Pauline Montagna’s ‘Surburban Terrors’ Virtual Blog Tour

This week author Pauline Montagna is busy dropping by many blog sites as part of her Surburban Terrors Virtual Blog Tour.

suburban_smashcoverToday, she drops by my blog. First, a little about Pauline.

Pauline Montagna was born into an Italian family in Melbourne, Australia. After obtaining a BA in French, Italian and History, she indulged her artistic interests through amateur theatre, while developing her accounting skills through a wide variety of workplaces culminating in the Australian film industry. In her mid-thirties, Pauline returned to university and qualified as a teacher of English as Second Language, a profession she pursued while completing a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. She has now retired from teaching to concentrate on her writing. She has published two books, The Slave, an historical romance set in Medieval Italy and Suburban Terrors, a short story collection.

Welcome Pauline.

Thanks Helen for hosting me during my virtual blog tour.

My pleasure, and congratulations on Suburban Terrors. It is an enjoyable read.

Could you tell us about the inspiration behind Suburban Terrors?

You could say that the inspiration for Suburban Terrors came from a story in my local paper. As a teacher of English to migrants, I’ve found that the local newspaper is a great resource. It’s free, you get a new one every week, and it gives you lots of information about the local area. We were reading an article I found there about a car chase. The police were chasing a stolen car down a suburban street. The stolen car clipped another car that flipped over trapping the two elderly passengers, then crashed into a front fence. The driver leapt out of the car, jumped over a few back fences and tried to hide under a house that was being renovated. Unfortunately for him, he was found by the builder who kept him trapped there until the police came for him. Soon after that I was asked to write a horror story in Short Story class. I’m not much of a horror fan, but I do like ghost stories and I remembered that newspaper article. What if, I thought, the car thief had actually got inside a house, a house that belonged to an elderly couple that were in that car he hit? And what if the couple didn’t survive, but had been killed? So combining that thought with characters inspired by real people, I wrote the earliest story in the collection – A Hostage Situation – though what you’ll read in the book is a later version of the original story. The success of this story inspired me to start thinking about putting together a collection of similar stories and Suburban Terrors was born.

Do you have a favourite character or story in this collection? If so, which one and why?

Now you’re asking me to choose between my children!  I love them all. I hope my readers will, too.

Are there any stories in Suburban Terrors based on your own experiences? If so, could you elaborate on one of them?

Jim-from-next-door is based on my own neighbour when I lived in Perth. It so closely follows the actual facts that I would give the whole story away if I told you all about it, so I won’t. Suffice to say that while the narrator is fictitious, almost everything that happens between her and Jim (OK so I spiced it up a bit) actually happened, though not all to one woman. Instead I’ll tell you about the origins of ‘In the Loop’. In 1998 I went to Germany and spent a few days with a friend in Hanover. One day we caught the tram into town where we witnessed a rather strange incident. A couple of young students got on the tram. He was dark and handsome and she was pretty with long blonde hair. They spent most of their time in a prolonged kiss. Soon the boyfriend got off leaving the girl behind and they lovingly waved goodbye. At the same stop another dark and handsome young man got on with a male friend. He would have seen the fond parting. Although he continued to talk to his friend, he found it difficult to keep his eyes off the girl. She knew he was looking at her and pretended very ardently that she didn’t notice and didn’t invite it. In fact, she could have easily avoided his gaze by sitting in a nearby seat with her back to him, but she didn’t and remained standing where he could see her, even after he and his friend sat down. All three got off at the same stop which was a major intersection in the city’s underground. The last I saw of them he was following hard on her heels up the escalator. I dearly wished I could see what came next. This was one of the rare occasions when I wrote such an observation down. (Truth to tell, I’m not much of an observer of life, living mostly in my head as I do.) The incident was certainly intriguing, but the problem was how to turn it from an anecdote into a story, and a story with a twist at that. Finally the answer came to me. Here in Melbourne our suburban trains also go underground in the city centre in a circular system we call the Loop. Trains enter the Loop, go around the central city then come out where they came in and head back out to the suburbs. This similarity to the original location, its circularity and the hint of repetition in the original incident – the second boy looked very much like the first boy – all came together in a story in which a commuter observes a similar incident seemingly endlessly repeated.

