Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Hectic Period

I opened the fist draft of "The Countess and the Privateers" after letting it sit for almost six weeks and was immediately struck by an anomally that would be immediately apparent to any professional seafarer with a Merchant Marine background, a poor beginning for my return to writing general fiction. It set the tone for my reading the story again, because it required most of the first chapter to be re-written.

I'm still largely satisfied with the story, but acknowledge the need for a major re-write to straighten out elements of the plotting because the story developed as I wrote it, going off in unanticipated directions at least once, and, at ninety thousand words, some of the changes affects what went before.

I'm glad now that life has been so hectic with family matters since the beginning of October. We've seen relatives not met for many years, others for the first time, farewelled others for the last time, changed cars and plans for the future, taken on projects for the New Year outside our normal life, and generally had one of those disturbing intervals that change lives and outlooks.

I managed some writing and sent off two further submissions, completing projects rather than beginning them, which means a return to "The Countess and the Privateers" with a clear horizon--unless one of the submissions bear fruit. (Two have passed the seven months mark and are scheduled for reconsideration in the New Year)

I wish you all an enjoyable festive season.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Time for an update

A visitor to this blog recently read every post, which was very flattering, but it made me realize how lax I've been of late and how frequently I've left my news unfinished so I thought it time to rectify the omission.

We now have six grandchildren. Ella Joan joined us a little over two weeks ago at 9lb 60zs. She has dark hair (so far) and is remarkably placid for this family.

My sister has recovered from her stroke and has returned home with only minor disabilities.

The screenplay of The Widow-Maker is proceeding well, according the Spirit Rider Productions, and the book has been entered in the "Eppies" this year. It also has another review. This one from Verbena, of The Long and the Short reviews. She gave it four and a half book symbols and I've included it here in italics.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting in this book because of the title. I must say that it’s a good read. The author presents a very measured pace that is easily followed. The story takes place in an Australian motorcycle race setting. It was unfamiliar to me so I had to read slowly in order to understand the surroundings. Someone familiar with that setting and scenario wouldn’t have the same problem. It’s an easy read that will leave you with a satisfied feeling. It works out for all in the end. I do like that kind of ending.
Lexie Douglas comes from a small island off the mainland of Australia. This return, forced because of her father’s birthday, is bittersweet because she left family and lifestyle behind years ago. You begin by not being sure about Lexie. But as her past is revisited here and there during the story you start to appreciate her for who she is, a fighter over coming her own fears and life experiences. You’re with her as she starts seeing her family in a different perspective and starts changing her own attitude. You’ll come to admire her as I did.
Glenn Smallwood catches her eye at one of the social events she’s paid to entertain at. Their paths cross again and again. He continues to impress her with his steadfastness. They both find that they quite simply have quickly fallen in love. What I find interesting is that I couldn’t tell you what either looked like, because it’s like people that you know and love. You no longer see them as beautiful or what color eyes they have, instead you see them with your heart. You will see both these characters with your heart. You will admire them and feel the deepest of satisfaction with the story and the way it ends as I did. This is a very pleasant story and I recommend it to you.

The first draft of The Countess and the Privateers is finally complete and I am mulling over the comments from an agent before I begin the rewrite/polishing.

The love of my life joins me in the seventies in a little over a week and has opted for a hot air balloon ride to celebrate (the other choice was a tandem parachute jump--which we will save for the eighties), followed by a champagne breakfast at a Yarra Valley winery.

It's a great life.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Doing the "right" thing sometimes makes you feel bad

In the thirty years we have lived in this house, many things have changed and we are soon to have renters on either side of our suburban quarter-acre block. The house to the south has been rented for some time, with different people in the front and the back.

The tenant at the back was a young unmarried mother with two children who loved to play her music loud at inconvenient times and she had a black tom cat, the only survivor of two she owned, who loved the sunny spots in our back and front yards as a refuge. He was quite nervous and making eye contact with him always caused him to shift elsewhere. We have no pets at the moment (we enjoy our children's instead) so we respected his need for privacy.

