Friday, December 30, 2011

Farewell to a dear friend

We have few real friends through our lives - so it is a sad time to see a good friend pass away.
Mick Casson and I met in Bakers Hill, Western Australia where we both attended the same ballroom dancing classes. We both had two left feet and being of Yorkshire stock, could always see the funny side of things.
When I moved to Tasmania, Mick visited me on several occasions, not only for a holiday but to help me with jobs in the house.

Though not a sailor, Mick loved the sea and the seashore and was impressed with the 'painted' rocks on the east coast.
When we visited the north coast at Port Sorrell he was happy to sit and watch the placid waters of Bass Strait.

This year he came over in February, but when he retuned in July, his visit had to be cut short due to his illness.
I visited him in WA in November and found him to be a shadow of his former self.
Mick died of cancer on 28th December, 2011.
A brave battler and a true friend who will be sorely missed.

Graduated with Associate Degree

After two years of study at University of Tasmania, I graduated in December with an Associate Degree in Arts.
Because I had done a BA before, I was able to select a mix of subjects which I was interested in.
My choices included History - including Tasmanian Colonial studies, which I particularly enjoyed; Aboriginal Studies; Antarctic Studies and one unit in Tasmanian Environmental History, which I also found very interesting.

In the euphoria of the end of semester, I applied for another course in 2012, but despite being accepted, I withdrew my application.
I decided I needed a break from studies.
Besides, there are so many things - like writing another novel and even blogging which I have had on hold.
Now is time to catch up with those other things I want to do.
I can always go back to studying another year.

New Zealand cruise on Radiance of the Seas

Late November, 2011, I joined Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas for a 15-day cruise around New Zealand.
Though I had done a similar voyage a couple of years ago, I had just finished two years of study and wanted to relax.

Radiance is a big ship which accommodated over 2000 passengers. As usual, I booked the cheapest inside cabin as travelling alone means one has to pay for a twin room.
The last time I sailed to New Zealand, it had been cloudy on the day we visited and I had hoped for nice weather. Unfortunately that was not to be.
The fjords of Milford Sound and surrounds were shrouded in this rain and mist. It was so wet that the walls of the fjord appeared as sheets of running water. This had one advantage, that the waterfalls were quite awesome.

With continuing cold and wet weather for much of the cruise, the large outdoor upper deck areas and swimming pools were not used. Consequently all the passengers were crowded inside the ship all day. This meant it was difficult to find a comfortable seat or to find somewhere that was quiet.
I enjoyed the excursions on the days we were in port, in particular, Akaroa (the substitute port for Christchurch since the earthquake damage), where the sun shone and I took a boat ride and saw Hector Dolphins, and also a visit to Rotarua from Tauranga.

At Rotarua, I paddled in a Mauri was canoe, rode the cable car up the mountain and came down in a luge (toboggan) which even on the beginner slope was quite scary.
The weather in Auckland and at the Bay of Islands was dismal and very cold but I managed to take a boat trip on both occasions.

There were two bonuses to the trip:
With a medical emergency on the return trip to Sydney and an urgent evacuation of a sick passenger necessary, the ship had to detour north to Lord Howe Island. Though there was no harbour and the transfer of the patient took place on the water, we were able to see much of Lord Howe Island which looked quite spectacular despite the cloud.
Another surprise promontory was Ball's Pyramid - the largest volcanic stack in the world which rises up from the ocean floor. Would have loved to have seen it in sunlight.

Something else which was not in the small print: I left the ship with a rotten cold. This is not the first cruise I have been on when I have contracted some sort of virus. The fact all the passengers were limited to the interior of the ship for most of the voyage probably contributed to this.
In retrospect, I should have booked this cruise for January or February as November can be very cold especially in the South Island of New Zealand.
How would I rate this holiday out of Ten? I would only give it 5/10.

Surprise Wedding

November 6th was a special day.
Having flown back to Western Australia from their present home in England, my son Rob and fiance, Marion, were married in a ceremony which was a surprise to all but a few of the guests (me included as I had to fly to Perth from Tasmania).

