Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bluey’s Café

Bluey Miller lives a charmed life in Calico Bay, a small rural town on the east coast of Australia. She built her popular wholefood café from nothing, and it has garnered a well-deserved reputation for world foods. When her mother dies, Bluey discovers that there was far more to her mother’s life than she’d realised. Why so many secrets? As she begins to unravel her mother’s past, she’s left wondering about their relationship. They had been so close over the years, yet now Bluey feels like she didn’t know her at all. Her very identity hangs by a thread. Who am I? she wonders. Who was my mother?

Seemingly insurmountable challenges lie ahead, and Bluey must face them without her mother by her side. She finds strength from her local community and daily nourishment from the welcoming atmosphere of her café, but is this enough? Drawing succour from the Australian bushland around her, friendships, emerging spirituality, a life-changing romance, and the memories of good mother love, Bluey must somehow find enough courage to allow the best of the past to become the foundation for her future.

Bluey’s Café is Veronika’s second novel. She lives in rural Cumbria, UK, with her husband and their teenage daughters.

Cover illustration by Sara Simon

Published by and available online, or from or, from December, Amazon and all good bookshops.
ISBN 978-0-9575371-2-5

Published by Starflower Press
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the
British Library.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Starr Meneely's What a Lovely Sound!

One of the joys of being a writer is being able to celebrate other writers. Do have a look at this trailer for Starr Meneely's wonderful new children's book (illustrated by Susan Merrick) called What a Lovely Sound! It is published by Starflower Press.

I love the story and the artwork, and can't wait to share it with some of my favourite children!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Isolated Writer

Writing is a lonely job, or so it is said. I don’t feel lonely when I write. How could I possibly be lonely when there is a gorgeous male character inhabiting my head space? Nope, loneliness does not feature in my (fiction) writing. Finding someone to share the craft with, however, could possibly feel isolating for some writers. The world is full of blocked creatives: people who want to create something but don’t, usually out of fear of rejection or criticism. Such people are dangerous to have around your creative life because their jealousy becomes a dagger of destructive critique based on their own inadequacies. Stay clear of such people, or at least keep them well away from your creative life.

In my life I am blessed with a handful of women with whom I feel safe to share my raw writing work. One, in particular, is a gifted singer-songwriter, and it brings me such joy whendespite us living in different countriesat the click of a button we can share each other’s work: I ping my chapters to her, and she pings me back MP3s of her latest songs. It’s magic! I dance in the composite energy of our creative outpourings.

Regardless of our journey in life, or whether we pursue a creative path or not, we all seek to have someone witness our story, our life, our path. I, for one, am very grateful to have the witnesses that I do. Alone, as a writer, yes. Lonely, no.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Writing Rhythm

For quite some time, my writing rhythm involved waking up early and having a few hours of writing time before my family woke up. But for the past few weeks, everything has been turned on its head. My formerly home-schooled daughters started school (A levels and GCSEs), and so my mornings haven’t been about writing and watching the sunrise over the fells outside my window: they’ve been about making delicious school lunches, porridge with cinnamon and cranberries, and ironing uniforms.

I have missed my writing enormously, and have to reconsider how I start the school day. Now, it might seem obvious to some: write during the day when they’re at school. The truth is that that isn’t an option for me. Once the rest of the world wakes up, phones start ringing, emails demand answering, and other diversions intrude into the mind of a writer. By day, I’m a magazine editor. My job is looking at other people’s writing, not my own. Nope, there is only one time of the day which truly works for me when writing imagination-based work: pre-sunrise.

The same imagination required to write, now has to be utilised to clear my early mornings and keep them free for my sacred space. Perhaps my 17 and 15-year-old daughters should be making their own breakfast and lunches, and doing their own ironing. The answer was in front of my eyes the whole time! Somehow, though, I can’t see them getting out of bed any earlier to undertake such creative and sacred nurturing tasks.  

Monday, September 02, 2013

Lightning Fingers

My fingers type at the speed of lighting, which is handy. My thoughts are quick, and to be able to get my ideas on paper as quickly as they rush through my head is quite a gift. It hasn’t always been like this. In secondary school, my typing teacher (Mrs Hoffman) used to hit my knuckles with a wooden ruler when she caught me looking at the keys. Cow!

It didn’t stop me, and eventually she put a bib over the keyboard so I could learn to type without looking at the keys. That didn’t work either, so she went back to the wooden ruler. Needless to say, I quit typing class. I valued my knuckles!

