Wednesday, 14 January 2015

summer reading 2015: the undertaker's daughter, all fall down, mothers and daughters

From life in an American funeral home to the relaxing waters north of Broome, books have taken me on quite a journey this summer. I've enjoyed swapping the hustle and bustle of the school holidays for some much-needed down time between the covers of some great reads. Kate Mayfield's memoir The Undertaker's Daughter recounts her time growing up in Jubilee, Kentucky and the steady influx of the deceased and those who mourned them. It's a surprisingly gentle account and written with a strong and absorbing Southern voice. Highly enjoyable.

Jennifer Weiner's All Fall Down is a race from start to finish, the inside scoop on Allison Weiss and her supposedly perfect life. We soon learn that Allison gets through the days aided by 'mother's little helpers' - pick-me-ups that assist with her fast-paced, adrenalin-filled schedule. When Allison's world comes crashing down, she has no choice but to sit back and let her family take over. Recovery is impossible without this leap of faith and Allison doesn't believe it's possible without her front and centre. Not a very relaxing read (Allison's pre-fall schedule is exhausting!), but a timely warning about doing too much as we begin a new year.

Australian Kylie Ladd's Mothers and Daughters picks up where All Fall Down leaves off: what happens once our children become teenagers and forging identities of their own? And what does that mean for their parents? When four mothers and four teenage girls holiday in the north with limited access to technology, tensions arise. The blissful, holiday brochure accommodation the travellers conjured in their imaginations doesn't match the scenery. Meanwhile the friendships they've held so dearly look to be falling apart at the seams. An engaging and entertaining read.

Have you read any good books lately? What should I seek out in 2015? I'm doing Pip Lincolne's A Year of Australian Writing and plan to read as much homegrown talent as possible. I can't give up my international reads though, so it's going to be a busy time!

PS Picmonkey collage using images as follows: The Undertaker's DaughterAll Fall Down, Mothers and Daughters.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

happy new year 2015 - the writer's edition

The final 2014 writer's edition slipped by in the busy whirl of Christmas preparations, end of school and bushfires. When the countryside around us flared up on 19 December it affected many people we know and brought the year to an abrupt end. Finally declared safe in the past week, the fire burned through over 5000 hectares, affecting many local landholders, native fauna and flora. Rehabilitation works have now commenced and people are able to start planning for the future.

My own 2015 has got off to a flying start. I will be working 12 hours a week as a journalist on our local newspaper, something I'm delighted about and will complement my novel writing at home. I officially started this week, however I did write a couple of stories for their final December edition. The juggle of childcare has commenced, although with a great team behind me I think we have it covered! It's actually quite good starting during the school holidays - hopefully we will have found some kind of routine before Term One begins at the end of the month.

While there has been little time for my second manuscript in recent weeks, I'm pleased to announce that at just over 37,000 words, I am almost half-way through my first draft. This is something I only started in October and it seems incredible that I have already reached that point. The basic gist of it is a tree change gone wrong - a retired couple are heading to the country to start a new life, but tragedy strikes on the eve of their move.

My first manuscript (a Fly In, Fly Out mining couple discover that all that glitters isn't gold) is still out for consideration and I don't expect to find out anything more for the next couple of months. It's been wonderful to reflect on the past year and see how far I've got with my writing. I don't know what will happen with this manuscript, but to realise I've achieved a lifelong dream and I'm only 41 is amazing. It leaves so much time to achieve the next dream (and the next and the next!), which is of course to write another book (and another and another)!

What does 2015 have in store for you?! I hope it's all that you wish! Thank you for joining in with my writing journey at Stonefruit Season and I look forward to sharing more with you over the coming year.

PS The pic was taken at a roadside flower stall near Jamieson, Victoria - so cute!