I wish you could tell me, Mum

May 23, 2016 at 5:00 am | Posted in Australia, Family, Family History, heritage, History, Love, Memoir, Polio epidemic, Reading, Reflections, Writing and Life | 29 Comments
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Today, the 23rd of May, would have been my mother’s birthday.  Sadly,  however, Mum lost her battle with illness almost 22 years ago, on the 13th June 1994, at the age of 74, less than seven years older than I am now.

I was close to Mum as a child, though I knew little of her earlier life. The selfish perspective of youth meant that I knew her less as she aged. Then, at the age of just twenty, I married and left home.

For almost all of the next twenty-five years, I lived some distance away, having children, seeing them grow up, getting divorced from their father, entering what was then a forbidden relationship, moving even farther away in both miles and understanding, visiting briefly only once or twice a year. It was only when Mum was on her death bed that I returned home, helped Dad nurse Mum there for two weeks before attending her funeral.

I have always regretted that distance between us. As I grew into my forties, I wanted to know her better, but it was already too late. Illness had made the last years difficult for her.

A few years ago, while Dad was still alive, I wrote a poem called. “What’s your story, Mum?”. Recently, Dad having died in June 2013, I edited the poem and re-named it “I wish you could tell me, Mum”. Here it is, on what would have been her 96th birthday.

 

Agnes Thompson 1941 front

Mum aged 21, 1941

 

I wish you could tell me, Mum

 

What’s your story, Mum?

I wish you could tell me.

Dad told me his when he was still here,

when I could finally visit from far away

But you had already left us then.

 

We often talked about you, Mum.

He’d tell me of when you were young.

Like how beautiful you were, how popular,

and how, even before he’d met you,

there was never any other girl for him.

 

His eyes lit up as he told of how you’d laugh,

And how the joy of it made his heart sing.

Of how you later ‘walked out’ together,

through wet, coal-blackened streets,

and for miles over cold and windy moors.

 

He’d remember how you both loved to dance,

as if the two of you were one,

Still gliding and twirling when the band

And everyone else was exhausted.

 

Dad told me, Mum, about the births of your children.

The first, a son, and the paralysis his arrival caused.

He told me how he couldn’t defend you against the pain

whilst flying his plane far away in defence of your country.

 

He said how wonderful it was later,

to assist in the births of your three daughters,

at home, in the bed where we had been conceived.

He told me what a great home-maker you were,

always making the best out of very little.

 

But what’s your story, Mum – in your words?

Dad could tell me how much he wanted to migrate

to a country free of class and arrogance,

but he couldn’t tell me how you really felt.

Did you want to go as much as he?

Or did you go simply because you loved him?

 

It was easy, I think, to leave your selfish father,

but oh, how difficult it must have been

to say good-bye to your gentle, loving mother,

to go to a new country; a strange land.

 

Heat and drought and wide expanses replaced

the cold and damp of a bustling ancient township.

A tiny caravan, then a little fibro house, replaced

the solid security of your old stone terrace.

 

Venomous snakes and spiders brought unwelcome danger.

Barbed-wire fences and eucalypt forest replaced

soft green fields bounded by hedge and mossy stone.

Oak and ash, bluebells and buttercups were left behind.

 

How did you adjust to the changes?

What fears and insecurities did this bring?

Oh, what did you really think, Mum?

 

Then, in this new land, another traumatic birth:

my baby brother healthy, though his twin sister died.

And you, alone in a hospital bed, not allowed your own,

denied even the comforting presence of your husband,

as you fought, alone, for life.

 

Is that when the fearfulness began to creep in?

Is that when you began to think you might lose us;

had to always know where we were, so you

could feel some measure of control in your life?

 

Or did that happen in 1961, when two of your children

and Dad, all contracted the dreaded polio?

Was it when we thought Dad might not even live,

And there was no money to even buy food?

 

I remember that awful time, Mum.

I was only thirteen and could only guess

at the fears that burdened you.

The responsibility you had to take alone.

 

Dad, crippled and unable to help,

your father taking away the mother

that you needed then

more than you had ever done.

