Lucy V Hay ‘Criminally Good’ Advice

After reading Lucy V Hay’s two informative books “Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays” and “How NOT to Write Female Characters” the next logical step was to subscribe to her website and learn more.

The first thing I noticed was that Lucy is very active and her site holds a plethora of information. Then I was delighted to receive a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories, three of Lucy’s short stories titled “In Plain Sight”, “Killing Me Softly” and “Hell and High Water”, twisters which certainly pack a psychological punch.

Here’s what it says on her website—

Lucy is an author and script editor, living in Devon with her husband, three children and six cats. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015) both starring Danny Dyer. See Lucy’s IMDB page HERE and other movies and short films she’s been involved in, HERE.

In addition to script reading and writing her own novels, Lucy also blogs about the writing process, screenwriting, genre, careers and motivation and much more at her blog Bang2write, one of the most-hit writing sites in the UK. Sign up for updates from B2W and receive a free 28 page ebook (PDF) on how NOT to write female characters, HERE or click the pic on her website.

For more scriptchat, leads and links, join Lucy’s online writing group, Bang2writers. It’s something I am going to explore further!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

ADDENDUM—For a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories and more, join Lucy’s EMAIL LIST—My post heading comes from the title of Lucy’s email CRIMINALLY GOOD where she interviews fellow crime writers and asks them five questions.  She says “It’s fascinating to read their answers, especially as they are all so different!”  Today I have the choice of Ian Rankin, Sophie Hannah or Peter James. GBW. 

Your Precious Life

IMG_20200913_122610
Photo Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020 — Quote from poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) author and Pulitzer Prize winning poet.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mary-oliver

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Poetry Clipart 09

My Neglected Bookshelves

IMG_20200825_093745
Old bookshelf © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Don’t look too closely, there’s plenty of dust on them thar bookshelves. These books have sentimental value but may be destined for the University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2021 at St Lucia Campus, Brisbane—
Link https://alumni.uq.edu.au/uq-alumni-book-fair

Here’s the first installment of my three-day visit in April 2019—
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/

Old books or new ones, ebooks or audio, I wish you all good books!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20190505_123307
A corner of the UQ Alumni Book Fair 2019

ANZAC Park in Toowong

20200808_141556

RECENTLY I was fortunate enough to take a pleasant stroll in a modest yet important piece of parkland.  From 1916 to the present day, ANZAC Park is one of the oldest ANZAC parks in the world – a war memorial and a green space for everyone.

I HAVE visited ANZAC Park on and off for many years and have seen some old trees removed and new ones planted, the circular roadway improved, a dog park installed, children’s area expanded, the duck lagoon which overflows or dries up depending on the seasons and, of course, enjoyed many picnics sitting on a tartan rug on the sloping hillside away from the hum of the city.

APPROXIMATELY 15 minutes or 7km from Brisbane CBD, in times gone by it was a day’s outing at the end of the tram line.  It is opposite the significant landmarks of Toowong Cemetery and Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, linked by the Toowong pedestrian and cycle bridge recently named Canon Garland Overpass.

More on Canon Garland further down . . .

20200808_140904


ANZAC is the acronym formed from the initial letters of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  This was the formation in which Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Egypt were grouped before the landing on Gallipoli in April 1915 during the First World War.


THE CONFLICT commemorated in ANZAC Park is the First World War 1914–1918 and memorial types were Garden/Avenue/Tree.  Inscriptions within the park consisted of small brass and metal plaques located in front of memorial trees, bearing the details of local men from the district who died at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.  No plaques remain today nor is there a stone monument.

YEARS of petitioning from a community-based campaign to honour the memory of Anglican clergyman and military chaplain Canon David Garland, the Queenslander who gave ANZAC Day to the world, culminated in the renaming of the pedestrian and cycle bridge which crosses the busy Western Freeway.  Officially named Canon Garland Overpass, it pays tribute to the man who championed the formation of “ANZAC Day” as our nation’s “All Souls’ Day”.

This photo was taken as I walked across the bridge – a safe yet disconcerting experience.

20200808_135138 Brisbane
Canon Garland Overpass for pedestrians and cyclists across Western Freeway at Toowong, Brisbane, looking towards Mt Coot-tha — the camera was held straight — View shows the enclosed AU$5.4 million overpass constructed between 2008-2009 and later renamed “Canon Garland Overpass” after the man who pioneered ANZAC Day. The bridge provides a safe way for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the busy Western Freeway with links to and from ANZAC Park to Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, historical Toowong Cemetery, Western Freeway Bikeway, main bus routes and local cafes. The overpass features a 60 metre-long freeway-crossing, 160 metres of elevated structure and fully enclosed screen protection — https://garlandmemorial.com/2019/10/09/canon-garland-overpass/

AFTER A LIFETIME of service to the community, Canon Garland (1864–1939) was buried across the road in Toowong Cemetery, not far from The Stone of Remembrance and The Sword of SacrificeThe official unveiling of these two memorials makes stirring reading.  On 25 April 1924, they were unveiled by the Governor-General as Australia’s first “national” ANZAC Memorial, thanks to the tireless efforts of Canon Garland.

