Monday, December 28, 2009

Editing The Dream - Part 11.

I stamped FINAL on my manuscript this morning - just before midday.

Over the past two days I have been pleasantly ensconced at my holiday house at American River/Kangaroo Island with a stunning view of a lagoon, working on the final edits suggested to me by my editor J. who supplied me with a brilliant set of notes with her edit. I didn't take me as long as I thought to achieve it but then again I kinda lost track of time, particularly yesterday when I got the bulk of the work done.

I made a few minor tweaks of my own which came to me late in the peace but were ones that I felt were of value in order to enhance the mystery of the early part of the novel. So now I sit before my laptop with Keith and the Girl playing on my smart phone writing this and feeling a sense of accomplishment and a sense of sadness. There is nothing more to do to the story. I can't see anything in it that I can improve on or change. I no longer need to inhabit this world that I created on my own, in my head and transmitted it to paper (or the computer as it were). I have come to really like the characters that I created, their simple ways, their flaws, their hopes and their dreams. I am happy with the settings that I have populated. Although I haven't been able to visit the city of Chicago - where part of the novel is set - I hope I have portrayed it in such a way that sounds authentic. I did a lot of reading about Chicago during the writing of the novel and have had contact with many people there. The places here in Australia were much easier to portray as I have experienced them all first hand. And I liked them a lot.

So now - where to? Well I need to bed down the cover art for the book still and I need to come up with a decent bio blurb about myself. I have discovered that it is much harder to do than I thought. And then I cast myself and my work forth for consideration. Beyond that - once the work is out there - the job of promoting it HARD begins. And I intend to make use of as many resources online as I can...

Back to feeding the baby...


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Editing the Dream - Part 10.

Today was a really exciting day.

I spent most of the early hours of this morning checking my email via my smart phone because my editor tipped that she would complete her edit of my manuscript. As I was working in the Neonatal ICU (where phones are supposedly not allowed - even though the worst offenders in breaking this rule are the consultant physicians!!), I kept stealing the "occasional" (ie. every ten minutes or so) check of my account. I tweeted that I don't think I've been this excited to receive something in the mail - not even my university grades! Sure enough, as promised, the manuscript hit my inbox just as I was leaving work at 7AM. I fairly burst with excitement and I think I even broke into a skip as I crossed the street outside the hospital - a mid 30's man with facial hair looks pretty scary skipping I am sure.

My editor sent me two copies - one version shows all the changes which I could, if I wanted, go through and accept or reject all the changes individually - a time consuming process for sure. The second version has been fully edited and requires only that I read through it and decide for myself whether or not I am happy with her work. She also sent me an eight page document of explanatory notes and suggestions for consideration. The latter version and the explanatory notes is the version I will concentrate on for my final run through because - in a word or three - what she has done has been nothing short of fantastic!!

I was so excited when I got home from work that, even though I had to work again tonight, I just couldn't resist laying down with the second version and begin reading it. I was blown away. All of the grammatical chook poo that I had missed on the 1st and 2nd edits of the manuscript have been comprehensively polished away. She has slightly tweaked certain lines of dialogue and description and has reworked certain scenes in very subtle ways as to make them really pop. I am so thrilled with what she has achieved - what am I saying "she"s the cat's mother! I'll call her J out of respect for confidentiality.

The explanatory notes set out in brilliant detail all that which J has recommended I consider and looking through it I can't help but smile at her thought processes. A lot of her suggestions address things that I'd had trouble with but was unable to come up with ways of addressing myself. It was as though J had read my mind and solved my dilemmas.

Now that I have it back in hand I am eager (who am I kidding - I cannot wait) to sit down with it and get cracking with the final, FINAL edit. I leave for Kangaroo Island on the 26th for a week. The laptop will be packed, the wine will be bought and I am thinking...Vince Jones will be the music for the week (well that's what I believe anyway - my partner Emily, will probably overrule me - dammit).

I spoke to Mel (the photographer) and she has decided that we will need to do another shoot for the cover. The images that she captured last weekend, while good, weren't - in the final analysis - quite there. She said that the rosemary sprigs really need to have the flowers on them in order to make them 'pop' and I have to agree. It was the one thing I was searching for on my expidition to find the rosemary in the first place but I settled - and I don't want to settle. We will set up a time probably in the first week of January and go for gold then.

In the past couple of weeks I have connected with a number of really wonderful people in the online writing realm and a really rather lovely group has emerged that has really made me feel good about this whole endeavour. The stand out has been
Melissa Luznicky Garrett, whose novel "Precipice" I reviewed in my previous blog post. The other stand out has been Melissa Halkett of IreadIwrite Publishing who has sent a lot of encouragement my way and has made me feel as though this dream of mine will be achieved.

It's funny you know...a friend of mine asked me recently why I wasn't going down the traditional route of submitting my manuscript to a traditional publisher. To answer that here frankly, would be to reveal perhaps a little of my politics with regards to the established industry here in Australia so I will keep that on the down low. What I will say however is that writing for me is a purely creative endeavour, an endeavour of love rather than money. The opportunities in the online realm are far more attractive to me in their potency - their ability to connect me with a large audience. It can be a wonderful and inspiring place.

Merry Christmas by the way...


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dean's Brilliant Reads - Precipice.

I've recently finished reading a brilliant eBook by Melissa Luznicky Garrett. Called "Precipice", Melissa's debut novel tells the story of Julia Becker - a 25-year-old elementary school librarian living in upstate New York with her successful journalist husband, Jim. Up until the moment Jim is involved in an accident while away on business, Julia’s life is comfortable, secure, and hardly exciting. While tending to Jim, however, Julia uncovers some hard truths about herself, her husband, and their marriage. And when a new teacher begins at Carson Elementary, Julia finds her allegiance to both her husband and her best friend, Kris, being put to the test.

It's a fascinating, intense read - a deeply atmospheric story about a young woman's journey of self discovery which is, at once traumatic yet deeply satisfying. I was hooked very early on and had no problem at all with the fact I was reading an eBook on my smart phone.

Melissa Luznicky Garrett lives in upstate New York with her husband and three children. She has been writing for most of her life as a hobby. Her blog
Root & Sprout is an entertaining document of her writing journey and I love checking in with her at least a couple of times a week.

You can click on the cover art for "Precipice" in the right hand column of my blog (just look to the right!) and be taken direct to the book at
ireadwrite publishing where you can purchase it in a variety of formats for a variety of devices. IreadIwrite Publishing is a digital press and publisher who caters to lovers of fine literary fiction and is an ardent supporter of new and emerging authors. There literally is something for everyone there and I recommend them highly.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Editing The Dream - Part Nine.

Well after a couple of fits and starts, the cover shoot for the novel finally went ahead last Saturday (the 19th) at Henley Beach, South Australia. My good friend Mel of Silver Photography gladly stepped up to take some shots that will eventually become the cover of the novel. We got to the beach in plenty of time (after all, it's only five minutes from my house - give or take a few) and spent a little while brainstorming ideas for the kind of image I was hoping to get. Everything about the environment was perfect except for the very stiff southerly that was whipping up the beach. That made things a little interesting but we didn't fail in our goal.

Mel of Silver Photography.

So here we were, in the evening of a beautiful Saturday lugging a swag of photographic gear down to the beach, all for the star of the show - a bouquet of rosemary and mint, that was tied together with a lavender ribbon - the plot device in the story that makes all the difference. A few evening walkers out on the sand regarded us with curiosity as we were shooting away, with me holding a light reflector that was doubling as a wind break for the posy. It wasn't really effective but we managed to keep the posy in place most of the time. I came prepared - arming myself with a some esky with some additional rosemary and mint just in case. Fortunately, they weren't needed.

Up close and personal with some kitchen herbs.

I was amazed by the color palette presented to us down there. By the time the sun began it's drop towards the horizon there was just the most amazing explosion of color and light. Though there weren't any clouds - which probably would have added even more color to the environment, this didn't seem to matter at all. These shots that I have posted here don't really do the scenery justice but you can get an idea. The preliminary shots that we will consider for the cover are actually quite a lot different to what I had in mind initially but we have some unexpected gems in amongst them that are worthy candidates.

