Parades and Time

I am behind on finishing my next book, behind on finishing scheduled articles and behind on my blog. I was anxious about all this, until I remembered that everything has a season. Term 4 has been jam-packed with activities, all of them joyous, though time-consuming. I wake at 5am, and get into the day. The Lyrica I take twice daily (as well as other meds for pain), see me crawl into bed by 8pm most nights. By the time the homeschooling activities are done, there is just enough time for dinner and preparing for the next day. My daughter is a bundle of energy, and when I put it to her that if we worked hard this term, we may be able to finish a little earlier, she readily agreed! Another two weeks, and we shall be done. We will have time to explore, to see friends and rest. Oh, and I shall have time to write regularly!

There have been trips to the theatre, parks and beaches. We went to Sculptures by the Sea, which was fantastic.

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We took part in a parade, my daughter as a Scottish warrior, resplendant with a sword, and I as some sort of wench! We had a ball, and as I watched my daughter and her friends brandish their swords, I felt pride.

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We made scores of felt angels and lavender balm for a home school market, have been to numerous workshops and traveled far and wide. The days have been busy, though good. Summer is almost here, and it is time for a break. My daughter will still be learning as she plays and writes scripts with her friends, summons up new songs to sing and performs science experiments at home. Every life has a season, and now is the time of writing.

Back Soon.

It has been a very big week here, and I am having a little break away. Looking forward to coming back soon, and getting back into the business (and joy), of writing. I have had my heart not only broken, but ground into the dirt many times throughout my life. I have been deceived, played and used. I have often wondered how I could possibly go on. Somehow, I do, just like you. My child smiled at me this morning, as we chatted about what we were going to pack for our adventure. My little canary, Setrena flew to the kitchen window. He sat atop an agate and stood his ground as four Indian Miner birds tried their best to peck him through the glass. Now these birds are pests in Australia, and attack our native birds. Setrena didn’t back down. He opened his beak, puffed out his feathers and went mad at them. I loved seeing this plucky little bird take on the bullies. A friend insisted on making me a cup of tea. I am starting again. If my little bird can stand his ground, so can I. The following from Afternoon of Sundries is simply stunning. It says it all. I will see you next week. xxx

Siren Empire

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Siren Empire is a fabulous website that has gone live this past weekend, and  I am thrilled to have been one of its writers. The editor is a visionary, and it has been a thrill to see the site spring to life. I have interviewed some amazingly colourful, vibrant and inspiring characters, and hope to do more profiles in the future. Here is a link to information about me.

Check out the inspirational Alessandro

Here is a piece about a dear friend of mine, who has made me lose any fear of aging, Dawn

Siren Empire is a wondrous mixture of colour, art, ideas, life and inspiring people. Check out the entire site!

 

Once Upon a Time… A Dyslexic’s Tale

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Once upon a time, there lived a little girl. She created stories in her head, and regaled the class with her imagery and passion when relaying the tales. She found writing frustrating, and often wrote words backwards. She couldn’t spell. She fumbled along, until a private high school deemed her intolerably stupid; irretrievably incapable. She was broken by fourteen. She knew she was intelligent, not least because of all the dragons she outwitted, laying in wait along her path. At fifteen she resumed school via distance education. Able to learn in her own time, she excelled. She could look up words, and go over her writing until she felt it was right. She went on to write books, and edit other people’s essays. It made her angry, that people had labelled her and deemed her to be unteachable.

The years passed, and she went on to have a daughter. Determined to do all the right things, she ate well whilst pregnant, and offered her unborn a plethora of baby literature. By the time her daughter drew her first breath, her mother had a library of children’s books waiting for her. She read to her day and night, and her daughter loved the puppets and actions her mother performed to go along with the story. Her mother took her to the Opera House regularly, as well as the Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay to see those books come to life. This child was so active, and so very curious, her mother felt assured that she would have no trouble when she started school.

 

It became clear early in kindergarten that this child was struggling. She wasn’t “getting” her phonic words, and was struggling to read whilst other children soared through the levels. Prescribed glasses were not to be the answer her mother had hoped. Alone and concerned, her mother sought the help of a private speech therapist. Dyslexia was suggested. Comprehensive testing occurred at the start of Year One, and it was confirmed. Her daughter’s language skills were above 95% of her peers, thus she had advanced language skills for her age. Her auditory memory was also excellent. The brain just had difficulty deciphering the information the eye was receiving. Her daughter’s self-esteem plummeted. She was offered a place on Reading Recovery, but it came to an end after a few weeks. School days were represented by frustration, and a weariness descended on her daughter. She had double the work of other children as she needed to complete set work from the speech pathologist as well. Headaches commonly came upon her. Her mother didn’t make her write out Christmas cards, as it proved too tiring. She would stand near her and whisper what a sign said when they were out together with other kids on outings and excursions.

