Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So it begins...

Today's the day and has been for the last eight hours and thirty three minutes, not that I'm getting worried or anything.
National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) has officially commenced.
To be honest, it seems more logical that it be World Novel Writing Month, as it's truly a global event, with hundreds of thousands of contestants from all around the world competing against themselves and the temptations of Pinterest to complete 50,000 words (that form at least a vaguely coherent novel or part thereof) by the end of the month.
Let's be clear, for thrill, daring, odds against, the Olympics has nothing against us.
Watch our fingers fly.
Our coffees (and possibly hair as it's yanked out in frustration) disappear.
I made the trek from the wilderness to the Big Smoke last night for the Melbourne Region kick off (much thanks, Mum & Dad for babysitting!) affair at a cafe-bar in the CBD and it was truly a buzz to be around so many people preparing to start their vastly differing manuscripts. Hopefully I'll hear what's happened at the end of the month and we'll be trading stories about the completion of our 50,000 words.
Wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Sister Sif

When I think about My Sister Sif I always see shifting colours of aquas and blues and marine mammals swimming through it. The story of two sisters pulled between the world of land and their mother's world of sea, My Sister Sif is a story where the ocean is almost a character in its own right.
Set mainly on the fictional island of Rongo in the South Pacific*, Rico and her sister, Sif, are stuggling to return home. For years they have been exiled to city and boarding schools, but after selling some shells, they can return to their beloved Island and swim again with their mother's people - the mer-people- who live beneath the waves. However, trouble threatens and Sif and Rico both have hard decisions to make.
This book was published long, long ago when I was a teenager, but it still reads as vividly and immediately as ever. The themes of environment, family, loss, love and belonging are just as relevant and the characters have lost none of their charm, both Sif's sweet gentleness and Rico's fierce protectiveness.
The author, Ruth Park, died in 2010 at the grand age of 93 after giving dozens of brilliant books to the world. While Park was born in New Zealand, she lived most of her life in Australia, and I'll claim her as a fellow Aussie.
My Sister Sif beautifully renders the Pacific Islands, and Park's descriptions send me tumbling into homesickness - for Tonga, the Islands where the South Pacific first began to cast its spell on me and we commenced our love-hate relationship, (and the girls travel through on the way to Rongo) Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, the Island where I met my beloved (and my lovely Island dog), and Efate, the Island in Vanuatu where my baby boy spent his first year. Although Rongo is fictional, so often when reading I found tears in my eyes 'O I know that.'
This is fantasy of the antipodes - fantasy re-imagined far from Europe. A fantasy of reef and deep sea that lets the readers share the sisters deep longing to be home and their love for their home.

  *'Just above the Tropic of Capricorn, lying halfway between the Friendlies and the Cook Islands, south-west of Tahiti and the Marquesas.'

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Annie's Chair

Annie's Chair is a delightful story about a toddler and her very own, most special chair. The main character, Annie, is very toddler-like and the story is funny and sweet - and Annie learns to share - yay! The illustrations are bright and inviting while the text is playful and fun. 
I also loved this story because of the chair - which is just like my very own favourite saucer chair. One just like it used to live down at our beach house, hanging out on the verandah, and I've got so many memories of curling up in it (and it was the best chair for curling up in!) holding cups of tea and watching storms out at sea, or sitting in it  just back from a swim on a hot summers day, glorying in heat and sand and salty skin and the murmur of the sea and the sound of the crowds on the beach. 
I managed to find one just like it on ebay recently. It was slightly broken but - one of the great benefits of country living is how kind everyone is -  the local joiners fixed it for free. 
Now the chair is my Poppet's favourite. 
The author/illustrator, Deborah Niland, also belongs to one of my very favourite Australian writing dynasties. She's the daughter of Ruth Park who wrote My Sister Sif, Playing Beattie Bow & The Harp in the South trilogy among others - all of which are brilliant and at the very top of my favourites list and D'arcy Niland, who most famously wrote The Sherillee - another Australian classic. Deborah's sister Kilmeny also writes picture books, and they've written some together. In the next generation Kilmeny's sonTom Champion also creates delightful children's picture books - some in family collaborations. I'm not sure about you - but I love seeing families creating together and a confluence of talent! 
I borrowed Annie's Chair from the library - but it's definitely a keeper and I'll be looking out for a copy for the Christmas Stocking. (Okay, partly because of the much-loved-chair, but mainly because it's a lovely read!) 

