Follow by Email

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Catching Up, No Excuses and Australia's Wild Weather

Exercise??  Don't be silly!

The photographer caught this crazy lightning shot over Surfers Paradise

Bella laughs at me when I tell her my dreams.

Yes, I know, it's been a looooooong time since I last posted but I'm not offering any just is.

You may (or may not) have seen the two articles in WYZA where I was asked about my weight loss regimen.  I was quite chuffed when the editor contacted me and asked if I would be interviewed for these.  It came about when the question was posed in WYZA if anyone had tried the Mediterranean diet and what their results were.  I had to show off (of course!) and commented that I lost 25 kg and had kept it off for several years.  That was the beginning.

A week or so ago, I had a message on Facebook from someone purporting to be a producer of Channel 9's "A Current Affair", as the name suggests, a show on...current affairs.  I thought it was spam or someone trying to be funny and ignored it.  I then get an email from Kathy, the editor of WYZA, asking if she could pass my details on to Ch 9 as they wanted to film a segment on weight loss.  The next day, I heard they'd contacted the facilitator of my writers group.  I was beginning to get the idea that it wasn't a joke after all.

Apparently, they'd been ringing my mobile but as I don't answer unknown numbers and there were no messages left for me, that didn't work.  Anyway, they now have my contact details if they're still interested.  Time will tell.

* * * * * * * *

It's been a summer of wild bushfires and flooding rains.  Western Australia and Victoria had some dreadful fires with the small township of Yarloop no more.  Now Tasmania is experiencing bushfires in heritage listed areas where fires just don't happen, except they are at the moment.  Meanwhile, rivers in Western Queensland are running again for the first time in four years.  Lake Ayre, the huge salt lake, is full of water and breeding birds.  Severe storms with cricket ball sized hail and very strong winds have lashed Sydney, causing heaps of damage and power outages.  Ours is a country of contrasts, harsh but beautiful.

The competitors playing in the Australian Open Tennis have been playing in awful heat, although it rained yesterday, but it still would have been steamy with a stadium full of people and the roof closed.

Gold Coast beaches have been experiencing cyclonic swells from Cyclone Victor which didn't impact us in any other way.  It made the beaches dangerous, though, and unfortunately, tourists just don't realise how fast rips can develop.  The surf lifesaving clubs patrol the beaches vigilantly; there are warning signs up stating swimming only between the red and yellow flags.  The lifeguards are continuously using the loudspeakers to warn people to move back in between the flags but they can't control stupidity, such as those going for a midnight swim when they've had too much drink or those who refuse to swim between the flags.

* * * * * * * *

The writers group met up for coffee and a catch up last week.  We talked about what writing we'd done since our last meeting in November.  We didn't have a meeting in December but went out for dinner instead, which was most enjoyable.  I caught the courtesy bus which meant I could have a glass of wine, so I made it a big one!

Yesterday, those of us who'd published books had a half day social media tutorial, the result of which is I now have an author page on Amazon.  Well, I will when my bio, photos, etc. have all been accepted later on today, hopefully.

Our first meeting is next month but we already have our genre for the yearly anthology, Jungle Fever.  I've drafted out my first short story and will go through it again when I've finished this post.  I feel very virtuous.

* * * * * * * *

There have been a couple of momentous happenings in the family.  My mother turned 96 last month.  I was talking to her this morning and she informed me she has some babies. You can imagine my thoughts!  It turns out she has some goldfish and was waxing lyrical about how much they've grown in the short time she's had them.  Ri-ight.

She and Harold have gone into care now, rather than staying in independent living.  As Mum put it, they were fed up with looking after themselves.  Now they have a lovely suite consisting of a sitting room and double bedroom with en suite plus a tiny courtyard which Mum has set about transforming.  Apparently there was a dried up pond, which she's filled with water and water plants and of course, goldfish.  

They don't do any cooking, cleaning, washing up or laundry and are thoroughly enjoying being waited on.  As Mum said when they first made the decision, "bring it on!"

They both still sing in the choir, learning 24 new songs this year.  Mum and Harold are the music librarians, responsible for photocopying all the words, putting them into a folder for each choir member and as well, sourcing various songs and music for the choir's repertoire.  It keeps them out of mischief.  They also still go on trips but have stood down from the organising committee.  