Year Two began with the teacher remarking that they couldn’t help a dyslexic child. She said this child would always struggle at school, and would have a hard time with all sound words. She said she would get a job of some description later in life, as she had an agreeable personality. When the possibility of home schooling was mentioned, it was dismissed. The mother must keep her at school for the social aspect. The child had another assessment, and the results were marked dyslexia. The report insisted that the school and this centre must work together to support the child. The mother researched on her own, a lonely and frightening responsibility descending on her shoulders. She found an excellent program, her daughter eagerly rising each Saturday morning in anticipation. At her first assessment, the little girl cried, feeling exposed. The tutor was so very compassionate, having had over twenty years experience as a teacher. The mother and tutor had to start back at kindergarten level to teach her the basics. The child was so tired. Triple the workload of other kids. Sometimes she cried from the frustration. Sometimes her mother did as well. She worked so hard. The teacher approached the mother. She said the girl was doing extremely well with her reading and writing. She was beyond a basic level, but indicated that in her report she would mark her on the bottom rung so her third grade teacher would have no expectations of her. “No!” her mother screamed inside her head, “I want everyone to see who she is, without labels. This child was born to soar!” History repeating itself. This mother would be damned if she was going to let that happen…
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Johnny Nothing-Ian Probert

Johnny Nothing Author, Ian Probert
Johnny Nothing Author, Ian Probert

I have had the pleasure of making a new friend in the form of UK author, Ian Probert. He has recently published his latest book, Johnny Nothing, a rollicking, enthralling book for ages ten and up (mind you, my eight year old daughter absolutely loved it, and was doubled over from laughing in parts)! It is reminiscent of Roald Dahl, and about the poorest boy in the world, who has the nastiest mother in the universe. It is available on ITunes and Amazon. When did you make the decision to become a writer? “I never really decided to be a writer as such. It was a gradual process. At school I was good at Art and English. I used to fill up exercise books with stories about vampires. It must have driven my English teacher to drink. I come from a working class family and becoming a writer was never really an option. After failing most of my exams at school I went from one dead-end job to another. I was a draughtsman, a waiter, a landscape gardener. I worked in  KFC, in motorway service stations, telephone sales, in clothes shops. I was pretty aimless until I managed to get into art college to study painting.It was there that I started keeping a diary and discovered that I could write reasonably legibly. After art college, I managed to blag my way into a job at a newspaper. Somehow, they employed me as a sports writer. After that, I actually ended up editing sports magazines. My articles got longer and longer until it occurred to me that I ought to try my hand at writing books. I was very lucky. I got an agent almost instantly. A publishing deal followed soon after. I was rather blasé about it. In retrospect I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. As you know, it’s very difficult to get an agent to even look at anything you’ve written, and its even harder to get a traditional publishing deal.” Where did the inspiration for Johnny Nothing come from? “It’s a long story, the tale behind its birth. Basically, I was ill for almost 15 years without being really aware of it. I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s not exactly an uncommon condition, but can have catastrophic consequences for your life. I did this article for the Guardian on the illness. The end result of this was that I lost my ability to concentrate. I didn’t have anything published for more than a decade. I tried writing things, of course, but would always give up after a chapter or two. I thought I was getting old or something! When I was diagnosed and given drugs to combat the condition, I got the proverbial burst of energy. I wrote a lot of things very quickly indeed. Johnny Nothing was written for my ten-year old daughter. I think it was to prove to her that I could actually write. For years she had been hearing me drone on about how I used to be a published writer. I wanted to give her something that would make her proud of me.” What are you planning next? “I always think it’s a little reckless to tell people what you’re writing. The problem is that one can be really excited about a new project and bore family and friends to death talking about it. Later, when you’ve decided that the idea was actually pretty crappy, you then get people asking you how its going and you look a complete fool. These days I only tell what I’m doing to people whose job it is to know such information. That would be agents and publishers. Over the years I’ve never learned to show anything I’ve written to people until it’s actually on the bookshelves, or nowadays, on Kindle. There’s nothing worse than a friend telling you that they’ve written a book and asking, ‘can you read it and tell me what you think?'” Ian has produced a masterful story, full of darkness, hilarity and light. The hero will have you cheering as Johnny Nothing ends up being everything.