Several years later, I began work on my local newspaper as a reporter. Now, here’s the thing. You can not be a two-fingered typist if you want to survive in the world of journalism. Somewhere between day one of phoning the emergency services for news stories and the next Monday when my first story made the front page (whoop whoop!), my typing speed increased enormously.

I watch my husband, a slow, two-fingered typist, and it’s like watching a bull stuck in quick-sand. It’s painful. I feel ill. I’m desperate to help. 

Typing is my friend. As a writer, I'd be lost without it. 

The key to touch typing is to place your little fingers on the a and the colon buttons, ring fingers on s and l, middle fingers on d and k. Those fingers hit those keys AND the ones above and below. The pointer finger is king. He’s in charge of six keys (per finger). He’s The Power.

Left pointer finger is in charge of f, g, r, t, v and b. The right is in charge of j, h, u, y, m and n. 

If you make it a practice to keep your eight fingers sitting on the middle keys, and only use the right fingers on the correct keys, then in no time your typing speed will increase. Don’t be like Mrs Hoffman and get caught into believing you can’t look at the keyboard. In time, you won’t need to look at it because you’ll feel comfortable. Typing will be rote (like driving a car).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Love Dilemma

After I finished writing my second novel, Bluey’s Café, I decided to develop a career as a romance novelist. Why? I spent my teenage years reading romance novels. I could read a Mills and Boon in two hours, and they saved me from the boredom of secondary school. For whatever people might think of this genre, the truth is that it’s the best selling genre of all. People want love. They need love. If they don’t have it in their lives, then they want to live it through someone else. And even if their relationship is brilliant, it can’t hurt to enjoy the pleasure of sharing in someone else’s love journey, can it?

My dilemma as a romance writer is this: when I met my husband, Paul, it was ‘I’ve known you forever at first sight’. We literally moved in with each other next day. We simply ‘knew’. There was no long engagement, nor dancing around the dating scene for months on end. Nope, not us. We knew we had ‘found’ each other, and immediately wanted to create a family.

Now, I’m rather fond of our love at first sight/you’re-my-soul-mate story, but this just doesn’t work in romance novels (well, I let it work in my novel Bluey’s Café). A romance novel needs drama and tension and hurdles to overcome. Sheesh, aren’t there enough of those in life anyway? Can’t they just get together like Paul and I did, and then face the drama, shoulder to shoulder? Nope!

Our romance novel lovers have to face challenges before they get together, and then they live happily ever after. Romance lovers don’t have dramas once we’ve finally hooked them up!

I began my first novel specifically for the romance market on May 16th this year. Since then, my days have revolved around the stories in my head, and the drama of the characters. I’ve almost finished writing my fourth novel of this sort.  I have ideas for an assortment of novels, but for now, the romance ones have taken centre stage in my writing head. They are what get me bouncing out of bed each morning before sunrise. It is my duty to take these characters beyond their egos and into the arms of love. 

The Power of the Written Word

We all have that little something that we’re passionate about. For me, that is communication. You’d think with the advent of modern technology such things as laptops, emails, and so on, would make the life of a communicator a bit of a breeze. Far from it.

Most of human communication comes from our body language. Without it, the recipient of our words doesn’t get the gist of whether we’re happy, sad, joyful, thoughtful, apprehensive, joking and so forth.

I hate emails. I despise them as a form of communication. Sure, they’re quick. And yes, you can keep in touch with people from all over the world without relying on Royal Mail or planes/ships to carry your precious words, but there is SO MUCH missing from the message that relationships can be tarnished. Many people have fallen out over a wrongly worded (but more accurately, wrongly interpreted) message.

When we receive a communication, we bring ‘baggage’ to it so that regardless of what the sender was implying, the recipient will see the message through their own eyes (pain/agenda).

I remember in 2001, a dear friend phoning me from Latin America and asking me if I had email. ‘I don’t need email,’ I laughed. A year later I was editing and publishing The Mother magazine, and emails were part of my daily life. At first, it was fun. Now, it’s a drag.

Two days away from my inbox brings me a karmic load for daring to be away from a computer for so long. The inbox groans and heaves with so much correspondence all demanding my immediate reply. It gets to the point that I can’t even log onto Facebook for a quick nosey at what my friends are up to without feeling huge guilt for knowing there are dozens of emails waving their little red flags up at me.

