Wednesday, 25 October 2017

66. It's Wild Out West!

It’s wild out west! Wild with flowers, that is. Spring has brought with it some of the most beautiful Western Australian wildflowers, so this month I took time out to enjoy some sightseeing with the family.

We ventured to two of the South West’s gardens, Kings Park in Perth, and Araluen Botanical Gardens in Roleystone amid the Darling Ranges. Kings Park contains more of the native flora, where Araluen features ‘exotic’ varieties in the form of roses and tulips. The variety and colours were amazing. Golden yellows, burgundy reds, vivid oranges, shocking pinks – it was a kaleidoscope of wonder.

Kings Park meant we trekked to Perth were there was as many varieties of wildflowers on the side of the road as there was in the park itself. I don’t know the correct botanical names, but Kings Park has a magnificent display of wildflowers as well as wild ducks, snakes, and in some cases, some wild kids too.(I swear they weren’t mine.)

I wish I knew all the names, but I have wattle, banksia, and Western Australia's floral emblem, the Kangaroo Paw sorted. And aww, baby ducks. :)

We also took shots of the beautiful Swan River, the war memorial commemorating our ANZAC’s, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the café where I had a Cidery Spider Cider. I’m pleased to say that was the only ‘spider’ I saw.

The following weekend we travelled to Araluen. Again, the roadside wildflowers were just as beautiful, and the hour-long journey was made longer by someone’s insistence we stop and take photos... Anyway, where King’s Park was dedicated to native flora, Araluen Gardens is a delightful mix of wild and introduced flowers. This is the first time I’ve seen a tulip outside of a photograph. So beautiful. There were also so many gorgeous, pungent roses I’m sure I had more pollen on my nose than any of the bees could possibly carry.

 We also managed to work some muscles walking around these places, especially in Araluen given it was terraced into the range, and we started at the very bottom and worked our way up to see the roses before heading back down again. While we were at the top, we spotted a little ‘train’, which carries guests to the top to see the roses and then drops them off at the café. Hmm, well I guess my aching legs and I will remember that for next time.

I travelled to Armadale earlier in the month to attend a Short Story Essentials Workshop and caught  up with my lovely friend and writer, Sonia Bellhouse. Sonia, whom I officially met last month at the Rockingham Writers Convention in Baldivis, welcomed me in her official capacity as Liaison Co-Ordinator, and then we met the group’s guest author, Nadia L King. Ms King has several short stories published, is a former journalist, and is completing a Young Adult novel that I’m sure will make an enormous impact on its readership given its contemporary and controversial theme.

Ms King explained how short stories can show more about real life than life itself. The power of a short story is often what the reader doesn’t see, but is left with evocative images and conclusions of their own. Short stories are a wonderful way to hone your craft, and to build a body of work as well as enhance your writing reputation. We covered the five main elements of short story writing – Setting, Character, Plot, Conflict, and Theme. With short stories, every word counts and must work in the story. Setting makes a story real, and places the reader into the story. Characters must be believable and relatable. Most short stories have only one plot, but they still need an introduction, a rising act, a climax, a falling action, and a resolution.

Conflict is essential to a story no matter its length whether it’s an internal or an external struggle. Conflict creates drama and entices the reader to continue reading. The theme lets your reader know where the story is taking them, gives them some expectation, but still allows you to give a story your own twist. The real skill in short stories is in the editing. You must make sure every word and every sentence counts to leave the reader with a satisfactory conclusion.

Amongst these nuggets of information, we also did some writing exercises, which were fun and challenging. Some of us were even brave enough to read them out. :)

You can find more about Ms King, her workshops, and her stories here. :)

When I wasn’t sightseeing, pigging out in cafes, or attending workshops, I managed to tackle some of the reading pile. :)

Book Reviews

SILVER REAPER by Shelley Russell Nolan

How far would you go to save those marked for Death?
When the call to reap uncovers a new threat to Easton and its inhabitants, Tyler is drawn back into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Forced to face her greatest fears, she seeks to uncover the identity of the rogue reaper murdering men employed by her former ally. But the search leads her to a conspiracy decades in the making.

With the line between friends and enemies blurring, Tyler begins to question her loyalties as she fights to stop the storm threatening to engulf Easton. But when the Grim Reaper offers the last hope, death might be the least of her problems.
Who can Tyler trust when even her allies want her dead?

Six months after the fierce battle, which saw her defeat Almorthanos and the Tr’lirians who sided with him, Davilian descendent, Tyler Morgan has moved on. She and Sam are happily together. She’s still Reaping for the Grim Reaper, but she’s in control this time, and clear in her duties. She may have to collect souls, but if she can save one, that’s exactly what she’s going to do.