The second momentous happening was that my uncle, Mum's younger brother, won a million dollars in Lotto!  As he commented, though, it would have been nice to win it before he had his heart attacks!  He's in his 90s also but unfortunately, isn't keeping very good health.  Never mind, my three cuzzies are all $300,000 better off.  Great Christmas present!

* * * * * * * *

That's it for now.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and that 2016 brings you joy and blessings.  See you next time!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Winter and Whales Have Arrived, More Adventures in Italian and My Protagonist Has a Name.

It's currently whale watching season on the eastern seaboard of Australia.  The whales migrate from Antarctica up to tropical waters of Far North Queensland to give birth.  They then make the return journey with their babies, much to the delight of whale watching enthusiasts.  The season lasts from June to November each year and it's estimated there are now about 20,000 hump back whales, an amazing number as they were on the brink of extinction not so long ago due to whale hunting.

The famous Nigaloo, the albino whale, has not yet been sighted but should appear any time now as he was seen off the northern New South Wales coast a couple of days ago.

I've been whale watching a couple of times and it's a wonderful experience especially when a couple of the giant mammals breach really close to the charter boat.  I get the feeling they're just as curious about us as we are of them.  It's a magnificent sight to see them so close and one appreciates just how big they are!  

We know it's winter when the whales arrive.  We're relatively lucky this year in that, apart from a couple of cold snaps, it's been mild with quite a bit of rain.  That's unusual for winter as it's normally our dry season.  There's even been rain out west but not nearly enough to break the crippling drought which has resulted in some graziers just walking off the land.  So terribly sad how farmers and growers are struggling.

* * * * * * * * *

I mentioned in my last post how I'd resumed my Italian language classes.  Last week, I was asked to read out a short paragraph of 6 or 7 small sentences.  I did so, using English words if I couldn't remember the Italian, then result of which was a hodge podge of mispronounced Italian and English.  Our tutor rolled her eyes and pronounced it "awful".  I replied, saying my tongue was twisted and traumatised!

We have a lot of fun in the two hour session, as we did a couple of weeks ago.  Astrid, our tutor, said we'd have an exercise where she was the "doctor" and we took turns at being "patients".

During the "history taking" a couple of questions were "fume?" (smoking) and "beve?" (drinking).  One answer was 17 cigars and 4 bottles of red wine...daily. The resultant outpouring of Italian from the "doctor" needed no interpretation!

* * * * * * * *

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen a post on Monday (yesterday) where I had finally found the perfect name for the main character of my work in progress. I'd been watching "Bones" the night before in which Cyndi Lauper played a psychic named "Avalon". Perfect, I thought, I'm stealing that!   I then had to think of a surname.  My ancestors' family name was Hunt but I felt it needed another syllable and decided on Hunter.  It sounded more fluid and rolled off the tongue easily.

Any writer will know exactly what I mean when I say naming a character is one of the most difficult parts of writing a book.  I've found that if the name doesn't fit or feel right, the story doesn't flow.  Since Avalon made her appearance, I've had no problem with the story and different scenarios are being downloaded into my brain every day.  We're both very comfortable with each other.

The book is titled "The Greenstone Pendant" and although fiction, is based on a factual incident involving my ancestors during the Maori wars when New Zealand was first settled.  The pendant of the title actually exists and is about 50 years old now.  It was given to me by my mother and as the original fine gold chain was broken, I had it replaced with a slightly stronger silver one.  It's one of my favourite pieces of jewellery and I thought a fiction story involving the pendant could work. We'll see...

* * * * * * * *


Saturday, 23 May 2015

A Close Shave, The Scandinavian Connection and Autumn Cancelled Until Further Notice

Before and after photos of my daughter, Toni Bale, after she had her head shaved for the Leukaemia Foundation "World's Greatest Shave" and raised over $2,000 for it.  Her goal was $1,200 so it was a great effort on her part. 