When you wrote, did you have a favourite place to write?

I have the good fortune of having a room set aside for my writing, what should be the second bedroom in my two bedroom unit. I have it well set up with a wide screened computer and lots of book shelves. Unfortunately the view out the window is restricted to the side fence and my neighbour’s clothesline, but then I couldn’t have written a book like Suburban Terrors in the country!

How do you get started with writing real stories with a twist? (ie. how do you start developing the story?)

Writing stories of any kind is a creative process so it’s hard to pin down how I went about it. Calling on how I wrote ‘A Hostage Situation’, I started by collecting stories – news stories, anecdotes I had heard, incidents from my own experience, urban legends – and putting them in individual folders which I would revisit from time to time and add a thought here or a link there. However, when I decided to publish a collection, I had to knuckle down and turn those notes into cohesive stories. Mainly it was a matter of working on it until it came together. Sometimes I kept the structure of the original story intact but created a new cast of characters. ‘Last Fare’, for example is closely based on an urban legend in which a kindly taxi driver gives a dying woman her last look at her old haunts. In my story a rather grumpy taxi driver picks up a mysterious passenger who is connected to his own past. Sometimes the original idea became a simple germ that developed into a completely different creature. For example, ‘I Know What You Did’, in which a killer is harassed by a mysterious caller, came out of a story I had heard many years earlier about a teenage telephone prank. The final story bears absolutely no resemblance to the original story except that they both involve phones. I can’t tell you where the final story came from. It just popped into my head.

What advice would you give writers who wish to work on a collection of stories?

Well, first of all I have to warn you that in general poetry and short story collections and anthologies don’t sell very well, so it’s unlikely that a publisher will take you on. If you do decide to self-publish, make sure your stories have been workshopped by fellow writers or have done well in short story competitions. This will ensure that the stories work and aren’t just anecdotes or synopses for a novel. If the stories are meant to be comic, test them on a few readers to make sure they also find them funny. You can’t tell a reader ‘you had to be there’. Most readers find ‘literary’ short stories, in which nothing much happens and its ending is unresolved, rather disconcerting. If this is your style, make sure your potential readers know what to expect.

What advice would you give to writers who run out of creativity when writing?

All writers dread writer’s block. It makes you feel that perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong career. The advice I was given is that if you are in the middle of a project and find yourself stuck, it may be because you’ve taken a wrong turning at some point. You should go back to the beginning and look for the point where you had a choice and explore what might have happened if you took the alternative route. If that doesn’t work, then I would advise you to step back from what you are doing for a while and take a break. If you have other projects on the boil, devote some time to one of them and let the ideas brew subconsciously. If you really feel you’ve run out of ideas altogether, then start reading. Read newspapers, blogs, biographies, history books, other books in your genre, good ones for inspiration, bad ones to react against. Watch documentaries, especially those about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. The ideas will come.

Where can we purchase Suburban Terrors?

Suburban Terrors is available as a paperback from Lulu and Amazon, as an ebook in all formats from Smashwords and as an epub from Barnes and Noble, and directly from my website at http://paulinemontagna.net/suburban-terrors/ .

Could I also take this opportunity to tell readers that I’ll be holding a book group discussion about Suburban Terrors on my Goodreads Group between September 1 and 12 (one day for each story). To join in you will need to become a member of my group at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/114808 . In the meantime you might want to comment on this book tour, or put a question to me. I look forward to seeing you there.

Pauline Montagna, Writer and Publisher http://paulinemontagna.net/

Thanks Pauline for dropping by, and sharing your Suburban Terrors journey.

Wait! There’s more.

Please drop by my blog later today for my review on Suburban Terrors. It is an enjoyable read.

