Writing In The Pocket Of Grief

My mum’s 12 year cancer battle ended 12 days ago. In these last two and a half years she endured many months of distress including a difficult recovery from surgery last year, meant to buy her more years.

It didn’t. And now she is gone.


But her suffering has ended and if you’ve watched a loved one buckle under cancer’s cruelty, you will understand my thankfulness that God has set her free.

Free of pain. Free of confusion. Free of everything that darkened her days.

But her struggles did not define her. They were only part of her beautiful story. Her true legacy surrounds us each day. It comes over me in layers, like the beautiful writing gloves she knitted. Her warmth for my cold mornings at the keyboard.

All around me, memories of her. Her touch left in a thousand places, in all our homes.

In all our hearts.

But what about the gaping hole, and the thick silence? It grabs me by the throat and chokes hard when I least expect it. When I turn to share a snatch of conversation with her and she’s not there, anymore.

When I see the wilting floral arrangements that adorn my home in tribute to her, and know I must throw them out… because they too are dead.

How do I live as a motherless daughter? Where do I find myself, when a big piece of me is lost forever?

I go back to the story of her. A tapestry of Greek wisdom and Christian beliefs. Her cord of silly humour that still ran through the most somber of our days. Her fussiness, wound tight like a perfect braid. And her faith, which held her right up to the end, and holds me up, too. Her God, is my God. And nothing confounds Him.

The day Mum entered Palliative Care she was given a small blanket by hospital volunteers. A knitted riot of unmatched colours that in any other world, would… and should, never sit together. She smiled with me at the mess of patterns, of clashing tones and scrappy squares. Pieces, thrown together, as if by chance.

But not really. Those hospital knitters know what they’re doing.

While I held her hand, Mum breathed her last under that blanket.

I took it home and washed it. It dried on a summer breeze. Now it’s a beautiful, warm, weighted reminder of life’s unique moments and fragments. The beautiful and the ordinary, the delicate and the rough, all hooked in knitted loops. Each one holds the other in place. Each ending becomes the starting point for something new, and I am now wrapped in its comfort.

While my publication schedule changed during Mum’s illness, the words still flowed. Each day I wrote from the pocket of deepening grief.

But now… writing gloves on, I will pull the ugly-beautiful-blanket a little closer, too.

And I will publish the stories she will never read, knowing they too, are coloured pieces of me, and the happy fragments of a life that knitted us together… and made us smile.

Queen Mary 2 – Author Visit

Once in a lifetime, an author has an innocent conversation with a friend who is the Business Development Manager for the world’s best cruise ships.

This leads to all manner of dreaming and scheduling and before she knows it, she’s in the back of an UBER ride on her way to the famous CUNARD LINE Queen Mary II.

And yes… in my wildest dreams I would never have imagined this would be MY author adventure, but thanks to my fabulous friend Andrew Perry, it is.

And I am still pinching myself.

To continue the giddy-fest of drool-worthy photos of this magnificent vessel, I bring you the day Rel Mollet, (my part-time assistant, part-time photographer and full-time partner in author world adventures) and I, boarded this recently remastered flagship on its 2017 World Voyage – Melbourne visit.

What an honour to be invited to deliver copies of my debut Australian Historical Romance, Carry Me Home, for readers from all over the globe.

Here’s how we rolled…



Really, truly…. our first ever UBER ride. Early morning excitement – before the wind tore up our hair.



We’re official! Passed security and tagged for embarkation.



Aboard the Queen Mary 2 with our escort and dear friend, Andrew Perry. I think he’s saying, ‘You should live onboard and write away each day in some sunny corner.’ And I’m saying, ‘I so should.’



One copy each of Carry Me Home for the 3 Cunard Queens – The Queen Mary II, The Queen Elizabeth, and The Queen Victoria.



With the QM2 Librarian, Nathan, and Sandy, QM2 Events Co-ordinator.



Talking all things libraries and the habits of seafaring readers.



Top shelf, centre…. goosebumps and cheesy author smiles.



The Queen Mary 2 is the world’s largest floating library, with a backlit collection of over 8000 titles to cover the reading delights of its 2600 passengers and 1300 crew.


Queen Mary 2

After my author visit to the library, Andrew took us on a 3 hour guided tour of the QM2. Melbourne put on a glorious summer’s day and showered us in sunshine, befitting a ship so grand.




The QM2 has 14 decks. I think we covered every one of them!



Acres of fine dining.



We worked up an enviable appetite and were delighted with our delicious luncheon. Thank you, Cunard!



The Grand Lobby. Lives up to its name and then some.



The Captain’s Table…, a little larger than the rest, to welcome special dinner guests.



Part of the Royal Family photographs in the Grand Ballroom. I’m looking at an original photo of Queen Mary, after whom the ship was named. Bliss for a lover of all things historical.



Aussie Pride on a cabin door.



The view of Marvellous Melbourne from the top deck of the QM2.



Author life. It’s a hard job. Lucky for me my assistant insists on afternoon naps. In the sun. On a luxury ocean liner. #dreaming



Most passengers were exploring the sights of  Melbourne.



So, take your pick of deckchairs.


Queen Mary 2 (a)

The spectacular Royal Court Theatre seats 1000 guests for movies and live performances to rival anything seen on Broadway or West End.



Illuminations – The QM2 seriously has a planetarium! Seating almost 500 guests it also screens movies and features lecture programs.



What a magnificent vessel! Why would anyone want to leave? A cruise onboard the Queen Mary 2 is now TOP of my wish list.



Rel Mollet and I had to be lured into our ride home by this generous gift of CUNARD boxed chocolates. Otherwise we might have stayed forever.



