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Archive for the ‘resilience’ Category

I saw this photo some years ago. The caption underneath read: George was 22 when he started writing his novel. The implication was that he was still writing it. I could relate to that. I was still writing Those Brisbane Romantics fifty years later. On and off, admittedly, but still writing it. I wrote the 1st draft in 1963-5. In 1967, this was placed 2nd to published author Hugh Atkinson’s manuscript The Rabbit. In those days, Australia had no Vogel Award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under thirty-five.

(Bear with me, WordPress changed its formatting when my back was turned and, despite many attempts, I have NO IDEA how to get the text to run beside the photo. I tried. I tried ….)

To resume: in 1969, Brian Clouston of The Jacaranda Press offered me publication of the work, then in the 3rd person, if I cut it to 100,000 words (about one-third of its horrifying length). At that time, I had no idea how to do this. Life took me up. The savings from my first job were gone. I put the novel away and crawled up the steps of the State Library. They gave me a job in the John Oxley, the historical section. Later, I moved to the Department of Primary Industries. While working as a cataloguer for the second, I met Queensland poet Michael Sariban. Two children later, my hands, and my life, were full.

I resumed writing in 1990, very much behind the eight ball. By now, I was a single parent. I hunted competitions and high-paying mags the way lions once hunted springboks on the veldt, and was lucky to win a number of awards for my short stories, and/or have them appear in such wildly different publications as Penthouse and the Australian Women’s Weekly. I never aimed for the literary mags (big mistake as it turned out). Lit mags didn’t pay well, and the family needed the money.

Around 1993, I decided to resuscitate the novel. I edited Romantics to 115,000 words, mostly by condensing dialogue. Still needing lucre, I put it away and wrote Found: One Lover with Louise Forster, which won the Emma Darcy Award for Romance Manuscript of the Year 2000.

In 2005, Susan Geason https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Geason suggested I rewrite Romantics in the 1st person point-of-view. It took me some time to figure out how to do this. Eventually I succeeded in producing a manuscript of 108,000 words written from the 1st person POV as a fictional memoir. Susan took one look at it and said, “Nice try. But it’s not going to work.”

I went away and wrote the feel-good animal fantasy MagnifiCat, which was picked up by Sydney agent Rose Creswell. When she retired with the manuscript unplaced, in 2013, I put M’Cat up as an e and POD book on the web: https://books2read/u/3n8k6K It was at this point I discovered that publishing your book on the web is an appallingly dreadful experience. (The Amazon algorithm had a ball with the title MagnifiCat. All my Also Boughts were religious. 😊

A tiger for punishment, I then put my short stories together in a linked short collection entitled Dropping Out: a tree-change novel in stories, and put that on the web. I was still licking my wounds when it was shortlisted for the Woollahra Digital Literary Award in 2016: https://goo.gl/FtL0zz

Then I went back to Romantics.

With Susan holding my hand long distance through four more drafts, finally, at the end of 2017, I had a 98,300 word draft written in the 3rd person. Then, in 2018, I moved to Brisbane. This set me back two years.

When I recovered, I returned to the novel. (This is beginning to sound like “The Bricklayer’s Accident Report” by Gerard Hoffnung.) At the proof stage, I took out three more scenes, (you shouldn’t do this), and the finished work is now around 95,000 words.

It’s a very young book; everyone in the novel is under twenty-five and single. Technically, it’s an upper-end YA novel, which is how it came to grief. Traditional publishers held up crucifixes when they saw this marketing nightmare coming, even though, by this point in the saga, the manuscript had been shortlisted nationally for the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival and internationally for the University of Exeter’s Impress Prize.

Such is life, as Ned Kelly is claimed by some to have said.

Because of delays with the US cover designer, Romantics won’t see the light of day until early November. It will be interesting to see what happens

Contact: 0733585908

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Real Thing-final(1)

One day in 1989, when I was struggling with the first draft of “Transference” (eventually published in Penthouse), my good friend and ex, Gianni Cosatto, strode into my house and plonked three handwritten foolscap pages down on the kitchen table.

“There you are,” he said. “I’ve written the first scene of a story for you.”

I picked up the pages and scanned them. The scene was written from the 1st person point of view. It seemed to concern a man who’s sent to a planet called Gerar to check the authenticity of a coin found there. As he sits in Reception, still shocked from the hyperspace, this gorgeous chick with long red hair comes out of an internal door and is rude to him. I gathered that rudeness was a turn-on for this hero, who immediately decides to fall in love with her. End of scene.

