Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Tag: humour (Page 2 of 2)

Blog five – a matter of false information

Those who know me and can be bothered counting, may have noticed this is my fifth visit to the UK in the last ten years. You may also have observed that now and again (cough) I like to talk about the place. I mention the walks I’ve been on in Wales, the beachside amusement arccades, pubs which allow dogs (very civilised) the way people eat mushy peas with their fish and chips (maybe not so civilised) and how the Brits have a tendency to strip down to their Y fronts whenever the sun peeks out from behind a cloud (need I comment?). What you may not realise, is that I may have been guilty of giving you false information.

The misinformation, has its origins three years ago when, one Sunday, during my month long Welsh language Summer School, I decided to walk from Borth to Aberystwyth. It was a warm, blue sky, day, with only a whisper of cloud. I meandered along the Ceredigion Coastal Park, taking in the heather covered hillsides and spectacular sea views. Just short of Aberystwyth, I stopped for a drink at the cafe attached to the local caravan park. Having spent a number of summer holidays in Aussie Caravan parks, I enjoyed seeing how the Brits (largely from the Midlands judging by their accents) did the summer holiday thing. No, sun smart campaign, judging from the lobster-coloured backs of the children paddling on the beach. No trees for shade, or sun shelters and some of the caravans had two doors. Oh, my! How quaint! Semi-detached caravans!

Roll forward three years, and you will find me a little further along the coast with a group of Welsh speaking friends looking out over a different caravan park. The day wasn’t quite as sunny and, if I’m honest, it was a tad more windy (like blowing a force ten gale). As I sat shivering on the walls of Harlech Castle, I fell to making random summer holiday observations:

‘We don’t have castles in Australia so … this is not a normal summer holiday activity for me (nor the chattering teeth). Do many people stay in tents? Those semi-detached caravans you have are quaint.’

Silence. Four sets of eyes turned on me. ‘Semi-detached caravans?

‘Yes. I’ve seen them, near Aberystwyth.’

‘Really? I’ve never seen one.’ One by one, they all agreed.

Now at this point, I probably should have backed down. Four born and bred, British people, one who has an onsite caravan in a Welsh caravan park were telling me there was no such thing as a semi-detached caravan. What other evidence did I need? But here’s the thing about me. As well as telling tales of Brits sunbathing in their Y fronts, I may also have mentioned the semi-detached caravans a few times. Okay, so more than a few – and I was pretty damn sure they existed. I mean, why else would a caravan have two doors?

Our holiday finished without further reference to the great two door caravan fib. But back in Corris, I could not let the matter rest. I knew the Corris Caravan park wasn’t far away. I set off, camera in hand, to gather evidence. Imagine my delight when I came upon this scene.

I immediately sent a Facebook message to my friends.

‘Tystiolaeth!’ (Evidence)

‘Efallai’ (maybe)? The friend with the onsite caravan wrote. ‘Neu jyst carafan dau ddrws’ (or just a two door caravan).

No need to tell you what I thought of that idea. Who would be potty enough to make a caravan with two doors. Another friend messaged that she would best visiting the seaside town of Aberdyfi later in the week. She would do some research. I decided to join her This was too important a matter to leave to prejudiced minds.

We set off after dark, two middle aged women sneaking round a sleepy caravan park. Fortunately, we were in west Wales, where the crime rate is quite low, or we may have been arrested. Especially when we started circling two door caravans and peering through windows.

‘This one only has one storage box,’ my friend said.

I had to admit she was right.

‘And one number plate.’

Right again.

‘And look this one only has a name.’

I looked at the caravan in question. Number two, Seaspray, and there was only one storage box. I had to admit the evidence was stacking up against me. But what to do? How to tell my Aussie friends that a glorious West Wales holiday in a semi-detached caravan was no longer a possibility? And what about all my other stories. Maybe those men weren’t wearing Y fronts after all?

I’m not sure where all this doubt would have lead too, if not for the quiet persistence of my friend with the onsite caravan. Quite apart from our nighttime escapades, he’d been conducting his own quiet research. It’s called the World Wide Web, in case your interested. Far more sensible than creeping around caravan parks at night. Here’s the picture he sent me.

There may not be semi-detached caravans in modern Britain but once upon a time they did exist. In fact, if enough people make enquiries about semi-detached caravan holidays in West Wales we might be able to bring them back again. Meanwhile, I’m conducting another branch of research. Can someone please tell me why some British caravans have two doors?


