Sunday, 3 September 2017

Father's Day

Lionel & Terry Probert 1949
Symes Home
Government Road Orroroo
South Australia

It takes awhile to appreciate
all the things that made you great
Meeting mum then the wedding
and making a home
Showing me through thick and thin
You'd be there
No matter the trouble I was in

I was nearly thirty the night you died
And the way I felt I could not hide
It was your funeral first
and things to do
A million things to fill my mind
all the tasks I took for granted
Blossomed in the seeds you planted

Now sitting here on Father's Day
To talk to you and the things I'd say
I'd show you photos of my family
Their homes their cars
But most of all
I'd show you photos of
My grandchildren growing tall

To young to die when you went away
Your values make me
The man I am today

Sunday, 27 August 2017

A Marriage


The Pain You Bear, Is the Pain We Share

It’s that pleasure and pain time again
Her head will for days now thump
She lifts her hand to feel blood pump
It’s been with her a long long time
She smiles and says
“Long enough to call it mine”

I look at her and she at me
Pain was writ where her smile should be
She’s tried a vast array of pills
Pounded pavement round the doctors
And paid their bills
It’s not a migraine or so they say
Take this pill and it’ll go away

Another year and the pain’s still there
And silver streaks highlight her hair.
Her smile is still where it belongs
And she takes my hand and makes me strong
I find comfort in what she can do
She smiles and gives my hand a squeeze
And we turn our faces to the breeze

While the sun begins to set upon our life
I gaze at her and see all the wonder

And the beauty of you, my wife


Friday, 18 August 2017

Autograph books tell us a lot

This is an entry my father Lionel Probert wrote in his Sister in Law's Autograph Book, I'm led to believe that it's his work, but can't be sure. What it does do is express the loneliness Aussie servicemen felt when they were away fighting. I'm just thankful he made it home and met my mother.

Take a moment to put yourself on a Pacific Island in 1942 then read these words and reflect on our own situation today.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Author's Lament (first draft)

My pride and joy from a former life has nothing to do with my yarnspinner's life today, but it reminds me of who and what I was, in the spring of yesterday


So I got a little story
And this much is what I know
Hours and hours of writing
Before it’s good enough
For the editor to go
Then back to me
And back to she
Edits by the score
Until at last it’s finished
In a package by the door.

Then off to beta readers
To tell us what they like
Or tell us what is wrong
And all the time
I wring my hands
And sing a simple song

Please oh please mister publisher
Take my letter from your pile
And please don’t
Consign it to the bin
For it took a lot of time to create
The character and plot
Just to drag you in

With my finger on the send button poised
The whole shebang has gone
To somewhere in an editor’s office
Where I hope you’ll take
Just a minute of your time
To read the cover letter
And synopsis of the plot
Because after months of writing

This is the best I’ve got

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Honey Hush

When I wrote this poem a few years ago, I was thinking about the joy this little boat brought to me and my friends as we sailed the waters of Fisherman's Bay in South Australia. 

A Rainbow Class yacht Dad bought for David and me, David was caught under the sail in a capsize and never wanted to get in the boat again.
Brian Tiller, David Kent, Trevor Moore and many more mates terrified water skiers as we fought for space on the deep water in the small bay. 

Honey Hush, I loved you to bits.


It was a girl
She was sixteen
Her dad’s old guitar
And ripped blue jeans
She strummed old strings
We sang along

It was a boy
He was just fifteen
A red sailing boat
For his summer’s dream
His gaze she held all night
We watched on

It was a boat
As dawn broke golden
And soft white sails
Her name emboldened
Slow waves on morning tide
We did not see

It was new love
On summer breezes
Days just drifted by
Seaweed sand and evening breezes
No one he loved more than she
We saw it all

Friday, 21 July 2017

Old Symes Family Photos

Having all sorts of fun trying to edit the old black and whites from almost one hundred years ago, found one of Harold William Symes taking a bit of time out. I'm not too sure about his bed, even for 1940 those pine posts look a bit uncomfortable. This is taken alongside the house in Government road Orroroo, not long before he died.
Harold left behind a family who followed in his footsteps believing in his example of his hard work and Christian ethics.
A highly social man Harold loved his sport and did everything from Tent Pegging, Tennis, Clay Pigeon shooting, to organising athletic events.

