Words for Anna

My debut novel ‘Words for Anna’ has been published!

It’s still hard to get my head around the fact that something I had worked on in almost every spare moment, can now be read by anyone with an internet connection.

This romance novel had come a long way, not just in its creation, but it had also outlived at least one laptop and had travelled through Europe, Africa, Asia and the States, as it progressed from a short synopsis to a written first draft – of course, with several other steps in between.

So, what is it about?

Set in Australia, England and South Africa in the early 2000s, Words for Anna is the heart-warming story of first love. Twelve years earlier, Anna and Daniel faced the cruelty of being forced apart as a result of one senseless letter. What happens when they are reunited and given a second chance at love?

Striving to establish a new identity, working in the Australian wine industry, Anna has had no choice but to create the best life she can for herself and her son, Mattie, in Sydney, Australia.

Meanwhile, Daniel, who has been pushing his father’s corporate agenda in the UK for years, as a means to an end, hopes that he may someday see Anna, his lost love, again.

But when they find each other in a chance meeting in Sydney, they are compelled to revisit the past. Forced to work together every day, the secrets Anna has kept for so long are gradually revealed. This, together with the separation they endured and the strange situation they now find themselves in, raises the question – Do they have any chance of rekindling their love?

Words for Anna is a moving novel about hope, resilience and rediscovery.

Available now in digital and print:

Connect with me on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.

The long story

It’s a long story – have you ever heard more annoying words? Together with any interchangeable phrase you can think of, that is generally used to avoid filling someone in on something obviously secret or at least somewhat interesting?

Don’t ask.

I’ll tell you later.

Or my favourite, the quiet response which generally follows a hint of something under the hood, accompanied by the person in the know making eye contact with whoever happened to have been there at the time when the original interesting event occurred, before looking the other way… in the hope that all questions will come to a complete stop.

Okay, don’t tell me, I’m not interested in gossip anyway.

However, it is true, that in fiction, we definitely are interested in the stories that last the longest and especially the gossip that keeps us turning the page, or else we wouldn’t know what has happened, why a certain character is acting in a certain way, or why we should be bothered caring about one character and not another.
They don’t call it a book because it’s a one-pager, a few headlines or a couple pages of visuals, instead of tens of thousands of words that we love to read.

Did you know that the other day, I handed my novel over to my editor again, this time for a line edit? Who knew there were so many types of editing and so much that has to happen before publication.

To be honest, it’s best not to think about it too much.

I suppose I’ll tell you later.

Don’t ask.

It’s a long story.

Lost to history

So, you reckon you know exactly what happened to you yesterday?  It’s not an unreasonable belief.

What about what your friend or colleague said happened to them? Any room for scepticism there?

Ok, now imagine that a week goes by, a few months, a year. And imagine that all of a sudden, you’re asked to document what had happened.
Now imagine it’s NOT modern day, without videos and audio and the internet at your disposal. It’s actually 200 years ago.

Sure, you have fact checkers who confirm things you were told, the things you hadn’t actually witnessed. There’s the media that had published a few articles. Heaps of people had told a similar story.  And your memory is top-notch (remembering exactly what you think is important). Right?

Done. It’s in the history books. People will be reading it for years and take it at face-value.

It’s not that hard to imagine.

So, what exactly hadn’t been written down that perhaps should have made it into the history books? And what exactly is inaccurate about what had been written down, all those years ago? I guess we’ll never know. And I suppose it is what it is.

But say you fast-forwarded to 100 years from now…

What will those people believe about our present day that had become ‘history’ to them? Will having the internet, with all the information in all the lands at their fingertips, make it easier or harder to sift through garbage to find the facts.

You and I understand this, but will our grandkids’ grandkids’ grandkids’? When the internet had allowed anyone to write whatever they wanted, for a century or more, until it had evolved into something we can’t actually foresee right now?

Let’s not think about it too much. No one will know the difference.

The advantages of being a 30-something in 2018

Having another birthday in your thirties, isn’t that bad, is it? Here is my list of benefits of being a 30-something in 2018, in no particular order.

  1. We don’t have to slum it while travelling overseas anymore.
    No more hostels. And trip-advisor is there to guide the way
  2. Experience of entertainment technology, early to late
    We may be able to play music or shows online from a smartphone, cast on televisions and speakers all over the house, but we still have VHS tapes, somewhere in the cupboard and know what it means to ‘rewind’ something.
  3. We’re not too cool to listen to any type of music
    Whether it’s 70s, 30s, or being the first ones to like grunge in the 90s (before it became mainstream), we can handle it
  4. A time with and without smartphones
    We can remember a time when you had no choice but to wait for someone to show up, with few options of contacting them
  5. Social Media
    We’re not addicted to, yet can cope with Social Media
  6. Movies
    We remember a time when YOUR type of films were being released almost every month.
    Has TV killed the movie star? (See what I did there?)
  7. We have read poetry in our lifetime
  8. We know what we want to be when we grow up
  9. We value the people who make time for us
  10. We have blogs that take up too much time, when we should be writing and/or editing

Calendar events

We all have ways we spend our spare time, wasteful or otherwise. I, for instance, love to procrastinate for days about what to write a blog post about, while feeling guilty that I’m not editing, which means that I’d either end up editing my manuscript or do something completely different, until somewhere along the line, I eventually spend the 20 minutes writing that post.

Of course, we also do other things that belong in varying spots on the time-well-spent scale.

And then there are the events we are forced to look forward to. Don’t you think we’re actually living our lives by calendar events? You may ask me how else you might live it.
Bear with me.

I’m not referring to anniversaries or birthdays, which are of-course great. Even though you’re the one who has been choosing everyone’s presents for the last decade and a half. No, I mean the focus of any shop window display at different times of the year. And the inevitable questions that precedes it. For example, what are you doing for [enter event here]?

First comes New Year’s Eve and Australia Day in January, then it’s Valentine’s day’s turn (which some people celebrate and others just see as a slightly annoying day with a total lack of free restaurant options). Next, it’s Chinese New Year’s lanterns and dragons filling the streets. When you throw in all the food and comedy festivals (which are awesome, by the way), before you know it, it’s Christmas and we’re organising those presents again.

I can honestly say that I’m exhausted just writing this.

But I’ll have to cut it short there.

I have to get up to go to the super market now: Those Easter eggs and hot cross buns will only be on sale for a very short time.

What?

Smartphones

When did smartphones become so addictive? I can tell you when, about 30 years ago, or so it feels. But in reality, we all know when it started to happen. Just over a decade ago.

And we also know what has happened to most of us in that time. We can’t go without it for a day, or let’s be honest, no more than a few hours.

When you really think about it, do you really want to? I have a semi-good reason at least (al be it bazaar), for not wanting just that.
We have almost become the exact humans in those man-vs-machine films where the machines are really calling the shots and the humans go on with ordinary things, completely unaware.

Truth is, I don’t often leave my phone at home by accident, but when I do, OMG (that’s right, I also wouldn’t have used that acronym 10 years ago). Actually, forget I used it now.

When you do go out in public without your phone, you can forget about feeling connected at all – Not because you don’t want to be in the moment, smell the roses or interact with a real human, but I really think it’s the option of having all-information-ever at your fingertips and the potential need to use it at any point, that gets you.

You would have no idea whether the train is actually going to be on time, what has happened overnight or what is going on in the world right now (through actual news or otherwise), and how anyone is going to contact you.

If this was the 90s, fine. When you had no other option, waiting for a friend to show up and hoping that you gave them the right info, was all you could do.

And when you eventually get back home to find your phone, which, let’s face it, was probably happy for the break and its battery almost fully charged, how many texts and instant messages are really waiting?

Wait, don’t answer that.

But It is what it is.

Google it. Or not.

How else do you solve arguments these days?

Thoughts and opinions

The information age has shed light on pretty much everything, in ways that are often great… and ways that are perhaps not very effective.

How many times have you consulted with Doctor Google, semi-freaked yourself out, only to eventually be told by a doctor that it’s probably nothing. Super reassuring, but not worth dwelling on too much, probably because if you believed Google, you’ll definitely believe a medical professional, right?

And it’s not like we didn’t survive before the internet. In fact, we did perfectly alright to not think about some things that only have a 1/1000 chance of happening.

I don’t think I’m alone in this.

And it’s not just professional opinions either. We’re relying on strangers’ reviews of pretty much anything. No longer is a praise or complaint a private matter, or a letter to a newspaper/magazine at worst, but a public display of good and bad (al be it justified or not).

But it’s not all like that.  No other time have anyone and everyone’s written thoughts been so accessible, to anyone who chooses to read it.
Sometimes, the absolute privilege of reading someone’s thoughts online, whether in a blog or otherwise, would not have been possible before. Previously confined to a hard copy or lost, these have never been as straight forward to share – most of the time a great thing, and other times, less so.

I, for one, am happy to be part of it… most of the time. And I don’t think I’m alone this.

10 things no one told you about moving overseas

  1. You won’t be the friend someone has known for ages, for literally ages. And until you are, you’ll be an outsider. But one day, all of a sudden, you won’t be new anymore.
  2. You’ll meet some wonderful people
  3. You will be forced into independence
  4. You’ll need to do the hard yards when it comes to entering a foreign workforce, especially as a graduate. But it will become a lot easier when you’ve had the chance to prove yourself
  5. You will be doing most of the ringing and texting friends and arranging to go back home a great deal more than you’ll be welcoming visitors, until after about 15 years, even going back won’t necessarily guarantee that childhood friends remember you’re coming (I can say that because we’re friends that have known each other for ages and it is what it is).
  6. You’ll be using different terms for everyday things, e.g. safety belts become seatbelts overnight (but not in your head), circles: roundabouts, green peppers: capsicums and the one that gets the most looks – robots, which you know as traffic lights. See, told you… looks.
  7. You won’t be able to get the same stuff in the new country and substitutes will have to do, until you find a store that charges double or triple for something that had to be imported
  8. If you grew up with more than one language, you’ll start to think in the main language of the country you’re living in and when this happens, your native language will start to suffer. However, you’ll forever be translating maths into your native language first before making the calculation and appear to have stage fright when this occurs (with your university math major and all)
  9. You’ll still discover that there’s a different way of doing something (the way everyone else is doing it), years later
  10. You’ll come out the other end and be stronger for it

Perspective

Have you ever heard someone say ‘let’s have a normal amount of perspective’ or ‘let’s look at the bigger picture’?

I have, many times, and I now try not to cringe every time I hear that, in response to just having been engrossed in the detail of something, because that just happens to be the trademark of my (first) thought preference.

This in itself, is both an advantage and a challenge for any writer… When detail is required to provide the reader with the ins-and-outs of a story-line, it can be your friend. But when you’re required to see the bigger picture, whether story specific or just keeping your spirits up, it can be either a friend or part-time friend, depending on the writer’s effort to ‘have a normal amount of perspective’.

And I’ve come to appreciate it and see it as a strength (most of the time), though perhaps less so when your thoughts are also never without reflection…

I was driving Simon from one winery to the next in the Yarra Valley a few days ago (part of his birthday week) and we were listening to the first decent radio station we could find, as you do when your pre-programmed stations won’t work, being out of range. And I was singing along to a song with my own made-up lyrics, just because I had never bothered to learn the proper ones (too focused on the melody), which I soon realised, shaped my perspective of the song, al be it warped.

As I was pondering that for a few moments, I then caught the last part of a news segment, talking about the ‘future’ of virtual reality changing your perspective of the house you’re living in, whenever you wear the goggles. It sounds ridiculous right now, to alter what you see when you’re in your own home, but will it be as ridiculous in decades to come? Not unlike rock music that was once ‘alternative’ in the nineties and became mainstream and commercial, as soon as ‘they’ said ‘this is pretty good’.

And I couldn’t help but wonder – what will influence the way in which we read and interpret fiction when everything around it changes? Perhaps something to explore in another blog post.

But if one’s general perspective is so unique and influenced by whatever you consciously or subconsciously decide, at least we’ll have some control over it, right?

The ridiculousness of time

I’m sure that the relativity of time has been pondered many times. It isn’t a new idea. I believe Einstein had something to say about it?

In my experience, the perception of the speed at which time passes, seems to be directly corelated to your current position in a given week, which is completely absurd, especially when your job is an enjoyable one. But it just seems to be built-in, somehow.

And then when the weekend (or holiday) comes, I’m in a constant state of needing to enjoy the time I have off. And this is why: I suddenly have time to write, to play the piano, to plan my next holiday, to cook up a storm or whatever else I ‘didn’t have time to do during the week’, which is ridiculous in itself. But unless I actually do at least one of these things, I’m not enjoying the inevitable ‘nothing’ I end up actually doing and always at the expense of not writing, not planning… You get the idea.

And when you have to get up at a certain time the next morning, time seems to become the biggest clock-watching constraint, restricted by thoughts of all the things I hadn’t done yet – not in the ‘left your homework until Sunday night kind-of-way’, but annoying, all the same.

But when I’m overseas or in a different state, and I’m doing the things I planned for on the weekends I managed to plan, I almost always try to stop time, which obviously doesn’t work, just to take it all in. The moment when you’re standing on the Great Wall, or snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, or pretending to be in the Sound of Music, while skipping around Salzburg, is so impossibly great, that time feels irrelevant.

Can you believe that Daylight Saving is coming? That day when another hour disappears, without the burden of doing-nothing can make it so…

I have to go now. I have other things to write, to do, to plan… or clean the house and exercise. *sigh*

Top