Celebrating significant milestones

Those of you who know me will realise I celebrated a significant birthday this year. Andrew celebrated the same milestone last year. We also clocked up a thirtieth wedding anniversary. A party was called for, invitations sent out. People flew in from interstate. We had a great night. One of the highlights of the evening was Seth’s speech. Here it is for those who couldn’t make it, with my short response.


Naturally I have only heard anecdotes about my parent’s time before marriage. If I trusted them, I would tell you about Andrew Corbett at the Helsinki Olympics. Instead, I thought it best that stick tonight to cold hard fact, verified by those who have lived it.

So here we go.

Quite surprisingly, after being deprived TV until I was 12 years old, I have a soft spot for movies. I therefore can think of no better way to express this speech but with obscure film references. My first thought was to compare Mum and Dad’s marriage to my favourite film trilogy: The Before Sunrise Series. The series follows the life and relationship of two people, Jesse and Celine, over the span of 20 years.

The first movie sees the pair fall in love in Paris.

The second sees them reunite 9 years later in Paris again.

The third sees them married with children

The more I looked, I found that a direct comparison was impossible:

Firstly, Hawthorndene and Vermont are not exactly Paris,

Secondly and most importantly, mum and dad achieved what took the Jesse and Celine twenty years, in the space of twelve months.

So instead myself and my siblings have created our very own film trilogy that better encapsulates the love story that is Andrew and Elizabeth Corbett.


Young love

Starring– Andrew Corbett, Elizabeth Corbett, Jack and Phoebe Corbett,

Tagline: Whatever you do…don’t have kids straight away.

Rating: G – minimal drug and alcohol use.

Box Office: limited South Australian release

Synopsis: A young naïve Christian couple fall in love in the hills of Adelaide. A 1980’s South Australian love story.

Things get off to a bad start at the wedding, when the catering runs out. The honeymoon in Robe is tense as Liz realises that the man she has married loves public nudity and outrageous facial hair. Both are studying, Andrew has a landscaping business. After settling into married life, the choice of the Billings method of birth control backfires with the birth of Jack “the guinea pig” Corbett.

Queue montage of chickpeas, no TV – board games, books and singing (Andrew Corbett’s songs), no Christmas presents before church, sugar free birthday cakes, camping holidays. Is this child abuse or inspired parenthood?

Andrew the long haired bearded hippy makes the decision to work for a multi-national oil company. Good thing he does too, because Phoebe “the favourite” Corbett is born shortly after. This is now a relationship of four…

Best moments: Andrew getting a job just before the birth of Jack. The presents from the Grandparents.

Favourite Quote: “We should try the Billings method”

Soundtrack: John Williamson, Andrew Corbett’s back catalogue

Cliff hanger: The Corbett’s move to Melbourne. The first house (paid for by Mobil) is in the inner city. The next, is an hour’s drive from Andrews work, the carpet stinks, rat poo in the oven. Will this make them or break them?




Fiji: there and back again

Starring: Andrew Corbett, Elizabeth Corbett, Phoebe Corbett, Seth Corbett, Naomi Priya Corbett

Tagline: The Corbett lampoons go on an extended vacation

Rating: R – high profanity, nudity, animal cruelty and images of archaic punishment methods

Box Office: Limited Australian release with a cult following in the pacific islands

Synopsis: After the birth of Seth, Melbourne becomes too small a place to keep the Corbetts. This is a family the world must see. (They are also broke and Andrew’s back is buggered). Enter the F word. Fiji. The transition is not smooth. Liz develops the trait of talking in a very slow voice because nobody must be able to understand her. Andrew’s eccentricities become unchecked, culminating in trying to kill the neighbours dogs with coconuts and abusing a confused old man for trying to steal the van. Both done in his underwear. These were the years of plenty – house girl/gardener (babysitter and trips away), resorts. Liz has to join slim life. Sailing, horse riding, embassy balls, more than one ice cream a year, amazing kids parties, sugar and other such novelties, Liz does ladies lunches and runs sea scouts , Dad runs Sunday school music (becomes a legend in the Sunday school circuit).

A new sister enters the family. Can life get any better?

No. All good things must end. The return to Australia is tough, long trips to work, no house girl, no garden boy, winter, have to wear shoes and jocks, plenty of Hungry Jacks.