Andrew William and his wife Doris Elizabeth Symes
 my great grandparents, cut a proud pose for the camera

This photo shows Edna and Beth Symes decked out in their Sunday finery, Mum still has he plaits here, but later at her sister Aileen's insistence, they were severed. She has always liked her hair and the amount of curlers and driers in her Fifth Street bathroom are testament to that.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Edna's life Story

Never too old to give it a try

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting
January 2017
88 Year old Edna Probert of Orroroo ready for some slides 
While sorting through my mother Edna's photos and journals to help me build a chapter plan for her story, I thought about her many visits to Darwin and how easily she fitted in with Danny's friends. 
  For Mum fitting in with people always came naturally and she often did it without needing to be asked. In 1987 I found her volunteering for different duties to help our young motorsport community at the Black Rock Dirt Circuit Club.
 A few years later, and she was helping my son Danny to build his drift car in Darwin. This year she was surprised when he brought a car back to South Australia so he could show her what drifting was all about. 
 This is a picture of Gran buckled in and ready for a blast around the circuit at Mambray Creek.

Photo Courtesy of Xdrift Industries Drift Team

Monday, 17 July 2017

How do you decide whether to write a biography, or tell the story of some-one's life.

Edna Probert in her Fifth Street  home May 2017
Surrounded by mountains of memories in the form of notes, journal entries and photos I'm trying to find the best way to record my mother's stories. We have plenty of Stud Books as my Uncle Doug calls them, family trees that document our ancestral roots, but these are as dry as a vacuum cleaner repair manual. I want something more, more entertaining. Therefore I have started imagining my mother as a ten-year-old and working from the stories her sisters and brothers told me and used them as the base to paint a picture of her life just before the Second World War.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction.

Iris looked at her mother, pointed toward Edna and said. ‘What’s the chance that next week Dad can take both of them?’
Emily brushed at her dress again. ‘Absolutely none. If anyone needs to know their Bible, it’s Edna.’
‘What, who said my name?’ Edna was never one to be left out.
‘Mum said you’ll need a lot more Bible lessons yet.’ Aileen grinned at her, ‘just to keep you out of the Devil’s clutches.’

From the moment the visitor from the north took the pulpit, Edna always knew she wanted to be a missionary in New Guinea, so it did not matter what anyone said, God understood her and she knew he would help her resist any of Satan’s temptations. She thought about New Guinea and how she would look after unwanted babies. Along the way she would spread God’s word. While this was the world of many a scrawny country kid whose social life revolved around family church and school, it was how Edna saw herself. She still does.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A nice review about writing character

Melton Library
My writing colleagues and I often go on about the importance of plot and if one of our stories is strong or seems to lack something. As my Wordsmith's of Melton friends are a critiquing group, discussion can be quite robust and at times it becomes difficult to subject a piece for critique, then an unexpected review comes into our inbox. This is one of those.

I had passed out a few final drafts of my Detective Voss novel 'The Price of Innocence' for the members to read and identify strengths and weaknesses in the manuscript. To say I was chuffed with Sonia Doherty's review is an understatement and I have pasted it below.. Thank you Sonia.

I have started reading Voss and one thing you do really well is relationships and people. You create interesting characters and how they interact. You make us like them, flaws and all, and not like others. Some we watch grow throughout the story and some we laugh at how they behave. In all your books this is one thing that has stood out to me.


For anyone interested in writing I would recommend working with other writers within a community based critiquing group similar to ours because your writing will grow from it. Check out Writers Victoria. S A Writers and your local library should be able to help direct you too.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

A little bit from Les Gillespie's Gold

Coffee scene set in Maggie's in Orroroo South Australia.