 

What I do know is that you kept our family going.

That it was your strength, dredged from

some deep, unknown place within you,

that fed and clothed and housed us.

 

It took its toll on you, I know,

but I thought of you as strong, Mum

in those desperate times.

But what did you think and feel then?

 

Dad struggled to overcome the ravages of polio,

to get back on his feet, figuratively and literally.

You were by his side, his partner in all ways,

as he set up a steady business

– concreting, of all things!

 

And how did it make you feel, Mum,

When, after so many years,

he took you dancing again?

 

The years that followed were mixed sorrow and joy,

With three daughters and one son married.

I remember the light in your eyes and your smile

as you welcomed my son,

your first grandchild, with more to come.

 

But as time went on, I realised that something

prevented you taking those little ones to your heart.

Not just because mine were always far away,

and you didn’t like or trust their father.

 

What was the barrier, Mum?

Did losing your own mother close your heart

against the awful possibility of hurt?

Was there something inside you that said,

‘if I don’t open myself to love, I won’t lose it’?

 

We grew apart – not only because of miles.

I saw you too seldom and we could not share

the things that mothers share with

daughters who are also mothers.

I missed that, Mum. I still do.

 

Dad and I nursed you at home,

night and day, until you finally left us.

Was it a relief to go; to give up

the burden that life had become?

 

Dad missed you so much then, Mum, lonely for you.

He always loved you – there was never another.

He never forgot the day you first spoke to him,

when you asked, ‘how old are you?’

 

He re-lived the days of your courtship

and listened to the music you’d loved together.

I am sure he felt you once more in his arms,

twirling yet again around the dance floor – until he left us too.

 

But I want to know more than that, Mum,

because I think that many parts of me –

my insecurities, my fears, my depression –

have come from you.

 

So I want to know how you felt; how you loved.

I want to know your story, Mum – in your own words.

 

But you’ve been gone now for many years,

and I must rely on fragments of memory,

and find you in the words of the man

who loved you.

 

But I wish you could tell me, Mum.

 

Agnes&Ern Thompson 1974

Mum & Dad dancing, 1970s.

 

 

In loving memory of Agnes Mary Thompson;

born 23rd May 1920; died 13th June 1994.

I wish I had known you better, Mum.

 

Also in loving memory of Ernest Thompson;

born 24th June 1921; died 18th June 2013.

I am proud to have been your daughter, Dad.

 

(c) Linda Visman,  May 2007

Edited 7th May 2016

 

 

Bananagrams

May 15, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Australia, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Writing and Life | 9 Comments
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words

 

I love words. Going deeper, I love the way words are created, and how they are represented on paper or on the screen by a series of little squiggles. Then, how they are joined together to create meaning.

I wonder how the prehistoric people first gave specific meanings to the guttural sounds they uttered & how they created simple languages. Over hundreds and thousands of years these languages became more and more complex. As mankind spread farther and wider across the globe, these languages became more and more different from each other.

Eventually, someone, or some groups, worked out a way of representing speech through pictures – probably beginning with the ancient cave paintings we now marvel over. Starting with these pictures, which represented their world – the animals, the weapons, the spirits, they eventually created symbols that would represent either sounds or words. And so writing was born.

 

Egyptian hieroglyphs

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs

 

For most of history, writing was under the control of religion, then of the rich and powerful. If the lower classes could read and write, they would be a real threat to the ruling classes.

It is hard to believe that it was only relatively recently that writing and reading have become fairly common throughout the world. Spoken words are all around us of course and now, so are written words. First we had books and magazines and newspapers; now, we also have written electronic communications. Nowadays, we have more writings and thus more things to read than we can possibly cope with.

We can also play with words. There are even many games that draw upon one’s knowledge of words – their spelling, meaning, matching them, or simply putting letters together to create existing words within a pattern.

crossword &pen

I love unusual words, or words that may be difficult to say or words that have a rhythm & that are pleasing to the ear. Words like exculpation, elegiac, dendrochronology, propinquity. I love crossword puzzles too – the straight ones and the cryptic ones, with their clever use of language and meaning.

My latest word game, given to me a couple of years ago by my son and daughter-in-law (who know my love of word games) is one that I have become almost addicted to. BananagramsR is a tile game similar to Scrabble, but without the board.

Bananagram bag

They are called Bananagrams because the tiles come in a cloth bag shaped like a banana!  There are lots of letter tiles and the aim is to create your own crossword with them. It is made to be played with others, because I have nobody who wants to play with me, I play alone.

I find the game to be very absorbing but, at the same time, very relaxing. Whenever I am stressed, I get out the ivory-coloured tiles and lose myself in a world of word creation.

Bananagram 2

This is one of my Bananagrams – great with a snack & a cup of tea.

It’s not just making words either. As I also like the order of patterns and the symmetry of crosswords, I try to make my own puzzles as tight as possible. Within the limits of the rules and the number of tiles allowed to be picked up at a time, there is also a randomness to the game, to the words I can create, every time I play.

Do you play with words? What is your favourite word game?

© Linda Visman

 

 

 

 

 

Re-telling the story

March 1, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Posted in 1960s, Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Mental Health, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 27 Comments
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For the last month or more, I have been re-writing my second novel, (its working title is Thursday’s Child, although that will probably change). It isn’t  complete – I had written about 62,000 words  but, about four-fifths of the way through it,  I had hardly written anything on it in the year until this January.

I was stuck. I couldn’t get motivated. I had no enthusiasm to get the story finished.  I also had a year in which depression played too big a part. I wondered if my book would ever get written.

Then, after reading a few teen/Young Adult novels at the end of last year that worked really well, I decided to change my story from past tense and third person to present tense and first person. So now, my main character is telling her own story instead of someone else telling it for her. It works so much better!

With my new-found enthusiasm and will, I have so far re-written and edited my manuscript to over 60,000 words. I have another 5,000 words to go until I get to the place where I almost gave up a year ago.

I am hoping – no, expecting – that when I get there, I will be able to carry the story to its conclusion. After all, it is so much better to be telling the story as if I am the main character than telling it from an outside perspective.

My main character, Tori, has become much more real to me in the process of re-writing, and at times, I can feel her emotions as if they are mine. They are raw and real.

My first novel, Ben’s Challenge, was written in first person past tense, and that seemed to work well. But this one does better written as an unfolding story in the present. That present being Australia in 1959-1960.

I simply must finish telling Victoria’s (Tori’s) story!

 

(c) Linda Visman

Some Memories of My Yesterdays

January 4, 2016 at 2:00 am | Posted in 1950s, 1960s, Australia, Experiences, Family History, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Memoir, Reflections, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 21 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

 

I have written just a few memories here in the form of an acrostic, using the above title. They are from my first thirteen years, and are limited by the letters I had available to me. They are also very brief, though I have already, or will in the future expand on some of them in other posts. It actually wasn’t that easy to do this self-imposed exercise!

 

School days at St Mary’s, St John’s, St Paul’s, St Mary’s & Dapto High

Oswaldtwistle, where I was born, and left when I was five

Making my own bows and arrows to play Indians

Entertaining ourselves with simple toys and games

  

Mowing the lawn at twelve

Easter rituals at Church and school

Mum’s green leather belt when we were naughty

Ordinary – that is how I saw my life; nothing special at all

Reading to find worlds of adventure

Ironing before heat controls or steam and burning my white school shirt

Earning a few pennies by opening & closing the railway gates for motorists

Singing old songs from England with my parents, uncle & Granddad

 

 

Odd one out – the middle child of five who didn’t fit anywhere else either

Finances always strained, with no money for extras

  

Milk – our milkman came around with a horse and cart

Yearning for I knew not what, but something more than I had

  

Yelling at my sisters & brother when I was angry – too often!