Best moments:

Getting a new sister and brother

Trips to NZ



Favourite Quote: “Mobil will pay for it”

Soundtrack: Isa Lei, Paul Kelly, Crowded House, Celtic Hymns

Cliff hanger: The Crows win the 1997 premiership, Darren Jarmen kicks six goals.



Sian! The kids are gone

Starring – Andrew Corbett, Elizabeth Corbett, Phoebe McCann, Jack Corbett Seth Corbett Priya Corbett, Vanessa Corbett, Andrew McCann and Monique Corbett with guest appearances from Carine from Holland, Winnie for a ‘Willage’ in the Faroe Islands and Alice from Switzerland and, finally, Biskit “the bloody dog” Corbett.

Tagline – They’re still married? We’re as surprised as they are!

Rating: G – a great film for the family.

Box Office – World-wide release, with record sales in the Faroe Islands, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Synopsis: living their “young adult’ years with their young adult kids. The Corbett’s settle back into Melbourne life. Mum takes up a variety of hobbies, becomes a Librarian, begins to write a book. Andrew begins to collect a set of hobbies of his own. Hiking, Canoeing, Fly Kites, fishing. The number of recycled art items begins to increase spreading from the chicken coop to his office, to the house. Ladders, chains, corrugated iron chickens. They are doing things backwards. One after the other the kids fly the coop. Half way through shooting the film, the production is halted as the money is all tied up in a government backed tree scheme. Finally, after more than 20 years, the day arrives. Drew and Sian move to Coburg. These are the hipster years, riding bikes, op shop clothes at retail prices, more art work, writing, learning welsh, teaching welsh, music. Andrew flourishing in the recycling era, hard rubbish collecting now socially acceptable (compared to us hiding in the car on the way home from church while dad searched for stuff).

Elizabeth Jane the writer is born.

Best moments:

The exchange students- lots of cul’cha.

Monique. And Vanessa and Andy.

Google has revolutionised family debate (just unfortunate that Google has multiple answers sometimes).

Dad realises his dream of being a grandparent by fifty.


“It’s a big bad world out there”.

“Where are you? Nobody is home, shit’s flying”

What better parents to have. As these films have shown, our parents have taught us a lot:

  • Family is important but be an individual.
  • It’s a big bad world out there, but it’s also an exciting and interesting place so go out and live.
  • Never be afraid to talk about money.
  • Music and stories should be cherished.
  • Don’t ever stop doing new things.

Whatever happens next, I am sure our days of being cooler than our parents are long gone.


My response:

So, here we are. Fifty years old and thirty years married. We have been together longer than we have been apart. And if you do the maths, you will realise we got married quite young. And if you have looked at Phoebe’s photo collage you will also have noticed that we were still children when we started having kids. Were we too young for marriage? Absolutely. Did we know what we were doing? Not at all. Should it have been a disaster? Well, yes, statistically.

But by the grace of God here we are.

I expect if we were clever we would create a formula and write a best selling book something like ‘the seven habits of marrying too young, having kids, struggling financially, and trying to stay sane.” But I’m not sure that there is a formula, apart from loving, living, listening and forgiving. Life is a messy business. And as for the sanity, that’s an illusion (on my part at least).

Yet, here we are.

Tonight, I want to thank Andrew for letting me grow up in my own way in my own time, with all my fads, fancies and obsessive interests. I want to thank our children, Jack, Phoebe, Seth and Naomi Priya for being part of our journey. For our children in law, Ness, Andy and Monique, for loving our children and joining our family. And, of course, our AFS daughters who have enriched our lives. I also want to thank family and friends who have travelled interstate to celebrate with us tonight – Ma and Pa, Willem, Jack, Ness and Charlie, Paul, Rod and Sue Mitchell. Finally to thank each of you for being part of our journey thus far. And for those in Coburg who have more recently become part of the journey. No man is an island. No marriage or family exists in isolation. Your friendship, support, love and laughter have all helped bring us to this point.

We consider ourselves fortunate.














Family Matters – a reflection on Internet enabled grand parenting

Anyone who ever had a meal with our family back in the days when we were all living under one roof will recall one iron fast rule. No phone calls during dinner time. If the phone rang we would sit, glued to our seats, listening to the answering machine go through its paces. Mostly, the caller would hang up, dinner being the favoured time of telemarketers. At others, a digitised message from the Whitehorse Maningham Regional Library Service would tell us our books were overdue. Occasionally, it was a personal call and the intended recipient would turn besseching eyes on Andrew.

