Category Archives: Books

Weekend Coffee Share – 12th August, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Much coffee has flowed under the bridge over the last couple of weeks celebrating my 50th Birthday. So far, I’ve just been catching up with small groups of family and friends but I’m planning a larger party when the weather warms up a bit. Daylight is extending. Wattle is flowering. There isn’t long to wait.

I’m not sure how long it’s been since I touched base last. I wrote a post which didn’t make it up last week. So, if I’m repeating myself, I apologize.

DSC_5569

Embracing My 50th Birthday at Pearl Beach, NSW. 

My 50th Birthday was a big deal for me. I would’ve like to do something more spectacular to mark the occasion. However, it’s Winter and the kids have school. So, it wasn’t a good time to get away. Then, inspiration hit. I decided to watch the sun rise on my special day. In the days leading up to the Big 50, the sunsets and the weather had been quite good. However, as luck would have it, rain threatened. The clouds rolled in and there wasn’t even an orange blush where the sunrise should have been. We were philosophical about it. We still enjoyed the serenity of the waves rolling into the shore accompanied by magpies, kookaburras and rainbow lorrikeets in the surrounding bush. Before we left, I strutted my stuff for the camera, which was just as well because that could well have saved us from changing places with a Mercedes which was side-swiped by a ute and forced off the road. The drivers door was badly damaged and shards of glass carpeted the front seats. I’m not superstitious but an accident like that which would have written of our beloved red Alfa, would have felt like a terrible harbinger of doom on my 50th birthday.

I don’t know about you, but birthday celebrations for us are also about food. We went out for dinner at a local French restraurant, Sous le Soleil, with my parents for my main birthday celebrations. It was such a special treat. Felt like we were in this little oasis of France in Sydney. All the staff seemed to be French and the food was exquisite. I was particularly touched when my dessert arrived with Happy Birthday inscribed in chhocolate around the plate. It was beautiful…as were the pears soaked in red wine and floating in a chocolate soup. That’s my type of food.

There have also been a couple of fabulous lunches, cafe morning teas and dinners with friends. I’ve taken a few of my photo albums along to a few of these. It was so much fun pouring over the pages with my Mum and Dad and photos taken during my 20s with a bunch of old friends. We had a lot of laughs and a few red faces.

IMG_2662

Geoff and I overlooking Pearl Beach.

A friend also took us out for lunch at Pearl Beach and afterwards we went for a drive to nearby Patonga and along the headland overlooking Pearl Beach, which is known locally as the water tower walk. There are breathtaking views. Indeed, they’re monumental, reminding me of the closing lines of John Keats poem: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer:

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes 
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men 
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise— 
Silent, upon a peak in Darien. 

 

-However, the flip side of all this catching up, eating and splendor, was quite few weeks of deep and not always satisfied reflection. I’m not sure these would amount to regrets. However, there is certainly disappointment. There is also a sense of renewed determination to get a book finished and published. Not just any book but a book worth writing and reading. However, this ongoing mission is offset somewhat by an increased need to catch up with friends and socialize more, which is somewhat incompatible with withdrawing to my cave writing my life away. Decisions and choices need to be made. Or, I can simply go with the flow and wherever that takes me, which isn’t what the manuals of success advocate. So, the last couple of weeks have been rather intense in both directions.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a bit of reading. I’ve almost finished reading Kristina Olsson’s Shell.

Shell tells the gripping story of shell-9781925685329_lgPearl Keogh, a journalist who is protesting against Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war. Then there’s Axel Lindquist, a glass artist from Sweden, who is working on the site of the emerging Sydney Opera House creating a glass sculpture inspired by Utzon’s design. Of course, there’s romance. However, that’s almost secondary to this world of living, breathing history. Olsson’s prose is incredibly poetic and philosophical, which I absolutely love. Indeed, it feels like Shell was written just for me. Indeed, it’s opened a door into another world just as surely as that very famous wardrobe door, which took Lucy into Narnia.

It usually takes me a few weeks to get through a book. So, the fact I’ve almost finished Shell in a couple of days speaks volumes.  Indeed, I’ve have been enjoying snuggling up in bed with my book and my electric blanket on. While the Winter sun filters through the curtains behind me, I could almost feel like I’m sunbaking down at the beach, except a cold snap surrounds me. Most homes around here don’t have central heating. We brave the Winter months and invest in air-con for the Summer.