Eating Mum’s trifle at Xmas & New Year with Grandma, Uncle Fred & our families

Sitting at the kitchen table on stools that Dad had made

Taking Peter’s canoe onto the lake when I was forbidden to

Eating tough mutton chops & being unable to swallow the over-chewed meat

Radio serials like Superman and Tarzan that we listened to after school

Dad, David & Pauline hospitalised with polio

Accident, where I fell onto a joist when Dad was building an addition to the house

Yearly tests and trying to beat the two boys who were my main rivals

Songs from the 1940s, 50s and 60s that we listened to on the radio

 

What memories would you write if you did this acrostic exercise?

 

 

(c) Linda Visman

 

My Rose-coloured Childhood

December 21, 2015 at 1:00 am | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Leisure activities, Memoir, Mental Health, Nature, Philosophy, Society, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 9 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

 

I sometimes wonder whether my childhood memories are as authentic as I believe them to be. There have been times when my siblings have reminded me of  an event that occurred which illustrates an alternate version of those times, one that I may have pushed aside or interpreted in a different way.

I know that people can focus on aspects of their youth that colour and reinforce a version they have become used to. Sometimes, that version is a happy one, sometimes a negative one. I know of two brothers who see their experiences in a way that makes it seem they lived in different worlds – one seeing a society accepting of migrants and the other seeing discrimination everywhere. That has to be related to how their personalities have been shaped and to their natural optimism or pessimism I think.

Of course, there are some who really have endured awful family backgrounds,  situations that could  break them if that is what they focus on. And it does break some – but  paradoxically makes others, even in the same family, stronger and more resilient.

We had a pretty good family, where we were loved and cared for, but during which we also endured some pretty tough times. I do remember those hard times, but I also remember the good times. Perhaps I have created a world that was somewhat better than it actually was, but at least it helps me to focus on the good stuff. Here’s a poem I wrote that does that:

 

 

In spring, summer and autumn,

we walked along muddy creeks,

along lake shores and ocean beaches,

over expanses of sea-side rock,

dotted with crystal-clear pools,

our bare feet tickled by weed and grass,

salt water and sand.

 

We collected driftwood and shells

and wave-smoothed stones

and carried them home

in bright red or blue or yellow buckets.

We spent hours sorting them

by shape and size and colour,

and days making sea-drift sculptures,

shell borders for photo frames and mirrors,

shell pictures and maps.

 

We strolled through wetlands,

dense with melaleuca,

wary of spiders and biting mosquitoes,

through lakeside forests of casuarinas

with their wind-eerie sounds,

and through paddocks and gullies

studded with eucalypts & blackberry bushes,

wary of red-bellied black snakes.

 

We collected sheets of paperbark

to make three-dimensional pictures,

flexible green sticks to make

Hiawatha bows

straight-stemmed

dry reeds for arrows,

and bulrushes for spears.

 

 Our Christmas decorations

were made from strips of crepe paper

that twirled across the room;

the star on top of the tree was

a piece of cardboard covered in

silver paper from cigarette packets.

 

From the huge pine trees

that bordered our school yard

(long gone now)

we fashioned their thick bark

into serviceable pistols, or dolls,

and their pinecones sawn through

created wide-eyed owls.

 

Inside, on cold or rainy days,

a sheet of newspaper could make

a ship or a plane or a hat,

or a row of dancing dolls.

A block of wood

made great cars and trucks;

large circular off-cuts from

holes drilled in plywood

made wheels for them.

 

Making our own entertainment was normal,

a stimulus to creativity and independence.

Not for us the electronic wizardry

of television or video games,

of computers or mobile phones.

We made what we could out of what we had

and enjoyed a childhood

rich with stimulation and experience.

 

 

What was your childhood like? Are your memories pleasant or negative?

 

© Linda Visman

 

 

I Write, Therefore I Am

October 3, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Posted in Australia, Making History, Psychology, Writing, Writing and Life | 10 Comments
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Life is better when you're writing

On a recent Saturday at my writing group, I led a brain-storming session on why we write. It was a wonderful and animated exercise. After the session, we wrote a piece about how we would feel if we were suddenly unable to write.