Wrinkles in the fabric.

What better could I have asked for out of this shoot? Not much - except maybe for no wind. But of the 100 or shots that Mel got there were quite a few that already seem as though they are going to cut the mustard. Mel will play around with them over the next few days and identify the candidates for best picture (ha ha ha) and we will discuss them before making a judgment call on the final one.

Little Explorer.

Good news on the editing front. My editor is 1 or 2 days away from completion and I should have the revisions in my hand by Christmas day. I will then take my laptop with me away on holidays and look forward to working through her revisions, additions and subtractions with a glass of wine or three.

Day's last performance.

The photos here-in were taken on my Samsung Omnia 2 mobile phone by me. They aren't candidates for the final cover art but are intended to provide the reader with an idea of what we were up to on the beach last Saturday.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Editing The Dream - Part Eight

...I'm still in that state of flu-ux.

I sit here in the early hours of the morning, beside my patient as I write this, thinking about the manuscript. It occupies my thoughts for most of my waking hours as I eagerly (and impatiently) await my copy editor's treatment. It's actually really tough not having something to work on right now. I have been in touch with her and she is about a week out from completion of her edit. The feedback has been really encouraging.The plot flows really well and she has suggested that I allow her to go ahead and accept all the grammatical changes to the manuscript, which I have agreed to. With the edits I have previewed so far I am more than happy to run with this because she was so thorough. All of the creative considerations she will leave for me to review which will be great - it will save me a lot of time once I sit down to review the latest draft.

I am taking a week off from work from the 26th through to the new year and I will be taking my young family down to Kangaroo Island. We have a holiday house at a place called American River that over looks a lovely bay/estuary that is peaceful and teeming with bird life wild life. I will be able to spend some time with the draft, a glass of wine and some classical music while I look out across the water and polish the final draft. That is of course when I'm not sailing my sail boat with my son (smiley face).

The cover photo session fell apart last weekend due to unforseen circumstances. We have tentatively rescheduled for this Friday evening. Fingers crossed we'll get the shots we need. I started looking around for rosemary that was flowering with but I haven't seen any right now. Rosemary has this little pinkish flower which would add some nice accents to the image but I don't think their absence would be a real issue. I'm hoping to achieve that with the lavender ribbon.

So...that's all have right now. It's not much but it will be worth the wait I am sure...


Saturday, December 12, 2009


Whenever I think of Pennsylvania in the United States, I have an image in my mind of peaceful fields, an Amtrak bullet train rushing by, dairy cows grazing, a languid breeze that caresses the top of the meadow creating gentle, swirling patterns. Sometimes, I think of Amish people, farmers - husbands, wives and children strolling across the fields in their quaint clothing as depicted so beguilingly in one of my most favorite films of all time "Witness". Sometimes, I think of Bill Cosby...but I'm spoiling the mood here.

Somerset County, Pennsylvania is probably typical of this image I have, although I can't be sure because, of course, I've never been there.

In the 2000 census, Somerset County's population was listed as 6,762. One of its claims to fame was that it was the stage for the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 - one of the most contentious historical occurrences in U.S. history though I suspect that it's largely forgotten now. During 9/11, United Airlines Flight 93 - the only plane not to have wrought unspeakable destruction - crashed in Shanksville, near Somerset, killing all 45 persons on board. In 2002 nine coal miners were trapped underground for 3 days at Que creek just outside of Somerset attracting global attention.

Somerset is also the childhood home of Keith...

Who is Keith?

Well, that is a hard question to answer because, again, I have never met him. But I hear him speak pretty much every day so in a sense I feel as though I know him very well.

Keith is a dichotomy. Which, I know is a curious description but Keith is perhaps the most individual person I have ever encountered. I'll explain why in a moment.

Keith grew up in Somerset, the son of god fearing folk who brought him up in the strict Christian tenets of the faith. He railed against it, of course, as most kids did back in the day. For all intents and purposes his early life could have been the John Cougar Mellencamp song "Small Town"...except that Keith got out.

His was a strict upbringing. It was, perhaps, an unforgiving upbringing. But it was an upbringing that gave Keith the tools to embark on his own life's' journey and it gave him a strong foundation upon which to develop his own code - moral and practical. He has freely admitted that he doesn’t consider himself a Christian but this should not exclude him, or anyone for that matter, from being regarded as a good human being. It is an irrelevant proposition.

Keith joined the Army, a source for much pride within his parents. He then left the Army a little while later...which was met with an equal amount of disappointment as their previous pride.

Keith got into some trouble a few years back. Though the crime risked no-one and lives were not endangered, he knew the crime was egregious enough to warrant custodial punishment and so he served time and repaid his debt to society.

Keith went to New York and worked as a waiter - a job that, he has indicated, he was not proud of but it paid the bills. He also worked as a clown doing kids parties - a job far removed from the khaki and mud of the military but one, arguably, no less treacherous than a fire fight in enemy territory.

Keith met Chemda, a vivacious and proud Israeli and a person who - I would argue - ranks among the most beautiful people on the planet. They have been together some seven years and they are very much in love. They live in Queens and do an internet radio show together. They are extremely popular and justifiably so.

Five nights a week, for anywhere up to two and a half hours Keith and Chemda host this show whereby no topic you can conceivably think of remains untouched. From politics to popular culture, to relationships and sex, to friends and family and even justice (Keith's justice!) the minutiae of life is picked apart like bad knitting, examined and then put back together (knit 1, pearl 2, slip a stitch and...). It is then handed to their loyal audience in such a way that if you are not rolling on the floor laughing your arse off then you're not really trying.

There is a collection of regular guests who take turns in contributing to the hilarity, the agony and the ecstasy. There's Brother Love - a million watt personality with a million watt shock of raven black hair who, when he's not singing his lungs out to the most kick-arse soul tunes I've heard in a long time, ( he's manning the drums for an equally kick arse country rock out-fit called HER & Kings County. Brother Love himself is worth an entire article alone but I'll save that for another time. Suffice to say he is dearly loved by Keith and Chemda.

There's Patrice, the gossip queen who rolls up on Thursdays to give the gang the low down on Britney's latest melt-down, Lindsay's latest hoe-down and Paris' latest go-down. Patrice ( examines celebrity the way legendary boxing commentator Stu Nahan used to examine a boxing bout. It is witty, it is intelligent, it is acerbic.

There's McNally (, Keith's spiritual brother from Canada. McNally's a kind of orator on life whose always entertaining sometimes thought provoking and ever illuminating.

There are others who deserve a mention here but this is about Keith so I will keep it about Keith. The show has a compelling quality about it. They fearlessly discuss their subject matter without compromise even if that subject matter treads into personal territory.

In life, the human beings I admire most are the ones who have run the gamut of life's experience and have enhanced themselves because of it. That is to say, they have experienced resounding success as well as crushing failure. They have made choices that have yielded material and emotional wealth and they have made significant mistakes that have momentarily stopped them short.

But - they learn from these mistakes and have used the experience as a tool for learning, for evolving. And, rather than profit from that experience, individually, they choose to share it, perpetuating the potential for that experience to resonate with
others who might then choose to learn from it themselves.

This is Keith's contribution.

The time in my life where I feel the least sure about myself is the time that I reside in now.

My 20's were a breeze in most respects, homage to the conventional. Get a job, meet a girl and get married, buy a house and settle down. Life was a template based upon the experiences of my predecessors - my family and friends.

But in an effort to live up to the expectations of others I found myself constantly falling short. This resulted in increasing sadness, a loss of identity, a loss of self. Sadness led to frustration and depression. Depression led to the dark places - places where most of us do not wish to go.

In my 30's things kind of fell apart. My marriage ended, I was consumed by depression and, despite receiving support people closest to me, there came a point at which I had gone beyond the life experience of my family. They couldn't help me emotionally anymore. This lead to a kind of turning away from me, of sorts, by some. And there was conflict. Conflict born out of misunderstanding.

The darkness didn’t last forever and coming out of a sort of exile, I met someone new, we fell in love and our child was born.