* * * * * * * *

At the beginning of March, my blogger friends from Norway, Anna and Tor Aabo, visited New Zealand and Australia for a month.  The day after they arrived on the Gold Coast was one of the hottest we'd had all summer...from what I can remember it was 36C.  However, they sensibly rested at home, spending most of their time in the pool.  The next day, I took them shopping (above left).  The right hand photo was taken at The Spit a couple of days later.  It was lovely to finally meet friends whom I'd known through blogging and Facebook for 10 years or so.  Even though this was the first time we'd met in person, there was no awkwardness and we chatted away easily like the old friends we are.  They were here for 11 days and during that time we went here and there, including going to visit my daughter (top) to see her 3 week old Dalmatian puppies (14 babies!) and to have a much appreciated swim in the pool.

After their whirlwind trip through New Zealand and hectic schedule here, I think Tor and Anna went home for a brief rest before they were off again to another part of the world.

* * * * * * * * 

Surfers Paradise reflected in the still morning waters of the Broadwater.

Autumn didn't start until May.  Before then, however, we had a couple of late cyclone alerts, one of which didn't eventuate but the other, about four weeks ago, brought such a deluge in a few hours that roads were flooded, houses inundated and sadly, five people killed.  It hit at night although it had rained on and off during the day, the wind came up and the rain pelted down (why does it seem to happen at night?)  I was watching tv and had to turn the volume up over the noise of wind and rain.  Lying in bed later on, I couldn't believe the noise the wind was making.  It wasn't howling as it usually does but roaring.  It sounded like the engines of a plane and I started to feel a little bit anxious.  The cats were restless and jumpy, and being on the first floor in an exposed position didn't help either.

The next morning was unbelievable.  I awoke to clear blue skies, bright sun and the water was like a mirror it was so still.  It wasn't until I visited the library and shopping village and saw all the debris everywhere that I realised just how fierce the wind had been.

It wasn't a cyclone according to the Bureau of Meteorology but a "severe weather event". Call it what they will, it was bloody frightening...mostly due to the awful roaring of the wind.  I'd never heard anything like it.  I've found in cyclones the wind is inclined to scream like a million souls in torment rather than roar its fury.

Now, two thirds of the way through May, apparently we're in an El Nino phase, with no chance of any decent rain for who knows how long.  Queensland has been 80% drought declared and the poor farmers out west are really struggling to survive.  Here, on the coast, we've had some rain over the last few days but unfortunately, it doesn't make it over the Great Divide to provide relief in the Outback.

* * * * * * * *

I signed up to learn Italian a few weeks ago through U3A (University of the 3rd Age).  I was going to classes almost 18 months ago, unfortunately our tutor, Lucio, had to give up teaching due to ill health.  We now have another tutor, Astrid, who is an excellent teacher.

Yesterday took me right back to my school days (a loooong time ago!) when we were conjugating verbs, only in Italian instead of English. Trying to figure out the gender of items confused me greatly, however, it's all in the ending of a word.  If it ends in 'o' it's masculine; if it ends in 'a' it's feminine.  Plurals are different again but it's gradually coming together in my brain...I think the grey matter is having a new lease on life!  Buonissima!  

* * * * * * * *

On that note, I shall finish this and hope you have enjoyed reading it seeing as it's been quite some time since I last posted.  Ciao!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Duck!, our writers' meeting and a phone call from Mum.

I heard a lot of splashing and flapping in the pool the other day.  Thinking one of the complex residents was performing some weird swimming manoeuvre, I peeked out the window and saw some trespassers...this pair of wood ducks who were having a wonderful time!

Left:  Mr Wood Duck in a bit of a flap!

Both having a roam around after their refreshing 

Aaah!  That feels better!

When I mentioned this to my neighbour, she said that in the spring, when their babies are old enough, they bring them for a swim as well.  I can't wait to see that!

* * * * * * * *

I attended our writers' meeting on Saturday, the first for 2015.  It was four months since our last meeting as we'd had the Carnival of Words in November, our Christmas pool party in December and there was no meeting in January due to holidays so it was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones.  Actually, I was really excited about this meeting because our featured speaker is one of my Facebook friends.

Our guest was Elizabeth Ellen Carter, romance novelist, who had some excellent tips and advice for us.  At one stage, I glanced around the group and all had eyes glued on Elizabeth, hanging on to every word.  We had heaps of questions and she answered them fully and clearly, not seeming to mind that we were bombarding her. Elizabeth was a most enjoyable and engaging speaker and we learned such a lot.  I was also thrilled to meet another face on my Facebook friend list!

The 2015 Anthology is themed Killer Stories, not necessarily murders, but tales with a "killer" twist.  Those who submit stories are encouraged to read them out at meetings and four of us, including me, read ours out.  I discovered while reading mine out...a story involving an undercover kitty sleuth named Fifi McFlufflebutt...that trying to say that particular name without embarrassing myself required a lot of care.  At one stage, without realising what I was saying until it was said (a common occurrence) I complained that "there were too many F-words in this!"  At the roar of laughter from the others, I realised what I'd come out with.

One of our members is at the Dubai Writers Conference and before she left had shown me the list of authors attending.  I was soooo envious because amongst some very well known writers was Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. Also among his books are the Scotland Road novels, delightful tales of the residents and various other characters living in an apartment building in Edinburgh.  He's one of my favourite authors and I would have loved to attend his segment in the programme.  Anyway, when Barbara returns I'll hear all about it, over a glass or two of wine, no doubt.

It was a wonderful afternoon and I left feeling on a real high!  Next month's speaker is a retired police commissioner from our area who is also a prolific novelist.  I'm looking forward to that meeting, too.

* * * * * * * *

I had a phone call from my Mum yesterday who, for a 95-year-old, is amazingly bright and chirpy.  Her latest project is writing a book.  She has been in her retirement village for the last 30 odd years and seen many changes.  She originally thought she'd write them out for a former director of the village who has since retired.  Peter was very kind to Mum and Father when they first moved into the village and over time became a close friend. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's and had to retire.  Mum had the idea of writing down all the changes she's seen over the 30 years just for Peter, thinking he would enjoy reading about them.  I had the idea of helping her to self-publish it and selling hard copies with the proceeds going to the village.  She was tickled pink at the idea and has even more enthusiasm about her project.

I think it would be so wonderful when she finishes it...a book written by a 95-year-old and the fourth published author in our family!

* * * * * * * *

Where is the year going? It's March already and I'm nowhere near ready to let go of summer!  For those of you in the northern hemisphere, I suspect you'll be more than ready to let go of winter and welcome in the warmer days.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Wild Weather, A Preview, Overseas Visitors, a Close Shave and Two Book Reviews

Bella's latest perch...on the arm of my recliner, usually when I'm sitting in it.  It's the first step towards insinuating herself on my lap when I'm either on the laptop or trying to read.  She thinks if she moves in small increments, I won't notice, but it's a bit hard not to when she sits on the keyboard or the book!

* * * * * * * *

As you may or may not have heard, Queensland was the filling in a tropical cyclone sandwich a few days ago.  TC Lam hit the Top End briefly before moving into the Northern Territory as a Cat 4 system.  TC Marcia made landfall a day or so later as a Cat 5 system, causing immense destruction in the small township of Yeppoon plus the city of Rockhampton, 40 km inland, before weakening and moving down the coast and into New South Wales.  Even after Marcia decayed and moved out to sea, the effects were still felt a couple of days later with flooding as the rivers rose from the rain falling in the catchment area.

Now the clean up begins, insurance claims assessed and power gradually restored to thousands of homes.  Queenslanders are a hardy lot though.  While devastated at the loss of their homes and businesses, the attitude is "life goes on" and they do get on with it.

Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland are cyclone prone states and the cyclone season lasts throughout the southern summer until April.  Usually they are of lesser intensity but over the last few years, there have been some more dangerous ones hitting the coasts.  As a cyclone grows in intensity its movements become more unpredictable thus making it very hard to know where it'll make landfall.  Marcia was small, about 70 km in width but extremely fast growing, going from a deep low in the Coral Sea to a Cat 5 in 24 hours. TC Yasi in 2011 was also a Cat 5 but a lot larger at approximately 1,000 km in width...a frightening sight on the satellite pictures.

However, in amongst all the chaos and destruction, the wonderful news was that there were no deaths...amazing when one sees videos of incredibly high tides thanks to storm surge, huge trees being uprooted and sheets of iron from roofs effortlessly taking flight.  Thank God lives were spared.

* * * * * * * *

I've put a preview of Old Age and Villainy on Amazon.  If you are interested in having a look, click on this link  and download it for free.  Enjoy!

* * * * * * * *

Just before Christmas last year, I received a message in my FB inbox from a blogging friend of 10 years or so who lives in Norway.  He and his wife love travelling and after many years of saying they would like to come to Australia they'd made the decision to do so.  

My mobile phone rang about a week ago and it was Tor!  He and his wife, Anna, had landed in Auckland, New Zealand and would arrive in Brisbane on 04 March.  I was delighted that they had made it Down Under and am now eagerly awaiting their arrival here on the Gold Coast. Tor also asked for advice on hotel apartments and transfers.  I've had a look and found 4 or 5 hotels that may suit and have sent them links for those as well as links to shuttle services between Brisbane and the coast.   Now all I have to do is wait.

* * * * * * * *

My eldest daughter, Toni, is raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave in support of a close member of her family.  If you wish to sponsor or support her, click on this link:  Her Close Shave event is taking place on 15 March at her home where she and her husband are also putting on a barbecue. If you wish to attend, either contact her or email me for the address.   She would be very grateful for your support.

* * * * * * * *

Now, the book reviews:

Eat The Wind by Robin Sisley (Croft House Press 2014)

This is a beautiful memoir of the author's involvement with the Kaimanawa horses, New Zealand's wild horses, named after their habitat in the Kaimanawa Ranges in the Central Plateau of New Zealand.

Back in the 1990s, New Zealand's Department of Conservation made the decision to cull 1200 Kaimanawas as they were becoming too prolific.  This raised such a public outcry that DOC decided to auction them instead.  The author and her friend, Heike Ehrlenbach, were unhappy at the proposed slaughter of hundreds of these animals which had lived in the ranges for over a century and wondered if they could rehome some.

Living on a farm, Mrs Sisley had the perfect facilities for taming and training the animals before selling them to approved buyers.

So began a journey of discovery, both for Mrs Sisley and the horses, with whom she bonded so well.  The horses were extremely sensitive and empathetic, she and Heike realised they only had to think of the direction they wanted the animals to turn...and they did!

This is a wonderful story of the author's achievements with these beautiful animals, the tears, laughter and difficulties experienced in the years she trained them.

Rating: *****

Cissy by Erin McKechnie (Amazon 2014)

Cissy and Seth are newly wed and madly in love.  They enjoy their life in London where Cissy has her own restaurant in which Seth occasionally helps out by manning the bar if she's short-staffed.  He enjoys the socialising and other illegal activities, which eventually end up with Seth being deported rather than spending time in gaol.

Cissy sells her business at a loss before flying back to New Zealand to join Seth and make a new life.  However, it's not long before Seth is up to his old tricks, becoming more and more unpredictable as time goes on.  

After being badly beaten by Seth during one of his rages, Cissy throws him out of the marital home and takes out a protection order.  Thus begins a cycle of reconciliation and abuse until Cissy finally makes a decision that will change their lives.

The author has written a chilling yet compelling story of domestic abuse which is becoming more prevalent in society.  Unfortunately a lot of women, plus children, lose their lives in this horrific epidemic of violence.

Rating: ****

NB:  If you, or anyone you know, needs help call Lifeline or the appropriate community support group in your area.

* * * * * * * *

I hope 2015 is a busy and enjoyable year for you all.  Thank you for reading this post and as always, I welcome your comments.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A New Year, Tennis, Reminiscing and Other Stuff

Bella has no appreciation for tennis.  She slept through the Djokovic/Raonic match!

  We had a king tide last week.  The tide still had an hour or so to go before full.  As you can see, it was close to the top of the seawall opposite.  It didn't go over though.  
I kept an eye on was close!

January is almost over, we're all a year older and the kids are now back at school. After a topsy-turvey 2014 and a year's hiatus from my usual interests, apart from writing, life is back to normal, to my intense relief.  I don't have to move anywhere and spend precious time looking for somewhere to live before packing, organising a removalist and carpet cleaner and cleaning, which I did twice in six months last year.  All worked out and my current abode is exactly what I want...on the first floor, by water, with a balcony for the cats, lovely neighbours and a great complex manager with a good sense of humour.  I feel very grateful and appreciative as my lease is for two years and unless I do something idiotic like not pay my rent, damage the place or have wild parties, I'm here for the duration.  Wonderful!

Earlier this week, I renewed my membership with U3A which I'd let lapse, booked into a Tai Chi class and put my name down for next term's Italian course and also for yoga. Unfortunately the yoga class I used attend is no longer going due to our teacher injuring her shoulder so she's had to give up teaching. Mind you, she is in her eighties!  I've also volunteered for shifts in the office again. 

Last year wasn't a complete write-off though, I did get my book published and managed second place in our short story writing competition.

* * * * * * * *

Being a tennis tragic, my TV has been permanently tuned to the various tennis events leading up to the Australian Open.  I'm not sure what's going to happen when it's all over in a couple of nights...but I feel like that every January!  The opening day of the AO Grand Slam has been lauded as one of the best ever...our young Australian players did very well culminating in Nick Kyrgios beaten by Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.  A fine effort from a 19-year-old who is only going to become better as he matures. 

Now there are two nights of top notch tennis left.  It's going to be great!

* * * * * * * *

I had the radio on earlier, a station that plays music from the 80s and 90s through to current stuff.  One group I loved in the 80s was the Eurythmics...Annie Lennox had (and still has, I imagine) a wonderful voice. This morning I heard their song "Would I Lie Too You?" and it took me right back to the mid 80s when I worked as head bartender and relief manager of a sports club in Auckland.  

This particular night, I can't remember the actual day of the week it was, a few of us went off to a very popular pub in a popular marine suburb after we'd closed up.  It was pretty crowded and somehow, some way we fell in with the NZ cricket team who were celebrating a successful test series.  I found myself eventually teamed (pardon the pun) with a tall well-known batsman and we danced the night away.  The Eurythmics' song must have been one of their latest as it was played several times that it has evocative memories for me. Enough said...

Here it is if you want to listen:

* * * * * * * *

It will be a busy year as far as writing goes.  I've started researching my second book.  It's completely different from Old Age and Villainy in that it's fiction but based on family history  during the Maori Wars in New Zealand.  I have a lot of information given to me by my mother after one of her brothers had passed it on to her and based the book on one of the incidents in which an ancestor of ours was involved.  However, the main protagonist and other characters are creatures of my imagination.  I don't want to start a second lot of wars!

I've also had the idea of collaborating on a book of short stories with a couple of my fellow writers.  I've sounded out one who is keen, I have yet to contact the other.  There are also the 2015 anthology short stories for my writing group for which I have written one so far. The theme is killer stories..which covers a lot!  I also have some overseas writing comps earmarked for entry.  I don't think I'll be bored.

* * * * * * * *

If you're one of my Facebook friends, you would have discovered I had milestone birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I've now reached three score years and ten, and feel a real sense of achievement.  I actually don't mind getting older...I'm very fortunate in that I enjoy good health and am still physically active.  Two flights of stairs help!  I also have all my marbles, although some may argue with that...but don't listen to them!

One of the things I like about being this age is I no longer have the uncertainty, self doubt and lack of confidence that goes with being a lot younger, especially during the teen years. I'm really happy they're over.  Don't get me wrong, they were fun and carefree times with no responsibilities...but oh, the peer pressure!  Fortunately, as I matured that wasn't an issue and the peer pressure back in the 60s is nothing like it is now.

After that came marriage and parenthood.  Looking back, I'm pleasantly surprised that my two daughters are relatively well adjusted adults, although I don't claim credit for that!  I have seven lovely grandchildren, none of whom have caused their parents major concerns, apart from the usual teenage scrapes that most of us went through anyway.

My mother is a vigorous 95 now and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, so with those genes, I plan on having quite a number of years before me in which to create mayhem.  Bring it on!

* * * * * * * *

That's my first post for 2015.  I hope your 2015 brings you love, laughter and happiness!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Buzzing Brain and Sore Feet

As mentioned in my last post...three weeks ago *cough*...our writers' festival, Carnival of Words, was finally upon us.  The doors opened to the public at 1 pm but several of us were there at 11 am to set up.  I'd brought my LED light 1.8m Christmas tree and two boxes of tinsel, baubles and sundry other decorations to help set the Christmassy atmosphere.  Balloons were blown up, a barbecue was set up for the sausage sizzle, coffee, tea and an urn of hot water organised and eskies filled with ice for bottled water and cans of Coke readied plus authors' tables and audience seating organised...all this completed by 12.30 pm.

The authors arrived in ones and twos, chose a table, set out their decorations and books for attendees to peruse and hopefully purchase.  All was ready, the sound system was checked and Nerida Marshall, facilitator, organiser and all round Superwoman (despite rolling her ankle and injuring her ribs in a mishap yesterday) welcomed everyone and introduced the MC, talented actress and funny woman, June Horden.

The first speaker was S.T.A.R.S (Screen,Theatre, Artists and wRiters Studios) Patron, internationally renowned author, Peter Watt.  Also a volunteer fire officer, Peter writes for six months of the year, and performs his firefighting duties the other six months during bush fire season, which is currently upon us.

As well as talking about his books, he also spoke about his firefighting duties and how he mentioned to his coordinator that he wouldn't be available on Sat 21 November because of his appearance at our event.  He had no sooner finished his talk and sat down, when he was up again making his apologies because he'd been called out to a fire...he'd brought his firefighting and safety gear with him, grabbed those and raced out the door to meet up with his crew.  Without our brave and dedicated volunteer "firies" life would be pretty grim for those in the path of an inferno.

* * * * * * * *
After Peter's dramatic exit, we had excitement of another kind...talks and readings from authors who embraced a wide range of writing genres.  Raffles were drawn throughout the afternoon and we had a huge range of prizes for winners including books very kindly donated by all authors present.  

The "barbie" was fired up and soon the delicious aroma of barbecued sausages and fried onions permeated the venue with the rumbling of stomachs threatening to drown out the speakers!  I was assisting with refreshments and drinks along with Barbara Harding Gaskell and we experienced a stampede once the announcement that the sausage sizzle was ready.  Appetites satisfied, thirsts quenched and legs stretched, the second part of the day began with an invitation to visit the authors for questions, book purchases and signings before the next few authors spoke.  I was lucky enough to be invited to speak about my book "Old Age and Villainy" and I also read out an excerpt which, I feel (hope), was relatively well received.  I didn't get booed off the stage, anyway...a good sign!

Below are some photos which I managed to take before the event began.

Barbara (standing) whom I helped with the refreshments and Sue, who looked after the raffles and anthology sales.

Dee Dee McCarthy, horror novelist and author of "New Soil".

Roman Harambura, self-empowerment motivator, philosopher and author amongst many other hats he wears, author of "Entrapment" and "The Book of Knowledge, I'Am Alien", taking the opportunity to avail himself of some refreshing rock melon (cantaloupe).

Michael Mason, author, who graciously took time to smile for the camera.

S.T.A.R.S. Founder and organiser of Carnival of Words, Nerida Marshall, with Patron and international author, Peter Watt (before he disappeared to undertake emergency firefighting duties).

Dr Elisabeth Puruto, author of "Over The Mountains, Not Over The Hill" , and adventurer extraordinaire, signs a copy of her book for a lucky purchaser.

These are only a handful of the talented authors and speakers we had over the course of the day.  

The event finished around 5 pm, we tidied up, put things back to how they were and retired outside to the outdoor picnic area for wine and nibbles on a balmy summer evening.

After dropping one of our members off on the way home, I decided to unpack the car the next morning before going out for breakfast with one of my writer friends, made my way upstairs and collapsed in a heap in the recliner.

I had two very disgruntled cats who, after demanding where the hell I'd been since 10.30 that morning (it was 7.30 pm before I was home again), studiously ignored me until I went to bed.

...and so begins another day.