Book Writing Writer

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Motivation? What Motivation!

Grey hair and wrinkles don’t hurt, even if everything else does.  "Old Age and Villainy"

East Alligator river which separates Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia

It's the middle of summer, torrid, with the chance of a storm later...typical Queensland summer weather.  My new home, being on the first floor and facing north (lovely in winter when the sun's lower in the sky) is situated to make the most of the seabreeze off the Broadwater.  Subsequently, although it's hot and humid outside, it's relatively pleasant inside if I'm sitting by a window which catches the cooling breezes.

I've been in my new home just over a month now and the cats have settled in beautifully.  They love going out onto the balcony just to sit and watch the world go by as well as spy on the neighbours.

I had a lovely start to the day, firstly meeting a friend then going for an early morning walk on the beach, finishing at one of the many cafes along Marine Parade with coffee for me and breakfast for my friend.  I'd eaten earlier but was more than ready for coffee!  Two hours later I arrived home to find a message on the answering machine.  Another friend had rung but first things first...I was desperate to have a shower to wash the stickiness away.  Despite the attempt to dry myself after, I was just as wet from the humidity but I did feel better in fresh clean clothes.

I had walked out of the house earlier without doing any tidying so after washing a few dishes and making the bed, I rang my other friend back.  During the course of the conversation, she asked me how the book was going.  I sheepishly replied that it wasn't, commenting that I needed a kick in the arse.  My friend replied she could do that, going on to describe some writing exercises she had found consisting of writing for five minutes every day for seven days.  She's promised to send me some of these exercises...Hopefully it might kick start my motivation.

I use the excuse that it always takes me at least three months to fully settle into a new abode but my writing's been on hold for that long already!  However, at least I'm writing this post...

I hope 2014 is a good year for all.  I've heard so many stories of horror Christmases from people I was pleased not to have any to relate myself.  Having said that, I was too tired on Christmas day to do anything but read and sleep.

Monday, 6 January 2014

All's Well...

I want to be someone whose words are quoted everywhere, not necessarily because they’re wise, but because they’re funny.  From "Old Age and Villainy"

Bella has made herself quite at home in our new abode.  Her new favourite place to sleep is by my chair when I'm on the computer.  Mitzi sleeps on or under my bed...depending on how hot it is.

Now that I've almost sorted everything out in my new home, it's time to get back into blogging and working on my book(s). Yes, I have another I'm drafting out...a fictional story with a little bit of historical fact from my family thrown in.  However, I reassure Me Sainted Mother that the characters are fictional and the book is not written to let skeletons tumble out of cupboards!  I think she believed me...

My new place will suit me very well.  I've turned the second bedroom into my work space plus I've put one of the recliners in there as there was no room for it in the lounge.  It took me a while to figure out where to put the furniture as, of course, the place is a different configuration to what I had before.

I have the best flat in the block...there are only five, two downstairs and three up above.  I have one of the top ones, right at the front.  It does mean that I hear the traffic but that doesn't bother me too much although it freaked the cats out at first and there was a lot of yowling for the first couple of days.  

It faces north which will be lovely in the winter, and the balcony has wooden slats at the western end to cut down the heat of the sun and to provide shelter from storms which quite often come from the west.  I have my wrought iron table and chairs there and it's a great place for coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening.  Bella comes out with me but Mitzi is too timid yet.  It'll take her a while but she'll get there eventually.

For the first time in my life I had Christmas at home on my own.  I was just too exhausted to go anywhere.  However, I did go for a walk down to the beach at daybreak.  There was just me and a lone fisherman until Santa jogged by with his dog and wished me a cheery Merry Christmas.  It's only about 500 metres, if that, to the beach; I walked along the shore, found a seat and just sat watching the water.  It was so relaxing I could have stayed a lot longer but I was ready for breakfast after about an hour so headed off home.

It's taken me a little while to get things sorted out but I was keen to get all to rights so I could wash the floors.  I always go barefooted in the summer unless I go out then I put sandals on.  I found the experience most unpleasant because the floors hadn't been washed, were gritty underfoot and I had filthy feet at the end of the day.  Even the cats' little pink paw pads were grubby.  I was eventually able to have all in place to vacuum and mop the floors...the water in the bucket was absolutely black!  Also, to my surprise the floor covering was actually a different colour to what I thought it was.  It's come up really nice so God knows how long it had been since it had seen hot water and, of course, it's much nicer to walk on now.