‘No..., toys, stuff to tantalise tease and explore. You know the gear I mean.’ Fiona was laughing too.
Tilly raised her eyebrows. ‘I’ll leave all that to your imagination, but I think you have offered me an insight into your seedy side.’
‘What can I say, some girls just want to have fun.’ She winked, as the police car pulled into the kerb in front of them. ‘Not a word to John now. Deal?’
‘Not sure I can keep all of that information to myself.’ Tilly laughed.
‘No afternoon babysitter if you squeal, girl.’ Fiona’s laugh had grown louder.
‘You drive a hard bargain, friend, but we have a deal.’
‘What are you two giggling about’ John said.
‘Just the things that little girls say, Em is a crack-up.’ Fiona said.
‘I was just on my way to the hospital when I saw you two out here, sunning yourselves and drinking coffee.’ He kissed his wife. ‘Just thought I’d let you know I won’t be home for lunch, love. After this I’m off to Port Augusta, should be home a bit after six.’ He bent over and kissed her again. She ran her hand through his hair and held his kiss longer than he expected.
‘Love you.’ She said.
John felt somewhat embarrassed, looked around and gave a low growl. ‘You hussy,’ he said. ‘I’ll attend to you after the kids are in bed.’ He winked at Tilly, waved and walked back to his car.

‘And that, ladies, is how it’s done.’ Fiona remained in her chair, put her arms out and bowed until her nose almost touched her cup. She laughed, and felt her mood lighten. ‘Now you get those legs polished and book a luxury suite somewhere in Adelaide. You’ve got your own love song to play.’ She drained her cup and stood up, Fiona’s chores were calling.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Stories, where does it all come from?

Well I know where this passage came from, it's a similar conversation that many of my friends had with our bankers during the eighties. Some businesses and farms didn't make it, some people couldn't take it and a piece of rope or a rifle was their choice of escape others like Ron persevered for as long as they could. This piece from Les Gillespies gold is some of my story.

A bit of  history from my Orroroo Days
Mk 1 Cortina trunk-lid Danny Probert's
Dirt Circuit Car
Ron Reardon pushed a hand through his greying hair, he and his banker were walking around the paint and panel shop. Grass had died between the back walls and the fences, everywhere between was cleared by the four, pet sheep laying in the shade of an abandoned four-wheel-drive. A few wrecks in a line against the back of the used car yard fence. Ron had never used the second-hand yard and to him it was useless real estate.
Two months ago, a major customer declared bankruptcy, Ron had hoped for thirty cents in the dollar, but after the tax office and the first mortgage holders, there was nothing left for creditors. Now he was in trouble and the banker had told him as much only a few weeks ago. He had to sell, his latest loan application could be approved, but only with more security and at a higher interest rate. The last thing they could afford was more interest.
‘I can’t do it to Polly, there’s no way I’ll put the house on the line.’ He said.
‘I’ve known you a long time now, mate and I know how much you’ve invested yourself into the business. If you don’t find the security, maybe it’s time to call it quits. Look, if it were me, I’d declare the business bankrupt and walk away. Ron, you’re not fifty yet, start again.’ The banker tried to keep their mood upbeat.
‘The house is freehold. If I did it, we’d still keep our home, yeah?’
‘I don’t think so.’ He shrugged, ‘personal guarantees...’ He rested his backside on the front tyre of a tractor. ‘I don’t expect you’d have much to pay creditors either.’
‘Just my debtors’ ledger?’
‘First mortgagee. There’s the personal guarantees too, so the bank ’ll take that too, I’m sorry.

‘Sorry bullshit, what your saying is, I’m fucked. Twenty years of slog down the drain. Got any good news.’

The Port Fairy Priest

Another novel is gelling in my mind, this morning I couldn't sleep and rather than try to finish a piece of poetry I have had in my head for days, I pulled out a short synopsis I was working on for my Voss series. I like seascapes and have an affinity with boats and the people who use them. So finding a setting was not so difficult.

