Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Christmas Eve in Orroroo (first draft)

For Annie

I’m in love with a princess
In a faraway land
I imagine her home
And the places she’ll see
And hope that she smiles
If she’s thinking of me

This month it is Christmas
And the trees in her park
Are covered in snow
While here in the outback
A summer Christmas we know
And we have a tree in the corner
Trimmed with tinsel too

Carols come from all corners tonight
Children waiting for Santa
Will keep their eyes closed tight
I close my eyes and see in my mind
Stockings hang from a mantel
Above a fire in the grate
And for Santa too, they wait

Her cousins out here in the bush
Take their places in the Christmas parade
There’s clowns with coloured barrows to push
A tradition we keep where memories are made
Floats decorated in green red and blue
And Annie I hope it’s a sight
My words bring to you

Outside the shops they still pipe
Those old Christmas songs
And the floats might be corny
But the spirits still here
A street full of faces spreading good cheer
And right down the back
At the end of the parade
In a little green car
Santa arrives, always the star.

Old eyes become misty
When we remember the days
When we were once young
In this street where we played
Now cousin Geoff drives the car
And he does his best
Now Uncle Murray has gone to his rest.

So now my princess from over the sea
I hope you have a Christmas as merry can be

For I’m in love with you, Princess
In your faraway land
I imagine you home
And the places you see
And hope that you smile

When you’re thinking of me

Monday, 1 February 2016

Finding Gold in Characters

This is my third year of  writing Les Gillespie's Gold and while it has become a grind at times, there are moments when words cascade onto the page. Often the real world becomes a different place and I find myself immersed in the character's story, character either makes the story believable or destroys it by the end of the first chapter. Because the manuscript is ninety percent done and I am tying the plot lines together, I thought I would take time to revisit the characters from Kundela.
    Readers of my first novel will be familiar with the Gillespie family and in the second book I have introduced a few new faces. Some likeable and others are easy to detest.

Finding Gold in Characters:

For anyone ready to start writing, or established writers interested in how others do it, I thought I would share my method for finding the things that make my characters tick. This is not the best or worst way to go about a character profile, it is my way. And I have robbed ideas form other authors to get to this point.

Knowing how your sinners differentiate from the saints is key to making the story work, but how do we get to know those differences. This my way of putting flesh on the bones of black and white words that make up the character profile.
    Writing villains is always fun and developing their character can open the writer to hours of distraction as we try to find ways to justify their place in the novel or short story. So be warned, my method can cause you to procrastinate while you divert your attention to research and discovery that often make dedicated writing hours disappear.

Character is deeper than just a name in a novel. Once a name is decided they begin to develop shape and personality, names become people. As I flesh out their history, I give names to siblings, pets and parents. I attach relationships and before long I begin to know them as well as I would one of my friends. I may even know them better, because I have created dirty little secrets. I have pushed them into liaisons, and created their fears and fantasies.
    I start with a character chart as provided by Merlene Fawdry in her Longitudinal Writing Workshop. My chart is an expanded version and it serves me well. When completed I have a rough idea of what they look like and what motivates them. From the chart I know more than their eye colour and how they dress, but character has a major part to play I need to know more. I need to know why I needed to write them into the story. What I need is an understanding of their background, what happened to make them more than just a name in a book.

    In Les Gillespie's Gold, a fifty year old grudge lies behind the main plot-line, but how did that grudge come about and who were the players? How do they influence the characters in the novel? To find my way through this maze I write stories that will have no place in the novel, but I need them to help me understand how my characters interact. Copies of these stories can be found on this blog.

Researching personality takes time as I found with a character in Les Gillespie's Gold. Spoggy Sparrow has no history, to understand this type of character and personality, I spent days on research to learn it is not easy to disappear or create a new identity. However I found myself lost to the quest and discovered devices someone like Spoggy could use to hide from society. Research like this is a great investment, a knowledge bank to call on for later novels or short stories.
    By the end of these exercises, I find my characters justifying their part in the story to me. Arguing why they deserve more action, more profile and at times trying to push the leading man or lady off the page. When I first thought about a career as a writer, I found it hard to properly show hardship, joy and humanity in my characters. Using these techniques now I find the story lets me to write action and point of view from an enlightened position. Writing character has become easier for me because of Merlene's chart and my character story. Today if I prepare a chat and write a history, I have a sharp idea of how each character drives their part in the novel.
    I was pleased when, two years ago, I attended a writing workshop by noted children's writer, Kirsty Murray. Kirsty began one of the sessions with the statement that, Character drives Plot and Plot drives Character. It took me a while to understand what she was saying, but by the end of the session I knew what she meant and the way I was going about finding a depth to my characters was not as weird as I first thought.

    All authors have their own methods and this one works for me.

