This book writing thing…

This book writing thing sure has its ups and downs. Last night a woman told me, “I really enjoyed reading your book.” She had downloaded it onto her phone and read it on a very long flight. (Let’s face it, once you leave Australia practically every flight is very long.) She said there were a few anxious moments when her phone died and she had to find a charger in one of the stop-over airports. She had to know what happened next. She then said, “I can’t wait to read book two.” She has no idea how encouraging and re-invigorating it was to hear that. I’d only recently received news that I hadn’t yet sold many books (at least less than 50) and I’d become a little discouraged. It is so gratifying to hear that when people get around to buying and reading it, they really enjoy it. I also received an email from another author, whom I greatly admire and respect, who said she’d left a review on Amazon for me. She said some very nice things. ‘Beast-speaker’ is an engaging and ingenious tale that can be read on a number of levels. It’s an exciting fantasy/adventure story in which the dragons become as real and as diverse in personality as any of the human characters (for that matter, so do the camels!) and the plotline, of kidnapping and exploitation of children to become part of a war machine, is both fascinating and also challenging. The book also can be seen as allegorical, raising uncomfortable questions for today’s world, and for societies in which the rights of children have been deliberately ignored by brutal authorities who are blind to justice and compassion. Telling the story from two perspectives – by two of the kidnapped boys – gives it further interest, and the whole concept of ‘beast-speaking’ is a satisfying way of developing the action.Thoroughly enjoyable, and hard to put down. Bring on Book 2. It’s these little (BIG) encouragements that keep me going.  Here are some other quotes from the Amazon reviews:- *Well written, with great characters , a good story, and hidden depths. *From the very first page, I was hooked. *An intriguing story line with frightening parallels to our own indifference and disregard for the plight of stolen children. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post a review. I’m dead chuffed you like it so much. I’m discovering there are down-sides to publishing only in eBook format. 1. The majority of people still don’t have an eBook reader. 2. There is no publisher who sends copies of the book to newspaper and magazine editors for review. 3. There is no PR machine to help get the word out. (My business/marketting skills are practically non-existent.) 4. You can’t do book signings. 5. You can’t send signed copies as a thank you (and please tell your friends about it) to friends and acquaintances. 6. There are no copies to place in your local library. 7. I can’t show it to my relatives to prove I’ve finally done it. I wish I could have got a print publisher to take it up because it’s still very much a print book world. But, as one who has always championed the place of the print book over the electronic, I know I only have myself to blame. Like every other writer, I spend a long time crafting my stories for other people to read. (I think the authors that say they only write to please themselves are talking through their hats.) It is so deeply gratifying when people actually read and respond to what I write. And, it’s deeply frustrating when I can’t get the story out there. Every other writer will give me a hearty, AMEN. Thank you, dear readers, for being so supportive. If you like it, please share it with a friend or family member. (Please?) Cheers.        ...

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A Fair Go

Last night I had a strange, yet moving dream; all in glorious technicolour. (Yes, that’s how we spell ‘colour’ here.) There was a group of women – of various ages, ethnicities and religious persuasion – standing on a platform. There was a bank of microphones in front so I assumed it was a media situation. The women were dressed beautifully. There were gorgeous coloured saris, shalwar kameezes of various hues, a dark blue burka, a western business suit, a western frock and someone in some silk Chinese pyjamas. (My apologies to the Asians reading this, but I can’t help what my brain throws up in a dream state.) Several of the women had their head covered: some just had a shawl draped over their head, some had a hajib and, of course, the one in the burka was completely covered except for her eyes. I looked at them all standing there together and I thought, They’re all so beautiful. Then, one of the ladies spoke. We are all women, she said. We dress differently, we have different coloured skin and we follow different religions. Sometimes our dress tells you what we believe and sometimes it doesn’t. But, we are all women. We are daughters, sisters, aunties, cousins, wives and mothers. We love our children and pray they will grow up happy, healthy and safe. We love our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins and husbands. Just like you love yours. Below our skins, we have the same bones, muscles, veins and organs. Then a man walked up onto the platform and began to pour buckets of liquid mud over the women. The audience, including me, shouted out in dismay. Why do you protest? the spokeswoman said. You do this to us every day – with your cruel words, with your judgemental attitudes, with your lack of compassion and your unkind actions. You beat us. You rape us. You burn us. You sell us into slavery. When we come to you for help, you turn us away. They cried. I cried. We all knew that in spite of making this stand, the changes we hoped for would take more than our lifetimes to come about. There is a sickness deep in the souls of men. Then there was a loud clap of thunder and a lightning strike close to the house and a terrified Wonder Dog started doing the Riverdance all over my chest. Not sure where the dream came from because I was reading a book about an alien invasion before I went to sleep. But, I agree with everything that lovely woman said. So, I’ll keep signing the petitions sent by Amnesty and Change.org and the other organisations that protest on our behalf. I’ll speak up at every opportunity I have. I’ll continue to write to my member of parliament about a fair go for refugees. And, when I meet someone of different race, colour or creed I’ll treat them as they deserve: as a fellow human being....