There is always the dilemma of a box full of emails: who to read first? That one from a dear friend travelling the world or the one querying a subscription? The one from a friend who is struggling or the one wanting advice about their teething toddler?

Where possible, I try and reply to emails first thing in my day when I’m well rested. The day brings so much my way through family, friends, strangers, and all their needs, that I find it best to steer away from written communication at the end of the day when I’m tired (or feeling particularly hormonal!).

I love the written word, and take great care to ensure that I communicate as clearly as I can. What I have learnt, though, over the years, is that there is no such thing as perfect communication. We can never have ‘control’ over how someone perceives our message. The best we can ever hope for is to write from the heart, and to always come from a place of love.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter ‘k’.

My keyboard is missing the top button above the k. Very inconvenient when your name is Veronika, and you have to type it dozens of times a day when signing off emails. Now, the ‘k’ is still accessible, but it requires a much firmer approach than my touch typing needs for the speed at which I navigate my keyboard. However, over time, muscle memory has made hitting that key, at three to four times the strength needed for every other letter of the alphabet, instinctive. One of my daughters (also a writer) refuses to use my laptop because of said ‘k’.

One day, I’ll have a new laptop and a new ‘k’.and I’ll have to retrain that finger to be gentleever so gentle and quick, like the other fingers and thumbs.

We’re funny, us humans. We can get used to all sorts of things, and to retrain ourselves. Often, the only thing that stands in the way of progress is our determination or lack of it. My missing ‘k’ has taught me a lot.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writer's Block

I can't say that writer's block is something I experience. The limitations I have are due to time, family and other unavoidable commitments ~ oh, and a job! To make the most of uninterrupted writing time, I wake up very early, feed the cats, and head to my laptop.

There are times, though, when I come up against a pause in my story line and wonder which direction to go with it. I know better than to sit at a computer screen when I reach such a crossroad. I head to the shower. 

Hot steamy water is relaxing, and also changes the brain waves. Ten minutes in the shower always gifts me with the ideas I need in order to make progress. 

The other antidote to writer's pause is to walk in nature. It never fails to ignite stories, character habits and qualities, and plot twists. The world around us is rich with ideas, and we need to immerse ourselves in it if we wish to find our writing voice.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

lost for words

My writing blog has been neglected because I've been....writing! I recently finished my fifth novel. Now for the editing. I shall return soon.

Friday, July 05, 2013


I finished the first draft of my fourth novel this morning. Hoorah! Such an amazing feeling to bring my characters to completion. I can now leave them at their happily ever after (after a few edits!), and find another couple to bring together. I love my life. I kinda like this whole playing matchmaker game.....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Boundaries and Nurturing

Today's Full Moon in Capricorn is a Super Moon. This means it is very close to the Earth.

What does it mean when the Moon is full in Capricorn?

Capricorn is about structure and boundaries, and defining territory. Its opposite sign, Cancer, is about nurturing, protection and mothering. 

When we have a Full Moon it illuminates the shadow side of both zodiac signs.

So what message can you take from this particular Full Moon? In order to be an effective care-taker (mother or other nurturer) ensure you have firm boundaries in place so that you, and those being taken care of, do not feel violated or that you don't end up feeling like a martyr.

Take the best of both signs, and make them work for you.

Passionate, fun, dynamic, love-filled, joyous...

Have you found your passion in life?
Do you love waking up each morning ready to live life fully? You do? GREAT!
Would you like to understand your children better? Would you love for them to be guided to what is already in their hearts?
Psychological astrology shines a laser light onto our birth chart, revealing what the soul has come to Earth to learn. It shows our learning style, what drives us, where we feel fearful and inhibited, and so much more.
To book an astrology session for yourself or your child (in person at my home in Cumbria, or by phone to anywhere in the world), visit:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Writer's View

‘Mum, why did you google Breast Cancer Hospitals this morning?’ my daughter asked.

‘Snooping in my search history, were you?’ I laughed. ‘I’m a writer. Don’t judge me by anything that I google! It’s all in the name of research.’

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dreaming you into life

Oh how I love to wake up from a dream with a character or storyline. It feels like such a gift!

What I don't like is having to ask my characters to wait because I've got other things on my to-do list. But still, I let them chat, and I see their faces come fully into my mind. I sit at their table while they drink tea or coffee, and I drive in their car. I listen to their hearts ~ what saddens them or makes them happy. It can feel invasive, but it's also an honour. What a joy to be the one who dreams them into life.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Book Hangover

...that moment when you've finished a book and you're still immersed in the lives of your characters; they're still talking to each other, and you're still eavesdropping.