How I feel trying to get the wrinkles out of my thoughts.
This story will feature the mentor who pointed Voss onto the straight and narrow by encouraging the police force to take him under his wing. Father John was more than a man of the cloth he was someone troubled kids could talk to. Secrets are safe with him. However, when Voss finds him in Port Fairy, he is no longer a priest and has become a loner in a town living with people who despise the retired priest.

Now using the name he was born with, Gunther Wiseman is a fisherman who can't swim with a fear of the sea and Voss is intrigued with the change in his nature.This man is aggressive and shows none of the trust he had when he served God.

Now to Visit Port Fairy and see where this detective story takes us. Wish me luck.

Friday, 7 April 2017

A New Work or my thoughts on writing

When I started to record my yarns and stories on the computer I gave little thought to the way they should look, or what made them easy or difficult to read. Many writing courses later and weekly meetings with my critiquing group have prepared me well. Now with four novels sitting around waiting to find a publisher I have started to make notes about my writing journey. This is not intended to be a step by step guide, more the memoirs of an author's addition. 

Over time I hope to make it an interesting read, but for now here's a little bit of back story to put somewhere in a longer work.

Since my children have blessed me with grandchildren I have gained a better perspective for the importance of good stories in a child’s life. I remember with my own children sitting on their beds and reading Dr Seuss, Enid Blyton, Rudyard Kipling and Australia’s own Colin Thiele to them.

It didn’t matter that Mr Percival was lost we knew Stormboy would save the situation. Noddy and Big Ears shared many scrapes and came out the other side better for their adventure. The Famous Five taught us courage and Anne of Green Gables helped my girls discover the enjoyment of reading. While they were reading they also watched movies and listened to music. Every piece a story told in its own way. Sure some of the stuff served up was trash, but over time they learned to differentiate between the two.

Who didn’t sing along to Achy Breaky Heart when it came out, Billy Ray had a story to tell too, and the song did very well for him. Everything we do has a story to it and hopefully we can teach our children to be confident when they speak. Helping them to understand the stories they see or hear helps them to craft their own presentations. We are assured this century will be spoken of as the, Information Revolution, in much the same way as we speak now of the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century. If that is to be the case then reading and understanding what has been read is important and the best way to understand is to learn how to craft your own story. Therefore we need to help our children see the subtleties of good writing.

Now it's time to find a publisher for one of my manuscripts, good luck with your own writing.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Just Who is D.I. Sam Voss?

Name’s Sam Voss and I catch killers.
Born sometime in the winter of 1968 at five days old I was left on the steps of a South Melbourne Police Station. All they had to identify me was the beer box that served as a bassinet, a Jack Daniels bottle full of formula or breast milk, no one bothered to test it and a copy of Patrick White’s Voss. Desk Sergeant Vaughn Samson took care of me until child services arrived, when the paper work was finished I’d been tagged Samson Voss, a Christian name I’ve hated ever since. Friends can call me Sam, but not often.
A weak and ugly child I was overlooked by many, loved by none. After years, living in an endless roster of foster homes, I became convinced I was always destined to be an outsider. This coupled with the never-ending fights with teachers and Nuns and every one of them making me believe I was born of the Devil’s spawn. For years, those bastards made me feel despised and unworthy.
That was until the day I asked an old man in a cassock to describe evil. That old German priest dismissed that any notion I had of being the work of Satan, was rubbish. I remember him saying that every child is born innocent. However, he did point out that if I didn't sharpen up soon, I was headed for death or gaol.
Neither of those options held a lot of hope, or interest for me and for the next few years he kept an eye out for me, pushing, prodding me to do better. This old man in a worn and tattered clothes cared for people, street people, working girls and the wealthy. It didn’t matter, in his eyes everyone was the same. He taught me to care, he showed me it didn’t matter where people came from, they could fall or fly, the choice was theirs.
At seventeen, he passed me into the care of the police academy. I finally found a place I fitted into, something I was good and a career that interested me. I had somewhere to learn about structure. Not just about how a building is put together or what makes men and women different, but everyday structure. Rules, the framework a free society is built on.

So here I stand on the page before you, a seasoned and accomplished police officer determined to put killers behind bars.