When Second-in-Command, Killian’s daughter goes missing, and Tr’lirians are being murdered, Tyler finds herself in Cade’s presence once more. But the leader of the Tr’lirians’ clan isn’t interested in finding the murderers or the missing woman. He’s plotting to destroy Tyler’s entire Davilian bloodline, and he’s more than happy to start with her.

Tyler Morgan goes from strength to strength in this story in many ways. Ms Nolan has taken the reader on yet another journey, and stepped up her game when it comes to storytelling. Clues hinted at in the previous two books make sense in this third instalment in which Tyler takes on more than she bargained for. The twists, turns, and changing allegiances keep the reader guessing until the conclusion, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure we’ve seen the last of this Reaper.

BROTHER ODD by Dean R Koontz

Loop me in, odd one.

The words, spoken in the deep of night by a sleeping child, chill the young man watching over her. For this was a favourite phrase of Stormy Llewellyn, his lost love. In the haunted halls of the isolated monastery where he had sought peace, Odd Thomas is stalking spirits of an infinitely darker nature.

As he steadfastly journeys toward his mysterious destiny, Odd Thomas has established himself as one of the most beloved and unique fictional heroes of our time. Now, wielding all the power and magic of a master storyteller at the pinnacle of his craft, Dean Koontz follows Odd into a singular new world where he hopes to make a fresh beginning—but where he will meet an adversary as old and inexorable as time itself.

A world-famous physicist is conducting experiments in the catacombs of the abbey. Could this be why Odd can once again see bodachs, shadowy harbingers of violence and death? The prowl the halls, suggesting horror to come.

Odd retreats to a monastery in the High Sierra to distance himself from the emotional horrors of his lost love, and the close encounter he had with death. Although he’s not particularly clinging to life, he knows he has a purpose to fulfil before he can join Stormy once more. While Odd thinks he has time to recharge, the paranormal world has other plans. And this time, his ability to converse with ghosts might not be enough. Intent on keeping the brothers, and the sisters and their young charges living across the way, safe, Odd finds that even the humans he’s trying to help aren’t all they seem. The line between friend and enemy is becoming very blurred.

I loved this. It’s my favourite of the Odd series so far. The experiments the physicist conducted resonated with me. I am fascinated that such a thing could be a possibility. So many cultures have made mention of it, so I wonder if the mind is as powerful as suggested. My writing brain is ticking over with possibilities. I also loved the character twists. I’ve come to rely on Odd’s judgement, so I love how Mr Kootnz dealt with that too. Someone pretty please read it so I can talk about the experiments. LOL

MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD by Charlaine Harris

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway.

It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town. There’s a pawnshop with three residents. One is seen only at night. There’s a diner, but people stopping there tend not to linger. There’s a newcomer, Manfred Bernardo, who just wants to work hard and blend in. But Manfred has secrets of his own...

Midnight Crossroad is the first in a series about a place called Midnight. While it has all the normal amenities one would expect to find in a small town in Texas, the fulltime inhabitants are another matter. None of them are what they appear to be, and for newcomer, Manfred Bernardo, a Gypsy descendent, that suits him just fine. After all, he has his own secrets, well, gifts, that allow him to discover his new hometown harbours a gorgeous witch, an enigmatic vampire, a beautiful woman he suspects is an assassin, and a few residents he’s not exactly sure of, but he knows they’re not human. Then there’s Creek, the only person closest to him in age in the town, and someone he’d very much like to know better, not that her father’s going to let that happen.

They’ve all settled in the Crossroads for their own reasons, and now that Manfred’s joined them, his life is about to turn in a whole new direction.

I loved Ms Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels from which the TV series, ‘Trueblood’, is based. These new books also inspired a new TV series, ‘Midnight, Texas’. This book contains the supernatural beings and mystical elements I loved in the Sookie series, but this sets a more genteel pace. I liked that, human or otherwise, even the most ordinary character made you think twice about their actions and motivations. Two were so unexpected in their progress from the beginning to the end of the book, and I only suspected one of them of something sinister. I’m keen to know where the next in the series will take me, but for the time being, the next book hasn’t had another print run yet.

You can find more of Ms Harris’s works here:

THE POINT OF LOVE by Monique Mulligan

New girl in town and journalist, Lexie, has been targeted by developers who want to sell her their vision for a marina at Mangles Bay. On paper, the proposal looks good, but when Hands Off Point Peron spokesman and Thor-lookalike Andrew Fletcher takes her to nearby Point Peron, she starts to have second thoughts.