FROM ITS POSITION on the corner of Wool Street and Dean Street, and Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, ANZAC Park has easy access to places mentioned above as well as bushland walks and picnic areas within Mt Coot-tha Reserve.

Friends of ANZAC Park have beaut photographs on their website.
Queensland War Memorials insight includes planting an honour avenue of palms.


JUST TO CONFUSE things, an ANZAC monument stands in Toowong Memorial Park, a heritage-listed memorial park at 65 Sylvan Road, Toowong, City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  The Toowong War Memorial is composed of brown Helidon freestone and was built to commemorate those men of the district who died in service or were killed in action in World War One.  It was designed by George Rae and built c.1922 by Toowong monumental stonemasons Andrew Lang Petrie & Sons.  It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in September 2007.  This monument sits on a hill and has twelve small stone pillars around it.


20200808_130660
Sandwiches — cheese and tomato, egg and lettuce, corned beef and salad, chicken and mustard mayonnaise.

I am writing this post on 1st September 2020, the first day of Spring, so time to get outside and breathe that fresh air – don’t forget the picnic rug!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Swooping Season – Watch Out!

IMG_20200826_115359
This sign had fallen off the fence onto grass under a eucalypt tree but whether caused by human or bird intervention is anyone’s guess. GBW.

Magpies in Australia are well-known for swooping humans and pets during their breeding season between July and December, but peak swooping month is September in Brisbane.  This is normal defensive behaviour in springtime as the birds are trying to protect their eggs or newly hatched young in the nest.

Walk the long way home!  Swooping season can be a nuisance to some people, but often Magpies will accept the presence of people within their territories (they do get to know human families) however when attacks do occur, they usually take place within a hundred metre radius around the tree containing their nest.

I know from experience that a sudden rush of wings and a sharp, snapping beak at the side of your head is a very scary thing.

While most Magpie attacks are mild, they could cause serious injury to your eyes and head.
Seven tips to protect yourself against swooping birds:

(1)  Wear a hat or carry an umbrella

(2)  Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes

(3)  Do not interfere with the birds or their nest

(4)  Watch the birds while walking away quickly and calmly

(5)  A bird is less likely to swoop if it knows you’re watching

(6)  If you ride a bike, dismount and walk

(7)  Never aggravate a Magpie as this can make the bird defensive and lead to a more severe swooping attack next time.

Some people paint big eyes on their bike helmets or stick drinking straws on their hats to repel Magpies, but I’m not sure these ideas work.  Wearing head protection stops wayward claws from tangling in hair.

Magpies are vocal birds with a carolling call.  They adapt well to open and cleared environments and thrive in large areas of lawn (like parks, golf course, school grounds) which provide foraging sites, and where there are scattered trees available for nesting, and a water source.

Usually Magpies eat garden pests and insects but they are inventive when it comes to cat food.  In my photo sequence this one peered into the car scrounging for a snack.

The nest of a Magpie is bowl-shaped and made from dry sticks with a lining of grass, bark and other fibres.  The clutch size is usually around three to four blue-grey eggs, though this varies according to season, predators and health of the parents.  Magpie lifespan is about 25 years and I have had two hanging around my place for several years.  Both parents raise their young and guard their territory and they are a natural part of my outdoor life.

Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding PencilPLEASE NOTE The Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) is a native Australian bird and is PROTECTED under the State Wildlife Legislation (Nature Conservation Act 1992).  It is a serious offence to harm Magpies and penalties apply for attempting to harm them.  Information Brisbane City Council Biodiversity Living with Wildlife.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Review ‘The Brisbane Line’ by J P Powell

IMG_20200811_124224

This is a book I had to read.  The name is derived from “an alleged 1942 WWII government plan to abandon Northern Australia in the event of a Japanese invasion”— there is nothing alleged about it.  My father was a young soldier in WWII based in Melbourne when his division received the command to form The Brisbane Line.  It made such an impression on him that later, when he was married, he relocated the family to Brisbane where I currently live.

I dearly wish I could discuss this novel with my late father but I do remember him reminiscing about the off-duty times and leave in tropical Far North Queensland where hi-jinks often lead to a soldier’s death.   I am sure there was tension, corruption and possibly murder among the thousands of American troops stationed in Brisbane, but on the other hand I know families of young women who married GI Joe’s and went to live in US never to return.

