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Items filtered by date: June 2016
Saturday, 25 June 2016 07:28

Moving Forward - On Going Indie

There have been moments in the last two years when I felt this whole publishing thing had finally got me beat. That it was time to hang up my pen and take up kick boxing or stunt car driving. Something less painful. Something more sane.

I submitted my work for eleven years before my first novel, Run to Me, was accepted by Random House. I thought I’d finally broken in. Maybe it wouldn’t be all smooth sailing but at least I’d got my foot in the door. I was on my way.

But after waiting a further three years - being held in limbo on two other manuscripts for most of that time - I have yet to publish my second novel. Therefore, after much debating, I’ve decided to do it myself. (You know that ol’ biological clock? An author’s career clock ticks no less loudly!)

So for better or worse, I am hereby committed. My next suspense novel, HIT and RUN, is now with my editor and if all goes to plan I’m looking at a release date sometime in October 2016. (To be announced.) Above is a sneak peak at the cover (selfpubbookcovers.com).

I’ll be on another steep learning curve through all of this. Wish me luck.

Published in Events and news
Friday, 10 June 2016 02:54

Thanksgiving in Australia

The house is looking festive, filled with a sense of anticipation. There’s a basket of apples scenting my kitchen, pumpkins and vegetables cover the counters, and all my big platters and serving bowls are sitting out ready to be filled with traditional Thanksgiving fare.

The kids will be arriving this afternoon, ready to gather wood for the bon fire, prepare the shed for the influx of guests, set the huge table (for 22 this year!), and stoke up the wood stove ready for Sunday.

As American-born parents, Michael and I wanted to give our kids a taste of U.S. tradition. Apart from Christmas (which Australians celebrate in any case) the biggest holiday for us was Thanksgiving and before our children were even born we were keeping the tradition alive in our new home.

It didn’t feel right celebrating Thanksgiving in Australia on the same day they do it in the States. I had a hard enough time adjusting to Christmas without snow so I wanted to keep to the appropriate season.

As luck would have it, South Australia has a long weekend in early winter – the Queen’s Birthday, in the middle of June. So that has become our family’s traditional Thanksgiving holiday.

When we first moved onto our farm and the kids were young, we actually combined this day with Halloween. Back then I had a massive vegetable garden and grew mountains of pumpkins every year. On our Thanksgiving day, after the traditional turkey dinner, a hay ride around the property and dessert and coffee, the kids would all gather round the picnic table and carve some Jack O Lanterns. (When I say ‘kids’ it was most of the grown-ups as well, as everyone wanted to be in on the fun.)

By the time they’d finished, dusk was falling and it was time to light the bon fire. Michael’s pyromaniac friends would get it going, and when the flames had died to the point we could get within fifty feet of it, everyone would pull up a chair and settle in with a port, beer or glass of cider.

That’s when we’d light the Jack O Lanterns, arranging them around on the ground, up in trees, lighting the pathway down to the house. We’d sit in mellow appreciation, digesting our meal, with those laughing, ghoulish, grinning faces shining back at us.

These days I don’t have the vegetable garden (one of the downsides of a bad back) but the rest of the day is still the same: food, drink and plenty of laughs.

We love sharing this tradition with our Australian friends and like to think they have fond memories of the many times we've celebrated it together.

What traditions has your family invented or transplanted to a different country?

Published in Slice of life
Saturday, 04 June 2016 02:52

The Culinary Three Act Structure

As a writer I’m familiar with the 3 act structure as it pertains to novel, theatre and film writing. But it occurs to me a similar structure exists in the art of gourmet cooking, especially among passionate amateur chefs.

Act One is the drama of buying the ingredients. This involves a day (or at least several hours) flitting from one market to the next, examining, fondling and (most importantly) sniffing produce. It requires lengthy questioning of market staff (while other customers line up waiting to be served), debating the merits of one fish gut paste over another, and standing in aisles bemoaning to anyone within earshot, ‘If only I could find that beetroot jerky I bought in Florence that time…’

Act Two is the drama of preparing the meal. This again involves hours of intense labor – chopping, grating, mashing, pulping, dirtying every pot and utensil in the house and covering every inch of counter space in a swill reminiscent of industrial waste.

Like the second act of any good play, this stage involves numerous setbacks and complications. It involves lengthy delays, bouts of swearing and frequent updates on the estimated meal time.

As the hour draws closer to the final act and the tension in the kitchen becomes unbearable, dinner quests retire to the living room (or deck or porch – anywhere away from the harried chef) to mop up the last speck of liver pate and fantasize about peanut butter sandwiches.

Finally, after hours of waiting, (long after anyone’s normal dinner time) the greatly anticipated moment arrives. But just when you think you can sit down and enjoy the meal there is one last Act to this sintilating drama: the meal must be thoroughly analyzed.

This involves the chef reliving the entire experience of creation and sharing any nuance his diners might have missed (or sought to escape).

Again that elusive beetroot jerky gets a mention as the missing ingredient that would’ve elevated this disappointing effort to truly gastronomic heights. For no chef is ever happy with what their efforts. No matter how many compliments or murmurs of delight they get from their dinners, they sink ever deeper into a depression that lasts at least for the rest of the evening and often till they start planning their next diner party.

However…

Having said all this (with tongue in cheek as I dearly love my cooking friends) I can clearly see that, on a different level, this is exactly what I go through when writing a novel. Like the chef I hunt for ingredients (characters and ideas), spent hours preparing (writing) my project and am often in a foul mood while I’m doing it. And when it’s finally done I analyze (edit) from start to finish and am rarely satisfied with the results.

So really I’m just another passion chef preparing a meal I hope people will like. The only difference I can see is that I don't have to starve while I’m doing it.

Published in Slice of life
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