“What else happens?”I asked Gianni. “I mean, What’s the story?”

“Dunno,” said Gianni, “I just wrote the first scene. You’re the writer.”

“Well, thanks,” I told him. “I’ll have a crack at it later.” I might as well have said: I’ll bury it later. I had no intention of having a crack at it. I pleaded busyness whenever Gianni enquired about it in the years that followed.

One rainy day in the twenty-first century, long after Gianni had died, I found the story in a drawer and decided to try to finish it. Seductresses with long red hair didn’t interest me, so I made it a gay story. But it never really worked. Sci fi mags I submitted it to were put off by the gay relationship; mags that might’ve been interested in the relationship were put off by the sci-fi angle. I was stuck with it. One day, I realised that the the idea of finding a coin on Gerar or anywhere else, for that matter, was so preposterous a plot I might as well set the story in Australia. I chose Maralinga, with its interesting history of British A-bomb explosions in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.

So here it is. I’ve recently worked it over yet again to fit the Charles Lawson thread in the short story collection I’m building, tentatively entitled North Coast Stories. It’s 5,885 words long and available for 99 cents at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OQAB7UW

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/485382

Whatever misgivings I might still entertain about the story’s far-fetched plot, I’m immensely happy with the cover, which author C S McClellan created from a recent photograph of Maralinga country by Baz Landy.

For those who are interested, below is a recap of where we’re up to now in the North Coast Stories collection:

  1. Busting God

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J8ZIE8S

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/416303

  1. Remains to be Seen

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LNDWRM2

FREE at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/454352

  1. Stella by Starlight

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MTVVG96

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/467119

  1. Star’s Story

FREE at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/479505

  1. The Real Thing

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OQAB7UW

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/485382

 

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super moon in starry sky on sea

 

Nine years ago or thereabouts, the Australian Women’s Weekly ran a short story competition with a first prize of $5,000 and guaranteed publication in this most circulated of Australian women’s newspapers. Being a writer and thus financially on the rocks (I figure I’ve made about $8 a week from my writing over the last 20 years, and that’s a high-end estimate), I decided to enter. I didn’t expect to win, but I thought there’d probably be a short list and the stories on that would be offered publication. And the Women’s Weekly pays, baby, pays.

So I sat down and sweated out a story of 5,000 words and sent it off. Months passed. Eventually the result was announced, but Danny Margaret had scored zero, zilch, and there didn’t appear to be a short list. Well, I thought, so much for that, and I put the story away in the proverbial bottom drawer.

Five years went by. One day (I must’ve had nothing better to do, perhaps it was the wet season) I pulled the story out and reread it. It’s not bad, I thought. Very Women’s Weekly – what a shame it didn’t get anywhere … Then I remembered Australian writer Marele Day saying once in a writing workshop that magazines were always looking for Christmas stories. They were drowning in the other kind, she said; but they were always short of Christmas stories. Hmm, I thought.

At the time my finances were in worse-than-usual disarray. Publication in the WW would sort all that out. O-kay. There was just one hitch: My story wasn’t a Christmas story. To solve this problem, I had the main character’s daughter refer to Christmas in an already-existing phone conversation and I had two people the main character passes on her way to the beach wish her a Merry Christmas. That’s all I did.

By now, my CV had filled out, and I had a little more confidence than I’d had in earlier years. I approached the editor of the Women’s Weekly by email, gave her my CV and a 3-line synopsis of the story and asked if she’d be interested in reading my “Christmas story”. Next thing I know I’m being offered publication in their 2010 Christmas edition.

The moral of this monologue is: If you put a short story in a competition and it doesn’t get anywhere, that doesn’t mean anything. What matters is being published. Craig McGregor told me this way back in 1979, but I didn’t take any notice. Besides, being a single parent, I needed the money that comps could provide.

Now here is “Stella by Starlight” minus the Merry Christmases. I’ve also made one other change, transforming the main character from female to male, to fit the story into the collection I’m publishing next year. Everything else, though, is the same, and the theme and moral of the story are unchanged.

Sales points for “Stella” are below. I hope you enjoy it. I wish I could provide a direct sales link to Apple, but I’m digitally disadvantaged.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MTVVG9C

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/467119

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