Category Archives: The Month That Was…

The Month that was … July 2022

There was a lot of in-the-field research done this month with a visit to Far North Queensland for my new novel, The Palace Hotel.

My trip started in Cairns and then from there we drove through the Atherton Tablelands, then back down to the coast to Mission Beach, through Townsville and onto Airlie Beach and the beautiful Whitsunday Islands.

I explored cane fields, tropical rainforests and small historic towns, all the while imagining what it might have been like in 1948, for my protagonist, Ellen when she arrived in the fictitious cane field town of Sugar Creek looking for her cane-cutter, fiancé. I also wondered about my other character, young GP, Dr Dana Janssen and how she settled into this same town, fifty-two years later only to discover that nothing is as it seems. Surely, their paths cross?

Yes, it’s another dual time-line, dual character novel in the making.

A truly glorious trip of more than 700 kilometres with the added bonus of catching up with some friends at the end.It can’t be all work and no play and like the patrons of The Palace Hotel, one must enjoy a gin and tonic at the end of a long day. Scroll through the pics below for a little peak and watch out for more on the progress of my WIP, The Palace Hotel.

Reading

I thought I might have done a little more reading but travelling left me time for only one book and that was Still Life. Watch out for my review in August.

Until next month…

The Month that was… June 2022

The Melbourne winter seemed to hit colder and faster this year and we explored ways to stay warm without breaking the bank. Living in a mostly gas-powered home, we are trying to minimise our use and our carbon footprint which is very hard to do. We purchased an electric throw rug which, for $65 is worth every cent. The throw rug by Jason (as pictured above) heats up quickly and is ideal to drape over two people on the couch. It is machine washable, turns off by itself in case you forget, and feels very plush. No need to have the gas central heating on and it’s a fraction of our electricity bills. Jason is life-changing (in winter anyway), and I don’t know how we lived without it. Get one if you can.

Theatre: The Sound Inside

I was fortunate enough to attend the play, The Sound Inside by the Melbourne Theatre Company written by Adam Rapp.

Yale student, Christopher turns up uninvited to the office of his creative writing professor, Bella Baird. She is a published writer and he, an author wannabe. The two are lonely and mismatched but Christopher’s earnestness and persistence breaks down Bella’s barriers and the two strike an unexpected friendship until a life-changing dilemma is thrown into their connection.

The play was unexpectedly riveting despite the chunks of monologue by Bella who often spoke to the audience about her friend despite he being right there. This in itself was an interesting method employed by the playwright although somewhat taking the audience away from the story. That aside, the acting was superb, the story compelling and thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Author Talk

I attended a fabulous event hosted by one of my favourite authors, Lyn Yeowart who wrote The Silent Listener (see my earlier review). The event was held at Robinson’s Books in Glen Waverley. Lyn was in conversation with another Australian crime writer, Rae Cairns. The discussion was riveting and entertaining. Having just finished Rae’s debut novel, The Good Mother it was really interesting to hear how she came to write it by drawing on her years as a youth worker in Ireland in the mid-90’s during “The Troubles”. Watch out of my review in the next couple of weeks.

Reading.

I should have increased this months reading but Crossroads is a meaty novel, equivalent to at least two short ones. That’s my excuse anyway. Watch out for my forthcoming reviews on these two during July.

Writing

My novel The Palace Hotel is due to come back shortly with lots of great feedback from my beta readers. So I’ll be polishing, enhancing and playing with my new novel in July.

Until next month…

The Month that was… May 2022

My post is a little late but then I’ve been travelling, writing and reading…

Firstly to travels…

We took a mini trip to Horsham exploring the wonders of the Wimmera in Western Victoria, a solid four hour drive from Melbourne.

Pink Lake

Then along the coast, past the Twelve Apostles, then across the border for the first time in more than two years ( because our borders were closed for so long) to beautiful Mt Gambier. It’s caves and blue lake are simply a wonder.

Interview

I had the privilege of being interviewed last month by best selling author, Kathryn Gauci who herself is an accomplished author of historical fiction.

Reading

This months reading was …

Writing.

The Palace Hotel is now with a couple of beta readers who will pull it to bits, hopefully not too savagely.

Until next month…

The Month that was … April

A tough month particularly with the passing of our cat Ruggs. She was twenty-two years and five months old with a wonderful personality and an astounding intelligence. She featured in many an Instagram, Facebook or web post primarily because she edged her way into the photos. While she lost her hearing a few years ago she was relatively well until Good Friday when her kidneys failed. We miss her immensely.

Reading

I’ve consoled myself by immersing myself into reading and writing. This is what I’ve been reading this month. Reviews will follow in coming weeks.

Writing

I’m still tinkering with my new novel but it’s just about ready for beta readers.

And The Good Child is now in my local bookstore, Jeffrey’s Books in Malvern. 

So until next month, happy reading everyone…

The Month that was … March 2022

Autumn in Melbourne is truly beautiful at the moment. So where did those days in March go?