Three weeks ago, she did a midnight flit, leaving the place in a shambles (we know the owner, who has spent almost a fortnight repairing the damage and cleaning up the mess) and left the cat behind. It became obvious she was not returning and checks with all our neighbors showed that no one was feeding the cat, plus there was evidence he was subsisting on the local bird life.
As cat people, we were concerned, but we have very young grandchildren in our house at frequent intervals and the chances of successfully adopting the animal were slim, so we called the local council and a ranger came. We trapped the animal with his hunger and he was taken away--most probably to be put down.

Each time I walk in our yard and see his favorite places empty, I feel guilty.

Abandoning animals is an offence in Australia. Just at this moment, I'd like to see it punished with the death penalty. (Nonsense, of course, but I feel bad.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Satisfying as it was, the film rights contract, is a tomorrow task, and my present WIP has taken too long and had too many interruptions. The latest one my computer.

It is fourteen years old now and I have upgraded components only as required to do whatever task I needed, the last addition an external hard drive to free up some space on C drive for the insatiable appetite of Windows. Every morning I had to spend fifteen minutes clearing up clutter before I could start.

The temptation was to start all over again with a new computer, but this one is organized precisely as I want it and the cost of a new one would make too great a hole in my writing budget.

When I shut everything down for some routine maintenance (cleaning fluff from cooling fans, cards etc.) I considered my options.

The motherboard was still capable of the routine writing tasks, aided by recently added graphics and sound cards, although it was at its limit with 2 Gig of RAM, and the only avenue of improvement lay in the hard drive--at 10 Gig, it was struggling.

A second-hand 120 gig drive was sourced and the contents of my present drive "ghosted" onto it before fitting. A day of reorganisation followed, mainly undoing the economies forced onto me by the small hard drive and my computer now amazes me with its speed and reliability, most of my manual maintenance tasks now automated.

Barring family distractions, I now have no excuse.

Back to 1802!

It's a great life.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Soul Music

Soul music is a little different for writers.

A little over a week ago, I signed a thirteen page contract allowing an independent Australian Film company, Spirit Rider Productions, the film rights to The Widow-Maker. Last night, I received two emails from them. The first told me work had started on the screen play and the second is below

Hi Amy,
I just wanted to thank you again for giving me the opportunity to develop your novel The Widow Maker into a feature film.
I hope that I can do it justice for you and your fans.
Kind Regards
Spirit Rider Productions.

That's soul music to a writer!

We spend hour after hour at a keyboard, often tired, frequently distracted, trying to grasp the elusive idea that sent us there and craft it into readable prose. Our partners indulge us without quite understanding the why of it, children and grandchildren shake their heads at our strange obsessions and, eventually, the royalties start to trickle in. A good review or two is a boost. as is the praise of editors, but nothing quite satisfies the hunger to do better that grows with every published book.

I've been writing seriously now for almost ten years and am as mystified now as to the imperative that keeps me at it as I was in the beginning. (It certainly isn't the financial rewards.)

Brian's email and the ones from satisfied readers are the closest explanation.

It's a great life.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Never Volunteer!

This golden rule is engraved deep into the psyche of every service person, yet I seem to observe it more by breach than observance and have seldom regretted the act.

My latest fall from grace saw me judging nine entries from a writing competition for unpublished authors and they were a mixed bunch. The hardest thing in these tasks is tempering criticism with encouragement and imposing neither your voice, nor your style, on others. The gross errors (over-writing, dialogue tempo, poorly realized images, etc.) are easy, but how do you tighten writing where the voice and the style are the antithesis of yours? Do you fall back on generalities,which are useless...or give examples, which are misleading at best.

I did my best with them all (one took eleven hours and it was only twelve thousand words of synopsis and first two chapters) and hoped that my imitation of Solomon was not too frayed at the edges.

As an aside, isn't it odd how certain tasks call naturally for quotations from the Bible? It seems to fit the act of judgement better than the Koran, or the Analects, or the Vedas. Shakespeare, and certainly Machiavelli, don't quite cut the mustard, but my correspondence in this venture have been peppered with Biblical quotes.

It's an odd life.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some stories....