Held in a relative's garden, it was a beautiful wedding celebrated by family and close friends.

A week after the event, Rob and Marion flew back to England to surpise even more of their friends in London.
Pic: Jake, (my grandson and Rob's nephew), Marion, Rob and me.

Love my Kindle

Though I write novels, I have never been a great reader - that was until I bought a KINDLE only a couple of months ago.
Now I read everyday, mostly at bedtime and have already consumed half a dozen books.

E-book prices are so attractive - averaging between $3 and $9 dollars per book (I don't feel inclined to pay more for an electronic edition).
Purchasing and downloading books takes a matter of seconds - the only problem here is not being tempted to buy too many.

But the biggest advantage is the money saved by not having to pay exorbitant postage costs from UK or USA (I live in Australia).

What I like about my KINDLE is how light it is (when holding it up in bed), page turning is done with a finger-tip touch, and the lines of print which are only about eight words long which means, when reading, my eyes don't slide across to the wrong line.

Apart from buying an assortment of books, I have been delighted to have my own novels published by Belgrave House in 10 e-formats. These are available for KINDLE readers from

SEA DUST now out in paperback and as e-book

SEA DUST was first published by Robert Hale in 2005 and sold out within six weeks of release. Unfortunately it was never reprinted apart from in Large Print format for Ulverscroft.

This historical novel is set mainly at sea on a voyage from England (Whitby) to Australia (Sydney) in 1853.
Travel with Emma on this dangerous and dramatic journey as she escapes from her cruel husband little knowing she will be pursued by an even more evil malefactor.

This week, SEA DUST has been released on as an e-book (only $3.99). It is available in other e-formats through Belgrave House for $5.00.

Along with my other Hale publications, SEA DUST is now available in paperback through and available at

The Black Thread now available as e-book

Recently another of Margaret Muir's Hale books has been converted to e-book format.

THE BLACK THREAD was first published by Hale in 2007 and reprinted as a Large Print for Ulverscroft the following year.

This is a dramatic historical novel set on the Leeds Liverpool canal at the end of the nineteenth century.
This is now available at for $3.99.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review - Surgeon's Mate by Linda Collison

Linda Collison’s sequel to Star Crossed is an excellent and well written nautical adventure which continues the exploits of the young surgeon’s mate, Patricia/Patrick MacPherson. In male guise, this brave and determined young woman is drawn into increasingly intriguing situations when she is forced to move from one ship to another.

In Surgeon’s Mate, the girl who ran away from England has matured, is more knowledgeable in her craft and more confident in her chosen role. Serving on various ships her performance of duty is both professional and convincing and her relationship with fellow seamen above and below decks provides an insight into life at sea in the eighteenth century.

At a time when medical practice was in its infancy, Collison uses her own medical knowledge appropriately and judiciously. And while the fear of a smallpox outbreak heralds disaster and surgical amputation often results in death, the sights and sounds surrounding the heeling operating table are realistically portrayed. For Patrick, the young surgeon, the challenge and desire to save lives is as keen as it is to a modern-day practitioner.

For me, the storyline of Surgeon’s Mate is more riveting than the introductory novel, my only disappointment was that the story ended fairly abruptly. But the hook is another reason to look forward to another story in this nautical series.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A lesson to be learned from the past

Remember the Koala who was burnt in the Bushfires of 2009. People around the world felt its pain. But in 1927 alone in Australia over 500,000 cuddly koalas were killed for their skins. And in 200 years of colonisation, hundreds of thousands of defenceless mammals and marsupials, like possums and platypus, have been killed while several native animals, like the thylacine were hunted to extinction.
In Tasmania, the colonialists not only wiped out the Aborigines who had inhabited the land for millennia, but almost wiped out its native animal populations.
But in their ‘wisdom’ the squatters introduced, FOXES for the sport of hunting, RABBITS for fur and food, SPARROWS to eat the insects, and BLACKBERRIES and Scotch THISTLES to remind them of Britain - to name but a few imported pests.