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A real gem

Today is my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. We’re having a family “do” this afternoon at the nursing home where my father-in-law now resides. She still lives at home but I know she’d rather be with him. They’ve been married for over 60 years and this is the first time they’ve had to live apart. It’s a great grief. It seems so wrong that they should spend a lifetime together and now have to be separated because he’s too frail and confused to be at home with her. I’ve been thinking about the slice of history her life has encompassed. The changes in technology have been extraordinary. When she was a young girl, owning a car was still mainly the prerogative of the rich, and most of the cars moved at such a cracking pace that any averagely fit person could easily outrun them. Most people in the city either caught a train, a bus, rode a bike or walked. The country folk rode a horse, a bike, or walked. There were no televisions, no computers and no personal telephones (only the party-line sort that the family shared, if they could afford one). The household washing was done once a week using a boiler and a large trough. Toilets were long-drops out in the back yard and the night-cart man would take the mess away, even if you were still seated on the pan at the time. She lived through the era of the flapper, the Greatly Depressed thirties, the roaring forties, the rock and roll fifties, the groovy sixties, the psychedelic seventies, the mulletted eighties, the neon nighties, the techno twenty zeros and so far she’s still soldiering on. I met her when I was just a young girl. One of my sisters (9 years older than me) had her nephew as a boyfriend and then husband. They’ve just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary so that gives you some idea of the time-frame. (Yes, my sister and I married cousins. Is that banjo music I can hear?) I knew her when she still had dark hair, could stand up straight without a walker, and was full of energy. She welcomed me into her home and life with love and generosity. When you see how tenderly her three children care for her and Dad Noble, you have the proof of their excellent parenting skills. It’s a beautiful thing to observe. I don’t know that I will make it to 90. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t. That’s okay. It’s not the length of time that’s important, it’s the quality. My mother-in-law has led a life of love, faith and integrity. She seems to be going for both: quality and quantity. Happy birthday, Lorace. You’re a pearl among...

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In your face, Sauron!

(Apologies to all those who have never read or seen Lord of the Rings. Some of this won’t make much sense to you.) I usually love watching the tennis but last night one of the female squealers was on court and I can’t stand that. It drives me bonkers! A quiet oof or unk as one hits the ball is perfectly reasonable but there’s no way those prolonged woos and eees are natural. So, I did some channel surfing and discovered Movie 2 of Lord of the Rings was on! Now that’s better. It’s one of those stories that is full of noble, courageous, heart-in-the-mouth moments but in the second movie there are a couple that stand out to me. One of them is when the Elves line up along the tower – probably only 50 or so of them – to face the thousands and thousands of orcs and other nasties that are marching towards Helm’s Deep. So brave. They see their doom heading towards them, they know there’s no hope of getting out of it alive, yet there they stand: resolute and unwavering. I always compare it to other (real) moments in history that are similar. i) the Alamo; where a few hundred men faced the 7,000 members of the Mexican army. ii) the Eureka stockade; where a few miners fighting for their rights face the implacable forces of the English army. iii) Gallipoli; where young, brave Aussie lads were sent over the ramparts to run full tilt into the merciless fire of the Turks. Makes me cry every time. This time, as I watched the movie, something else stood out for me. It’s when the Ents are deciding whether to join the fight against Saruman (one of the Big Nasties) and help save Middle Earth, or not. After discussing it all day they finally decide it’s not their war and they will keep out of it. One of the hobbits says, “But you’re part of this world, too, aren’t you?” The hobbit then explains to his friend that they can’t just go home and forget about it. If evil is allowed free play then eventually there will be no home to go to. When the Ents see the destruction caused by Saruman, including the death of many of their friends, they realise the futility of thinking they can just ignore what is happening and it will all go away. For evil to triumph, all it takes is for good men to look away. The Ents finally join the fight. The whole thrust of the Lord of the Rings saga is this notion of a few brave souls taking a stand against overwhelming odds and refusing to give in. Sam tells Frodo that in the great stories the heroes are those who don’t give up – who keep on going even when it seems hopeless – because they believe in something. “What do they believe in?” Frodo asks. “That there is still some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for,” Sam replies. At the end of Sam’s speech we all shout, YES! In your face, Sauron! In your face Saruman! In your face, orcs. You’re going down! I believe that the great stories (and great art) remind us of the good and important things in life and inspire us to keep fighting for them. Sometimes good will win. Sometimes evil will triumph. But, we should never back down from the fight. Here endeth the lesson.  ...

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