He never let them answer.

These days, the rules have changed.

Sunday night we had an impromptu BBQ. We went through the usual agonised debate over how to use our gas Weber Q. We've had the BBQ almost two years and I use it all the time. But when we have people over Andrew and I have to coordinate our efforts. This always involves the instruction book and loads of impassioned hand gestures, causing Seth to observe.

'Family BBQ's wouldn't be the same without the great Weber debate.'

Anyway, we got the meat cooked, table set, salads on the table, we had just finished saying the blessing when Andrew's iPad started to chime.

'That'll be Jack,' he said, determined to preserve the sanctity of our meal time. 'We'll call back after dinner.'

'But Charlie might be in bed.'

'Quick, Dad, you'd better get it.'

'There's a spare seat. We could pop him at the end of the table.'

A quick glance at his watch, a flicker of indecision, andrew lunged, and thirty years of patriarchal control crumbled.

Charlie took his place at the head of the dinner table.

This is not an new event for the boy. We do a regular Sunday night call, watching him finish his dinner have a bath and get ready for bed.

This is called twenty-first century grandparenting.

Tonight Charlie had two adoring aunts and an uncle to watch him plough through his bowl of his spaghetti. Skype dropped out at some point and we had enough self control not to call back. The conversation turned to other matters, for some reason we needed to know what the alphabet that goes Alpha, Bravo, Charlie… Is called. I mean we had to know. I was twitching to look it up on Google, but, old habits die hard. I knew Andrew would only say.

'You don't have to look it up now, Liz.'

Fortunately, the kids are unaccustomed to not knowing. When did that happen? The realisation that most family debates can be solved by resorting to Google? Except, when two phones are involved, each one bringing up data to support their side of the argument.

Sunday night, Phoebe was the first to cave.

The alphabet is called the International Radio Telephony Alphabet, in case you are interested.

After dinner we filled the teapot and took a follow up call from Jack. Charlie was in the bath. We chatted while Jack dried and dressed him. Once he was upright, in his nighttime grow suit, Jack said. Watch Charlie for a minute will you?

He ducked from the room.

Now I don't know about you but I have reservations about minding a toddler on Skype two states away. I wasn't the only with doubts, one uncle, two adoring aunts and a besotted grandfather stared open mouthed at the screen. Charlie's chubby knees came into view, his little round toddler tummy, two wide blue eyes. He then turned and toddled out of view.

'Charlie!' A chorus of voices. 'Charlie!'

He didn't return.

I started moving the iPad around, trying to find Charlie, which didn't achieve anything, apart from making us all dizzy.

'Hold it still, Mum. You won't be able to find him. Charlie! Come back Charlie.'

Fortunately, Jack returned with Charlie under his arm. After after a story, the boy was tucked up in bed. We then took turns passing Jack around the room.

This is not a new phenomena either. We do this whenever we have a birthday gathering. Mostly with Jack and Ness. Sometimes with Carine. Or my brother Ian. Skype attendance has become a normal part of our family gatherings. I don't suppose we're alone in this. I guess it's like that in other families too.

The evening finished off with a quick YouTube session. Also becoming a standard feature of family events. We huddle around each other's mobile phones (I don't know why we don't use the iPads. Bonding perhaps?) and show of our latest favourites. Seth generally has the best offerings. This week he showed us Seinfeld in parliament. Why not check it out? Then you can be part of the party too.



Shut up about the novel and let the festivities begin

Okay, I’ve been slack, I mean, sick and, as a consequence, haven’t blogged for a week. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. As soon as those antibiotics kicked in, I launched from my bed like a rocket land let my pent up thoughts fire out across the page (how’s that for an overextended metaphor). As a consequence, I have finished re-drafting the female protagonist of my novel.


It has been an interesting process, this round of re-drafting. Much less painful than I’d envisaged. I asked five people to read the novel. Three sets of comments were aligned on the most important points. The other set, were an outlier, but nevertheless important. All said that my protagonist was not active enough absent from the most crucial turning point in the narrative. All agreed she needed to be there.

Damn, even I knew she needed to be there.

But…how exactly?

Fortunately, my fifth reader, Euan Mitchell, has a good head for story structure. He can talk archetypal story principles like no one else. He said, your protagonist needs to be there, and she needs to be making all or nothing decisions. We debated this back and forth by email. Me, trying to work out how to do this by making the minimum of changes. Euan, urging me to think beyond pain, and in the interests of the story. Eventually, I came up with a plan. And full of jet fuel (yes, I know, uber corny) I wrote. After we get back from holidays, I’ll test it out on my writing group. But…it’s heading in the right direction, because I liked the aspects of my character that I found in those re-written scenes.

