Living in a winter wonderland, not

Living in a more tr temperate climate where the days of winter are anything from 18 to 23 degrees Celsius, sunny, or overcast, without a hint of rain.

Rarely is it so cold that a combination of wind and rain can chill you to the bone, as it does in the southern states of this country, Australia.

Today is one of those days, sunny and with an almost cloudless blue sky.

Yet I love winter, the real winter where the temperature is so cold your face starts to freeze, an experience I had one January in Chicago, or where the temperature is hovering just above freezing and there is snow everywhere.

New Yorkers I discovered do not like this very much, understandably so because it interferes with their daily lives and livelihood, but to us tourists from those warmer climes it is manna from heaven.

3-foot snow drifts in Central Park, a place where a child can easily make a snow angel, these are aspects of winter we may never see where we live.

The closest we are going to get is a classic wood fire, where we can sit by and watch the flames dance while it keeps us warm.  Nights here do get cold.

But as for a white Christmas, we have to travel to the other side of the world for that.  Good thing then that their winter coincides with our Christmas and generally the hottest days of the years.

In fact, we’re coming your way this year

I can hardly wait.

I think I’ve been watching too much TV

It’s never a good idea to look at the news.  I don’t know about you, but it always seems to be bad news, not good news.  I suppose if all they showed was good news, no one would watch it.

However, despite the negative aspects of it, sometimes it’s a source of plotlines, even a new book.  IT’s usually a paragraph on page 17 that no one is supposed to notice but tonight it’s something different.

Well, two things really.

I’ve been on roller coasters, and they actually scare the hell out of me.  It was not always that way, but watching the news and seeing how they can come adrift and leave you literally hanging quite a distance up in the air, well, that has had some effect.

It started me thinking, and that’s not a good thing sometimes.

My fear, now, is that the car is going to come off the rails.

A bit like my life really.  Amazing sometimes how the mind works and makes parallels with something else that’s entirely unrelated.

I’m in the abyss and free falling.  The first thousand yards feels exhilarating.

I’m not sure if everyone has done skydiving, but it’s like that time before you pull the ripcord.

Absolute adrenaline rush.

Followed by a single thought.  Will the parachute open.  Again, I’ve seen too many TV shows where ripcords don’t work.

Ok, I get it, if you don’t like the heat in the kitchen …

But, I digress

Now I’m at a point where I’m starting to think about the landing.

You dash headlong into a job, thinking yep, you’ve got it covered, but, what if you haven’t.  What if there are variables you never thought of, what if the people around you, so happy to cheer you on at the start, are now starting to change their tune.

Abyss, job, choice of vocation, lifestyle, following a dream, there’s very little difference.

Writing is an individual thing.

Are we writing for ourselves first, or are we writing simply to make money?  If it’s the latter, it ain’t going to work, at least not until you are established.  If ever.

So, yes, it’s back to the day job.


Still in the abyss, or hanging upside down 300 feet in the air waiting to be rescued

Maybe tomorrow there will be good news!



I used to have all the time in the world

There is always a feeling of relief when you finally finish the book, after all the editing (the latest book had been revised and edited 16 times – I know, I should stop fiddling), and accepting I’ve have done all I can.

It’s like watching another child leave the nest.  There’s that hollow feeling inside.

Of course, the answer to getting over that feeling is to get on with the next book.

This time I finished two books together, so it has been more exhausting, especially with the two sets of characters and story lines.  I realize I should work on one, get that done, and then work on the other.  Sorry, I can’t do that.

Actually, I was working on the next story at the same time.

My editor, after being presented with, and finally reading through the so-called final draft, calls me in to discuss the works, simply closes her eyes and shakes her head, then tells me one character has crossed over to the other novel.

Perhaps working on two novels at the same time is not a good idea.

But all’s well that ends well, both “What Sets Us Apart”, the first in what I call my Russian trilogy, is published, and “One Last Look” the first of what may become a series, also published and are now available from Amazon.

What to do next?

Catch up on social media, which includes Twitter, where I do a little advertising, and Facebook, which I still don’t understand how it is going to work for me.

So, I’m currently working on “First Dig Two Graves”, the ‘Zoe the Assassin – Book 2’, which is all but written, and like the crazy author I am, it’s in the seventh or eighth re-edit, and another short romance novel called “The Things We Do For Love”.

But I can’t help myself, and I’m also working on parts of “Strangers We’ve Become”, the second of the Russian Trilogy.  It, too, has all but been written, and only needs a few modifications.

And yes, that is a very loose statement, ‘only a few modifications’.  That can be anything from a new chapter at the start or a whole rewrite.

Ah, the hectic life of a writer.

In between, there was a granddaughters 8th birthday, and an anniversary, so many now I’ve lost count.  Then I finally reached an age I never thought I’d get to, 65.

Moving on.

Now it seems there really is so little time, so much to do.

