littlesmackerel

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Category: Writing

Release of The Sky Falls Down: an Anthology of Loss

I have a short story in an anthology, edited by Gina Mercer and Terry Whitebeach. It has just been published by Ginninderra Press. The anthology has been described as a compelling collection in which eighty-nine writers traverse their particular territory of loss and bring back travellers’ tales.

Book cover Sky Falls Down (1)
‘This beautiful collection of writings explores the landscape of loss. It will meet you where you are. You’ll find yourself reaching for particular pieces that somehow articulate how you’re feeling, even before you’ve found the words to express it yourself… May this book become both a friend and a warm companion.’ – Petrea King, Quest for Life Centre.

If you would like to purchase a copy, it is available through Ginninderra Press: https://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/

The editors, Gina Mercer and Terry Whitebeach are trying to raise money so that the contributors can be paid. They are doing this through crowdfunding. To contribute or find out more, please visit: https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/anthology-of-loss/.

All writers need to be paid — some of these contributors are particularly in need, having survived horrific experiences such as bushfires, some are asylum seekers and refugees.

Release of Jennifer Bryce’s novel, Lily Campbell’s Secret.

Sorrowing woman leaning on table in front of photo of her husband

It’s 1913, and Lily’s comfortable middle-class Melbourne life is completely upended when she falls in love. As she sits in the hall of her private school, portraits of past headmistresses frowning at her, she realises the ‘glaring, unalterable fact’ that she is pregnant, the father a young stablehand called Bert. Her parents disown her: the first of many wrenching challenges she must face. She marries Bert and they have a few happy months together in rural Woodend, where their daughter is born. When the war starts, Bert volunteers and Lily is thrown very much on her own resources. After Bert returns home, Lily has to face the most momentous decision of her life.

Lily’s role as mother, musician, wife and lover, leads her to confront issues of patriarchy, nationalism, love… and the value of a human life.

In Jennifer Bryce’s ‘Australian Gothic’ novel, the suppressed grand passions of her long-suffering heroine are finally resolved in a way that is both shocking and completely natural.

— Irina Dunn, Director, Australian Writers’ Network

Original and compelling. A vivid sense of period; a breathtaking finale.

Virginia Duigan

 

The Launch is happening soon

The novel is to be launched by Toni Jordan (https://www.textpublishing.com.au/authors/tonijordan),  in Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) at Readings Bookshop, Carlton, (309 Lygon Street) on Thursday 13th June, 6 pm.

Readings bookshop

 

Published by Rightword Enterprises, the novel is available from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Lily-Campbells-Secret-Jennifer-Bryce-ebook/dp/B07QXM6HLX/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=JENNIFER+BRYCE&qid=1556328182&s=books&sr=1-4 ), Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and will be available from bookstores shortly (RRP $A25.00).

In case you need some encouragement to buy, here is the opening of the novel:

There was no escape. I would have to tell my parents. The glaring, unalterable fact wouldn’t go away. ‘Mother and Father, I’m in love …’, ‘Mother and Father, I’ve met a young man …’, ‘Mother and Father, I know you’ll find this difficult, but …’. Nothing seemed right. I was sitting on my favourite bench under the magnolia in the public gardens opposite the house where I’d lived for all of my seventeen years. I supposed Mother thought I’d gone to the gardens to read, but I couldn’t possibly concentrate on a book today. I looked across to our solid grey stone villa. The roses in their neat rows were coming into flower and our Chinese vegetable man was at the tradesmen’s entrance with his scales balanced over his shoulders. Shirley, our maid, was sweeping the verandah.

When I’d missed ‘the curse’ for a second time, I started going to the library after school, where I read Everyday Human Biology, over and over, desperately searching for some other explanation. But the book stated with stark authority that if, after menstruating regularly for a year or more, a woman misses more than two cycles, the reason is most likely that she is ‘gravid’. I looked up the meaning of the word and it meant ‘pregnant, with child’. I was as bad as Primrose Macfarlane, who had been expelled from school for a reason too terrible to divulge to us girls. She was called to the Head Mistress’s office, then later a prefect came and collected her things. We never saw Primrose again, but there were hushed whisperings and proclamations of self-righteous disapproval from girls who, days before, had been her friends. Now there might be whisperings about me – although fortunately school would finish for ever in a few weeks.

