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

 

 

‘Mountain Secrets’ launch

Libby Sommer reading her poem at podium watched by publisher Stephen Matthews
‘Mountains are constant but continually changing. Captive to the seasons, they reveal many faces: in winter shrouded in snow and mist, yet so visibly majestic in the summer months that they appear to touch the sky. Lost in clouds at times, so discernible at others. Places of solitude yet at the mercy of mountaineers who swarm them. Both revered and feared; mystical and earthy; elusive but tangible. Does the mystery of mountains lie in the many paradoxes that surround them? Join more than 150 poets from across Australia in a tantalising exploration of mountains around the world, real and imagined, literal and figurative.’ – Joan Fenney
That’s me reading my prose poem AMBER PUPPY at the Blackheath Heritage Centre for launch last Saturday of the anthology MOUNTAIN SECRETS (Ginninderra Press) edited by Joan Fenney. Publisher Stephen Matthews looks on.
In the Introduction to MOUNTAIN SECRETS Joan Fenney writes:
‘Mountains symbolise many aspects – overcoming obstacles, spiritual elevation, constancy, isolation and challenges. They inspire adventurers to scale their heights, and writers, lyricist, artists and photographers to portray them with words and images.’
A big thank you to Ginninderra Press for inviting all of us GP poets to bring our creativity to this anthology, exploring themes of love, loss, hurt, courage, awe, reverence and solitude. Such an honour to be included.
Mountain Secrets book cover

Glass Walls anthology launch update

glasswalls cover

Exciting news from Meenakshi Bharat re launch of GLASS WALLS in India on Tuesday 24 September: ‘Her Excellency Ms Harinder Sidhu, the Australian High Commissioner in Delhi has kindly agreed to release Glass Walls.’

The Australian launch of GLASS WALLS will be Sunday 20 October in Melbourne as part of the Australian Short Story Festival.. I am honored to have a story included in this collection of stories of tolerance and intolerance from the Indian subcontinent and Australia. There’s my name on the back cover alongside literary greats such as David Malouf and Elizabeth Jolley.

So what is the Australian Short Story Festival?

The Australian Short Story Festival is an annual celebration of short stories in written and spoken forms. The Festival brings together local, national and international short story authors and oral storytellers in a culturally diverse and vibrant celebration of storytelling in the shorter form.

My favourite contemporary short story writer is Canadian Alice Munro. I have five of her collections on my bookshelves.

Alice Ann Munro is a Canadian short-story writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. Munro’s work has been described as having revolutionized the architecture of short stories, especially in its tendency to move forward and backward in time. Wikipedia

When it comes to the classics, it’s hard to beat the gigantic talent of writer James Joyce.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, teacher, and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century. Wikipedia

His most often referred to short story is The Dead.

“The Dead” is the final short story in the 1914 collection Dubliners by James Joyce. The other stories in the collection are shorter, whereas at 15,952 words, “The Dead” is almost long enough to be described as a novella.

This is the last paragraph of James Joyce’s, “The Dead” and an explanation of what it means by sparknotes:
Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried.
—“The Dead”

‘In the very last paragraph of “The Dead,” and hence the last paragraph of Dubliners, Gabriel gazes out of his hotel window, watching the falling snow and reflecting on his wife Gretta’s recent confession about her childhood love, Michael Furey. Previously in the story, Gabriel had been intoxicated and energized by Gretta’s preoccupied mood, which reminded him of their courtship, but her outburst of sobbing undermines his self-assurance. This quiet moment of contemplation portrays Gabriel’s muted, hushed acceptance that he was not Gretta’s first love, and that in fact he has never felt love at all. The blanket of snow suggests this sense of numbness in Gabriel’s character—he is literally frigid to emotion—but also the commonality of this trait. The snow does not fall only outside of Gabriel’s window, but, as he envisions it, across the country, from the Harbor of Dublin in the east, to the south in Shannon, and to the west. In other words, everyone, everywhere, is as numb as he is.

‘In this image, Gabriel also contemplates his mortality, and how his living experience intersects with death and the dead. Snow falls everywhere in Ireland, including on the grave of Michael Furey, who has so recently entered his life. In his speech at his aunts’ party, Gabriel had called for the need to live one’s life without brooding over the memories of the dead, but here he realizes the futility of such divisions and the lack of feeling they expose in his character. Gretta cannot forget the pain of the dead in her life, and her acute suffering illustrates for Gabriel that the dead are very much a part of the lives around him, including his own. That Gabriel’s reflections occur in the nighttime adds to the significance of this quote. As he now broods over the dead, he hovers in that flickering state that separates the vibrancy of one daytime from the next. The darkness above the ground mirrors the darkness beneath the ground, where coffins of the dead rest.’ – sparknotes

I love a well written short story. What about you?

Congratulations to Jacqui Murray on her latest book, The Quest for Home

The Quest for Home book cover

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Summary

I’m excited to be part of the launch of Jacqui’s latest book, The Quest for Home. Here’s what it’s about:

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life. 

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

Book information:

 Title and author: The Quest for Home

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

 

‘Glass Walls’ Pre-launch

 

'glass walls' book cover

Such a thrill to see my name in the list of contributors to ‘Glass Walls’, stories of tolerance and intolerance from the Indian Subcontinent and Australia, alongside famous authors  including David Malouf, Elizabeth Jolley, Bruce Pascoe, Debra Adelaide, Roanna Gonsalves.

‘Glass Walls’ had a pre-launch at SAFAL (South Asian Festival of Art and Literature) at the weekend.  At the event I was invited to read my short story ‘Henry’ (first published in Quadrant). Am honoured to have my work in this important book published by Orient BlackSwan, edited by Meenakshi Bharat and Sharon Rundle. The book will be released this month.  It will be fully launched at the Australian Short Story Festival 2019 in Melbourne October 18-20.

‘Glass Walls’ challenges readers to look deeply into their own prejudices and reveals how small intimacies of intolerance become the bedrock of world tragedies that tear humanity apart. A powerful anthology.’ – Susanne Gervay OAM

book cover 'Glass Walls'

Launch of WILD anthology

Libby Sommer reading from Wild poetry anthology

Last weekend I read my poem BRONTE BEACH at the launch of WILD anthology (Ginninderra Press), at East Avenue Bookshop, Clarence Park, Adelaide, South Australia.

More than 50 of us squeezed into the bookshop to read our poems and to listen to 30 different voices from New South Wales, Victoria, The Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, and South Australia.

In the anthology a total of 159 poets from around Australia explore the many facets of ‘wild’ – human, animal, environmental and metaphorical.

Such an honor to be included. This is my contribution to the book:

 

BRONTE BEACH

The surf’s been hammered by rain,

and along the pavement open-faced cafes wedge side by side:

compact, glass-fronted, in flattened

Art Deco buildings, with competing blackboard menus.

Rain drips from the edge of the canvas awning,

and a smell of fried fish in rancid oil

through the mouth of the sliding door

as an oversized bus pulls in and blocks the view.

Marooned on the swell are wet-suited board riders,

unwavering as the cliff face above the rocks that define the beach.

Beyond the rock pool the waves

remain stubbornly low spreading a shallow calm.

The rain settles, rusting roof racks in the salt air,

and those expired meters will upset the fattened

people-who-lunch in the darkening afternoon.

All day the treacherous ocean scours

the man-made sea pool, where

all-weather swimmers scan the water

for migrating dolphins or whales.

A white-hulled speedboat appears

in the grey-blue, travelling north,

and the black-clad board riders wait,

grounded, legless pigeons who can,

in a heartbeat, fan their iridescent wings.

Squabbling seagulls swoop and dive

and chase each other between the palms,

each white slow and steady flap of wings

picked up by the whiteness of the backwash

of the speed boat out there on the pastel-pink ocean,

disappearing behind the haze.

© Libby Sommer 2018

East Avenue Bookstore, Clarence Park

red book cover of Wild anthology

Am very grateful that my poem is in this wonderful anthology of diverse voices.

Thank you Annette Kay Jolly for the photos of me reading.

 

From acceptance to publication

 

tango-dancing-couple-dance-style-67238.jpeg

Over the weekend I finished correcting first proofs of THE USUAL STORY, a prequel to THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM and posted them back to Ginninderra Press in Adelaide. Final proofs next. We’re on track for a July release. An exciting time.

red and black book cover The Crystal Ballroom

This is my third book, so I’m getting used to the publication process. After acceptance of the manuscript by Ginninderra Press in July 2017, eight months later I received first proofs. These I’ve read and corrected.

In the meantime we have been discussing the cover image. Ginninderra Press is a small but prestigious publisher and I’m able to have a say in cover design. This doesn’t happen with a larger publisher. I am also in communication with GP about a quote to put on the front cover to attract sales and a blurb for the back cover.

Blurbs are very difficult to write. I had a chat with my good friend the talented author Susanne Gervay today about my blurb. She did a brainstorming session with me and I think we’ve got a few lines together that will make people want to read the book.

first proofs, The Usual Story by Libby Sommer

Actually, first draft of the blurb is:

‘Tango is the dance of passion, forcing partners into an intimate relationship. Sofia loves the tango, but at the dances she comes face to face with the truth of her aging in today’s culture that has very little use for anything that is not young.’

What do you think? I would LOVE some feedback on this blurb. Please give me your response in the comments section. I’m not a good big-picture-person like my friend Susanne. I’m more into observing small details, which is good for prose and poetry but not for writing pitches and blurbs.