I’ve also been trying to get back into regular blogging. That dropped off a bit while I was working on my book project. This seemed the right thing to do. Be focused. However, the book project turned into a marathon instead of a sprint and it turned out this blog writing and interaction were weaving all sorts of magic which couldn’t be immediately classified but it’s absence was felt. After taking part in my regular blog shares this week, I’m feeling my better. My voice is back.

My posts this week have been…

Aussie Street Library, Pearl Beach

Chicken – Friday Fictioneers

Well, that seems to cover the last couple of weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed joining us for my birthday celebrations. This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 1st July, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share and a pinch and a punch for the first day of the month!

How has your week been? I hope it’s been going well. What’s the weather been like? We had some dreary rainy days last week but a few days of sun even if it’s freezing. I’ve had woolen gloves on and yet they’re still like ice blocks. I figure they lack the body heat to warm up even with the help of the gloves. These are desperate times. I’ve just put on the heater and will go out soon and hopefully boost my circulation that way.

Amelia Grease

This highlight for last week was watching our daughter appear in Grease the Musical which was put on by her school. She played a cheerleader and was also in the dance ensemble and we just loved seeing her up on stage. We also knew quite a few of the cast and were almost as stoked to see them up there. We’ve known one of Amelia’s friends since she was a year old so we go back a long way, which is really special.

Of course, the other thing about seeing Grease again was reliving my own teenage years where I must’ve watched that movie 10 – 20 times on the old VCR. We also played it at a slumber party for my 13th birthday. All but one of us had never seen it, but this girl had just moved to Australia from America and had seen it 13 times. We thought she was so cool!!

This is the last week of the school term here. We’re not going away these holidays. Our son will be appearing in the Scout Gang Show in the second week and that week is also packed with rehearsals. Our daughter has a lot of dance workshops and rehearsals. She’ll be doing her Grade 6 RAD exam in a few months and so it’s all action stations there and she also has a dance comp during the holidays. That had me trawling the globe in search of a tutu, but she’s borrowing one from her teacher. I suspect a growth spurt is around the corner and we’ll revisit the tutu next year.

Row a little boat

After all the excitement of watching Grease, I crashed over the weekend but I did read a fantastic book which I highly recommend. That was Richard Bode’s: First You Have to Row A Little Boat. Here are a couple of quotes:

“And so in time the rowboat and I became one and the same-like the archer and his bow or the artist and his paint. What I learned wasn’t mastery over the elements; it was mastery over myself, which is what conquest is ultimately all about.”
― Richard Bode, First You Have to Row a Little Boat: Reflections on Life & Living

“For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.”
― Richard Bode, First You Have to Row a Little Boat: Reflections on Life & Living

I’m still reading Kate Grenville’s: The Secret River. The train trip to Sydney certainly helped me make some steady progress. The train is probably my preferred place to read. While it’s snugly curling up in bed with a good book, it’s way too easy to nod off.

Last week we had a particularly great prompt for Friday Fictioneers. It was a photo of a box office and it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how that image would resonate for me. Here’s a link to my contribution: Triple-Threat Friday Fictioneers. I thought I’d also share a link to Keith’s contribution which I found incredibly funny: Keith’s Ramblings – A Theatrical Tale.

In terms of the coming week, I’ll be giving a talk about photography at Girls’ Brigade on Wednesday night. I was going to talk about finding inspiration in the every day. However, after seeing a friend in hospital last week, I thought I’d write about what photography means to me. I’m very pleased with how this is turning out and will be posting it on the blog. I’ve started off with how having my photo taken as a child made me feel special. I’ve moved onto my travels through Europe with the camera. Then, I addressed how photography has helped me get through some particularly hard times when health issues flared up and I couldn’t work. My whole identity, not to mention my very survival, was under threat but photography gave me a new identity and something to talk about instead of work. Indeed, the more I thought out this life change, it actually sounded rather idyllic aside from the fact of being broke.