Some stories write themselves, the words and ideas flowing effortlessly onto the page, and I've been fortunate in that respect. Others attract every form of disaster known to mankind and the current one is a perfect example.
It's troubles began in mid ocean, when it morphed from romance to general fiction and doubled in length. This required going back to the beginning and recasting the introduction of additional characters to provide subplots etc. Then the impending arrival of another grandchild was confirmed and tasks which had been pending became urgent and our babysitting racked up a level, especially when another daughter went back to university. Then personal medical problems for both of us intervened and had to be dealt with and adjusted to in the middle of the temporary insanity that set me seeking an agent.
The latest calamity came when my sister suffered a TIA (mini-stroke) that escalated to the point where her entire personality was wiped. (It was heartbreaking, sitting at her bedside, being recognized time and time again, her knowledge of me never lasting for more than a second) Thankfully, she has taken the first tentative steps on the road to recovery with the partial recovery of her power of speech (single words so far, but every one sounds great!)

It's a great life...sometimes


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wherefore art thou....?

No posts for a while because of family dramas etc., and initializing the search for an agent to represent my writing in the US.

I began writing seriously in 2000, having played at it since 1997 and have published six print books and seven e-books, all, more or less, category romances of sixty thousand words. The reviews have improved more than the sales and I've had three publishers fold on me--which highlights my lack of expertize in this area, even if I've learnt to write publishable prose.

Succumbing to the blandishments of a fellow writer, I began my search for a suitable agent and quickly learnt this is almost as difficult as finding your first publisher, especially as I'd like to shift from romance to general fiction with the story about privateers/pirates in 1802. Fortunately, my insanity (the only excuse I have for wanting to write) has progressed to the obsessive stage and I am persisting. The general longevity of my family gives me hope that I will succeed eventually--after all, I'm only seventy.

It's a great life (I think...)


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Out of the Writing Cave

In our house, cooking is a rostered activity. We take turns, each of us cooking three nights of the week and we go out on the seventh and dine with friends.

Thursday, we pick up one of our granddaughters from her kindergarten and is one of my nights, so I decided to try a slow cooker we'd inherited and never used to produce corned beef (with no cabbage!). The instruction book was written by a dyslexic with writer's cramp and consisted primarily of recipes in a sparse, masculine style designed to conceal rather than reveal their secrets, so my first task was to decipher from these some concept of the function of the four position switch on the side of the cooker. The next was to adapt my tried and true recipe for corned beef to this new implement.

I wasn't sure I believed the instruction book's claim that it was impossible to overcook anything in this appliance and the cooking time recommended seemed impossibly long (12-24 hours), but there'd be six hungry mouths to feed and under done corn beef is not desirable so I accepted it and decided to check the condition along the way.

I was wise. Four hours before the meal, the meat was cooked!

I switched off the cooker and prepared the rest of the meal on time, switching on the cooker half an hour before. Surprisingly, it was a great success. The bay leaf, two cloves, brown sugar and malt vinegar had been intensified by the lesser liquid quantity, and, if carving required the delicacy of a brain surgeon, the white sauce hid most of the results and every plate was cleaned.

I've typed some notes and pasted them on the inside of the instruction book for future reference and am looking at their recipe for Irish Stew as an encore in a month or two.

The weather is good, so I have a day's work in the garden, a collection run for a charity and a bike ride planned for the weekend, then it's back into the cave and into the acrid gun smoke of a naval battle in 1803 as the story nears its climax.

It's a great life.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Back on an even keel and full steam ahead.

I could extend the nautical allusion further, but won't.

I'm still waiting for some of the responses, but they are no longer at the forefront of my mind, which is focused once more on my writing. I'm still not sure what distracted me from writing to waiting, but, whatever it was, has passed now and I'm back to my routine of checking my inbox only in the morning when I start writing and last thing at night.

I've a further submission to polish and send off before next week and the end of the 1802 story is just over the horizon, figuratively as well as actually. That will leave only the epilogue, where one of the main characters gets his final comeuppance. (The scene is based on a real event and I'm looking forward to writing it.)