Enigmatic protagonist, Rose, has a boyfriend who is a prisoner-of-war and she says “It’s men who cause the trouble in the first place.  It’s just another hypocrisy.”

IMG_20200820_122715

Suitable for crime readers and historians, this well-researched fictionalised story is more interesting than a text book and follows Sergeant Joe Washington, a US Military Police officer and amateur photographer who joins local police in battling crime and black market corruption.  Joe also has grave suspicions of a murder cover-up.

The humid atmosphere is laced with grunge and irritability offset by guys and gals dancing the night away at the Trocadero Dance Hall.  Well-known people make an appearance, for example notorious cop Frank Bischof, author Thea Astley and General Douglas MacArthur, an American who in WWII commanded the Southwest Pacific region. 

The book is gritty and at times the inequality upset my 21st century sensibilities but it is based on true events.  Powell has recreated a vibrant town which embraced a huge influx of strangers in uniform and the repercussions this had on Brisbane society, some of which still lingers today.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Author Profile

Briobooks
http://briobooks.com.au/authors/jppowell
YouTube Avid Reader Books interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbE0v3Yhkx0

Brisbane Line JP Powell Author Photo 2020 (5)Judy Powell is an archaeologist and historian with a passion for bringing the past to life.  She has worked as a high school teacher, an academic, a National Parks officer, a museum administrator and has excavated in Jordan, Cyprus and Greece as well as leading historical archaeology projects in Australia.  Powell, who lives outside Brisbane, was awarded a QANZAC Fellowship by the State Library of Queensland to pursue research into, and writing of, a series of crime novels set in Brisbane during World War II.

What if..? Jade Hameister’s Challenge

Jade Hameister Polar Skier and Sandwich
Jade Hameister Polar Skier (Image Credit: @jadehameister)

“What if young women around the world were encouraged to be more, rather than less? What if the focus shifted from how we appear, to the possibilities of what we can do?”

Quote from Jade Hameister – world record-breaking polar skier.

When told to “make me a sandwich” by a number of male internet trolls in response to her TED talk, Hameister made one, posted a picture of herself with the sandwich at the South Pole and captioned the photo:


“I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600 kilometres to the South Pole and you can eat it.”


Star Fish 02Jade Hameister OAM (born 5 June 2001) is an Australian woman who, age 16, became the youngest person in history to pull off the “polar hat-trick”, ski to the North and South Poles, and cross the second largest polar icecap on the planet: Greenland.  Wikipedia.

Quote source:
https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2018/03/in-her-words-inspiring-quotes-from-australias-ground-breaking-women/

TED talk:
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=Jade+Hameister+TED+Talk

Facebook post:
https://www.facebook.com/jadehameister/photos/a.224825967879767.1073741829.207513589611005/524715937890767/?type=3&theater

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Your inner light still shines

This poem touched a chord within me . . .

Multi-talented storyteller, author and freelancer Chris Hall of luna’s on line says “Basically, I love writing in all its forms.  I tell stories – short fiction pieces, even poetry – maybe from a writing prompt or a piece of artwork I’ve seen, or maybe something topical which I’ve read.  For the past few months I’ve been writing serials on my blog e.g. Sinead’s Final Quest and Alys and Sparky.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Read on . . .

luna's on line

The image shows face of a woman. It is painted with luminous glitter paint and the features are highlighted with bright yellow lines, ending in a question mark on the forehead.Imprisoned inside a fragile façade

yet your inner light still glimmers

hope leaks out from every pore

and your smile still shines from deep within.

Confined within the corporeal

plagued by withering pain

yet the force that the fans your flame

is fuelled by a sharper source.

Your spark will not be extinguished

your spirit will not be crushed

not yet, while there’s hope

for another, better day.


Written in response to Sadjes What Do You See #42 photo prompt.
Image credit: Lucas Pezetaon Pexels

View original post

‘Trophy’ Poem

IMG_20200629_115807
Long forgotten heroes … or maybe not …

TROPHY

1st place

Legitimate

The first time I’ve won a

Trophy

In my entire life

And you weren’t there.

I was so excited

My body

SHOOK!