The Price of Innocence - What Kevin Said

Review – Voss - The Price of Innocence - Kevin Drum

Terry – Congratulations for completing your first (of many we hope) Voss adventures.
In keeping with the genre the language pace and plot moves along really well. It’s not difficult to stay with the plot despite the emergence of the many different characters as events unfold.
I haven’t bothered to edit as in punctuation etc. as I consider someone much better qualified and more proficient than I will accommodate your requirements in this regard.
Rather I have focused on the story as a critical reader.
I found this a very enjoyable read and relished the Canberra underground porn scene with all its jealousies and competition as the underlining reason for Estelle’s brutal murder. This is Australian fiction at its best.
In the final chapters it was still  ‘all bets off” as to who was doing all of the killing and made for a gripping read.
I have been attending Wordsmith for around 18 months, and I must say that of all the participants, you are the only one to have made a major change of direction in your writing, and some most significant progress.
From an ‘old truck seller’ to’ an old tractor seller’ from way back I couldn’t be prouder of you.
May Voss, Una, Lucy, Eddie and Donna live on and prosper.
Well done and I wish you every success and huge enjoyment with Voss.
Kevin Drum


Monday, 3 April 2017

Voss - The Price of Innocence, Manuscript Assessment

A few weeks ago I received the following from Merlene Fawdry, the editor who worked wonders with my novel Kundela. Reading this again made me feel a little chuffed and for aspiring writers an assessment like this is gold.

The manuscript has now had a copy edit and several proof reads, all it needs now is a publisher.

Wish me luck


Manuscript: Voss
Author: Terry L Probert
Genre: Crime
Word Count: Approx. 57,000
Date: 18 January 2015
Editor: Merlene Fawdry

The story is built on layers of intrigue that make it a compelling read. The quality of the writing is high and shows a crafting of all elements that make a complete whole. There are some areas requiring attention and these are listed under the relevant categories below.
Story Concept
This is a solid crime story that follows a series of murders through from detection to resolution. Along the way the lawmaker becomes a suspect law breaker, when a perceived conflict of interest is detected, sidelining him from the case. Determined to prove his innocence and bring the killer to justice he works behind the scenes with a reclaimed dropout from society, 
The plot has sufficient conflict and resolution, with carefully crafted rising action woven as subplots throughout the chapters, to keep the reader interested from first page to last. Most importantly, it is realistic and believable.

The characters are well developed, some more than others, with most evoking emotional responses from the reader. Although stereotypical to some degree, in terms of the setting, they manage to retain their own sense of uniqueness that is required to set this story apart from others in this genre. I have some difficulty with the relationship between Una and Voss. At times this is inappropriately flirty, considering their rank, even though they go back a long way. You get it right when he states he sees her as more of a sister and it would work better if she responded with this parameter. Consider revising last para on P 150.

There is a clear beginning, middle and end, with each component serving the story as a whole. It has a strong opening, which is well written, graphic and enticing to the reader. The middle, which is most of the book, is a marvel of plots and subplots that are believable and all relevant to the bigger picture.  The end, when it comes, is surprising, yet believable and satisfactory to the reader. Another strength of this ending is the sympathy and understanding it invoked in the reader. Well done.

Point of View
The first person POV is consistent throughout. It works well to give immediacy to the story while allowing the reader insight into the protagonist’s thought processes and actions. We hear Voss’s voice loud and clear and this helps the reader in the knowing of the man.

The plot move at a pace fast enough to grasp and maintain the reader’s interest. There are a couple of places where it flags a bit due to a deviation from the story line and these are mentioned below.

Chaptering has been masterfully done, finishing each with satisfaction for the reader while propelling the reader into the next chapter.