However, there are new characters, new storylines, new locations all demanding brain time...they're all saying 'it's our turn now. Write about us now'. They clearly don't know that the day only has 24 hours, and a girl has to eat, read, sip coffee in the sunshine, exercise, cuddle her kids, do her 'day' job, hang out the washing, mop the floor, and so on.

yes, my friends, that is the book hangover...

Saturday, June 01, 2013


When you're a mother of toddlers, these early morning sunrises usually bring a moan of 'go back to sleep'. When you're sleep deprived, first light just aft 4am is anything but thrilling...Where are the black out curtains? Where is my SLEEP?

But as a mother of teenagers who have perfected the art of sleeping in, I adore these early sunrises. It's a gift that says 'Veronika, here is a whole bunch of extra time in your day for you to write'.

And it's true. It's just me (after feeding the hungry cats), the sunrise, the calves in the field outside my garden, and the birds singing in the day. I hold onto every single minute, and the minutes turn to an hour, and some days, there are quite a few hours in which I write. All guilt free. And then, when the family has awoken to the day, and it's clear I'm not going to be able to write a thing, I magically turn into a mother and wife again. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Come and visit...

 Do come and visit my website ;-)


Steam and Stir-fry

I’m currently writing my third novel, and have two others brewing in the furthest reaches of my mindbiding their time until I have timetime to write, time to be, time to listen to the needs of my characters.

When I finished Mosaic, I figured it would be the only novel I’d ever write, and I said to more than one person “I only have one novel in me” ~ I write non-fiction.that was, until March 23rd, as I was making dinner. 

The radio was on softly in the background and I heard the name Bluey. It reminded me of an amazing friend I had. I met Bluey when I was ten.skiving from a school sports day. He was in his 50s, and his truck had broken down by the side of the road. The boys I was bunking off school with started talking to him about trucksbut somehow they ended up heading down to the river and I stayed behind and talked to Bluey. We talked for hours about all things esoteric, and he read my palm. We swapped addresses, and became dear friends. 

So when I heard the name Bluey on the radio, I thought about him, and then I wondered if any women were ever called Bluey? I thought about it as a character name, and within half an hour I had the story for Bluey’s Café. That book was written in five days (if only covers got to be painted that quickly!), and it is such a pleasure to have the time to sit with the characters and fine-tune the writing.

And then I thoughtI couldn’t have any more novels in me, and no sooner did that thought occur to me than characters, locations and storylines were nipping at my thoughts. And nownow I can’t imagine not writing novels for the rest of my life! Funny that. But of course, it could all change tomorrow.

I come to the keyboard hours before my family wakes upand I meet the page. I step back into the world of my characters. But the truth is they’re with me all the time, particularly in the shower (lost of ideas and inspiration in that ten minutes of hot, steamy bliss each morning), and when I’m cooking a tasty meal.  Perhaps it’s because they’re both such sensual experiences, and to write you need to get out of your head and feel. The scent of basil leaves ripped into my tomato salad, or the taste of stem ginger in the heart of a chocolate cupcake; rose and geranium soap on my skin ~ these are the simple pleasures which ignite the writing brain.

The characters carry on conversations, share their feelings with each other, and I I eavesdrop. Many of their conversations and anxieties and pleasures may not make it into the book, but it gives me a strong sense of who they are.

Happily Ever After by Veronika Sophia Robinson

Let me just say that no matter how many novels I end up writing, they will always have a happily-ever-after ending. Why? 

We all need to hope; need moments in life where we can feel good, where we can feel like we're 'home'. So, no matter what drama, torture, tragedy or pain I put my characters through (or indeed, that they put me through), we will come to a point where we can both breathe ~ where we can say 'life feels good right now'.

And I want my readers to sigh when they read the last page; to come through the journey and feel that, just for now, it's going to be okay. Why? Because we ALL deserve the chance to feel good.

As I young woman I walked out of the cinema at the end of the movie, Somersby, crying my eyes out. I was utterly distraught. The usher stopped me and asked if I was okay. 'No. It had the wrong ending', was all I could blub out. And I wasn't any better at the end of The Bridges of Madison County. 

My characters will always have a happily ever after....even if they don't know it yet!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Names or Numbers?

I'm always intrigued as to what causes an author to choose chapter numbers or chapter names...

