Monday, June 29, 2009

Winter Picnic

Equal with the lazy weekend breakfast for sheer pleasure comes the winter picnic lunch.

Yesterday our daughter M took us on a picnic to Tipperary Springs. It was cold, but we rugged up, we had the place to ourselves, and there were no flies.

We ate Red Beard bread, tomatoes, cheese, baby spinach leaves, Kalamata olives and delicious homemade hummus; and we drank mineral water that our grandson Z pumped for us.

Then, while Z and our granddaughter I ran around, climbing trees and crossing creeks, we drank hot tea from the thermos M had brought with her and oat cookies she'd baked for us.

After we'd finished eating all the food M produced from her basket, we went for a short walk along one of the bush tracks that lead up from the picnic ground.

Thanks so much, M, for our winter picnic: for the food, the company, and for the way you warmed us up in the chill air with the light and warmth of your lovely, lovely self.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekend Breakfast

Seriously, one of life's greatest pleasures must be the lazy weekend breakfast, preferably shared, whether at home or in a cafe.

Thanks E and J for this morning's offering of Daylesford Organics poached eggs on Il Fornaio toast served with soy ginger mushrooms and spinach from the Victoria Market, and accompanied by Brother Baba Budan coffee.

Food great, coffee great, company greatest.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Waiting, waiting...

The last couple of weeks have been quite momentous ones in the life of this writer.

First, I received two draft concepts for my cover. One of these I admired very much, but didn't want for my book. I found it too confronting and too upsetting. The other I absolutely loved. I thought it was unusual and beautiful and really expressed what I am trying to say with my words. It has a dream-like quality and I know my mother would have liked it. That feels important seeing the book's about her. Nicola, my editor, said she loves that concept too, and that's the one the designer will develop for the book. I am impatient to see the final result though I am feeling more confident than I did.

Seeing the art work made a surprisingly big difference. It's made the book feel more real to me. Until then I'd felt in limbo. I signed the contract way back last December and it's been a long six months. I delivered the final draft at the end of April and then had to wait until Nicola read it. That was awful. It still wasn't too late for the publisher to walk away if they didn't like it. But Nicola did. She loved it!

Then I had to wait some more while Nicola edited it. That was nerve wracking. She kept sending me lovely, reassuring emails about how 'clean' the manuscript was and what a pleasure to edit, but I didn't really believe her. All my insecurity demons came out to play and they whispered in my ear that in editing school editors are taught to say nice things to their authors so they'll accept slashing and burning of their precious words more easily.

And then the first edit dropped into my email inbox. Nicola had meant what she'd said. There wasn't anything too drastic. All that angst was for nothing.

Surprisingly, I'm enjoying the editing process. It's reconnected me with the writing, and I like Nicola's work. I think she has a good eye and a good ear and although she's scrupulous - she hasn't let me get away with anything - she's also very gentle. I feel very privileged to have her edit my manuscript.

The third event was having some photographs taken by Daniel Mahon for publicity purposes. My new profile picture is one of his. And so is the little pic on this post. I actually enjoyed the session though I had dreaded it. I think he's a great photographer who knows how to get the best out of his subjects.

I'm finishing up the first round of editing this week, then it's over to Nicola, and more waiting until the manuscript comes back for me to have another go. Then when that's done there'll be further rounds of waiting until the book finally hits the shelves in November and I wait to see how it's received.

I'd like to say I'm developing patience but I don't think that's true. I'm just getting more used to waiting.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Contract

It's an odd experience to read a book written by someone you know. You look for traces of them in the writing - their personality, the person you're familiar with. And it's scary too. I'm not talking about characters being chased and shot at and other assorted thrills. I mean real danger - what if you don't like the book? It's one thing in a workshop situation, but I'm talking about a published book here. What are you going to tell the author?

Fortunately for me I loved Brett Hoffmann's The Contract.Couldn't put it down in fact.

The book's two main characters, Stella Sartori and Jack Rogers, are Australians living and working in America. They've only met once but now their lives are about to be entwined in ways they couldn't imagine.

Stella has stumbled on a forty-year-old contract that should be of no interest to anyone, but instead leads her into a murky world of deceit and death, where nobody can be trusted and no-one is exactly who or what they seem. When fellow Wall Street banker, Jack, is sent in by their company to exercise some damage control, he discovers more than he bargained for, and soon his life too is on the line. The action moves from place to place and involves, amongst other elements: the FBI, the Mafia, plots old and new, old and new love, a poem written in code, and vast amounts of money.

The writing in a thriller has to be transparent, like a window, not drawing attention to itself but instead getting out of the way of the action. Hoffmann's writing is exactly that. The detail is authentic; the settings obviously well researched. The characters' Australianness gives them a connection with each other (and with me as an Australian reader) but also an outsider status that allows them a sharper view of the society they find themselves in. This added another dimension for me.

Brett Hoffmann is a fresh new voice in international thriller writing. I recommend The Contract. Lucky for me, it's a real page turner. Phew, I don't know about Jack and Stella, but I at least am out of danger!

Friday, June 5, 2009

White Out

The view from our house today:

When we looked out of the bedroom window this morning everything was white. It's still foggy now, around midday, but finally beginning to clear.

I love this kind of weather (except when I have to drive in it). Everything familiar becomes eerie and mysterious. The rest of the world disappears and there's just us here in this house, sailing along like a great ship, strange shapes looming out of nowhere and then disappearing again.

Ahoy there, my hearties!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Visit

The grandchildren have gone home and the house is too big now, too quiet and too tidy. The salt container has gone back into the cupboard, and the Textas are locked away in the drawer until the next visit. There are too many chairs around the kitchen table and not enough cuddles.

K and B said they loved staying in bed a little later in the morning.
I's favourite part was a visit to the Mole Creek caves.

P loved chasing the ducks in Deloraine.

J's favorite activity was eating the pancake breakfast cooked by her dad.

I enjoyed the hike to Lobster Falls where we managed to get lost even though Farmdoc and I have walked that track dozens of times.

It was nice to see the local area as tourists. To buy icecreams at the Honey Farm in Chudleigh and play at the Train Park in Deloraine, to shop the second hand stores in Deloraine and eat lunch at the Deli.

No matter how hard we tried to slow it down, time insisted on speeding by. First the weeks of planning, the lists and preparations slid into the past, and now the visit itself is over.