In the meantime, you will find a  sample story from Suburban Terrors below:

Pauline’s Social Media contacts:

Email: pauline_montagna@iprimus.com.au

Website: http://paulinemontagna.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pauline.montagna.1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4670497.Pauline_Montagna

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PaulineMontagna/about

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=124135649&trk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulineMontagna

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/paulinemontagna/

 Where to Buy the Book:

 As an eBook for $2.99 -

Author’s website at: http://paulinemontagna.net/suburban-terrors/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/280726

 As a Paperback for $12.79 -

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/pauline-montagna/suburban-terrors/paperback/product-21585125.html

 

Here is a Sample Story from Suburban Terrors:

The Dognappers

It was all Dave’s idea, I swear. He figured it was easy money. Grab a dog (you had to make sure it was well looked after, no use picking a stray) ring the owners and demand a ransom. Easy. I mean it’s not like you’re grabbing a kid or anything. We just needed some quick cash, just to see us through ‘til the crop headed.

But it was me that found the dog. A little black thing it was. Just a puppy really. Dave said it looked like a big black rat. I thought it might be a fox terrier, or maybe a cross, part labrador or something. Anyhow, it came to me when I called it, all trusting and  wagging its little tail and looking at me with its big black eyes, while Dave jumped on it from behind with this sack. It struggled a bit when we shoved it in the car, but it didn’t make a sound.

When we got it home we took it out to the backyard. I had this old lead from when we had a dog, a big pit bull terrier, but someone came over the back fence and poisoned it and stole our crop. Dave wanted to get another one, but I couldn’t stand it. I loved that old terrier. Maxy, his name was. Anyhow, we had this old lead, so I used it to tie the dog to the clothesline. Used one of those really good knots I learned in the boy scouts so it wouldn’t get loose.

The dog had a collar with the owners’ phone number, but no name. I asked Dave if we should ring the owners straight away, but he said wait a bit and let them stew. He said they’d pay more that way.

So we left the dog and went to the pub.

We got home pretty late because Dave was meeting this bloke he knew who was selling us one of those big plasma TVs off the back of a truck. He was only asking $500. Dave loves his footy and I don’t mind a good flick now and then, you know, one with a good car chase. So we had to wait ‘til well after dark for him to turn up and then we had to have a couple of drinks with him. He was trying to sell Dave an indoor gym as well. He had to be joking. Anyhow, Dave was trying to put him off without admitting he didn’t have any more money. Once we’d got home and brought the telly inside it was well after midnight before we remembered to feed the dog.

When I saw the mess I just swore to buggery. You should’ve seen it. Chewed up marijuana plants thrown around all over the lawn. And they were just about to head, too. Dave came racing out. When he saw it he roared. ‘Where’s that fucking dog? I’ll kill the fucking cunt.’

I got to the dog first. I could’ve killed it myself. When it saw me it got up, wagging its little tail and looking at it me with its big black eyes. I’ll give you wagging your little tail I was thinking, but then I saw it couldn’t’ve been the dog. It was still tied to the clothesline just as we’d left it, same knot tied in the same way and all. I showed it to Dave. He was still so angry he’d’ve given the dog a good kicking anyway, but I made him see sense. Whatever the little mongrel had done, it meant money to us, money we’d need more than ever now. Dave gave the shed door a good thumping instead.

The next morning I cleaned up the mess, but it wasn’t ‘til I went to feed the birds that I saw the worst of the damage. They were all lying still in the bottom of the aviary, their little claws stuck up in the air. And there wasn’t a mark on them.

That night Dave rang the owner while I listened on the extension. A woman answered. Dave put on this really tough deep voice. ‘We’ve got your dog. It’ll be five thousand dollars if you ever want to see it again.’ Dave reckoned that was fair compensation for losing the crop.

There was nothing for a moment on the other end, then she said, ‘Is the dog all right?’ She sounded worried, but pretty calm.

‘For now,’ Dave said.

‘I’m just a pensioner,’ she said. ‘I can’t pay five thousand dollars.’

‘You will if you want your dog back in one piece.’

‘You won’t hurt the dog, will you?’

Dave just laughed. ‘We’ll give you another ring soon. You think about it.’

‘I’ll call the police.’

‘No you won’t, love. Not if you ever want to see your dog alive, you won’t.’