Earlier in the afternoon, out walking with Dorcas, I had seen a woman pushing a perambulator. In less than nine months’ time I would be pushing a perambulator. A baby was growing inside me – a baby that would be mine, and mine to care for. I’d never even held a baby and I’d certainly never imagined what it would be like to be a mother. Dorcas had urged me to tell my parents.

Tonight I was going to do it. Gripped with dread, I walked through the shadowy front gate, along the rose-lined gravel drive, up the stone steps, through the door and down the passage to the room where my execution would take place.

We took our places as usual at the long mahogany dining table: Mother, Father and I. The laughing cavalier in the painting gazed at me with his penetrating eyes; he knew what I’d done, he knew what would happen – he was laughing at me. The crystal, the silver, the harlequin cruet set were in place on the appliquéd table-cloth, and all this was scrutinised by an aloof audience of empty high-backed dining chairs placed around the walls, waiting.

We ate our soup in silence and Shirley cleared the bowls. I would do it while Shirley was out of the room. I wiped my mouth with my serviette and uttered the words I’d practised.

‘I’ve met a young man I would like to marry.’

‘Oh?’ said Father. ‘This is a very surprising turn of events. You keep pestering us about going to university. Now you want to marry …’

‘You are too young, Lillian, dear, you need to meet more young men to be sure that you find someone suitable.’ Mother straightened her back and toyed with her silverware.

‘I’ve met other young men at dances and … I’m sure …’

‘What school did he go to? How do we know that he’s the right young man for you?’

‘I don’t know, Mother …’

‘Oh? Where did you meet him?’

‘When I stayed with cousin Constance, I …’

‘Oh, well, Aunt Mildred would only allow a respectable young man …’

‘Yes Mother …’

‘We’re not expecting you to marry until after your twenty-first birthday, Lillian. You really are too young.’

The grandfather clock in the hall chimed the quarter hour. Shirley returned, wheeling in the roast for Father to carve. Father stood up and brandished the sharpening steel, holding his usual command over the meat. Maybe I could tell them tomorrow? I looked down at the table-cloth: what would Dorcas do? She would tell them now.

‘Mother, I love him … and …’

‘Love, dear. You may think it’s love, but you’re only seventeen. It’s probably just a passing fancy…’

‘I do love him, Mother and …’

‘Now, don’t be rash, Lillian dear …’

‘… he works in the stables at Aunt Mildred’s …’ The room began to spin. I couldn’t hear what Mother said next because my ears were humming, but she put her serviette down firmly on her side plate and stared at me. Say it now: ‘I think I’m expecting a baby!’

Father’s steel clattered onto the carving dish. A fly buzzed around the uncut meat. No one brushed it away. Mother made a spluttering sound then she was choking. Father bent towards me, lowering his voice, ‘Did I hear you correctly, Lillian? My daughter … with child?’

I could bear it no longer and ran to my room.

I flung myself onto my bed and wept into the pillow.

I don’t know how long I lay there, but after some time I could hear footsteps thumping down the passage, my door burst open, the ornaments on my mantelpiece rattled as Mother thundered in. She stood over me.

‘Lillian. Have you been with a young man?’

‘Yes, Mother.’

‘How could you? After all we have done for you …’

She shouted at me and I tried to block out what she said, but I took in ‘disgrace’ and ‘guttersnipe’. Then she stormed out. There was silence. Sometime later I heard her sobbing in the passage outside my room. I pulled the bedclothes right over my head.

 

 

More information from this website at: jenniferbryce.net/my-novel/

 

 

 

 

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2019

I am at present at Adelaide Writers’ Week, sitting (almost) on the banks of the Torrens. My writing group, Elwood Writers, is here and we will keep you posted on the events we attend. https://elwoodwriters.com/2019/03/04/elwood-writers-at-adelaide-writers-week-2019-the-first-day/

Brian Aldiss: master of metaphor

Maybe this is a grandiose claim, and I am referring to only one book by Aldiss. But, as I read Comfort Zone, his novel published in 2013, when he would have been 88, I found that I was picking out more favourite phrases and metaphors than usual. So I decided to write something in the ‘Writing’ category of my blog, rather than a book review. As I read, I kept saying to myself, this man who at the time had been writing books for more than 60 years, really knows how to write.

I took a little while to get into this book, in which we are confined by the daily routines of an 80 year-old man living in a village on the outskirts of Oxford. But the writing is beautiful, with an underlying wit and honesty about what it’s like to be shuffling around in your eighties. At one point Aldiss finds the need to jump into the text and tell us that the main character, Justin, isn’t him. In parallel with coping with life: the end of a love affair, an adult disabled son, the need for a medley of medications, Justin works on a thesis about the evils done by religions in the world today and the suggestion that everything is governed by chance.

Some metaphors and phrases that I particularly liked are:

windows with their pouting sills (page 8)

complaint crept in like a hungry slug among lettuces
(page 32)

a woman of bustling corpulence
(page 78)

the summit of Justin’s happiness
(page 97)

[a face] alight with anger
(page 110)

his rickety old voice
(page 122)

his … voice clogged with a junket of hope and dread
(page 254)

[a] tumbledown man
(page 264)

the suited man whinnied with laughter
(page 290)

More metaphors

Here are some more metaphors and phrases I’ve discovered in my reading:

Leaning forward into Bastien’s breath Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p.121
The soft jolt of happiness Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p.179
The moment … to act moved stiflingly closer Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p.222
Later in the night, spooned into Suzy’s back Richard Flanagan: First Person, p.43
His gaze skidding around the room Richard Flanagan: First Person, p.128
Describing musical improvisation: to cast off from the notated shores Virginia Lloyd: Girls at the Piano, p.160
That springtime fragment of a boy’s youth Michael Ondaatje: Warlight p.44
Expressionless as royalty Michael Ondaatje: Warlight p.86
The howl of a train Michael Ondaatje: Warlight p.230
My maths was rusting up Ian McEwan: Enduring Love p.76
Astonishment loosens the hinge of her jaw Ian McEwan: Enduring Love p.83
You are in love, at a point where pride and apprehension scuffle within you Julian Barnes: A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters p.238
History just burps, and we taste again that raw-onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago Julian Barnes: A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters p.241
He was dying, just a whisper of himself. Germaine Greer on the death of Harry Hooton, cited in Elizabeth Kleinhenz: Germaine, p.75
Brooding like a storm Toni Jordan: The Fragments, p.20
An underlying spine of melody Toni Jordan: The Fragments, p.203

 

It’s time to post some more favourite metaphors and phrases I’ve found in my reading:

Description of W.H. Auden: He suddenly looked terribly old and frail but as nobly formal as a Gothic cathedral Oliver Sacks: On the Move, p.199
The leaching of her own identity by dementia Oliver Sacks: On the Move, p.301
Precisely buttoned blouse Maggie O’Farrell: I am, I am, I am, p. 4
Her scarves skewered to sweaters with a silver pin Maggie O’Farrell: I am, I am, I am, p.13
The drawl and snap of the upper classes Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p. 88
A smile across the glooming mahogany of the table Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair, p.438
The sergeant, a tall sinewy machine, had been trained to such a pitch of frightfulness that at a moment’s warning he could divest himself of all semblance of humanity Siegfried Sassoon: Complete Memoirs of George Sherston, p.289
The clogging monotony of life in the line Siegfried Sassoon: Complete Memoirs of George Sherston, p.309
Leake and I meandered along the empty street, accompanied by our tipsy shadows Siegfried Sassoon: Complete Memoirs of George Sherston, p.415
The limitless prairies of my ignorance Siegfried Sassoon: Complete Memoirs of George Sherston, p.489
The creeping glacier of worry Richard Flanagan: First Person, p. 67
The solicitor’s dank dun-coloured room, grimed with greed Richard Flanagan: First Person, p. 169
Fondness seems a rather pastel version of love Virginia Lloyd: Girls at the Piano, p. 26
The rhythmic collapse of the waves Amy Witting: A Change in the Lighting, p.80
The harsh, virtuous smell of cleaning powder Amy Witting: A Change in the Lighting, p.137
Her mother’s quick foreboding tread Amy Witting: I for Isobel, p.12
Boredom roosting on their shoulders Amy Witting: I for Isobel, p.93

More of my favourite metaphors and phrases

 

 

Menacing architecture Sulari Gentill, Gentlemen Formerly Dressed
Yawning fireplace Sulari Gentill, Gentlemen Formerly Dressed
the train began to heave itself slowly out of the station Kate Atkinson: Life After Life p. 6
twitching in and out of sleep Emily Bitto: The Strays p.113
the pristine intimacy of our childhood Emily Bitto: The Strays p.180
orbited by grandchildren like bright moons Emily Bitto: The Strays p.256
the air is gaspingly cold Helen Garner: Regions of thick-ribbed ice,p.8
a sudden wind springs up . .   making the water bristle Helen Garner: Regions of thick-ribbed ice, p.25
stranded somewhere in her forties Kate Atkinson: Case Histories, p. 88
she controlled him with one eyebrow Kate Atkinson: Case Histories, p. 400
a starched silence Kate Atkinson: Behind the Scenes at the Museum, p. 325
She put that thought away, like linen in a drawer Heather Rose: The Museum of Modern Love p.27
As fragile as mist Heather Rose: The Museum of Modern Love p.198
The city grayed into winter Margaret Ann Spence: Lipstick on the Strawberry
A muttering sort of man Brian Aldiss: When the Feast is Finished, p. 32
Broth of grief Brian Aldiss: When the Feast is Finished, p.88
A hollow panic in his voice Sulari Gentill: A Dangerous Language, p.24
Gurgling birdsong Sulari Gentill: A Dangerous Language, p. 54
Drifts of science fiction magazines John Baxter: A Pound of Paper, p.63
An antique Rolls-Royce sagged elegantly at the kerb John Baxter: A Pound of Paper, p. 175
[describing the people of Afghanistan]: the antiquity of their expression Eddie Ayres: Danger Music, p. 1
Thumping dockland… the river is thickly commercial Julian Barnes: Flaubert’s Parrot, p.20
Calamitously inadequate Julian Barnes: Flaubert’s Parrot, p. 75
Lorries bullied past on the road Julian Barnes: Flaubert’s Parrot, p. 114
Talking of bereavement: ‘You don’t come out of it like a train coming out of a tunnel, bursting through the Downs into sunshine and that swift, rattling descent to the Channel; you come out of it as a gull comes out of an oil-slick. You are tarred and feathered for life.’ Julian Barnes: Flaubert’s Parrot, p. 161

 

I hope this isn’t a prediction for 2018!

you don't have a novel in you

Jon Kudelka, The Weekend Australian Review, 6 – 7 January, 2018, page 2

 

It reminds me, in a twisted way, of the Groucho Marx comment: ‘Outside a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.’

I’m still collecting metaphors and phrases I like: here are some more

the thick unknowable bush Charlotte Wood: The Natural Way of Things, p. 37
stretched white with illness Charlotte Wood: The Natural Way of Things, p. 150
she waited, lumpish and squinting Charlotte Wood: The Natural Way of Things, p.206
The ramparts of turned shoulders Hilary Mantel: An Experiment in Love, p. 72
My mother didn’t need much food – she ran on wrath. Hilary Mantel: An Experiment in Love, p. 94
The unweeded garden of their marriage Ian McEwan: Nutshell, p.12
His face splintered with concern Hannah Kent: The Good People, p 5
Sexual organs: the pale secrets of his body Hannah Kent: The Good People, p 8
The skittering presence of birds Hannah Kent: The Good People, p 23
At dinner, across the expanse of mahogany Kate Grenville: One Life My Mother’s Story, p 155
And there Aunt Dorothy from Brasshouse Lane has lived becalmed for many years Margaret Drabble: The Dark Flood Rises, p 39
rather stern good taste Kingsley Amis: You Can’t Do Both, p 215
Winston was gelatinous with fatigue George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, p. 208
Like 1914, a sleep-walk into disaster and misery Dennis Glover: The Last Man in Europe, p.73
Helen Garner’s description of bored jurors falling asleep in court: ‘like tulips dying in a vase’ Bernadette Brennan: A Writing Life Helen Garner and Her Work, p.254
He held the smile for a beat too long Sulari Gentill: Crossing the Lines, p.182
The house looked cosy and quaint, like it belonged on the lid of a tin of shortbread Sulari Gentill: Crossing the Lines, p.235 – 236
A sudden tender regret Steven Carroll: A new England Affair, p. 23
The gulls’ cries outside, one tapering into another Steven Carroll: A new England Affair, p. 164
The one window still unbroken briefly held the moon Pat Barker: The Ghost Road, p.140

Whether or not to plunge into Scrivener

Scrivener is a project management system for writers. You can access it easily on the Internet http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.phpand it all seems pretty generous: 30 days free trial and those are not consecutive days, but the days you actually use the package.

I heard about it a couple of years ago when a couple of IT focussed guys at work raved about it as a way to write their novels. A story went around that the designer of Scrivener was writing a novel, but Scrivener itself was so successful that he abandoned his novel and lived off the proceeds of his software package. Full of scepticism, I downloaded the package and started to do the introductory tutorial. I persisted for about half an hour, then the ‘instructor’ announced something like, that’s the first part, now go and get yourself a cup of tea . . . This isn’t for me, I thought. I closed everything down and went back to using Word, keeping my work in folders, all embedded in a folder called ‘Writing’. Sometime last year I went to a workshop given by Toni Jordan – a writer I admire very much. She is very keen about Scrivener. If she uses it, I thought, I’d better give it another try. Writers’ Victoria advertised a workshop on Scrivener to be delivered by writer Alison Stuart. I gritted my teeth and enrolled. Yesterday I took the workshop.

Scrivener

At the end of the full day workshop, I’m still not sure whether I will use it. I’ve got a new idea for a novel-sized book and used that as a kind of ‘guinea pig’. I had a new idea about it this morning and went to the newly-created Scrivener file to make a note about it. That’s a good sign. But I still feel very constrained: you start with a Binder (like a big ring-binder folder) and in this you create whatever sections you like, but if you’ve opted for ‘fiction’ you get choices such as ‘characters’ and ‘scene’. There’s an editing option (where you write stuff) and an Information section where you can store all the support material. I use old photographs a lot, you could also have pdfs of old newspapers, cartoons  . . . whatever. It will be useful to be able to have a split screen and write with this stimulus material next to the prose you are creating.

Scrivener with docScrivener doc 2

 

 

 

 

 

Writers are described as either Plotters (plan it all out first) or Pantsers (write off the seat of your pants). I’m a Pantser. The book that I’ve just (perhaps) finished started when I looked at an old photograph and grew with loads of twists, turns, diversions into 90,000 words. I think I’d have to regurgitate a first draft in Word and then sort it all out with Scrivener. Yet – I did go to Scrivener this morning when I had that new idea. So, I’m still thinking about it.

I can see that Scrivener would be excellent for writing non-fiction: you could keep interviews, notes, articles right next to you as you write. And the only way to learn about such a package is to use it – so I’ll give it a try, for 30 days, at least.

Scrivener fo Dummies

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