Beyond that, I've a list of jobs to complete around the house, some furniture to make for one of my grand-daughters and my long anticipated return to playing golf--a torn shoulder tendon from traipsing around Europe with too much luggage has taken a long time to heal.

It's a great life!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


When I first considered writing professionally, I foresaw my impatience as the greatest problem.

It had been different in my "real" life. There, logical step succeeded logical step, the time-frame fixed and dependable. Obstacles were overcome as they arose, a simple matter of identifying the required steps and then taking them as I rose to the top. I could even chose the point at which I stopped.

Writing is a little different, but I developed strategies to cope with its uncertainties and they work-most of the time.

This is not one of them.

There's no particular reason why. The responses I'm waiting for have potential, but are not life-changing, yet I am struggling to maintain my focus on the work in hand and find excuses to check the inbox and relevant websites obsessively.

Like everything, it will pass and I will settle down again to my working routine, but it would be nice to understand why?

It's a great life (I think)


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Out into the sunshine once more

The approaching release of The Widow-Maker has dragged me out of my writer's cave and I'm blinking owlishly as I consider how to promote it. The failure of Shadowrose imposed a hiatus on my releases and I'm a little our of practice.

Our grandchildren are not happy. I was away a lot when our children were young and compensated by writing an ongoing story with each child the hero of succeeding chapters and their children are old enough now to demand their own chapters and I was in the midst of the latest.

Simply Romance Reviews are reviewing The Widow-Maker and I am guest blogging there on May 28th and there are the opening excerpts at Yahoo's Romance Excerpts Only and The Romance Room. (The latter are runing a membership drive and contest with a swag of downloads etc as a prize)

It's a great life.


Sunday, April 13, 2008


I sent off the final round of emails to all the contact points I had for Shadowrose, setting out a cutoff date for May 1st, 2008 with a heavy heart, not because of my personal disappointment, but because I like Patricia Fuller and wish her well. It was fortunate that we only got to the intent of exchanging contracts and events prevented it from happening, because it makes what follows simpler.

There are other irons in the fire and I'm back to waiting for responses and the advent of The Widow-Maker at Whiskey Creek Press.

In 1802, my four adventurers have encountered a small fleet of dories making their way to the Azores after the sinking of their Portuguese nau (a small vessel of the type that carried the Portuguese to every corner of the world) mother ship by a Right Whale blundering south to breed. (there were still a lot of them in those days)
The Portuguese were challenging two hundred years of Spanish control of the off-shore fishing, so both sides of the encounter were very wary and I've had to brush up on my spattering of Portuguese.

It's a great life


Friday, April 04, 2008

New England Whalers

One of my characters in 1802 is a New England whaler, something of a prodigal, separated from his family by an unhappy love affair. Researching his background has been fascinating, particularly the practice of calling in at the Azores outward bound to pick up a cheap crew of hard-working Portuguese in preference to American seamen. (It seems the philosophy behind Flags of Convenience have been around for a long time.)

Jedediah Pike began life as an example in a writing class I teach in the local adult education system. His first name changed to Zebulon, he was part of an alternate beginning to the infamous "It was a dark and stormy night..." that Snoopy found so addictive. He's grown a lot since then, gained his master's certificate and sailed a blockade-runner through the English Fleet four times. Captured by the British, he's been released to captain the same ship on a voyage to Jamaica, evading if he can, a fleet of privateers turned pirates.

Jed is not the main character, but I've grown to like him and he provides me with an outside perspective of my Half-pay Lieutenant and his Countess-the hero and heroine.

It's a great life.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thoughts on mortality.

I am not naturally morbid, even a heart attack in an isolated location hardly troubled me in that sense, but a memory ambushed me yesterday and made me think on the subject.

My uncle survived the Kamikaze attack on the HMAS Australia at Leyte with a broken neck undiagnosed for several months. He later broke it again diving into shallow water at St Kilda pier and then contracted, and recovered from, tuberculosis. Years later, he told my aunt he was feeling a little off-color in the afternoon and laid down to rest. When she went to wake him for tea, he was dead.

