Monday, 12 December 2016


Finishing off the massive novel Game of Thrones sure was a relief and I have to confess to skipping through bits in the middle. I was always interested in what was happening in the story, although I seldom felt emotionally involved. I am told the film version increased the involvement. The book did shine a light on how another writer views the thoughts and actions of a whole set of people in a particular world and particular era, albeit fictional. Parallels were drawn all the time of course with real time history and events and people in it. On the whole, not a pretty picture but expertly 'painted' with words.

As a complete contrast I am reading  a short story collection of Raymond Carver. Similar to Game of Thrones in its use of the very detailed examination of tiny snippets of a persons life, yet quite opposite in length and scale and somewhat disturbing at times, in the outcome. Almost all of the stories are open ended, which heightens the tragi/comic aspect of each story. It is a clever device, one which I have never been able to conquer with such subtlety and artistry. My work is much more matter of fact, or so I think. Readers may thing differently.  I very much admire Carver's work as a teller of tales although I find the direct realism of the short stories by Nam Lee much more to my liking. Yet as a writer I learn from all of these masters and wish as many people read my books as read theirs. 

Just over a week ago I began to write up a story that has been swirling around in my brain for over three decades. It is part memoir, part fiction, part documentary and it is being written down (pencil in a notebook) in a style I have not tried before. Yes, I am inspired by another classic writer, whose name I will not disclose at this stage. Hopefully my new work will become a book worthy of publishing and, better still, worthy of reading. Hard to tell at this stage as it it just the first outpouring of head and heart. This first draft is around half way through and it is getting a little scary, the way it is heading. I am pretty sure of where it is supposed to go but, as with all creative works, even its creator can be surprised by what it leads to.  I must keep up the momentum and soon finish this first draft because, with me at least, too long a pause can dwindle away not only my enthusiasm but downgrade the yarn from interesting to boring. A writer's nightmare.

I will keep calm and carry on. Let me have your thoughts please. I would love to know what you  feel about reading or writing, or both.

Sunday, 27 November 2016


Far too frequently I complain about technology, basically because it does not know what I want of it and, more importantly, I do not know how to command it correctly...errors are usually my fault therefore. None the less frustrating! But today I have to say how glad I am of a fairly old technology, namely the humble television set.
Last evening I was able to sit in comfort in my lounge room and watch and listen on my television to three fabulous pieces of performance. First, over an hour of the Australian band Crowded House,. somewhat nostalgic but great to watch and also to see how the large audience outside the Opera House was enjoying the music. Then came a revealing insight into the life of Nick Cave and his creativity and finally an episode of an English production of Shakespeare's Henry 4th, with just about every good British actor I've ever seen in the cast.  Fantastic production, made all the more realistic by the settings.
At the end of the show I concluded with the obvious yet heartfelt praise that I always do. "Oh, what a writer Shakespeare was."
But then I thought how Neil Finn, the lead singer of Crowded House and Nick Cave are also writers. They attach words to their music while Shakespeare makes music of his words. They are all writers who write words in selected ways and so make them precious examples of what creativity is capable of.
And so, in my own way, I keep trying to make words into sentences and paragraphs to hopefully create a work that is music to some readers ears. Not an easy task but well worth attempting. Words truly are magic.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


On my desk, a few centimetres from my keyboard, sits a white ceramic drinking mug. I have never used it for coffee or tea. It is the place I keep my pens, pencils, scissors and ruler and I pick into and out of it almost every day. I have done this for over two decades. Yet how rarely do I actually LOOK at the mug itself. I now do so.

It was bought for me over two decades ago by a friend when I was suffering a great deal of hurt from a professional disappointment.  It was a gift worthy of a friend who understood what I was going through. On one side is the picture of a mouse dragging a heavy, live, upside down elephant, a design by Boynton. It depicts just how hard life can be, both personally and professionally. It reveals what a writer trying to find a publisher sometimes feels like. A writer dragging their book behind them, seeking out a publisher, can be heavy going and a weary, sometimes never ending climb to the top. Yet, when the mug is turned around the words, "GO FOR IT!" are writ large and that is the other side of what life can be like. No matter what we have to carry on. That is being human. Joy and pain. Pessimism and optimism. Dead weights and lightweight laughter.