Do you have a much loved favourite chair, one that just seems to call to you to come, sit down and put your feet up?

Saturday, October 27, 2012


A long day, a sad day, a day by the sea, a day of cousins, a day of remembering, a day of thanksgiving. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Are You a Baby-Addict?

I definitely am.
The itsy-bitsy fingers, the darling leetle feet, the sweet, fresh, milky new-born smell, the eyes that seem to stare straight through you into a world you can't see, the arf-arf-arf as they gulp up their milk, the strange underwater dance they do with their hands and legs as they sleep, the absolute rightness of the weight and warmth of them when you hold them... you get the picture.
Happiness is a newborn.
My Beloved finds this hard to understand.
He reckons his own babies were wonderful enough, once they got over their original red-squashedness (please note, they were completely perfect in every way from the second they were born) but they really didn't become that entertaining until they were a bit older, and as for other peoples babies? Unless they have an interesting ailment he's really not that interested.
Bizarre as it seems, he's not alone. When my Sprocket was a newborn an aunt said that kittens and puppies of the same age were so much more interesting.  I've been wary around her ever since.
A friend from school had a wee one recently and I got to see her little daughter today. I even got to hold her. (I had to keep reciting IwillnotgetcluckyIwillnotgetcluckyIwillnotgetclucky to myself) She really was an exceptionally beautiful baby. As dainty and delicate as a little elf child, with wondrously long fingers and a cap of fine dark hair.
As all babies are, she was completely perfect and the most wonderful baby in the whole world.
As a writer, I create stories from all that I am, all that I've lived through and read and wondered about.
But babies,  a whole and completely new person knit together in their mothers womb, are a different order of magic completely.
They never fail to blow me away. Such a tiny bundle jam packed full of promise and possibilities, their mother's dreams, their father's hopes... A new life just beginning, and their parents lives about to be turned inside out and back to front. (In a good way!)

Are you a baby-addict? Or more of a toddler fan when they start coming out with the funny phrases and actions and you see their personality shine clearly back at you? 

Now, let me just go off somewhere to repeat IwillnotgetcluckyIwillnotgetcluckyIwillnotgetclucky

Thursday, October 25, 2012

...Scotland (through Ms. Wordsworth's Eyes)

We had not climbed far before we were stopped by a sudden burst of
prospect, so singular and beautiful that it was like a flash of images
from another world.  We stood with our backs to the hill of the island,
which we were ascending, and which shut out Ben Lomond entirely, and all
the upper part of the lake, and we looked towards the foot of the lake,
scattered over with islands without beginning and without end.  The sun
shone, and the distant hills were visible, some through sunny mists,
others in gloom with patches of sunshine; the lake was lost under the low
and distant hills, and the islands lost in the lake, which was all in
motion with travelling fields of light, or dark shadows under rainy
clouds.  There are many hills, but no commanding eminence at a distance
to confine the prospect, so that the land seemed endless as the water.

Dorothy Wordsworth, Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland A.D. 1803

A (happy) busy day today with much driving on a the freeway with all its horrible
merging lanes. Tonight, as the children sleep beside me, I'm glad to be able to dive back in time to Miss Dorothy's tour of Scotland. Travelling with her brother, the more famous William, and sometimes their friend Coleridge, they walk and sometimes journey in a little two person cart she calls a car, and sometimes travel in row boats. Often they follow little one person sheep tracks.  It is very restful indeed. Dorothy is not so concerned with people as places, and has very decided ideas about how things ought to look (Scotland is sadly lacking in hedgerows in her opinion) but sometimes she has a passage like the one above, which reads like a beautiful poem. Sometimes you come across a person living far back in the past who you would really love to meet - for me, Dorothy is high on the list. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Deep in Research

Once more I am deep in research, but I cannot say it is unalloyed pleasure - rather it's making me increasingly uneasy. 
There's a reason I haven't written historical fiction before, but have stuck with fantasy. 