I never expected to win anything

At all

And

When I told you, I got

“Good job”

You encourage me to do this

Begged

Pleaded

Anything you could do

To make me join you in it

And then

I got

Everything

But not

Your joy

Poem by Alice Julia Miller
October 2013
https://hellopoetry.com/poem/497020/trophy/

Poetry Clipart 09 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Book Review ‘Shepherd’ by Catherine Jinks

IMG_20200725_100525

On my first reading attempt

I wasn’t ready for this book.  I wanted to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Catherine Jinks other books but it didn’t work for me right from the start.  The setting was vivid but the raw, brutish behaviour and sheer masculinity of the story overwhelmed me.  Does that make me a sexist, a bigot, a wimp when it comes to macho bravado?  I don’t know.  I turned the pages with trepidation, not interest.  Maybe the colonial frontier loneliness affected me and I didn’t want to go on.

On my second reading

the story felt less crushing.  I concentrated on young English convict Tom Clay, a former poacher transported in chains to Australia, and now a shepherd.  I willed him to be okay, to learn and survive intact.  His country assignment in New South Wales works well, he didn’t steal from landowner Mr Barrett so he was never flogged and he works hard.  Through his eyes, I saw the strangeness of a harsh new land, the vast differences, and the cruel pitiless men he is forced to live and work with guarding sheep against theft and wild dogs.

Tom has a jaundiced eye

when it comes to things like Australian native wildlife and his comment on first seeing kangaroos is less than flattering.  I was disappointed with the header on the bookcover which reads “The wolf is not the only hunter”.  There are no wolves in Australia, there are dingoes (wild dogs) and that should have been apparent.

IMG_20200504_124952
Sheep stealing, jumbuck, billabong, Waltzing Matilda, poet Banjo Paterson

The conditions are harsh

and Tom’s fight for life against his arch nemesis Dan Carver is harsher still.  These chapters are tightly written.  The knock down drag ‘em out battles are horrific, the ghastly metal trap, the shootings, the human and animal deaths… but Tom dearly loves his sheep dogs.

I am not a fan

of an undefined location nor overused nonlinear narrative.  Tom’s past comes out in this way.  Flashback to eight year old Tom at his mother’s funeral, his former life almost as bad as his current one.  He learns “No matter what a convict’s situation might be, he’ll never persuade a trooper that he’s telling the truth.”  Flashback to when Tom first met convict Rowdy Cavanagh, a con man who joked, laughed and teased his way to success until he was caught “A single misstep and it ruined me life.”

The age rating

for this tense, chilling, thrilling story eludes me, but it is a tale I did not fully enjoy.  I do respect it wholeheartedly for the screenplay fear and fascination it instilled in me regarding the rough and thoroughly inhumane life early convicts were forced to endure.

A sequel?

Tom’s situation could lead to listening and learning from the Indigenous custodians of this ancient land, and perhaps encourage a new phase in his life.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Author info

Catherine Jinks ‘Shepherd’ interview on Paperchain Bookstore blog.

Catherine Jinks  (Australia b.1963) is a four-time winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award, and has also won a Victorian Premier’s Literature Award, the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature, the Ena Noel Award for Children’s Literature and an Aurealis Award for Science Fiction.  In 2001 she was presented with a Centenary Medal for her contribution to Australian Children’s Literature.

Catherine Jinks Author Photograph 02Catherine Jinks, author of over thirty books for children and adults, including the award-winning Pagan Chronicles series, was born in Brisbane and grew up in Sydney where she studied medieval history at the University of Sydney.

She became a writer because she loves reading, as well as history, films and television.  Catherine gets ideas for her novels from everywhere, particularly good science fiction films.  She lives in the Blue Mountains NSW with her Canadian husband and daughter Hannah.

Review ‘The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag’ by Alan Bradley

IMG_20200723_141412

This Alan Bradley story is deserving of 10 stars.  The irony, the wit and the revealing portrayal of 1950s English village life, is both hilarious and horrible.  Events are seen through the eyes of young Flavia de Luce, an implausibly precocious 11 year old girl who lives with her family in genteel decline.

Young Flavia’s encounters turn into forensic investigations and she has an inherent love of chemistry, brewing dangerous concoctions in her late grandfather’s lab.

The village of Bishop’s Lacey appears to be close-knit, yet even gossipy Mrs Mullet didn’t seem to know who or what killed young Robin Ingleby at Gibbet Hill.  The story really kicks off when well-known BBC puppeteer and bully Rupert Porson gives his last performance.  The scene-setting is brilliantly done and I felt immersed in the story from the beginning right through to the end.

Perhaps not a book for younger readers because they may get tired of the mid-20th century writing style.  Mature readers who like a quirky character will enjoy this tale.  I have never encountered the likes of Flavia de Luce, a strange mixture of Wednesday Addams and Bones.

But she certainly knows how to snoop or turn on the charm when necessary.

Generally the main players are conventional but it’s what I expected, having been raised on a diet of British books, magazines and television series.  Their dialogue and the descriptions of village society in post-war Britain were familiar to me – at least fictionally – and it’s clever how the tension and Flavia’s ‘fluctuations’ from girl to grown-up and back again is established.