If I have learned nothing else from my course in Environmental History, it is that we should look to the mistakes of the past if we are going to cope with the future.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The King is dead - a Dead River.

The magnificent King River in Tasmania’s west coast wilderness is biologically dead. It will take 1000 years for it to be capable of supporting any form of life. This is the result of greedy mining practices which went on unabated for decades.
But are we learning from history’s mistakes?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

British Atomic testing killed a beautiful island

The Monte Bello Islands, are an archipelago lying 130 km (81 mi) off coast of north-western Australia. Montebello is Italian for "beautiful mountain" and it was here that the first of three British nuclear weapons tests took place in 1952 and 1956.
The second of these, codenamed G2, was the largest device ever detonated in Australia, with a yield of 98 kt. Thousands of miles away, on the other side of Australia, towns such as Mount Isa, Julia Creek, Longreach and Rockhampton were contaminated by atomic fallout.

Today, and for the next few days, I’ll be studying for my Australian Environmental History Exam. But I would rather be on the waters off the Monte Bello Islands.
Pic: on board STS Leeuwin during a 12 day Indian Ocean Voyage

Friday, July 22, 2011

Linda Collison's Sea of Words - in conversation with novelist, Margaret Muir

In her Blog, Linda Collison (LC) wrote: "Throughout our writing lives we’re inspired by other authors. I’ve recently had the pleasure of discovering Tasmanian novelist and historian, Margaret Muir.
Margaret Muir is the author of five novels. Her latest, Floating Gold, is an age-of-sail nautical adventure set mainly in the Southern Ocean in 1802.

LC: Marg, after reading FLAOTING GOLD I have to say you seem quite at home aboard a British frigate in the early 19th century. The details you smoothly incorporated brought it alive for me. Can you tell us how you acquired such a working knowledge of shipboard life during the age-of-sail?
Marg: As far as I know, there is no Age-of-Sail 101 which provides instant qualifications in life aboard a fighting ship in the year 1800, so for me acquiring that knowledge has been a lengthy process, and it’s a journey which is still continuing. Though I served my ‘apprenticeship’ crewing on tall ships, my knowledge of the British Navy, of sea battles and shipboard life has been largely from books – mainly non-fiction. Primary source material is particularly valuable and intriguing, and there are many modern publications such as N. A. M. Rodgers, The Wooden World and Roy & Lesley Adkins, Jack Tar which describe every almost aspect of shipboard life. Reading the classic maritime fiction of Forester and O’Brian not only enhanced my knowledge but allowed me to sense the atmosphere of shipboard life. Over the years, I’ve also walked the decks of several tall ships and wandered through maritime museums around the world. But I attribute most of my insight to being part of the crew of a square rigger. For a female who had spent her working life looking through the lens of a microscope, the 360 degree view from the top of a ship’s mast was, for a long time, only a pipe-dream. However, when I was made redundant from my job, I decided it was time to live that dream.

LC: What was it like, living that dream?
Marg: I shall never forget my first voyage. Not quite knowing what to expect, I signed on as trainee crew for a 12-day voyage on the STS Leeuwin. Along with 39 others, I arrived in Exmouth (Western Australia) at mid-day ready to join the ship. It was anchored offshore. But the seas were rough and it was impossible to sail out to her. We waited on the wharf all afternoon for the wind to die and the sea to calm, but that never happened. Finally, at 8pm in pitch darkness, we were issued life jackets and ushered into small rubber dinghies which carried us out over the black sea. Having to leap from the dinghy which was pitching and rolling violently, grab for a rope ladder and clamber aboard, was a scary introduction to a sailor’s life.

