Out of the most aromatic of manures come the sweetest smelling roses. So, let’s hear it for the everyday heroes. Those who quietly and without fuss face up to their challenges with courage and tenacity.
I’m constantly humbled by the stories I hear of bravery. Whenever I feel that I’m facing difficulties, there’s always an inspirational story of someone whose intestinal fortitude puts me to shame and I don’t have to look far.
It’s an Aussie thing to barrack for the underdog but I don’t think we have exclusive rights to it. There are people who at times find themselves so far down that they’d need a shovel to get any deeper. Don’t you love to see them get on with the job of living their best life and turning that manure into roses?
Every individual has his or her own challenges, limitations and capabilities. No two people are the same, even within the one family or within a set of twins, triplets etcetera! Understanding where each character sits in this spectrum puts depth onto the page and empathy into our hearts.
Don’t you want to see someone who struggles so valiantly succeed? That’s what I like to read about and what I love to write about. The bonus is that if we learning from other’s experiences we can sometimes save ourselves repeating their mistakes.
Thanks to Simone McKinnon who was for years a wonderful wise woman, fantastic friend, marvellous mentor, my sounding board, my walking and swimming buddy who dragged me out into the sunshine literally and figuratively. I wish you could have seen your book published. I will never forget you.
Thanks to my family who rallied around and took on the jobs that threatened to overwhelm us. It was good to see you all even though it was a sad occasion, you made it a fitting tribute to our mother, the heart of our family.
To my writing family, thanks for a wonderful conference. I was able to immerse myself and forget my woes for three days. They say that friends are the family you choose for yourself. Well, your kind words, encouragement and hugs warmed my heart and got me through my darkest hours with at least a little of my sanity intact.
To my employers who have been so supportive, sent such lovely flowers and gave me the time I needed. I owe you.
Special mention to Sylvia. I will be holding my breath while I wait for the news on Monday that you are safely through your surgery.
To my special friends Mary and Cass, I hope I can be as good for others as you are to me.
And last but never least, my dear husband and his other girl (the small dark exotic in her winter coat) thanks for everything. It’s really great to be home.
Well, what a topsy turvy month this has been! A month of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Feeling a tinsy bit manic actually, there seems little solid ground between the two just now. Would howling like this guy above help do you think?
After just over one day at home I was off to the RWA Conference in Melbourne. It was an excellent writers conference over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’ve been a member for 9 years and try not to miss a conference. It’s great meeting up with long time friends and new ones too. Our organisation is stuffed full of generous, wonderful writers. Everywhere I went they were especially lovely, plenty of hugs and sympathy along with so much to learn and to keep my mind off myself and on learning what I need to know to be a better writer and get this new career on the road.
My pitching went well too. (That’s a 5 minute opportunity to try to get a publishing professional interested in my book). I got three requests from three pitches (translates to they wanted to read some of my writing) which was very encouraging and had me on a high. Torn is the book of my heart. It’s been a long time in the writing and I’m hoping the agents and editor like it too. The ultimate goal being that it gets published and everyone gets a chance to read it too!
The downer came again at the end of the conference when I learned that one of my close writer friends passed away on Saturday. Damned cancer. Two lines is not enough to communicate what I’m feeling but I think it will have to wait a little longer. She was a very special person and I’m only one of the myriad who will miss her very much.
So, I’m back at work, busy getting my submissions ready to send and tired. Emotionally and physically exhausted. How do you go on? Yes, I’ve lost four of the most important people in my life over the last four months. But I know there are others out there who have lost more.
This is why I started writing Torn. I wanted to understand how you could not only survive but thrive after going through the heaviest of losses. Maybe my lesson is “be careful what you wish for”!
And to finish off with a new high – How do you like my new banner? Isn’t it great! “New Horizons”. I don’t remember naming this series but I’m assured that I did! Sometimes I surprise myself. So, what New Horizon are you looking forward to? What kind of stormy sea do you have to navigate to get there and how will you ensure you thrive when you get there?
Well, it’s all over bar the shouting. The memorial service for my beautiful mother was held yesterday. It was a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. Above is a copy of a selfie she took in 1950 with a box brownie in a mirror. Maybe I’m biased but I think she was beautiful, inside and out. She was well loved and will be sorely missed.
So I flew home this afternoon. The good news is that my cough has settled down. Not completely gone but under control. It has been a very busy time so I don’t think it’s properly hit home yet that my Mum has gone. It’s good to be home but I’ve got a lot on over the next few days so I’m hoping to just get through them with my sanity at least partially intact. The first load of washing is almost finished and the suitcase is ready to be packed again. This weekend I’m excited to be going to our annual RWA writers conference, this year being held in conjunction with the Melbourne Writers Festival.
I’ll also be pitching “Torn” to some publishing professionals so think of me on Saturday and Sunday as I take some big steps to becoming a published author, one way or another. It’s crunch time. The big decision looms: whether I can find a traditional publisher or whether I should self-publish. Watch this space. Exciting things are on the way.
Now, I have a pile of mail waiting for me to give my full attention, a suitcase to repack, some bills to pay, preparation for the conference to finish and a bed that is calling my name. I’m so happy I had started my preparation before my month went to hell in a handbag. Can this month turn out to be the worst and the best of the year? You know it might yet prove to be just that!
Yes, it was not something any of us had expected so we’ve all been in shock. So where did I go? Up the dark tunnel of disbelief and on a plane to my Mum’s home where I’ve been assisting my family to make all those horrible decisions which have to be made at such a time. I’ll be away from home and internet connection again soon but will be home next week after the memorial service.
As you may have gathered, I am from a large family. The good side of coming from a large family is that there are lots of people to love one another. The down side of a large family is that there are so many to lose. This year we’ve lost three loved ones in the space of four months.
Three in the space of four months is bad enough but in Torn, my leading lady loses her entire family and many of her friends in a long painful lingering death from starvation and disease. One top of her own near death from starvation, could you expect any less than that old black dog of depression and grief to bite hard? On top of that, imagine having to move not just from your home and your hometown but your homeland to a land so rough and harsh as early Australia, such a contrast to Ireland.
Yes, I know, she’s a fictional character. However, throughout history and right up to today there have been and still are many real people in similar circumstances. In fact, that is where the ideas for Torn came from, wondering what it would be like. How would I cope? How would you cope? So, yes, a part of me is in Mary. Part of me wonders how strong I would be in that situation. Would I survive with my sanity and sense of humour intact? I hope so.
How did I spend my Saturday afternoon/evening? So glad you asked. Last weekend I did a workshop on writing book blurbs with the wonderful writer, Anna Campbell. Read more about Anna by clicking on this link: Anna Campbell
What is a book blurb you ask? It’s writer speak for the text you see on the back of a book, or the advertisement you read on Amazon before buying it. I wasn’t happy with what I wrote in the workshop so I’ve been playing with it today.
Would you like to read my draft? Would you like to tell me what you think? You would? Well, I’d like to hear your opinion.
A New Horizons Novel
Famine orphan Mary Ellen’s first challenge was to survive the starvation which took her beloved family. Taken from the docks of the “Harbour of Tears” when she was about to board a “coffin ship”, she has lived in London with a childhood friend for four months, recovering some of her former spirit. Despite her pretence at of being Scottish, she has no intention of ever leaving her beloved homeland, Ireland, ever again.
Despite Liam O’Brien’s deathbed promise to his father at the tender age of nine, he and his English stepfather are fighting a losing battle with their tempers. When war between English and Irish erupts at Ballemore Castle his stepfather helps him decide that Ireland is not big enough for them both.
Forced to risk his horses on a long sea voyage to “The Great South Land”, Liam takes the chance to build a new life on land of his own, responsible only for his men and his horses. Fake Scot Mary and two small boys never figured in his plans for the future.
I’d like to hear your opinion. Would this make you want to read my book?
Today I’m feeling gratitude for many things so I think tonight is time to say thanks to:
1. My main man as always, who cooks so I can do what I do.
2. My critique group, the Moody Muses, Elsa Holland and Elton Kirby who have been very generous recently. I can’t say much more except thank you very much. You have inspired me.
3. My HR Manager at work, Penny, for your support, kindness, and I loved today’s lunch complete with inspirational speaker.
4. My good friend Sylvia. We’ve come a long way together and though I love how our husbands get on so well, I’ve missed you while you were away and I think it must be time for some one on one time. Can’t wait to see you on the weekend.
5. Mary and Cass for your friendship, support and for being my cheer squad. Love each of you.
“Mum, do you remember my best friend at school, Josie?”
“Of course. Lovely girl. Beautiful, bright, respectful and kind. Lovely kid.”
“Yes, she was. So lovely that we named our eldest after her, remember.”
“Sure do. Such a shame what happened to her. Joyriding with boys wasn’t she?”
“Yes, a real tragedy.”
“Of course. Our Josie is beautiful, just like your friend.”
“Mum, remember what you always said about history.”
“If you don’t learn the lesson, history repeats itself. Oh no. Don’t tell me. No. Not our beautiful girl.”