Well that about covers the last week. How was your week? Hope you had a great one.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…22nd June, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Apparently, today marks the Winter Solstice here in Australia, although in typical form where nothing is certain or guaranteed, the shortest day might actually fall either side of the anticipated date. So sad, too bad. This is when this little black duck is going to celebrate and all that entails is a sigh of relief that this freezing cold weather is about to head North. Tomorrow we’re looking at a minimum of 7ºC and a freezing maximum of 15 ºC. For those of you who are thrilled to experience these temperatures at the height of your Summer, I apologize for our inability to handle the cold. However, we do know how to handle the heat.

Catching up on the Weekend Coffee Share wasn’t all I missed last weekend, although we crammed a lot in resulting in a total rest on my part for a few days afterwards. Our daughter danced with her school at Starstruck in Newcastle. We went to the Matinee performance and caught up with my cousin and her daughter until we picked Miss up afterwards. Sunday, Miss and I were off to Sydney where she competed in the State Allschools Aerobics Championship. They did well but didn’t place. So, for better or worse, they’re not off to Nationals in Queensland. My best friend from school joined me to watch her compete and we also caught up for coffee and cake. So, while I can taking our daughter all over the countryside last weekend, I managed to catch up with close friends and made the most of it.

Thursday, my daughter and I were back on the audition trail. She auditioned for a climate change video in Sydney. She didn’t get through but we had a wonderful afternoon exploring Surry Hills which is one of my favourite escapes after medical appointments in Sydney which justify my going off the grid for a few hours. My Dad’s family settled around Surry Hills and Paddington from around 1850 through to around the 1930s. While they’ve left no footprints in the streets, a few of their former homes still stand and the family stove-making business at 90 Fitzroy Street is now a framing gallery.

For those of you who haven’t been to Surry Hills, it’s located about 3km from the Sydney CBD and is noted for it’s terrace houses, tree-lined streets and village atmosphere as well as it’s artistic and LGBTIQA communities. For a place in the midst of Australia’s New York, its friendliness and village feel, is very refreshing. People greet you with a smile. Have a bit of a chat and you might even find a dog or two keen to meet you as well. I’ve done a few blog tours through Surry Hills before. I can’t stop going back.

Here’s a link to our last trip to Surry Hills: Surry Hills Through The Lens

As it turned out, I forgot to pack my book for our day trip to Surry Hills. While my daughter and I might’ve chatted all the way on the train to and from Sydney, I realized she wasn’t going to be that chatty after her audition. I am not good at just sitting like a dodo staring at the wall for over an hour. So, we headed back up to Crown Street where I’d spotted a bookshop…salvation! I bought two books by Stephen Fry: Mythos and Heroes. I was hooked and my wallet was a lot lighter.

By the way, the book I was reading back home was Kate Grenville’s, The Secret River. I’ve had this book for awhile and should’ve read it ages ago, but you what it’s like with the book pile. There’s a lot of good intentions, wishful thinking and plans. Then, you spot another book out of left field and it jumps straight to the top of the queue. I don’t know about you, but I hesitate to relocate my book pile to the shelf, because I really do intend to read these books and know I’d never get through them once they were consigned to the shelf. In other words, the bookshelf is a death sentence. That explains why there are more book stacks in our place than a library.

All that aside, my biggest news from last week was that I’ve started a new blog to start building up a community around the book project. You can now also find me at The Shadow Hunter’s Quest. This is where I’m going to start posting stories about my family within their historical context while weaving my storyteller’s wand. I’ve picked up a lot of additional information and stories which I also thought I’d stick in this blog. I’m still ironing a few things out and will add a few more posts before I go for something of a launch. However, you’re welcome to pop over for a sneak peak. I’m planning to write a coffee share over there as well.

So, that’s enough about my week. How about you? What have you been up to? I’d love to hear from you!

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Z: ZZZZ…Motivational Quotes A-Z Challenge

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a

time for sleep.”

― Homer, The Odyssey

Welcome to the last day of my series of Motivational Quotes for Writers for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. Phew! I actually made it through to Z and on time, which has been quite a miracle this year. Although you could say many of us mad writers “belong in the zoo”, I have chose ZZZ or sleep as my word for Z.