Though it was a happy time, I was still struggling with defining myself. Now I was to be a father too - a new role to integrate into my evolving life canvas. It was then that I realized that I hadn't fully stepped out of the shadows of my parents. In fact I wasn't
sure that I had ever stepped out at all.

I happened upon Keith, Chemda and their show in late 2005. Initially, I could only wonder about it from afar because, for the longest time, I only had dial-up internet and could never listen to it. I could only visit the website ( I then got ADSL and things changed.

Of the themes that imbue Keith and Chemda's show with such soul, the recurring conversations about relationships are the ones that provide the most compelling radio I think I have ever heard. Keith's relationship with his father in particular is guaranteed to have me dropping everything in order to devote my full attention to.

Keith's father is some kind of minister, of what religion I am not quite certain. Suffice to say it seems as though it is hard core. As I said before Keith freely admits that he's not 'of the faith'.

And that's okay.

We evolve differently as individuals from that of our predecessors and make our own choices in life that will define us - none of the choices are wrong. But not everyone sees it that way.

Keith has talked extensively about the problems in his relationship with his father as exemplified most recently when Keith's father 'disowned' him because he dared share his communion bread with Chemda during church on a recent family visit to Somerset, Pennsylvania.

That Keith would dare to disrespect such a sacrament of the church was unforgivable in his father's eyes. I think the reaction was a little extreme personally.

I saw it as merely a gesture of love towards Chemda who, being Jewish, had not experienced the communion and was open to the idea of experiencing it as a naturally curious human being. To my mind it is something to be lauded rather than derided. Sadly, such is the exclusivity of many churches, that they are more successful at alienating rather than embracing.

But this issue was only part of the problem. It would seem that Keith's father has a problem with many of Keith's lifestyle choices including his show where many of the frailties of both Keith's and his father's relationship are laid bare to a wide audience.

Where Keith's father might see this as irresponsible and a betrayal of confidence I think he underestimates the power and the import of Keith's notoriety and his message.

I have experienced difficulties in my own relationship with my father and though they fall into a different realm than Keith's experience there are many common themes that I can identify in them. Sometimes those difficulties have been deeply troubling, a cause of much anxiety. Sometimes the difficulties have been so significant that I have not known where to turn, who to talk to. It has been very isolating. At what point in life do we emerge from the bosom of our parents and become own individuals? Do we ever step out? Or do we merely step to the side and continue our journey, not fully independent of them? These are the questions I have wrestled with in the difficulties I have experienced.

American author and mythologist, Joseph Campbell in his most celebrated work "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" posed Seventeen Stages of the Mono-myth (or the Hero's Journey) as a way of summarizing the common themes that can be found in many examples of popular and classic literature.

One of these - atonement with the father - states that the hero reconciles the tyrant and merciful aspects of the father-like authority figure to understand himself as well as this figure. Campbell also talks about the hero as a teacher - an individual who experiences his journey and who returns to share that experience with others so that they may benefit from his wisdom.

Keith, whether he knows it or not, is a hero to many because of these very maxims.

The discussion of the relationship with his father may well be a way of him seeking to understand his father as well as himself. And in discussing the difficulties he has experienced with his father he endears himself to his audience because they can identify many similar, if not exacting, themes within their own paternal relationships. I have found much comfort and guidance from the discussion of Keith's father. When I have felt that I have had nowhere to turn to, no answers to my questions Keith offers up another conversation of his son/father dynamic and everything feels less worrisome, I feel that everything - somehow - will be alright...or maybe they won't...but I know that I am not alone.

Keith is a person I admire because of the personal story he has shared without fear or favor.

Keith's father, in remaining closed off to the achievements of his son, the success of his show and the success of how Keith reaches people all over the world - and helps them, underestimates the success that Keith has attained through his own journey - a journey that continues.

This is Keith's contribution to the human good...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Editing the Dream - Part Seven.

So...I'm in a sort of state of flux right now. One where I can niether move forwards or back. My editor has my 3rd draft of the manuscript in hand and estimates that she will have it done within the next couple of weeks or so. I'm humming with a nervous excitement. She sent me the first five chapters fully edited and with some margin notes and it is all just superb - exactly what I was hoping for. The grammar has been tightened up significantly and the suggestions have ranged from things like, reconsidering the role of certain incidental characters to changing a name here and there to considering whether a woolen "beanie" should just be called a cap. I am so happy with what I've seen so far. I am hoping that, as she progresses deeper into the manuscript, she'll have good suggestions about certain scenes that I was having trouble with.

I am having this internal dialogue with myself right now, where I am trying to temper my impatience to see the job completed so I can submit it to the eBook publisher while at the same time remaining typically Virgoan in my desire to ensure that the story works - even with the supernatural element to it. It's hard not be able to sit down with the manuscript and pour over it again and again to look for anything in it that can be improved or changed.

My photographer friend and I have tentatively set up a cover shoot for this Saturday coming. We'll head down to the beach just before sunset so that we can take advantage of this special time of day to get some shots of the rosemary and mint posy that will be tied in a lavendar bow. Though we'll be using a metropolitan Adelaide beach to represent the sands of New South Wales Southern Coast, I don't think that it will matter too much. The Adelaide sands are pretty damned fine.

Once all the elements are together, the final manuscript, the synopsis, the cover art, my profile (eek!) - I will submit it to iReadiWrite Publishing ( for consideration. iReadiWrite Publishing is an ardent supporter of emerging writers, it is a great portal for lovers of eBook literature and their catalogue of titles is growing all the time, across a number of genres. I've read a lot about this portal recently and I really like their philosophy - their support of undiscovered talent. Fingers crossed that I will achieve my dream of being a published author early in the new year.

For now the work continues...

Just on one other creative subject, while it's on my mind, I just saw Crossing Over (Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd) this weekend past.

I have followed the development of this film with interest - mainly because it is a Harrison Ford film - and I was thoroughly dismayed that it saw such a limited cinema release state-side and virtually no cinema releases internationally. It seems like the Weinstein brothers have peed another great film up against the wall.

Crossing Over is a multi layered story about the lives of those seeking a better life in the United States - so much so that they will do anything to achieve it. It also tells the story of the agencies and people involved in policing immigration and the US borders. The filmed suffered from a critical back-lash in the States and didn't do well at the box office - which is a shame, because it is a superb film that handles a tough subject.

Maybe it is because the immigration debate remains a subject too difficult for Americans to talk about. Maybe this is just another example of the Weinsteins doing over a perfectly good film, because they had difficulty with it - I dunno - but the cast in this film delivers very moving performances, not the least of which is Harrison Ford who, I think, delivers his finest performance in years. The film has been compared to "Crash" insofar as the way it handles muliple story lines, but Crossing Over is no where near as preachy or in your face as Crash was.

It handles the difficult issues surrounding immigration with a considered hand whilst pulling no punches about the deeply flawed nature of certain peoples reactions to it. It's a disgrace that Crossing Over did not do as well as say a "Traffic" or even "Crash" but I guess the subject matter was always going to be controversial.

Anyway, rant soon...


Friday, December 4, 2009

Editing The Dream - Part Six.

The project took a great turn this week. I have secured the services of a copy editor who has begun work on the final draft of the manuscript for me. This has been a really important development because I have long sought out a fresh set of eyes for the story so that anything that I have missed or have not considered will be picked up by those eyes and addressed.

The early results have been hugely encouraging. She has enabled me to question certain elements in the story and decide whether to keep them, change them or drop them entirely. And they aren't huge things either.

The cover art project has gained momentum now too. A good friend of mine who has a brilliant eye has enthusiastically agreed to take on the project and I am sure that she will deliver some wonderful results.

Suffice to say I am really excited...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Editing the Dream - Part Five

I'm real excited right now...and not just because it's 3:30am down here. I just finished a month long second edit if the manuscript of my novel and I think I am pretty damned happy with it.

It has been head f***ery supreme. I didn't realize just how much I missed on the first go 'round. A slew of grammatical errors, repetition plus, plus and some weak plot points that I was struggling with. It's all pretty well tidied up now. I'm excited about the subtle changes I have made to the narrative and the dramatic nuances of the story line. The characters story arcs, I believe, are much more defined and certain plot devices - even the most subtle ones - have had a certain tweaking done to them which carry them through to a logical and lyrical conclusion.