Question: Apart from the shock value, what is the significance of Jack’s puppet face?  And I don’t mean who it represents.

‘The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag’ is book 2 in the current 10 book Flavia de Luce mystery series, and takes its title from Sir Walter Raleigh.  With my thanks to Goodreads friend and writer Chris Hall for recommending this delightfully different book.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Poetry Clipart 13Author profile

Alan Bradley is a mystery writer known for his Flavia de Luce series featuring this pre-teen sleuth with a passion for chemistry.  The series began with the acclaimed ‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’.  See more books in the series at Penguin Random House.  Bradley is also a New York Times bestselling author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir ‘The Shoebox Bible’.  More about Alan Bradley

Bernard Shaw says…

IMG_20200617_141756

 

Bernard Shaw (he disliked his first name George) was not a good scholar but developed a wide knowledge of music, art, and literature from his mother’s influence and his visits to the National Gallery of Ireland.

In 1876 Shaw resolved to become a writer and he joined his mother and elder sister, by then living in London.  Like most creatives in their 20s, Shaw suffered continuous frustration and poverty.  He depended upon his mother’s pound a week from her husband and her earnings as a music teacher.

I love a good rags-to-riches story

Shaw’s early days were spent in the British Museum reading room, writing novels and reading what he had missed at school… eventually he became an internationally known and celebrated playwright, producing more than sixty plays.  His work is still performed today, the most well-known from 1912 is ‘Pygmalion’ aka ‘My Fair Lady’, and in 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The rest of Shaw’s long and remarkable life can be found in Britannica—
https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Bernard-Shaw

Gustavo’s blogspot has the original source of Shaw’s quote
http://shawquotations.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-power-of-acute-observation-is.html

Film Camera Lights Action MovieNOTE:  Britannica shows a film clip of Bernard Shaw (in his 70s) speaking on the marvels of Movietone and the novelty of technology; excerpt from a Hearst Metrotone newsreel (c. 1930), (29 sec; 2.6 MB)  J. Fred MacDonald & Associates.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Taste Testing Old Tea

Back when the century had ticked over into another millennium, I was given seven canisters of China Tea.  These dragon-covered tins languished on a high kitchen shelf, unopened and forgotten in favour of Queensland-grown black tea from the Russell family.

Eventually it was decided that the pantry shelves had to be Covid Cleaned, e.g. needing a serious going-over.  Various items were inspected and sorted into good and bad piles but the tea, packed in Hong Kong and imported to Australia, remained in a different category.

IMG_20200719_120720

The dragon artwork proved a lure and inquisitiveness won.

Although the tin lids were dust coated and faded, it was decided to open all seven of them, brew the contents—in cup and pot—and drink regardless of aroma.  Flavour was another matter.  To add to the excitement, one tin had lost its label and the large tin was Earl Grey teabags.

‘Hmm, not for me thanks’ I said, but the intrepid Dot B was up for it.

The lid seals had perished but once the canisters were ‘prised’ open, the interiors were pristine clean.  I only sniffed the contents and did not taste it, nevertheless considering its age the Jasmine Tea was still beautifully aromatic.

Subjective comments as recorded by Dot B, daredevil tea taster.

  •  Luk On:  Drying but pleasant after tones, would drink again.
  •  Oolong:  Smooth but common.  A nice cuppa.
  •  Earl Grey Tea Bags:  Tastes like a boring black tea.  Smells funny without lemon.
  •  Shou Mei:  Bit of nothing taste-wise but smells nice.  Slight metal aftertaste.
  •  Jasmine:  PHWOAR smells like FLOWERS and tastes like tangy FLOWERS.
  •  Pu Li:  Tastes like hot wee, smells like hot wee.  Not recommended.
  •  Mystery Tea:  Smells like tanbark and tastes … kind of Green?

Pro tip—don’t eat pickles after tea tasting.

Dot B Tea Tasting Reviews 2020
Dot B is a part-time tea critic and full-time dragon lover.

Put the kettle on and brew a pot of tea—milk and sugar optional—sweet treat essential.  Or check out my earlier post regarding the ubiquitous Afternoon Tea ritual https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/03/11/afternoon-tea-and-fancy-food/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward    


Postscript

Queensland’s Nerada Tea blog is packed with wonderful things, from the tea plantation to recipes and tree kangaroos https://www.neradatea.com.au/blog

Inspector Carlyle ‘The Circus’ by James Craig

Not so much a circus as a train.  Or a circus on a train.  Not a speeding train, not the Orient Express, not even a suburban train.  This book is a fully loaded interstate train heading inexorably towards a broken bridge over a river.  Along the way, passengers are jostled around, some jump out the doors, most get drunk in the dining carriage, several are angry and the rest are bemused.

