Writers Dabblers and Dreamers

Hey, all you emerging writers out there. This is serious stuff. Tired of the garret lifestyle, the self-imposed deadlines you never meet. Well, you could blame that Covid-19 thingy but you need to get moving again. Actually you really need to get moving…

Go for a walk, think over your future options.

You are not really looking for fame and fortune (cough) but it would be nice for someone to show some interest, read your work, comment on it, appreciate it, encourage you and, perhaps maybe, take your manuscript one or two steps further, or even work towards (gasp) publication.

Twill never happen if those pages and pages of Word.doc and PDF drafts sit idle or continual rewriting takes up all your time; your precious creative time.

The Magic of Books © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

You need to be actively finishing work and getting it out there, but

Your inner voice mutters alluring proposals about buying that new How To Write book, the literary organisations to join, writing workshops and conferences to attend, the obligatory book festival rounds, catching up with your book club Zoomies, and that not-to-be-missed favourite author talk.

The above-mentioned diversions take planning, I know because I have done that for over five years. Let’s not get into the time-sucking Socials and lists of new books waiting to be read because writers “gotta keep their finger on the pulse”.

Dream-on pen pushers and keyboard tappers

It took me awhile to realise that it is a daydream, a distraction, a cunning brain slip to lull me into thinking that I know my craft reasonably well and could be half good at writing…

Design art and image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

My writer’s brain has to accept that it takes courage to submit my work and to undergo scrutiny.

Otherwise, as my aunt Joyce would have said, “All window-dressing, darling” or if you prefer something more contemporary “Totally photoshopped, dude.” It means I am concealing the desire to find out the truth about my writing, the culmination of my creative energy.

This is where the hidden “I can’t push myself out there” syndrome rears its ugly head. “I only write as an outlet”, “I only write for myself” blah, blah, blah.

Snap out of it! I ask myself why not submit something really good, work I am proud of?

Then my inner roadblocks appear

  • Strong competitors
  • Heaps of knockbacks
  • Fearful of feedback
  • Uninteresting story
  • Uninterested readers
  • My lack of polish
  • People will know I wrote it
  • The veracity of my stories
  • Nightmare of unsold books

All useless babble; but if it’s not true, what next?

Stop hanging around! You have many choices, one decision—

Praying Mantis © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Do what author Jack Roney did!

Enter a manuscript development prize!

As a second-place winner of Hawkeye Publishing’s Manuscript Development Prize, Jack Roney pays tribute to the Hawkeye team. I recently read and reviewed his excellent book The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon.

Like mine, I hope your writer’s brain is tick, tick, ticking—
Thinks “I’ll take a look at Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize 2022
Thinks “I’ll read eligibility and terms and conditions of entry”
Shouts “I WILL enter the Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize 2022!”

Entry to the program is open to applicants WORLD-WIDE who write for an English-speaking audience.

Winner receives Author Coaching, Structural Edit and Line Edit (Prize Value AU$2,500) with the structural edit kindly sponsored by Brisbane Writers Workshop, and line editing and author coaching sponsored by Hawkeye Publishing.

As my favourite inspirational quote says:

“Today You Can And You Will”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

‘The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon’ Review

Best birthday present ever! And a great read for Halloween! After reading the draft manuscript of Jack Roney’s novel The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon on behalf of Carolyn Martinez of Hawkeye Publishing, I rated it highly in my appraisal.

Unfortunately life got in the way and I was unable to follow the progress of the book. The good news is obvious, Hawkeye Publishing accepted it for publication, my family gifted a copy to me, and here it is!

First, I wanted to learn more about the factual event the book is based on and delved into it online. The story relates to a real train crash on the Brisbane to Closeburn line on Monday 5th May 1947, a public holiday for Labour Day, and dubbed the Camp Mountain Train Crash. It proved to be the worst disaster in Queensland’s rail history.

In the prologue, author Jack Roney depicts what happened on that fateful train trip from Brisbane to Closeburn; a special picnic day for families and friends, a journey which ended in tragedy with a catastrophic derailing. Many lives were lost or changed forever. 

However, there is one big difference in this story

After the train crash decades later in May 1982, a Labour Day holiday, best mates Toby, Dan and Jimmy join their Grade 7 Samford State School class early in the morning to watch the super blue blood moon lunar eclipse. Afterwards they go exploring in the old Yugar Tunnel, scaring bats and being scared. Someone or something is watching them from the trees. The three boys go into the dark tunnel… bats… fire and smoke… and depart thoroughly spooked.

Steam Train leaving Roma Street Station Brisbane 1947

After the tunnel adventure, the boys cycle to the ghost train site along a road where the train tracks once ran… hear train whistle… steam train engine… Jimmy disappears… of course, young Toby does not know or understand where his friend has actually gone. Dan is very upset. Toby’s life turns into a living nightmare because nobody believes him, and the police are sceptical when he says “Jimmy just vanished”.

Decades later, enter adult Toby, a 2017 jetsetting travel writer returning from a far-flung country. Roney does an excellent job of describing Toby’s extensive research to find Jimmy (which gets more and more desperate) to discover how and why his friend disappeared. He wants to believe his missing pal is still alive. He must be out there! Cue research into time-slip, time travel, portal, wormhole, lunar eclipse, tear in the fabric of space, super blue blood moon (a lunar eclipse coupled with a second full moon in one month) but is a return possible after such a crash?

Camp Mountain Derailed Train Carriages 1947 Image No: 102648 Courtesy State Library of Queensland

Previously, without warning, the other friend Dan, now an adult, has gone missing under mysterious circumstances and his wife is distraught. From tax avoidance to suicide, Toby runs through the possible yet unlikely options.

Find out what Toby discovers. The clues are there. There are three time zones set in 1947, 1982 and 2017 for each lunar phenomena. Toby widens his research to make some sense of the disappearances with unexpected help from his landlady Mrs Doherty.





Toby leaned forward. He spoke slowly to Alex. “I’m not lying” he emphasised each word.
“Just before Jimmy vanished, I heard an old steam train.”
Toby wants to get Jimmy back. He plans on saving him.

The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon by Jack Roney

There is strong urban geography throughout, and I am sure teenage readers and speculative fiction fans would happily discuss conflicting emotions and plot nuances. Roney’s tweaks and turnarounds are clever and I went back once to see how the past fitted in with the present. The final twist is unexpected!

Written in four parts with chapter illustrations, The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon is a vividly realised adventure story which invokes a strong sense of friendship, keeping an open mind, and never giving up.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Author Bio

Jack Roney is a former detective and author of the crime thriller series The Angels Wept, The Demons Woke and The Shadows Watch. He is a member of the Queensland Writers Centre and Australian Crime Writers Association. His writing is inspired by over 30 years in law enforcement where he gained experience in general policing, criminal investigation, strategic policy, media and communications and also as an operational skills/firearms and police academy instructor. He draws on his experience to bring authenticity and realism to his writing. https://www.jackroney.com.au/#/

Further Info

Books https://hawkeyebooks.com.au/

Survivor’s story https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-26/qld-rail-disaster-camp-mountain-labour-day-1947/100719314

Photographs https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/camp-mountain-train-disaster

Statements http://qldstatearchives.shorthand.com/campmountain/

Reviews for The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

DEDICATION

“This book is dedicated to the victims of the Camp Mountain train crash, the heroes who came to their aid, and the survivors whose lives were changed forever by the tragic events of 5th May 1947. May you never be forgotten”