a rewrite, requested by a publisher, of a story first submitted in 2001 and subsequently published in 2002 as a print book in Australia by Rocky River Romance, which has subsequently closed it doors.

With the rights returned to me, I Americanized the spelling and jargon to find it another home and sent it off with a query letter to a US publisher. It came back within a week, just before we went to Sydney for our granddaughter's birthday, with a surprising run of editing suggestions and a request to see the edited version. When I opened the manuscript file, I found I'd accidentally submitted the original manuscript from 2001 and the comments related to my 2001 writing style. I'd gone to the trouble of renaming the manuscript to prevent confusion, but in the rush to finish everything before leaving for Sydney, I'd clicked on the line below and sent the wrong manuscript.

I sent an email explaining my error and that I would be away in Sydney for some time before I could respond, especially as two of the editing suggestions, still relevant to the updated manuscript, really interested me.

Back from Sydney, re-energized by the break, I put everything aside and plunged into the rewrite. It has been the most difficult writing task, I've attempted so far, and I struggled because the story had changed so much from its 2001 version that applying the editing principles contained in the publisher's suggestions was like applying them to a different language. I hope my efforts satisfy the new publisher, but I have no confidence in them. I even toyed with putting it aside for a month or two, but decided against it. Perhaps I was wrong?


Thursday, June 14, 2007

"We be Pirates, by God"

We're back from Sydney after a great time with our granddaughter (They grow up so fast!) and snatching a few moments to follow a discussion about pirates in the NCP group.

It started me thinking and I came up with a story idea about a Royal Navy Lieutenant, put on half-pay by the decommissioning of ships after the Treaty of Amiens, returning to his home in Jamaica and setting up as a trader to gather intelligence about the privateers turned pirates by the peace. 1802 lies outside the golden age of piracy, but there was a brief flurry of activity in this period which saw some quite horrific acts of piracy and it gives a lead in to the Lieutenant's family history in the trade for a possible series.

It would be nice to read a story of pirates that bore some resemblance to truth.

I've put it aside for the moment to concentrate on my two WIPs

It's a great life


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Vampires, Werewolves and other things going bump in the night

Amid the rash of polls, blogs and other things about were-creatures and the like, one author wondered about the shift from demonizing such creatures to making them sexy and attractive-think of the shift from The Big Bad Wolf of the Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood to the countless heroes of shape-shifter romances and from Bram Stoker's Dracula to current vampires.

I think the answer is simple. When we feared these creatures, we demonized them. Now our healthy skepticism has revealed them for the figments they really are, we pity them and start conservation movements. The first step of any conservation movement is to popularize, casting the target in a favorable light to gain wide spread support.

Logically, the Devil must be due his day in the Sun soon, then we can expect the most misrepresented of them all to appear, although God as a sex object takes a leap of the imagination.

Global Warming shrinks in comparison.

It's a great life.


PS We're off to share out granddaughter's birthday in Sydney. See you in two weeks time.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Foreign" writers

An editor was lamenting in the Epicbiz Yahoo Group about the standard of English in the submissions he received from "Foreign" countries and others joined in with horror stories of the submissions they'd received.
While I sympathize with them, I was in the middle of Americanizing one of my stories and muttering to myself about the changes it imposed--American English is sometimes painful to the rest of the English speaking world.(Its passion for simplification often robs it of subtle nuances)

I toyed with the idea of responding to him with a submission and having a little fun with his guidelines (they were a little obscure in parts) purely out of annoyance, but better judgement prevailed ans I went back to my task.

He's possibly a very nice man, writing out of frustration more than real thoughts, and may even regret his careless use of the English language to define "Foreign" writers, but he was unwilling to forgive lapses in others, so he can't expect them himself.

Back to work for me


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

The demise of Rocky River Romance/Saltwater Press freed four books as the rights reverted to me and I'm busy finding them a new home, Americanizing the spelling and colloquialisms to make the stories more readily accessible to US readers.

One of them, Snow Drifter translated very easily, being part set in Aspen, the second is more difficult and I was tempted to take the Americanization further and relocate it as I did with Mitchell's Valley.

It's great, applying the several years of learning to stories I enjoyed writing, but it is also intense. I end each day with a stiff neck and an ache between my shoulder blades.