Stepping within the mindframe of an age is so damn hard! Staying true to a time and yet not getting bogged down in detail. Bleah.
I'm beginning to look with longing towards Robin McKinley's 'Damar' which is a made up country... but with a similar relationship to the made up 'Homeland' as India had with Britain in the 19th century. All the perks of elements of the more romantic aspects of colonisation but none of the harsh nitty-gritty stuff. 
Before I get too bogged down, I'm going to make a list of my favourite historic fiction, so I've something to aim for. (This is in no particular order) 

1. The Perilous Guard -Elizabeth Marie Pope
2.The Montmaray Trilogy - Michelle Cooper
3.Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
4.Playing Beattie Bow - Ruth Park
5.Shadow of the Moon - M.M Kaye
6.The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Goudge
7. Mark of the Horse Lord - Rosemary Sutcliffe
8 Dawn Wind - Rosemary Sutcliffe (Most of Rosemary Sutcliffes novels... really...) 
9 Towers in the Mist - Elizabeth Goudge
10 City of Bells - Elizabeth Goudge
11 The Cadfael Novels - Ellis Peters
12 Longsword - Victoria Thorne
13 Marcus Didius Falco Detective Novels - Lindsey Davis
14 The Far Pavilions - M.M. Kaye
15t Trade Winds- M.M Kaye
16 Frederika - Georgette Heye
17 Friday's Child - Georgette Heye
18 Devils Cub - Georgette Heyer (Okay, just about all of Georgette Heyer's Regency Novels, her Medieval... not so much)  
19 The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Spence
20 The Outlaws of Sherwood - Robin McKinley

Some of these (The Perilous Guard, The Little White Horse,) step the way of fantasy, so I find them doubly interesting. Some of these were written long ago about a time even longer ago...

What is it I like so much about these ones? What makes them stand apart from all the other historical fiction I've read? The Perilous Guard by Elizabeth Marie Pope is closest to what I'm aiming for with my about-to-be-commenced-novel, The Toad Lord - so what is it I find most appealing about it? 
Pondering, pondering. (I could always place my story in a parallel time... it's calling to me.. Louder, and Louder and Louder. But it does seem a bit like cheating...) 

How about you - do you have any favourite historical novels - and if so, why did they make your list? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Two Cheeky Monkeys - Mem Fox

Mem Fox, well loved Australian author of little-kiddie-books, has done it again with her latest tale for tots, Two Little Monkeys, a story of two monkeys and their escape from danger. 
The language is deceptively simple, but has a lovely rhyme to it (similar to the nursery rhyme Two Little Dickie Birds) employing a lot of playful repetition. The only new word for my two year old was 'leopard' and every time we read it she has another attempt at saying it. She's nearly there, although her first try was something like 'ekerg'. 
It's one of those stories you find yourself reading again, and again and again. So far we're read it seven times in one sitting and countless other times 
As with Fox's Ten Little Fingers and Time for Bed, this is an instant classic and destined to become beloved. 
Jill Bartons illustrations, to match the text, are also deceptively simple and charming. 

While Two Little Monkeys is delightful to read at home (I'll always associate it with my Poppet as she is now, all golden curls and mischievous grins) it's also the perfect book to read to a group, and as a story time can be matched with all sorts of lovely monkey songs such as Five Little Monkeys Playing in a Tree Along Came Mister Crocodile and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
This one is - yet another - Mem Fox keeper, and my bet (and hope!) is that I'll be reading it to the grandkids and great grandkids. 

Two Little Monkeys - Written by Mem Fox - Illustrated by Jill Barton - Published by Beach Lane Books 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spring Smiled

Spring smiled on us today with a mild and sunny day so, smiling back, we got busy in the garden.
I wish you could smell the fresh-cut grass and apple blossom too! The Lawn is mowed, the sandpit moved... and the hottest chilli seeds in the world planted.*

*I am deeply apprehensive about these chilli plants. They're in pots on top of the shed now, and go by the very discomforting name of 'Trinidad Scorpions'. They come with a health warning... Gulp. I hope my Beloved knows what he is doing...