A good friend of mine has put me in touch with a copy editor in Canada, who is between jobs right now, and she has offered to have a look at my manuscript and work out a pretty good deal so that I may get that one final tweak before I go to the publishing stage.

Once that is done then I will approach the eBook publisher with my finished manuscript and give it over to them for consideration.

In the mean time, my focus has turned back to the packaging of this baby of mine. A mission to create a cover that is at once beguiling and enchanting whilst being subtle but classy begins.

Regardless of what the final look will be I am imaging this...

A sprig of rosemary and mint tied together with a lavender ribbon that lies on a ancient timber fence post near the sea...

I think some photography is in order.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Editing The Dream - Part Four

I really don't have much to say at the moment. This is just more of a quick vent because I'm really frustrated with the second edit. It was going well bu I'm fearful that the last quarter of the story is running off the rails a little. I am struggling with the "reuniting" of the two lovers - one of whom has been reinarnated into the body of someone else. I am trying to make it a really lovely and tender piece of writing but it seems to clunk along and I find myself consistently thinking that this all sounds like bullshit. It culminates in a significant plot reveal that has huge ramifications for the two lovers but I am fearful that it doesn't sound convincing either. I mean I am dealing with reincarnation as a subtext so a certain amount of disbelief has to be suspended anyway. But when you're endeavouring to anchor your story in a fairly real setting, making it sound convincing becomes extremely important.

Am I making any sense?

Probably not, but I know what I mean...

I'll talk to you later.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Editing The Dream - Part Three

I haven't had much to say about the manuscript these past couple of weeks, however I have been pre occupied with other, more substantial events in my life so the project has taken a back seat. I refer of course to the birth of my daughter last Monday (9/11/09 for you readers in the States). We welcomed Lucy Audrey Rose into the world at about a quarter to four in the afternoon and obviously we were quite blown away by the significance of the occasion. The past week has been taken up by getting used to the new baby, the new dynamic that our family now possesses and finding a level in our lives that will allow us to continue moving forward.

I spent a few hours whilst my serioso was resting and recuperating working on more edits to what will become the third draft of the novel. It has mainly been an exercise in tightening up the grammatical errors that carried over from draft two as well as expanding some key scenes which I felt were needed in order to lend some further gravitas to the narrative. One scene I am particularly happy with is an expansion on Andy DeVries battle with himself in order to overcome his drug addiction. I realized through the second reading that he simply walks away from a life of drug addiction without really suffering because of it. Having done some further research into this so called "drying out" I have included a description of Andy's own withdrawl from the substance that threatens to take a hold of him.

As it stands now, I am about two thirds of the way through this second edit. I have had some feedback from some wonderful people who volunteered to have a read through it and I am bouyed by their opinions.

I have successfully neutered a great deal of repetition from the original manuscript and have simplified the tome of the narrative. (I think that's how one describes it).

I emailed Michelle Halket from ireadiwrite publishing a couple of weeks ago to sound her out about the submission guidelines to her publishing portal and I have to say I am really excited about the possibilities this portal throws up in terms of getting the novel out there, first as an eBook. I have also had some talks with some close friends of mine who operate in the local printing industry down under who have contacts in the print on demand industry. The possibility of a short run printing of my novel is definitely an option I am considering.

For now, the art of the write goes on. Check out my Facebook page where you'll find some images of our new baby.

I'll be updating you all again real soon here.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dreams Of A Love Indestructible - Draft Two Complete.

I write this, having just completed a two week long edit of my draft manuscript. It was an arduous task, re-examining grammar and punctuation, removing what seemed to be copious amounts of repetition and tightening up the story line significantly. I also expanded some of the characters roles which added an extra cohesiveness to the plot.

So now I have, what I think is a significantly better manuscript, but I know that there is a long way to go. What I need now is for volunteers who would be willing to look over my manuscript and offer me some constructive (or even destructive) criticism on my work.

What works? What doesn't work? Does it work at all?

If you are at all interested, please get in touch with me via email - and I'll arrange for a .pdf to be emailed to you. It's 205 pages long, about 80,000 words long. To give you an idea of what it's about - here's a synopsis...

Dreams Of A Love Indestructible is a story about a young man whose spirit refuses to die.

Denny Banister had it all – a successful university degree, a love for the guitar and a passion for Sonya – his soul mate whom he wishes to marry. Tragically, Denny is struck down with inoperable cancer and he is destined to die.

At the moment of his death in an Australian hospice, however, Denny's spirit passes from his destroyed body and into the body of a drug addicted young man - who lies in a trauma room, clinging to life on the other side of the world.

Andy DeVries stands on a precipice. He lives life on a razor's edge, dealing in drugs and moving through a dangerous underworld of criminals and con artists. He is alienated from his father and he stands to lose the only thing that matters to him - a place at a prestigious Conservatory for classical guitar in Chicago. For Andy has a love of the guitar as fierce as Denny's once was.

Having been snatched from a near fatal overdose Andy is suddenly plagued by dreams of another life - a life he has never known but it is as familiar to him as his own memories. He dreams of a love he has never known yet he knows this love intuitively. Having been given a chance at redemption Andy begins to change.

Something has been awakened in him - a spirit of a once proud man. And as Soneya grieves for her lost love Andy begins a quest to find her - knowing her only by the dream...the dream of a love indestructible...

Please do consider participating in helping me. I hope to self publish the novel in early 2010 and am excited to see it on a book shelf.

Thank you in advance,

Dean from Australia.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Editing the "Dream" Part Two.

I've put in serious hours in the past week editing and re-writing my manuscript and already the story has started to evolve in a much different way to the original document that has appeared here. The one thing I have noticed during the editing process is the trap of using words and certain phrases repetitively throughout - so that has been my aim in the initial edit - to remove or reword certain passages so that they sound a little more unique and a lot less repetitive.

I have also focused on character development. Looking at each of the characters and refining their contribution to the story. In particular I have changed Andy's story quite a bit. I mean he is still heading in the same direction but I have made clearer some of the things that help him to realize that his life is pretty much in the shitter right now and that he needs to change. I have also made Denny more of a character in so much as his spirit is more of a character.

I'll continue to hone and refine the document in the coming weeks and then get some input from other people. A friend of mine who does proof reading as a side thing has offered to help me out so I hope she can really take my manuscript apart and help me improve it.

I have also started making contact with the publishers of the Foo Fighters music - asking for their permission to reproduce the lyrics of the song "Come Alive" which features on their 2008 release "Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace". I have used a couple of lines from that song in the story mainly as cues to drive Andy's thought processes during his reverie. I have also used a couple of lines of dialogue from the movie Bladerunner which I only just remembered doing when I started reviewing the manuscript this week so I have emailed Warner Brothers in the States with a similar request. We'll see if they actually respond.

I'll talk more soon.

Dean from Australia.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And That's Where We'll Leave The Dream...For Now...

You're gonna hate me aren't you.

I've decided to leave it at that insofar as posting anymore of the novella for now. I finished a draft manuscript earlier this week and now I have begun the arduous task of sitting down and reading the entire document from beginning to end, reviewing it, adding to it, subtracting from it and generally picking the shit out of it.

But I have also decided to keep you updated on it via this portal - posting notes and possibly even video blogs keeping you up to date with my progress. I'll also be putting the feelers out for help too. The big thing I am hoping to get assistance with right now is with a design for a cover for the novel. If you know of anyone out there who would be interested in putting something together for me then please put them in contact with me.

The "Dream" has been realized in draft form - now the real work has begun on polishing up this document in preparation for self publishing...

Dean M.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dreams Of A Love Indestructible (Part Twenty One).

Andy sat in the foyer of the Windsor Hotel the next morning flipping as casually as he could through the daily newspaper but he wasn't really taking anything in – he was too distracted. He had woken insanely early and spent several hours sitting on the bed, watching television, strumming his guitar, pacing the room. He'd showered twice – so nervous and excited and terrified he was. It was like going on a first date all over again even though he remembered their first date well.

He – Denny – had gotten tickets to an indie music festival in Melbourne during the summer. It must have been three or four years ago, when they'd both reconnected again at university. Andy couldn't be exactly certain – the burden of carrying the memories of two lives made it difficult to pin point. It was an incredibly hot day and he and Soneya has spent most of it in specially provided mist tents – basically tents fitted with sprinkler systems to cool down the revelers at the venue. It was a wild and crazy day but during it they had fallen for one another. Andy remembered that they had been childhood friends – almost inseparable. Soneya was a willowy tom boy, athletic, bold and very self assured even then. He...Denny...had been awkward and shy but in her company he felt at ease. Once they become a couple at university, it was as though the years they'd spent apart had never been. They were as inseparable as adults as they had been as children.

The memories were as clear to Andy now as if they had always been his own and he smiled at the realization.

Every so often Andy looked towards the foyer entrance to see if he could see her. He checked his watch. It was still only early. He cursed himself for having readied himself so early but he didn't know what else to do. The anticipation was too much. The thought of seeing her again was just too exciting for him.

Andy folded up the newspaper – again - and, placing it down on the table, he stood then searched out out the mens room from his vantage point. Just as he was about to walk over to it, he caught a glance at the entrance once more and...

There she was.

Soneya was standing there, just inside the door surveying her surroundings, looking for him. She had dressed lightly - svelte cargo pants, a singlet top, her large hat from the previous day.

Andy walked towards her and she smiled reservedly upon seeing him.

“Hello” Soneya greeted. “Wow. You've been put up in some pretty nice accommodation”

Andy nodded, craning his neck to look around the foyer of the resplendent hotel. The morning sun streamed in through a large sky light far above bathing the foyer in an ethereal light. When he looked back her again he was struck once more by her beauty, the way the sunlight danced over her auburn hair making it seem more beautiful than he ever remembered.

“Yeah. My school did pretty well in getting us into this place. The dean might flip out though when he finds out how much it was costing them”

Andy looked at her and smiled.

“I'm glad you came. I know it might be a little awkward for you”

“Not at all” Soneya replied. “It's nice to be able enjoy a little down time while I'm here. The Festival is good and all's just nice”

“So...” Andy ventured. “Do you like coffee?”

Of course she likes coffee...

Soneya nodded.

“There's a really great coffee house not far from here called Enzo's” Andy suggested. “I found it when I first arrived here. They make an awesome cup”

Soneya's eyes widened in surprise then but Andy but didn't react.

“I know it” she said slowly. “...very well”

Soneya seemed to gaze at him, assessing him as Andy gestured towards the door.

“Shall we?...”

Andy knew he was taking a risk by taking her there, to her and Denny's old, favorite place – but the gamble appeared to pay off for him and they spent a couple of hours right up until lunch time, enjoying several cups of coffee and talking. Andy felt the echo of the way it had once been when Denny and Soneya sat in this very place – when they were studying for exams on rainy winter afternoons when it was pouring with rain outside. Or during summer when classes were just beginning and they were coming to grips with a seemingly insurmountable workload. On weekends, when they just craved being alone together – Denny and Soneya would seek their refuge here at the little cafe and just curl up together reading a book to each other and sipping coffee. Here was the place that had once felt like a second home.

Coffee eventually did turn into lunch. Soneya had completely lost track of time from the moment they had sat down. She felt herself relaxing, her guard had come down completely and she found herself enjoying the company of this shy but amiable American. All the while, as they talked, that potent sensation of deja-vu visited her once again, the feeling of somehow knowing him, the feeling of familiarity about his presence. He was quiet, considerate. He was interested in her. Soneya talked about the practice and the house in Stafford, how she hoped to make something of her grandfather's legacy and turn it around into something to be proud of. She avoided talking about Denny entirely – not because she consciously set out to but because it just happened that way.

After lunch, Soneya suggested that they go for a walk through the City. She stopped by a florist in a French inspired arcade to pick up some Lily's for Joss as a thank you for having her at Joss' Williamstown apartment. Andy recognized the florist. Denny had bought flowers there for Soneya and Andy smiled inwardly, pleased that Soneya still favored it.

And just when Andy thought Soneya might choose to end their day together in the early afternoon, he was pleasantly surprised when Soneya turned to him as they strolled along the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River.

“Would you like to go for a drive?” she asked hopefully.

She doesn't want this day to end! Andy thought excitedly.

“Where?” he inquired, intrigued.

“Well...I have to drop these flowers off at Joss' apartment, otherwise they'll shrivel up in this heat. It's in Williamstown, just over the bridge, say about a half an hour from here. I can drop you back to the Hotel if you'd like”

Williamstown! My home!

Andy managed to stifle his alarm at hearing mention of the seaside suburb by feigning a thoughtful expression, as though he were considering her proposal. He studied her with a lop sided half grin.

“Am I correct in guessing that you're enjoying yourself?”

Soneya blushed embarrassed and eyed him suggestively.

“I could be” she replied.

Andy wanted to take her in his arms right then and kiss her. He wanted to feel her lips against his, to hold her hands and feel their warmth but he restrained himself.

Finally he nodded.

“That sounds like a great idea”

They drove to Williamstown, in the Volkswagen sedan that had once been Denny's. Williamstown was a cosmopolitan beach side suburb where Denny had spent his childhood. And as they entered the suburb on a thoroughfare that flanked the waters of Port Philip Bay Andy was overwhelmed with a new collection of Denny's memories – ones that he'd not experienced before. Memories of Denny's childhood - of fishing from the jetty near the Williamstown Port with his father on cool Melbourne mornings, playing with Soneya on the beach after school when they were just children, of sailing a small yacht on the water as a teenager. Images and visions of the life Andy had 'adopted' – they assailed him with a speed and ferocity that threatened to overwhelm him. But he rode the wave of them once more until it settled back to a gentle swell.

Neither of them wanted the day to end.

By the late afternoon, Andy and Soneya found themselves in Williamstown's chic restaurant district and decided to find somewhere to have dinner. Seating themselves on the balcony of a waterfront cafe that overlooked Port Philip Bay they ordered a bottle of wine and relaxed back in their seats to take in the view. The majestic City skyline dominated the landscape to the north, towering above groups of moored yachts that rocked gently on the swell of the Williamstown harbor, their masts swaying to and fro.

People were enjoying walks on the nearby esplanade, playing on the beach, swimming in the sea. A tall-ship slowly made it's way across the water, it's sails billowing full in the late afternoon breeze bringing the salty scent of the sea to Andy's nostrils. As they sat at their table on a balcony overlooking the sea Andy thought it all reminded him a little of Chicago. He sat back in his chair and exhaled, almost unconsciously feeling a calm unlike any he'd felt before. Everything seemed so pure here, so clean...and so familiar. Even this cafe in which they sat now – Andy knew it well. It had been one of their favorite places. Soneya hadn't revealed that to Andy.
They'd enjoyed a beautiful lobster that was quite unlike Andy had ever eaten before. They drank a local wine and continued their conversation almost uninterrupted. The day had been wonderful.

Soneya smiled as Andy stretched and gazed out across the water.

"I can see that you're enjoying yourself" she commented as a waiter clear their plates and refreshed their wine glasses.

"I am," Andy replied. "This place is surreal. It's like something out of a dream or a picture book. Is everyone in this City so...laid back?"

Soneya followed his eyes out across the waterfront.

"Hmm...It is tranquil here. Though Melbourne itself is like any other city. It has its fair share of problems"

"So city law doesn't appeal to you then?"

Soneya shook her head and sipped her wine. She glanced at him fleetingly, suddenly unsure of when she had told him she was a lawyer.

"N...not at all. I decided that rural concerns are enough of a challenge on their own. And I prefer the people. They are far more...real...than anyone here. I would rather help them there than destroy people here. There's enough aggression in the Melbourne law fraternity. I don't want to get sucked into it"

"That's quite noble" Andy remarked.

"It is," Soneya agreed with an earnest nod before smiling broadly. When she did, Andy felt light headed.

"What about you? The guitar seems to be very much a part of you. It defines you, yes?"
Andy returned her smile with his own and swirled the wine in his glass, holding it up to the light from outside the restaurant to study it.