New Concepts has Snow Drifter and I'm waiting for their response while I work on the others.

It's a great life.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Web Traffic

It is bizarre what brings traffic to a website.

I received a huge boost when Saddam Hussein was hung, mainly from people searching for gallow, with or without the pendent s. The word is still responsible for a higher proportion of visits than any other source.

This type of information brings you down to earth with a thump.

It's still a great life


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Feodar's World has landed violently

New Concepts released Feodar's World today, rating it both sensual and contains violence. The latter puzzled me a little and I had to go back over the story to find the violence as I'd thought I'd skirted around the issue rather well.

The isolated acts of violence are referred to rather than described, but are integral to the story. It will be interesting to see how they rate Rachael's Return which has more violent acts and two battles integral to the secondary love story between Kamran and Helene. They had to be there to make sense of the story and I've presented them as non-confrontationally as possible without losing their reality.

It's a delicate balancing act. I hope I succeeded.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A pleasant surprise

Melanie Grant, from Essence of Romance, a subscribed data base of books, contacted me and my books are now listed with them. It's always great when something comes out of the blue like that. I'd just negotiated an amicable truce with my current heroine, by doing precisely what she wanted, and she'd emerged from her trailer to give me another chance, so the story was flowing again. Along comes Melanie and I now have their banner on my website after a pleasant and painless exchange of emails, complicated only by the time differential between Melbourne and Washington.

It's the second time in less than a month where some reputable organisation has contacted me about my books and I'm feeling a little pleased with myself.

It's a great life.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'm in trouble

One of my work in progress characters has figuratively decamped to her trailer and is refusing to come out an play her part in the story.
"No way," she says. "I'm not doing that."
Since I've started creating real characters and plonking them in situations so I can record their activities, this happens more frequently. My mind runs ahead to plot twists and turns and I start feeding in the necessary circumstances only to be faced with mutiny. This time by the heroine.
She's sulking in her trailer as I write and I have to go back over the story to find out where I wandered off the track she'll accept, or where I created the personality trait that sent her to the trailer.
If I grovel a little, she may even tell me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Shuffling along.

Feodar's World has shuffled up the coming soon queue and may be released soon. I've included the one-liner and blurb for your interest

Love freed her people from the tyranny of distance, reuniting them with their kin, but there was a price.

From lonely commander of a scout ship to liberator was a larger step than Gabrielle knew, but Karrel was there and she took it, starting a new era for wandering humanity. One planet triggered the change and paid the price, becoming Feodar’s World and their son returned to become its liberator with an epic voyage against the odds to reach the Treaty Port and Rachael to start yet another cycle.

The First Family from New Blood continue their exploration of Peter’s reality, gaining a beautiful recruit and embarking on another quest against tyranny.

I finished the setup of a Myspace page to celebrate and you can view it here. Please feel free to add yourself as a friend.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

"There was movement at the station"

I write that with sincere apolgies to "Banjo" Paterson of "The man from Snowy River" fame, but The cover art for "Feodar's World" has arrived and I can see the scene within the story (small details excepted).

Add Whiskey Creek Press announcing "The Widowmaker"'s release date, May 2008, and there's definitely movement at this station.

I'll leave you to admire the cover while I away to do a happy dance around my writing room.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Our eldest daughter went up to Castlemaine with her family and we had the job of feeding their animals while they were away. A new cat complicated the issue, so we had to sleep at her place to keep it company (fortunately only ten minutes drive away).
Our younger daughter had a family lunch today so we went from one daughter's home to the other with me trying to complete the edits for Feodar's World and write the one-liner, blurb and fill in the artwork questionnaire for Rachael's Return in between.

The new cat is five years old and has been retired by a breeder. She's a lovely gentle little thing, slowly coming to terms with her new home. Last night (our third night sleeping there) she decided to join us for the first time around three a.m. In the beginning she stayed at the bottom of the bed, but gradually crept up until she was curled between us. Then a little higher and eventually on my pillow. She experimented with under the bedclothes but woke me up when she decided it wasn't for her and wanted to go in the valley between us again. We'd rolled together and there wasn't room, but this didn't daunt her. She wormed her way into the gap and applied a gentle, remorseless, pressure until the gap widened to her satisfaction, purring contentedly, even as I clung to the edge of the bed to stop falling on the floor.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep well after that, nor get much work done today.