Inspector John Carlyle is the most bemused of them all

IMG_20200713_155619
This series has an arresting array of bookcovers

I love a criminal book, you can comment hard!

Somewhere along a distant track I had stopped reading James Craig’s Inspector Carlyle series and this fourth book refreshed my memory.  It contains such a high level of macho rubbish, female exploitation and smarmy politics that it is well past the read-by date.

It is astounding that the book doesn’t run off the rails with the ludicrous amount of murders

If Inspector Carlyle didn’t have off-sider Joe Szyszkowski and other sensible police personnel to back him up, he would still be floundering for answers at the end of the ill-fated journey.  Maybe he’s on the wrong train?  He gets cranky and often causes ‘accidents’ to himself and others due to his own dullness.  Yes, he gets bashed up but never thinks his nemesis and ugly thug Trevor Miller knows where he lives – operative words ‘never thinks’.  Miller is now the Prime Minister’s security adviser and totally out of control.

Unreliable Narrator 03

When it comes to using high-end brand names, from beer to clothes, watches to furniture and a plethora of cafés, this story takes the cake.  Or biscuit if you are Carlyle who pays more attention to topping up his blood sugar levels and imbibing strong coffee than policing.  The ending will have you spluttering in your coffee, it is beyond contrived.

 

Published in 2013, the political issues and phone tapping scandal is old.  The dialogue is old, most characters give a neutral “Hm” when asked to respond.  There are too many hands placed on arms, too many raised eyebrows; and the plentiful white males POV often switches to an omnipotent narrator.

For me, the best character is the City of London

Without alcohol the stratagem would flounder, trim the sexual abuse and the chapters would be less, without repeat paragraphs like Carlyle whining about the declining standards of UK newspapers this book would be blessedly shorter.  And without packing in umpteen suspects from the Prime Minister to residents of greater London, this whole book would not have dragged on and could have been more effective.

Good grief, there are over 9 more books…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding PencilPublisher synopsis

https://www.hachette.com.au/james-craig/the-circus

“When the body of journalist Duncan Brown is found in the back of a rubbish truck, Inspector John Carlyle is thrown into the middle of a scandal that threatens to expose the corrupt links between the police, the political establishment and the hugely powerful Zenger media group.

Hunting down Brown’s killer, Carlyle finds himself going head-to-head with his nemesis, Trevor Miller.  A former police officer turned security adviser to the Prime Minister, Miller has dirty money in his pockets and other people’s blood on his hands.  Untouchable until now, he is prepared to kill again to protect his position – having failed once already to dispose of Carlyle he is not prepared to slip up again.”

‘Ode to the Cat’ by Pablo Neruda

IMG_20200706_185218
Rescue cat JoJo does not want to sleep © Gretchen Bernet-Ward

EXTRACT FROM ‘ODE TO THE CAT’

by Pablo Neruda

… Oh independent wild beast

of the house

arrogant

vestige of the night,

lazy, gymnastic

and alien,

very deep cat,

secret policeman

of bedrooms,

insignia

of a

disappeared velvet,

surely there is no

enigma

in your manner,

perhaps you are not a mystery,

everyone knows of you

and you belong

to the least mysterious inhabitant,

perhaps everyone believes it,

everyone believes himself the owner,

proprietor,

uncle

of a cat,

companion,

colleague,

disciple

or friend

of his cat …

READ THE FULL POEM

https://www.librarything.com/topic/26410
Listed Number 8 originally from ‘Odes to Common Things’ by poet Pablo Neruda 

There are several different translations from Chilean Spanish to English:
https://leonarddurso.com/2013/07/22/from-ode-to-a-cat-by-pablo-neruda/
http://unmasking.tripod.com/poemless/pn20.htm
https://amiracarluccio.com/2017/10/19/long-poems-ode-to-a-cat-by-pablo-neruda-oda-al-gato/
https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/ode-to-the-cat/

Poetry Clipart 14PROFILE

Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) born Parral, Chile.
Attended Chile University and became a poet, politician, activist, diplomat.
National Prize for Literature Chile (1945)
International Peace Prize (1950)
Lenin Peace Prize (1953)
American Academy of Arts and Letters (Foreign Honorary ∙ Literature ∙ 1968)
Nobel Prize in Literature (1971)
Golden Wreath (1972)

He was perhaps the most important Latin American poet of the 20th century and for a deeper look at his intriguing life I recommend https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Pablo_Neruda

‘AS EVERY CAT OWNER KNOWS, NOBODY OWNS A CAT’ — Ellen Perry Berkeley

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Review ‘A Very Unusual Pursuit’ by Catherine Jinks

Book review

Birdie McAdam is a bogler’s assistant, a stout defender of Alfred Bunce and his unusual profession.  The ‘unusual’ relates to luring and eradicating child-eating bogles by using Birdie as bait.  Her songs sometimes quaver when a foul bogle monster leaves its lair but she holds firm.  A spear and split second timing is needed and old Alfred is the man for the job.