You see, I’m not only needing to catch up on Zeds after powering away at the challenge while researching and writing my book, I also wanted to touch on the importance of getting enough sleep while your beavering away on your book. After all, chronic sleep deprivation is a form of madness itself.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have

promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

Robert Frost

DSC_0175My husband will tell you that I’m the last person who should be giving anyone advice about sleep. Lately, I’m been burning the candle at both ends as it seems I always seem to make an incredible find around midnight and I have to keep going until I’ve completely unraveled and made sense of it all. Unfortunately, as we all know, time stands still for no man (or woman) and as much as I might try to steal a few hours out of the sleep bank, deep down I know I’m only cheating myself.

Perhaps, I should follow the advice of William Blake:

“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the

evening. Sleep in the night.”

After all, it’s good to have a daily routine and have everything in the correct time slot. That is, instead of mixing them up and doing everything upside down staying up all night and sleeping all day when you should be getting a bit of sunshine and light into your day. It all makes so much sense, and yet for a night owl and for many mums with kids at home, those night hours are the only time you get a moment’s peace. Trading in that freedom for the boredom of routine is a tough ask, especially when the creative juices are flowing and you’re tasting success.

Yet, I also know that I think much more clearly after a good night’s sleep. That I often stay up writing long after I’ve started to nod off and it’s not my best work. Indeed, I could well be pressing delete in the morning.

Anyway, here are a few more sleep quotes I thought you might like:

“A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.”
― Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
― Ernest Hemingway

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
― Dr. Seuss

“I wonder why I don’t go to bed and go to sleep. But then it would be tomorrow, so I decide that no matter how tired, no matter how incoherent I am, I can skip one hour more of sleep and live.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Anyway, I need to practice what I preach and head off to bed. So it now

Ronnie Corbett:
And now, it’s goodnight from me…

Ronnie Barker:
…and it’s goodnight from him.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

X- X-ray…Quotes A-Z Challenge

Welcome back to my series of Motivational Quotes for Writers for the 2019 A-Z Challenge. We’ve almost reached the end of the alphabet and the end of April and now we’re up to X. My word for X was going to be the X-Factor which is that mysterious spark you see in talented people which seemingly defies definition. That’s a much needed ingredient for a writer, but I’m not sure whether you can manufacture that. Is it a case of you’ve either got it or you don’t? So sad, too bad?

Anyway, when I tried to find X-Factor quotes, I could only find references to the TV show. That wasn’t what I was looking for.

So, off I went looking for words starting with X as so many of us do in this challenge. There’s usually at least one letter that brings us to our knees and X is one of the most likely culprits.

However, as strange as it might sound, I actually found a fabulous X-ray quote which was even relevant to writing:

“He wished he had some kind of X-ray vision for the

human heart.”

― Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Have you read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter? After reading that brilliant quote, I’m very tempted to give it a go.

While we’re talking about X-rays, this quotes about the discovery of the x-ray is also interesting:

“Great discoveries are made accidentally less often than the populace likes to think.”

(Commenting on how an accident led to the discovery of X-rays)”
― William Cecil Dampier, A Shorter History of Science

If you’re doing the A-Z Challenge, what did you come up with for X? I am not doing a great job with reading other blogs this year, but hope to catch up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

W – Words…Quotes A-Z Challenge.

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity.

We can choose to use this force constructively with words of

encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have

energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to

harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

Yehuda Berg

Welcome back to my series of Motivational Quotes for Writers, which is my theme for the 2019 Blogging A-Z Challenge. Today, we’re up to W and our word for today is is WORDS. For a writer, words are our Lego bricks and we use them to create our new worlds.

Words need to be carefully chosen, and yet writing a 1000 words a day seems to be held up as the holy grail. However, what if all of that could be condensed into one word? There is so much power, for example, in Haiku and many will tell that silence is also profound. That we don’t need words at all.

“It has often been said
there’s so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

That’s why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader’s relief is.

And that’s why your books
have such power and strength.
You publish with shorth!
(Shorth is better than length.)”
― Dr. Seuss

By the way, speaking of Dr Suess, here are a few words he made up:

  • zummers.
  • zizzer-zazzer-zuzz.
  • yuzz-a-ma-tuzz.
  • nizzards.
  • ham-ikka-schnim-ikka-schnam-ikka-schnopp.
  • fiffer-feffer-feff.
  • yekko.
  • flunnel.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind”

Rudyard Kipling

“Of your unspoken words you are the master; of your spoken word the servant; and of your written word the slave”

Quaker proverb

“If you’re searching for a quote that puts your feelings into words – you won’t find it.
You can learn every language and read every word ever written – but you’ll never find what’s in your heart.
How can you?
He has it.”
― Ranata Suzuki

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” 
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“We live and breathe words. …. It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them. Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt–I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you. I dreamed what you dreamed, wanted what you wanted–and then I realized that truly I just wanted you.” 
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince

Lastly, there’s also something I strive towards and that’s being true to your word. That’s something I learned from my Dad. He would say: “I’m a man of my word” or “I gave you my word”. His word is still iron-clad.

Well, that was second last. Couldn’t resist a link through to a great 80’s classic… Words Don’t Come Easy

Hope you’ve found a quote which appeals to you there. Perhaps, I could’ve culled them back a bit, but they were all too good to resist.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

T – Time Management: Quotes A-Z Challenge.

“The common man is not concerned about the passage

of time, the man of talent is driven by it.”

Schopenhauer

Welcome back to my series of Motivational Quotes for writers and creatives.

I’m currently immersed in researching and writing a collection of biographical short stories ranging along the continuum between fiction and non-fiction. I thought this series of motivational quotes could be a great help to myself and other writers in the same boat who are busting a gut to get that book project done and dusted. However, contrary to my expectations, I’ve been going gang busters on the book and have needed more of a motivational cattle prod to get through the A to Z Challenge…even though I’m finding working on these quotes very informative.

Today, we’re catching up a little and finally reaching the letter T. For today’s quote, I’ve decided to go with time and in particular my dreaded nemesis… Time Management.

I’m addressing time management because so much of what it takes to get that 80,000 word book into print has nothing to do with sticking your head in the clouds and having your feet anywhere but planted on the earth. Yet, for those of us who are creative and very right-brained, dealing with the so-called business side of writing can be a struggle and something we avoid like the plague. Yet, when so many writers are having to juggle paid work, family commitments and the realities of survival, time management is particularly important. It’s the closest we can get to squeezing more hours into a day.

Dealing with distractions is a huge challenge for me. I’m married with two teenage kids, three dogs and we all live life to the full what with work, Church, school. My husband and son are both full on into sailing and our daughter dances upwards of 10 hours per week and has eisteddfods, performances and will be in the school production of Grease. Our son is now a Venturer in Scouts and will be performing in their Gang Show production. Yet, I’ve hunkered down researching and writing this book trying to understand what it’s like to live in any other era but my own. When I put it like this, writing my book seems madness, but most dreams do until they become reality. I need to get this book under my belt. Become a real writer instead of just a gunna-be.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

Benjamin Franklin

However, that all comes at a cost. After all, how on earth do you get those 80,000 plus words into print and manage to do it all? Be more than a face staring at a screen and all your family ever sees is the top of your head? Don’t even talk about friends! What are they? That’s the downside of being 100% focused on what truly is a massive goal.

Rosie and ball

Speaking of distractions, a mangled tennis ball has just been deposited on my keyboard and Miss Rosie Border Collie x Kelpie dog and her brother, Zac, are waiting. Two pairs of eyes, ears cocked waiting and occasionally editing as the ball strikes the keys.

It’s hard to concentrate.

It’s hard to know if anything is making sense anymore. I’ve been working on the book all day. Managed to walk the dog but still have a ballet shoe to sew up for tomorrow’s dance eisteddfod. I’m needing to divide myself up into such small portions that I’m not sure what’s left when the book demands so much. Can’t the dog just throw the ball to herself?

Are these questions you have also asked yourself somewhere along the way?

How do you find juggling writing your book with the demands of everyday life? Do you have any tips for success or simply surviving til the end? I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure there are many more like me. Please leave your thoughts and links in the comments below.

Best wishes & Good luck,

Rowena