Dave gave me a grin as he hung up. ‘She’ll pay.’

Dave had bought another plant from a mate, just for our personal use, so we decided to put the dog to bed in the outside laundry, just in case. I tied it up to the pipes with a good strong knot. We left it sitting on top of the washing machine and bolted the door. We didn’t hear a peep all night.

The next morning I got up and went outside for a piss. I thought I might check up on the dog, give it a drink of water or something, when I saw all this water coming from under the door. I unbolted the door and jumped back. It opened by itself and all this filthy water came pouring out. I thought the dog must’ve drowned, but when I looked in it was sitting on the washing machine, just where we left it the night before. The taps were running and the trough had overflowed. I rushed in and turned off the taps and then looked around. It was a bloody fright. All the dirty clothes we’d left in the washing machine were torn up and thrown all over the place. There were even bits hanging from the rafters. Everything was covered in soap powder, and all the bottles were open and the stuff inside emptied out all over the place making this sticky goo. But when I checked out the dog it was completely clean and dry and when he stood up you could see the spot under him was clean, too.

We rang the owner again that afternoon. I’d managed to clean up most of the mess before Dave got up, but I had to tell him what happened. He wasn’t too happy, but the old woman wouldn’t budge. ‘I still can’t pay you,’ she told us.

‘Look, lady,’ Dave said, ‘you’ve got a nice little dog there. You wouldn’t want to see it come to any harm, would you? There are places that’d pay good money to get their hands on a healthy specimen like him. Would you like that?’

‘No, I wouldn’t,’ she said, ‘but I just don’t have the money.’

‘All right,’ Dave said. ‘What about two thousand dollars? You think about that and we’ll call you tomorrow.’

That night we emptied everything out of the old broom cupboard off the kitchen and put the dog in there. Dave screwed a huge bolt to the door and we even wedged a chair under the door handle. There was no way he was going to get into any mischief in there.

But the next morning I was woken up by Dave bellowing like a wounded bull. I rushed out to see what was wrong. There were broken CDs and DVDs all over the living room. The videos had all been unwound and the tapes were all tangled up together. And the brand new plasma TV was lying smashed up on the floor. Screaming like a banshee, Dave ran out to the kitchen and pulled the carving knife out of the drawer. ‘Where’s that fucking dog?’ he yelled. ‘I’m going to kill it.’

He pulled the chair away from the cupboard door and unbolted it. I stood back (I’m not good with blood) but Dave stopped in his tracks, the knife still in midair. I peaked over his shoulder. The dog was still tied up inside, wagging its tail and looking at us with its big black eyes.

Dave backed out and turned and looked at me like he was in shock or something. I sat him in a chair and took the knife off him. I made him a cup of coffee and sat down with him, but we had nothing to say to each other.

That day, I talked to the dog’s owner. ‘Look, lady, we know you don’t have much money, so we’ll do a deal with you. We can give you the dog for a thousand dollars.’

But she wasn’t ready to deal. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘That’s still too much.’ And she hung up on us.

We put the dog in the aviary that night. We tied it up with two strong ropes so it could barely move. We locked the door and tied it shut with another strong rope, making sure the knot was well out of reach. And they were good knots too, the strongest ones I’d learnt in the boy scouts. There was no way it could get out of there. Then we went inside and locked all the doors and shut all the windows.

But I tossed and turned all night. I kept having these dreams about the little dog sneaking around the house, looking for some more mischief. I finally fell into a deep sleep in the early hours of the morning, so I didn’t wake up until late. Still pretty groggy, I went to the kitchen to make some coffee and found Dave lying unconscious on the floor. One leg and an arm were lying at funny angles and he was bleeding and bruised all over. While I was waiting for the ambulance, he came to. He couldn’t tell me what happened, just that he’d got up in the night to get a drink of water and fell over something. He said it was something warm and moving.

After the ambulance took Dave to the hospital, I went out to look at the dog. It was sitting, just as we left it, tied up in the aviary, looking at me with its big black eyes.