Hey! I hear your say. Shut up about the novel. What’s this about holidays?

Well, here’s the thing. I turn fifty today.

Yes, I know. I don’t look a day over forty nine.

But…there you have it. I’m fifty.

In addition to my recent fossilisation, Andrew and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary in January. As a consequence we are combing business with pleasure. I am looking forward to speaking Welsh. Cycling in the Cotswolds. Travelling in Wales. Swanning around London with one of my Welsh speaking friends (while Andrew works). Taking Andrew to the Camden Markets. Visiting friends in Wales. And Essex. Seeing the Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge and Monet’s Gardens, for the first time. Oh, and did I mention I may get a chance to speak Welsh now and then.

Sadly, my ambitions of learning travellers French have not got far beyond je suis Australiene and je suis algergique. I’ve been too busy practicing Welsh, which, I am sure you will agree is a far more useful language.

What? You don’t agree. Let me tell you, forget Mandarin people, Welsh is the language of the future.

If only more people realised…

Anyway, regarding my lacklustre performance in French, I have masterminded a strategy. If I get in trouble. Or worse, mistaken for an English tourist, I will simply revert to the Welsh language. There is only one small downside to this plan. My husband might divorce me. But…we all know he’s only jealous because he doesn’t speak an up there, on fire, and all-round-useful, second language. It’ll come out in court, I can tell you.

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d say see you in five weeks. But…here’s thing. I multiply the pleasure of events by re-hashing them. You can therefore look forward to being assailed with sub-ordinary photos of Andrew and I in remarkable locations. If you are lucky, I’ll even write the captions in Welsh and English.

Meanwhile, it’s my birthday. So, let the festival of ageing begin.


Post Manuscript Posting Stress Syndrome

After a spectacular crisis of confidence last Thursday and Friday which I'm now calling Post Manuscript Posting Stress Syndrome (PMPSS), I have recovered my equilibrium. But before outlining the treatment of this acute debilitating illness, let's me first identify its symptoms and causes. And please note: the condition will henceforth be known as Elizabeth Jane Corbett PMPSS syndrome. Which in the event of my abject failure as a novelist will secure my name for posterity.


  • Paranoid checking of email and phone (as if anyone could have read the novel in six hours)
  • Deep aching cavity in your chest that needs lashings of sticky sweet reassurance
  • Waking with ideas for revisions in the early hours of the morning
  • A combustion of shame every time you think of someone reading your manuscript
  • Self doubt to the point of wanting to recall all known copies of said work and shred them
  • Sitting in the corner hugging your teddy bear and moaning


  • General inability to face normal domestic and administrative tasks
  • Unshakeable conviction that real life is what happens on a page
  • Tendency to get lost or caught up in writing tasks for hours on end (multiple burnt saucepans as evidence)
  • Mis-management of mildly (cough) obsessive tendencies
  • Dis-inclination to act on husband's well intended suggestions that you take a break (yes, Andrew, you were right again)


Treatments for this acute, self-inflicted psychosomatic condition vary. But during her research, Elizabeth Jane Corbett, has identified some common therapies.

  • Watch endless YouTube clips. Welsh comedians are particularly effective
  • Indulge in other obsessive interests. Translating arm-long lists of little used Welsh words has proven therapeutic. But, a word of warning, this list should never be mistaken for classroom preparation. Or inflicted on a poor unsuspecting beginners Welsh class. No matter how interesting it may seem to the PMPSS sufferer
  • Take comfort in your day job (unless, of course, you are a librarian in which case exposure to other popular works may exacerbate symptoms)
  • Read a gentle comforting novel (in a genre different to the one under consideration). Alexander McCall Smith's titles are routinely prescribed as they have the added benefit of reminding the PMPSS sufferer that life is essentially about being a decent human being not a multi-published, award-winning, best-selling author (sob)
  • Avoid reading the blogs of other successful writers until the worst of the symptoms have passed
  • Or sending hate mail to any of the above authors
  • Schedule a Dukan celebration meal with sympathetic family members
  • Try not to talk about your manuscript at said celebration meal (this is an extreme therapy and beyond the fortitude of most sufferers)
  • Do not open your manuscript to check anything even when a reader tells you they are up to page a hundred and twenty
  • Let your dog sit on your lap and stare up at you with adoration
  • Then, come Monday morning write something else – a review, some interview questions, a short story, a blog, anything to take you back to the real word of the page.
  • In no circumstances, should the suffer make a delusional attempt to clear their in-tray or get on top of their administration. This will only lead to a reoccurrence of symptoms.