I was feeling a little off-color myself yesterday and decided to give writing away for a while and lie down to rest. Standing by the bed, the memory of my uncle's demise came unbidden--I'd not thought of it for many years--and I paused.

I'm not afraid of death, I disposed of that old bogey many years ago, but it would be damned inconvenient!

It's a great life.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Another one gone into the world

The Widow-Maker galley proof is finished and the Errata sent back to Whiskey Creek Press, with it goes my last chance to change even a single punctuation mark.

I remember reading some comparison between books and children and thinking at the time that the writer must be childless. Ours come back for help and advice continually, but books, once the galley is done, remain immutable. Something I learnt when I started writing seriously and the first one was published.

The first glorious reaction passed quickly and then I started to see the mistakes, partly because they existed and partly because my writing had developed in the twelve months between galley and publication. I found it difficult to read each of them after the first few times and this feeling persisted with each of my books until recently (C.S.Forester wrote of having the same problem, so I was in illustrious company). I can read even the earliest now without having the overpowering urge to correct them as I go.

I'm worming my way back into my current project (it's had more interruptions than most) and will soon be immersed in the world as it was in 1802.

It's a great life.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

The rich tapestry of Edits

The edits for The Widow-Maker arrived in my computer inbox at 1:02 am, Good Friday morning, accompanied by a request I respond to them by 10:00 am. Fortunately, I was up at 6:30 am and opened the inbox, which gave me three and a half hours to the deadline.

Given the time out to trade authorities on capitalization, I made it by ten minutes (The edits were not onerous and I'm a fast reader) and remain satisfied by the results. I doubt the haste was the editor's fault and I have no doubts of the expertise applied to the manuscript, but I was extremely fortunate so little needed to be changed.

Usually, I like to enjoy edits, analyzing their thrust and storing the information for later use. I've done that since with these and have a few more tidbits to add to my store of knowledge.

I've been very fortunate in my editors and New Concepts abdication of that role means they are off my list of publishers - which is a pity.

It's still a great life.


Monday, March 17, 2008

A leap of imagination

My writing cave is not air-conditioned and this is the fifth day above 37.8 C (100F) in a row and I am writing about January 1803 in the North Atlantic and the act of visualization that takes me there is getting a little more difficult each day.

It puts me in mind of a January in the North Sea, one of the rare days when we saw the sun, and I was walking aft from the foc'sle on a British crewed tanker. Photo-chromatic glasses were not common in those days and mine had reacted to the sunlight by turning dark and the men on the bridge were certain I was taking the mickey out of them by wearing sunglasses. At the time, I was wearing thermal underwear, a thick cotton track suit and three pairs of overalls under my wet weather gear and had just passed through the shivering stage to actually shuddering. The wind had been from the east for several days and the air temperature was around twenty below. (add to this, I'd flown from Xmas in Australia only days before) I spent another month on that ship, working on deck most of the time, and remembering what it was like to be warm was extraordinarily difficult.

Part of my military service was a snow survival course designed by sadists. We spent ten days clad only in working gear with only the normal ration packs for food and had to move twenty miles across bush country without maps (I seem to remember I actually volunteered (obviously very young and foolish at the time)). I can't remember being so cold for so long as those ten days, but our training must have been good, because there wasn't a single case of frostbite, other than chapped ears.

I'd hoped those two memories would help my visualization, but the sweat is still trickling down down my chin and dropping on the folded towel I use regularly to wipe my hands and protect the keyboard.

It's a great life.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A pause in time

The cover art for The Widowmaker made it to the Coming Soon page of Whiskey Creek Press and I stopped for a moment to reread the story, for the edits must come soon. It is fifteen months since I submitted the story and almost exactly a year since the contract came and I last read it from beginning to end. I found the usual number of overlooked errors, noted each of them and moved on, knowing they would be my part of the editing process if they were overlooked.

Still, with the apparent failure of Shadowrose continuing, it's nice to see movement on another story.

Writing a historical slanted more towards general fiction in challenging. It removes many barriers, but opens up new sources of criticism. I'm finding it very rewarding.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

An act of love

A writer friend quoted an Australian survey about the length of coitus, published apparently to reasuure other Australian, or to quash any unreal expectations in others. Some of the findings were amusing.

I commented in her blog and think its worth repeating here:-

"What are we measuring here, the physical conjunction, or the thousand moments of tenderness that turn it into an act of love?"

I am a strong believer in the school that says 99% of great sex happens between the ears, particularly having had one partner for the last forty-seven years and taking the act out of its emotional context is impossible for me.



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Widowmaker - Front & Back

The "Widowmaker" is not due for release at Whiskey Creek Press until May and, as they are now splitting their monthly releases into two, one part at the beginning and one part at the middle, it may not even be until the middle of May. However, it now has a front and back cover.

I think they're both great and the aerial view of the Phillip Island circuit adds icing to the cake.

Thank you, Jinger.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shoulder to the wheel and nose to the grindstone etc...

It felt odd, reverting to snail mail submissions, but I sent one off yesterday, complete with sae and irc's, and set my computer to remind me when a response is due. (the latter is a largely pointless exercise, but I always do it.)

That out the way, I returned to my WIP and started worming my way into the story again, following the voyage to the point where I left it, assuming the cloaks for the four disparate characters who carry the tale.

One of them reminds me of Toby Meares, from the "Callan" series long ago. It is fun imagining the circumstances that would produce a similar character in 1802, although he seems less of an anachronism than I expected.

The cover art for "The Widowmaker" is not yet finalized, although I know I'll be pleased with it, my last two cover artists have been great to work with, and the edits for the story should arrive soon(another interruption to the WIP).

It's a great life.

Amy(for the moment)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fancy Free

A fellow Antipodean with an offbeat sense of humour and a very engaging writing style has a new release at Ellora's Cave. I'll let her tell you about it in her press release.
Responsible Romantic Heroes Use Condoms

Some readers prefer heroes to use condoms while others say the dose of reality kills all the spontaneity and romance. It’s a debate that repeats all over romance land—to use condoms or not to use condoms—since, after all, it is only fiction…

New Zealand erotic romance author, Shelley Munro took this a step further in her upcoming release Fancy Free, the story of an accountant who inherits a condom company. When Ms. Munro caught an Air New Zealand flight from San Francisco, she came across an advertising article about a new condom on the market. The ideas flowed and by the time she landed in Auckland, she’d outlined her plot for Fancy Free.

It’s not every day a girl inherits a condom company, and to say accountant, Alice Beasley is astonished and out of her depth is putting it mildly. For an almost virgin, she needs a quick education in all things condom because her inheritance is in danger. Someone is intent on sabotage and playing nasty, trying to destroy her new company.

Alice is suddenly getting down and dirty with charismatic James, the factory manager, all in the name of business, testing new condom designs. The sex is hot. Mind-blowing. It’s a dark thrill and an erotic journey. Yeah, it’s a hard job but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s gotta do.

The testing turns personal. Alice wants James. She craves his talented touch and sultry kisses, she desires passion and physical pleasure on a permanent basis but first she must convince bad boy James to give up his fancy free ways.

Note: condoms were tested and a few harmed during the writing of this story.

Fancy Free releases on 7 March 2008 from Ellora’s Cave and is Ms. Munro’s eighteenth release from the pioneer erotic romance publisher.

From the time Shelley Munro was a little girl living in New Zealand, she wanted to be a detective. She read all the Famous Five mysteries by Enid Blyton before graduating to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Her favorite television viewing was Scooby Doo where she, in her invisible guise, helped Scooby solve the crime.

As happens with children, Shelley grew up and boys distracted her from childhood dreams. She found one she really liked and married him, traveling the world at his side until returning to settle in New Zealand to write hot and spicy tales for Ellora’s Cave, some of which contain the odd body or two.

Publishing Notes:
Title: Fancy Free
Author: Shelley Munro
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
ISBN: 9781419913341
Release Date: 7 March 2008
Genre: Contemporary erotic romance
Setting: Present day New Zealand

Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
It, and her blog, are well worth the time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Anniversary Presents

It's our forty-fifth wedding anniversary and I am gloating over a personal present on the right, the initial run of the cover art for The Widowmaker at Whiskey Creek Press. The far background behind the motorcycles may change, but already the cover artist has done me proud.