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Hills are Alive with Umbrellas

I've started researching my new novel and am busily gathering notes.
I admit I'm going about it in a decidedly lazy way - beginning with journals. I've found a travel diary of William Wordsworth's sister, Dorothy, (Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland in 1803)  and am assiduously making notes.
The next book in my pile of stuff to read for background versimilitude will be Johnson's Journal of his voyage to the Hebrides with Boswell. I've read it before - but nearly ten years ago and all I really remember is a rather horrific account of a cat being skinned. I have hopes of it being crammed with useful, cunning little details.
Journals are the handiest things. Dorothy's journal is within a couple of years of my proposed story setting and already I can add details of young girls running barefoot around the highlands holding green silk umbrellas. It makes sense the highlands appeared to have had a good supply of umbrellas by 1803, but for some reason I always thought they were a later invention. A quick google tells me not.
Putting the linens out to bleach in the sun (do not mock and ask 'what sun?' there is sun in Scotland and I have the photos to prove it. I've even been sunburnt!) was also an occupation that took up much time, as was watching the cows eat. I now also have descriptions of many (usually dirty, although I'll put that down to her English bias) inns, to make use of as I will.
I also now know that most young children knew off by heart the hymn in a 'Collection' of hymns which included the hymns of Isaac Watts and that many small villages had libraries that included books such as the works of Shakespeare.
It's been strange reading Dorothy's diary - her impressions of the Leadhills and Bothwell Castle are so similar to my own it made me blink. I've visited Bothwell Castle four or five times now and it seems so strange to think it really hasn't changed much in 200 years, except back then it was surrounded in a lush flower garden. (Which Dorothy didn't much approve of, as it ruined its air of ruinous isolation) I've even been inside the little lending library in the Leadhills Dorothy writes about.
This research may not be quite as tasty as researching spices, chocolates and coffee for my Emporium series, but it is lovely to be transported back to a past Scotland through the very able pen of a Wordsworth.
And I have (yet another) debt to the Gutenberg project for their wonderful collection of out of copyright material.
Have I mentioned that I love the Internet?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Very Long Gestation...

As National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) creeps up - thirteen days now - I've been pondering how long I've had my chosen novel-to-write-in-thirty-days on my to-do list.
And the rather terrifying answer is - wait for it - gulp. Um. Gulp again... Just short of twenty years.
When I worked that out I did a lot of blinking, but it's true.
This is a story I've been meaning to write for nineteen years.
All that time I've known the main character.
I've heard her voice in my head. I've known what she looks like and what she sounds like. I've known her two bossy older sisters. I've seen the gleam of the golden ball that belonged to her long-dead mother. I've known she runs across barley fields to the well at the end of the world in a fit of pique with her sisters.
I've known the story is full of sun-ripe summer fields of barley and rye, and deeply green, dim and shady places of moss and dank stone.
The story first started speaking to me on a family holiday back to Scotland when I was fifteen. I was scrambling around an old folly near Oban, dodging the nettles and running my fingers over the ancient stone in awe, when I started hearing Marjory's voice, and then the mocking voice of the Toad berating her.
Back then, I thought Marjory lived in the Middle Ages.
Now, I realise she lives at a far later time - which, let's be honest - makes research alot easier.
Apart from the debt of gratitude I (hope to) owe to NaNoWriMo for finally giving me the impetus to sit down and write the bleeping thing, I owe another to Pinterest.
I kept seeing images on Pinterest and going  That's from my story, that's it! Hmm. Where did I put my notes for that story? 
Thanks to all of Pinterest's micro-photos I know Marjory will become toad sized one Midsummer eve and explore Toad's World - and the world of the fae-folk who cursed him.
Just thinking about it brings me out in happy shivers. What does a dew drop look like when you're toad sized? What does a bed of moss look like, or a fast flowing stream, or a toad?

Thank-you, sweet world of Internet.
I'm truly, truly grateful to you for giving me the kick I needed to bring a much loved story out to play.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

My first Writing Wednesday... and I'm in countdown for NaNoWriMo. Which is of course National Novel Writing Month. Which is when all around the world writers settle down to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
According to the countdown on the NaNoWriMo site there are 14 days 2 hours and 33 minutes till we start.
You might be able to tell that I'm already buzzed. To be totally in-story for an entire month - forsaking all other distractions (well, except my Beloved and the kids) o yeah.
My characters are already conversing amongst themselves in my head. I can see them walking through their lives and arguing away as if a movie screen is running in my brain. As I fall asleep at night, as I hang up the washing, I'm listening in as they banter.
Marjory and Toadie. I love them both. (My Beloved has pointed out he doesn't like the name Margjory. I don't either. But that's her name. Until I wrestle her into submission and force a new one on her.) I just hope others will too. Marjory is stubborn and headstrong. Toadie is arrogant and spoilt. But they do have their good points. I also need to work on Toadies human name. 'Toadie' might not cut it.
I'm open to suggestions for a rather snobby upper-class Scottish name from about 1801.
I still need to do a lot of thinking on how to portray their dialect - 1800s lowlander Scots.
I still need to work out precise locations and do a bit more background reading...
But the story is there...
 I need to organise my playlist (Eddie Reader Sings the Songs of Robert Burns will, I suspect, feature prominently)
I need to drag my desk in from the garden room and rid it of all evidence of rodent habitation.
I need to top up the coffee supply. (Thanks for the East Timor coffee, Mama and Papa - it is much appreciated and will be put to a good cause.)
And I need to plan my chapters. As my novel is based on the fairytale the frog prince, I don't need to worry too much about what happens, but I am concerned about how it happens and when.
Not long now...
Hello Toadie, Hello Marjory, I'll be seeing you very soon!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spring Fever

Spring and a young man's thoughts turn to love. 
Spring and a (not so) young woman's thoughts turn to cleaning. 
But in a good, exciting way. Yes, it's possible even for me! 
So I'm cleaning out the house, my computer, my diet, my exercise habits, my desk... and my blog. Let's not have any half-heartedness here. Full immersion is the way to go. And I've only got two weeks to get everything in order before I start on NANOWRIMO - or writing a novel in a month. 
Out with the old gloom of winter * and in with the new growth of spring. 
I am a little late in the season, but we returned from our holiday to be welcomed by apple blossom and tulips and it inspired me. 
So... how's it starting out? 
Well... yesterday I started the 10,000 steps a day challenge with my workmates. Issy will be getting lots and lots of walks. 
And I have returned to my vegetarian ways. (I was a vegetarian for 12 years until, pregnant with the sprocket, I began craving beefburgers. But the Poppet is down to two feeds a day so I'm ready to give up my carnivorous ways again... ) So... a mainly vegan diet but with free range eggs and a bit of ethical salmon thrown in.**
We've um... started on cleaning out the house. Which is to say the scrubbing brushes have been found. 
Folders are being made on my computer. 
And the blog?
Well. I've decided on a schedule. 

Monday : A review of a kids book. 
Tuesday: A review of something I'm reading
Wedensday: Writing Stuff
Thursday: On Books & Publishing
Friday: Random Sweet Stuff 
Saturday: Rambles on the Great Outdoors
Sunday: Photos from the Week

Let's see if I stick to it! Please hold me accountable! 
Obviously, it starts from... Tomorrow. Or maybe the day after that...

                     My Apple Blossom! Here's hoping for a good crop!

           (Mum, do you know what this flower is? I really like it but don't have a clue) 

*I do love winter, a blustery wind and a bristling fire and a bottle of wine, but this one has been long 
and full of sickness 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Drenched in Light

While my first love will always be for the stormy, temperate places - there's something about the quality of light in a Queensland Summer that is rapidly winning me over.
I've heard some people say that the light in Australia reminds them of Greece. I look forward to checking the Mediterranean light out - but I don't think those people were talking about my native Victoria when they were praising Australian Light. We may get four seasons in one day - but a lot of them involve drizzle.
This Queensland light though - with the sun just drenching everything - yep.
I get there might be similarities.
If I were an an artist I would get out paint brush and canvas (until one of the wee ones firmly took them from me saying "Mine do!") and paint. But I'm not.
As it is, I just get out the camera and be grateful my kid will be able to look back on a sun-drenched childhood. (At least when we're up visiting Nana and Grandpa...)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Of Sweet Little Frogs and Hideous Big Toads

