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Guest Blog: Christine Betts

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In the lead-up to Christmas I like to make a concentrated effort to promote my fellow creatives and entrepreneurs. I am honoured to introduce to you my good friend and writing comrade, author and businesswoman Christine Betts. Christine and I met about a year ago at the Gold Coast Writer’s Association monthly meeting, and instantly clicked! Ever since, we have endeavoured to support one another’s writing projects in any way possible. Christine is warm in character and a passionate and talented storyteller, and I feel truly blessed and honoured to call her my friend and writing companion.

Christine Betts

Author of Hotel Deja Vu and Paris in a Day

Where to find you: http://www.writerpainter.com @WriterPainter1 on Twitter and @writerpainter on Instagram!

What got you interested in writing?

I was an early reader and it seemed like a logical step. I wrote my first book at 10 although I don’t think it made it to the fridge, let alone the best-sellers list.

How long have you been writing? All my life, but seriously for about 2 years.

Do you have any goals/projects in the pipeline?

So, so many. I have goals coming out my butt to be honest. I’ve had to make my Top 5 list to stay focused. This is done by writing a long list of every project you’d love to tackle, then honing it down to your top 5. You are not allowed to do anything with your creative time that isn’t working towards a goal on this list, preferable number 1 first. I did that this year and have managed to knock #1 and #2 off the list. #3 is getting sorted with Nanowrimo in November with my second draft of my next book although I have also broken my own rules by starting another new project for NaNoWriMo.

What do you like most about writing?

It’s quiet. I like the quiet rhythm of writing and want to stab people who interrupt my writing time. Must remember; stabbing is bad, must use my words.

What genre do you write?

I think you could call it women’s fiction even though that term makes me cringe. You don’t hear about men’s fiction, do you? I write historical and contemporary stories with strong female characters.

What draws you to this genre?

It happened accidentally. If you’d told me three years ago that I’d be writing about Strong, Independent women I would have laughed.

Where do you get your ideas?

I write non-stop and the stories just bubble up. I read a lot, watch a lot of movies and series’. I love stories and art.

Tell us about your process, how do you get into a writing mindset?

For years I was a commercial artist. We didn’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit we had to get on with it. So now, I just sit and write.

What are you working on at the moment?

My second full-length novel with the working title of The Circle. There are two Strong Female Main Characters and a host of supporting women as well. One MC is a paleoanthropologist in modern day England and the other is a Druid Priestess in 3500BCE.

Which writers inspire/influence you?

This year I have read more Australian authors (Dominic Smith Gail Jones) women authors (Gail Honeyman, Jackie French) and prize-winners (Andrew Sean Greer, Jane Harper). My fave books are Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The last Painting of Sarah De Vos by Dominic Smith, Eiffel’s Tower by Jill Jonnes…and so many more.

What else about your writing journey should we know?

Eventually I’d like to write a business book and a parenting book. My husband and I have done a pretty good job of both over the past 20 years so we might be able to share what we’ve learnt with others.

From my novel Hotel Déjà Vu You can read more here

5th Arrondissement, Paris. April 1944

The hunched figure shuffled along the pitch-black laneway; ruined arm pressed against her side. She had lost one shoe and the bare foot throbbed. For a moment, she imagined the bloody trail she was leaving for the police dogs to follow but part of her no longer cared who might come for her. Would tonight be the night they finally put a bullet in her back? At least death would end the pain and her father would no longer need to worry about her. Still, she shuddered at the thought.

The heat was spreading through her body as she stood disoriented in the dark. One of her father’s favourite sayings echoed in her mind; ne paniquez pas, organisez vous. She calmed her breathing…un, deux, trois, quartre…don’t panic, organise…

She stood rigid, listening for any sound, eyes closed – they were useless in the inky blackness. Again, she thought of her father and the last time she had seen him. They had argued of course, they always did, but this time the words were not barked at each other, a smirk playing at their lips, their familiar jousting. War was no time for games. Instead they whispered urgently behind the closed door of his clinic. He had begged her to stay home.

‘You are most certainly being watched, Ana…’ He was tired but there had been an edge of anger in his voice that she had never heard before.

You are putting this whole house at risk…’

She had raged inside, but then calmed herself knowing that dramatics and hysteria would not convince him of anything but her immaturity. Still, she spoke with force, the anger pulling her lips taut across her teeth.

You can find my work by searching Hotel Déjà Vu by Christine Betts on Amazon or by contacting me on my website www.writerpainter.com.

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I am ashamed of my creative journey.

Or at least I have been. Until now.

For as far back as I can remember I have felt ashamed of who I am. About the things that make me who I am. For the things I want- to travel the world and write- or don’t want- to study, establish a career, settle down. What I want and don’t want has felt like it doesn’t fit the mold of what is acceptable in mainstream society. My life’s purpose lives outside the realms of the traditional paths of study & career. I’m not opposed to a having a day job, but I’ve never identified a long-term vocation that remotely appealed to me to deserve the investment of my time, money and energy. As a result, I am ‘uneducated’ in the traditional sense. I didn’t graduate high school and I have not attended college or university. I have studied writing, in the form of attending many workshops and masterclasses. In this method, I am also a highly skilled circus performer, specializing in advanced level hula hooping.

My doubt isn’t associated with my ability to write or the importance of my stories. My doubt stems from my perceived inability to survive in the mainstream world without a mainstream vocation.

Until now I’ve seen my creative passions and interests as not viable in the ‘real’ world. I questioned how I was supposed to live in the ‘real’ world. I have never believed and trusted that I could survive doing what I do. Not because I doubted that my passions could be monetized. It wasn’t a matter of whether I could do it. It was a matter of whether I should. Whether it was a responsible choice for my life, and as that of a contributing member of society. I have never believed and trusted that I could get by in the world being what I am and doing what I do.

I have spent years trying to put myself in a box into which I do not fit. Ultimately in order to be approved of and accepted by others, whether it be parents, family members, romantic partners or friends.

Today I felt as if I was finally able to start letting go of the shame around my preoccupation with my life’s purpose of being a storyteller.  To start letting go of the fear and guilt around my lack of interest in a ‘traditional’ life path of study and career.

I no longer believe that the pursuit of my passions is irresponsible.

I no longer believe that I am being naive to believe that I will be supported in this pursuit of my life purpose, whether directly or indirectly.

As a creative, as a storyteller, I am worthy of love and connection.

This self-realization- this permission– has brought me to a whole new phase of my creative journey.

Watch this space.

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Books By The Beach: A Kind Gesture at Burleigh

Welcome to Burleigh, stop no.8 on my Books By The Beach tour!

Burleigh Heads is a suburb that extends north to Miami Headland, and south to Tallebudgera Creek, Palm Beach. The centre of the neighborhood is James Street, which consists of cafes, delis, hairdressers, retailers, chemists, restaurants and charity stores.

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Burleigh Beach

 

Burleigh Heads’ surf break attracts surfers from the Gold Coast and beyond. At the headland of Burleigh, locally known as “The Point”, is a popular vantage point for surfing spectators. On Sunday afternoons, bongo drum players gather in Justins Park for a jam session, which attracts a crowd for a picnic dinner in the park. Many also practice acrobatics, juggling and hula hooping to the beat of the drums.

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Burleigh Beach

Indigenous Australians inhabited the area of Burleigh Heads for thousands of years prior to European settlement. The Indigenous tribe were known as the Kombumerri clan, who had named the area ‘Jellurgal’. The Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre is based at the foot of the Burleigh Headland, alomgside the pristine Tallebudgera Creek.

In 1840, James Warner was commissioned to survey the coastline near Moreton Bay. Warner named the Headlands near tallebudgera Creek ‘Burly Head’ because of its massive appearance. Decades later the name was adapted to the more genteel spelling of ‘Burleigh Heads’ and was declared a town reserve by the Queensland Government in 1871.

Burleigh Heads has a number of heritage-listed sites, including the David Fleay Wildlife Park located on Tallebudgera Creek Road. Burleigh Headland is part of a wildlife corridor connecting coastal forests south to the Queensland New South Wales border ranges.

The Gold Coast skyline can be seen in the distance from Burleigh Heads. The north-east facing beach is protected by the point to the south and offers one of the best swimming, body boarding and surfing beaches on the Gold Coast. A mature stand of Norfolk Island Pines form a backdrop and are home to native birds.

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Burleigh Hill, with a view north of the Gold Coast skyline

The Quiksilver Pro, an event on the World Surf League, is often contested at Burleigh Heads when the surf is not contestable at Kirra or Snapper Rocks.

A Kind Gesture is yet another short story that put me through my paces. Loosely based on true events, A Kind Gesture tells the story of Stuart, a lonely divorcee who picks up a young hitchhiker on a cold night in Chicago. As their encounter progresses, it becomes obvious that neither is who they seem.

PLEASE NOTE: At the end of this video there is information about purchasing A Kind Gesture on Amazon. My books are not currently available on Amazon. Instead you can download a PDF version of the story for FREE HERE: A Kind Gesture

Thank-you for joining me here at Burleigh! See you next at Tallebudgera Creek!