Arrived home from hospital after joint replacement to the exciting news that my poem, ‘Between the Islands of the Pacific’ has been accepted for publication in Quadrant magazine. Feel honored to have a third poem accepted by this prestigious Australian literary publication. Happy happy me. The hard work pays off.
I do have a box full of rejection letters from over the years. My advice to you is to keep writing, keep reading, keep refining your work, keep submitting. ‘Between the Islands of the Pacific’ was the fifth poem I sent to Quadrant this year. The others were rejected.
Another one of my short stories, first published in Quadrant magazine June 2015, inspired by visits to France. Each year, if possible, I rent a studio for a month in a little fishing village in the south of France. I refer to these periods of quiet time away as a Writing-Retreat-For-One. A great place to read and write and go for long walks and, hopefully, come up with story ideas.
Although she loved her nieces and nephews, it was when she turned thirty-nine that driving young children around in her car seemed to make her nervous—a tightening in the stomach. “Aunty Helen, would you like to take Naomi to see The Muppets? Are you free?” Always these requests from one of her sisters looking tired and desperate—one of her younger siblings, they used to be so close—and Helen would force herself to make the effort to be the good aunty. The responsibility of passengers in her car always made her anxious. She was anxious about one thing or the other most of the time, but wanted to appear selfless and generous-spirited. Her availability, or non-availability, was noted, itemised, either in her favour, or against her. She didn’t want to be labelled self-obsessed. She had entered an era when the nicest thing a person could say to her was, “You’re a fabulous aunty. The kids love you.” Continue reading →
‘Have you ever heard Latin American music coming from an upper room over a shop, and lingered briefly at the sign about dancing classes? Perhaps you have seen people–a man in built-up shoes or a woman with a surfeit of silver bangles–heading for an old town hall after dark. The world of ballroom dancing and tango lessons has its own etiquette and hierarchies. Libby Sommer’s new fiction ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ lifts the lid on the delights and pitfalls of this fascinating sub-culture …
‘Sommer has great skill in creating atmosphere. The music, the swirling scents of aftershave and sweat, the decor of ballrooms, flats, motels and shared tents are powerfully evoked …
‘Some of the best passages in the book express the joy of dancing:
We’re practising walking the length of the hall. Alberto says that in Buenos Aires students of tango spend two years just learning to walk properly. “Extend forward,” he says, “step forward, only placing the weight on the extended leg at the last moment, toes pointed, sides of the feet staying connected on the floor.” Then backwards with a straight leg, torso pulled up, chest up and out, and with a partner again, always there’s that special connection with a partner.
Hopefully, this wonderful review by Penelope Nelson will give sales of the book a boost. ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ is available directly from Gininnderra Press, in bookstores, and online.
My short story On Valentine’s Day appears in the September Quadrant available now in newsagents and good book stores. It took two years of rewriting before the story was accepted for publication. In Friday’s mail I received my contributor’s copy and a generous cheque. My name is on the front cover. Always a thrill. It took many years of my stories appearing in Quadrant before my name made it to the cover 🙂
The first paragraph of On Valentine’s Day reads:
You had to get out of them occasionally, those Australian country towns with the funny names: Wagga Wagga, Wee Waa, Woy Woy. Once, after a devastating week wiped out more than $4 trillion from the global stock exchanges, one of the local papers boasted a banner headline: WAGGA WAGGA WOMAN WEDS WOY WOY TOY BOY. You had to make an effort from time to time to get out, even if it meant flying all the way across the Nullarbor to go to a Valentine’s Day party.
My critique group will recognize the first paragraph. We meet weekly at the New South Wales Writers Centre to give and receive feedback on two pages of our writing. I brought sections of the 4,000 word On Valentine’s Day many times to the Women Writers Network at the Centre. Two dear friends also read the story and commented. Very much appreciated. More than once my two friends read the whole of On Valentine’s Day and offered constructive criticism. I couldn’t have got the story to a publishable standard without my writing group and my two friends. Lucky me.
Quadrant is a highly regarded literary magazine: http://quadrant.org.au/september-quadrant-now-sale/
I can’t emphasize enough how useful it is to have a weekly writing group. I work to that deadline. We take a couple of pages each and have 12 minutes to read and receive feedback. I think of it as ‘off Broadway’ and ‘on Broadway’. Famous comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Woody Allen say they test their material out on an ‘off Broadway’ audience before performing ‘on Broadway’.
What about you? Are you in a writing group? Do you find it useful?
I returned home to Sydney from my Writing-Retreat-For-One on the Cote d’Azur this week to some very good news. There in the mail was my contributor’s copy of Quadrant and a very much appreciated cheque. This is the first time Quadrant has accepted one of my poems for publication. The poem is titled Lying on a Harbour Beach at Noon. I feel honored to be included as a poet in this prestigious Australian literary magazine.