WHAT’S NEW?

A week ago I posted the manuscript of my Cambodian novel to my Australian Society of Authors mentor, Judith Lukin-Amundsen. She’s busy with other work at the moment so it may be a while till I get her feedback. We’ve only had one meeting so far this year but from that one meeting I was able to  look at the story from a whole new perspective. Judith is a bit magic that way. My friend Helena Pastor (a gifted writer of fast-paced, intriguing memoirs that explore social issues) has had Judith as a mentor before and again this year. She can’t speak highly enough of her either. I’ve got everything crossed Judith will like the major changes I’ve made and be able to show me even more ways to improve it. I’ve been working on this story since 2005 and I think  its finally finding its proper shape.

Khmer women walking in mined field

Danger Mines!

At the moment, I’m calling it, “When it Rains” but it’s had many other names – including Bittersweet, Chocolate Brown Vanilla,  Sugar Cane Juice, and A Lesson in Darkness. Which one do you like best?  Any new ideas welcome! It’s based on my time living and working in Cambodia in the mid-nineties when there was still a lot of Khmer Rouge activity and Westerners were being kidnapped and killed. Despite the ever-present danger, I feel deeply in love with the country and its people. It’s the most intriguing, captivating, perplexing and frustrating place I’ve ever been. Recently, I found a wonderful book  by Joel Brinkley, Cambodia’s Curse,  which helped add another dimension to my novel. Thanks Joel! He’s writing a novel set in Cambodia too. Fingers crossed the two of us will start some kind of vampire-like literary craze!

Khmer sugar cane juice vendor

Khmer sugar cane juice vendor

I’m so looking forward to seeing my story of Cambodia become a book too.

After I sent that off, I gave my blog a new look and even joined Twitter, thanks to the advice I received from the delightful Lisa at Twine Marketing. In just one hour she helped me focus in on what I really needed to do to pull myself together as a “brand”.  As irksome as that initially was, I now realise it’s a reality of the modern writer’s world.

 
Soon I’ll get to my other two projects; a combined memoir and personal healing guide “First Aid for Your Heart”, and “Into the Fire”, the novel I’ve been working on over the past year. Oh yes, so much to do!
 
I gave my last remaining copy of Thrill Seekers to my friend Luke Denham , an extraordinary film-maker, who is now working on creating a knock-out promo clip for the book. Can’t wait to see it.  I’d love it if you could “like” my Thrill Seekers page on facebook and friend me too.
 
I finished teaching my Yoga Writing course at the Queensland Writers Centre on Tuesday. It was a wonderful experience with a lovely warm group of people who were willing to give everything a go. I learnt heaps and hope they did too. I look forward to teaching a one day workshop on overcoming Writers Block at QWC early in the new year.
 
Life is good. Onwards and Upwards!
 
 

OF USE TO THE WORLD?

nuns praying

the prayers of nuns

I used to believe that cloistered nuns and monks who did nothing but pray all day were living wasted lives, that their meditations were self-indulgent and provided no worth for the rest of us out in the real world, doing the dirty work.

Now I know better. I know that their prayers and silence are essential, an attempt at counterbalancing the noise and bustle and prayerlessness of the secular world. The collective unconscious desperately needs their focused thoughts of love and peace and joy. And as the world speeds up to ridiculous velocity, we need more of them, more than ever.

Similarly, I have often wondered, as no doubt most artists have, if the pursuit of my own artistic dreams is a selfish act, if what I am doing serves any purpose for the greater human good. I want my writing to be of use to the world. It is my work, what I am best at, a way I can serve. But how?

For my writing to be of use, more than for my own purposes of examining truths and personal healing, my writing needs to be read. I am writing to be read. As artists create paintings to be gazed at and stir emotions, as musicians write music to be played and listened to, a writer needs readers. Writing is to be shared, not stored. Art is not a solitary act. It is a conversation. A conversation of the most wonderful kind, about the heights and depths of human experience; a conversation that at its best moves us to tears, not only of grief but also of relief and ultimately joy.

connecting with a reader

connecting with a reader

I want my books to do what those books that most touched and influenced me did. I want them to connect with the reader, to give them the feeling I used to be surprised by and then cherished. That wonderful knowledge – I am not alone, others have thought this, felt this, endured this, the thoughts in my head, that troubling inner dialogue, isn’t all that different from the thoughts of others. I am not a freak but only horribly human among humans.

My yearning for a good publisher isn’t a selfish act at all, but one of sharing. It’s not about wanting recognition or to be paid for the work I’ve done, though that’s a part of it. Mostly it’s about wanting to be of use to the world. In order for a writer to serve, she must be read. In order to be read she must first be published.

My wish for all my writing friends this year is for the perfect publishers to come your way. To find readers for your work.

I’m excited about starting my asa mentorship Australian Society of Authors mentorship with the highly regarded and respected editor Judith Lukin-Amundsen. I am honoured to have had my Cambodian story, “Women Are Cloth” selected for the program, especially as I share this joy with my best writing buddy Helena Pastor.

book with heart pages

heart book

CALL TO ACTION ON PARALLEL IMPORTATION

Hi everyone,
Below is a message from my friend Katherine about parallel importation. Seems it’s on and we need to put up a fight. The ASA site even has templates for you to use so all you have to do is state your case as an emerging writer then cut and paste it into their templates and spend a couple of bucks on postage. It’s very important. Reckon we’re finding it hard to get published now, if this happens we’ll be up shit creek.

well, they’ve done it. They’ve recommended that the government lift all
restrictions on book imports. This is really serious stuff now. If the
government actually does it, we will all be affected – those of us
already published will likely see our sales drop, our income fall, and
it might be harder to get another contract here, and we may be forced to
go direct to an overseas publisher who will offer us whatever they like.
For those of us who will publish in the future, it will be harder to do
so, we will get less money, and the chances of being a fulltime writer
will be drastically reduced. There is no guarantee that the prices in
bookshops will drop, but you can bet that your favourite aussie authors
will be less productive because the drop in book income means some at
least will have to get dayjobs.

But all is not lost! We can get in the government’s ear and write
letters. Snail mail is best of all, and here
http://www.asauthors.org/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=ASP0016/ccms.r
is the asa’s page of addresses to write to.

Please, please, if you have the time, please do this.

Love to all,