Looking properly at the mug I can sense what stories could be bound up in that one small item. There are the memories of me and the people who were with me at that time. Then the people who made  and sold the article. How many hours did the designer spend on getting it just right? And there were people who heaved the clay, ones who sold it, and how many others stared at it in the shop before it was whisked away by my friend. So many true stories to be told plus those where the imagination can forge further stories. A number of worlds,both real and imagined could be bound up in that one silent, ageing, simple drinking mug,

So when people ask what do writers find to write about it may be a cliche to say, 'Look around you', as I often do but it is exactly right. Look, listen and imagine, is the crux of all story telling surely. It is the imagination that can take us into the lives of others and it is that experience that can help us understand and accept others as being as human as we are. Stepping into another's shoes is really the important part, for it opens eyes and hearts. Is this why fascists and fundamentalists feel the need to burn books? 

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Yes, I am enthralled, amazed, enchanted, enthralled, entranced, in love. Not in a sexual or even a sensual way but in the way that a lover of words loves another lover of words, one who uses them with such skill to turn a story of ordinary humans into a wonderful experience for a reader. I speak of Geraldine Brooks and in particular her book Year of Wonders, a story set in England around the time of the 17th century Plague. Not only do I like the way she gets into the head of the protagonist and makes the historical facts of interest but it is her descriptions that enthuse me. For example, "The Plague is cruel in the same way. Its blows fall and fall again upon raw sorrow, so that before you have mourned one person that you love, another is ill in your arms." What better way to express the continuing horror of a disease. The her descriptions of the Nature that surrounds the villagers of that period are so fitting, a time before Industrialisation and Nature at its best and worst. "Grey is the sky colour here, the dove-breast clouds louring so upon the hilltops that sometimes you feel you could just reach up and bury your hands in their softness." And her description of how readily a group of 'ignorant' villagers turn on women they believe  to be a witch is an incredibly powerful indicator of how we can all turn into unthinking animals. A lesson to contemplate in today's world of fundamentalism on many sides.
So, yes I an enamoured of this writing and yes, you should read the book but what is so important to me is the lesson that Brooks brings to us lesser writers. In this modern (2001) book I am experiencing the divine pleasure of  what I have always loved about writing and reading, the use of adjectives and adverbs that flourish and expand a story, even if within the confines of skilled containment. I have spent  years of my life being told NOT to use too many descripters. "They pad a story.  They are unnecessary. They are the sign of amateurism." SO many teachers,whether at High School, University, Creative Writing courses, have battered me with such  commands that I eventually inculcated them into my own work. While understanding that every word must count, must move the story on, I have always thought that the use of more than simply sufficient adjectives and adverbs is what makes a story special. The likes of Geraldine Brooks and Hilary Mantel and many other female writers bare me out and it is so good to see that it is not just 19th century writers who 'padded' out their books for our enjoyment. Imagine Austin, the Bronte's and Dickens, without their informative and delightful and often vast, descriptions. It makes me wonder of course how my lesser described characters, situations and places stand up to the scrutiny of readers. Please let me know.