We had enjoyed a short stay in the Yarra Valley with friends. Just an hour away, it is Victoria’s premier wine country destination. We stayed at Meletos which is a little boutique hotel in the middle of the valley surrounded by vineyards and mountains. Highly recommended if you get the chance.

Events : Book Groups

I attended two book groups this month as a guest. The first group did my book, A Perfect Stone. Since I’d written this one four or five years ago, I was nervous that I might have forgotten some of it. After all when a book is done, I don’t tend to revisit it again. Luckily, I was able to handle the multitude of questions. Some even asking how and when I began my writing quest. I was amazed by the interest in what I’ve done so far. Curiosity about the writing process as well as the book itself filled two hours easily. I really had nothing to worry about.

The second group read my recent book, The Good Child. They were equally curious with their energetic discussion about the main characters, Lucille and Quin, what they felt for them, as well as the structure and process of how it had been written. Since this book is set in Victoria some of which is in the late 1980’s it meant even more to this group of readers who were very familiar with the actual events of that time.

I really enjoy attending book groups and am humbled constantly by readers responses.

If you’d like me to attend your book group either in person or virtually, let me know via my contact details.

Reading.

I haven’t read as many books this month but watch out for upcoming reviews during April. If you’ve missed any, check out my previous book reviews.

Writing

I have spent the month refining and working on the plot of my next novel, The Palace Hotel and am wondering if the title is apt. Another title I’m considering is The Barmaid and The Doctor after the two main characters, Ellen and Dana. Perhaps another idea I’m playing with is The Missing Cane Cutter or the Jilted Barmaid. Lots of options but The Palace Hotel is the working title for the moment.

Stay tuned for more on this new historical mystery story set in the cane fields of Far North Queensland.

Until next month…

The Month that was … February, 2022

Wedding bouquet of Australian native flowers

An exciting month of celebration for my daughter’s wedding. There is nothing quite like a big celebration in the middle of a pandemic which only serves to make it all the more special. In the week before we bunkered down to make sure a covid 19 case wouldn’t ruin things. It didn’t and all went well for a fun-filled day and more than a few sore heads the next day

Reading

I managed to keep my reading on track with the following books. Watch out for reviews in the coming weeks.

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Writing

I’ve continued to work on my manuscript The Palace Hotel – refining characters. Like my earlier novels, The Good Child and A Perfect Stone, this latest one is also an historical fiction with dual time-lines and dual characters. The time lines are 1948 ( I can’t seem to get out of that year) and 2000 with the female characters, Ellen and Dana. It’s a mystery with murder and mayhem so stay tuned.

Watching

This will be a little controversial but I tried to watch Succession, I really did. I managed eight episodes and couldn’t take anymore. I’d heard it was well written, with great acting and was a black comedy. Maybe it’s me but I thought the dialogue was try-hard, repetitive and monotone. I hated each character and saw no development. Some of the business-practices seemed so far out of touch it was unbelievable. Yes, I know that it is satirical but I couldn’t buy into it at all. Take a look at Veep. Now there is best practice and I’m afraid Succession is just a poor cousin to that brilliance. Sorry to all Succession fans but it was not for me.

Until next time…

The Month that was … January 2022

Welcome to my monthly blog with a round up of what’s happened in my corner of Melbourne. I hope you enjoy it.

It was a shaky start to the year when my husband caught Covid-19 and I was forced to isolate in the same house. We, like many thousands, waited in long queues for testing and searched for non-existent rapid antigen tests. Fortunately, our house is big enough and he was accommodated in the back part of our home previously occupied by our children. And it wasn’t long before he was feeling better.

Isolating for seven days and caring for my husband did leave me time to concentrate on my next book, The Palace Hotel (a working title). I managed to finish the first draft and I can’t tell you how excited I am. Of course, as any writer knows that’s only the beginning not the end with relentless, editing and rewriting to come, but I’m happy the plot and characters are all worked out.

Isolating coincided with a long stretch of hot weather in Melbourne. Ruggs, our cat fell ill and we thought the end had come to her little 22-year-old life but she revived and is as energetic as ever.  Perhaps she caught covid?

I managed to read a few books and get a head start this year on my Goodreads challenge. I was disappointed that I didn’t reach my goal last year so have been conservative this year. Under plan and over deliver always makes me feel that little bit better. Reviews will come out in the next few weeks although you can check out my review for Lucky.

After coming out of isolation I was raring to go and headed out with my daughter to see Moulin Rouge. The vibrancy, energy and music was outstanding and well worth masking up to see it. If you haven’t had a chance, and live in Melbourne try and see it.

And in case you’re not aware, The Good Child has been out in the world since November 15, 2021 accompanying readers all over Australia. Here are two pics sent to me.

Photo sent to me by Alan Forsyth On a plane to Queensland
Pic by Andrew Richards A summer day in Mount Martha

Readers responses for The Good Child so far have been overwhelmingly positive. Check out reviews on Goodreads

Until next time…