Things are getting back into swing after the Christmas hiatus.  Today I took part in tutorial at U3A on a new system being set up on the computer which will make life a lot easier in the office.  Tomorrow evening is the first of a series of Writers' Nights which will be held once a month to give us momentum and inspiration in our writing (along with a glass of bubbles, of course!).  On 17 Jan, it's a coffee morning with the yoga class and on 18 Jan is our first writers group meeting for the year which will be an open day for those wishing to find out what we do.  My friend, Barb, informed me she "accidently" volunteered me to help her with teas and coffees.  "Accidently"...yeah, right!  Actually she read my mind.  I was going to suggest tomorrow evening that we do just that.  We've done it before and make a pretty good team!

Okay, that's about it for this post...I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.  However, I can hear the shattering of some resolutions....


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Quick Post Before the Madness

Hooray!  I've found my new home...a two bedroom flat (apartment) close to the beach, with a designer kitchen, large bedrooms and a small balcony.  That cats will love that as they can sun themselves but can't escape!  They've always been indoor animals and I've wanted somewhere where they can go out into the fresh air but can't wander off...and I've found it!  

The rental is great, too...$40 a week cheaper than where I am now.

Moving day is Monday (23/12) so, as you can imagine, my current place is a shambles.  Boxes, cartons and "stuff" everywhere.  Not to worry...

The removalist is booked; electricity, phone and broadband will be connected on Monday and I pick up the keys tomorrow (Friday).  Apart from the actual move, all I have to do now is change my mail address at the post office.  As most of my mail comes online, there's no hurry for that...I'll do it next week.

Christmas will be very quiet this year...I think we're all too exhausted to do much.  I certainly won't feel up to much, anyway.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and if travelling, stay safe on the roads.

Bring on 2014 and all the fun and good things it will bring!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Looking For a New Home

I love the way the colour of this red gum stands out against the grey clouds. 

Quote from "Old Age and Villainy":  ...a mixture of humour, grumpiness and downright cantankerousness (if there's such a word).  

From the title you may have correctly guessed that I'll be moving sometime in the not too distant future.  Oh, the fun of looking for a place!  As yet, I haven't found anything suitable but I do have a little time.

It all came about because my daughter had the ideal place fall into her lap...literally.  So...that meant I needed to find something, too.  The current place is a house which she and her three children occupiy while I have the attached granny flat.  However, two of the three kids have left home so she, one kid and the dog are all rattling around upstairs in the huge house.  I suggested they use their mobile phones to contact each other instead of going from one end of the place to the other if they want to talk about anything!  For some reason my suggestion fell flat...

Back to my search.  It's been interesting what people regard as a spacious and comfortable place.  One I went to see was in a beautiful location...just across the road from the Broadwater and I envisaged myself going for walks along the beach every morning.  The flat had two bedrooms, which were not much bigger than my current bathroom.  One of the front windows had a crack which I pointed out but was told it was "safe" and had been there for years.  I wasn't about to take anyone's word on that so politely said thanks but no thanks and left.

Another I looked at yesterday was a block back from the Broadwater, with a doctor's surgery just across and slightly down the road, in a quiet area...but had no back entrance (one way in and out...what happened if there was a fire!), one washing line between eight flats and no covered carparking.  Again, I politely declined.

I have one to look at on Tuesday within walking distance of Australia Fair, the library (bliss) and the Broadwater, another to look at a week later, both pet friendly, and two where the landlords are trying to make a time with the current tenants for me to view.  As I say, it's been interesting.  However, something will come along when the time's right.

In the meantime, I'm cleaning the inside of the windows and sliding doors, giving the cupboards a good clean so they'll only need a wipe over (not that they're filthy, but I feel better giving the shelves a good clean) and packing things I don't use.  

My daughter used to work in the removal industry so she's made use of her contacts and we've got a removalist for $25 per hour, which is an excellent rate (the one I used to move here was $100 per hour and that was considered reasonable).  My granddaughter works for our telco and as our contract has only a few weeks left to run, she's organised free us from that at a nominal rate.  Basically all that is needed is for me to find somewhere to live.

I want to be on a bus route as I can use public transport for free between 9.00 am and 3.30 pm plus the light rail network will be up and running next year so I can use that too.  As mentioned, I want to be close to the Broadwater to be able to go for walks in the morning without having to drive there first as I do now.  The whole point of living close to amenities is to cut down on the use of the car. 

So that's what I've been doing over the last couple of weeks and of course, Old Age and Villainy is on the backburner for the moment, although I've sent out about four submissions to publishers in Australia and the US.  However, it's a three month wait to see if I hear back so moving house is keeping me from dwelling on it.

Also, with Christmas just around the corner, I've got a few invitations here and there.  Next Saturday is our writers' group Christmas do...a pool party at the home of one of our members (it was at my place last year).  The day before that I have a traditional German afternoon tea to attend which is being put on by a friend of mine and I have an evening function to attend on the 18th...all good fun.  It's not called the Silly Season for nothing.

The weather is lovely and hot at the moment...although there was snow on the Great Dividing Range in Victoria earlier this week which was rather unseasonal and I had the impression from somewhere there had been snow in Tasmania too, but I'm not sure how true that was.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and may you have a day of love and laughter with friends and family.  If you're driving, stay safe, especially my US and UK friends with the wintery conditions there.  If you're in Australia and plan on going to the beach remember, swim between the red and yellow flags.  

Friday, 15 November 2013

What I've Found Out Today

...on the front page was my photo with the caption “Sexiest User”.  From "Old Age and Villainy" by Robyn Lee.

Below is my "asparagus stem" aka agave.
If you look closely, against the background greenery, you can see the clusters of unopened flower buds.

 I had to take this photo from approximately 10 m away to get the stem in.  The plant from which it's sprouting is roughly 180 cm in height...that will give you some idea of how tall this gigantic stem is.  If you click on the picture then click on extra large, you'll be able to get a better idea of its height.

I've mentioned synchronicity in a previous post and how it can lead us in a different direction, almost without us realising it until we use our 20/20 hind sight.

I'd been struggling somewhat over various things in my life...I won't bore you with the details...and was becoming pretty frustrated with everything.  A few days ago I needed to visit the library to change my books as I hate not having anything to read.  I picked out five books then just as I was ready to check them out, decided to have a look at a trolley of books waiting to be reshelved.  I was in the fiction section and I found the autobiography of a man for whom I have the greatest admiration...Dr Wayne W Dyer.  The book was titled "I Can See Clearly Now".

I'd heard of the book and thought it might be interesting to read but hadn't gone out of my way to look for it.  Something made me put it in my bag along with the others and I checked it out.  I'm about halfway through it and Dr Dyer talks about having a "deep knowing" of something that would happen.  I knew instantly what he was talking about as I'd had that feeling at times. I read on and he explained about the great "intelligence", for wont of a better word, that we are all aligned with, whether we are aware of it or not.  It's there for us all to access if we wish it...and therein lies the key...we need to be aware of this intelligence and have the desire to access it.  There are various names...God, Allah, Jehovah, Source, Spirit...whatever, it's all one and the same.

One of my "knowing" moments was fairly recent.  I had entered two short stories into a competition and "knew" one of them would come somewhere...however, it wasn't the one I thought it would be.  The day came and I wasn't surprised to hear my name announced as a finalist...the big surprise was when my second entry was announced as attaining second place. 

Although I "knew" one story would be successful, it never occurred to me that both would.

I believe that finding Dr Dyer's autobiography in the fiction section of the library was synchronicity and it wasn't the first time I'd been directed to a book in such a manner.  Taking that book home and reading it has reminded me not to get caught up in the everyday stuff but to relax, let it go and trust that all will be well.  It always is when I put that concept into practice...I just need to remember to practice it more!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Cantaloupes, Cleaning, Cats and Other Random Topics

A rather large cantaloupe (rock melon) I’d turned 65 I was entitled to free screening for bowel cancer (happy birthday!). From "Old Age and Villainy" by Robyn Lee. 

I did my grocery shopping yesterday after a month or more of just grabbing what I needed urgently on my way home from wherever.  Consequently, due to the paucity of food products in my pantry, fridge and freezer, plus rather more utility items, yesterday's effort was large and costlyHowever, the large fruit in the photo above was a particular bargain. 

Before going into Aldi and cleaning them out, I popped into the fruit and vege shop next door.  Own and operated by a Lebanese family, it had a wonderful array of exotic Middle Eastern products, emanating the gorgeous spicy fragrance associated with such foods. 

Back to the rock melon...there was a big stand of them just outside the door and the price was...69c each!  In the photo I placed the melon on the edge of the table directly in front of the chair, which was pushed in under the table, to give some comparison of size.   As far as I'm concerned, it's the biggest one I've come across.  I hope the taste is as good as the size...

* * * * * * * *

A couple of weeks ago my daughter arranged for a lady to come to clean the house as well as my flat.  What a powerhouse of energy!  She chats away but doesn't stop working...going through the place like a dose of salts and about as quickly.  She was due yesterday and as we were out all morning, it was ideal for her to get on with things without us getting in her way.  It was just lovely to come home and find the place sparkling clean.  Sandy, our cleaning lady, received a lot of happy energy from us when we arrived home.

* * * * * * * *

One of the reasons I like having someone to come in to vacuum my floors is because I have two cats who live indoors.  Consequently, because the weather is becoming warmer, they are moulting like crazy and it can appear as if a massive cat fight has taken place due to all the clumps of fur on the floor. 