I asked Les Murray, Nobel Prize nominee for Literature, who is also Literary Editor of Quadrant magazine, if he would read THE USUAL STORY and write a couple of lines for the back cover. He said yes. Wow! I’m so delighted. He knows my work well having published many of my short stories and poems. So first proofs have also been posted to him.

So that’s front and back cover. And then there’s a dedication page to be added, acknowledgements, etc.  Versions of three of the chapters in THE USUAL STORY were first published in Quadrant so this needs to be acknowledged.

Then comes final proofs. Professional proof readers are very expensive so I’m hoping my eldest son with the PhD will proof read for me this time. TBA.

Then comes Cover Release with a big beat up on social media. I post regularly on Instagram and Facebook and less regularly on Twitter and Pinterest. I think the cover looks terrific. It’s not all finalised yet. I asked two tango dancers I know for copyright clearance on one of their images that shows the two of them dancing the tango. It’s one of the photos they use to promote their classes at A Little Buenos Aires. They said yes, as long as I acknowledge copyright ownership. So that’s great. It’s an eye-catching pic and would look good beside THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM in book stores.

Next step is pre-release copies announcement. Social media again.

Then details of the release date of THE USUAL STORY. Champagne and balloons and a lot of brouhaha when the book is finally available to the public.

I am not planning to have a book launch. Unfortunately, I am a very shy person and hate being the centre of attention. I had a launch for my first book and it was very successful. However, I was so anxious I thought I was having a heart attack. So not doing that again. A shame because book launches are a good way to sell books. Because this book also features a lot of tango dancing, I am thinking I could have a soft launch at a milonga or tango dance. Just a slice of chocolate cake and a glass of champagne at half time. Or not.

A Fabulous Celebration

Libby Sommer reading from her book while Stephen Matthews listensNicholas Building, Melbourne

A big thank you to my publisher Stephen Matthews, Ginninderra Press for a wonderful afternoon of celebration last Saturday at Collected Works Bookshop in the historic Nicholas Building, Melbourne.

Ginninderra Press celebrated 21 years of independent publishing and Stephen Matthews launched my second book, ‘The Crystal Ballroom’. That’s him looking on as I read the first couple of pages of the story. The room was jam-packed full of people. Hopefully, the audience were enthralled and wanted to read the rest of my book.

Other Ginninderra Press writers from all over Australia attended the event and many read a poem or a story including my new friend, the award-winning Melissa Bruce.

We all enjoyed ourselves drinking wine and eating cheese and other tasty bits and telling each other about our work.

There was a long queue at the cash register at the end of the day 🙂

 

 

A novel-in-stories

The Crystal Ballroom red and black book cover

Three weeks till launch of my second novel ‘The Crystal Ballroom’, a novel-in-stories.

So what is a novel-in-stories? One famous example  is Elizabeth Strout’s Pullitzer Prize-winning ‘Olive Kitteridge’.

‘A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.’ – Goodreads

‘In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.’

yellow Olive Kitteridge book cover

A novel-in-stories, or connected short stories that together become more than the sum of their parts,  is also known as a short story cycle.

‘A short story cycle (sometimes referred to as a story sequence or compositenovel) is a collection of short stories in which the narratives are specifically composed and arranged with the goal of creating an enhanced or different experience when reading the group as a whole as opposed to its individual parts.’ – Wikipedia
The Canterbury Tales book cover
‘A novel-in-stories is a book-length collection of short stories that are interconnected. (One of the very first examples of this genre is The Canterbury Tales; a more recent example is The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank.) A novel-in-stories overcomes two key challenges for writers: the challenge of writing a novel-length work, and the challenge of publishing a book-length work of unrelated short stories. (Few publishers are willing to publish a short-story collection from an unknown writer.) So, the novel-in-stories helps you sell a story collection like you would a novel—as long as the interconnected nature of the stories is strong and acts as a compelling hook. Another advantage to novels-in-stories is that they afford you the opportunity to publish pieces of your novel in a variety of literary magazines, which might attract the attention of an editor or agent.’ – Writer’s Digest

‘The Crystal Ballroom’ is connected by place and by a first person narrator and her friend who exchange stories about the characters they meet at the singles dances as they search for a regular dance partner.

The book will be launched by Stephen Matthews on 1 July in downtown Melbourne at Collected Works Bookshop at an afternoon of launches and book reading to celebrate Ginninderra Press’s 21 years of independent publishing.

Counting down. Can hardly wait.

Launch Event

red and black The Crystal Ballroom book cover

Save the date! Help me celebrate the launch of my new book on Saturday 1 July. My second novel The Crystal Ballroom – stories of love and loss in the singles dance scene – will be launched by Stephen Matthews at Collected Works Bookshop, Level 1, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne at an afternoon of book launches and readings to celebrate award-winning Ginninderra Press’s  21 years of independent publishing.

Hope to see you then 🙂