Last night found us tiptoeing through the wet garden, loudly shushing and looking in all the damp and thickly leaved places. We followed the noises of the croaking frogs and then squatted and waited, peering expectantly into the darkness.
We failed to find any of the vividly green tree frogs.
Instead we found a big, fat, poisonous, ugly, feral cane toad.
My Sprocket still thought it was wonderful and insisted on bringing it into the house.
In his softest, most tender voice he talked with the toad as it sat in the container on the counter beside him as he had his bath.
"I love you, toad. You just stay here with me and we'll be friends. You can see your mummy and daddy and sister, later. I'll look after you."
The toad pooped a lot and threw itself at the sides of the container.
"You know, Sprocket, toads are a lot happier outside, in the bushes, with all their family," I tried.
My Sprocket looked at me as if I planned to stab him.
"My toad!"
When the kids were bathed, jammied up and looking angelic, I tucked them into bed and quickly went and changed into my own night-gear. Returning, I noticed the place on the kitchen counter where one big fat ugly toad should be, was empty.
Had he managed to throw himself against the sides so much he'd escaped? Was there a toad roaming our rooms, all ready for me to step on in the dark and squish through my toes?
I ran through to the bedroom to find my Sprocket holding the container and cooing. While relieved to find the toad remained contained, I still emptied him back into the garden whence he came. (Despite all protestations of great love and heartbreak, enough to melt a weaker persons determination.)
And it got me thinking.
In two weeks, for National Novel Writing Month, I'm starting on my re-telling of The Frog Prince.
I'd always thought I'd have the frog be a toad, for greater effect, and this just confirms it.
After all, who would mind sharing a meal with a dainty, beautiful little green tree frog? A little green tree frog sitting sweetly on your pillow? Why not. Aww. Little one. Another fly with that?
But who wouldn't shrink from having the solid, hideous hulk of a poisonous toad staring up at them. And as for a toad in your bed? Brrr. No thank you. *
Let's just say, if it had been anyone else, I would have said there was a shriek involved at the thought of  that (poop covered)  toad having got into my bed. I, of course, do not shriek. But perhaps if anyone else had made that noise it would be described as a shriek.
So I'm going to concentrate on being grateful to my Sprocket for supplying me with a visceral reaction to a toad in the bed.
(And continue to pray I manage to escape the fate for the next two nights until we fly home.)

*I realise this depicts me as quite shallow and appearance obsessed. And I plead guilt. But these particular toads are also poisonous and spit poison into peoples eyes. Being a Victorian, and not familiar with these toads, until recently I thought cane toads had poisonous spikes, and if you touched them you dropped dead. Luckily, this is not the case.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mowgli Moments

As long as I can remember I've loved Rudyard Kipling's story about Mowgli in The Jungle Books.
I've loved reading about the boy adopted by wolves and brought up with the friendly guidance of Bagheera the leopard and Baloo the bear. I've loved reading of how Mowgli scorned clothes and instead roamed the world of the jungle, kin to all who lived within. (With a few notable exceptions.)
Now I have my own little Mowgli.
Whenever possible he's shedding clothes and climbing trees, desperate to be with animals, most particularly frogs and bugs at present. But I'm sure if there was a local wolf pack he'd be desperate to join.
I always dreamt of having my own little Mowgli. But it's possible I didn't forsee how destructive a Mowgli in suburbia might be, the sheer terror of seeing your dear-love dangling by his finger tips from a vast height, or the difficulties of enforcing a no-cane-toads-in-the-bed rule . 
I think wolf mothers must have stronger nerves.

Have you ever had a long held dream and then been (delightfully) perplexed by the reality?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Benediction of Dolphins

Dolphins! Every time I see them awe and wonder just bubble up. There's something about sea mammals that just brings me joy and makes me laugh. They seem so similar to us - but their world is the great half-known of ocean rather than land. And they seem to feel the same curiosity about us. I suppose it makes sense - we know the land they only see the edges off.
Yesterday my Beloved and I got some kid-free time and headed to the beach. The school holidays being over we got a long stretch of white sand and surf all to ourselves. Bliss. It's been so long since we got some wave-play. Paddling is great, but its not the same as flipping over waves and swimming open-eyed through salty green.
Just as we were wading in (my beloved squawking with the cold, living in the Islands just plain spoiled him!) we spotted fins in the water in front of us.
For the next few minutes the dolphins slowly arced in and out of the water in front of us. The waves and whitewater caught us up and we couldn't see them for awhile. A sea eagle swooped down to catch a silver fish and a fleet of tiny orange fish jumped from a wave, but the dolphins stayed hidden.
And then, just as we got out we saw them again, still close to shore, still just out past the waves in front of us, slowly arcing in and out of the sea.
And I couldn't help thinking it felt like a benediction of dolphins.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Some Enchanted Evening

Some evenings seem like magic, especially when you're beside the sea.
Last yesterday afternoon after a scorching hot, dry day, we loaded into cars and drove over to Bribie Island and our favourite spot of toddler-safe, close-to-playground (and fish-and-chip-shop) water.
It's on the protected Pumicestone Passage side of Bribie Island, overlooked by the Glasshouse mountains, and every time we go, I love it more.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Very Cool

Look! Look! It's an animation based on the first scene in my first ever published book, Kingdoms of the Seventh Pool. The voiceover isn't from the book, but the images and music really reflect my story and it's fascinating to see a visual of how someone else sees my work. May I just say again - way cool. 

This was created by my beloved's cousin, Joshua Fischle for a University assignment, and may I just say (I know, again!) hey, I'm sort of chuffed. If you'd like to read the passage it's based on - check out here

Reconstruction in the Zone

Summer is already Icummen in, up here in Queensland.
I had plans to spend the day out on the verandah, writing to the sounds of the chimes and lifting my head every so often to admire the banana leaves, but the muggy heat pounced on me and I slunk inside to the comfort of the air conditioner.
My beloved has arrived and is spending quality time with the kids while I have solid writing time. Sound the trumpets, bang the drums. Yay!
I've pulled a story I've been working on for years out of the draw (or rather out of an old computer folder) and have been pulling it to pieces and putting it back together again. All that mulling is finally (touch wood) paying off.
Re-structuring is strange. In the past I fondly imagined it wouldn't require as much concentration as writing, as it doesn't seem like it would require going into 'the zone', but I've discovered that it's definitely 'zone' material.
Re-structuring, or deconstructing and then reconstructing, also requires being in the zone, stepping into the stories alongside the characters and re-living it with them as the story shifts and changes.
There is a lot of today I do not quite recall, as I was otherwise engaged living with my characters in more temperate climes.
Luckily, I have photos of today to prove it happened!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stepping Back in Time...

We remain in holiday mode and today visited the Caboolture Historic Village. It shames me to say it's my first visit although I've been in and out of the area for the past 6 years.
As a place to take lively young kids it gets a definite thumbs up. There's heaps of space for the kids to run and extras like the mini train were the cherry on the cake. Major plus - the cafe had outdoor seats and we enjoyed home made devonshire tea while the kids frolicked. 
School holiday activities were happening and a policeman drove up with sirens blaring *, the old fire truck rolled up, and a man from St Johns ambulance demonstrated CPR. There were songs and dancing about safety and while my kids were too young to appreciate it, the older kids really loved it.
The village was of additional interest to us as the hospital the kids Great Nana was born in had been trucked in, and their Great Grandpa (deceased) donated saws. A lot of the kids relatives worked in logging - their Grandpa started work at 13 and their Great Nana lost fingers in a sawing accident. This is the area my Beloved and his folks belong to and it was fascinating to see the history.
And I wanted to house-nap most of the houses and move in! Gotta love a real old Queenslander! (Okay, folks on the far side of the world, not old by European standards, but Old by Australian standards!) 
We couldn't have had nicer weather if we'd put in an order.

              Sprocket with Aunty Bec. He had his doubts about the Safety Singers.
                                         Blow, Aunty Bec!

                  Poppet in the doorway of the Hospital her Great Nana was born in.
A ward in the Old Hospital. Far prettier than the ones I had my kids in... but oddly lacking in life-saving machinery and ensuites... or even showers...

Monday, October 1, 2012


We've brought the bitter Southern Winds up with us and Queensland is c-c-c-old. My pride in managing to bring all our things as carry-on has vanished. The kids are wearing their pyjamas under their clothes and I have unearthed an old robe of my beloveds. To be frank, I would prefer not to go places that require removal of said robe.
The kids and I braved the rain for a walk down to the sodden park and made some sandcastles and then thankfully returned to the house and heaters. Luckily, when all seemed lost, Aunty Bec arrived to save the day, bringing all the stuff to make cup-cakes.

Do you have favourite rainy day activities?