I rang the owner again that afternoon. I couldn’t let Dave down altogether so I asked for five hundred dollars.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said, really cool like. ‘I’ve already told you. I’m a pensioner.’

There was no use carrying on so I asked her for her address and said I’d bring the dog round to her. I thought maybe she’d give me something for my trouble, but she refused to tell me and hung up on me.

I was at home all alone with the dog that night. I put it back in the aviary and tied it up. I locked and tied the aviary up. Then I took all the heavy things I could find in the shed and the backyard and put them in front of the door and all around it. I locked all the doors and windows in the house. I went to my room, locked the door and moved a chest of drawers in front of it. But I still didn’t feel safe. I sat up all night, and all night I could hear something outside my bedroom door, scratching and knocking.

In the morning the noises had stopped, but I was still too scared to go out. I called the  owner on my mobile. I begged her to come and get the dog. I swore I wouldn’t hurt either of them.

She didn’t say anything for a while, then she said, ‘All right. Tell me your address. But if there’s any trouble I’ll call the police.’

Quarter of an hour later, I opened the door to this really weird looking woman. She was tall and sort of elegant, pretty young looking for a pensioner, except that she had this really long white hair. She was wearing a long black dress with all these symbols sewn on it in red. And she had these really blue eyes that looked right through you. ‘I’ve come for the dog,’ she said, ‘and no funny business.’

I wasn’t going to give her any trouble.

I took her out to the backyard and let the dog out. It jumped straight into her arms and licked her all over. She laughed and kissed it back, talking baby talk to it.

As I took her back through the house to the front door she looked around and said, ‘Where’s your friend? I thought there were two of you.’

I told her he was in hospital.

She gave this cold, cruel smile and said, ‘Well, he should be safe there.’

I opened the front door to see her out. Ours is only a short street and I know everyone’s car. There were no strange cars in the street. Where we’d picked up the dog was at least an hour’s drive away, and I knew she lived in the same area because of her phone number. I couldn’t help asking, ‘How did you get here?’

She gave me a knowing grin that gave me this cold feeling.

Before I knew it I was shoving a hundred dollars into her hand for a taxi.

‘That’s very generous of you,’ she said with that same grin, stuffing the note down her dress. She looked around for the dog. It had gone exploring up and down the street. ‘Here, Satan,’ she called to him, ‘let’s go home.’

Remember:

Please drop by my blog later today, for my review on Suburban Terrors.

Posted in All my posts, Australian writers, Author interviews, author promotion, Blog tours, Helen Ross writes, independently published Australian books, Virtual blog tours | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Suburban Terrors Virtual Book Tour

Tomorrow, my writer friend, Pauline Montagna, commences her Virtual Book Tour for her short story collection, Suburban Terrors.

Suburban Terrors blog tour banner

Suburban Terrors is a collection of twelve stories that delve into the mysterious realm of secrets that lurk behind the tall fences and locked doors of our city’s suburbs. So if you like a touch of horror, a ghost or two, and much more, then please join Pauline on her virtual tour.

Suburban Terrors Virtual Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday 28 July - Pauline will visit Sheri for an author interview on the Making Connections Blog. Pauline will chat about why readers like to be terrified.

Tuesday 29 July - Pauline will visit author Cameron Trost Here you’ll find out about the origins of one of Pauline’s stories in Suburban Terrors, Martha and May.

Wednesday 30 July – Pauline will be dropping by my blog for an interview  about how the stories came about.  I will also be reviewing Suburban Terrors.

Thursday 31 July - Book blogger, The Avid Reader, will be putting a spotlight on Suburban Terrors.

Friday 1 August - Author Anita Dawes will be reviewing Suburban Horrors on her website, Anita Jay Dawes.

Saturday 2 August – Historian and lover of historical fiction, Shannon Leigh will be reviewing Suburban Terrors on her website, The Most Happy Reader.

Sunday 3 August - Pauline will visit award winning historical fiction author, Wendy J. Dunn who wants to know if Pauline has any more short stories in the offing.