Soneya's breath caught in her throat then as she watched him.

The way he held the glass, the way he inspected the wine...

Andy rested the glass on his crossed leg.

"It's everything to me," he said wistfully. "It's carried me through some difficult times and I've not always been very kind to it. But now it's the one thing that I want to do more than's pretty much been the only thing I was ever good at"

Soneya brow creased into a frown fleetingly.

"Surely you're good at more than just the guitar"

"Getting into trouble...possibly...I was exceptional at that. I dunno...unfortunately I think I made an art form out of calamity instead of applying myself. But there has always been the guitar. It is a gift that I've come to treasure"

"Well, I think it's a very noble gift so here's to it," Soneya raised her own glass toward him and he met hers with his. They drank, looking at each other, a sense of something passed between them both.

"You know...," Soneya began. "I have to say this, and please don't think I'm crazy but..., you seems very familiar to me. It's like...I feel like we've met before.

In Andy's mind that voice pleaded at him, tell her, tell her!

Andy flushed pink and smiled awkwardly.

"That sounds like a very bad line - even with the Australian accent"

Soneya laughed and covered her mouth embarrassed.

"I know, it does right? God I'm such a klutz...but it's true. Are you sure that you've never been to Australia before?"

"I haven't...sorry. Not even once"

Even they were true, as Andy spoke them he felt as though he was lying. Again the voice tugged at his conscience.

Tell her...

A jazz quartet began playing in the far corner, their light music filling the cafe.

Andy's mind drifted towards the final, the seemingly overwhelming nature of it.
"I can't believe I'm here...that I've made it this far," he mused. "I've never done anything like this before"

"It's a wonderful opportunity for you," Soneya agreed. "I can only imagine how nervous you must feel"


Andy looked out across the waterfront towards the beach and gestured with a nod.

"Shall we take a walk on the sand"

Soneya nodded and smiled a little bashfully.

"That would be nice"

Making their way down to the waters edge, Soneya slipped off her sandles and stepped- gingerly at first - into the sea, feeling the cool water against her ankles and feet.

"I can't believe how beautiful it is here" Andy marveled, seemingly awestruck by the pristine sand so close to a metropolitan environment. "There's nothing like this in Chicago"

Andy took off his own shoes, setting them on the sand and joining Soneya as she luxuriated her feet at the water's edge.

"There is something addictive about the seaside" she mused. "So - are you nervous? About the final?"

Andy wandered a few paces along the shore line, hands in his pockets.

"I'm petrified," he answered truthfully. "I came here with no expectations what-so-ever. I mean, Christ, I was a last minute entry - the Conservatory didn't even want me on the delegation. Now...I want it more than anything. I don't think I've ever wanted anything more"

Soneya watched him, her hand shading her eyes from the late afternoon sun.

He stands at the water's edge, his hands in his pockets, thoughtful...

Yet he is not out of focus nor out of reach unlike her dream.

This was the dream?...

Small waves, no more than a few inches high washed up on the shore line now but as they strolled slowly along, watching a gaggle of enthusiastic children playing in the shallows, a bigger wave broke unexpectedly over a ridge of sand, slapping against Soneya's ankles and causing her to over balance. Reflexively she reached out with her hand and Andy grabbed it pulling her close to steady her. He held her until he was sure she was safe. She looked up at him to thank him and in that moment their eyes locked and neither one of them could look away. Andy couldn't resist. He leaned in gently, his finger rising to touch her cheek and their lips found each other. A soft, slow, electrifying kiss that lingered - igniting a well spring of warmth and emotion with them both so powerful that neither could pull away nor wanted to. Soneya's hand cradled his jaw, her lips parted and she touched her tongue to his, teasingly, exquisitely...rolling around it, then gently pulling back. Soneya sighed audibly as Andy pulled her close to him, sliding his hands between her arms and holding her softly there.

Then, suddenly an alarm bell sounded in Soneya's mind and she pulled herself away from Andy abruptly. Flooded with guilt Soneya mind swirled and she felt as though she might fall. Her expression held melted into one of bewilderment, embarrassment, shame...

"What have I done?" she gasped reflexively.

Andy was stunned where he stood, dazed by the afterglow of the kiss but feeling extreme awkwardness now as he reached out to Soneya. She put her hand up defensively and searched nearby

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," she said breathlessly. "I shouldn't have done that"

Though in his mind, Andy sensed he knew the reason for her sudden switch in behavior and what she meant by her apology, he remained floundering before her.

"No, no Soneya please...I shouldn't have. I'm sorry"

Soneya felt nauseous then as the familiar, irrational guilt assailed her conscience All she wanted to do was to run away from here, from him - this exquisite stranger who made her feel. He made her feel.

"I sh...should go Andy," she stammered as she hurriedly bent down to put on her sandles and stood up again. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for any of this"

Andy's heart pounded as she turned away from him. All these long months of searching, the battle within himself to make sense of the additional presence that resided there. His and Denny's emotions collided together somewhere deep inside of him, melding together until they were all but indistinguishable.

This is it!

Denny's voice rang in his ears and Andy turned to face Soneya who was walking away from him.

"Soneya!" he called out desperately.

Something in the tone of his voice made Soneya stop and slowly she turned around to face him.

"Please wait!"

Andy stepped forward holding his arms out by his sides and it was then Soneya realized that his accent had changed slightly.

"'s me. It's Denny"

Soneya's eyes went wide and she blinked.

"Soneya...I don't how to explain what happened. I was in the dark happened and then...somebody found me – in Chicago” Andy voice quivered. He became animated then and, unbeknown to him, it had clearly spooked her.

“I was lying in a trauma room in a hospital,” he went on. “They told me I'd overdosed – that I had died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. But I was revived - something happened to me when I was revived. I woke up and I was in this - this - body"

Soneya's purse strap slipped from her shoulder, falling to the sand. Her jaw slackened slightly but she said nothing as Andy approached her.

"Ever since then I've these...memories...of this old life, of this place - of you. I couldn't make sense of them at first but I realized I was remembering everything about my old life"

"I...I can't believe," Soneya whispered, her lip quivering.

"I couldn't believe it at first either" Andy continued his voice cracking. "But I remember everything - the hospital, our home, everything we planned to do. It all came to me, gradually at first, but I remember. And then I found you...I found Stafford – on the Internet. I found Denny's page on Facebook. I had these clues to go by – the things I remembered. It was all there!"

Andy stepped forward but Soneya threw up her hand abruptly stopping him.

"Are you fucking kidding me?!" she hissed venomously.

Andy shivered violently at the sound of her voice and he looked at her seeing a palpable anger in her eyes. He froze where he stood.

“'s the truth. I remember it all”

“How dare you!” Soneya spat, backing away from him slowly as angry tears welled up at the edges of her eyes. “How dare you play this game with me. How could you even begin to be so cruel? Who do you think you are?”

Andy felt a nauseating panic then. His mouth went dry and he struggled to force his mind to work.

“What are you – some kind of sick stalker?!” she continued, her fury becoming white hot.

He thumbed his chest firmly then interrupting her.

“Soneya, look at me. Surely you can see it. Surely you can sense something – can't you?” he was pleading with her now, his voice rising. “What about that kiss just then – tell me it you didn't feel something. Why would I make something up like this?”

But Soneya shook her head furiously and back away even further as he stepped forward again holding his hand out towards her.

No! Don't you come near me. If you do I will call the police”

She wheeled around then and stumbled on the sand before running away. Tears were streaming down her face now, her heart and mind filled with confusion and anger. Andy stood there on the beach watching her go until she had disappeared. He was too stunned to move.

“What have I done” he whispered breathlessly.

Copyright © 2009 Dean Mayes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dreams Of A Love Indestructible (Part Twenty)

Andy felt his breath quicken as he realized that Soneya was actually approaching him. His eyes darted between her and the beer in his hand, his heart thumped noisily in his ears. As his nerves almost managed to overwhelm him, Andy managed to pull himself together just as Soneya stepped around a group of people in between Andy and her. Then she was standing before him.

