My Blog

SUMMER BREAK

Hello there

Hope you’ve all launched into a happy and peaceful new year.  I had a great Christmas and just got home after spending some time in Newcastle, NSW with my son, Mark, and daughter-in-law, Sarah.  It was a really relaxing and enjoyable break and although I took work with me I’m afraid I didn’t do any of it! The cooler weather and fresh sea breezes came as a welcome relief and I was lucky enough to avoid a week of fearsome storms in Perth. But  my lovely friends, Borrie and Mary, who stayed in the house with Toby had to endure not only the storms but but his frantic reaction to them. They are wonderful generous and tolerant people, I am so lucky.

Sarah and Mark had recently launched into a paleo diet and managed to coax me into that too.  I expected it to be punishing but it turned out to be just the sort of change and motivation I needed to try to get fit and lose weight.  Heaps of veggies, fish, some lean meat, fruit and replacing many processed foods with natural alternatives. We ate so well, and it has put a stop to my awful sugar and carb/grain cravings.  I’ve also managed to maintain it since I got back home and am feeling so much better for it.  I’m putting up some pictures of Sarah and Mark at work in the kitchen and some of our meals including a fabulous paleo shepherds pie. FullSizeRender-1FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender-2IMG_0072

I also celebrated my 71st birthday last week, which seems like an achievement. At this stage of life every year seems like a bonus and a challenge to enjoy the time that is left.  Like everyone else at this age I have many dear friends who did not make it to this age, and others who are unable to fully enjoy it due to poor health.  So my 2015 resolution is to make the most of it and to live longer by working on my health and fitness.

The day after I got home from NSW I was unpacking my case in the bedroom and went away to answer the phone.  When I went back into the room I found that Toby had taken up residence in my suitcase.  Perhaps he was measuring it up for size so that he can come with me next time.

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I’ll shortly post some news about the Perth Writers Festival and what I’ll be doing there.  And news coming soon of my memoir/new non-fiction book that will be released in May.  And yes, I am working on a new novel for release next year.

‘Bye for now, Liz

 

Happy Christmas From the World’s Worst Blogger

When this blog was first set up for me by a lovely tech-savy acquaintance I promised to post regularly and I really meant it. I know some writers are really good at blogging and that as a writer that I ought to find it easy to find things to say. My trouble is that I try hard to think of interesting things to blog about and then think they’ll sound stupid and so I don’t do it. I suppose most of the things that I want to say go into my books, or into other work that I do at the University – all of which takes up a lot of time. Anyway I vow to try to do better in 2015, and I thought I’d begin now by updating on you on what’s happening for me as we head towards the end of the current year.

I want to apologise for the long delay in replying to some of your comments. I am hopeless at working out what’s gone wrong if the blog isn’working and for at least a couple of months, more probably, I have been struggling how to get the ‘reply’ facility working. For some reason it just refused to co-operate which meand that I couldn’t reply to your comments. I have struggled womanfully with it and finally beaten it into submission but it has taken ages and I have no idea what it was that I did that fixed it in the end. I really need a smart 16-year-old on hand to help me deal with my various technical problems!

It’s been a hugely busy year and I am looking forward to break over Christmas. Family Secrets was released in July and has done wonderfully well, many thanks to those readers who have commented here, and/or emailed me about it. I was really surprised by how many people wrote to tell me that the key secret in the book mirrors a matching secret in their own family, but it’s great to know that the stories and characters resonate , and I am so grateful to you for your loyal readership over the last ten years.

This year I finished a book I’ve been working at on and off for the last seven years. It’s a non-fiction book, part memoir and part the story of a corner of wartime history which which has haunted me since childhood. The book will be released in May next and includes my own story of going back to England to take a fresh look at the place where I spent my childhood, and to meet the people involved in this wartime story. I will post more about this in the new year.

I am working on another novel which will be released in 2016, provided I get on with it quickly over the next few months!

One of the things that many writers do with their blogs is share details of their exciting social lives. But I live a rather quiet life, going to work at the university, sitting at home writing or reading, pottering in the garden. I quite often meet friends for breakfast or dinner and spend time with my family, but I do avoid large social functions. I turned 70 this year and am loving this time of my life, but also allowing myself to slow down a bit and rest when I need to. My lovely dog, Toby, takes me for a walk twice a day. If you haven’t seen a photo of him here’s one of us together.

Toby and Me
Toby and Me

Toby was nine this year and I’ve had him for almost two years, he was a rescue dog and rather nervous and anxious when I got him. Now, however, he is totally chilled out, and also totally in charge. We have a lot of lovely conversations and he always agrees with me – obviously a dog of great good sense!
So at the end of this year I wish you all a very Happy Christmas a peaceful and rewarding New Year, in which I promise to stay in touch more often. Here’s to a year of great reading pleasure for all of us.
Liz

PERTH WRITERS FESTIVAL

I’ve been reading and enjoying Margaret Drabble’s books  for half a century, beginning in 1963 with A Summer Birdcage and most recently her new novel The Pure Gold Baby.  I have always found her work entirely engaging, inspired and challenging and piercingly relevant to my own life and writing, so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Margaret at the Perth Writers Festival later this month.  Come and join us if you can:  11.30am on Friday 21st August in The Octagon Theatre at UWA. you can book here: http://2014.perthfestival.com.au/Whats-on-by-Genre/Perth-Writers-Festival?utm_source=wordfly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=toPWFpatrons&utm_content=version_A

IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARET DRABBLE
IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARET DRABBLE

Great characters – a great read.

sea dog hotelI’ve had Marlish Glorie’s second novel Sea Dog Hotel on my iPad for a few weeks now, but it was only this week that I started reading it – and then I couldn’t stop.  When I turned the last page I wished I’d read it sooner because spending time with Ruth,  Grace and all the strange and quirky characters who come and go at the Sea Dog Hotel in the little outback town of Nyacoppin, made me feel so good.

Starting the uncomfortable journey in the car with irritating Ruth, who is hoping for yet another new start in the search for happiness, and her brooding resentful daughter, Grace, I wasn’t expecting such a delightfully warm and reassuring read.  But I was quickly drawn into the life at the hotel, and began to care about the people, the place and the things that mattered to them.  Marlish really conjures up the feel of the run down hotel, the almost forgotten little town, and the people who come together as a community.  I loved the sense of satisfaction I had at the end, and was looking for the promise of a sequel. The voices of the characters are strong and authentic, and while they are eccentric, sometimes prickly, and defensive they are very real and each one has characteristics to which I quickly warms.  I love character driven novels and Marlish has really created a believable group of people and an unique little world at the Sea Dog Hotel.

This is a delightful book – perfect as a relaxing holiday read, or an engrossing distraction on a long flight, or something that will just lift you out of your surroundings and revive your spirits.

You can find Sea Dog Hotel on amazon.com’s Kindle Store.

Sarah Waters Ten Tips for Writing Fiction

Sarah Waters Ten Tips for Writing Fiction

I’m a big fan of Sarah Waters – and now I’m an even bigger fan.  These tips are great for anyone starting out and for reviving the rest of us when we get lost or jaded.

My favourite novel is The Night Watch, and then The Little Stranger.  What I admire most in Sarah Waters work is the discipline which means that there are no redundant words or phrases and she keeps me riveted right to the end.