Perhaps it's my aversion to numbers and maths in general, but I can't imagine writing a book using numbers for a chapter...Where's the description? Where's the lure? What's the chapter about? 1, 2, 3....well, it's obvious that we're counting our way through the book so let's flavour it up with some names. Right? It's a personal choice, of course, and some publishers may well insist on numbers.

Some of the chapter titles I've used in Mosaic and Bluey's Cafe include:

Love Never Dies
The Midwife's Cottage
Chalkboard Menu
Hot 'n' Spicy
The Old Rainwater Tank
On the Widow's Doorstep
Market Day in the Village
The Children's Labyrinth

Would my books feel different if I'd simply counted: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? They would to me, that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Violin by Anne Rice

The downside (no, there's not one really) to my new goal of reading a novel a week is that it leaves little time to write blogs! I bought Violin by Anne Rice because the title caught my eye. My daughter, Bethany, plays grade eight violin, and is lead violinist in the Cumbria Youth Orchestra, and I thought perhaps it might interest her...until I read the back! And then I thought 'She can wait, I'm reading this!' And I'm so glad I did. It was unlike anything I've read in a long time.

I don't want to give too much of the storyline away, but essentially the main character is in the depths of grief ~ her husband has just died of AIDS. This isn't the first time she'w walked through the valley of loss. 

She hears the violin of the ghost of a Russian aristocrat and it is like a healing balm to her pain....well, for a while, at least...until he tries to drive her mad. What he doesn't count on is her strength. It's not a storyline that I'm going to forget in a hurry. If you enjoy books which make you think, then this most certainly fits into that category.

I'm currently near the end of the second book of the Three Sisters Island trilogy by Nora Roberts ~ and LOVING it! No doubt that's what my next blog will be.

Meanwhile, I'm also reading the manuscript of my daughter Eliza's current book...set in a fantasy world of elemental magic (ironic, as that is the theme in the Three Sisters books!). And in my spare time (laughing) I'm working on the second draft of my novel, Bluey's Café . No rest for the wicked, then...

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Mosaic by Veronika Sophia Robinson

What readers are saying about Mosaic:

I read this in about three days, a miracle seeing as I never usually get time to read anything with having children 24/7, but you know when you find a good book you can't put it down. I knew it would be, thanks Veronika. Becky.

Really really enjoyed MOSAIC; it reminds me a bit of 'Love Actually' and that's a compliment! Thank you Veronika, it arrived at the perfect time 'Flu plus a self imposed 'screen free' week. And I DID cry! Xxx Elizabeth. France.

What a beautiful story it is, I so enjoyed reading it, so much so that I read it all in one go with sleeping children cuddled up around me! I think you are a really powerful healer, and your words are your medicine. They offer the potential to heal and reveal to the depths of the human heart and soul. The wise women in your story are archetypes for our time, offering grace, truth and wisdom. I love the way you include so many aspects of natural birthing and parenting, and liked to imagine younger women reading this then exploring these ideas for themselves and making them a reality when they become mothers for themselves. A beautiful, inspiring story of the many depths of love and the human heart. Loved it and looking forward to your next ones! Clare

It's a fantastic book, I finished it last night (Monday) (it arrived Saturday morning). I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone. It has the most beautiful description of a birth that I've ever read in a novel. I look forward to your next novel, Veronika. Michelle 

I awoke early this morning to sunlight streaming through the house. Making a pot of cinnamon tea I settled down in my favourite chair and read Mosaic. What a treat ~ simple, truthful, peaceful, evocative, inspiring. A time spent with friends old and new ~ Thank you, Samantha

Well I could savour no more and just sat and read it all!! I can tell you it takes a lot to make me sit down in the day and read! I have cried my way through your beautiful book. I have truly loved it, and am so honoured to be in it. I really am. It is a beautiful book, and I miss all the characters hugely already! Bring on the next one!! Mandy Bingham, Irish singer and songwriter

I just have to share that I received my copy of Mosaic yesterday, and managed to finish it already between naps and my son's bedtime. What a WONDERFUL read. It is poignant to all of us, and truly relevant to everyone who is human. It was an amazing catalyst for me into some of the sore places in my heart that are so deeply in need of healing; places that are affecting my mothering of my son, and are crying out for ways to heal. I literally began to remember how to cry them out as I read the book.