The use of language is fresh and appropriate to the characters or narrator most of the time, the dialogue is realistic and immediate and research into the subject adds authenticity to word choices.
 An example of ambiguity:
I dumped everything into my brief case and started to unplug the laptop.
‘Leave that and your car keys. I’ll need this for somewhere to drop in to check up on things and I’ll use your car too, at least until you get back.’ She turned and I opened the door for her. She leant in and whispered to me, ‘That’s if you do get back.’ And not for the first time, I watched Una Knight leave my office.
I’m not sure what this means or even why she would need to use his laptop and car when she would have her own. If her taking these things is important to the story then there needs to be a disclaimer in there somewhere, like maybe her own car is out of action – going in for a service or repairs and she’ll use his to save requisitioning another one from the pool her use. You would also need to have a concrete and believable reason for her to use his laptop instead of her own.

Fictional Dream
Writer and teacher John Gardner had a concept he called the fictional dream, which was the idea that fiction does its job by creating a dream state for the reader, and as long as the writer is doing a good job of maintaining that dream state, the reader won't "wake up" from it and will continue to read and believe in the fictional world the writer has created. Gardner argues that this fictional dream first happens in the writer's head, and the writer's job is to write it down for the reader.
I felt the Fictional Dream was established early in this work and maintained throughout through fast paced plotting and use of language to create imagery to enable the reader to step inside the story. Areas that detract from this are mentioned below.

Distractions and issues
A distraction for me was in the selection of names that dated the characters, giving the impression that either they, or the work itself, were older than intended. One older name might slip past the reader, conjuring an image of parents thinking outside the box or using a family name. Use too many, and the work and the writer become dated. Older names in this category include: Una, Baz (Barrie- even the spelling doesn’t save this one), Gerry (Roger), Ronald, Marion, Dulce, while names that work for this contemporary story are Estelle, Gabby, Lucy, Tamsyn, Patrice, Brigitte, Steph etc. and all the ethnic names, with Tony and Peter just scraping through.
I took on board your desire to keep her name and have taken the following approach on P21:
‘For Christ’s sake, Voss. I must have told you to call me Una, a hundred times.’
‘But these days, you’re my superior ma’am.’ Besides, I didn’t really like the name. It reminded me of a fusty great aunt and this Una was anything but. I remember her telling me once her parents choose the name for it for its Gaelic meaning, “she knows”, well they got that right. Someone just forgot to add “it all’ on the end of it.
When building characters, once their age has been established, one tip is to research names used in their year of birth and choose from these. This adds authenticity to the work, while not placing the writer into a particular age demographic. This can be quite challenging at times for the older writer as using contemporary names that we aren’t used to hearing can take us out of our comfort zone.
Regarding Gerry, apart from his name which puts him in the 60 + age range, I recommend you revisit a number of facts about this character.
  1. If he had been living for several years as a homeless person with a penchant for drink, his habits would be established and it would be virtually impossible to make the rapid and almost seamless transition back to the world of the living.

    ‘Don’t you ever want your old life back?’ I had heard about him once in a police economics lecture, a bloke who’d had it all. An eighties entrepreneur who made it in property development. He’d ridden the crash out in the nineties, but the GFC smashed him. Seven years later and he’s living in my front yard.
  2. If he had a problem with drink then one assumes he is an alcoholic, then having alcohol around him in any form would be a recipe for disaster, before or after he moves in.
  3. Homeless people don’t live in suburban front gardens, particularly in the garden of a cop, as they usually hang closer to services for ease of access, so I think this needs to be reconsidered. A solution could be to have Voss living in a townhouse closer to the CBD or welfare service precinct.
  4. No cop would have a homeless person living in the front yard so to make this believable you’d need to establish a former relationship. This doesn’t need to be complex, maybe consider Gerry as a former cop before moving into the world of finance, perhaps someone who was at the academy at the same time.
There is a section, pages 53 – 56 which does nothing to progress the story and I wondered why it was in there at all. It didn’t work for me and I suspect any reader from the LBGT community may find it offensive, which I know is not your intention.
There is some confusion around Estelle’s will. If she was divorced from her husband and had a legal will naming beneficiaries then the order of death is academic.

Other recommendations
P 46 reference to Voss collecting ex pursuit cars. This crops up later with the mini and the subject of garaging the collection hasn’t been broached. Also the mini isn’t mentioned when first the garage is first referenced in relation to setting Gerry up in there. You could take care of this by mentioning storage elsewhere.
I went to the police garage. Eddie the manager knew I collected pursuit cars and kept me informed about anything special that was coming out of service. I’d have to pull back on this at some stage though as my storage unit was almost at capacity.
P 107
‘Thanks, I think I might slink over to Patrice, see how she’s doing.’ I put another twenty on the bar. ‘Order up boys or leave the barman a tip, up to you.’ They ordered drinks and Beach counted the change, they had enough for a couple more.
$20 probably wouldn’t buy a glass of water in this place so maybe increase this to a fifty.
All in all Terry, this is an exceedingly well crafted story that only requires minor tweaks before the final edit, although it is always your choice as to whether you accept the suggestions for change. I look forward to hearing your views.


18 Jan 2016

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Two Engagement Rings Don't Make A Marriage

I'm a good way into the edits of the follow up story to Kundela, in this passage Jeff Rankin one of the supporting characters has asked Tilly to marry him, but she has a problem with the engagement rings. Check it out as she chats with one of her friends.

‘What do you mean you have two rings?’ Angela said. ‘You sure you’re not being a bit greedy there, girl?’
‘Ah, it’s not that. I wanted us to find a jeweller and choose the one we liked, that’s all. I don’t want to seem ungrateful and I can’t favour one family over the other, but if I’m truthful, neither of these is me. Do you know what I’m getting at, or am I just being a bitch?’
‘If, I ever get the chance,’ Angela her nodded head toward Andy and rolled her eyes. ‘If ever I get asked, I’d want to pick my ring too. Either that or...’
Tilly took a ring from her pocket and dropped it into Angela’s open hand.
‘My god girl, look at those stones? Your problem is one I’d like to share.’ She slipped a ring onto her finger and stretched her arm out. ‘Uhmm, no not really my style either.’
Tilly passed her the other ring and said. ‘I know, after lunch Jeff asked Em if she wanted to look at Ted’s cattle, chooks and horses.’ Tilly looked around to make sure Jeff couldn’t hear her and whispered. ‘Ted and I were in his kitchen talking, you know, trying to get to know each other better. Well, Ted said he’d spent almost three month’s wages on this ring. Imagine that, sitting on a horse tailing along behind cattle for all that time and knowing when you got home, you’d blow all your wages on an engagement ring.’
‘Wow, a fair bit to put into a ring?’
‘That’s why it’s so hard, he said, he picked it out and all. Told me it was the best move he ever made.’ Tilly heard her own voice crackle with the images Ted’s story conveyed. ‘I saw tears in his eyes when he gave it to me. God, I don’t want to piss him off or Jeff either, but just I don’t like it.’
Angela was rotating Ted’s ring around in her fingers, letting the light catch the diamond. She gave it back and Tilly passed her the other one. This was older and made of rose gold. A smaller diamond, mounted high on white gold and ringed with rubies, its style came from another era.
‘They are ugly, aren’t they?’ Tilly said.

‘Yep, what does Jeff say?’

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A little bit from KUNDELA

To celebrate the finishing of my Detective Voss manuscript, I thought I'd like to share a little bit from my first novel Kundela. The setting is Port Augusta, at the cross roads from Pert to Sydney and Adelaide to Darwin. Regarded as the gateway to South Australia's outback Port Augusta has many attractions to interest the visitor.  
In this chapter Senior Constable Jeff Rankin has asked his superior about getting forensics to examine the remains of a dead steer clay panned (shot and dressed on its skin) on the Gillespie's property, Wanooka's Well. The sergeant has another plan.

Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award 2013 
Kundela is available through the Kindle Store for less than $3.00 for another 2 weeks.

The Sergeant had stored an assortment of tools in the back of the patrol car earlier and now, with a frozen cow’s head riding alongside everything they needed, the two officers drove to the gliding club. Jeff unlocked the gate and swung it open, red dust powdered by the car’s wheels hung in the still mid-morning air as Jeff returned to the passenger seat.
‘What’ve you got planned?’
‘Watch and learn Jeffery boy. Watch and learn. When I was a kid, I was fishing out in the gulf and caught this big spider crab,’ He indicated its size by taking his hands from the steering wheel, stretching his arms across the width of the car, ‘My old grandad showed me how to keep it as a trophy and that’s what we’ll do with this one.’
Doug Simpson stopped the car and pointed to a bare patch of ground near a stand of acacias that defined a long established bull ant’s nest. He opened the boot and took out a toolbox. It contained a mix of spanners, knives, string, pliers and tape.
‘Here Jeff, put these shopping bags over your boots, use the rubber bands to seal them against your trousers. You won’t want any of those angry little buggers getting into your strides. I parked back a way, because I don’t want any of them riding back to the station with us.’
Jeff watched as his boss worked, setting up his bush laboratory. Ants reacted to the vibrations coming from movement near their nest and streamed out in angry lines, ready to attack the intruder. A deft hand sent the lid from a twenty-litre paint tin, frisbee style into the centre of the nest, stirring them up even more.
Jeff wondered what an onlooker would make of two police officers dancing around in the scrub. He looked at the ground, high stepping, trying to keep away from the insects, and then he worked it out. Studying his footprints in the sand more closely he yelled, ‘Modern day Kadaichi Man. That’s it Boss. Look at your footprints. They look the same as in the photos. Those buggers had their boots covered, but why? There was no ant nest close enough at the kill site.’
Doug unrolled his long shirtsleeves and, tucking them into the blue rubber gloves, placed the beast’s head onto the plastic lid. Battalions of soldier ants attacked, clambering onto the plastic protecting his shoes. Jeff burst out laughing as his boss danced and stamped his way back to the car, his jagged movements ensuring any remaining ants fell into the dry red dust, while he brushed at them savagely with his hand.
‘Now we have to protect it from eagles, foxes and crows. Pass me that old plastic rubbish bin and a few bits of wood’
Jeff stood back as Doug assembled his contraption. First, he placed the bin over the thawing head, then the woolpack Joe had given him to cover it last Friday and around the perimeter, he used the wood Jeff had collected to hold everything in place. Ants swarmed over Doug’s boots again, he started stamping and slapping at them, making sure none breeched his defences.
‘I should take a photo of you and put it up in the rec room,’ Jeff laughed.
‘After all I do for you. I don’t think so!’
Back at the car, Doug stripped off the plastic bags and pulled his trousers out of his socks, checking carefully to see if any ants remained on his clothing. Once satisfied he was ant-free, he removed his gloves, putting his and Jeff’s discarded protection into a zip-lock bag and sealing it.
A stop on our trip through the Oladdie Hills north of Orrooroo
searching for inspiration when writing Les Gillespies Gold
‘Now we can come back in a couple of weeks and they will have stripped that out, leaving any projectiles on the lid for us. What do you think?’
‘Should work I reckon. With those skills, you could have a bit of blackfella in you too.’

‘Don’t think so, mate.’

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Take 2

Rain and hail beats a heavy tune
Wind's fingers rip at the walls of my winter room
And like a heard of scalded banshee it just wails
I’m trying hard to force the words to flow
But my tiny chapter just won’t grow
Yesterday I had the muse that precious gift
But now today, I just don’t know.

Words that tempted me when I was young
Haunt me now like songs we’ve sung
Today every sentence I’ve written just fails
So I tap the keys time and time again
I read margin notes I’ve scratched with pen
Where is that story tellers gift I’m sure I had
And why today are my words so bad

A ray of sunshine tries to sneak through
But rain and wind wipe away my sky of blue
Write something else I say to me
A song a rhyme to find the flow
My advice for others if their words were slow
But what’s it worth, this advice for free
Looking out at an angry day of stormy sea

Hail and rain still beat their tune
And wind still rips away at my writer’s room
And like a hundred banshees still does wail
Still trying hard to force the flow
Words still fail and the chapter doesn’t grow
Yesterday I had my prize a writer’s gift

And yet today I’m lost I just don’t know