Launch: Stories from Bondi

painting of girl lying on beach in torquoise bikini reading a book

I was very lucky to have award-winning Australian author Susanne Gervay OAM launch my 4th book STORIES FROM BONDI on 2 November at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre.  Susanne and I first became friends about seven years ago when I stayed at her hotel in Woollahra for three weeks while recovering from major surgery. I’d mentioned our mutual friend Sharon Rundle and Susanne had said that anyone who was a friend of Sharon’s was a friend of hers. Susanne would notice me each morning in the corner of the cafe at the hotel working on my stories and she’d often come over and have a chat. Since that time she has continued to show an interest in my work and my writing career. She would encourage me to enter competitions and always remained positive about publication possibilities. Susanne is now one of my best friends. Lucky me.

It’s been a twenty year journey to book publication. I had five book length manuscripts written before I had one accepted for publication by Ginninderra Press. I am forever grateful to Stephen Matthews for giving me a chance. MY YEAR WITH SAMMY, the fifth book I’d written, went on to be Pick of the Week in Spectrum Books in the Sydney Morning Herald and was winner of the Society of Women Writers Fiction Book Award 2016.

So then I sent Stephen Matthews at Ginninderra Press manuscript numbers four, three, and two. He has published one book a year since 2015:  MY YEAR WITH SAMMY, THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM, THE USUAL STORY and now, STORIES FROM BONDI.

A massive thank you to my publisher.

And thank you to all those who supported me at the launch by buying copies of  my books.

In an animated entertaining presentation Susanne Gervay launched STORIES FROM BONDI by saying in her introduction:

‘Libby’s a red head. That’s the only thing I can think of for her extraordinary life. From my intense research, I know that redheads represent less than 2% of the population so they are a rare breed. They are sensitive, fiery, passionate, and also have more sex than blondes or brunettes. Sorry Libby, I learnt that from Cosmopolitan magazine.’

Susanne is a wonderful guest speaker. She had the whole room laughing wholeheartedly.

stories from bondi amazon cover image

 

 

Book shop supports local author

 

Exterior of Harry Hartog Bookseller

It’s so good to have the support of a local bookstore. Harry Hartog Bookseller at Bondi Junction keep my books in stock.

Bookshelves displaying New & Staff Favourites in Harry Hartog Bookseller

There’s my newly released STORIES FROM BONDI  in the ‘New & Staff Favourites’ section. Bottom shelf in the middle, next to Jeanette Winterson’s latest book.

If anyone would like to buy one of my books, they can be ordered from any book store. Otherwise order directly from publisher Ginninderra Press or online from Amazon, Book Depository and others.

 

Release of my new collection

 

painting of girl lying on beach in torquoise bikini reading a book

My new book STORIES FROM BONDI, a collection of stories set mostly in Bondi, is now available for pre-order. Target US are even advertising it! Don’t know how that happened. The book will be released as a paperback on 13 September but can be purchased as Kindle Edition from Amazon and as an eBook from Booktopia and other online sites now. As a paperback it can be ordered from bookstores, online and from the publisher, Ginninderra Press.

And here’s my author page on Amazon. Click the link. Feeling pretty proud. I think my four books look fabulous together, if I may say so myself 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/Libby-Sommer/e/B07676K8NV

 

 

 

Back Cover Blurb: ‘Stories from Bondi’

book cover of 'Stories from Bondi' showing people on the sand by the sea

Here is the back cover blurb for STORIES FROM BONDI due for September release by Ginninderra Press. What do you think?

Libby Sommer’s sensitively-drawn characters live and breathe within the echoes of the everyday. Stories from Bondi centre on women – their joys, doubts, loves and realisations. The foibles of human nature, with all their pathos and humour, are laid bare for the reader.

“From the opening story ‘Art and the Mermaid’, to a moving piece set in a health retreat that closes the collection, these stories beautifully capture the intimacies of women. Like My Year With Sammy and The Crystal Ballroom, this is classic Sommer.” – SUSANNE GERVAY OAM, author.

So what is a book blurb?

blurb is a short promotional piece accompanying a piece of creative work. It may be written by the author or publisher or quote praise from others. Blurbs were originally printed on the back or rear dust-jacket of a book, and are now found on web portals and news websites. – Wikipedia

A big thank you to fellow author Roslyn McFarland for giving me feedback on the blurb.  I’d only reworked it about a thousand times, but still Ros was able to help me make it clearer.

 

Cover Reveal: Stories from Bondi

book cover of 'Stories from Bondi' showing people on the sand by the sea

In the final stretch now towards publication next month of STORIES FROM BONDI. I received final proofs from the publisher Ginninderra Press. They are now being read by another set of eyes before posting back to Adelaide. 19 contemporary stories about men and women and life and the whole damn thing set mostly in and around Bondi. 

There will be a launch of the book in the Blue Mountains on 2 November. Details to follow.

So what are final proofs?

‘Proofs created by the printer for approval by the publisher before going to press are called final proofs. At this stage in production, all mistakes are supposed to have been corrected and the pages are set up in imposition for folding and cutting on the press. To correct a mistake at this stage entails an extra cost per page, so authors are discouraged from making many changes to final proofs, while last-minute corrections by the in-house publishing staff may be accepted.

‘In the final proof stage, page layouts are examined closely. Additionally, because final page proofs contain the final pagination, if an index was not compiled at an earlier stage in production, this pagination facilitates compiling a book’s index and correcting its table of contents.’ – Wikipedia

I’m very excited and can’t help boasting that this is my fourth book in four years. Phew. What a marathon it’s been!

 

Fortnightly Story: Art and the Mermaid

mermaid swimming deep in the sea

I wrote this fishy tale as part of a series of stories set in Bondi:  

Once upon a time it came to pass, so it is said, that an enormous storm swept the coast of New South Wales, doing extensive damage to the ocean beaches – destroying jetties, breakwaters and washing away retaining walls.  Mountainous seas swept Bondi Beach and dashed against the cliffs carrying ruin with every roller.  At North Bondi near Ben Buckler a huge submerged block of sandstone weighing 233 tons was lifted ten feet and driven 160 feet to the edge of the cliff where it remains to this day.

One day a Sydney sculptor, Lyall Randolph, looked upon the rock and was inspired.  The sculptor was a dreamer.  Let us, he said, have two beautiful mermaids to grace the boulder.  Using two Bondi women as models he cast the two mermaids in fibreglass and painted them in gold.

Without Council approval and at his own expense he erected The Mermaids for all to see on the giant rock that had been washed up by the sea.  The Mermaids sat side by side on the rock.  One shaded her eyes as she scanned the ocean and the other leant back in a relaxed fashion with an uplifted arm sweeping her hair up at the back of her neck.  Their fishy tails complemented the curves and crevices of their bodies.

It so happened that less than a month after The Mermaids were put in place, one was stolen and damaged.  The Council held many meetings to decide if she should be replaced using ratepayers’ money.  The council had previously objected to the sculptor placing the statues there without Council permission.  The sculptor had argued that before placing The Mermaids in position he had taken all necessary steps to obtain the requisite permission.

The large boulder at Ben Buckler, upon which The Mermaids were securely bolted and concreted, he said, is not in the municipality of Waverley at all.  It is in the sea.  According to the Australian Constitution high-tide mark is the defined limit of the Waverley Council’s domain.  The Maritime Services Board and the Lands Department both advised me they had no objection to the erection of The Mermaids.

One Waverley Alderman said he wished both mermaids had been taken instead of only one.  Someone else said the sculptor didn’t need the Council’s permission to put them there in the first place and the The Mermaids had given Bondi a great attraction without any cost to the Council.  The sculptor said The Mermaids had brought great publicity to the Council.  They had been featured in films, newspapers, television and the National Geographic magazine.

The Mayor used his casting vote in favour of the mermaid and she was re-installed.

For over ten years the two beautiful golden mermaids reclined at Ben Buckler, attracting many thousands of sightseers to the beach.

Poised on the huge boulder they braved the driving storms of winter until one day one was washed off.  The Council saw its opportunity and removed the other.

Today, only the remnants of one mermaid remain – but not on the rock.  In a glass cabinet in Waverley Library at Bondi Junction all that is left of the two beautiful mermaids is a figure with half a face.  There’s a hole instead of a cheek, a dismembered torso, part of an uplifted arm, the tender groove of an armpit.  And there, down below, a complete fish’s tail.

Copyright © 2017 Libby Sommer

First published in Quadrant

Header image:  Creative Commons

 

Fortnightly Story: Towards the End

colourful cafe scene

He leaned back on the chrome chair, stretched his legs out under the square black table and placed his mobile phone in front of him. He looked over to the counter at the back of the cafe at the cakes and muffins on display and the Italian biscuits in jars. He turned back to the glass windows and wondered if he had the guts to tell her today. He wanted to. By Christ he wanted to. He straightened up, his elbows on the table, his hands clasped together in front of his face. There’d been some good times, that’s for sure. But what the heck. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

The sliding glass door clanked open and Anny walked in. He looked over at her, first from the rear as she closed the door and then as she approached, her face flushed, her dark hair flying back from her shoulders. Not bad looking. A bit on the heavy side but not a bad looker all the same. Yes, there’d been some good times. Especially in the sack.

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Around Midnight

painting of nude reclining woman on ceramic platter
Ceramic painting by Libby Sommer 2008

 

‘When are you open?’ Anny asks the woman on the telephone.

‘We have a party twice a day.  Every day.  Twelve thirty to four thirty and seven thirty to midnight.’

‘Oh.  Every day?  I thought it was Saturday nights only.’

‘No darling.  Every day.’

‘So what’s the setup?’

‘$120 for a couple.  Nothing if you come on your own.  What’s your position.  How would you come along?’

‘On my own.’

‘It would cost you nothing then.’

‘But what do you do?  I mean, I know what goes on there.’

‘You’ve been here before?’

‘No.  A friend told me about it.  What do you wear?  What’s the setup?’

‘It’s all up to you love.  If you fancy a gentleman you invite him into one of the rooms.’

‘What do you wear though?  My friend said something about robes.’

‘Towels. They’re towels love.  You wear whatever you like.  Normal clothes.’

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After the Rain

silver pen on writing pad on antique pine settle

Just before six o’clock on Friday evening, Anny and Gordon get out of Anny’s Honda.  They walk down Bondi Road passing the tattoo shop, the vegetarian restaurant and yet another new Thai restaurant.  The road is unusually quiet and Anny has parked directly opposite the fish cafe where she’s taking Gordon for dinner.  The streets aren’t grid locked during the Olympics after all and there’s an unusual calm on this usually noisy busy road.

Walk in front of me, says Gordon as they head towards the traffic lights and the pedestrian crossing.  I can see better if you walk slightly in front of me.

She doesn’t know whether to offer him her arm or what.  She feels embarrassed at the thought of close physical contact with him and is pleased that he’s told her to walk in front.  At least she knows now the best way to progress along the street with him.  Not like the snail’s pace of the week before.

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