The first page had me... the characters were immediately like my old friends and as they shared more of themselves with Topaz, the main character, I felt like I had known them all my life... it reminded me how incredibly important it is to have a circle of women in my life... something I have been desperately missing since moving to England 2.5 yrs ago.

Topaz is a beautiful mix of already-amazing woman and one open to expanding and learning new ways of being in the world. I was inspired and reassured that there is still time to become everything I dream of. And the storyline unfolding in her life kept me turning the pages well after I should have been in bed.

It was also incredibly refreshing to read a novel that fully encompasses the parenting life I find so natural and comfortable... scenes of delicious
food, sweet experiences of birthing, parenting, educating ~ a way of
being in the world that is in line with Nature. Usually reading novels there is some place that sticks, or prickles; some place where the way "the world" assumes a way of being that just goes against what I feel that I end up with a bad taste in my mouth. Mosaic left me with sweetness the whole way through, even through the bitter, painful, tearful parts.
Much Love, Kirsten

A lovely novel with a very human theme which almost everyone will relate to. I enjoyed this book - it is an accessible read with simple but touching descriptions that capture moments in human life and nature in a very evocative way. I loved the introduction of important issues such as gentle birthing, empathetic parenting and the importance of finding a peaceful connection with the earth. I hope that the novel will open the eyes of readers who happen upon it and do not yet know the joys of such a way of life.
I specifically liked the ending and the way the author has not shied from the sadness which so many of us, if not all, experience - bereavement, baby loss, changes that are difficult to manage and accept. I suppose life is a mosaic, as per the title, and beautiful in all its parts as well as a whole picture - a fitting title then for this snap-shot of a very human protagonist and part of her uplifting, open-hearted journey.
Clare Sage (review on Amazon)

Thank you for sharing your heart with us. The novel was intimately moving; I would like to get one for my eldest granddaughter. Would you sign it from your heart to hers from her grandma? I so want her to read it; beautiful seeds will be sown within. Not sure if she will read it, but just her being in the holding of it, will touch her and kindle a deep memory knowing. 

Betrayed by love, internationally successful children’s illustrator, Topaz Lane, has a jaundiced view of relationships. Sworn off men for life, she feels embittered that she’ll never achieve her one true dream: to have a family. With her 34th birthday looming, Topaz feels like part of her life is over: her love life! When her sister enters her in a local radio competition, which asks the question Does life begin at forty?, her life changes forever. She soon discovers that everyone has a wound, and everyone has a gift to share. 

Available from or and good bookshops, Amazon and other online book retailers. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Aging Writer

Yesterday I shared with a friend how much I was enjoying the emotional, mental and spiritual side of aging. Inner maturity brings with it a sense of contentment and peace that I never felt in my younger years. Perhaps it's just because I'm a Capricorn ~ they're slow bloomers.

Our face tells the story of our life

I have to be honest and say I can’t quite reconcile the image before me in the mirror ,though: wrinkles, looser skin, silver-frosted hair. They all betray the happiness I feel within.

I would love to express this much beauty in older age (and now!)

The incentive for writing my first novel, Mosaic, was very much bound up in my fear of turning forty. Looking back, I can see I embarked on it as a therapeutic exercise. The book opens with a radio station competition which asks the question “Does life begin at forty?”

With fifty just 4.5 years away, I feel quite thrilled with the ride. A lot of the fear I'd felt at forty stemmed from the panic that there was still so much I wanted to do in my life...and time seemed to be slipping away.

It’s interesting to me, as a writer, that some of the highest-grossing films at the Box Office are those where the lead character/s are of pensioner age. Is it that not only do the elderly have more time to go to the cinema, but that they recognise in their characters just how very much life is within? Could it be that as the body starts to decline the spirit grows livelier? I do believe so.
Someone to grow old with...and still holding hands!
Now that I’ve added ‘novelist’ to my CV, I can’t help but wonder if older characters will start to emerge in my writing. Will I write through the lens of a fuller life experience? I hope so. And actually, it feels rather exciting.

Two of my favourite movies are The Notebook (don’t watch it without tissues!), and The Bridges of Madison County (more tissues).

The Notebook is told through a journal kept by an elderly man which recounts the love story between him and his wife (welling up here just be remembering it!), and although it shows them as younger people ~ it is the older characters which really tell the story: the power of their love. The characters, as youngsters, thought they knew what love was. The characters, in the Winter of their life, truly know love.