Erasmus writing quote

Just this morning, I read an article by a very successful author, Warren Adler about what to do after constant rejections. In the end, Adler says, it comes down to three options. You can:

  1. Give up;
  2. Wait to acquire the requisite life experience; or
  3. Never, never, ever give up.

I am neither determined nor passionate enough about achieving success as a writer that I would keep trying to get traditionally published. I don’t have the killer instinct. And besides, I don’t have that much confidence in my ability as a writer, or enough hope that anyone will want what I write.

My nephew, Peter Abela, has much more drive and commitment, and is more likely to be recognised; I hope he will be. But I have no hope or expectation of a future where I will be recognised in that way.

Write for yourself first

So, why do I keep writing? Because I have to, I think.

Because putting my thoughts and my life on paper or into the computer is a sort of validation of myself, of my existence in this world. Because I want to tell stories about what the world was like when I was young, when my parents were young. Because if I don’t write, I am not. If I don’t leave a record, I do not and never will have existed.

I suppose it is part of the reason that we have graffiti everywhere – tags of varying quality and artistry sprayed on fences and buildings and anywhere else that is accessible. These people are also saying, ‘I am here! I exist, even if you don’t see me!’

Write emotions you fear most

Someone might say, ‘What of your children, your grandchildren? Surely they are proof that you are, that you were?’

Genetically, yes. They would not be if I hadn’t been. In whatever influence I have had on them, yes. They will take a little of me into the future.

But me as an individual, a person with her own loves and hates, talents and weaknesses, wisdom and foolishness – where is the evidence for that me if I do not leave a record?

Then they will ask, ‘What about people’s memories of you?’ And I will ask how long will those memories remain, and the answer will be, only until those who have known me have gone.

Write

So why is that not enough; that people remember me until there is no memory left of me? That is all 99.99% of the world can expect. What mark have I made on the world that I should be different? And I must answer, honestly, none. I don’t even have the talent or the passion to make that mark.

Why do we have such self awareness if we are expected to negate it in the ocean of humanity, in the survival of a species that proves every day that it doesn’t deserve to survive?

Why can’t that little drop that is/was me have its own memorial to say that I was not a part of that destructiveness, that I fought against it in action and in my writing?

The narcissist in me wants it. The realist knows that I do not merit it. And my writing will not make it so. But I will still keep writing.

 Write to please oneself

(c)  Linda Visman

Share Your World – Week 36

September 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Culture, Society, Writing and Life | 3 Comments

Here are my responses to Cee’s questions for week 36 of Share Your World

Share Your World blog badge

Do you prefer reading coffee table books (picture), biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational?
I usually read fiction, and my tastes are pretty wide, but I love looking through picture books of historical photos. I like to see people in them mainly, and imagine myself in those times, in that life. It’s probably the reason I like to look at cemetery headstones. I also love well-written memoirs and biographies – more those of ordinary rather than famous people.

What is your biggest fear or phobia? (no photos please)
I don’t have any phobias, thank goodness. My greatest fear is that my grandchildren and their children’s world will be an extremely difficult one.

What is your favourite cheese?
I love almost any kind of cows’ milk cheese – apart from the really smelly ones; the blue vein types. My favourites range from the soft camembert, through tasty cheddar to extra-strong tasty cheddars. I also love fetta cheese with its strong tangy flavour – tastes best eaten with dark olives.

What is your favourite month of the year?
I don’t have a particular month which is a favourite. Every month has its own attractions, including winter. However, I do love the months from September to November, when it is spring in Australia and before the really hot months. That is where we are now, wattles in golden bloom, happy wanderer creeping through the grass and over wire fences, tiny purple and yellow flowers.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I am thankful to see the writing critique groups I initiated 6-7 years ago are going strong. It is wonderful to see the development in their writing skills, and to have a part in helping them achieve that.

I am looking forward to travelling interstate to see some of my kids and their families. It is hard when they live so far away, so a trip to see them – and our beautiful country – is always a treat.