A date at Penguin Island sets the scene for love, but when Lexie’s front page story about the marina is published, Andrew is far from impressed and wants nothing to do with her. Will Lexie be able to turn the situation around? Or is the story a deal-breaker for Andrew?

With gorgeous coastal settings and laugh-out-loud antics, The Point of Love is like a sweet breath of fresh air for the romantic’s soul.

Lexie is working hard in her journalism career despite the editor-from-hell’s dubious input. She’s chasing all the angles to perfect her first front page story, and if interviewing the sexiest man she’s ever seen is part of the bargain, well, she’s going to pull on her big girl panties and get on with it.

Of course, she never intended flashing said panties, but Thor, er, she means Andrew, doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he takes her on a wonderful date and shows her why he loves the bay he’s so keen to protect.

But when Lexie’s story is printed, an embarrassed Andrew cuts her off cold. He won’t let Lexi explain. He doesn’t want to hear the truth. With other readers voicing their concerns over her article, Lexie is at a loss what to do. One thing’s for certain, if she wants Andrew back, Lexie must turn the headlines around or risk losing not only her career, but the love of her life too.

I loved the comedic moments, innuendo, and word play. (The story stayed on the sweet side.) I also liked the way Ms Mulligan showed how difficult relationships are if the people involved in them aren’t prepared to listen. A fun, humorous, thought provoking story.

More on Ms Mulligan here.


Well the news is better this month where writing is concerned. On the great roller coaster that is my journey to publication, one of my short stories has been accepted for an anthology, which will be published at the end of the year. :) I am so excited my little story is going to appear in the same book as some of the region’s writing royalty along with other aspiring writers like me. I can’t wait to read them all. :)

The goals are coming along, with a short story or three thrown in for good measure, and I just found another competition to enter. (Clearly, I am a glutton for punishment.) I’m tweaking the last two chapters on the novella before sending it out once again. Editing the novel is coming along, and I’m halfway through another copy-editing job with a potential new client set for next month. In all, it’s been another busy, exciting month exploring my new home state, meeting some amazing authors, and reading some wonderful books. I hope you’ve all been equally as blessed. :)


  1. Stunning flowers! Good luck for the competition, you are such a gorgeous writer so you should do very well.

    1. Weren't they beautiful? I wish I could share the scent of those roses.

      Thank you, I hope I do well too. :)

  2. Glad you are enjoying you time in the West. Great news about the piece in the anthology- what is the anthology called? Congratulations,and fingers crossed for your competition entry and hurrah for almost finishing your novella, Your writing is most persuasive as now I want to read Midnight Crossing! Sonia Bellhosue

    1. I am, Sonia. There's so many things to see and do here. Being close to a capital city makes a difference.

      As far as I know, the anthology doesn't have an official title yet, but I can find out for sure. And thank you. :)

      Let me know if you do read Midnight Crossing. :)

  3. Thank you for your lovely review of Silver Reaper. So glad you liked it. Congrats o the short story acceptance and good luck with the next comp. Certainly sounds like you haae been busy, which is great to see.

    1. You're welcome, Shelley. There was so much more I could have put in but I didn't want to give anything away. You definitely upped the ante. :)

      Thank you for the good wishes and for the luck. And yes, I seem to be on the go. :)

  4. Hi D.D,

    I would have loved to tag along with you for the trips to King's Park and Araluen. Such a wonderful opportunity to see wildflowers and spring flower gardens. The colours and shapes in your photographs are great.

    I've been writing about the Paris Bone Crypts for weeks so I got the shivers when I read your book review for BROTHER ODD by Dean R Koontz. The haunted halls and catacombs of the abbey. The review really drew me in, the book sounds like a spooky read for Halloween.

    kind regards

    1. Would have loved your company, Ashlyn, although you may have ended up in the photos. LOL Both places were so beautiful. :) And I'm amazed at the splay of colour along the roadside.

      I was just reading your latest Paris Bone Crypts blog, so I can understand the shivers. I hope you like the book if you decide to read it. :)

  5. Congratulations!!! Fantastic news that you've placed your story. You deserved time off to smell the flowers :) I love your photos. Such fabulous gardens - and yes, Araluen definitely gives the legs a work out! The writing workshop sounds really good. Great find!

  6. Thank you, Jenny. :)

    We definitely had a work out at Araluen and I enjoyed smelling the flowers. I'm pleased I'm not allergic. Dust Bunnies on the other hand...

    I enjoyed the workshop. More tricks of the trade. :)