Saturday, November 10, 2018

Flowers of Rememberance - the Poppy and the Rock Rose.

While the Flanders Poppy is synonymous with Remembrance Day, there is another flower that is remembered by the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli.

Thousands of miles from Flanders, the inhospitable hillsides of Gallipoli were coloured with the hardy flowering shrub – the Rock Rose (Cistus salviifolius).

After World War 1, seeds from the 'Gallipoli' Rose were brought back to Australia and planted by the soldiers in their gardens.
Rock roses thrive in full sun and flower profusely while growing on poor soils. Because it doesn’t mind salt-laden winds and alkaline soils, it is a great coastal plant.

Hopefully, it will tolerate the wild winds blowing off the waters of Bass Strait. So, in anticipation, I have bought 18 small rock roses (both white and pink) to plant in my new garden, when the time is right.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

BRU doll reproduction - French fashion doll of 1890

I was never a doll lover, however, twelve years ago, I wrote an English historical fiction book that featured a French BRU doll from the 1890s. Having researched the exclusive French Fashion Dolls of that time, I learned a lot about them. Unfortunately, to buy an original BRU today would cost many thousands of dollars. Doll makers, however, go to great lengths to make accurate reproductions.

A few weeks ago, I visited a second hand shop in Tasmania and saw this reproduction BRU for $100 and decided if she was there a month later, I would buy her.
So, yesterday, I came home with my very own repro/antique Bru doll which had been made in Dorset, England.

From the tag attached to her wrist, I understand she is a BRU JNE 8 from a doll by Casimir Bru - French 1980. She has been painstakingly dressed and true to her origins. Her tiny shoes are of suede, and her pierced ears bear tiny pearl drop earrings.

By and by, my book, titled by my British publisher was “The Twisting Vine”, however, that was not the title I had submitted when I wrote it, so when I received the rights to my book back and self-published, I re-named it “Through Glass Eyes”.

In a nutshell, it’s a saga spanning 25 years during which time the doll’s fortunes twist and turn dramatically with its change of ownership.
Through Glass Eyes is available for $1.00 on Amazon Kindle.

Friday, July 20, 2018

"The Barefoot Surgeon" - a truly inspirational story

I try to write a review of all the books I read, and of late I have been devouring books like they are going out of fashion. 
While my book choice was once primarily British Nautical and Historical fiction, I recently changed tack and veered into modern day murder and intrigue stories often set in the USA.
But this week, I read a biography - one of the few of this genre I have ever entertained. This followed watching an interview on TV of Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit. His story, titled "The Barefoot Surgeon" begins with a boy living in a remote Nepalese village high in the Himalayas. From the onset, I was intrigued. 
Superbly written by Ali Gripper and published only a few days ago, the challenges which beset this remarkable man are hard to believe. What he achieved over 30+ years is even more astounding.
I have just written my review and posted it on Amazon. 
Here is a transcript:

A truly inspiring and moving story which continues to this very day. From the inhospitable and hazardous mountains of the Himalayas, Ruit's story is a journey-story in more ways than one that takes him from the dangerous yak tracks in the shadow of Everest, to the palaces and seats of learning of the world. It is a journey through life, beset by adversity and challenges yet filled with dedication and love, a journey to fulfil one man's dream to bring sight to the million of people around the world who cannot see.
Operating in makeshift theatres with plastic sheets for walls, using equipment and intraocular lens donated by other surgeons and institutions, fighting adversities along with criticism and condemnations from the establishment, Ruit performed 70 operations every day, built a hospital and numerous treatment centres across Nepal and trained dozens of young surgeons in delicate eye surgery.
Today Ruit is recognized as one of the top ophthalmic surgeons in the world.
The story of this brilliant man is told here so eloquently by author, Ali Gripper.
I found this book hard to put down.
Highly, highly recommended.  

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

VIETNAM VETERAN: lifeboat from the “Jeparit”.