I’ve learned a lot in my short time as published author. Here’s what’s impressed me the most – My readers are the BEST PEOPLE around. They cheer me on, encourage my writing, and constantly surprise me with opportunities to speak and showcase my work. This time it was this guy. Thank you, Andrew, for your generous heart and invitation to come aboard. The author life is never dull and this week in particular, it was off the charts super spectacular. #literallyblownaway





Delivery ~ Carry Me Home


There’s IMG_4073much I can say about the book publishing process, which added grey hairs to my head and wrinkles around my weary eyes.

But I forgot most of it the day I ripped open this package to reveal the first ever print copy of Carry Me Home.

Fast-tracked via Amazon, it arrived one sunny November morning, like any other delivery which barrels into the driveway on the back of some regular looking truck.

Only, this truck had been listened for all morning.


I’d pottered around the front garden, half interested in the new summer roses, but really, head tilted to every noise and rumble from the other side of the hedge.

The cardboard packaging fell apart easy enough under the pull of my knife, and there it was. Velvety cover, cream pages, everything I’d imagined for years. Beside the lemon bowl on my kitchen bench.

In. My. House.

A proof copy for me to examine from every angle, before I pressed the publish for all the world to read button.

But first, I had to hold it. And smell it. And rub the soft cover against my cheek. And when my breathing allowed… hold the book at arm’s length to make sure it was real. And squeal a little.

Giddy, giddy gooseflesh, all my prayers had been answered…and my book had come home.


editing, proofreading, and formatting


In August, Carry Me Home received it’s final, full, deep editing.

This came after three weeks with the wonderful Margie Lawson from Denver, and her dear husband, Tom, who visited with us to run two Deep Editing Immersions and attend the RWAust conference in Melbourne.

Armed with the trusty Margie Lawson highlighting arsenal, I took my manuscript apart, page by page.


Each scene, each sentence, each word went through the refining fire of ruthless editing. A process which took close to a month to complete.

When I was done, I didn’t want to see a fluro marker or the story again. (Yes, this happens. It’s an author thing. We do recover but there are times we never want to look at the multi-highlighted pages EVER AGAIN.)

Thankfully, the fabulous Rel Mollet was on on hand to proofread one last time before Carry Me Home went off to the experts in Bangkok for print version and digital formatting.



The editing process…delete, swap, add.


One week into the final editing and the sticky notes were stacking up!


Two weeks into editing… and I was running out of sticky notes.


Week three… and that could possibly be blood on the title page.


Done! Highlighted, annotated… now to apply to the version on my laptop!


Printed… ready for Rel Mollet to proofread once last time.

carry me home ~ pinterest board


For years I’ve collected reference materials to feed my addiction to all things yesteryear ~ thrift shops being the best hunting ground.

I’ve brought home the inspiration for many stories, still to be written, but the delicious details remain on my shelf for that day when I’ll spin that tale.

In recent times, I’ve added pictures to my collection of words.

Pictures which capture mood, flavour, anticipation, and, most importantly for a novel set in Australia, setting.

I keep these pictures on a Pinterest board, aptly named… Carry Me Home.

It’s my little stash of how I imagine this story might look.

You’ll see, Shadrach, Finella, Molly, and their home.

Parts of Phillip Island. Their farm and belongings.

The tokens which meant something to them.

This visual representation of my story came together after I’d written it. A helpful aid in the editing process when I wanted to sink deeper into my story.

Now it’s your turn.

Come see what I added to the Carry Me Home ~ Pinterest Board.

Which picture catches your eye?








Local History Checks ~ Carry Me Home



Details mean everything to the historical author.

It’s the life threads of another time which draw us and that’s what we want to share with our readers.

So it’s paramount this deliciousness is woven alongside the imagined in a way which keeps the reader believing.

Much of my historical inspiration has come from journals, old letters, newspaper archives, cookbooks, and historical records of island life in it’s infancy.

I thought I had the details sorted when I finished writing Carry Me Home. But I knew I couldn’t trust my information gathering alone.

So I reached out to the good people at the Phillip Island Historical Society. Two of their members agreed to read my manuscript for historical and local accuracy.

This was the first time I’d seen my story on paper. It had survived many rounds with critique partners and editors, but now it headed off, printed and all cosy in polka dot boxes, for those who cherished island history more than I ever could ~ the descendants of Phillip Island’s pioneers and early settlers.

I thoroughly enjoyed receiving their feedback. Who knew the marram grass I thought belonged on the island in 1874, had not been planted until 1910? I learned the better option was spinifex, and so I went with that. Cool word. Spinifex.

On all local matters, I deferred to the experts. Where there was a general issue with historical accuracy, I returned to my desk to research further.



While the use of mum might sound too modern for the 1870s, I found it commonly used as early as 1835, and the word pester appears in literature dating back to 1588. And did you know the phrase, if the shoe fits, wear it… dates back to 1705, and the very modern sounding, I guess, was used by Shakespeare and Charels Dickens?

Double checking to keep a word or phrase, or delete it, brings some satisfaction. I know I’ll never get it all right, but I won’t leave any questions marks unanswered, either. It must be in the nature of a history nerd. I need to know for myself if my word choices fit the time. Anachronisms bother me as a reader, so the writer in me works extra hard to make sure there are none to trouble my audience.

I’m so grateful I had the assistance of the Historical Society members on this manuscript. Their fresh eyes picked up typos and simple errors, too.

And when I collected my polka dot boxes, minus the chocolate reward I’d stuffed in there, I was ready for another round of edits and revisions. This time, armed with something solid. This was not just a love story, anymore. The historical scaffolding on which it draped had been checked by those who knew best. And I reclaimed my absolute favourite combination, the wonderful weight of history and romance… and took it home where I could polish it some more.

“We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiralling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.” Shirley Abbot