LC: I can relate! Sailing isn’t always pleasant, for sure. And the sea is a harsh teacher at times.
Marg: An early lesson I learned was about seasickness. (At least I console myself with the fact that Nelson and many other great sailors suffered in this manner.) But once that feeling passed, the magic of tall ship sailing took over and I was hooked. Sailing north on the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean, I learned the ropes (literally); their position on the pin rails, and when to haul and when to ease. I sat watch through the night and witnessed the marine bio-luminescence, and in the morning I holystoned the deck. But taking the helm of a tall ship under full sail was the best experience. As we entered Dampier harbour, I remember steering the ship between an oil rig and a tanker; listening to the calls from the captain; keeping one eye on the compass, and feeling 10 feet tall. My learning continued with more voyages on the Leeuwin and numerous day sails. I have to admit, I’m not a topmast man as I have no head for heights, however I accepted the challenge to climb the mainmast (33m/ 108 ft) to read the plaque on the top. These days, I don’t go aloft but am happy to serve on deck. On moving to Tasmania (41degrees south) in 2007, I joined the Sail Training Association and became a member of the crew of the Lady Nelson.
LC: Lady Nelson, the replica ship? Can you tell us more about that experience?

Marg: She’s a tiny colonial brig– the original built in Deptford in 1789. My first sail with the Lady was a 5 day voyage half way around the rugged coast of Tasmania. I managed to paint Bass Strait green for the first 24 hours (but I was not alone) and what an unforgettable voyage it was. When I sail, it’s like stepping back into history – I only have to close my eyes and I’m on deck with the early settlers, or convicts, or sailors of the early 1800s.

LC: What else inspires you? How else did you research Floating Gold?
Marg: As I mentioned, I love to visit maritime museums. These offer a wealth of knowledge. But my favourite is the historic dockyard at Portsmouth. When I walked the gun decks of HMS Victory I tried to imagine the noise, the smoke and stench, not to mention the litter of dead and dying when the great ship was engaged in battle. It was awe inspiring and unforgettable. It has taken me 10 years to gain the knowledge I have, and my education is still ongoing. But apart from sailing and reading, the things which have helped me learn are my love of history and enthusiasm for the era, a conscious desire to step back in time, and above all a love of the sea in all its changing moods.

LC: Marg, Don’t I know you from a former life? Weren’t we shipmates in a previous century? All kidding aside, we have a lot in common but you’ve taken the path further than I have. And you have written five novels so far, is that correct?
Marg: Floating Gold was my fifth novel, published originally in UK.

LC: Tell me more about Margaret Muir the author. How long have you been a writer? What propelled you along that path?
Marg: Unlike most authors, my adventure into writing began fairly late in life. On being made redundant in the mid 90s from a career in cytopathology, I soon discovered I had the time to do the things I had previously only dreamed of – one was sail on a tall ship, another was to breed goats, and the third to write.

LC: Goats?

Marg: The goats came first and the writing followed. When I first put pen to paper it was as editor of a local goat association’s newsletter, but scratching around for interesting snippets sparked my enthusiasm for writing and led me to a correspondence course in freelance journalism. From there, I wrote articles for various newspapers and magazines and a correspondence course in writing for children followed but with no publishing success. In 2001, undeterred and still aiming for improvement, I embarked on a BA (Creative Writing) and it was during my three years of study that I first sailed on a tall ship. Also at this time, I cruised half way around the world, met Peter on a ship, and began writing my first novel, Sea Dust. Peter and I had much in common and apart from him being my soul mate, he quickly became my writing partner, critic and editor. But three years later, Peter died in a road accident and my writing dried up.

LC: That must have been crushing for you. Ho w did you overcome the devastation?
Marg: Having lived for 30 years in Western Australia (born UK), I needed a change of scene and didn’t think twice about pulling up roots and moving. During a fleeting visit to Tasmania, I fell in love with the island’s rugged beauty and vast wilderness areas, so I headed east. Originally called Van Diemen’s Land, Tasmania was a British penal colony in the 1800s and its past is stained with the blood of convicts, cannibals, aborigines and bushrangers. Shortly after arriving, I learned of the ‘Gentleman Bushranger’, Matthew Brady – hung in Hobart Town in 1825. His biography has been told several times mainly by academics but I wanted to retell it in a fictionalised narrative form adhering to the facts but bringing the character and colonial era to life. Anxious to learn more of Van Diemen’s Land’s history, I enrolled at the University of Tasmania and will complete my course at the end of this year.