If you have read and enjoy Suburban Terrors Pauline would love you to come along and participate in the book group discussion between 1 and 12 September. To take part, all you have to do is join Pauline’s Goodreads Author Group (and read the book, of course.)

In the meantime, don’t miss out on the opportunity to get a 20% discount on your copy of Suburban Terrors direct from Pauline’s website, as an ePub for your e-reader or iPad, a mobi for your Kindle or a PDF for your screen or tablet.

Also, you can follow Pauline’s Suburban Terrors blog schedule on her website.

Posted in All my posts, Australian writers, Author interviews, Helen Ross writes, independently published Australian books, Virtual blog tours | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Very Close Shave tale on Gabrielle Bryden’s blog

Talented writer, poet and blogger, Gabrielle Bryden, recently wrote of her close shave with an aquaplaning bus. OMG!

Subsequently, Gabrielle expressed an interest in receiving any close shave poems or stories from regular readers of her blog and people she knows.

So if you pop over to Gabrielle’s blog, you’ll see my contribution here. Thanks Gabrielle.

It was definitely a very close shave for my husband.

And if you scroll down through Gabrielle’s recent posts, you’ll read other  close shave stories and poems.

OR

Direct links:

http://gabriellebryden.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/canine-fictions-poem-from-bluebee/

http://gabriellebryden.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/timing-2/

http://gabriellebryden.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/the-volcanologist-mr-x-a-close-shave/

http://gabriellebryden.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/a-close-shave/

Posted in All my posts, Guest posts, Helen McKenzie, Helen Ross, Helen Ross writes, Life, Life's moments | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Watchwords – what is happening in Brisbane

Watchwords is a site is about writers, readers, artists, filmmakers and our beautiful City of Brisbane.

It is a non-profit site that writer Lois May started up to cover the Brisbane Writers Festival initially, back in 2012.  It was intended to be taken down after the event was over, but as people kept turning up Lois decided to keep it going.  Twenty-two months on and the daily hit rate is going strong.

Watchwords is for the benefit of writers, readers, artists, filmmakers et cetera (and anyone who loves the arts) so they can keep abreast of artistic events happening in Brisbane and Queensland.  And the site has no advertising to annoy people.

Lois is a member of a number of organisations so receives lots of information about what’s happening.

The site has many categories of interest, including:

  • EVENTS QUICKLIST! – updated regularly
  • WHAT’S ON AUTHORS?
  • COMPETITIONS
  • WHAT’S ON NOW?
  • ARTIST WATCH
  • WRITER WATCH
  • KIDS READING ROOM
  • FILM/TV/STAGE/RADIO

and much, much more.

So grab a cuppa, and spend time browsing this resourceful site.

Direct link:  http://www.ljmaywatchwords.com/

 

 

Posted in All my posts, Art and writing events, Brisbane cultural events, Brisbane events, Brisbane Literary and art events, Brisbane's artistic community, Helen Ross writes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Inside

I looooove anything creative and whilst I don’t consider myself a photographer I do love taking photos. A couple of years ago I shouted myself a lovely Canon EOS 600D with the view to improving my photography skills and my eye for composition.

Whilst I have plenty of things to do, I couldn’t resist joining in this week’s A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – InsideI found out about this challenge through following Cee’s Photography blog/web at: http://ceenphotography.com/ – Thanks Cee.

The A Word A Week Photograph Challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe what the ‘word of the week’ means to you.

This is my entry for this week’s – Inside:

IMG_0077

This is Gizmo or Gizzie, as we affectionately call him. Sometimes we call him The Ginger Nut when he is chases his tail. I am not sure if he realises it is attached to the rest of him. Gizzie is about five years old. Though he can be very cheeky, he is often prone to contemplative moods. As goes for all cats (and many young children), he loves boxes. I once found him trying to stick his head in an empty tissue box. Hmmm. It is during such times that his nickname, The Ginger Nut, serves him well.

For more information about A Word A Week Photograph Challenge, please visit Sue Llewellyn’s site at: A Word in Your Ear.  You can view Sue’s captivating entry for  Inside here.

If you have any photos, memories or stories  that you would like to share for this week’s challenge (or future challenges), visit here.

And if you would like to improve your photography, Cee has some wonderful tips and tricks, without the mumbo jumbo. Please visit here: http://ceenphotography.com/photo-tips-and-tricks/

And you can see Cee’s  Inside entries for A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Inside here. Please have a browse through Cee’s lovely site.

Also if you’d like more tips, I subscribe to a free email newsletter for Photography Tips at: http://www.picturecorrect.com/

Don’t go, there’s more.

Whilst on the subject of photography, please visit my blogger friend, Cynthia Baker’s Simple Pleasures (Visual Poetry) site. Cynthia has a wonderful way of marrying her stunning images with beautiful and inspiring quotes. And sometimes she shares her own inspiring quotes and poems.

Also my blogger friend, Gabrielle Bryden marries beautiful images (some taken by herself and some by her son, Michael) with haiku. Just gorgeous. Gabrielle’s blog is a wonderful eclectic mix of posts (which I love).

That’s it for this week.

Wishing you all a safe and inspirational weekend.

x Helen

 

All images are the property of Helen Ross @copyright Helen Ross.

 

Posted in All my posts, Helen Ross writes, Inspirational, Photo challenges, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Writing Process Blog Hop Tour

Australian writer and poet, Gabrielle Bryden  has tagged me in a Writing Process Blog Tour. Gabrielle is a very talented writer/poet so please check out her lovely blog.

The Writing Process Blog Tour involves me answering four questions and tagging other writing bloggers to continue the tour.

What am I working on?

I have many project ideas begging for attention. I would get an A+ for procrastination and flitting like a bee from one project to another is not only giving me a headache but I am annoyed that I am finding it hard to focus on one project (nooooo, let me have at least ten).

So after recent deliberation I am concentrating on a collection of humorous (hopefully) children’s poems for primary school age and an irreverent Non-Fiction (NF) idea (for adults, but not adults-only); as well as keeping up with some semblance of regular blogging.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t think my style is really different to other writer/poets with similar creative tastes. I love quirky and there are lots of lovely quirky children’s poetry and stories out there. My aim is to improve my work, strive to do the best I can, and view the world from a humorous point of view (where appropriate).

I think my NF idea is original (according to a publisher that I pitched the idea to), though the fundamental concept is certainly not new. I always try to look at things from a different angle. This project involves a bit of research so will keep me busy for some time.

Why do I write what I do?

I really just go with the flow of ideas in my head and what might be worthy of attention. I no longer wish to confine myself to one style of writing genre. I find my creativity needs to be stretched and challenged.

In regards to my children’s poetry writing, I don’t really have difficulty in conjuring up ideas. Lots of things spark an idea (something I see, hear or read) and I try and see from a kid’s point of view. For me, poetry writing is addictive and I enjoy it. Generally speaking, I can’t venture anywhere these days without seeing a story idea, or a poem, etc. I have pens and notebooks everywhere.

In regards to blogging,  as I have a variety of passions (mainly centred around creativity) my posts tend to be an eclectic mix. I just write what I feel most passionate about.

How does my writing process work?

Once I focus, I can achieve a lot (as a former secretary I am a reasonably fast typist – Look at me, I can type whilst looking at the ceiling.) However, my writing process can change from project to project.

Generally speaking, when I write children’s poetry, I write the idea in my notebook before it decides to flit off and camp elsewhere. If I am not in the middle of a shopping aisle I will then work on creating a verse/story shape.

I enjoy working on children’s poems on paper. When I have the draft verses written down, I get to work and work on each verse till I am happy, culling unnecessary words and working on the rhyme and metre. Then I type it up and do further editing via the computer.

If I am writing haiku, I love embarking on a ginko (haiku-walk) with my camera, pad and pen in hand.  I walk, sit, take pics and notes, and bathe in the wonders of the outdoor world. If I let the words flow without too much mulling over, I can capture the essence of the moment. If the poem needs a little reworking,  generally speaking I do that at home. Reference to the images can help.