Keeping a Journal 5: Quotes from Famous People

September 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Posted in Mental Health, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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Dear diary

Many people well-known, famous, infamous or unknown have kept journals. Some of them have even commented on them. Here are a few of their words:

“Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”
—Joan Didion

Journaling inside out

“In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.
The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.”
—Susan Sontag

“The diary taught me that it is in the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately. I learned to choose the heightened moments because they are the moments of revelation.”
From Anais Nin’s essay “On Writing,” 1947.

“People who keep journals have life twice.”
—Jessamyn West

Journal quote Martina Nav.

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.”
—Natalie Goldberg

“I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot… and memory is important.”
—Judy Collins

“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”
—Robin S. Sharma

“So far you truly have been a source of great comfort to me, and so has Kitty, whom I now write to regularly. This way of keeping a diary is much nicer, and now I can hardly wait for moments when I can write in you.”
—Anne Frank, to her diary, from the Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition

quote-if-you-must-keep-a-journal-for-purposes-of-sanity-adopt-an-illegible-hand-r-bryan-love-284531

“My diary is almost a year old now, and judging by past experiences, it’s now worth $500 — at least.”
—Stuart C. Covington, in The Author and journalist, Volumes 32-33

“For me, my diary is my life, my comfort, my second existence.”
—Ramon Gil Navarro, from The Gold Rush Diary of Ramon Gil Navarro

“My journal is my constant companion. It is never far from my reach … It is a front porch of solace and retreat when I am tired and weary.”
—Nicole Johnson, from Fresh-brewed Life: A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul

“My journal is a storehouse, a treasury for everything in my daily life: the stories I hear, the people I meet, the quotations I like, and even the subtle signs and symbols I encounter that speak to me indirectly.”
—Dorothy U. Seyler from Patterns of Reflection: A Reader

Quote re keeping journal

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – Week 35

September 3, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Posted in Culture, Experiences, Society, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 5 Comments
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Share Your World blog badge

Here are my responses to Cee’s latest questions, where we get to know each other better. And, I think we also get to know ourselves better.

Have your blogging goals changed?

The answer to this is “yes” and “no”. When I first began blogging four and a half years ago (where has that time gone!), my aim was to create a habit of writing regularly. That aim has largely been successful, and I am pleased about that.

If I waited till I felt like it

I had intended the main focus of my blog to be on the topic of writing. I have indeed posted a lot of entries about writing, but I have posted more on other topics. When I look back, I see that many of my posts, especially over the past year or more have been on history and, specifically, on my family history.
To me, that is still about writing. It is about writing more of my family history and putting together a book for my children and grandchildren to read. I want them to know something about where they come from, and about some of the wonderful ancestors who have had an impact on the development of my side of their heritage.

If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

Acrobat

I cannot imagine ever wanting to perform in a circus but, if I did, I think I would like to be an acrobat. If I could physically perform those twists, turns, leaps and balances, then maybe I could also do them mentally.

If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18 what advice would you give yourself?

I think I would tell myself not to rush into the things that others say you should do. I would say to look at what is possible, and don’t be limited by their expectations. I would say that you are capable of much more than you believe, so stretch your imagination and realise that anything is possible.

What is your favourite comfort snack food?

Chocolate

Like so many people everywhere, I think it would have to be chocolate. It tastes good, it has caffeine and thus gives a boost in energy, and it releases endorphins to make things look more positive. I just wish it wasn’t so darned fattening!

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last Sunday, we went on a six-kilometre walk along the Sydney coastline, from Coogee to Bondi. We went with friends who belong to the same sailing club we do. It was fabulous; the cliffs, the rocks, the sea, all bathed in beautiful sunshine for the last day of winter.

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Coming up this week is the launch of the fourth book by local author Jaye Ford. Jaye writes psychological thrillers, and the latest is Already Dead. I have read and really enjoyed the first three books and am keen to pick up a signed copy of the latest.

Already Dead Jaye Ford

(c) Linda Visman

Reading and Writing Books

August 25, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Posted in Australia, Culture, Mental Health, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 9 Comments
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the-author-and-the-reader-know-each-other-madeleine-lengle

I have written a whole series of posts about my reading through my life. But I am not just a reader. For the last eight years, I have also been a writer.