Saturday, 5 November 2016


The first confession is that I have quite enjoyed the week or so that I was  without access to the web while at the same time being frustrated by it. This is all a part of being human, contrary emotions playing against each other.So while  it was good to have more time to read and to think and to do physical research it was also frustrating in that I was wandering from one tech person to the next and back again to ascertain the cause of the breakdown.
The second confession is that I have only myself to blame. Ignorance of the complexity of the services coupled with naivity about how clever are certain IT companies caused my mind to wash over the simplest of reasons. A good lesson in poor observation, when I had always thought observation was a strong point in my make up.
Third confession is that I have not done enough writing during this process but my brain has been working overtime which has to be good for thoughts about characters and situations in any work. So I feel good about that.
What I feel even better about is that I have spent more time gazing at my surroundings and those awesome sunsets we get around now. Nature always puts things in perspective. Good for the mind, the body and the soul. Another lesson I must not forget.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Life and love and lies just about cover every aspect of the world at the moment. Listening to what a computer tells you is sometimes like listening to politicians or realestate agents or car sales people.,or, sometimes, people who insist they love you. The latter is especially tough when you are wisdom yet of how the world works, which is  is a double edged sword.. While innocence gives that wonderful state of ecstacy, the true joy of life , it also supplies pits into which it is easy to fall. A bit like the colour of this ink. I thought it would look wonderful yet now it is being typed I am not so sure. Do I delete and start over again? Or trust to  the readers liking it, or at least enjoying the difference? aWhin
Whihc brings d re checkingSo, I do what every wise person does and having experimented in colour I go back to what I know best, typing in black. This reminds me of the book I am still reading, The Game of Thrones, a brilliant title. I am as yet only on page 236 but already the games people play, the complexity, the loves and lies that are all a part of life, whether real or fictional,make me realise that humans never change. I am also looking forward to reading a book about the Tudors, from the point of view of the Princess Margaret. Married at thirteen what kind of life would she have had, what love and lies would she have lived through. iIWI shall no doubt find out. What I have yet to find out is exactly where my characters in my own new book are going. I have the basic story in my mind and where it should go but at the moment Holly Day, the protagonist, is not letting me take her anywhere! So I must chug away at writing bits and pieces each day until she lets me into what her plans are for the next book!  It is a cliche that characters take over but in this case she has not let me start...not properly...Maybe she sees that what I want for her is not true to her...lies in a way...or little fibs at matter that I love her...and the life I created for her in my last book in which she starred. Or am I a creative going a little crazy? Surely not!....Oh...a white van has just pulled up and men in white coats are coming this way! I will sign off....get rid of the evidence....Byeeee....

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


I have recently started to read GAME OF THRONES and wow is it a story! I do not generally read this genre of novels but of course with its fame so wide spread I thought I had better. The complexity of characters and their names, so cleverly chosen as a kind of distortion of familiar names, makes me wonder how many threads there will have to be to complete the story. I am only on page 95 and so have just under 700 pages to go. Will I last the distance? I guess time will tell but I expect so. I am finding it best to read a chapter at a time so that I can digest more readily where the characters and the intertwined relationships are heading. Such books, so well written, make me twinge with awe as I am certain I could never write such an epic piece with such enthusiastic joy as the author George R R Martin has done. I do realise of course that no matter what age or what world a fiction novel is written in, if it contains human characters then their basic needs are similar to every other human and it is this that retains the interest of readers. All great writers,whether of classics or modern works have this fundamental principle to their writing. I have an eclectic taste and so can read almost any writer with some joy but do have my favorites. I read different authors for different purposes but always out of curiosity of how stories are revealed, with either brilliance or just in an ok fashion.  It is fascinating to discover how the greats do it but oh so much more difficult to emulate.
As a writer who writes mostly about what I know or know of, it is good to stretch myself beyond what I would usually read and to learn from every piece of story telling I come across, hoping beyond hope that just a tiny fraction of someone else's genius rubs off onto me. How optimistic is that! To live in hope is surely the only way to live. 

Sunday, 2 October 2016


Each time it is a Monday it makes me consider just how quickly the time has flown since the previous Monday. Yes, it is 'stating the bleedin' obvious' as some of my UK friends are wont to say but almost everyone I know says the same thing. Yet, it is not true that time has flown quicker this year than it did last year. It is our perception only. (I am ignoring the miniscule changes in time in scientific terms) Perceptions are part of what it is to be human and boy do they get us into trouble at times. We are all guilty of perceiving things in a way not exactly good for the soul, or the mental or emotional well being of anyone. Yet, often it is the small as well as the large actions we take, guided, by our perceptions of our world that make the bigger world either a  better or a worse place. Just by making a thoughtless comment about someone we perceive as, say, overweight, or dumb, or ugly or having the wrong colour skin or language, we can hurt and sometimes destroy another person's well being.

I was thinking of this when re reading the first mystery thriller I wrote. (DAY AND KNIGHT-THE CASE OF MISSING THINGS) At the end of the story, out of  love, the protagonist Holly Day, makes a decision on her perceived view of what is best for her close friend,Lucy Knight. It is for my readers to decide whether the character made the correct decision. Some readers have told me they loved it, others are less enthusiastic.It is a judgement I as the author chose to make and no one was harmed by this.  In real life, as opposed to fiction, our perceptions lead to a judgement and so should always be carefully thought through.

In my recent book my characters cause certain things to eventuate by the perceptions they have of their world. In a new film script I am working on with three other writers a similar resolution has to be made about the way the story is revealed. Naturally, the perception, the world view. of the main character has to be consistent and worthy of the story being told but also it has to be true to the kind of person and world in which that character lives and breathes. In this case, because we are writing about someone from a culture different to our own, there is additional complexity. One persons view of the world can be completely different to our own. Is one wrong and one right? That is the problem, Is it simply sufficient to try and walk in another's shoes, Like time seeming to fly faster we have to stop and look inside ourselves to work out exactly what is making us feel the way we do. Is it fear? Arrogance? Laziness? Or just plain not thinking it through.There is no easy answer.

In the meantime, I am off for a nice cup of English Breakfast Tea. The time for a cuppa never seems to alter, or fly faster or slower. Odd that. Could this be in the DNA?

Monday, 26 September 2016


I'm wanting to keep in touch with readers and writers alike and learn how they cope with how to focus on one piece of work at a time. I have ideas coming out of my ears and so different topics and medium. There is a TV show I am trying to work up ready to pitch. This is a real toughie. There is a new book to get working on and ideas for a film I am co writing with three other fabulous people. ALL of which interest and enthuse me. And how do I stop my over active brain from thinking "Oh what a story there must be there", whenever I see an unusual event or person. Being ever curious about the world at large is sometimes a brake on creativity with the thought processes stifling the actual physical work of writing.Hmm, I clearly need a deadline, none of which are present. SO, without a deadline how to focus? Well, I think it is something my Gran called discipline! Oh what a tough word this can be. One I must give more time and effort to. Any suggestions would be welcome.
In the meantime I am giving you a sample extract from one of the short stories in my latest book, RIDING THE FATE TRAIN,  a Collection of 37 Short Stories.

Extract from: Etched in Marble.

At Police Headquarters Detective Inspector Collins waltzed into his boss's office. The file was already open on the Chief's desk. A pair of steel grey eyes stared up at him over metal rimmed glasses. "What am I supposed to do with this? The case is closed. "I think, sir, I've discovered a connection." "To what?" "Eastern Europe. Mafia. Illegal weapons. Murder." The Chief groaned. "Any concrete evidence?" "Not exactly concrete evidence, sir. Not yet."The Chief slammed shut the file."You know what new evidence means. It means new concrete evidence!"

The Inspector shrugged helplessly. He had a gut feeling about what an informant had told him but so far that was all it was. His boss picked up the file. "You know how it is with resources."  Indeed Collins did know how it was with resources. The office had to account, in triplicate, for everything, including their annual box of bloody paper clips. The file was pushed towards his face."Anyhow, what connection can there be? He was a dirty alcoholic git." "An ex Army alcoholic git, sir. He was into weapons. " "So? I am ex Army. I was into weapons. Does it follow that I have connections with the Russian Mafia?"  The Inspector wouldn't be at all surprised if it did but he wasn't about to say so. The boss's final retort had an edge to it."Come back if and when you have concrete evidence."

Grabbing the file Collins marched back to his desk and flopped into his chair. Bloody resources he thought. Most of the budget was spent on technology. Good policing needed more than computers. It needed individual brains and good snouts and absolute piles of bloody paper clips! He'd show that four eyed boss of his.

Hope this wets your appetite. There is a link ready for you to purchase. And do please let me know how you enjoy the stories and a review on amazon would be most appreciated..

Thursday, 15 September 2016


Yes, I am guilty. I confess. I have procrastinated for over five days about what to talk about next. But now I know. It is about procrastination, which could be said to be the enemy of progress. What would get done if everyone procrastinated for ever? Would the world still be waiting for the wheel to be invented? Or was the wheel discovered rather than invented? Nature has many examples of circular movements...However I digress. Procrastination would not have helped the first form of written communication being made and continued to be improved and broadened..Has this made for the best possible world? Has the rapid progress of the last century been for the good of all humankind? The answer will depend upon a personal point of view. I consider that procrastination can be foe or friend, And so it is in my case. I am champing at the bit to begin the next book in the Day and Knight series. I have the basic premis of the plot. I already have my two main characters, Holly Day and Lucy Knight. I know what mystery they will uncover and I  am desperate to start. Yet, I wait and wait. I procrastinate. For what? That beautiful incredulous spark of  creativity? Awe? A perfect plot layout? Days slip by into weeks and still I procrastinate which would seem to be my foe. And yet, experience tells me that if I do wait until it feels right, in both my head and my heart then the story will be a much better one for my readers to enjoy. So in this sense procrastination is my friend. Of course this waiting does not stop me from thinking about the story and my characters. It does not stop me jotting down ideas and scenarios. I am working towards the book and one day soon, I hope, the spark will drive me into the usual frenzy of writing when I am sufficiently excited to write the full story.

 What started this theme off was my procrastinating about what gift to buy a friend for her birthday. I almost grabbed a dozen different things that would have been 'alright' and yet I could not make that leap to the cash registrar. I procrastinated for days and days and then, one day, I happened to see in a shop window the perfect gift. Excited, I rushed in and bought it. She was thrilled. So glad I procrastinated!

Sunday, 4 September 2016


A much better week for me. I have just finished reading The First Casualty by Ben Elton and it has made me feel humbled and very lucky. Plus green with envy at his writing skills. The Elton book is about Word War One, the so called Great War, which was, like all wars, a total disaster. So many people killed for a few metres of ground, on both sides of course. The ordinary man sent as sacrificial lambs to the slaughter. The fascinating thing about Elton is his power at writing satire. In the novel he shows clearly the obscenity of war, the soldiers living and dying in mud and water, men covered in lice and sores and living with rats in the trenches. Dead men  trampled over by the next wave of men sent 'over the top' to be machine gunned down by the opposing army and yet he also manages to weave into it stories of love and friendship, plus a little sex, but also a couple of scenes of Monty Pythonesque humour. A scene where ordinary soldiers discuss how WW1 started sums up the stupidity of it all. The satire is superb. (I confess that as I did my MA on political satire I have a special affinity with this genre.) Truth is of course the First Casualty of all wars...look at the current fiascos around the world. This now extends to the war on drugs, the war on terrorism and the war on refugees. Truth is so often hidden beneath the rhetoric. It's enough to make a person wonder.
And so I get down to wondering how to improve the first scenes of my next book.Not satire exactly but a little tongue in cheek, like Day and Knight was.

Monday, 29 August 2016

What a week! Without providing too much detail words in a description would include hospital, operation, fall, pain, embarrassment and damned inconvenience. Words that would explain the causes would include ageing, arthritis, lack of focus, stupidity and, well, I guess, Fate. (Read my latest book!) Current words, at the end of this week, would include, incredible nurses and doctors, amazing result, gradual improvement, great drugs, (prescription!), plenty of rest and finally, acceptance. So a better week must be coming up.

What it proves is that life is never predictable, no matter how it sometimes seems, when the word boring is frequently bought to mind. This unpredictability is part of what it is to be human and so thank goodness for that.

Now, once more, after almost a month of trying to get down to re writing a 10,000 word extract from a memoir I have been trying to write for ever, or so it seems, I can now sit in front of my trusty (hahah!) computer and type away. Whether good, or bad, or inappropriate words will ensue is still to be tested. But I will keep going until some other unpredictable event passes my way and interrupts the proceedings. So, on with the show.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Riding the Fate Train Now Out

New book ready to look at. Riding the Fate Train, a Collection of Short stories, many devised from true stories. Set in both Australia and Britain over a few decades. Check it out on Both Paperback and ebook available. Love to know what you think.