Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Peaches Pengelly - Super Hero

Having finished one children’s manuscript it is now time to plan another. For Toby Farrier I used a bus to get my story started. In this case I’ll use the food court of a shopping centre. I’ll pretend to conduct interviews with likely characters and cast them into the plot.
This story will be a crime mystery and the protagonist I need is a girl who is about fourteen. I am working on a few names but I like, Peaches Pengelly. Frumpy in her appearance and shy, even with the people she knows. Peaches is invisible. She is awkward around boys. Now I need a title, and a plot.
I read Elizabeth George’s book about writing recently and became captured by the method she uses to develop her characters. Subscribing to often quoted phrase that character builds plot, I will construct a setting in which I meet and interview Peaches for the role.
I like my character’s name now having typed and said it aloud a few times, so stay tuned as I develop her story. I am not big into fantasy or historical sagas, so in the planning stage the story will be contemporary and set in an industrial city ravaged by crime.
The things I need in the plot:
·         A crime/murder/kidnapping or all of them that only Peaches can solve.

·         A sidekick every hero needs a sidekick and this one should be reluctant. Possibly a boy with issues.

·         An arch enemy or apocalyptic event. Either will work for me.

·         Her superpowers come from her ability to think and problem solve.
Well there is a start.
I will begin my character interviews in the food court of a shopping centre near you soon.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Toby Farrier has a new sub title

Toby Farrier and the Gypsy's Curse
Towards the end of the story I found I needed to know who my villains were. They had to be wealthy with a past that was hidden from the public. Evil had to visit them and colour their judgement through the generations. Here is the back story of Banker Bill Ryan and his descendants.
Banker Bill Ryan was not such a mean man more of a calculating one. He’d watched his father and uncles fail at the diggings and as much as they followed the gold by the end of the nineteenth century they were still penniless. On the diggings five year old Bill witnessed the futility in shifting dirt for little reward and wanted something more. A rudimentary education in a shanty school house showed him how to count, read and write. Good tools for someone in the city but wasted as a digger.

William Ryan however found a way to begin building his fortune on the diggings. Men would pay him to run errands and by the time he was twelve he had enough money to follow the example of Sidney Myer and set up his own store to cater more for the whims of the diggers and their wives.

Smart enough to understand compound interest a lesson learnt when he defaulted on an account in Mr Myer’s store young Bill Ryan started to sell goods on credit and each day he would total his ledgers. If the client’s account was outstanding Bill would add a percentage, a late payment fee he would call it. No more than a boy he had control over many men.

One night a digger unhappy with the way his account had blown out over a month, and spiteful that Bill had accosted his wife for payment gave the young entrepreneur a beating. The beating prompted Bill to move on his plans and he sold the business to one of the late arriving diggers for a tidy profit.

Pickaxe Jack a rough hard drinking digger, who owed Bill plenty of money and with no hope of settling his account, became Bill’s debt collector. When a debt was too far overdue Jack was there, he took part of his fee in cash and the balance reduced his account. Jack too was becoming wealthy.

Bill had seen enough of the squalor, dirty men with uncouth habits. He knew the gold would peter out and though it would be wise to leave before it did, at the news of the next big strike he’d sell. He didn’t wait long, Patrick Long hauled out a twenty ounce nugget and the camp went wild. Bill found a buyer and broke camp. From the lessons he had learnt from lending decided now was the time to set up his own bank. Pickaxe Jack would accompany him on his new adventure.

During the evenings in the camp he hadn’t drank with the others in the saloons and gambling halls, he had studied, reading everything he could on banking law. Bill was ready moving to Melbourne and letting a shopfront on Collins Street opened the Investment Bank of Ireland and Victoria. He’d learnt much about the benefits of interest and he loved the foreclosure laws of the time. Jack had sobered up and bought a nice property on the Maribyrnong River. Collection served him well and the small farm became a model for horse breeders of the area.