LC: That sounds exciting! I’m not holding you to anything, but what will you be writing five or ten years from now?
Marg: Along with Matthew Brady’s story, I will continue writing. Having thoroughly enjoyed creating the characters of Captain Quintrell, Mr Parry and the foremast jacks who made up the crew of Elusive, I believe the time has come for them to sail again (though I doubt HM frigate Elusive will make it out of the yard at Deptford). Having recently republished all my novels in paperback, I feel the sky is the limit. I love to learn and I love to write, and I see myself doing both for many years to come.

LC: It’s been a pleasure, Marg, and very inspiring for me personally. I look forward to reading more of your work! .

Margaret Muir’s books are available from or discounted at
Read more about her latest novel at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Through Glass Eyes - now an E-book

1896 - When Lucy steals an expensive French doll from her dying mistress, she is unaware of the different roles it will play in the years to come. But throughout her journey of love and loss, pain and joy, the Bru doll is never far away.
Set in the West Riding of Yorkshire, this is a heartfelt rags to riches saga spanning more than 25 years. Historical fiction/saga by Margaret Muir; originally published as 'The Twisting Vine' by Robert Hale [UK]

Through Glass Eyes was published today as an e-book and is available from Belgrave House or for $3.99

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

FLOATING GOLD now in paperback

Pleased to say that the paperback edition of FLOATING GOLD is now available on
Floating Gold

Monday, July 04, 2011

THE BLACK THREAD - now in paperback

THE BLACK THREAD is now available in paperback on

This is the first of my books published by my own publisher - GRINDELWALD

The Black Thread by Margaret Muir via @amazon

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Pigeons and the early lighthouse service in Tasmania

In 1908, 14 HOMING PIGEONS were taken to the new lighthouse on Tasman Island to carry urgent messages. Some birds got through with messages but others failed.
Unfortunately in Tasmania the Peregrine Falcon off the SW coast resulted in the demise of many weary birds battling the winds of the Roaring Forties.

But this type of communication is not new, In 51 BC, CAESAR announced the fall of GAUL by carrier pigeon.
GENGIS KHAN also used them.
The English victory at BATTLE OF WATERLOO was sent by pigeon post and during the First World War many messages were carried from the front and back to England.

This intersting info was provided at the Achipelego conference held this weekend in Hobart.
Presentation by Mr Colin Denny – Carrier Pigeon Communication: the homing birds of the lighthouse service.

Pic - Low Head lighthouse, Northern Tasmania.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some of British Library's best in your own study

British Library is to put 250,000 books online free
Books from the British Library's out-of-copyright collection to be published digitally by Google on the internet.

The British Library has announced a partnership with Google to digitise 250,000 out-of-copyright books from its collection and make them available free of charge to users on the library's website and Google Books.

The project will digitise printed books, pamphlets and periodicals dated 1700 to 1870 - the period that saw the French and industrial revolutions, the Battle of Trafalgar and the Crimean War, the invention of rail travel and of the telegraph, the beginning of UK income tax, and the end of slavery.

The library said its aim was to increase access to anyone who wants to do research.

Posted by Maritime Museum of GB today.
Pic - Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.


It's not a good outlook - reported this morning:

Pollution and global warming are pushing the world's oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years.

Dying coral reefs, biodiversity ravaged by invasive species, expanding open-water "dead zones," toxic algae blooms, the massive depletion of big fish stocks -- all are accellerating, said a report compiled by 27 of the world's top ocean experts.

Read the full report on - Yahoo!7 via @Y7News

Monday, June 20, 2011

TWO'S A CREW - a circumnavigation of Australia

When Jack and Jude Binder sailed around Australia in Banyandah, their home-made 12m yacht, they took time out along the way to smell the roses. The 9000 nautical mile voyage took them to crocodile infested waters, coral atolls, ancient aboriginal sites and through Hell’s Gates itself.
Together they fished, photographed, and above all recorded the bounties of nature along the way.