The real anniversary present is the forty-five years we've already shared. Add three children we consider friends, five grandchildren (with the prospect of more) who've stolen our hearts all over again, and a relationship that has weathered life's storms remarkably well, considering our faults. (largely mine, of course)

We'll celebrate by baby-sitting one of our grandchildren while our younger daughter celebrates her own anniversary (our children have Machiavellian minds), and tomorrow we'll go out, just the two of us, and have afternoon tea at a favorite place.

In the meantime, I have edits, a WIP and a submission to prepare.

It's a great life.


Monday, February 18, 2008

The Final Ritual

Our friend has gone.

We attended the final ritual of her life last Thursday and it was no surprise to find how many lives she had touched with her grace and personality. A "Preps" teacher at a prestigious girl's school, she came into our lives when she became our neighbour, attended plays with us, became part of the "Birthday Girls".

They handed out jellybeans, an integral part of her classroom, and we all took one thankfully as her final reward for good behaviour.

As always, she gave generously.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Fare Thee Well

A very gracious lady left this place yesterday, putting aside a body that could no longer sustain her spirit.

She will be missed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Fair Trader

A Fair Trader is yet to be released but it already has its first review at Simply Romance Reviews

Shari thought:
The last night of a cruise is suppose to be the most memorable; or so Ruth is told. Being escorted to dinner by the Chief Engineer, Matthew, might be just the thing to make the night memorable. Ruth is ready to throw caution to the wind and go forward with the one night, no strings attached, cruise affair and she thinks that Matthew is too. But duty calls and Matthew has to work into the night and neither have the chance to say goodbye. They both leave letters for the other but the letters never find their way to their final destination. One night of promised passion turns into five years of "What happened?"
Ruth is in town for a conference when a group of men enter the bar as she is reviewing her notes. One voice takes her back to a time five years ago when she knew who and what she wanted. Would Matthew recognize her? Would they pick up where they left off? And what happened to the letter that he left for her and she gave to a friend of his? Will that night of passion that was interrupted finally conclude?

A Fair Trader by Amy Gallow was entrancing. Ms. Gallow's attention to detail made you feel as if you were an invisible bystander witnessing everything unfold right in front of you. You felt Ruth's fear, love, doubt, and anger like it was your own. It was a really enjoyable read.

I've decided to add Shari to my Xmas card list.

Amy (?)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The encouraging response from Allen & Unwin had a strange effect. Its measured praise for my writing told me I'd reached the end of the beginning after ten years of effort and must step up a level and realize my cast of characters and story concept as I've never managed before.

I'm back into the creative stage of the story, re-examining every step of its journey, pondering the motivations and testing their truths. Later, I'll look at the storytelling itself, ratcheting up its excitement, pruning the indulgences.

Oddly, there's no impatience. I know what I have to do and it will be finished when it's finished--and not before.

It's a great life!

Amy (for the moment)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Onwards & Upwards

A friend suggested "onwards and upwards" as my motto for 2008 and it took an encouraging response from Allen & Unwin (after two days of minding energetic grandchildren) to make it seem right. I'd read the material submitted to them only the day before and was appalled at its faults (telling rather than showing, jumping POVs and inserting information the character had no way of knowing--all proof that submissions should be carefully planned rather than impromptu, as this one was).

A friend, a very gracious lady, appears to be losing her sixteen year battle against cancer with the recent appearance of a new strain, both aggressive and invasive. We can do little except stand on the sidelines and applaud her courage in this new battle. Her passing will be a loss to all.

Other than that, we are deep in house maintenance, installing a pressure pump and watering system from our rain water tanks and a recycling system for some of our "grey" water to the ornamental garden. Add some baby-sitting commitments while our children settle into the new working year, and our bed is quite inviting at the end of the day.

For all that --- "Onwards and Upwards!!"

Seventy is just a number, and battles can be won as well as lost.

Amy (?)