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...