Jack, (the lad from LA who now calls the sea and Australia home), wrote most of the book and apart from occasional lapses into personal diary style, his elegant descriptive passages are proof of his close bond with the Earth. Judith’s presence is felt throughout the book, sharing the same strength, courage and love of the wild as her man.

In Banyandah, they experienced the full force of wind, waves and currents in a voyage of adventure and exploration which was only made possible by their commitment to sailing and to each other.
For the cruising yachtsman or armchair traveller, TWO’S A CREW is a recommended read.
The read more about the book go to:Two's a Crew - A circumnavigation of Australia

Pic: Jack and Jude on Banyandah - York Cove, Tasmania, May 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tweet, twitter, twit

Cyber-developer (originator of TWITTER), Jack Dorsey, came across the word, TWITTER, meaning, ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’ and liked it. Now TWEETING is a world wide phenomenon.

But to TWIT (to tell tales or blab) emerged 1630 - 1669. The act of TWITTING (good humoured censure) dates back to 1500-1569 according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Now that is a bit of inconsequential information, isn't it?
But I like the bird on the bowsprit.

Marg - on TWITTER but not a regular Tweeter.
Recently, I joined facebook and much prefer that social network.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Talking to a scarecrow - Crazy or what?

As a guinea-pig for the Tasmanian Menzies Institute Research into the relationship between study and early onset of Altheimers, I’m due to have me head examined in a week’s time...!!!
I joined the program a year ago when I embarked on my course of university studies.
It was prompted by an advert I saw from the Menzies Institute.

Their researchers required older participants (55 to 70 years) to undergo univesity studies and to be tested annually for a period of several years in an effort to show that keeping the brain active helped prevent early onset Alzheimers.
The initial four hours of psychological and response testing was enough to wear any brain out - only joking!

In my opinion, if the statistics from the study prove some correlations between an active brain and a healthy brain, then it is worthwhile.
However, having worked in a pathology lab for many years and watched studies done in relation to amyloid plaques in brains of Alzheimer sufferers, I'm not convinced that brain stimulation can prevent their formation.

Just my line of thought.
Time will tell.

PS: I have a children's story about a bunch of scarecrows which I wrote years ago. One of these days I am going to get it into print.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

STAR CROSSED by Linda Collison

STAR CROSSED by Linda Collison tells the seafaring adventure of an ambitious young lady, Patrica Kelley, who was born on a plantation in Barbados. But having been brought up in England, she must now return to Barbados if she is to have any hope of acquiring her inheritance. But with no money to her name, the only way to leave England is as a stowaway on a sailing ship.

While struggling against herself, the elements and her turbulant emotional relationships, Patricia endeavours to establish herself (disguised as a youth) as mate to a ship’s surgeon. Linda's intimate knowledge of tall ships, the sea and medical practices create an convincing picture of life on both land and sea in the 1760s.

It’s an engaging story most especially when the ship arrives in West Indian waters. Linda's writing style is descriptive and flows easily, and I compliment her on writing in the first person which is not easy.

Set at sea and in the West Indies, STAR CROSSED is a very enjoyable read.

I note from Linda's Facebook page that there is now a sequel - SURGEON'S MATE.
I look forward to reading it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Roaring Forties close Tasmania

The Roaring Forties has long been recognised as a powerful wind force. And that wind carries some of the world’s cleanest air. The Cape Grim Baseline air pollution monitoring station, on the north-west coast of Tasmania, has measured the cleanest air on earth.

But today, volcanic ash from a Chilean volcano is ringing the globe at a latitude of around 40 degrees. While Melbourne airport has re-opened, Tasmania remains closed and New Zealand is next in the path of the ash.

In the old days, Cape Grim was a bain to the early explorers because of its wild seas, ferocious winds and rugged coastline.

Today that wind is captured in a huge windfarm.