Such is Life


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I weakened

I try to wait a month between the completion of the first draft of a story and my return to it, but Rachael's Return, the third story of the First Family series started in New Blood, slipped under my guard and I rewrote some parts and submitted it to New Concepts early.

I signed a contract with them today, so it wasn't as disastrous as I feared.

My work in progress is flying along in spite of today's diversion and I'm playing with the idea of a fourth story in the First Family series.

It's a great life.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Busy Days

I chose a new story and began the first chapter, then received the edits for Feodar's World from New Concepts and we went on a boat trip on Westernport Bay, visiting a decommissioned submarine and the seal colony at the Nobbies, a rock formation at the western end of Phillip Island. We went very close to the rocks and were downwind so it was both malodorous and noisy, with seals swimming around and under us the whole time. We went elsewhere to eat because I don't think any of us could have faced a barbecue in such company.

The edits were great. Lots of thought provoking comments on my writing style and effective suggestions on how to improve it. I love edits, because I'm aware how much I have to learn and have taught long enough to read between the lines.

The new story is rolling well, one chapter down and the complications emerging. I'm looking forward to a good days work.

Wish me luck


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Educating Rita

We are subscribers to three amateur theatrical groups and go to 10-12 productions every year. Lat night it was Willy Russell's "Educating Rita" presented as a "two-hander" (only two players).

It was great. The staging was imaginative, filled with subtlety, and the performances were crisp. We left the theatre eminently satisfied.

It was a great antidote to thought because our younger daughter heard me discussing my dilemma about the next story for Whiskey Creek Press and threw another story into the mix. It is set in 1972, the year I wrote it, and tells the story of a young dancer, living in Brisbane, becoming involved with two men in the Australian Coastal Shipping Industry. It was the first novel length manuscript I ever produced and was written ten times on a small portable type-writer as I learnt how to write. It's her favorite, (mine too, I suppose) because every character was drawn from life and set in a world I knew intimately.

Like Rita, I've been "educated" since then and am a better writer, so it is tempting to go back.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quo Vadis

The literal translation of Quo Vadis is supposed to be Where are you going and that's exactly how I feel at the moment.

Rachael's Return and The Widowmaker are behind me for the moment. Where do I go next? I've sorted through my works in progress and sifted my story files pondering the question.

Whiskey Creek Press publish general fiction as well as romance and I'm tempted to try my hand in a different field. There's a couple of offshore oil industry tales in my story files that nag for attention, but I have a contemporary romance completely plotted, with the first chapter written.

The result is me reading all three stories and thinking hard. The safest course is the contemporary romance, but ...

Wish me luck.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Whiskey Creek Press

The first draft of Rachael's Return sits temptingly in my computer and I resist its charms by reviewing a manuscript already submitted, but now overdue, pondering two things. How can I improve it and where do I send it next. Enter Debra Ann Womack of Whiskey Creek Press with contract in hand. She has a pleasant, businesslike manner and I am prepared to love her instantly.

The Widowmaker is a contemporary romance set on Phillip Island, near Melbourne, Australia, and revolves around the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix on arguably the fastest racing circuit in the world. We went down there to research the story and had a marvellous time visiting the haunts of my youth and great changes that have occurred since then.

So I face acquainting myself with another publisher, another editor, knowing I will learn much from the experience, and looking forward to it.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hello again

We took a break after the wedding (we needed it) and then I settled down to serious writing, finishing the first draft of the third book in the First Family series.

I surfaced a few days ago to find life had gone on around me (It's always a surprise), the silence from one of my publishers had taken on a deathly tinge and the submission period of another had stretched a month beyond the normal response time. The latter is not unusual. The response time for Feodar's World was seven months (the file went missing on somebody's computer) and an early submission to Harlequin took nine months for a response.

It's a writer's life.

Ending a draft is always a time of evaluation. Questions like "Which publisher do I want to target?" "Do I like the direction my writing has taken?" "Which story line do I feel like exploring?" tumble through your mind, trying to displace the world you've just left. If they didn't, you wouldn't be able to approach it again with fresh eyes when the time comes.

I always try for at least a month between drafts. It's not easy, but less time than this hides the flaws in familiarity and I fall into the same mind traps.

Wish me luck


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It was a Great Day

Our younger daughter was married on Sunday in a small Yarra Valley winery.

The ceremony was conducted in the open air, on the lawn overlooking an ornamental lake and we had a long lunch afterwards, sitting at a single long table, Italian style, and eating superb food from noon till after five pm. A gypsy girl sang and then led the guests in an impromptu belly dance. The bride was beautiful, as only a bride can be, and the groom ecstatic.

Everything was perfect because it suited the characters of the two people involved and a bus was provided to take the guests to their homes to allow complete relaxation and enjoyment of some excellent wines.

I can't remember a wedding I've enjoyed more.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Pay Day

Some publishers pay royalties quarterly and some every six months and the sad reality of the publishing industry is the uncertainty about anything coming at all. Not only do people have to buy books, but the publisher has to receive the monies from distributors and the distributors from booksellers, a chain of events that slows the process to a crawl. One other imponderable, is the survival of the publisher themselves and I've been caught by the demise of two so far. (it's a risky business for small publishers)

Coincidentally, this month all my royalties are due and the first one arrived today, a small one. No matter, I know that publisher has survived another quarter. I must now wait to see if the others have been as lucky.

It's a great life.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Poor Poetry

It is a common reaction of poets, even poor ones like me, whose only skill is the bush ballads of my father, that reading one poem causes an itch to reply and we fiddle with words until it's satisfied.

A fellow author penned a poem in praise of werewolves and posted in a group we both follow and my partner found me muttering to myself as I stared at it.

Here are my first three verses (with profound apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

You’ve heard the song of the Halflings. My brothers they are not we.
They yowl at the moon in mindless lust to tear at a hairless throat,
And the law of the pack is not for them. My brothers they are not we.
They slaughter the weak to earn man’s despite in the guise of our furry coat.
Then cow from the light as half bred curs. My brothers they are not we.

We spurn the claim of the Halflings. My brothers they are not we.
Not half, nor quarter, nor even a tithe; not fit to plunder the forest trails.
Or the steppes of the endless East. My brothers they are not we.
By night, they turn from our rightful prey to snuffle at woman’s tails
And mate with the hairless weaklings. My brothers they are not we.

We reared the twins in the hills of Rome. My brothers they were not we.
Gave them the strength to rule the world, but the blood it thinned in time,
And they fell to the Huns who followed our trail. My brothers they were not we.
They took our name for the U-boats who braved the Atlantic’s rime,
And harried the plodding convoys. My brothers they were not we.

There's more unfortunately, but I'll keep them to myself.


Friday, January 26, 2007

To Travel Hopefully

I'd always believed this to be quotation of Lord Byron until I researched it for a book and found it attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson and he added "is a better thing than to arrive and the true success is to labour." at the end.

It's a good description of the third book about the First Family of the Blood, especially the addendum.

Like the second book, it picks up from the end of the last story and continues, this time with Jack and Rachael, before changing direction to follow another character into another development of the Family. All three of these books have been written the same way, becoming voyages of discovery rather than journeying from one known point to another.

I'm finding it a fascinating way of writing, all the more so because I'm working on another story at the same time which has been plotted and outlined to death and written as episodes out of sequence for eventual joining together. (I believe most movies are shot this way and only joined up at the end.) I'm having fun with both stories and enjoying the comparison of writing methods without thinking either is necessarily the best. A case for "horses for courses' it seems.

Happy Australia Day to all


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The rich tapestry of life?

Our elder daughter tore a muscle in her lower back five days ago and a six-week-old baby and an energetic four-year-old made life impossible so we've been spending most of our time there while her husband is at work. The younger daughter is having sleeping and feeding problems with the three-month-old so a division of labor seems imminent (or some form of shift-work).

My writing has slipped down the food chain a little while this is happening and walking around the house pacifying our newest grandchild has aggravated the tendinitis in my right shoulder. (It's not incapacitating, just painful)

I wouldn't miss this for the world, but I'm sure it will be better looking back than it is now.


Friday, January 19, 2007

The King is dead! Long Live the King!

The contracts for Feodar's World are signed and dispatched, the one-liner and the blurb written, and the fourteen questions of the Artwork Questionnaire answered. Now, until the edits and the artwork return, it makes way for its successor and becomes history. I will have one last chance to change things, but time will be pressing by then and I'll probably accept the edits and return to what I'm writing. The King is indeed dead.

The third book in the series about the First Family of the Blood is one of my works in progress and the enthusiasm of the publisher's response has lifted it to the top of the queue again. I've just read the first two stories to refresh my memory and am fiddling with a hard copy of the twenty thousand words already written, doing a bit of cut and paste to juggle events into a more logical progression and sharpen the beginning hook. I normally do this at the end of the first draft, but there's been more interruptions than normal in this one. (Our elder daughter has just torn a muscle in her lower back and our grandson is barely a month old and his sister nearly four, so it's all hands to the pumps to help out until she recovers - just another thread in the rich tapestry of our lives)

I sat for a long time with the email from New Concepts. Accepting their contract virtually locks the remaining books of the series to this publisher and I've already expressed my reservations about the match between what I write and they publish. My partner was more pragmatic. "Accept the contract and get on with your writing. You're wasting valuable time sitting there."

Good advice, probably.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Feodar's World

Feodar's World, the follow-up to New Blood, has been accepted with some enthusiasm by New Concepts Publishing. Their reaction to the book is good for the soul, but I'm left to weigh my options carefully before I sign the contract.

The advantages of having both books, and the third perhaps, with the same publisher have to be balanced against my perception that my stories fall outside the niche they have created in erotic romances. One reviewer labelled New Blood as mildly sensual and I have no argument with the classification. Feodar's World, has a little more sensuality, but not enough to move it into the class of the books around it at New Concepts.

I suspect I shall sign the contract because I have twenty thousand plus words written of the third book and some more interesting ideas to explore in its environment.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Writer's World

As a late-comer to writing, I find it both fascnating and frustrating.

The creative side is great. I get up each morning filled with energy and plunge into the work in progress and have to tear myself away to eat or any of the other mundane chores of life. Were it not for my spouse, my social life would cease to exist for great blocks of time, our home would settle into the dust of disrepair and my body would become a brain and its interface with the computer. None of these things happen, which is just as well.

The business side, publishers, promotion, etc., is frustrating. I navigate my way through it like a ship entering an unknown harbor, taking frequent soundings, searching for leads towards my goals and extremely conscious of my uncertainties. The publishing world is a mass of rumors and innuendoes. Nothing is quite as it seems. Caution steered me clear of Commonwealth Publications and I survived the closure of LTD Books, but things are so tight out there that every statement has to be tested and good will is no guarantee.

I'm too pragmatic to expect change, so I'll just muddle on as before, enjoying what I can and enduring the rest.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Settling into the New Year

A detailed edit of Feodar's World is my entry point to this year's writing and I'm accumulating a list of points not adequately explained in this continuation of New Blood.

As it could be with an different publisher, I can't rely on the reader knowing the previous story and must clarify the references adequately. The whole thing is an exercise in clear thinking and is blowing away the writing cobwebs accumulated in the festive season distractions.

I enjoyed most of them.

The 100th birthday celebrations for my aunt yesterday turned into a massive family reunion with more guests than her years and she coped remarkably well with both the heat (35 degrees Celsius) and the excitement.

Our son, a soldier himself with an earned combat rifleman's badge, saw the obituary photo of my uncle and made a comment perhaps only a soldier who'd seen action might make.

The photo was taken before Jim went north to a campaign that saw half his platoon become casualties. My son identified the "braveness" of the smile as being the way Jim wanted himself remembered if he didn't make it and it clarified the picture in a way no other words could.

There are experiences that change the way we see the world.


Friday, January 05, 2007

The Festive Season

The new grandchildren are settling down, the family visits are coming to an end and normalcy lies just beyond the horizon-I hope.

I'm not sure whether it's because I've grown older or because this festive season was even more hectic than usual, but I have a guilty pleasure in its ending and the prospect of going back to a more humdrum pace, writing regularly rather than snatching the odd moment, waking less than exhausted by the pace of events and revelling in the privacy of our home once more.

In the meantime, The Romance Studio have added me to their Featured Member list for January with a interview and an excerpt from Mitchell's Valley, which you can see here.

Congratulations on surviving the festive season and my best wishes for the new year