on the writing & reading trail

Posts tagged ‘anthology’

Editing and writing

29 November

Editing: Steady progress. Nothing startling – the usual changes – rejig sentences and paragraphs, chop some adverbs, get rid of repetitions, turn passive into active, and transform ‘tell’ to ‘show’ where possible.

I’ve included a short extract from Past imperfect – Eyemouth again but from an earlier time. This is where Freya’s father grew up after the war after being found alone on the shore as a baby.

Freya remembered their family visit to Eyemouth in 1970 when she and Jacob walked to this same cottage all those years ago. Claire and Nessie and Douglas were unpacking in the little house they’d rented for a few days. All of them were excited to be celebrating the fiftieth wedding anniversary of their Dunbar grandparents over the weekend. Seventy-something had seemed so old, beyond imagining. Before they arrived, Freya had pictured them as tiny, wizened and helpless. It was mind-blowing that old people could be energetic and full of laughter and thankful for their lives. So different from Gramma.

The breeze had blown sharp off the North Sea, ruffling their hair and stinging their cheeks. Papa’s words were still clear in her mind. ‘Feel that bracing air, Freya, seaweed and salt, it makes your lungs hungry for more.’ He pointed out the harbour wall where he used to chat with the fishermen and the boat-builders at weekends and after school, and to the large shed where he learned so many of his carpentry and building skills.

For Papa he’d been quite talkative. ‘I hope the old pair are not too frail. Their writing has been getting spidery lately. I suppose that happens after seventy.’ He’d suddenly turned and touched her shoulder, ‘Don’t say anything about the war, Freya, unless they do. Remember they lost their two boys when they were teenagers. So sad. I only got to know the younger one vaguely, he left when I was four, but those boys were the ones who found me.’

Writers Group get-together: Carole recently travelled to the US and hosted a wonderful show of carefully selected photographs from Hawaii, California, the north-east and New York. What a wonderful range of experiences. Thank you Carole.

We were also pleased that the launch of our Ten Minute Tales anthology (find it on Google) had local press coverage with quotes from two of the group, Carole and Nene. The anthology is free on Smashwords.

On the way home I stopped to photograph the wonderful avenue of Poinciana trees.

Reading: I finished the Koomson book – a satisfying end. Had to be like that. Ready to read a book I bought recently I am frustrated – it has disappeared and is not to be found in the usual places. Time to clear all surfaces.

Writing: Hopefully I’ll manage to complete the second story with a twist, probably destined for our next anthology. There are so many stories buzzing – fiction and some memoir fragments. Will I live long enough? Probably not because I’m sure the font won’t dry up.

Edit diary and celebration

Days 133-136 (September 21-24)

Afternoon: Scrolled through a number of chapters with small items highlighted and was able to fix them quickly. Two chapters still have significant work to be done. Also need to check original research to make sure that any earlier changes haven’t raised anomalies; e.g. moving dates that may not match seasonal issues in Africa with regard to rainy season, hunger gap and disease outbreaks. The library was quiet even though many children were there because of school holidays. Left sooner than intended and made it home ahead of the worst of a storm. The season has started.

Quiet here today

This morning was special. Our Writers Group had a small function to celebrate the e-publishing of our anthology Ten Minute Tales and to meet our UK writer who is in Australia on a brief holiday with his wife to visit relatives. It was a lovely get-together and Graham is just how I imagined he would be from reading his writing and enjoying his imaginative approach to story topics. I’ve included a picture of our cake which represents the cover of the anthology (a co-operative family event I gather). It picks up the wonderful blue in the real cover picture. Find the anthology by Googling Ten Minute Tales anthology.

Ten Minute Tales

The end of last week was slow for editing – mainly catch-up at home after being away. The effects of the break haven’t worn off. Still on coastal time I think.

Evening sky


Edit diary, Tech question, Critiquing, Anthology, Writers Festival

Days 115-117 (September 4-6)

Editing: Am working on Book Two in the mornings (current edit almost done, at least one more to go) and Book One in the afternoons (hopefully the last sweep). At the moment I’m still too close to the second story to see it objectively, but was a bit shocked in my revisit of Book One to find more than the occasional stilted passage surviving.

In both parts of the day there is much chopping and compacting along with loosening up. I hope the need for significant changes will tail off soon.

Tech question: I’ve been hankering after an iPad for a while but feel unable to justify the expenditure with a trusty laptop that travels with me for everyday use and a trouble-free PC at home. When a For DUMMIES book on iPad 2 jumped out from the library display table I couldn’t resist the chance to explore what it can do. So who knows where that could end? I’ve seen some writer colleagues toting a compact package with iPad, external keyboard and other bits and pieces working very effectively. Maybe the versatility, light weight and therefore easier portability will win me over.

Critiquing: Tomorrow’s meeting of ourWriters Group promises to be interesting. Most members continue to submit work each month. As always it is a joy to see new work or chapters that have been reworked, shining in different ways. This month I was so excited by a YA story that seems to have taken off – very talented writing. I can see it being snapped up when completed.

I’ve had online feedback already for my chapter, and look forward to tomorrow’s discussion of the comments. I had intended to wait for all suggestions before making changes, but related so strongly to one view that I have already done a big rewrite of one section with more to do in other parts of the story so that one of Freya’s character flaws can be more clearly understood. Very clear in my head but hadn’t come through to the page.

It will also be good to hear opinions about the experiences of several members who are participating in ongoing workshops sponsored by the Queensland Writers Centre.

Anthology: The number of views is climbing. Hopefully readers will enjoy the results of our fun experience. It’s free on Smashwords. Title is Ten Minute Tales by the Victoria Point Writers Group.

Queensland Writers Festival: There are so many interesting workshops and panelson offer it has been hard to choose. I plan to flit between a number all day on Saturday.

Anthology, Edit diary, Future


Days 111-114 (August 31-September 3)

Saturday’s walk in the park was an opportunity to arrange which sessions to attend at the Queensland Writers Festival next weekend. So many interesting speakers and topics! Lots of walkers and cyclists were taking advantage of our wonderful facilities and there were some Father’s Day celebrations in progress.

Reflections from the bridge

Glorious spring day today. A slight nip in the air, sunny and cheerful, like the weekend, although there were sobering moments remembering the deaths of five Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, many asylum seekers lost from people-smuggling boats in the unforgiving waters between Indonesia and Australia, unnecessary road deaths and the impacts of violence in our communities. Good to see something positive in the Paralympic Games.

Anthology: Also a positive is the publication on the ether of our Writers Group Anthology: Ten Minute Tales.It can be found through Smashwords at the following address:            www. smashwords.com/profile/view/tenminutetales. The learning experience in getting it together was what we wanted and we’re pleased with our modest result and the fun along the way. Some of us are convinced that publishing a simple novel with one person’s input would be a breeze. We still have one small task to complete for the cover.

Somehow the weekend slipped past without an opportunity to improve my blogsite. Maybe sometime soon.

The Library was wonderfully quiet later after a happily noisy children’s session of song and story in the morning. Priming our future readers.

Good work environment

Editing: Started well with a rapid sweep through the second last chapter of Present tense (I jumped a couple of awkward ones that still have highlighted sections needing attention). Many changes made, taking advantage of suggestions from Writers Group critiques of previous work where I hadn’t gone beyond the initial bare bones of the action and dialogue. Will need another look of course, but I’m happy with the progress.

Freya is in Amsterdam after assisting the medical evacuation of a Dutch volunteer colleague with cerebral malaria. Attached is the beginning of an email Freya is writing for her friend and mentor in Australia:

To:  l_dawson@weserve.com.au

Subject: Catch-up time

Dear Louise

A magnum opus. Hopefully this will make up a bit for the gaps between notes in recent times. Even Reg’s whizz bang technology is defeated by Sudanese remoteness and our gruelling workload. Arif was troubled when I left; the team was withdrawn a few days later. 

So. Greetings from Amsterdam. I’m here ahead of time because of the repatriation of Dora, a Dutch colleague with cerebral malaria. She is very ill, touch-and-go. You’ll know what that means from your time in Vietnam.

An Australian doctor, Mani, and I specialled her during the flights in a Mission Aviation Fellowship plane from Loki to Nairobi and then in a giant Hercules to Amsterdam. Arrangements from Arif were hair-raising, but Ken, the new man there somehow made it all work, and we managed to deliver Dora alive to tropical diseases intensive care here. The chief doctor seems confident she will make a good recovery but it may take a while. Will tell you the whole story in person sometime.

Yes it is the Dora I knew in Scotland. You’ve seen photos of her, the one with the blonde curls and the wonderful smile. So many amazing things have happened where fact seems stranger than fiction. Makes me wonder why anyone needs fiction! Maybe I was right after all to give it up for those years. No I don’t really mean that; as you have said it might have helped me to understand some things better.

I’ve been keeping the journaling going as much as I can, and it should be easy with Reg’s generous gift of the solar laptop. Trouble is my brain shuts down quite often when the work stops. Probably inbuilt protection to allow sleep as a priority. I will update as soon as possible, before I forget it all.

I hope you are keeping work life in balance. Fat chance I suspect with the transfer of nurse education filtering through and all those extra committees you seem to be on. Whilst the powers that be are showing good judgment in having you as a chairperson or member I am not sure that they are being fair considering the challenges of your main job at the hospital. Are you well? Write if you can. I appreciate your emails so much, even though access to the internet is intermittent and depends on everything being right at the one time. I will be in email contact for the next week or so and then off the planet probably when I get to the north of Scotland. I plan to spend a few weeks at least at my croft cottage in Wester Ross. I think I told you I inherited that after Mama died. It will be good to be somewhere alone. I just feel like drowning the world in tears right now but I’m holding on till then.

Mani (short for Emmanuel I think) was born of Scots and Aboriginal parents at a Catholic mission in the Northern Territory. He was orphaned when he was a toddler and adopted by an Australian couple passing through at the time.

Between our debriefing interviews with the MSF office here, we are frequent visitors to the hospital to see how Dora is progressing. The staff are patient with us dropping in. Between times we are hanging out, having a look around the local sights, and feeling desperate together about the plenty we see, and the waste, and feeling deep sadness for the ones we left behind in Sudan and Kenya. It has almost confirmed for me that I’ll do at least one other mission but I’ll take a few months to recuperate a bit first. I have told the office here and Sydney HQ, and they seem happy for me to get in touch when I’m ready again.

Before Freya heads to the cottage in Wester Ross, she and Mani are invited to spend a few days with Molly in Edinburgh (Freya’s volunteering colleague in Arif).

The future: In Book Three (working title Future hope), during her furlough, Freya’s future opens up in unexpected ways after a mystifying encounter with a mother and son in the Scottish Highlands. Some of the family puzzles of the past are resolved.

Edit diary – Book Two

Day 1 (May 15)

Yes, it happened in the late afternoon today. Book Two editing is on its way. The middle  two parts of the original long document were separated and transferred to their own file. Haven’t found the title yet, but expect it to have the word ‘present’ included as a follow on from Book One’s new title Past Imperfect. Book Three is almost certain to be ‘future’ oriented.

The mid-part of the day was for short story work. I tidied up a short 600-word one titled Unintended consequences and prepared it for posting this evening as a competition entry. Not a startling story, just a little insight into care and appreciation across generations. Over lunch I read the last few pages of a Delinsky novel set in a small community reluctantly accepting change – light and frivolous – a break from the heavy humanitarian aid resources I spend much time on.

Back where progress happens

Early morning effort was devoted to finding appropriate places in our draft anthology for new material received yesterday. Little else to do before sending to all seven authors for final checking before our formatting volunteer gets to work on it. Library was wonderfully peaceful today.

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