Friday, July 08, 2011

Facebook Friday

Congratulations to Nicole O'Dell from Illinois for being this week's Facebook Friday award recipient with this awesome post last week.

At Panera - Need to clear my mind and get some work done today. 
BTW, when you hear an Aussie speak do you automatically smile? 
Me too?

Thanks Nicole! I take that as a compliment... even though I sometimes wonder why?

You may be like me and have a phobia of hearing your accent when away from home. Against the lovely rolled r's of our North American friends, somehow my Aussie accent sounds...well, SO AUSSIE! Like I'm about to spring into a chorus of Oi Oi Oi and sing about Vegemite sandwiches.

Last year in Indiana, one well meaning gentleman overheard me in an 'elevator' (they told me it wasn't a 'lift') and asked if we had Rs where I come from.

Um, yes... I just used one then. When I said the word... car. And before, when I said... dinner. But no. My new friends heard caaaah and dinnauhh.

I guess the sound of an Aussie can be amusing. I hope people smile when they hear my voice. And when they read my writing I want more than a grin. I want to grab my reader by the heart and tug a little... maybe even a lot.

Can I draw a tear? Can I make you squirm? Will my writing cause you to wonder, shiver and get your heart racing? Will you be faced with questions only God can answer?

I hope so, 'cause this Aussie voice has stories to share.

Are you like Nicole? Do you smile when you hear an Aussie accent? Please let me know....

And if it's Aussie voices you're wanting to hear...  please join me at Christian Writers Downunder for even more Oi Oi Oi.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Writing Whispers 

Every week I receive a stack of writing tips and encouragements in my inbox.

Here's something from Kate DeCamillo, who wrote Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux.

You have no business wanting to be a writer
 unless you are a reader. 
You should read fantasies and essays, 
biographies and poetry,
 fables and fairy tales.
 Read, read, read, read, read.'

Some writers steer away from books in their genre while they write their own stories. Others have rules about the number of fiction titles they'll read for every writing craft book. 

You may be like me, with more to-reads on your shelf than, well... days to read!

If your stack is taller than the bedside lamp, what will you pick up this week to... read, read, read? Me... I'm reading Siri Mitchell's A Heart Most Worthy. Delicious!!!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Wisdom from Australia's first cook book. 

If you're a fan of period dramas like Downton Abbey, you won't have any trouble recognising the life of the manor house cook in the following description from a London newspaper circa 1870. Although Downton Abbey depicts life in 1914, the similarities are remarkable, even with nearly 50 years between them.

"(The Cook) must be neat and clean, orderly in habit, good tempered, obliging and respectful; She must keep the kitchen tidy and have everything in its place and a place for everything. She is moreover required to think, and to cook breakfasts, luncheons and dinners without a fault, to make pap, broth and gruel... she will be also required to do a great deal of nursing, must be up late, rise early and on no account take snuff, neither must she be seen with a pipe (if Irish) or indulge to excess in gin or beer, nor have any followers in the shape of the masculine gender."

Poor Cook. She had it tough. Wages were low and positions difficult to secure. The author of this newspaper article lamented the prospects of cooks.

And he had something better in mind...

"What is she to do...? Pack up her traps, without delay, and slope for the colonies. Here she will be better paid, better fed, better treated, have tea three times per diem, and find a husband very soon after she arrives!"

Don't you love it? And why wouldn't the harried cook take such gutsy measures? With Australian newspapers full of Cook Wanted adds, and Aussie lads on the look out for wives and/or cooks, many English lasses immigrated to the Colonies of Australia. Whether for love or money, the boom years after Australia's gold rush brought many souls looking for something better than what the 'old country' offered. Sometimes, they knew what their hearts desired... other times God took hold of them and wrote His own story there.

And that folks, for the historical romance writer, makes for a delicious backdrop!

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Colonial Cook Book
The Recipes of By-Gone Australia

Can you hear me clapping?

I have a shelf filling fast with historical resources. I know, the things that make me happy!  Books and other treasures I've found while scouring junk shops and second hand book stores. And I have a favourite.

For my novel The Everlasting, I've been collecting all I can get my hands on about the early pioneers who settled Phillip Island. Those gutsy families who carried themselves and their possessions across the bay to establish new homes in the late 1860s. By the mid 1870s the small community of farmers and fishermen were making their mark on the island.

While I have material specific to island life, what I really wanted was a cook book. A really old cook book. When you know about a family's table, you have a wonderful picture of their lives, the ingredients and staples in their kitchens and the chores which occupied their days.

With 5 minutes up my sleeve, I visited a thrift store one afternoon on the way to collect my son from school. A quick loop of the shop yielded nothing, until beside the door I spotted a shelf of books. Nothing, nothing, nothing... I scanned each row in vain and would've reached for the door handle when I almost tripped over a stack of hardcover books on the floor.

You know where I'm going ...

From that stack, I pulled the 100 year anniversary edition of Australia's earliest cookbook. Typeset to match the original, The Colonial Cook Book pleaded for a new home, not only offering a collection of recipes, but wisdom of that era and observations of colony life. And all for $2!

For a history nut, this book is golden. For a child of God, it's answered prayer. I've been blessed with many resources since then, but I will always remember this one as a wink from heaven. An early addition to my resource library, just when I needed it most.

And what did I learn from this book about life in Colonial Australia? Stay tuned.....