Read and write a lot -S.King quote

I write in a variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. If you want to improve your craft, you read about it as well as practising it. I write teen novels, children’s stories, memoir, biography, family history, articles, and even poetry.

Book genres

There are lots of great books on all aspects of writing available in both print and electronic format. I have quite a number in both formats. Among them are:
Writing Craft: – Kate Grenville: The Writing Book.
– Natalie Goldberg: Writing Down the Bones; and Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life.
Memoir: – Patti Miller: The Memoir Book; Writing Your Life,
– Denis Ledoux: Turning Memories Into Memoirs
– – Ann Patchett: The Getaway Car – A Practical Memoir

The Memoir Book

Because I write memoir, I read memoir. Mostly, they are Australian. The first I ever read was Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles. C.J. Koch’s The Year of Living Dangerously was a good one too, then A.B. Facey’s A Fortunate Life. I also read Frank McCourt’s two memoirs, among others.

Kate Grenville’s novel, The Secret River, I enjoyed, and then followed it up with her memoir about the writing of it, The Search for the Secret River. The latest I read was Patti Miller’s The Mind of a Thief, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There are several other memoirs I’ve read whose titles and authors escape me at present.

Over the Top with Jim

Because I write memoir, biography and historical novels (as mine are), there is lots of research to be done. Two memoirs by Hugh Lunn have been helpful in reminding me about growing up in 1950s and 1960s Australia – Over the Top With Jim was the first, as was his Lost for Words, about Australian idiom of the time. –I have also read memoirs by people who lived in Lancashire mill towns at the time I was little, and my parents’ generation before that. Two good ones were William Woodruff’s The Road to Nab End and W.R. Mitchell’s By gum, life were sparse!

Total Teen Fiction

I also write Teen/Young Adult novels. Because I do, I enjoy reading them – indeed, I would be silly if I didn’t. I find that many teen/YA novels are more real than most of those written for adults. They – even the fantasy stories – mostly deal with issues that have relevance, depth and guts.

Ben's Challenge look inside

I recently read two teen novels that I came across at a print book sale, and I still have a couple more of them to read. The quality of the first two is high, and I expect the rest to be also. I’d recommend anyone to have a look at this genre. A lot of good stuff is being written – often much better than that being written for adults. Jesse Blackadder’s two books are on my To Be Read list also.

Stay Last Dog Blackadder

Children’s and Young Adult books I have read in the last couple of years include:
Morris Gleitzman’s trilogy: Once; Then; and Now
JK Rowling: The Harry Potter series
Witi Ihimaera: The Whale Rider
Marilyn Halvorson: Let It Go
Jackie French: Pennies for Hitler

Pennies For Hitler

Ebooks for Children and Young Adults
C.S. Lakin: Time Sniffers (Shadow World 1) I rated 5 stars.
Aida Brassington: Between Seasons
Amy Kathleen Ryan: Shadow Falls
Kristah Price (from New Zealand)’s Where the Moths Dance

BeyondFear_Cover_FINAL.indd

Being a writer, I know how difficult it is to get your work out to the reading public. So I like to support local writers. Wherever I can, I attend book launches and author talks. I usually come away with signed copies of their books that I have purchased.
Some of these local authors and their books are
– Jaye Ford’s psychological thrillers: Beyond Fear; Scared Yet?; and Blood Secret.
– Kaz Delaney’s Y.A. paranormal novels Dead Actually and Almost Dead.
– Lachlan Ness’s stories of his time as a Presbyterian minister, the first of which is A Kangaroo Loose in the Top Paddock.
– Debbie Robson’s historical novel, Tomaree
.
– Victoria Norton’s short stories, purple emerald gold.
– Pam Garfoot and Elizabeth Conway’s Making Them Real: Finding a Queensland Past.

so-many-books-so-little-time

There are always more books than anyone can find, let alone read. However, within the limits of reason, I am doing the best I can.

Books -imprisoned souls

Are you a reader? What are your favourite genres?

© Linda Visman

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