The Bridges of Madison County isn’t about pensioner-age oldness, but more about the later middle years ~ that time when you feel that perhaps all opportunity has gone. That time when it feels like the life you’ve got is the only life you’re ever going to have. Perhaps that is why I cry like an abandoned baby when I read the book (or watch the film), because I want to scream out to the main character (played by the awesome Meryl Streep) “Make a different choice!” Whenever I’ve watched this film with my daughters, I say to them ‘please tell me you’d make a different choice?’

There’s a lady who comes into the local coffee shop where I go, and from the day I saw her my heart said ‘that’s what I want to be like when I’m older!’ She has long, healthy, silver hair down to her mid back, a skip in her step, and a huge smile on her face. I’ve never been comfortable with old age meaning (for me) a blue rinse with short permed hair, walking stick, sitting watch TV all day or playing bingo or bowls. I want to have a skip or three in my step, a sense of fun and mischief, laughter in my eyes, and an unstoppable zest for life. I still want to search for meaning through books, experiences, people. I want to live fully.

I have an uncle, in his eighties, in the USA. He’s my late father’s oldest brother. And you know what? Every day he swims for two hours in the Gulf of Mexico. When I heard this, I jumped up and down with joy ~ I have this in my DNA!!!

Although my mother’s body (she’s 74 in 23 days) has slowed down (compared to how she was at midlife), I can still hear passion and joy in her voice ~ she lives in Tasmania, so I only have her voice to go on. Every day she’s out walking, enjoying the nearby parks, making herself fresh juices, reading interesting books, taking baths by candlelight, having a monthly massage, eating Black Forest Cafe and the local German cafe. She is still the same woman who made my childhood so rich by modelling creativity and zest. I have this in my DNA!!!

As we grow older, we realise it’s not about going somewhere…it’s about being does it take so long to discover the secret of life?

Storytelling and Clothes

I had a chuckle to myself today when I overheard my teenage daughters in the back of the car talking about their doll-playing years.

Eliza said she always used her dolls to play out the stories in her head, and live out the amazing, if not weird, plot lines. To her frustration, Bethany just wanted to dress the dolls and make them look pretty. Some things never change!

The first story Eliza wrote was based on two of her toy cats called Ty and Amber. Still makes me smile.

Eliza was destined to be a writer before she could even write.

One of my favourite children's stories. I never got sick of reading this.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Silence

About five or six years ago, I spent a couple of nights in a hotel in downtown Manhattan, New York. I didn’t get a wink of sleep. The noise completely floored me. Even at 3am, there were fire engine sirens, car horns beeping, people on the street yelling, garbage trucks banging about. It's true: New York is the city which never sleeps! Well, I certainly didn't.

When I arrived home, I stood at my window at 10pm breathing in the fresh country air. ‘Listen to that,’ I said to my husband. ‘The sweet sound of silence.’ I wanted to bottle it so I could have it forever.

I awoke last night at 3am to go the loo. How inconvenient to wake from slumber! As I crawled back into bed, I took about five minutes to just savour that familiar sound: silence. I love to wake up before dawn and be joined by the birds, and the sound of Nature in her various expressions is a delight to me. At night, I thrive on silence. It was nice to be reminded that I don’t go to sleep against a backdrop of street lights, sirens and car horns.

Long Meg stone circle, just a few fields from our home
When I write, I also like silence (birdsong is just fine, as is the cracking fire). But if the girl cat is in the room snuffling or snoring, she has to go out. It’s just too distracting. As soon as my family wake up, I head off to do other things.

I can write notes in cafés, in the car outside my daughter’s music lesson, and other such places. But writing from the depths, writing from my heart? I need silence. I often wonder how I managed to write when working in a news room all those years ago. If I’m honest, I think I was always side-tracked by those conversations. 

Throughout my late teens and twenties, I always came out as an extrovert on the personality tests. But certain events in my adult life, including chronic back pain for years and years and years (so much better now), had the effect of weighing me down, and taking their toll. My essential personality is still optimistic ~ and I truly hope that I always have the ability to see the cup full to overflowing ~ but something huge has shifted, and this is truly reflected in my inability to write in noisy, distracting situations.

I watch in awe as my daughter Eliza scribbles her novels into notebooks, day after day, never bothered by family conversations, movies, coffee machines in cafés or crowds. I envy (in a nice way!) that ability to just focus on the job at hand. 

Silence is my comforter, and Silence is in my heart. Perhaps it’s because, for me, Silence is another word for Peace.