"For the Term of His Natural Life", "North and South", Blogging101, Colin Friels, Daniela Denby-Ashe, Dick Francis, Elizabeth Gaskill, Enid Blyton, Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, John Grisham, Marcus Clarke, Michael Conley, Richard Armitage, Richard North Patterson, The Classic Drama DVD Collection
Assignment 1 is to tell you a bit about me and why I want to blog. Some of you will know this already so please bear with me because here we go again. I hope it’s not too boring for you.
Ever since I was a very little girl, I have loved words. Big words, little words, poetry, prose, a bit of everything. In fact, one of my earliest memories is from when I was first going to school somewhere between Grades 1 and 3. We lived 9 miles outside of Proserpine in central Queensland, Australia. For one of the very few times we ever received pocket money I spent my entire shilling (yes, this was pre decimal currency – about 10 cents), a fortune to me as a young kid, on a “Little Golden Book”, called “Out of My Window”. I took it back to school and almost the first thing that happened was one of my schoolmates dropped there chocolate icecream/popsicle onto it. I was devastated.
There were years when poetry flooded out of me. Teen angst city! There were years when I wrote a poem every time I went to the wedding of a friend. It became quite a tradition. None of those are posted here because they were personal to those friends. If you disagree and would like to read some, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Then the poetry dried up but never did my love of words, of reading and writing. Life got in the way as it does.
My jobs have continued adding to my vocabulary. I loved temping, that is, working for an agency, short term assignments as a legal secretary, clerk, taking dictation and later transcribing from analogue and now digital dictation and worked in some very interesting jobs. The photo above is one taken when I was working on my very first computer at work (as opposed to one at college).
One temp assignment led to 9 years working for a veterinary pathology laboratory and learned soooo much about the insides and outsides of all kinds of animals. I typed reports on butterfly pupae, beached whales and about everything in between. I loved it and looking back, I wish I had stayed there. But, life goes on. We live and learn.
As a matter of fact, while I work on getting some editing and copywriting jobs, I’m returning to temping after being made redundant in my last position. That is, I’ll be working for an agency on short term assignments. Over the years I’ve worked as a legal secretary, administration officer and clerk, taking dictation and later transcribing from analogue and now digital dictation files. I worked in some very interesting jobs. Years passed and I ended up deciding that if I was ever going to be a writer I had to just do it. So I started writing.
As a compulsive reader I loved reading authors like Dick Francis, Michael Conley, Richard North Patterson, John Grisham so started with a who-dunnit. Much as I loved reading them, I found out that I didn’t want to live in that world all the time it takes to write them. I tended toward depression at the time so I changed my direction.
My other favourite books were those of authors such as Jane Austen, Enid Blyton, Elizabeth Gaskill and Georgette Heyer so I started writing books with happy-ever-afters. When I entered my contemporary story in a competition, one of the judges commented that I had an “old-fashioned voice”. Lights went off. Duh. Of course. I loved historical stories.
Watching Colin Friels in “For the Term of His Natural Life” was not a hardship. I saw it just before I went on holiday to Tasmania to see the places mentioned by Marcus Clarke in his classic book of that name. However, I didn’t want to write convict stories. I hated Port Arthur and Macquarie Harbour. I hated what happened to the convicts, what people do to people.
My subscription to “The Classic Drama DVD Collection” of BBC period dramas was one of my all time best buys. I still watch them over and over any chance I get. After watching all the Jane Austen series’ I came across Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskill’s “North and South”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it and happily bring it out for anyone who wants to watch it again or for the first time. The plight of the Irish wasn’t a highlight of the series but I was fascinated by what I saw and what I learned afterward. My research led me to write “Torn”.
So I’ve decided “Torn” is to be the first of a series about people who came to Australia voluntarily. There will be some convicts but they won’t be about convicts and their hardships. Australia is such a multicultural melting pot. My own ancestors were English, Scots, Irish and Finnish. “New Horizons” will explore some of those and hopefully many others.
“Torn” follows Mary and Liam at the time of the Great Famine as they set sail from the “Harbour of Tears”, Cork in Ireland with her friend and his horses to Moreton Bay which is at the end of our street. Yes, I did a lot of research and it took me a long time but it’s currently with an editor awaiting a decision.
Entering writing competitions has led to two short stories being published in the RWA’s “Little Gems” anthology and I collected 63 poems from 28 members of the “North Pine Bush Poets” in an anthology as a fundraiser when the club hosted the Australian Bush Poetry Championships. They were popular and the fundraising continues despite the boxful I still have in my office. My own three contributions are here among the poetry on my blog.
Like so many other writers I’d love to live by my pen. Whether that means working as a temp again or editing and copywriting until I can live by my books, well c’est la vie.
I hope you’ll find something you like in my blogs and will be excited with me when I finally see my own book(s) in print.