As my published stories to date have been short picture book tales I tend to work on a paragraph or verse at a time, once I have got the essence of the story on paper. I don’t give myself deadlines (unless I have a publishing or competition deadline) as sometimes one verse or paragraph can give me trouble for months till I get it right (or years as in the case of my children’s book, 10 Yellow Bananas). I also create a story board (using a sheet of A3 paper) and sometimes do a mock up of a book using folded A4 paper, to place the text into a 32 picture book format. With that, I can see if there are any weaknesses in development of the story/poem and how it could fit into the expected page format. I also like to forget about it for a while (weeks if possible), then look at it again with fresh eyes. When I am happy with it (ie. done the best I can), I will then have it appraised.

If I am trying to create a new story where an idea hasn’t first tumbled into my head, I usually ask myself ‘What if?” and take it from there. I spend time on finding out more about the possible characters, their likes, dislikes, etc.  and toss around potential story themes. I use character cards, story line cards, etc. and I place these on a large storyboard to help me. Sometimes I use the mapping technique on a large whiteboard. I have just discovered Scrivener so am thinking of trialling that, though I am used to writing ideas on paper and filing it in a folder (my college days were pre-computer so am still a dinosaur when it comes to recording information – but I like that).

Next on the Writing Process Blog Tour:

Donna Smith, Pauline Montagna and Barbara Barth. Please do not feel you have to participate – quietly ignore if you wish. And if you are happy to participate, just do when you can do.

Posted in About Helen, All my posts, Blog tours, Creative process, Helen Ross writes, Motivational, writers, Writing, writing tips and resources | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Rainy Days

In Australia (being in the southern hemisphere) it is currently Winter. However, Winter (if you can call it that) in Brisbane is generally very mild (I sigh). However the early morning temperatures can be crisp, which I love. Most of the day time you can still wear a short sleeved shirt or T-shirt, maybe donning a jumper or jacket on the slightly breezy days when temperatures go below 20OC. (Yes, I hear you).

For readers who live in parts of the world where you may experience teeth chattering Winter temperatures (4.4o C or below – Aaaarrrggghhh!!!) Brisbane may experience day time temperatures around 17OC-18 OC but day light temperatures usually don’t get lower than that. Recently Brisbane had a couple of days of rain and a lovely day time thunderstorm which is unusual for this time of the year.

Anyway, I love weather where I can tug on a pair of jeans, wiggle into a jumper and jacket,  jiggle my legs into a pair of boots, swirl a scarf around my neck and squish on a hat or beanie.  I am definitely not saying that I’d like every day to be cold (nooooo), but I relish the change, and the chance to dig into the backstreets of my wardrobe. My boots jump for joy at the chance to be taken out on a day trip.

So, as I dream of the crackle and spit of a burning log in an open fire place and long for the splat of rain drops, I thought I’d share one of my children’s poems that epitomises Wintry weather.

 

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Rainy Days

 

Today it is raining

The sky is very grey

Nice to be inside

On such a wintry day

 

I sit by the fire

With my colouring book

The rain is getting louder

I go and have a look

 

Peering out the window

Looking at the rain

Watching the droplets

Running down the window pane

 

It begins raining hard

People are hurrying past

Oh, someone has just fallen

She was running a little fast

 

Someone with an umbrella

Is slowly walking about

But a sudden gust of wind

Blows his umbrella inside out

 

He struggles to get control

And is getting very wet

The umbrella will not budge

He looks a bit upset

 

He goes on his way

I see him begin to race

A car hurtles past

And splashes him in the face

 

The clouds are getting darker

We’ll be in for a storm

I’m glad that I’m inside

Where it is nice and warm.

© Helen Ross

From my poetry collection, Bubble Gum Trouble and Other Giggle Poems (BGT). Published by Little Steps Publishing 2009. Illustrations by the talented Dee Texidor. Above pic (from BGT) is by Dee – it accompanies my poem.

 

 

 

Posted in All my posts, Brisbane children's author, Brisbane children's poet, Bubble Gum Trouble and other Giggle Poems, children's poetry, children's poetry books by Australian authors, Giggle poems, Helen Ross | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments