Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I haven't blogged for awhile because I have been slogging away at my manuscript. 

Last weekend I printed off the first 300 pages - half way. My writing buddy is going through it with a fine tooth comb and a second copy is doing the rounds of a few readers. So while I nervously wait for their comments, suggestions, etc I'm working on the last half. 

I have about 100 pages left to tweak and polish and they are proving the hardest. 

In the meantime school holidays are looming, so my writing will have to take a back seat. Also our family are knee deep in fundraising for our oldest son, who is off to Europe next year. I avoided cheese roll making on Saturday with a writing workshop, but we are doing it all over again in August. Then there's the selling of raffles (sitting outside supermarkets and the Warehouse), A few sausage sizzles, chocolate selling and finishing the quilt for a Christmas raffle. And the list goes on. Of course I'm a permanent taxi driver for my 3 kids, I have to feed them and I think I might be responsible for keeping the house clean too.

When the final pages are printed, you'll hear about it. I might just throw a party.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I have just finished the second book in Sara Donati's Wilderness Series - Dawn on a Distant Shore. What an exciting read. I'd have to say I enjoyed it better than the first book. 

Shortly after the birth of twins, Elizabeth sets off to Montreal with her babies, her nine year old step-daughter and father's housekeeper - 60 year old Curiosity Freeman, a freed slave. Her husband, her father-in-law, and an old friend are in gaol there and somehow she is going to break them out!

After much adventure, the family is finally reunited. Then distant Scottish relatives interfere and Elizabeth rushes to a Quebec dock to find her children and Curiosity have been whisked away, on a ship bound for Scotland.

What follows are a string of adventures on the high seas. There are pirates, including the real life Anne Bonney, and skirmishes between the French and British navy. When they finally get to Scotland there are family secrets, intrigue and more threats to their lives, that all build to a satisfying end.

Sara Donati is skilled at flavouring her dialogue with different dialects and has a real handle on Scots. I find I'm now thinking in Scots, ye ken? 

If you enjoy a good historical read, then I highly recommend this series.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


A couple of months ago, when I began the editing of my WIP, it was all about the beginning. Those first chapters had to be perfect. The first chapter had to grab you by the throat, the opening sentences had to shine like diamonds. 

I worked hard and long. I rewrote, tweaked, threw it all out and started again, and finally I was happy.

And so I plodded along, chapter by chapter. Reworking, rearranging and reacquainting myself with long forgotten episodes. Along the way I took some time out, wrote a short story, dreamed of future stories and got ahead of myself by tweaking some of Book Two. 

Now I am at the end. There are six or seven chapters to edit. Chapters I wrote over a year ago, chapters written before I'd made some deviations in the plot. I should feel so close to finishing, but I feel like I did when I started. This one tiny hurdle to completion feels like Mt. Everest. 

So, I'm going to take a deep breath, a mighty run and throw myself at it. 

I'll let you know how I get on.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Recently, on a trip to the library, I discovered a new author. He is Chris Offutt who hales from Iowa City in the USA. His book, Kentucky Straight, is a collection of short stories, all set in the same unnamed Appalachian community. It was published in 1992 by Vintage Books.

These are stories of coal miners, backwoods medicine men, gamblers, hemp farmers and other interesting characters. They are at times brutal, yet always heartfelt. Offutt takes you through forests and rivers, up hills and across ridges, then throws bears, panthers and snakes at your feet.  

I shivered when I read of blizzards and cried when a child lost his Grandpaw. His sparse prose paints a real world you can touch and smell and taste. 

I was hooked from the first page:

When I was a kid we had a coonhound that got into a skunk, then had the gall to sneak under the porch. He whimpered in the dark and wouldn't come out. Dad shot him. It didn't stink less but Dad felt better. He told Mum that any dog who didn't know coon from skunk ought to be killed. 

And delighted in the descriptions of the setting, which is itself a character in the stories.

On Saturday Vaughn sat in the white glare of a low noon sun and watched the woods. Softwood leaves, crisp with equinox color, floated them treetops near the sun. His pocket held leftover breakfast pork in case Lije was hungry. Vaughn sweated in the heat but stayed on the porch.

And a knowing comment on life, for those who lived hard, hunting or growing what they ate.  

Men's lives ran in bursts of work, drink, and quick death, while women wore down slow and steady, like a riverbank at a sharp curve.

The library has another of his books, which I'll be taking out on my next visit.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


 It's almost a week since I last blogged and I've been trying hard to think of something to say. I may have Blogger's Block. The thing is, nothing interesting, outstanding, or even writerly or bookish has happened.

The week started with a rather foolish declaration that I would give myself two weeks to finish tweaking and polishing my manuscript, so I could print it off and send it to my beta readers. Soooo...

Saturday: We became victims of the heavy rainfall. Nothing too drastic. I would use the word 'seepage' rather than 'flood', but we are now the owners of a very stained dining room carpet. Thank goodness for insurance.

Sunday: I think I got a couple of hours of writing in.

Monday: Perhaps the highlight, yes, definitely the highlight of the week. I spent it with my writing buddy. 

Tuesday: I tweaked and I polished. ( The book, not the house - although it probably needs it.)

Wednesday: A dear friend, my writing buddy, was rushed to hospital. I've been in constant contact with her - thank goodness for txt's, and I am happy to say that she is now on the mend and hopefully will be returning home tomorrow. 

Thursday: Quilted with another dear friend. We are halfway through making a quilt for a raffle to raise funds for the youth group.

Friday: Under the realisation that my self inflicted deadline was never to be met, I joined a group of friends for morning tea. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I did enjoy myself.

The moral, of course, is instead of making rash decisions and promises, just sit down and do the work!
At present I have four complete clear days next week to work on my book. I wonder what life will throw at me? 

Oh, I just realised. I don't have Blogger's Block anymore.