Football again

Football is different when you are not in Victoria.  Once upon a time, there were eight teams and it was all centered in one state.

Now it’s national.

We are watching our team, a Victorian original, playing a relatively new team in Queensland.

For the record, Queensland is a rugby league stronghold and Queensland teams have a lot of difficulties getting crowds to games.

But, in saying that, there is a reasonably large crowd here and they are very vocal.  Sorry to say, not a lot of them know the rules, so there’s lots of baying for free kicks when there are none.

However, that’s part and parcel of being a supporter.  Make a lot of noise and try to sway the umpire’s decision.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  You need a really large crowd for that and this one is only about 20000 strong, and supporters for each team are equally spread out around the stands.

It is always a surprise to see just how many of the oppositions supporters, like us, are originally from Victoria but having moved up here to live.  And no, you do not change allegiance to your team simply because you’ve move state.

Currently, my team is behind, but the infamous third quarter is coming up.  This is where one team or the other generally gets away or slightly ahead, making the game more interesting for what might be a crackerjack last quarter

Or it might be where we all go home early.

We’ll see.

It’s official.  We suck.  The third quarter has come and gone, and the plan B I was looking for did not eventuate.  We are 27 points down at the end and the opposition had most of the play.

But let’s face it the opposition is playing the better football.

Quarter four is coming up.  Can we come from behind, or are we going to sink down the ladder after an ignominious loss, and have to once again regroup?

It’s always a possibility when you play away, and even more so when you’re in another state.  Still, that shouldn’t be an excuse.

Sadly by the time the final siren has gone two things are true.  We left early, greatly disappointed, and the fact we lost by a rather large margin.  I congratulate the winners and commiserate with the losers.

The hardest chore of all – shopping

It’s one of those events that we all hate.  Ok let me qualify that statement, it’s an event that we men hate when of other half goes clothes shopping.

Here’s the deal, why is it they head straight to the right clothes rack to begin with, select the clothes they eventually buy, then proceed to spend the next hour and a half looking at everything else, none of which they eventually purchase.

I asked once, a rather dangerous thing to do, and I was told that everything else had to be eliminated to justify the original selections.

Ok, I think I’d rather negotiate a stretch of quicksand than to ask again.

So what does one do while waiting?

There is that heart sinking feeling that will not leave you, that you will be asked that inevitable but unanswerable question, ‘how does this look on me?’

Sadly there is no correct answer.  As all men are aware it does not matter what you say, it will come back to either of, if you like it, ‘so you don’t care what I get?’, so if you don’t like it (and bearing in mind that this is never a view to put forward under any circumstances), ‘so you don’t really care at all?’

And while you have those dreaded thoughts running through your mind, there is the fact all waiting chairs for men are uncomfortable, probably intentionally, you wait patiently while listening to the in-store music which in this case is quite good.

I cannot identify the songs because it’s not the normal rock and roll but something with a pleasant beat and to a certain extent soothing.

Perhaps a team of very highly paid psychiatrists have specially worked up a playlist of such music because it tends to put the shopper in the mood to relax and buy more.  That also is aided but the very helpful and polite sales staff, who might convince you to make that extra purchase without you realizing it.

Welcome to the world of 21st-century salesmanship.

Of course, I have shazam checking out the playlist and to me, it’s a rather obscure list of songs that I’d not really heard before.

Currently its playing ‘It’s all about love’ by Wild Royal Coast.  Tell me, have you heard of them?  Next, ‘Crazy’ by Friendless Feat Dem Feels.  Ok, now we’re going down that rabbit hole of obscure bands.

Moving on, it’s now time to look at the clientele.  Well, perhaps not.  It’s all shapes and sizes and ages but the one common denominator there are very few men accompanying the women.  Perhaps unlike me, they have perfected the art of excusing themselves from the quicksand of having to offer an opinion that can quite possibly lead to either a breakup or, at worst, a messy and complicated divorce.

And by a quirk of ironical fate, he will be left all of her clothes as part of the settlement.

“What Sets Us Apart”, a thriller

David is a man troubled by a past he is trying to forget.

Susan is rebelling against a life of privilege and an exasperated mother who holds a secret that will determine her daughter’s destiny.

They are two people brought together by chance.  Or was it?

When Susan discovers her mother’s secret, she goes in search of the truth that has been hidden from her since the day she was born.

When David realises her absence is more than the usual cooling off after another heated argument, he finds himself being slowly drawn back into his former world of deceit and lies.

Then, back with his former employers, David quickly discovers nothing is what it seems as he embarks on a dangerous mission to find Susan before he loses her forever.


Is it cyber sickness or something else?

There’s this new affliction going about.

Everyone seems to be talking to themselves and I think it has something to do with smoking, perhaps a side effect.

You know how it is, you are walking by and someone near you starts talking.  You think they are talking to you, but they are not.

And then they take a puff of a cigarette.

It’s not an uncommon assumption.