Good links: Kirsty Murray:                       

                    Merlene Fawdry:                    

                    Writers Victoria:                     

                    Fellowship of Australian Writers:

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, 21 December 2015


He was grey, he was old
And through the lines on his face
Pop's story was told
Spotted with age and his hands bony thin
All of life’s story was written on him
And in a mind etched with memories still sharp
He has no room for tears in his eyes
While love beats his heart

In the morning on his porch  you'll see him
He sits all alone
With tea in a cup he’ll fondle his phone
It rings and he answers time and again
A smile writes a crease across his lips
And, it's hello old friend
He shuffles, he snuffles and sometimes he creaks
No time to grumble about his pain that he'll speak
It's time to catch up with old friends
And that's all that he seeks

And in the morning, you’ll see him
After a quarter to ten
Answering the phone, yep, he's out there again
He’ll be sippin' his tea and phoning a friend
He’s laughing and snorting his morning away
Old men jousting with another story to tell
And I admire the way
Pop and his friends are denying Death
And their passport to hell

Another day has gone by and little was done
And now the sink overflows with dishes to do
It might be tomorrow before he gets 'round to them too
Another day filled with laughing and lying and all of it fun
He looks back on his life with some sadness and sun
Is he lonely you ask and in a while he'll answer
He thinks that he might
Then he gets into bed, kisses her photo
And turns out the light

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Surprise Santa

for Isabella

Restaurant SCENE -

1.  Family gathering, it is evening and everyone is sitting at long table for Grandmother’s birthday. Boisterous businessman Rip-off Ralph is looking at his phone. An elderly couple (he has silver hair and a groomed beard, they are well dressed) take a table for two at the other side of the room. Izzy, the granddaughter, tugs her grandfather Ralph’s sleeve and points at the couple.

Pa..., (Beat) Pa, Look, Santa’s here

Keeps looking at the phone and annoyed with the child, drags his arm away
Stop it, I’m busy. Go and bother your mum.

     Jabs the air with her finger, points at the old couple
But, Pa… (Beat) Santa’s just over there.
She grabs Ralph’s ears and steers his head so he can see them.
See, he looks just like him and she must be Mrs Clause. C’mon, take me over. I need to let him know what I want for Christmas.

Don’t think so.
But we hafta go now, Papa. I hafta to talk to him. Please, Papa. Pretty please, with a cherry on top. Come on Pa…

Izzy Stop it. You’re being silly.
(She tugs at his sleeve again)
Stop it now, or you’ll spend the rest of the night in the car.

I’ll go by myself then.

Okay, off you go.

2.   Ralph watches Izzy walk to the couple’s table they start talking. Mrs Clause offers her a seat. Their waiter draws a chair for the child and as he takes their order, Santa waves a pen and paper making sure Ralph’s family sees him. The family cheers.

                Sasha (Izzy’s mother)

Dad, what the hell are you thinking? Why is Izzy sitting over there?

She thinks he’s Father Christmas, I’m not gunna spoil her fun.

Slaps her father on the shoulder.
           You’re not the one who’ll have to look after her when she finds out he’s not. That’s not fair Dad, not fair at all. You keep an eye on them. Alright.

Yeah, yeah. Here, pass me the wine list, there’s a good girl.

3.   Later that night, same restaurant crowd, tables are messy and everyone is talking. Santa and Mrs Clause deliver Izzy back to Ralph.

(Loud & Jolly Voice, claps a hand on Ralphs shoulder)

Well if it isn't young Ralphie Richmond, Merry Christmas. Good to see you’re still a kidder too. You know I love a joke, but that thing with pepper on the carrots when you were ten, was a bit much. Poor old Rudolf sneezed all the way to Perth, nearly threw me out the sleigh.
(Passes Ralph a piece of paper.)
Now, Ralphie my elves say Izzy has been an extra good girl this year So I promised to bring every single thing on her list.
And because she says you are kind and caring, I thought it best to share a copy.

(Mocking tone)
Oh Santa, that’s lovely. Thanks? Maybe I should help you out too. That’s if it won’t spoil your Christmas.

Well son, it’s no trouble, but yes, Ralph. You can help me tonight.
(passes his bill to Ralph)
Take can care of this? Write it off to Santa Sitting.
        (waves to crowd)
                   HO, HO, HO, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

The End

Friday, 27 November 2015

An Aircraft Mechanic's War Diary entry December 1943

LAC,  Lionel Probert's war diary entry, 15th December 1943

Arrived at Milne Bay, where we are anchored for about 12 hours. A pretty place. Hard to realize that it was once the scene of bitter fighting. Good few ships in the harbour, one of the largest harbours in the world.

Only a short note, but filled with information. I can't imagine the excitement he would have felt, was he apprehensive or were he and his mates on one big adventure. I believe these blokes were ld to believe they were heading for adventure only to discover it had unimaginable horrors. 

Rest in Peace, Dad your words still live in me.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Surprise Santa

For our last Wordsmiths of Melton session with Matthew Naqvi on the 2nd December this year, he has set us the following exercise:

     Write a Christmas-based piece, either script or short story so it can be performed or read out. Two pages for the script, minimum 300 words for the short story.

My thoughts took me back to the 1996.

My granddaughter was now old enough to understand what Christmas meant. She was captured by everything the festive season could throw at her. Elves, fairies, endless carols, a tree dripping with lights and tinsel, her little mind could not get enough of it.

Waiting for the next Christmas was taking forever, but a chance meeting during June of that year, had her in falling deeper in love with Santa. My tip is that she still is.

Over the past couple of weeks I have put those memories into a two page play, which I will post next Thursday.

Thanks go to Tracey and Sonia who helped iron out a few wrinkles in the script this week.



Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Beyond Broadmeadows Blue

I have removed this post as it time to focus on rewriting it for entry into competitions. Thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to leave a comment on my messages or e-mail. Without support from a readership our words are wasted. Like a child yelling in the dessert with no one to hear, as authors we all crave attention from our peers. So thank you again.