Before reading Catherine Jinks adult novel ‘Shepherd’ I read her children’s trilogy City of Orphans.  These stories captured my interest from the first page and held it to the last.  Following the adventures of young orphan Birdie McAdam, a lively, focused girl with a beautiful singing voice, I soon blended into the damp, grimy streets of 1870s London.

After the messy demise of a chimney bogle in a fancy parlour, the story kicks up a notch with overlapping events; Fagan-like Sarah Pickles with her young thieves and no scruples; well-to-do Miss Eames with an interest in mythology and rehabilitating young Birdie; and evil Dr Morton, a man with a heart as ugly as a bogle.  And, of course, the markets and docklands of London.

I love the levels of intrigue, grim deeds, and disagreeable behaviour which surround Birdie and Alfred.
As true protagonists, they rise to every challenge.
Birdie has entertaining friends, although she wouldn’t admit that to rascals Ned or Jem.
These lads get to shine in books two and three.
Characters are clearly and consistently written.
Together they overcome hardship and show concern for each other.
There is great strength of purpose when adversity strikes.

The fast-moving chapters are vividly written and although I am not the target audience, each time the tension rose I held my breath.  This plot builds and moves forward with fortitude, the second book in sight.  All three books are well worth reading, and while the mood may get darker and the bogles may get messier, the sequence of events lead to a very satisfying conclusion.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward 

My postscript

Poetry Clipart 08Bookcovers, like those beauties above, hold a certain fascination for me.  Way back I did a blog post about it.  In this instance, the publication of different titles and different artwork in overseas countries let me down.  They are nothing like the bookcovers shown here, their titles don’t capture the atmosphere of the era nor do the illustrations recreate how the bogles are described.  Gotta love marketing.  GBW.


About the author

Catherine Jinks, Australia (b.1963)  http://catherinejinks.com/

Catherine is a four-time winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award, and has also won a Victorian Premier’s Literature Award, the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature, the Ena Noel Award for Children’s Literature and an Aurealis Award for Science Fiction.  In 2001 she was presented with a Centenary Medal for her contribution to Australian Children’s Literature.

Catherine Jinks Author Photograph 02Catherine Jinks was born in Brisbane and grew up in Sydney where she studied medieval history at the University of Sydney.  She became a writer because she loves reading, as well as history, films and television.  She gets her ideas for her novels from everywhere, particularly good science fiction films.

The author of over thirty books for children and adults, including the award-winning Pagan Chronicles series, Catherine writes whenever she gets a spare moment, and could write for eight hours straight if she had the chance.  She lives in the Blue Mountains NSW with her Canadian husband and daughter Hannah.

Series

City of Orphans trilogy

  1.  A Very Unusual Pursuit (2013)
    or  How to Catch a Bogle
  2.  A Very Peculiar Plague (2013)
    or A Plague of Bogles
  3.  A Very Singular Guild (2013)
    or The Last Bogler

Pagan Chronicles

  1. Pagan’s Crusade (1994)
  2. Pagan in Exile (2004)
  3. Pagan’s Vows (2004)
  4. Pagan’s Scribe (2005)
  5. Pagan’s Daughter (2006)

Allie’s Ghost Hunters

  1. Eglantine (2002) – very quirky story.
  2. Eustace (2003)
  3. Eloise (2005)
  4. Elysium (2007)

Genius

  1. Evil Genius (2005)
  2. Genius Squad (2008)
  3. The Genius Wars (2010)

Winter in the Subtropics

IMG_20200601_173006
Cold and frosty morning 2020 © Gretchen Bernet-Ward

In the depths of a July winter here in Brisbane, Queensland, I am sitting with a cold nose and knees, contemplating warmer weather.  Our winters probably seems mild to those countries with ice and snow.  We have misty mornings then clear blue skies and by lunchtime some clothing layers can be removed for a couple of hours before the cold creeps in again.

The issue is home heating.  Of course, I am not talking about the hermetically sealed grey boxes of the millennium.  This older house is built like thousands of others—for the heat.  We don’t have a fireplace, we don’t have insulation, we don’t have ducted heating, but we do have reverse cycle air-conditioning.  Problem is the unit swirls the air around at the edges so it never feels warm enough.

