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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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Ireland: 31 Days, 31 Pictures: Day 31- Saint Nahi’s Church & Central Mental Hospital

Wow, I can’t believe I have come to the end of my marathon 31-day blogging effort! I have absolutely adored reliving my 2017 trip through this series of blog posts. I hope you have enjoyed coming along on the ride with me, and that you have learned all about Ireland through pictures!

For my final post, I thought I would share THREE images. The first is Saint Nahi’s Church, an 18th-century church in Dundrum, an area of Dublin about a half hour drive from the city centre.

Saint Nahi’s Church

The name Taney derives from Tigh Naithi meaning the house or place of Nahi, and who may also be associated with Tobarnea, a seashore well that near Blackrock. The current church is still in use by the local Church of Ireland community and is one of two churches in the Parish of Taney (historically encompassing the whole area around Dundrum). It is built on the site of an early Irish monastery founded by Saint Nahí.

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St. Nahi’s stands on the grounds of the original monastery, having been refurbished several times, most recently in 1910, after a period when it was in use as the local boys’ national school. Following storm damage to the roof, a major refurbishment was carried out by the then Rector of the Parish, Canon William Monk Gibbon (father of the poet of the same name), who is buried in the grounds of the church.

Central Mental Hospital

I chose Dundrum as my location for my final three days in Ireland because of it’s proximity to Central Mental Hospital. Strange, I know, but I was interesting in researching the facility for my book.

The Central Mental Hospital is a mental health facility housing forensic patients. It is, along with a community day centre for out patients at Usher’s Island, part of the National Forensic Mental Health Service. This service is in turn part of the Irish prison system providing psychology, therapy, social work, medicine and nursing. The central hospital itself contains 84 patient beds.

The hospital began in 1850 as Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum for Ireland and was the first secure hospital in Europe. This was an early move of an ideological initiative throughout Britain and its colonies which included the building of the infamous Broadmoor Hospital in England. The site was originally chosen to be soothing to mental health patients and was intentionally not linked to any particular prison service to maintain distinction between criminality and illness.

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Ireland: 31 Days, 31 Pictures: Day 30- The Plassey Shipwreck

Day 30: The Plassey Shipwreck

I visited the Plassey Shipwreck on my third and final full day on Inisheer. To get to the wreck I chose to hire a bike from the only bike hire shop on the island, run by a very friendly local.

The cargo vessel Plassey was shipwrecked off Inis Oírr in the 1960s, and has since been thrown above high tide mark at Carraig na Finise on the island by strong Atlantic waves. The ship features in the opening credits of the TV Show Father Ted.

A group of local Islanders, the Inisheer Rocket Crew, rescued the entire crew from the stricken vessel using a breeches buoy. The event was captured in a pictorial display at the National Maritime Museum in Dun Láoghaire.

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