on the writing & reading trail

Posts tagged ‘Kruger National Park’

Edit diary, reading

19 November

Arrived at the library before opening time. Returned a book I could not finish reading; interested in the subject in the broad, but found it too heavy on detail that got in the way of my vision of the characters and the surroundings. Will check my own work on the next sweep through to see if I’ve done the same. Probably not; more likely the reverse. While waiting, I found new colour to photograph. Don’t know the name of this wonderful red foliage but it looks well with the nearby jacaranda still in flower. Now there are both red and purple carpets, courtesy of our recent high winds and storms. No damage in our locality but much elsewhere.

Windblown carpet

Editing: Slow. Made quite a few changes, mostly chopping sentences where I’d already cut content. And the same old business of changing the order within both sentences and paragraphs as well as finding the passive sentences that an agent had mentioned were there. Didn’t change them all; kept some for variety, and deleted some. The following is a short extract from the prologue of Past imperfect.

Glasgow – mid-October, 1970: – Rushes of energy rippled through the girl’s body like it sometimes did at home when a storm was building. There, it was always safe under the house or in one of the rooms. Puzzled at feeling scared like this inside her grandmother’s flat, she tightened her fingers around her father’s hand and half-stepped sideways to sense comfort from her mother’s soft wool coat.

The old lady was almost spitting, her face contorted, ‘No . . . No, I won’t go with you. I’ve told you before I’m not interested in traipsing about. Certainly not to that godless place.’

The girl cringed inside, but showed no expression, as the grandmother’s dark eyes bored into her. Fretting at the dissension she wondered if the reaction was stronger because today’s visit was her choice?

She wanted, . . . needed, to see where her mother had lived as a small child; to claim some insight into her mother’s life before it had been swallowed by the depressions. Mother’s memory of those years was vague, and grandmother would only say, ‘It’s all best forgotten.’

The older brother and younger sister were fidgeting, standing by the door, ready to leave. They didn’t mind if grandmother stayed home or went with them but their sister let her breath out gently, and felt her father’s hand relax around hers as he ushered her towards the door. Mrs Brown, the housekeeper was holding it open for them.

Outside, life in the grey city hummed under a lowering sky. Happed up people huddled and hurried along streets and cobbled paths that were greased and dark with the smirr of morning rain. It could turn into an anything kind of day but hadn’t yet made up its mind; to sun, or stay with rain, or sleet, or maybe even drop some early snow.


Spent a lot of time rejigging the short synopsis (300 words) and playing with the idea of the elevator pitch. No short synopsis can embody the complexity of a family saga with a couple of sub-plots, but I did the best I could to show the over-riding conflicts for the two major characters. Next task will be to work on the longer synopsis.

Reading: Found another Dorothy Kroomson book, goodnight, beautiful. Now there’s an author who seamlessly does detail, both physical and emotional and I never want to stray. I’ve only started the story but it is powerful, about complicated personal and family matters. You can find out more about Dorothy at http://www.dorothykoomson.co.uk/before-the-rose-petal-beach-a-special-free-ebook-prequel-available/ I’m predicting that many people will be hooked if they take a look at this website.

Also started a book about brain health but may not keep going. It seems a bit out of date and I’ll jettison it if I don’t find any new material in the next couple of chapters. I can get updates on old information in later publications for sure. My fault, should have checked publication date.

Critiquing: It’s almost time to be pulling a chapter together for our next meeting, and to have the chapters piling in. I always enjoy this time of the month to travel far afield, literally and metaphorically. My chapter will still be with Alexander, in Kruger National Park on his solo flying survey, when he stumbles (can you do that in an aircraft?) on what may be an illegal elephant cull.


Edit diary and reading

Day 137 (September 25)

An early start to the day attending to personal and business arrangements, so I didn’t get to the Library till later to start editing.

Editing: Scrolled through last twelve chapters of Book Two (Present tense) and attended to most highlight areas except in those two pest chapters that still need a fair bit of attention. However, I’ve tracked down the relevant research material and will be able to check details for re confirmation or necessary changes in coming days.

I was diverted from that task to check for potential date changes that could affect issues for Book Three (working title meantime is Future hope) so I dropped into the second part of the story to check. Once there, the need for a few changes jumped out – nothing major – and I found myself enjoying the new timeframe but it is clear there is a question significant to the ending date for Future hope to be considered. Today I tapped into the story where Freya is ending her furlough which included time in Scotland, Europe and Australia, with a holiday at a ranger’s home in Kruger National Park prior to commencing her next mission which will take her back to South Sudan.

Following a number of startling experiences in Scotland and Denmark Freya’s personal confidence about her place in family and life in general has been enhanced. Little does she realise there are more surprises and twists in store. I am looking forward to starting the edit of Future hope from the beginning, starting on October 1.

Below is a short excerpt from where I started reading today, when Freya and her former nursing boss in Australia (Louise) and Louise’s erstwhile Dutch colleague (Hanne) spend time with Sandy, wife of the park ranger Bill who has not returned home as expected, possibly because he is shadowing a poacher.

Louise and Hanne smiled at each other. They’d caught up on essentials in the last few hours, and the years of separation had faded away. During the ten days here, followed by four weeks travelling on their own, they’d fill in the fine details at leisure, how and when they wanted. In tandem their gazes swept the room, and rested on Freya, sharing a sense of delight at her total relaxation. It seemed the bush was her place.

Although Sandy sat as if at peace, there was an aura of restlessness about her. Ten minutes on, she said, ‘If Bill doesn’t come soon, I won’t put off asking all about you any longer Hanne. I reckon I’ve been patient enough. Bill will just have to put up with my second-hand story to save you repeating it. I told him about the fun we had when you stayed with us in Cape Town so long ago. You were on your way to Australia then.’

‘That’s where I met Louise. She took pity on me late one night in Rockhampton when I’d missed my Greyhound bus booking for Brisbane. I never did get to spend time there because Lou persuaded me to go with her to Cairns and use her place as a base to explore north Queensland. She said Brisbane was just another city but the north was something else.’ Hanne turned to smile at Louise, ‘She was right. It was a magic place that year. Cairns was laid-back, the tableland communities were interesting and it was a privilege to see the tropical rainforests and travel as far as you could go, to Bamaga on the tip of Cape York. I always meant to go back to Oz to see southern parts of Australia, but never made it. And we lost touch.’ Hanne reached over to pat Louise’s arm. ‘How did we let that happen?’

‘Life gets in the way I guess. I moved a lot around that time, taking casual jobs. And then I got into serious work and for a few years it took over. Steep learning curves getting into management. . . . And you got famous and busy with all that writing and projects.’

‘Thanks to Freya’s volunteering you tracked me down.’

Reading: My shelf of books on loan from the library is looking very different from recent months. Instead of flaunting a predominant mix of fiction with around 30% humanitarian aid volumes, it is now 100% with books for the move to editing work on Future hope. Suddenly (and I’m sure very temporarily) I feel a compulsion to work solely on material that will help to flesh out my writing. The book of recent days is by Paul Watson, Where war lives: A journey into the heart of war. So far it is a stark and sobering read, but will be helpful to bring more authenticity to one of my middle-range characters. Freya was drawn to Leka when they met during her flight to Africa in Present tense. He turns up again in Future hope.

The following paragraphs are taken from a review of Watson’s book by Levon Sevunts, himself a journalist, writer, producer and translator at http://sevunts.com/?p=35:

“The writing is edgy, sometimes chaotic and raw. It feels like you’ve jumped in for a bumpy ride with a war correspondent: You get the passenger-side view of the madness around you and the inside view of how journalists work and survive in humanity’s hellholes.

Along the way, Watson shares his mental anguish, his feelings of guilt and his struggle with depression and the onset of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Yet he manages to avoid the “tortured soul reveals all” stereotype. Where War Lives is an emotional but also intelligent book. It takes the reader behind the headlines. Watson “unspins” lies and propaganda, shows the reader the connection between fighting in the streets of Mogadishu and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The book also shows the power – sometimes unintended – of the media.”

Anthology celebration: I’m including a photo of our group from the anthology celebration, along with one of the group unable to attend due to his work commitments.

Our absent writer

Celebrating our anthology

Edit diary, writing, reading

Day 110 (August 30)

Editing: I continue to work on Present tense (Book 2 of 3).

The morning started well; mind felt clear, and I decided to skip continuity to a chapter containing different content. This is partly because the next chapter is currently with our Writers Group for critique at the end of next week and it seems prudent to wait for feedback before making changes there.

So, today I am with Alexander in an isolated setting in Kruger National Park and then in the air above the Park. He is enjoying this new adventure that began with an unexpected display of violence by a rogue elephant which found its way into the camp where his group of would-be photojournalists were starting the day. Although I made many changes (nothing of great significance) I decided to revisit earlier relevant research materials with a view to expanding a small part of the chapter. I found what I wanted, but more importantly I’ve ear-marked several topics from resources for possible incorporation into the third book relating to Freya’s experience in a Kruger game reserve.

A short sample from the Alexander chapter follows. He is undertaking an aerial survey in preparation for next year’s project, after leaving his boss at Park HQ in Skukuza to work on preliminary negotiations about locations:

For the first part of the flight Alexander was exhilarated in a low-key way by the natural appearance of animal trails and water holes spread across endless low scrub and grasses; little different from what he’d seen already. All looked well with the world until he met the obvious boundary between the park and humanity. The differences were stark. On the one side, evidence of rhinos, buffalos, wildebeests, impalas, elephants and more. On the other side very little natural land was visible, clearly overused for shelter, cattle grazing and cultivation by and for the vast and needy populations of people and beasts.

Alexander turned the cameras off and on as the landscape changed. Although he was fairly confident the sophisticated automatic and computer-driven cameras were working well, he backed up by taking notes on the board strapped to his thigh. Also when the terrain changed he shot a short manual segment with commentary and GPS record.

Writing: Today’s post brought WQ, the monthly publication of the Queensland Writers Centre. I’ve earmarked a number of short story competitions to follow up on as I’ve five or six stories that might fit if I did some work on them, and an endless fund of ideas. Time is the only commodity in short supply. Will have to decide a balance between urgency for editing and tackling some novelty action.

Reading: Crossing to safety is so beguiling. The four main characters feel vibrant and real. I want to invite them to a party. The power of first person writing is potent. I think I will explore that in a couple of short stories soon. Also I may be developing a little courage about trying to improve my blogsite. The WordPress book is helping. Hopefully changes will be evident soon – maybe at the weekend.

Edit diary (9-12 March)

Days 17 – 20 (March 9-12, 2012)

March 12: Out of phase again – accompanied family member to early medical appointment, followed by a short time in the library for editing. I managed to complete a draft synopsis for Book Three. No success with a title, although I came up with many brainstormed possibilities. Not one is just right. I’ll be out of routine tomorrow as well for same reason as today. Hopefully there can be a return to momentum after that. I had a bit of fun scanning some of the time two of the main characters spent in Kruger National Park near the end of the whole saga. Can’t wait to get to the editing there – some glaring faults stood out. 

March 11: Bitty day without opportunity to get to manuscript. Some time with social networking. Followed a few new people on Twitter – interesting links for writers. Had a quick look at book cover providers even though not nearly ready for that yet.

March 10: No editing. Attended website building workshop in case I decide to

English: Elephant crossing the road in Kruger ...

Image via Wikipedia

do that soon. Interesting and helpful. Played with site ideas later in day.

March 9: Minor editing in am – started synopsis for Book 3 – still no title. Face-to-face networking over lunch and finding out about a local writers network group. Discussed progress on our novels.

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