Brrr!  This is where an old three-bar radiator and a portable column oil heater come in handy for three months of the year.

So saying, we human beings are a contrary lot—I enjoy the wintertime.

Winter is more conducive to a brisk walk before settling down to writing.  Cold weather calls for cosy pursuits.  In a hot, humid summer, it’s more a case of lying around gasping after foolishly thinking some physical exercise like gardening was a good idea.  The lush, rampant growth of a subtropical summer is a sight to behold but right now the garden lacks happy vegetation; the leaves are brown, the grass is sparse, the earth is hard and dry.

This morning the temperature is currently 8 degrees Celsius, the sun is shining but the air is freezing.  Well, maybe not.  We don’t really do freezing, more on the chilly side.  I am going to make a hot beverage and pull on an extra pair of socks.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20190626_091837
Cold winter, warm room © Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins

IMG_20200617_181800
Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins 2020

Following on from our large home-grown pumpkin and Grandma’s Pumpkin Scone Recipe, every cookery book containing a pumpkin formulation now comes under scrutiny.  Our most recent addition is Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins.

Here’s the recipe if you feel like something tasty for lunch – with or without an accompaniment – and you can make them any size you wish!

Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins

I N G R E D I E N T S 

80g ( ⅓ cup) Butter

1 Spring Onion, thinly sliced

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed

250g (1 cup) Pumpkin, peeled, seeded, coarsely grated

375g (2 ½ cups) Self-Raising Flour

½ tsp Salt

120g (1 cup) Cheddar Cheese, coarsely grated

2 tbs Chia Seeds

1 Egg, lightly whisked

310ml (1 ¼ cups) Buttermilk

Chia Seeds, to sprinkle

Butter/Condiment, to serve

M E T H O D 

Preheat oven to 190°C  (374° F)

Grease a 12-hole (80ml) Muffin Pan (or 2 x 12-hole Mini Muffin Pans)

Heat 1 tbs of butter in a medium flying pan over medium heat.

Add spring onion and garlic and cook, stirring 3 mins until spring onion softens.

Add pumpkin and cook, stirring 5 mins or until pumpkin softens.

Set aside to cool.

Melt remaining butter into a saucepan over medium heat.

Combine flour and salt in a bowl.

Stir in cheddar cheese and chia seeds.

Whisk egg, buttermilk and melted butter in a bowl.

Season with salt.

Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture.

Add pumpkin mixture.

Use a large spoon to stir until just combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared pans.

Sprinkle with extra chia seeds on top.

Bake approx 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Insert skewer to check, should come out clean.

Cool muffins in pan for 5 mins before turning onto wire rack.

N O T A T I O N S

Eat Pumpkin Chia Mini Muffins with soup, plain or with savoury topping.

Can be baked in muffin pans or paper patty pans for children.

Next time I would add corn or diced capsicum or chopped green herbs.

Using buttermilk seemed to make a difference.

Chia seeds taste is not very noticeable, but apparently is very good for you.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Draw-a-Soup Bowl
Pumpkin Soup

Wild Flamingos in Australia?

IMG_20200510_170134
Flamingos swamped by cheesecake topping 2020

Australia was once a continent graced by flamingos.  These tall pink birds are more associated with Africa and the Americas, but a long time ago they called Australia home.  For at least 20 million years, flamingos thrived on vast Australian inland lakes, until a drying of the outback ended their reign, perhaps a million years ago.

The Lake Eyre region in South Australia once had three species, more than Africa today.  Altogether Australia had at least six flamingo species, including the Greater flamingo – the main flamingo in Africa.  Australian museums have accumulated more of their fossils than of some regular Australian birds such as parrots.  At some sites their remains lay near those of outback crocodiles, dolphins and lungfish.

Flamingos are still regarded as Australian birds, for a very tenuous reason.  In 1988 a Greater flamingo dropped in on North Keeling Island, a remote Australian territory 2750km north-west of Perth, staying a couple of months.  Greater flamingos are found in Asia and southern Europe as well as Africa and this one had wandered over from India or Sri Lanka.

In Adelaide Zoo you could have seen the only flamingo left in Australia, a Chilean flamingo known warmly as ‘Chile’.  She was thought to have been imported in the late 1970s.  For quarantine reasons flamingos are now forbidden imports, which means that Australia is destined to become a flamingo-free zone unless another long-legged pink nomad wanders over from Asia.

FlamingoSource Australian Geographic by Tim Low February 6, 2017

More flamingo facts and fabulous photographs:
https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2017/02/australia-was-once-full-of-flamingos/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward