Category Archives: Writing

Orphan Finds Home: a tale of [un]rejection

Some months ago, Zoetic Press put a call out for submissions to their award-winning journal NonBinary Review (issue no. 23: Apocalypse). I took up the challenge and birthed myself a little ripper . . . ‘The Seven Letters of a Perfect Apocalypse’. I was chuffed with it but, sadly, it was left sitting on the sidelines.

I have a spreadsheet where rejections show sombre as a sluggish grey-blue and acceptances dazzle with their bright yellow. When Zoetic Press contacted me and asked if my piece was still looking for a home, it gave me great joy to say yes and turn blue into yellow.

‘The Seven Letters of a Perfect Apocalypse’ will now be published in the mid-December edition of NonBinary Review. The ‘Heathentide Orphans’ edition is specifically for pieces that did not find a home in other issues. I have to say, I am proud of my piece and I am looking forward to seeing it sitting amongst other dazzling orphans, all of us shining in our sequins and tap-shoes. I hope some of you will order a copy and tell me what you think.

Moral of the story – don’t take rejection personally and rejoice for the orphans who find a home.

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My Writing World

Once again, I’ve been a bit tardy with my writing updates. I am pleased to report that I was longlisted again for the Scottish Arts Trust awards for ‘The Night of the Note I Never Wrote’ which will be published in the next anthology.

The 2021 Fish Anthology was launched at the West Cork Literary Festival. You can see me reading my flash fiction ‘Ursula Sits’ at about the 7:40 mark. There are some fabulous stories included here.

Update on the novel: I have now completed two versions, both of which are going through a bit of tweaking before I – hopefully [sigh] – stand behind one or the other and shove it out into the world.

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Chesil Beach

Look at moi! Standing – in my usual awkward pose – “on Chesil Beach”. 

Ian McEwan is my Literary crush so, unsurprisingly, a tear or ten escaped soon after this pic was snapped. I was similarly moved years ago when I discovered I had followed in McEwan’s footsteps when visiting Bruny Island in Tasmania.

I had heard McEwan chose the quiet solace of Bruny over the red carpet of the Golden Globe Awards and I was moved poetically. My [long-winded] article, published in the Bruny News, included this:

 

Missing Ian McEwan

I arrive, seedy, on a blustery grey morning

after swells and white caps and bitter instant granules,

to disembark breathless on this necked island

that has figured wide and mammoth in these late days;

but you have gone

I wanted to show you that I can write

I, too, would evade the Globes.  I’d tramp the bush here,

rather than schmooze down rich red-carpet paths

if I had been invited, if there was a film;

but I’m too late

I’ll try to plant my feet where yours have been

and imagine the words you might have imparted

if I’d arrived last week, if we had met,

if you had read my work and thought highly of me;

if you were here

If I remain quiet and still inside

I might catch faint echoes of McEwan-esque prose

Inspiration might carry on the wind

and land literary fertility at my feet;

because I am here

Then next time you cross to these narrow shores

you will know the paths I have traversed, by my words.

You might have read my work and been impressed

and you might wish you had arrived sooner

when I was here

Atonement? Perhaps.

I have not written anything to commemorate my trip to Chesil Beach. Maybe I will; or perhaps I will hug the thoughts and savour them secretly.

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Writing as I Wander

I have been more derelict than usual in my blogging duties but I hope to pick things up in the next few months. For those who don’t follow me on Facebook, a quick update . . . we have spent the past few months in the UK, after our month of downtime in Split, Croatia (which was a dream).

England welcomed me back with a daffodil show to rival anything I could have imagined and we spent five weeks in Northumberland caring for a dog and a cat.

After a week exploring York and a couple of days in Lincoln, we are now in a lovely suburb of London, looking after a little Poochon.

I will endeavour to bring my ramblings back to my writing in the coming months. I have a few projects on the go, the biggest of which is an attempt at rewriting my latest manuscript in the first person, and that is proving to be a bigger challenge than I anticipated.

The travelling has brought forth a burst of fresh creativity resulting in some more short stories to add to my collection (which goes from being complete to incomplete, depending on my mood). I had a recent story published in the Irish Sonder Magazine and a poem destined for another publication (will update soon).

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Christmas . . . The Big Issue

If you’ve never read The Big Issue, do yourself (and others) a favour by going out of your way to grab a copy of this crackin’ Christmas edition.

“[This edition includes] interviews with author Jackie FrenchThe Witches director Robert Zemeckis and electronic dynamos The Avalanches; a gorgeous chopped salad recipe from Bill Granger to brighten any Christmas feast; a hilarious festive farce from writer Karenlee Thompson; and some much-loved teddy bears in The Big Picture.”

You can find out more about The Big Issue here. Look out for a vendor near you and spread some Christmas cheer.

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Scottish Arts Trust Short Story Award Shortlist 2020

Thank you to Lisa Hill at ANZ LitLovers for helping me to blow my own trumpet.

FINAL+2020+cover+COMING+SOON+CROP

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Our Inside Voices: Reflections on COVID-19

The weather is looking mighty fine for Brisbane on Sunday 23rd August so, if you are in the area and looking for a fun, safe, event. . . here’s the perfect outing. AndAlso Books are holding an outdoor launch event for this fabulous collection of essays, memoir, poems and short stories.