During the 1800s, the area was farmed by convict labour and was part of the Van Diemen's Land Agricultural Company property.

An isolated spot but worth a visit.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

THROUGH GLASS EYES - saga set in Yorkshire

Through Glass Eyes is now approved for printing under my own publishing name, GRINDELWALD. This novel was first published by Robert Hale Ltd in 2006, and Ulverscroft 2007, under the title The Twisting Vine.

When first accepted for publication, Hale did not consider my working title, Through Glass Eyes, appropriate, arguing that the doll element in the story was not strong enough to support the name. I disagreed but acquiesced.
I remember Mark Twain’s short story, The Million Pound Bank-Note (later to become a book and movie staring Gregory Peck). In that tale, the story evolves around the note. In Through Glass Eyes the doll is not always present, but is always hovering in the background.
Furthermore, changes in the doll’s dress over a period of 25 years can be regarded as a metaphor for the fluctuating fortunes of Lucy Oldfield reflecting her times of hardship, struggle and eventual triumph.
To my mind, the title could not be more appropriate.

In setting out to produce a cover for the paperback, I wanted to feature the doll, a 24-inch French bisque Bru of the 1890s. Of course to buy one of these rare antiques today would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
By chance, I learned of a one-day Doll Fair in Launceston (Tasmania) and went along with my camera.

On the first stall, a beautiful doll caught my eye. To my amazement, I discovered it was a replica Bru cabinet doll of the late 1800s – though only about 8 inches tall. And the only one at the fair.

Exhibitor Derrise Mahoney was delighted to share her story with me. She is a local doll maker who creates and paints the porcelain heads from Bru moulds, adds the mohair wigs and designs the dolls’ dresses.
With Derrise’s permission, I took several photos of her beautiful Bru and, as a result, was able to produce the book’s cover which I am delighted with.
Note: the colour of the book'scover is not true and should have a soft blue background

Through Glass Eyes is a story for the ladies. It’s a heartfelt rags-to-riches saga set mainly in Yorkshire in 1895. Here is the outline:

“When Lucy Oldfield steals an exquisite French doll from her dying mistress, she is unaware of the roles it will play as time goes on. Love, loss, pain and joy are the ever-changing facets of Lucy’s life, and throughout her journey, the Bru doll is never far away.”

Now approved for print, Through Glass Eyes will be available on Amazon in July or you can find it at GRINDELWALD.
Margaret Muir

Thursday, May 12, 2011

FLOATING GOLD by M C Muir in paperback

Another of my titles is now available in paperback.
FLOATING GOLD was first published mid-2010 in hardback by Robert Hale Ltd. I never wanted this novel to be published in my full name, so in this edition the by-line bears only my initials.

I had fun designing the covers of my books, and in this instance used a photo taken while sailing on the STS Leeuwin in the Pacific off Western Australia several years ago.
As you can guess, this is a nautical fiction adventure.
Being a second edition provided the opportunity to add a brief blurb, and extracts from reviews to the back cover.

The iceberg is appropriate to the story. I purchased the image from Big Stock Photo which is an excellent on-line outlet for quality photos of just about anything imaginable, and for just a few dollars.

FLOATING GOLD is now available at a discounted price direct from the publisher, GRINDELWALD. It will also be available via Amazon in about six weeks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

THE BLACK THREAD out in paperback

The paperback edition of THE BLACK THREAD will be available on the major websites in about 6 week's time.
First published in hardback by Robert Hale Ltd in 2007, it sold out but did not go to reprint.
This edition is published by Lulu Press but printed in Melbourne.
The Black Thread is a dramatic historical fiction story set on a Yorkshire canal in 1895.
Having created the basic cover myself, I used a photo I took in England a few years ago.

Also published in large print by Ulverscroft and due for release as an ebook this month with Belgrave House.

Image: original Hale cover.