Her beauty, her presence, her perfume, her auburn hair, lustrous and shining. The scent of rosemary and mint that he had always remembered. Her eyes – shimmering jewels, vibrant and alive. Everything about her that Andy had remembered and dreamed of from the moment that he had been brought back to life in that trauma room so far away became very real, very tangible in that single moment. Soneya offered her hand to Andy and he took it, hesitantly at first – until he caught himself and grabbed onto his rational state of mind – then he firmed his grip on hers. The feeling of her hand in his was electric. When she spoke, her voice made his heart almost stop.

“Congratulations” Soneya repeated smiling politely. “I just wanted to say that I thought you were superb this afternoon. That piece is a favorite of mine”

Andy nodded respectfully. He could feel his cheeks flushing just a little.

“Thank you,” he replied softly. “It was a pleasure to play it – if a little scary. I haven't performed for such a large audience before”

“Well one would never have known it. I think you managed to capture the entire audience's imagination today”

Soneya sipped her champagne and looked around her at the people mingling.

“How are you finding Australia?” she asked. “Is it your first time here?”

Andy nodded.

“It's very hospitable. I've enjoyed this city very much. It's very different to Chicago...very warm...and I don't just mean weather wise”

He shifted nervously on the spot then gazed at her - almost as if he was hoping she would recognize something within him telling her he was Denny.

“You're Soneya Llewellyn right?” he finally said, tripping a little over his words.

Soneya met his gaze, caught off guard by his question.

“I...I am” she responded surprised. “How di...”

Andy turned and gestured discreetly at Jochen Zinski.

“Zinski pointed you out to a few of the performers earlier. He told us that you were visiting to present the trophy at the end of the week”

“Oh,” Soneya said, nodding. “Yes. He invited me to attend personally. It was his idea to name the award”

“He...must have been pretty special huh”

Again Soneya nodded, looking down and away from Andy momentarily.

“He was...very special”

Again an awkward silence threatened to settle upon them. Andy tried to think of something, anything to advance the conversation further. Little did he know that Soneya was thinking exactly the same thing. She felt extremely nervous and unsure of herself in his presence. She felt a powerful attraction to him but she betrayed nothing of this outwardly.

“How long have you played the guitar?” Soneya asked finally, finding the words that he couldn't.

“Since I was about eight years old,” Andy replied, relieved for her question. “Some would say I came to it quite late. Most of the contestants here probably started when they were still in diapers so I feel as though I'm on the back foot a little”

Soneya smiled at his quip.

“Well, if today was anything to go by I think you'll be a definite contender. It's a wonderful event. Are you excited about the finals?”

“I think terrified is perhaps a more appropriate feeling right now” Andy said. “I've never done anything like this before...but I am looking forward to the final though. I think I'll spend the next few days taking in some of the other performances and seeing what I'll be up against”

Soneya nodded, lifting her brow slightly.

“Oh...well that will be nice. I...I guess I'll probably see you again then”

She felt herself feeling light headed and realized as she lifted her glass to her lips that she had emptied the champagne from it completely.

Andy looked at it and gestured towards the bar.

“Could I get you another drink?”

Soneya considered his offer. She wanted to say yes but she suddenly felt her nerves getting the better of her. She looked over her shoulder at Joss who wore a wicked half grin as she chatted with another group of people – every so often stealing a glance over in Soneya's direction.

“I probably shouldn't,” Soneya finally decided. “I fear if I have another I won't be able to walk. This stuff is pretty potent”

Andy smiled warmly as she offered her hand again.

“I just wanted to say how lovely your performance was” she said.

Andy nodded.

“Thank you. Perhaps I'll see you again”

“Perhaps you will”

Soneya stepped back, holding his hand a moment longer, holding his gaze a moment longer then she turned and headed back to where Joss was standing. He watched her go unable to take his eyes off her until he realized he had forgotten to breathe.

Michyko appeared beside him then and tugged at his arm.

“There you are! We've been looking all over for you. Have you had enough praise thrust upon you yet?”

“I think so,” Andy smiled, still gazing after Soneya who had disappeared into the crowd as if she had never been. Michyko followed his gaze fleetingly.

“Well a group of us have decided to hit a pub in the City that was recommended to us. Want to join us?”

“Yeah...that would be cool”

Michyko gave him a silly grin.

“Who are you looking at?” she ribbed him conspiratorially.

Andy squirmed uncomfortably and blushed.

“Nobody,” he said a little too quickly and Michyko studied him with mock suspicion.

“Nobody – a likely story. Come on – we'll miss the cab”

Andy followed Michyko out of the Pavilion, looking back to where Soneya had been standing with her friend – but she was no longer there.

Soneya and Joss had hailed a cab just outside the Garden not too long after. As they rode towards the City Joss noted a curious expression on Soneya's face and she smiled wickedly.

“You're definitely attracted to him aren't you” she teased mercilessly. “

Soneya screwed up her nose at Joss.

“Oh stop it. You're a pain in the arse”

But deep down Soneya couldn't deny that Joss was right.

“Well I think he's hot” Joss persisted, trying to get a rise out of Soneya.

Soneya just laughed softly and gazed out through the window as it passed by. She felt an old, familiar warm glow within that she hadn't felt in a long time.

* * *

While the others from the Chicago group went on a tour the following morning - none of them were performing - Andy decided to slip out early and walk down to the Gardens from the hotel to see the performances. He had hardly slept a wink. All he could think about was Soneya, their meeting in the Pavilion and their brief conversation, the touch of her hand. Though he had intended to watch the concert heats for the genuine purpose of studying his competition, now that he had made contact with her and that contact had been good, all he wanted to do now was to find her again.

His walk took no more than approximately twenty minutes. He crossed over a wide thoroughfare separating the Fitzroy Gardens from the smaller Treasury Gardens, noting that a sizable crowd was already gathering on the lawns in front of the conservatory. Though it was not quite 10AM, the intense summer sun was beginning to warm the city significantly and Andy felt beads of sweat forming on his brow. Quickly daubing them away, he made his way into the Gardens, instantly trying to appear as casual as he could without making it obvious that he was looking for her.

Aside from the concerts today, the Gardens were playing host to several other gatherings related to the International Festival. There were several stages set up throughout the Gardens that were to play host to a number of visiting performers from all across the world. They ranged from blues and roots artists, to South American and Spanish guitar virtuosos to jazz outfits sourced locally and from the UK, the US and Europe.

Andy stopped by the Pavilion and purchased a coffee and a muffin – he hadn't had anything to eat so far today – then sat down to browse through the days program. He had made a mental list of a number of artists who he wanted to see perform while he was here including a name sake of his Doug de Vries – a celebrated Australian guitarist who had caught his eye as well as Slava Grigoryan – a former Kazakhstan native who'd immigrated to Australia with his family as a child and who had become one of Australia's most prominent classical guitarists. He chatted with some of the performers from the previous day's heat with whom he had become acquainted, received yet more congratulations and well wishes for Saturdays semi final then he managed to extricate himself and wander off to take in some of the musical acts for today...

...and hopefully bump into Soneya.

How was he going to tell her?

Andy had wrestled with the prospect through an almost sleepless night and he was still no closer to resolving it. The idea was preposterous and even he had had difficulty in coming to terms with it in the beginning. Soneya had always been a very grounded person and didn't have much time for anything of an existential nature. The only way that he felt he could convince her would be to spend some time with her - get to know her in his guise now and then reveal himself to her. But he only had a short window of opportunity. Their encounter last night at been painfully brief and the chances of finding her amongst the hundreds of people moving about the Gardens today were slim. Andy felt an uncomfortable knot of panic tighten in his chest. If he didn't take the chance at some point while they were here, together, in Melbourne the chance would be lost to him perhaps for good.

He meandered up to an old stone band stand far from the conservatory and took in a performance by Doug de Vries and a jazz quartet which had attracted a sizable audience. He sat on the grass, every so often looking around in the hope that he might spot her somewhere in the crowd.

But she wasn't anywhere to be seen.

After an hour or so, Andy eventually made his way back to the southern end of the Gardens, to the conservatory where the afternoon heats would be taking place. He stopped by the Pavilion to purchase a mineral water then he made his way across the lawn to find a spot on the grass where he could view the performances best.

“Hello Andy”

Andy turned around at the sound of her voice to find Soneya and Joss relaxing on a rug on the lawn just a few feet away. His heart skipped a beat as Soneya waved to him and he smiled warmly.

“Hello again” he greeted, placing his hands in his pocket and walking over to them as casually as he could, trying desperately not too seem too eager.

Soneya was wearing a light cotton dress with a pearl colored cardigan and large sunglasses underneath an overtly large sun hat. A pair of leather sandles lay near her feet. She looked positively radiant.

Soneya lifted the brim of her hat as he approached.

“Beautiful day once again isn't it” she said. “We've really turned it on for you don't you agree?”

Andy nodded reservedly and lifted his hands to his eyes to shield them from the mid morning sun.

“I'm finding Melbourne a little addictive actually. I could get used to this”

Soneya got to her feet and gestured to him to come closer before turning slightly towards Joss who also got to her feet and brushed down a pair of three quarter length cargo pants. She wore a multicolored sleeveless top that showed off tanned arms – the product of spending hours out running. She had always been something of a fitness fanatic.

“Andy DeVries, I'd like you to meet Jocelyn Banister a very good friend of mine”

Andy stepped forward to take Denny's sister's hand and noticed a small tattoo of a humming bird on the inside of her left wrist.

That's a new one, Andy thought to himself.

“You can call me Joss” she greeted. “Though I'm sure you've already heard this a bunch of times I have to say I thought you were amazing yesterday. There's a real buzz for you out there already”

Andy blushed and scratched the grass nervously with his foot.

“Well there's a long way to go until Saturday and I'm not taking anything for granted right now...there are a lot of better performers here than me”

“ here to watch the heats this afternoon?” Soneya ventured hopefully to which Joss nudged her elbow with a discreet grin.

“Yeah. I thought I'd see if there was a patch of ground up near the front so I could get a good view of the performers...but somehow, I think I might be pushing my luck”

“You could join us...if you'd like” Soneya offered.

Andy gave the pretense of considering her offer even though inside he was nearly bursting. He nodded and smiled again.

“Thank you. That would be nice”

They made room on the rug and then sat down to watch the afternoon heats, during which they shared a conversation that seemed very natural and very easy to sustain. Joss gently maneuvered it by asking Andy questions about himself, encouraging him to talk a little about life in Chicago – how incredibly cold it was there right now in contrast to here in Melbourne. He talked about the Conservatory and Veldtman as well as working and playing at The Pub. During the concert heats Andy's concentration drifted towards the performances, studying them with a practiced eye, making mental notes of how each of candidates played their way through their pieces. Soneya found herself stealing discreet glances at him – watching his expressions, the way he made subtle movements of his head as he listened to the music as though he were moving with it. There was something so familiar about him and so attractive but she felt an troubling, distracting guilt at the feelings she was having. It felt wrong to be entertaining this attraction she felt. It was as though she were somehow cheating Denny, being unfaithful to him.

Andy could sense her attraction too but felt unsure of whether it was real or not. He noticed Soneya looking at him and every so often he did the same, their eyes meeting for just the briefest of moments before both of them bashfully looked away from one another. She was so beautiful, she hadn't changed at all. She was exactly as how he remembered her from his memories – Denny's memories.

During an interval Andy excused himself so he could go to the bathroom and once he was out of view, Joss nudged Soneya in the ribs.

“What do you think?” she interrogated Soneya eagerly. “He is definitely interested in you”

Soneya flashed Joss a disapproving glare but she couldn't maintain the facade. “Alright, alright – he is very cute. But I am not here to meet anyone Joss. I know that may have been in your plan but I just...don't need that kind of complication right now”

Joss shook her head at Soneya, fishing a bottle of wine out of their picnic basket and pouring them both a glass.

“Soneya...You are a beautiful woman but you are as stubborn as my grand mother. Denny wouldn't have wanted you to remain alone forever. He would want you to be happy. Why don't you allow yourself the chance for a little happiness. This guy is interested in you and you're sure as shit interested in him”

Soneya tilted her head slowly with a pained expression on her face.

“I...I can't”

Joss leveled a disapproving stare at her.
“You're stalling for an excuse Soneya. If you don't at least ask him out for a coffee – I will”

Soneya's shoulders slumped then in a gesture of defeat and she laughed wearily, sipping from her glass.

“You are relentless”

Joss nodded triumphantly and looked over Soneya's shoulder. Andy was coming back.

“Here he comes”

Both women smiled a little too broadly at Andy as he approached causing him to look about and check himself over.

“Do I have something on my face?”

“Not at all” Joss replied patting the rug and gesturing towards the basket. Would you like a glass of wine?”

Before he could respond she had poured him a glass and was handing it over.

Andy sensed that something was cooking between the two of them as they continued to watch the concert. Joss kept whispering in Soneya's ear - he could see her out of the corner of his eye.

She was probably trying to engineer something, Andy thought amused.

Joss was the perennial social butterfly had always been adept at playing match maker when there was even the slightest whiff of potential romance. Andy wanted to slap his – Denny's – younger sister on the arm the way he'd always remembered doing but had no trouble in restraining himself. In her presence, a whole new flood of memories sprang forth from Denny's consciousness and into Andy's – memories of his childhood, of growing up with Joss. They had been inseparable as children.

As the performances continued Andy explained what it was that he was keen to study about the performers. How they presented themselves on stage, how they played the pieces they had chosen. The performance wasn't merely an exercise in the technical mastery of the guitar or the music but it was also a performance of emotions. One needed to feel the the music, know it's history and it's meaning and apply those to the performance. Soneya listened to him intently, absorbed by his genuine love for the art of the guitar. She was moved by his enthusiasm for it, describing the stories behind the pieces themselves. It was clear that he had a deep knowledge of music – a passion for the guitar.

The concert finished towards late afternoon and the trio remained on the rug as the crowds of people began to disperse slowly but surely towards other parts of the Gardens while other remained, continuing their picnics and BBQ's with the clear intention of staying around long into the evening to take in an concert by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Joss looked at her watch and gestured wordlessly to Soneya that they had to think about heading off. Soneya's expression approximated something akin to disappointment, her brow furrowing at Denny's sister worriedly. Joss pointed towards Andy with her eyes and pursed her lips tightly as though she were saying 'ask him'.

Soneya felt her pulse reverberating in her ears, felt her breath quicken almost involuntarily as a rush of adrenaline surged through. She couldn't believe she what she was about to do.

Turning to Andy she smiled.

“We have to go,” she said, clearly disappointed. “We're meeting Joss' parents for dinner on the other side of the City and we're sort of running against the clock”

“Oh...okay” Andy replied. Inwardly his mind shouted – 'What are you doing?'

They stood up and Joss began packing up the picnic basket while Andy and Soneya stood to one side.

“Well – I've had a lovely time” Andy said warmly. “Thank you for inviting me to join you”

Soneya nodded, fidgeting with her hands and biting the inside of her lip. Clearly she had something more to say.

“Me too...,” she said, pausing clumsily.

She closed her eyes and took a quick breath.

“Umm...are you free at all...tomorrow? I thought maybe you'd like to – you know – have a cup of coffee. If you have time”

Andy felt dizzy with joy but he contained himself – barely.

“I would love to,” he said quietly, smiling broadly. “I don't have any commitments tomorrow as far as I know so...yeah...”

Joss watched the two of them gazing dumbly at one another and screwed her face up out of view of them both. It was all she could do to stop herself from giggling uncontrollably.

Andy checked his watch and looked up at Soneya.

“Shall we meet at my hotel at say, about 10? I'm staying at The Windsor”

Soneya nodded slowly, unable to pull her gaze away from his, unable to wipe the smile from her face. Andy stepped forward and took her hand gently.

“Thank you” he whispered hypnotically before nodding to Joss. “Nice meeting you too Joss”

“Likewise. I'll look forward to Saturday”

Andy turned away slowly without taking his eyes off Soneya and parted. As he crossed over a path and under a line of trees his smile broke into a broad grin and he felt a rush of endorphins course though him.

He could not believe his luck.

Copyright © 2009, Dean Mayes.