Bill took note of Jacks success and offered loans to would be farmers, at the first sign of default he would withdraw the loan and foreclose. Bill only lent to those who farmed where the city would expand too. He leant to business too, Shipbuilders being a favourite. A Steam engine manufacturer and a steel mill in New South Wales over extended and Bill moved quickly. He restructured and extended more capital. Always holding a controlling share he offered inducements for workers to take loans and become share holders. Bill’s empire grew. He paid small but secure interest to depositors and set up trusts for women and orphans.

On the surface Bill looked as upstanding and moral as anyone of the time and his wealth and influence grew.  Married to socialite Esther Porteus-McBride they had two children William and Lois, William followed his father into banking and Lois died in her late teens. She drowned when she fell into Port Phillip Bay from the family yacht.

Bill and Bill courted government ministers and government officials, at the first hint of Victoria entering a war they would move on a woollen mill, shipyard, or farming property. Having secured the assets they would tender for supply to either army or navy. It was lucrative and the family’s wealth grew.

William learnt fast and with the rise of gangsters and stand over men in Melbourne saw another way to increase his fortune. He offered a safe house for their extortion racketeering and stand over money.

Considered by the police of the time as ruthless but petty criminals, history never thought of Squizzy Taylor and his like as being organised like Capone in the United States. William Ryan ensured their money was safe and he kept it that way until in nineteen twenty nine he disappeared without trace. Widowed not long after the death of his daughter Bill the banker had died five years before his son.

William’s twelve year old son, Young Bill inherited, but had little or no knowledge of the background to the business. He stayed with it until his twenty first year. Attaining the age of majority, he instructed the family solicitors to dispose of the industrial investments and consolidate most of the family assets into a trust. He personally negotiated the sale of the working assets of the bank, taking cash and shares as payment.

Demolished to make way for an electrical substation, the original building disappeared and Melbourne grew. By the end of the thirties the family had ensconced themselves in Melbourne society, but rumour still plagued the family.

Shamus O’Toole worked for a disgruntled group of stockholders who wanted to find out why a bank that had been dispersing good dividends and had a solid, borrowings to equity ratio, sold so cheaply. They felt dudded by the Ryans and wanted him to gather enough evidence to support challenging the Banker Bill's family through the courts.

More than once Young Bill mounted his own investigations to ensure the dispelling of the rumours. He went to his deathbed not knowing the truth about the family fortune. Like most family legends this began with truth and had an open ending. Bill spent a fortune but much of the evidence was lost or destroyed. Banker Bill took much care recording who owed him money. Not so careful with those he owed money to.

Young Bill a trained solicitor was more suited to running the country estates and developing Melbourne. A suburb of post war homes in the east, followed by a shopping strip development in Brunswick. These were the attractions for him. By the late seventies shopping centres in the expanding suburbs made sense and the Ryan money made it happen. Income from rent and leasing doubled the family fortune each year.

Shopping Centre Bill as his friends now called him now lived in leafy Toorak, his wife provide the couple with two sons, William and Phillip. Phillip flashy and gregarious always wanted more and worked to excel at everything he tried. A risk taker he gambled and loved the yacht club. Frustration would find him when whispers would start about his fortune and often the Ryan name found itself bandied around with the less scrupulous of Melbourne’s families. His desire to prove society and its matrons wrong grew.

A professor of history provided a perfect opportunity to research his family but in fifteen years he had unearthed nothing new. Then this Farrier kid shows up with the journal desk and other paraphernalia. Stuff that could lead to the truth and he had to have it. He had to know why his family was laughed at.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Thoughts and Lessons of an Aspiring Writer

As a writer I am always looking for tips and advice to help with both creativity and learning the craft of the storyteller. The workshops I have attended over the past two years have given me a better understanding of applying a more crafted technique when planning structure, dialogue and pacing to my work. One thing I gained from these inspirational people was the ease and confidence they imparted when they talked to us about writing. The passion they shared as they talked about their process for taking an idea they had conjured and applied it to a storyline. The wonderment we shared when they opened a new door for us. Merely by listening to the techniques these artists used to shift focus, and control pace in their writing habits we were enlightened.

Some of these things we as rookie writers had already unwittingly applied to our story telling, but now we had descriptions for these tricks successful writers employ. More than that we could sit back, nod sagely and think I've done that, or wow I didn't understand before but today I do.