The Condor's Feather now in Paperback

I'm delighted to announce that THE CONDOR'S FEATHER, first published in hardback by Robert Hale Ltd (2009) is now available in paperback.
I have undertaken this publication myself through Lulu Press under the name GRINDELWALD.
It is printed in Melbourne and will be on the major on-line retail sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble in about 6 week's time.
Having received a copy of the book, I am delighted with the quality.

THE CONDOR'S FEATHER is a historical Equestrian Aventure based loosely on the real-life journey undertaken across the wilds of Patagonia by Lady Florence Dixie in 1885.

Here's an excerpt of what had to say about this book:

If you are an armchair traveler like me, you will happily curl up with this tale of travel and adventure. I could imagine this book being made into a western, as it is replete with the sorts of events those wonderful old films always feature. The strong silent cowboy, jail breaks, bad hombres on the trail who will stop at nothing, and lots of descriptions of the beauty of a savage, untamed landscape.

Thanks to Robert Hale for publishing in hardback in 2009.
The Condor's Feather is also available in library quality Large print from Ulverscroft (2010).
And as an e-book with Belgrave House (2011).

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Condor's Feather now an e-book

I am pleased to announce that one of my 5 Robert Hale published titles – The Condor’s Feather (Halebooks 2007) - was released today in the US by Belgrave House as an e-book.

Their ebooks are on sale for $5 or discounted, and are available in 10 formats to suit most reading devices.

We offer ebooks in ten formats: epub (industry standard), PRC (Mobipocket, Kindle), PDF, Microsoft Reader (LIT), PDB (Palm, eReader), HTML, Word, Rich Text Format, RB (Rocket and ebookwise), and Hiebook (KML), etc.

Also now (14 May) available on discounted to $3.99.

I selected the cover image from - Belgrave added the condor.
The Condor's Feather is an Historical Equestrian Adventure set in Patagonia in 1885.

I hope to see my other Hale titles up there very soon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For sale - GRINDELWALD, Tasmania - UPDATE: Sorry, I have taken the house off the market

Dress circle position overlooking beautiful Tamar Valley
Perched atop the ridge, overlooking the beautiful Tamar Valley, this elegant north-facing residence commands 180 degree views of the broad river and mountains beyond. The house is on 5.6 secluded acres (3 ha) on Grindelwald's dress circle and located only 15km from Launceston. Seldom do properties in this location come onto the market.
Completed in 1990, the brick house has matured gracefully over its 21 years but recently has undergone some cosmetic makeovers including carpets, floor tiles and blinds.

Upstairs are three bedrooms. The main bedroom has built in robes, an en-suite (no bath), and a balcony with views that will take your breath away. The second and third bedrooms are connected by a small en-suite. One of these rooms is currently used as a study.

A large light-filled lounge room is on the ground floor and has a grand bay window and open fireplace. The updated kitchen is all electric. The living room has a woodstove for heating. Glass doors open to the Victorian-style conservatory with its magical views.

Also on the ground floor is the laundry and a third toilet. A gallery connects directly to the large double garage. This area more easily be converted into a separate living area (STCA). The original house plans are available.

Hidden from the road, this desirable property consists of areas of established formal and informal gardens, plus native bush. There is so much to discover - from the tree ferns in the fernery; to the cottage and kitchen gardens; to the mature orchard bearing apple, pear, plum, fig, walnut and more; to the parklike lawns and to the tall timbers in the bush which wraps around the scarp providing a home for the tiny Bennett's wallabies and shy prickly echidnas.

This elegant house exudes warmth, charm, character and its unique stained glass door and windows depict the winding Tamar River and the flowers of the four seasons. These changes are self evident in the garden where bluebells and daffodils welcome spring; where old-fashioned blooms provide a kaleidoscope of colour in summer, and where autumn leaves mark the fall. In winter the magic mists swirling in the valley below are tinged pink by the rays of the rising sun.
It's like living on Cloud Nine.

This fine property would best suit active retirees or a professional couple though for a small family, there is sufficient land for a pet sheep, goat or pony. Some furniture may be available.

You can find lots of pics on or if you search for 'Grindelwald'. Or if you are interested, contact me via the blog or my website.