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Playing Catch-Up: Links

I have been having so much fun posting quotes, links to interesting Halloween-themed articles, and I certainly hope you have all been enjoying the content too!
Due to some personal matters that have kept me away from my computer over the past few days I have fallen behind in my posts, so I thought I’d just combine them into one post!

39 Books That Are Actually Scary

Horror Novels Based On Real Life

5 Witchy AF Books To Read This Fall

16 of the Spookiest Abandoned Places On Earth

15 of the Best Movies Set On Halloween

5 Horror Novels That Are Legit Nightmare Fuel

A Lovecraft Reading Order For Beginners

40 of the Creepiest Book Covers Of All Time

23 Child Horror Movie Actors You Wouldn’t Recognize Today

6 Great Horror Stories by Women You Can Read Right Now

Happy Hitchcock-tober: 10 Books Celebrating The Master Of Suspense

The Earlier Versions of Little Red Riding Hood Were Violent and Grotesque

5 Halloween-Appropriate Books To Read If You Don’t Like Horror

 

And some visuals:

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My Story: A Lifelong Passion For Writing

When I set out to tell my story, I realize that the difficultes I have faced in my life are not unique. Everyone has their ‘stuff’. Everyone’s childhood was rough to some degree, some admittedly worse than others. I have wanted to share my story for a long time, and I maintain the belief that there is someone out in the world that needs to read it. My hope is that it will be of help to someone, just as the life stories of other influential people have helped me in my journey of growth.

Well here goes:

The vocation of writing chose me very early on, and began to express itself when I was two years of age. Drawing page after page of stick figures, my mother would sit with me while I explained to her who the characters were and what they were doing in each picture. However, around this time, I also began to display disturning behavioural problems. As a newborn, I had been diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, and at two weeks of age underwent surgery to relieve fluid build-up around my brain. Mum wondered whether such major surgery as an infant had anything to do with the behavioural problems I was now experiencing.

When Mum dressed me for the day I screamed, pulling my clothes away from my body. I felt a physical revulsion toward them and the way they felt against my skin. I hated the feeling of car seatbelts so badly that I sat with my hand between the belt and my body for the whole car trip. I told Mum that it ‘felt bad’.

I hated wearing certain types of clothing and shoes. I always wore lace-up shoes, and would cry that they were ‘too loose’, so I asked Mum to tie my laces tight. It was horrible , and I didn’t know how to make Mum understand what I was feeling. Looking into my eyes, Mum knew my tantrums were a cry for help and that this behaviour was more than just a temper tantrum.

My drawings were detailed for my age, catching the attention of my teachers when I started school. I used my toys to play out the stories brewing away in my head. I pretended my family’s house was a faraway land of vast plains, mountains, rivers and castles. I was discovering a wonderful passion, and expressing it with the resources I had available at my tender young age.

My first grade teacher told Mum something that she had been dreading to hear. I had learning difficulties. I couldn’t construct math problems or problem-solve simple math solutions. Although the teacher was concerned about these issues, she commented on my outstanding art skills. Aware of the matters at hand, Mum continued to encourage me in the art skills she already knew I had. I showed creativity well beyond my age.

I had ‘Fuzzy Felts’ sets that I’d create scenes for stories and intricate plotlines. Mum had given me a few old bracelets and chains from old purses and bracelets, and with these I loved creating shapes depicting mermaids with beautiful tails and long hair, moving them around on the dining table.

At school I would get distracted easily, pretending my pencils and erasers were characters in a story and my desk was their house. I would get so absorbed in my game that I’d look up and realize that we were halfway through the lesson and I had no idea what we were doing. Or the teacher would get mad with me for not paying attention. I loved to create stories all the time, and my whole world was my material. Mum just kept telling me I was doing fine.

At the end of my second year at school my teacher voiced his concerns to Mum about my difficulty with problem solving in Maths. The school was going to place me in a special Maths support program the following year. Mum returned the next day with some drawings that I had done recently, and my teacher was as amazed as she was at my advanced art skills. Mum proved on my behalf to him and the other school staff that although I did not excel at Maths, I simply excelled in other areas.

In my first few years of school, I had struggled to form close friendships with the other girls in my class until right at the end of the year. My discomfort with certain items of clothing had followed me into school, and I was insisten on wearing a white T-shirt underneath my sleeveless uniform dress. I hated the feeling of the arm holes rubbing against my skin, so I wanted to wear the shirt to mask the feeling. I looked at my school photos and noticing that I stood out from the other kids because of my t-shirt. I knew that I was different to them because of the way I wanted to wear my uniform, and thought that that was why they had avoided me for most of the year.

I recall playing in the playground alone, making up my own imaginative games. I felt secure around my female teachers, and if they were on playground duty I hung around them. They’d encourage me to go off and play with someone else from my class, but I was too shy to approach anyone. The school guidance officer called Mum up for a meeting about the white shirt, and my inability to keep up with the school workload.   She advised Mum to take me to a child psychiatrist about the problems. Mum took me to visit the doctor, describing the distractions that affected me at school. My classroom was right next to a main road, which was under major reconstruction that year. Dust and noise were prevalent there. Mum showed the doctor drawings, and he was amazed at the talent I had at such a young age. He wrote a letter to my school informing them that my mother had a good understanding of my situation and for them to leave her to guide me. He mentioned that I showed talents of a future Picasso, and posed the question to them to whether Picasso was considered a ‘strange’ child whilst at school. Mum pulled me out of that school at the end of the year.

The next year my sister and I started at a new school around the corner from our house. I was going to repeat the third grade. My fine and gross motor skills were poor. I couldn’t catch a ball or butter bread properly. I couldn’t write neatly, and my lines of words took a slant away from the spine of my exercise book. My new teacher taught me how to write all over again. I loved her and had a great school year. Mum believed in me and kept encouraging me. She never put me down.

At nine years old, after suffering a number of seizures, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. The medication I was prescribed made me drowsy and vague. I fell asleep in school, and had to be reminded to complete simple daily tasks like brushing my teeth and getting changed. It was incredibly embarrassing. Each day was a struggle in the classroom. I was extremely shy and self-conscious, and struggled to maintain friendships with my peers. However, I found freedom in my writing. I came home from school each day and spent hours in my bedroom drawing pictures and writing a few simple sentences underneath each one. It was an escape for me, something I could do aside from all the things I was incapable of.

By the seventh grade, my health had improved. My doctor took me off medication, and I became much brighter and more aware of my surroundings. I coped much better, and at age fifteen I decided I wanted to get serious about my writing. Of course I faced scepticism over my decision. A writer seemed like a whimsical choice to many people close to me. It was very difficult to hear their doubts in my capabilities, especially during my impressionable teenage years.

Yet I didn’t let anyone destroy my dream, choosing only to listen to those people who encouraged me. After finishing the tenth grade I made the decision to leave school. I had been failing most subjects, and just passing on those I was actually interested in. So I decided to cut my losses , leave school and start work. During high school I had started a correspondence writing course, which I had not yet finished due to my school work commitents. I finished the course in the first seven months out of school whilst also working full-time. By my eighteenth birthday I had written several short stories and rough novel manuscripts. I gathered myself a small network of people consisting of my Mum, an editor named Suzanne, and a few close friends who read my work and gave me suggestions on my stories.

At eighteen I started writing the first draft of The Wilted Rose, and at by the time I was twenty-three the book was completed. After five years of hard work, I published The Wilted Rose, a biographical novel depicting the story of a Brisbane family during the 1960s & 70s. Writing the book was very exciting experience, and I’m enjoying every moment of my journey as a writer. My hope is that by sharing my story, other people will be inspired to identify their passions above all else, and achieve their goals.

 

 

 

 

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A 1960s Aussie Christmas

As Christmas fast approaches, I thought I would take my readers back in time a little. My novel The Wilted Rose tells of several family Christmases throughout the 1960s and 70s, as the Brooker family spend their summer holidays in the Moreton Bay Peninsula. Merry Christmas, and enjoy this free excerpt!

The Wilted Rose (Excerpt)

The house at Redcliffe was home for the Brooker family all the way through the school holidays. At Christmas, Jack helped the children prop one of his painting planks against the window frame, creating a bridge that led down to the ground outside

“Now Santa can come in and bring us our presents!” Grace chirped.

Jack took the kids for a walk along the esplanade to the supermarket, and gave each of them two dollars to buy presents for the family. Grace picked out a leaf-shaped bowl from the shelf; her mother could use it for the nuts she always put out to eat on Christmas day.

As Grace continued her hunt, she spotted Ryan up ahead. Once they had found gifts for each other, the kids reconvened together in the back of the store, conspiring as to what they would buy for their father.

They set out on their mission. Paul decided on a packet of handkerchiefs, and Grace and Ryan on tea mugs.

On Christmas Eve, Jack and the kids checked on the painting plank in the kitchen window, ensuring it was positioned correctly.

“Now Santa won’t hurt himself on his way in,” Ryan stated confidently.

When the children were a little older, their cousins Deborah, Tim and Ruth often joined them on holiday. They spent Christmas Day with their own families, and then by midday on Boxing Day, the house was buzzing with activity.

There were at least five children at the Redcliffe house during any holiday period. Clayton and Jack settled in front of the black and white television set to watch the Boxing Day cricket test between Australia and England. The kids played outside, while the women chatted over cups of tea on the porch

Jack had three weeks off over Christmas, and then returned to work in Brisbane. He travelled back to the holiday house in the evenings. After breakfast the kids ventured outside to play, and heavy on her feet, Sarah shuffled into the bedroom and closed the door. She sat down on the edge of the bed, brushing her hands over her face. Her migraine had set in for the day. She reached over to the bedside table and popped two painkillers out of their packaging, swallowing them with a glass of water. She lay down and closed her eyes, quickly falling back to sleep.

It was low tide as the kids played on the beach in front of the house.

“Let’s build sand cities,” Ryan suggested.

He set to work constructing reinforced bridges, and each child attempted to build their houses more elaborate than the others. Making loud revving noises, Paul pushed his matchbox car around the crumbly structures. Grace picked up another of his cars and chased him, making whirring sounds.

“I’m the police, Paul!” she shouted. “Stop speeding right now!”

Sheavy the corgi puppy was a recent addition to the Brooker Family. He planted himself in a watchful position in front of the sand city, and Grace charged him with protecting the city from intruders. Sheavy barked at a couple walking along nearby, but settled when he sensed they were friendly. He stood up and trotted over to them, and the couple scratched him behind the ears. His whole body waggled to compensate for his stub of a tail. Grace giggled at the sight.

In the middle of the day the kids made their way back up to the house, running noisily through the living room to the kitchen for a drink. Grace paused for a moment by her parents’ bedroom. She approached the closed door, pressing her ear against it.

She often heard, but never saw, her mother crying. Her mother was always quiet in front of them. An unpleasant feeling came over Grace’s heart as she listened. She hated the sound of her mother’s tears. What was making her so upset? Why did she cry all the time?

“Grace, come on!” Paul shouted.

She ran outside with the gang, and within minutes they were off on another adventure along the beachfront.

Their skin was brown from days of adventures in the sun. Their legs were long and lanky, and covered in bruises from climbing trees, jumping off walls and running around the yard. The boys’ hair was only combed for school and church. Grace had finally been allowed to grow her dark brown hair out of the bowl cut her father had given her since she was young. These days it reached down to her shoulders, and her mother braided it for her.

Another Christmas morning at the holiday house delivered the boys brand new dragster bikes. Grace squealed in delight as she sat on her blue bicycle, with ribbons dangling from the handlebars. She was determined to keep up with her older brothers, be it at bike riding, fishing, swimming, football, or billy-cart racing. Whatever it was, she was insistent that she could do it too.

Give a Wilted Rose this Christmas.

Click HERE to view and purchase The Wilted Rose in paperback and Kindle Ebook.

The Wilted Rose Book Cover Paint