The one theme that rolled through all of these educational events was to read and read widely. Now, I am someone who spent most of my time with technical journals and stuffy training manuals, so reading fiction was somewhat foreign to me. Don't get me wrong, I love fiction but have always watched it on the screen rather than pick up a book, I’ve been busy or lazy I guess.

In trying to write fiction, I have learnt that the movie maker's perspective for telling the story is their point of view only. Although enjoyable, it is not be the same point of view I'd have if I'd read the book. A reader sees their own pictures unfold with each line in a well written novel, and they consume the pages. During the reading the reader owns their view of the characters, and they create their own images of place. By reading some great stories, many unpublished yet, I have learnt that good writers always leave enough space for the reader. Space to create their own vision of the tale.
Description sets the scene and draws the characters, but each reader visualises them differently. To illustrate this point, after seeing the movie, The Lorax by Dr Seuss, my daughter said that the voice used for the character of the Lorax was all wrong for her. She was comfortable with the animated pictures as they were taken from the book, but the voice chosen was different, it wasn't mine. It wasn't the same voice she had heard as a toddler when we shared this tale before her bedtime. Dr Seuss left room in his story for the reader and in her case, the listener to interpret their own vision. A movie no matter how great the production, will struggle to do that.

I hope for my writing, I too have learnt to leave room for the reader.

Another common piece of advice shared, was to read work by some of today's icons of the literary world and ponder about their practice of writing. Read writers biographies to learn about their fears and hopes. More important though, our tutors wanted us to discover how these writing gods approached a blank screen when they sat down to create their next blockbuster.

Two books suggested were:

On Writing by Steven King

Write Away by Elizabeth George.

I am not going to give a review of either author other than to say these books were like a beacon in the night for me, and I suggest reading them to anyone wanting to enjoy success as a writer.

If you're struggling when trying to plan, develop characters, or produce realistic dialogue, then you should stop what you are doing right now and read both of these books. We can learn much from the masters, but the one big thing I took from these books is that both authors craft their story. They do their research, they plan their chapters and have a structured idea of the story they want to write before they start typing.

At the begininig of this year I resolved to finish two novels, Toby Farrier and Les Gillespies Gold. I knew it was important to set another goal to read at least two books a month and include a couple of classics too. It has been years since I sat in the Orroroo Town Hall and watched a movie production of the Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway. I remember the gist of the yarn and the Cuban coastline but that was all. However I found an online copy and read it yesterday. This may be a short novel, but the words are powerful and convey beautiful imagery. This man knew how to leave space for the reader, no wonder it was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Take it down from the shelf and read it again, he will amaze you.

Oh, and read some poorly written stuff too. These books may be good stories poorly edited or just a bad story but they do serve to remind us that completing our first draft while a big acheivement is only the beginning. A side benefit to a bad book is as you read it you feel your self esteem grow, because you know you can do better. Reading bad books can build confidence in your own ability.
Links to Workshop Lecturers:
             Kirsty Murray:
             Merlene Fawdrey:
            Archie Fusillo:

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Photos and History of Joe Gillespie's stomping ground.

For everyone who has read Kundela and wondered about the country where the story is set, Hawker Motors Visitor Information Centre has some beautiful photos of the area. Click on the link below to find more about Joe Gillespie's stomping ground and the history that influenced his character.!/HawkerMotorsVisitorInformationCentre

Monday, 24 February 2014

Swimming the Savage Waters of Publishers and Sharks

A couple of weeks ago I attended a book launch for an author who was presenting her first novel, a romance.  Although this is not a genre I would normally choose, I finished reading it over the weekend.
At the launch the author asked us to excuse her nerves, this was her first book and everything was new to her. I know how hard it is to stand in front of strangers, friends and relatives to talk about your first novel. To help the gathering move along, I asked some of the questions other people had asked me at my first launch. I was keen to hear her tell us about her process of writing a long work.

