Welcome to this week’s blog – I’m so excited to tell you I’m writing this on Tuesday – look what a little social isolation can do for a girl!
So this week’s question is favourite things to do in the Sping. Right now I’m here in Sydney and the autumn leaves are turning on the trees. Also we – by which I mean the whole world- is locked away in their homes feeling more than a little anxious about COVID-19/Corona Virus.
I have a feeling that when Spring rolls around in my corner of the universe the world will be a very different place.
These are the things I look forward to doing:
Walking on the beach in the gorgeous sunshine
Fishing on our boat with a glass of wine in hand, or maybe a cheeky gin and tonic
Getting together with a bunch of friends for a long, slow Sunday lunch by the sea
Watching all the leaves come back on the trees and the flowers bloom
Picnics in parks surrounded by birds and the sound of laughter
Visiting art galleries and museums
Gathering with my writing buddies to talk about books and writing (in person)
Time for the Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge and yes I did miss last week and again I’m sorry. We were on a roadtrip down through NSW and Victoria and while I wish I was organised enough to pre-write these blogs so far that hasn’t been the case…maybe next week.
So the first one is a skill I wish I had but don’t…this will be short and sweet. I can’t sing. People beg me not to sing around them. I can lipsync like nobodies business but my singing sucketh so I choose that. I’d take being mediocre at this point – I don’t need a chair to spin for me on The Voice but people not running from the room would be much appreciated.
The second topic is The Strangest Thing I’ve learned from fiction. This’ll be short and sweet too becasue I no longer even know what I learned from fiction and what I learned from non-fiction, or school or TV or my parents (well most of the Catholic knowledge in my head is definitely school and my parents but beyond that it’s all a wild card).
I was an early reader. I was reading before I started school (my mum was an infants school teacher) and I was a voracius reader as well – nothing new there either. I read widely and I read often.
So do I know about the Civil War from Little Women or did I already know and then read the book? Did I learn about Australian wildlife before or after I read Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie? I really don’t know.
There are a lot of extraneous facts in my head but pinpointing where they all come from is hard. And what’s the weirdest in the mix, that’s even harder to answer.
What I do know is that reading opened up world to me I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to – knights and castles, adventures on the high seas, life in New York in a turn of the centure tenament or life in a quanit post-war English village. Some of those things may not have been weird but they were weird to me in suburban Sydney in the 1970’s.
Given the topic of this week’s blog challenge I guess I should say The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland because yet again, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.” Except I’m actually very punctual in real life so that doesn’t work.
I’d say in this case maybe I should channel a charcter who isn’t a quitter instead.
This is actually a tricky topic for me. I love so many characters in books but I don’t necessarily think they remind me of me. I mean I used to want to be like Jo March from Little Women becasue she was a writer but she also was a fish out of water and kind of a non-conformist which I am too. She didn’t marry the man everyone expected her too in the end and neither did I and we’re both fiecely loyal but I don’t know if she reminds me of me.
I rather fancy myself as a bit of a Pippi Longstocking. She had a crazy imagination, red hair and freckles and again was a non-conformist.
Here’s one of my favourite quotes from her story:
The children came to a perfume shop. In the show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: DO YOU SUFFER FROM FRECKLES?
‘What does the sign say?’ asked Pippi. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.
It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?’ said Annika.
‘Does it indeed?’ said Pippi thoughtfully. ‘Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.’
She opened the door an”d entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. ‘No!’ she said decidedly.
‘What is it you want?’ asked the lady.
‘No,’ said Pippi once more.
‘I don’t understand what you mean,’ said the lady.
‘No, I don’t suffer from freckles,’ said Pippi.
Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, ‘But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!’
‘I know that,’ said Pippi, ‘but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.’
She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, ‘But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.’
Unlike Pippi, I would have probably been hurt and angry rather than defiant in that situation but I love that energy. I loved all of Astrid Lingred’s books as a child but Pippi most of all.
When my bookclub and I read the Time Travellers Wife, which I loved but remains one of our biggest room-dividers after 13 years, I complained about Claire being a bit of a doormat. My friends all informed me that I was Claire. My husband ‘s job met he dropped in and out of our home-life on a whim and I had little to no control of that which sent the rest of our lives in a constant spin. I wasn’t flattered and it definitely didn’t make me very Pippi-like.
In my own books many people have told me that when reading my first book Mr Right and Other Mongrels it was like talking to me, I like to think that was meant to be a compliment but who knows. Allegra the main character did share my dog phobia so there’s that.
I’d like to call “not fair” on this topic. In a life well-lived we all have so many wonderful moments to remember and it’s almost impossible to pick one. So many moments of friendship, of lost loves and departed relatives to sift through.
I’m very lucky to have lots of friends that have been in my life for decades. Sometimes when we get together we talk about incidents that still have us laughing until we cry. What about the years of Christmas parties when my house was overflowing with kids and adults, where people came for my ham and the paella, for the icecream sunday bar, the waterfights and the outdoor movies?
What about the moment I got married? Or met my husband? When we bought the block of land for our house, buidling it together, moving in? What about all the travel we’ve done or the candlelit dinners.
What about the Christmases? Or the day we surprised our daughter with a puppy? Or riding Central Park in a horse drawn carriage with my parents after seeing the Rockettes at radio City Music Hall? Or the first time I went to Disneyland?
Yet I have to choose one. So that’s what I’ll do.
To say the journey to having my daughter was fraught would be an understatement. She remains to this day my greatest achievement and my greatest joy. I never wanted anything more than to be a mother and I was told that it was essentially impossible. Somehow I got my miracle. I had the worst pregnancy (my green bucket and I went everywhere together and I was hospitalised I was so sick). I always wanted a girl but I told myself and everyone I was sure it was a boy. I convinced everyone so no one, especially me would be disappointed if that happened. (truthfully I’m sure I wouldn’t ahve been but this was a one-shot deal.)