Pic: Boat - Low Head pilot station museum.
This type of aluminium lifeboat was developed during the Vietnam War when the Australian Navy was experimenting with various materials. It did not perform well in the water and today there are very few still in existence due to the corrosion it suffered.

Pic: Ship – “Jeparit” – Royal Australian Navy website.
 Between 1967 and 1972, sailing under both merchant and naval ensigns, “Jeparit” made 43 voyages in support of Australian operations in Vietnam, steaming over 410,000 miles during that time and carrying some 175,000 deadweight tons of cargo including such varied items as canteen stores, ammunition and stores for civil aid.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Authors - your Amazon book page is your main shop-front.

The significance of seemingly insignificant facts.

While it may be only the cover image and title that has attracted some customers to your novel, once your book is published on Amazon, potential readers can garner lots of information from that single page about you, your book, your style of writing, its review star rating, and the publication standard - be it traditional or home-grown. These are aside from the pertinent facts like page count and price.
   When browsing a book’s page, price for me, is the first thing I check out. Personally, I don’t buy e-books that retail around $10 or more.
    I then consider the number of star reviews the book has received and the value of the stars. I regard 4 and 5 stars at about the same value and don’t usually read more than one or two of the printed reviews. Keep in mind that a newly released book with only 5 star reviews might be the result of friends and relatives being the first customers who feel obliged to boost the writer’s ego. An occasional low star review amongst many does not concern me. But if the low star reviews outweigh the higher star counts then I want to know why.
   I always read the author’s Bio(graphy). It provides an insight into the personality of the person behind the pen – their sex, age, background, nationality and interests. Can I align with that writer?
    I then scroll down to the facts Amazon provides about each book such as the date of publication. Is it a new release or has it been around for years? What is the page count? Some books have less than 100 pages, others have over 500.
    Next I check out the publisher. Has the book been traditionally or self-published, though it is not always easy to determine.
   For me, the main factor which will determine if I will buy is the “Look inside” facility. Most e-books on Amazon have this option available – just click on the cover thumbnail.
    Scrolling through a few pages provides a facsimile of how the book will present when opened on your Kindle or reading device. Correct or poor formatting is immediately obvious. Poor spelling, punctuation and syntax indicate the book has not been well edited. Finally, by reading the opening chapter the potential purchaser will know if he/she likes the writer’s style and if the opening pages have grabbed their attention and made them want to read more.

    For any author, writing the book is the main. Having the work edited and formatted comes second. Then throwing together a Bio and Blurb for Amazon is often the last chore the author is confronted with.
    But the Amazon web page on which your book appears is your shop-front and it is the information that appears there that has most bearing on whether a customer decides to purchase your novel or not.
    Just my thought for the day.  

Friday, July 07, 2017

Taphophilia - an affliction found in graveyards.

Do you suffer from TAPHOPHILIA? 
I know I do. I caught it from my Dad when I was a young child.
Perhaps you have also been struck down by it. Don't know, then ask yourself:
“Do you love to roam through cemeteries when you're on holiday? If so, there's a word for what you've got: "taphophilia", a love of graves and the rituals of death.
Taphophiles, also known as "gravers", are the people who pore over epitaphs, gravestones and the history of the dead.” ***
For historians and family history researchers, epitaphs on graves read like a map to the past – connecting people, places and events. Often they tell of grief and loss, but also of emigration, incarceration, trauma and tragedy.
A few weeks ago, I wandered through the graveyard on Norfolk Island. This consecrated ground captures the history of First Fleeters, officers and guards responsible for the lives and deaths of convicts sentenced to the most diabolical penal settlement in Australia. 
The graves also recognise generation of descendants of the mutinous crew of HMS Bounty who despatched Captain Bligh to the Pacific Ocean in an open boat over 200 years ago.

Unfortunately, the main problem with "taphophilia" is that once the bug gets into your blood stream there is no cure.

*** by Fiona Pepper and Claudette Werden for ‘Blueprint for Living’ (ABC).