Finally, if you are currently suffering from PMPSS and are having trouble moving from the Teddy bear rocking stage to the YouTube comedy stage here is a clip to get you started.


Tagged – my not so rolling blog tour

Let me introduce Christine Maree Bell. I first met Chris at a book launch and then, many moths later, quite by accident, I bumped into her on the train. We were both heading into the city for a Melbourne Writer's festival workshop. I don't know when or how we started work-shopping together. Only that we've been doing it now for quite some time. As I write this post, Chris is heading up to New South Wales to take advantage of a Varuna fellowship. This recognition is long deserved. She has written for the web and had multiple children's educational titles published. Her first young adult novel also won an unpublished manuscript award. Her second young adult novel is at submission stage. While at Varuna, Chris will be working on re-drafts of an adult historical novel.

See what I mean, she's going places.

I was therefore thrilled when she tagged me in a rolling book tour. This involved answering some questions about my writing process and tagging three other writers. This is the writerly version of a chain letter without the accompanying threats and curses.

Here are my answers to the questions Chris sent.

What am I working on?

I am working on the re-draft of an historical novel called: Keeping Notes. In 2007, an early draft of this novel was short-listed for a Harper Collins Varuna manuscript development award. Since then it has been re-worked, rejected, put aside, and then restarted. There was something about this story that wouldn't let go of me, though my stomach clenched every time I thought about the amount of work involved in re-writing. I have just finished the end of the re-draft and I'm getting ready to send it out to readers.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Keeping Notes is a psychological novel, set in 1841. Part coming of age, part fable, it is a story about losing a father, facing the truth, and how life is never as it seems. The setting is a nineteenth century emigrant vessel. The history early Australian. But there is also a fair bit of Welsh mythology thrown into the mix. I don't know anyone else writing an Austeakian historical, psychological novel with Welsh mythology at its core. I trust it is therefore distinct.

Why do I write what I write?

I was born in Britain to a Welsh mother and English father. Emigration was the defining event of my childhood. I've spent my life reading British novels and, in particular historical ones. I did an Arts degree, as a young adult, majoring in history and politics. In later years, I went on to study librarianship. But I never stopped reading historical fiction. When I decided to give writing a go there was no choice. It had to be historical. I started with the character of Caroline Chisolm and then worked my way into all things nineteenth century and immigration. I decided to make their destination Melbourne because that's where I live. When I threw a Welsh story teller into the mix the story took off. I journeyed back to the Land of My Fathers in my imagination.

How does my writing process work?

I'm a nervous convoluted sort of writer. I start with an idea for a scene in mind. And a wringer twist in the pit of my belly. I light a candle and over coffee and journal about what I want to write about. Yes, that's right, I write about what I want to write. This gives me courage to face the empty screen.

Sometimes, my writing day goes well. My fingers fly across the keys. Other days, I sit at my desk and bleed. But I'm learning that bleeding is a necessary part of the process. As at the end of a difficult day, when I begin to unwind, the answers to a knotty scene begin to clot in my subconscious. I jot them down before I go to bed and then journal about them again the next morning and, all the while, I'm trying to work out the beating heart of the story.

Right, having answered the obligatory rolling blog tour questions it is now my turn to tag three other writers. This has proven a little more difficult than anticipated.

You see, all my close writing buddies have already been tagged. Feeling distinctly unloved and seriously unpopular, I turned to my cohort of Historical Novel Society colleagues. Eureka! A number of them expressed an interest in being involved. Sadly, my excitement was short lived. Despite plaintive polite reminders, only one of them has sent the requested biography and photo.

Sophie Schiller is now my new best friend.

In fact, in my eagerness to procure Sophie's participation, I may have invited her to dinner and succumb to the Aussie stereotype of offering to throw a shrimp on the BBQ.

As Sophie lives in the US, I may never have to make good on my offer. But I wouldn't mind, honestly. Her work sounds so interesting. Sophie was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and spent many years working in International Business before becoming a writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Thanks for coming on board, Sophie. And if anyone else out there is not too busy or too famous or to otherwise engaged, send me your bio, photo and URL and I'll add it to the page. Oh, yes, and you can also join me and Sophie for dinner, if you are in the area.

Woo hoo! Lance Elliot Osborne has joined the dinner party. His apologies for the late arrival – he's had an insane week, hit by a storm of family and professional obligations.

Lance is a Texan who grew up twelve miles from Hornsby's bend and two miles from the mountain that in Bold Crossings the Wukubuu's people call “Father of the Great River.” He also grew up with descendants of Malcom Hornsby's family and the tales of their ancestors in the 1830's. These legends, coupled with thorough research regarding all peoples that populated Texas in the same decade, are the makings of Bold Crossings. In his research, he has learned a great deal about the Penatuka Comanche that called central Texas their home. And he is honored to have grown close to his Penatuka Comanche mentors in Lawton, OK during the research process.

Before Bold Crossings, Lance had written in various genres, including for the small and large screens. In fact, when he was seven years old he penned a two-page script for his favorite TV show…

Lance blogs at: http://boldcrossings.jimdo.com


The week that was and the week still to come…

This week I've spent the week on the sick list and through the barking, snuffling, feverish experience they call viral bronchitis I have learned two important truths about myself.

  1. I am a slow learner. No matter how many times I catch a virus I always approach it with the same mix of blind, stubborn, denial, determined to soldier on despite any prior evidence of military bearing. I go to work, on Panadol, infect half my colleagues and end up in a pick-up-sticks heap the following morning and all the while in the background my poor, long suffering husband is saying: you're sick Liz, take a break go to the doctor's.
  2. I am an extreme pessimist. No matter how many times I recover from a virus I always suffer it with the same last-dying-breath attitude. In dazed, disbelief I wander through the week convinced, despite all medical assurances, that for me there is no hope of recovery.

As you can imagine, with these two attitudes in operation, I always need twice the recovery time of other population members. This week has been no different (so much for cognitive behavioural therapy). However, for once, I don't need to stress about the need for additional recovery time because we are going on holidays. Now, when I say holiday I don't mean me, Andrew and Biskit the dog. I mean a family holiday with all ten of us in a hired house at Port Arlington.

Yikes, I hear you say and, well, my thoughts exactly. We will have two opinionated academics in the house, a son and son-in-law that relish an argument, a teething baby, his sleep deprived parents, a daughter who left home at the age of sixteen and, frankly, hasn't regretted it, two teenage boys, a family friend who likes a drink, or three, a social worker (always analysing) and a physiotherapist (checking our postures), ravenous seaside appetites, sunburned noses, big noisy dinners, various theological and political hobby-horses, and a lifetime of niggling habits and petty annoyances. What's that? You'd like to come along. Be my guest. But seriously, I may need a holiday to recover from my post viral holiday.

Fortunately, despite these significant traumas, past and anticipated, I am now almost recovered from my virus. So almost recovered, that yesterday I was able to spend a few hours working on my novel. This may seem like cheating, seeing as yesterday was supposed to be a library day. You will note, however, that I said almost and a few hours added to which, the doctor said, don't go back until fully recovered.

The upshot of these few stolen hours is that I've now almost finished the complete re-write of my novel. And I have to say, writing the second half has been much easier than the first, blood-from-a-stone half of the experience. Why? A return of early promise? Or simply a greater willingness to press delete? The jury's out on that one. But it reminds me of a an analogy Kate Morton once drew in an interview. She said at first writing a novel can be like dragging a kite bumping along the ground, until it is up and airborne, then it can almost feel like the kite is flying itself.

Now, I don't know that my novel will ever fly as high as Kate Morton's but I do know that this draft is a hell of a lot better than the last one. Fortunately, I also have writing friends willing to critique my work and a trusted manuscript assessor ready to take my payment, which means I should be on track to start submitting by mid-year.

<insert trumpet fanfare and great excitement in the publishing community>

But first, I have to survive the family holiday.

At this point, please note, if you are a burglar and reading this blog, Biskit the family dog will not be coming on holidays with us and, despite his fluffy, Sorbent soft appearance, he is an exceptionally good guard dog (not). Added to which, we will have a big, rugby playing Fijian house-sitting in our absence. Oh and, by the way, I won't be blogging from Port Arlington (I find it hard to write under the influence of minor tranquillisers).

So, I'll see you when I've recovered from my post-viral, family holiday.


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