I won’t say giving birth was a great memory but later that night after my family left and my husband had given our baby her very first bath we were sitting in the hospital room. It was dark and the ward was quiet because it was after midnight.
I was holding her and I looked at him and said. “Can you believe we have a baby?”
He looked back at me and smiled. (He was already smiling. We smiled non stop for months even through tears and sleepless nights ( I always say I had post-natal euphoria I was on such a high)).
Anyway, he said. “Yeah, I can believe we have a baby, but I can’t believe we actually got a girl.”
Somedays you get everything you want. Not every day and not often but some days are perfect.
This week’s challenge topic is exercise that I enjoy – based on my performance in the challenge so far you’d think it was running…as in running late. (Drum roll for the dad joke please). That would be incorrect. I am generally disgustingly punctual and I hate to run.
I in fact do not enjoy the exercise at all. Yes, that’s correct an woman who spends her entire life at a keyboard or trying to find time to read doesn’t like to use that time sweating – that’s quite the shocking revelation isn’t it?
There are however two exceptions.
If you follow me on social media you’ll see that I’m very lucky to live in Sydney’s gorgeous Nrothern Beaches area and just as the name suggests there are lots of gorgeous beaches to wander along. So I do spend a lot of time walking along the beach. I don’t know if it counts as exercise if you’re holding a cup of coffee and chatting with a friend but it gets those elusive ten thousand steps in that we all aspire towards.
The second exception is tennis. I wanted to play tennis from the time I could walk. Who knows why? I liked the pom pom socks and the frilly tennis knickers I know that but I think it just looked like a good social game as well. my mum always worked but when I was sick i’d stay with her friends who were stay at home mum’s and I often ended up at tennis where the women laughed and had a game and then ate moning tea. There was something about that combination that appealed to me immensely.
The world has changed because when I was seven my mum had to beg the tennis intructors to give me lessons because I was too short to see over the net. (Fast forward to the 21st century and it’s almost too late to start if you want to be a champion at 7). From then on until I went away to college I played tennis every weekend, had a lesson every week and went to tennis camp in the school holidays.
After uni I played mixed doubles for a couple of years and even met my husband on a tennis court…(that is a whole other blog post). After I had my daughter I played weekly tennis with a group of friends I still call “the tennis gals” even though we haven’t played for six years.
What I have done however, is channel that love of tennis into writing and started my Courtside Romance series which features Australian tennis players on the international tennis circuit.
That’s about it for me an exercise…don’t forget to hop over to Long and Short Reviews and see what the other more active participants are doing with their free time to keep fit and fabulous!
I know I’m late but I’m no quitter and especially not in week 2!
This post is supposed to be about what books I’m looking forward to reading in 2020 and you want to know something weird – I don’t even know.
This seems like a strange thing for a person who reads over 200 books a year but it happens to be true. I think part of that is because I read what appeals to me when I find it. I’m on the mailing lists for loads of authors I love and when I see they have a new book out I am all over it. If I love your books I download them on release day and if I find a new author I love I literally read every one of their books.
I have authors who, in 2019, I read fifteen or more books of theirs because I “discovered” them. I’m what writers call a whale reader. We’re the big fish everyone wants to catch. If those authors whose names I probably don’t even know – seriously I’m the worst – put a book out I will buy it.
I saw Lucy Score has a new book out soon. I will buy that. Kristan Higgins has a new book out mid-year, yes I will but that as well. I’ve read Whitney Dineen’s newest series recently, I’ll get book three when it comes out. I read everything Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery publish even though I prefer their older series to the new. That’s about all I can remember of the top of my head.
Maybe that’s because I have so many friends who are authors and I buy all their books and maybe it’s because I’m on every known email about new books and my inbox is bombarded daily with new releases and I just but the shiny thing that catches my eye, who knows.
What I can tell you is I look forward to voraciously reading my way through 2020. I hope I discover lots of new series to devour and I hope some of those are unknown authors who crack the big time. I hope some of my favourite authors create new worlds I can delve into. I hope my chicklit friends write funny books that make me laugh and I hope my romance friends write me some swoon-worthy heroes.
Well you’re reading this blog post on my shiny new website so I’ve already achieved one goal that I’m pretty happy about. And I’m a few hours late but I’m participating in this Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews as well so 2020 isn’t off to a bad start so far.
I also have new covers for lots of my books that I spent much of 2019 getting ready to go so I feel like I’m in a good place to leap into the year ahead.
I have very specific publishing goals in 2020 which include participating in three box sets, two books in the No Brides Club series for Sweet Promise Press (March and September) and finally releasing the final two books in the Courtside Romance Series.
Beyond that I also have a new trilogy I’m excited to kick off this year.
Aside from publishing new titles I have some box sets coming of my older series which I’m really looking forward to. As an author my main goal in 2020 is to monetize my back-list. I’m just shy of 30 books published and it’s time I started making some serious money from them.
If you’re a regular follower of me or this blog you’ll know I often talk about how so much of being an author, especially and indie author is embracing new technology. There are so many platforms and pieces of technology you can use to help you but each one however amazing has it’s own learning curve.
The past eighteen months I’ve been so exhausted from a combination of life and my day job situation that I’ve shied away from new platforms to my own detriment. (I continued to write and publish because for me that’s the joy of being a writer – I’m a story teller at heart ).
So one of my major goals in 2020 is to embrace the technology I need to in order to succeed as an author.
That’s probably enough for one year. My experience with goal[i] setting is that I’m better to concentrate on a few bigger goals rather than lots and lots of little ones.