I am pleased to have my short story ‘Meg and the Margarets’ included. Here’s a little snippet:

I’ve had a shower, she says, and I’m all disinfected.
Why are you disinfected?
She rambles on about stuff I don’t understand but my ears ring when she says COVID-19. So at least now I know it is not quite an army. It’s not a couple either. There are nineteen of these Covids.

I have singled out a few favourites in the collection and will post about them later. In the meantime, here’s the launch deets.

ORLEIGH PARK
West End
(‘Area 3’)
SUNDAY
23 August
10.30 – 12.00

 

 

 

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Flaming Squirrel

Long time between posts but – hey – COVID-19. Long story short for those who don’t know, we are back in the land of Oz temporarily while we wait for the world to open up.

Did I mention Flaming Squirrel? I think I did and now that I’ve caught my breath, I want to elaborate.

flaming squirrel 1

 

We writers are always on the lookout for somewhere inspiring to put pen to paper (or more likely, fingers to keyboard) and I did promise to post on any extra-special places in Canada. I found a fabulous place on the outskirts of Oliver BC – the delightfully named Flaming Squirrel Guesthouse.

There is a quirky story about how the guesthouse scored its name and I’d never do it justice. Certainly it involves squirrels, electricity wires and a substantial brushfire and if you are lucky enough to hear it told by guesthouse owners Brad and Cindy, it will have you in stitches.

Can’t resist sharing this wind chime pic. Cindy made it from bells and wine corks and rattlesnake tails (I kid you not!). EDIT: no rattlesnakes were harmed in the making of this windchime; found, dead snakes only.

Flaming Squirrel windchime (2)

Flaming Squirrel is the perfect private spot to write and, if the pen won’t flow, you can head off to explore the wineries of the South Okanagan. Should you fancy some company, do yourself a favour and share a glass with Brad and Cindy. You could fill a book with their stories.

wine pump

 

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Thank You Tasmania

Oh, Tasmania, how wonderful you were, even turning on perfect weather for me. Here’s a brief wrap-up of my very own ‘Ten Days on the Island’ (for those who don’t know, there is a biennial festival with this name – details here).

The launch at Fullers Bookshop was fabulous with a Q&A hosted by Katherine Johnson, the very talented Tasmanian-based author of Pescador’s Wake and The Better Son. We had a good turnout, the atmosphere was relaxed and Katherine led me through chats ranging from research, to shades of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and on to bushfires and literary agents. I was somewhat rushed beforehand and forgot to organise pics but raced back the next morning for a shot of me and my ‘baby’ in the New and Noteworthy section.

IMG_1551

I got to visit the wonderful Hobart Twilight Markets where copies of my book were available through Satinwood. It was lovely to see the Flame Tip cover nestled in amongst the beautiful leather goods.

I had a great time chatting to locals and visitors as I sat outside The Hobart Bookshop signing books at the same table used by both Julia Gillard and Bob Brown.

The workshops at various libraries proved popular and I enjoyed talking about the writing process and meeting some excellent writers who blew me away with their imagination and creativity. Thanks to the staff of Huon, Hobart, Rosny and Kingston for making me welcome.

Huon Linc

Petrarch’s in Launceston . . .  oh, what can I say?! Absolutely beautiful shop. Wonderful management and staff. It was well worth the trip up to the north of the State.

Petrachs

On the way back to Hobart, called in to take a ‘shelfie’ at The Book Cellars in Campbell Town.

Cellars

A couple of other fun pics – with Katherine Johnson at the divine State Cinema Bookstore and one of me looking pretty chuffed signing some copies at Mona.

better son        Mona with books

I regret that I didn’t think to take a shot of me with some of the staff members of the Tasmanian Writers Centre  who were so welcoming when I turned up (unannounced!)  to their offices inside the beautiful historic building that is the Salamanca Arts Centre. Never mind, I’m hoping (x) to be there again in September (watch this space!).

I was also lucky enough to get a follow-up gig with Melanie Tait on her ABC local radio show Evenings. What a beautiful, talented professional she is. You can listen to the audio here.

Thanks again to everyone for making it such a pleasurable trip. I can hardly wait to get back there.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Tasmanian Writers’ Prize

Delighted to discover that my short story ‘Dear Ethan’ has been Highly Commended in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize. A real thrill.

Congratulations to the winner

Rachel Leary (VIC) A Concrete Aborigine.

The winning entry will appear in the June edition of Tasmania 40° South

The other selected entries will appear in the Forty South Short Story Anthology 2015 – to be published in August/September. They are, as listed:-

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Karenlee Thompson (Qld) Dear Ethan 

Melanie Cheng (VIC) The Honeymoon

FINALISTS (alphabetical order)

Jamieson Allom  (TAS) In Two Minds

Verity Croker (TAS) Grasskiller 

Keren Heenan (VIC) The Island

Carmel Lillis (VIC) Island seeks Island

Andrea McMahon (TAS) Penal Colony

Andrew Stiggers (NZ) Island of Flowers

Simon Stuart (VIC) True North

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