Listening to her discuss publishing I wanted to know more. As someone who had hawked his novel, Kundela, to mainstream Australian publishers through their numerous e-mail slush piles without luck. I wanted to know how, as an unknown author, they were able to get their book into print. The writer said that although she had approached  a few Australian publishers, all of them had knocked the manuscript back. I probed a bit more and the author disclosed she had no trouble finding an American publisher to help her to get her manuscript into print. I later checked the publisher's website and deduced that theirs is a more of a printing service, similar to the many who flood my inbox with offers to publish at a price.

I asked about the process of preparing the manuscript for printing in particular the pressure an author faces when receiving back recommendations after the copy editing. The author explained that the publisher's editor was pleased with the manuscript as it stood and said it only required a small number of changes. The author went on to praise the editor who helped with some punctuation and a few minor points. This surprised me as I know from the edits of my first book just how much work goes in to keeping a story tight and pacing the flow of the story. The group learnt that the publisher led the author to believe this novel would be in bookstores around the world, but to date this is not the case.  This has left them feeling disappointed and more than a little deflated. Knowing the marketing of the book is now up to them, I sense they have a tough road ahead.

I purchased a copy, as I do at book launches, and set about reading it. The first few sentences set the tone for the rest of the book. Unfortunately this writer had chosen a publisher who, in my opinion, was mainly interested in taking their money and played to a novice writer's vanity. I found the text very flowery, and that may be the way of romance novels, but her overuse of adjectives made it difficult to read. The formatting confused the dialogue, I was often lost as to who was speaking and where. The basic story structure was okay, but a the writer had employed a lot of characters who had several different names. This made the story hard to follow, it often confused me as to just who was doing or saying what, and when.

The storyline was good and subplots added to the intrigue, however the overuse of description and stilted dialogue ruined the telling of the tale. I am convinced this writer has a great ability to tell a story but would find the next book easier to write when they gain some more skills to hone their craft.

This novel is one that needs a good copy edit, and the value of copy editing is something every novice writer needs to be aware of. Finding a copy editor who is not only qualified but respected  to help ready your work for publishing is essential.  Unfortunately this editor has failed both the author, and the story on this occasion.

Since beginning to write I have found there are two parts to remember when writing. One is the creative side where you let ideas flow and the other is the skilled part where you frame the story into an easy to read document. These skills can be learnt by attending workshops or writing groups, and then applying these new found skills to your writing process. Over time you learn to edit and tighten your prose as you type. Things become a habit, and in the end these hard won lessons reduce the amount of editing required. 

I know the publishers slush piles are deep, and after having a silent response to my manuscript I self published Kundela. However I was fortunate, I did it with the help and knowledge from others. I had support of like minded writers who steered me past the pitfalls. Sure I was tempted to go with one of several online publishing houses, all making promises to make me an overnight writing sensation, but sanity and guidance prevailed.
Sometimes it is too easy to fall for the overseas caller's spiel and go with one of these publishers. However if this regency romance is evidence to the quality of their copy editing, then this writer has been duped and I feel sorry for them. Again I must say I was tempted to travel the same path. Calls from America to check on my progress played to my ego and made me feel important. I am glad I resisted.
Through my local writing group I was able to gain an insight into what is required  of an author when writing. By attending a Longitudinal Writing Workshop presented by Merlene Fawdry, I came to understand what would be required if I wanted to get my story into print. Critiquing groups like ours can be hard on your ego, but you learn a lot from your fellows too, and all of our members are at different stages of their writing careers too.

As for me, I will now have to read another bloody romance novel to see if they are all the same, and if so, I’ll need to retract some of these comments.
Writers looking for help with their writing, wanting to get published or need a copy editor, you can find my more than capable copy editor, Merlene Fawdry by visiting her website: 

Click on the link now to find excellent information and links to all things writing.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Tracy Farrier 'The Evil Stepmother'

Today I have started a couple of new chapter and have found that the character who plays Toby's mum isn't the wicked stepmother I'd planned her to be. Toby has enough enemies in the manuscriot and this character wouldn't let me paint her as evil. I have pasted my character sheet on Tracy below.

Tracy has never got over giving Toby up and has carried the guilt inside her for years. She spent her mid teens and twenties modelling for David Jones Melbourne to help her through University.