The cats hate the vacuum cleaner and aren't particularly keen on strangers either, especially Mitzi.  She doesn't cope well with out of the ordinary events...such as cleaning ladies....and hides under the bedclothes.  The telltale bulge under the doona kind of gives a clue as to where she is, but her thinking is that if she can't see anyone, they can't see her. 

Bella will hide in the wardrobe (she can open the sliding doors) until the noise has stopped then will sit on the table or the bar, giving Sandy the evil eye...something Bella is very good at doing.

When the cats hear the automatic door to the garage opening, they wait impatiently at the door of the flat for me.  As soon as I step inside, I hear all about it at full volume!

* * * * * * * *

Trawling through my emails once I'd put my mountain of groceries away, I saw there was one from an emagazine I subscribe to.  On opening the link, I found that a publisher in the US was accepting book proposals from new and first time authors as well as established writers.  I was quite chuffed to read you recall, I've sent submissions to three or four publishers here in Australia.

I then had the thought...I'd have to correct the UK English to US English, plus change the slang to its US equivalent.  Fortunately I only need to send one chapter as a sample, but I'll have to change the proposal or synopsis as well as the covering letter.  That's my job after this is posted.

I rather like the idea of being published in the States.

* * * * * * * *

I've started on my second book which will be fiction and is nothing like "Old Age and Villainy"; that's more of a humorous memoir.  I've tentatively titled it "Silent Lives" but whether or not that will stay depends on how the story evolves.

Although it'll be fiction, some of the events I bring into the main character's story are taken from our family's history.  My background on my mother's side is New Zealand Maori although we're the palest branch.  As one very dark hued relative once commented, "Someone didn't put enough coffee in the recipe when youse fullas were made!"  That being said, in defence of our pale skins, if we get out in the sun, the coffee is more evident, on most of us anyway.  There are some whose Celtic heritage is all too obvious.

Anyway, as I was saying, the characters are fictional but some of the events actually happened.  I've kept it as fiction because I did hear of one author who wrote a book about his family then wondered why they no longer spoke to him!  Hence my butt covering...

* * * * * * * *

Written with the aid of a very large cup of strong black coffee...

Friday, 25 October 2013

Putting it "Out There".

We start 'em young here!

My then four-year-old grandson attempting to use a push mower.

Today's quote from "Old Age and Villainy": must have something to get excited about at our age.

One morning I awoke and realised that sometime during my sleep I'd made a momentous (to me) decision...I'd decided to research publishers to whom I'd send a submission of "Old Age and Villainy".

I came to this realisation after numerous rewriting and edits...after all one could only rewrite and edit so much.  Also, there was the danger of becoming "word blind", where the brain no longer recognised the typos, punctuation and grammatical errors because it's had enough, thank you very much!

I jumped on line, typed the word "publishers" into Google and was presented with a long list.  One I recognised as local as I had actually bookmarked the name some time ago so I clicked through to the website and found they would give a free brief assessment.  They were a subsidy publisher where authors paid toward the cost of publishing, printing and marketing, etc.  I sent the required three chapters and synopsis through and received a snail mail letter about five days later which said nice things about my submission, as follows:

" I enjoyed reading the sample of "Old Age and Villainy".  This work of non-fiction/humor is taken from factual incidents in the lives of the author's friends and family.  The book covers the humorous aspects of aging.

From what I have read I found the work rather well written with humorous descriptive narrative. I would like to read the complete manuscript and give a full evaluation with the intention of a publishing contract.

The letter then went on to outline the importance of re-reading and revision, "as no re-writes or additions will be entered once it has been accepted for publication". However, unlike a lot of other vanity publishers, this one did offer editing services which fully involved the author.

I had no intention of taking them up on their offer as my motive was to receive some, hopefully, relatively positive feedback.  What I received was enough for me to bite the bullet!

I chose four well known traditional publishing houses, thoroughly researched their websites and guidelines then decided on three .  One of the four would not take emailed submissions but hard copies only and I bypassed them.

The next step was careful perusal of the guidelines for unsolicited submissions; all three had certain days on which they accepted these and any received outside of that time period were deleted.  They outlined what to include, ie, a short synopsis, usually up to 300 words, a brief author's biography and a certain number of chapters or pages of the manuscript.

I was very careful about reading all the guidelines, checking and rechecking to make sure I had everything correct.  So far, I've sent off two submissions; one had a two week wait, the other three weeks and both stipulated that if nothing was heard from them in that time frame, the submission was not successful.  To keep track of what I'd sent out, I kept a note in my diary of the publisher's name, date the submission was sent and the time frame for hearing anything back.

I have one more publisher to try.  I was too late for their acceptance date in the first week of October and will submit a sample in November.

Now...I wait with bated breath and hope I don't expire in the meantime!