But the thing is, if you take a closer look you notice they have a Bluetooth device in their ear and they are really talking to someone out there in cyberspace.

Or for the uninitiated, they’re talking on their mobile phone.

Not many years ago men in white suits would be collecting these people and taking them to an asylum typically called Bellevue.  The stuff of 1950’s horror films.  You really didn’t want to be caught talking to yourself.

It, of course, has a number of symptoms, this condition we’ll call cybersickness.  Like, for instance, wandering aimlessly and either bumping into people or in front of cars on the street.

Is it the voices in their head telling them what to do?

Can we say we have just created a viable excuse for these people, or should they be locked up?  Maybe we’re too late because I think a lot of them are already living in their own world.

Mobile phones

There is a saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.

For a long time, in days before the current technological age, I didn’t really understand what that meant.

Until now.

How many times, in the last few days have I heard the question, “Where’s my mobile phone?”.

It seems we can lose almost anything else but, without the phone, we are completely lost.

The same now applies to all of our household appliances.

Then, the other day I heard, “We aren’t able to do very much because the microwave oven is broken.”

How did we manage in the days before we had such devices?  I know my grandmother used to have a wood stove and cooked everything, bread, roasting meat, cooking fish, vegetables, cakes, puddings, even make a cup of tea.

I don’t think I ever had a cup of coffee at her house, but I have a lot of memories of some amazing food.  No such thing as electric kitchen appliances, or a microwave oven, not in that house.

We had the same experience ourselves when one of the fridge/freezer units broke down, and severely restricted what we could cook and store, especially the freezer.

And perhaps that’s the problem.  We take so many things for granted and live a life that is centered around convenience.

What would happen if those conveniences were taken away?

Certainly, for me, I know, what it’s like to lose the use of a kitchen appliance and having to improvise, but I’m not sure how we would react if we had a real catastrophe.

We try not to think about what it would be like to lose electricity altogether, just a short blackout is enough to frighten us.

But, I haven’t lost my phone yet.

Let’s hope it never happens.

Thoughts while staring into space, figuratively!

I can see how it is that a writer’s life can be a lonely one.  That’s why, I guess, so many writers have an animal as a pet, someone to talk to, or just feel as though you are not alone in this quest.

I’m often sitting in front of the computer screen, or in a large lounge chair with my trusty tablet computer, writing the words, or staring into space!

Sometimes the words don’t make any sense, sometimes the thoughts leading to those words don’t make any sense.

Sometimes the most sensible person in the room is the cat.

I’m sure his thoughts are not vague or scrambled, or wrestling with the ploys of several stories on the go, getting locations right, getting characters to think and do their thing with a fair degree of continuity.

The cat’s world is one of which chair to lie on, where is that elusive mouse be it real or otherwise, and is this fool going to feed me, and please, please, don’t let it be the lasagna.  I am not that cat!

Unlike other professions, there is no 9 to 5, no overtime, no point where you can switch off and move into leisure time.  Not while you are writing that next masterpiece.  It’s a steady sometimes frustrating slog where you can’t just walk away, have a great time, and come back and pick up where you left off.

Stories have to be written from beginning to end, not a bit here and a bit there.

It’s a bit like running a marathon.  You are in a zone, the first few miles are the hardest, the middle is just getting the rhythm and breathing under control, and then you hope you get to the end because it can seem that you’ve been going forever and the end is never in sight.

But, when you reach the end, oh, isn’t the feeling one of pure joy and relief.

And, yes, perhaps you’ve just created another masterpiece!

A fortnight in the life of …

It sounds like the title of a book and maybe I should write it.  Along with the twenty other story ideas that are currently running around in my head.

Is it any wonder I can’t sleep at night.

I’m working on the latest book and it is not going well.  I don’t have writer’s block, I think it is more a case of self-doubt.

This leads me to be over critical of what I have written and much pressing of the delete key.  Only to realize that an action taken in haste can be regrettable, and makes me feel even more depressed.

I think I’d be happier in a garret somewhere channeling van Gogh’s rage.

Lesson learned – don’t delete, save it to a text file so it can be retrieved when sanity returns.

I was not happy with the previous start.  Funny about that, because until a few weeks ago I thought the start was perfect.

What a difference a week makes or is that politics?

Perhaps I should consider adding some political satire.

But I digress…

It seems it’s been like that for a few weeks now, not being able to stick to the job in hand, doing anything but what I’m supposed to be doing.  I recognize the restlessness, I’m not happy with the story as it is, so rather than getting on with it, I find myself writing words just for the sake of writing words.

Any words are better than none, right?

So I rewrote the start, added about a hundred pages and now I have to do a mass of rewriting of what was basically the whole book.

But here’s the thing.

This morning I woke up and looked at the new start, and it has inspired me.

Perhaps all I needed was several weeks of teeth gnashing, and self-doubt to get myself back on track.

Who would want to be a writer?

Me!  First in line, every time!