Her friend Michelle had married tall and handsome truck mechanic Darren Farrier and they’d drifted apart for a few years after Darren bought the family tucking business from Michelle’s mother’s estate. After Toby was born Michelle contracted the same disease her mother had, Breast Cancer. After a brave fight she too succumbed and Darren was left to look after the baby. He contacted Tracey about taking care of the book work and managed as he could with a baby seat in the truck and the two of them travelled Australia carting stock.
Arthur had his hands full with Lois and her decline during this time but they took Toby when they could. This gave Darren a much needed break and soon he and Tracy became more than friends. Five years after Toby was born Tracy became his step mum. The relationship was strong and they adored each other, only after Toby began school did the trouble start.

NAME:                                               : Tracy Farrier
Position in story:                                 : Secondary





Socioeconomic level as a child:


Socioeconomic level as an adult:

Well Off



Current residence:



Mother – Business Partner – Accountant was a catwalk model when younger


High Earners


Multi Tasker very capable mother keeps the business on solid financial footing.


Draws a salary of 65,000 per annum Darren has a similar drawing



Married to Toby’s father Darren

Birth order:

Third of four girls

Siblings (describe relationship):


Spouse/partner (describe relationship):

Darren total commitment to each other, she is his second wife after Toby’s mum died. Both women were friends

Children (describe relationship):

Toby estranged. Adele and Jasmine

Parents (describe relationship):


Grandparents (describe relationship):


Grandchildren (describe relationship):


Significant others (describe relationship):


Relationship skills:

Peace maker, doesn’t mind a fight but will find a common purpose to end conflict. Good negotiator

Physical Characteristics






56 kg


Caucasian / English descent

Eye Color:


Hair Color:

Blonde from the bottle tends to change it twice a year

Glasses or contact lenses?

Glasses to read

Skin color:

Fair skinned but will tan easily. Uses fake tan for special occasions

Shape of face:

Angular with high cheekbones, her nose is straight with a bit off a turn up.

Distinguishing features:

There is a dimple /crease in her chin.

How does he/she dress?

Her dress is elegant and expensive. ‘She could wear a bag and make it look good’ was Darren’s claim


She tilts her head and screws her nose up when considering her next move

Habits: (smoking, drinking/drugs/addictions etc.)

Nil likes good wine but never in excess

Any physical illnesses?



Very good goes to the gym five days a week


She likes to ride and does eventing and show jumping

Favourite sayings:


Speech patterns:

Her speech is trained and no strine in her voice although she will “go all outback” if the need arises



Style (Elegant, shabby etc.):


Greatest flaw:

She lacks self confidence and although successful her fear of failure drives her toward her goals. Tracy never lived up to the expectations her parents put on her. They thought modelling was for Bimbos and accounts couldn’t make it into medicine.

Best quality:

She is empathetic and kind. Which is how she came to marry Darren, she helped him through the dark times after his first wife died of breast cancer. She spends a lot of time working for the Jane McGrath Foundation

Personality Attributes and Attitudes



Educational Background:

Melbourne Uni

Intelligence Level:

Very high

Any Mental Illnesses?


Learning Experiences:

Plenty, losing her friend and Toby’s mum hurt and giving Toby up has left a stain on her self esteem.

Character's short-term goals in life:

Be a good wife and mother

Character's long-term goals in life:

Keep the business successful make their marriage happy till death do they part.

How does Character see himself/herself?

As keeping up a charade of confidence and strength

How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others?

As one tough cookie

How self-confident is the character?

She fakes it till she makes it.

Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof?

She would love to let emotion in but only Darren knows how fragile she can be.

What would most embarrass this character

Failure in her part as wife and mother, losing Toby is her greatest regret and considers it their biggest failure. He didn’t deserve what they did to him

Spiritual Characteristics



Does the character believe in God?

Would love to but is too pragmatic. She admires her sisters and mother’s complete devotion to the Catholic faith but too many things tell her it’s all bunk.

What are the character's spiritual beliefs?

She doesn’t know

Is religion or spirituality a part of this character's life?


If so, what role does it play?