Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Heading back to the 80’s

Posted: April 23, 2015 in family, movies, writing
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My youngest son and I have taken to watching movies at night that I’ve missed seeing on the big screen. Last night we watched Guardians of the Galaxy. Even though I didn’t think I could be entertained, I was; the story is simple, the acting amusing and not overdone and there is terrific music.

We listened to all the 1980’s songs on the film; Ain’t No Mountain High Enough among others. I had to laugh because it’s not the first contemporary film that’s used the hits of the 80’s. It was a good decade. I was travelling overseas with a backpack and a few pennies to my name and experiencing working in London and travelling across Scandinavia with a Norwegian girl. I was ‘shown’ Paris by an expert, Danish boy Klaus, who visited the city often. We went off the tourist trails in most places I visited and it was an intense time.

The 80’s also marked my eventual buckling down to study at uni in Bathurst. Wow, did we have some fun there. Between being ‘enlightened’ by knowledge and meeting and forming firm friendships with overseas students – shout out to Kezang and Jean – and my Australian bestie Jackie, we had a blast. The seasons were full and breathtaking with new experiences.

And then I came to Goulburn in the 80’s and met my future husband. A rebel without a cause, I think I quickly became his cause and despite the ups and downs of marriage, more than 25 years and three sons later, we go together like ‘peas and carrots’, as the line in my favourite movie Forrest Gump goes.

Music and good memories. They’ll cheer you up any day and I’m all for sticking my head up over the parapet and getting on with things.

If you would like to check out any of my books, head over to my author page at Amazon or visit my website.

Driving home from Sydney today the lightening arced downwards to a point in the landscape I was glad I was still far enough away from. The skies opened up and the rain came down hard. It reminded me of a storm I struck on the way back from my Canberra daily commute about seven years ago. That storm was equally, perhaps more ferocious, and hammered my car to the point where I had to pull over and stop.

The storm was directly over Lake George, an eerie and mysterious place, full of myth and legends and considered a sacred place to Aboriginal people in Australia. After the lightening and rain, came the hail and only after it abated did I consider driving on. The funny, well actually it was quite a spooky thing, was that once I negotiated the length of the lake, the storm abruptly ended and I drove into sunshine.

Some time before that I had an unnerving dream about an old Aboriginal man and Lake George. He was walking across the lake landscape and there were felled trees all around us (Lake George was turned from a natural setting into Soldier Settlement blocks – small farms – in the 1950’s or thereabouts). I got the impression that this man was very powerful because I knew instinctively that I wasn’t allowed to look into his eyes. Nevertheless, he motioned that I come with him and we negotiated the scarred landscape, walking toward the water in the distance. I also knew, instinctively, that his message for me was that the landscape needed to be traversed, even though it was difficult terrain, and that once I reached the water I would be OK.

Such is the power of a dream that this has stayed with me over the years, ready to be conjured at the memory of an afternoon storm.

I have often wondered why I had this dream at that time but my best reasoning is that it was a portend of the future. There are times in life when a hard-edged challenge threatens to derail you but you just keep walking, one foot in front of the other. You keep walking until you reach the water where life begins again.

If you would like to visit my author page on Amazon, head to http://www.amazon.com/Maryann-Weston/e/B00HSH0OXQ. There you’ll find books from young adult fantasy/paranormal, to women’s fiction, and my latest collection of horror/paranormal short stories, Evil Imminent.

Bloggers share a lot of information with their readers. They share the good times and the bad and they invite people into their most intimate thoughts, feelings and fears.

Over the years I’ve written columns for newspapers, about my experiences with juggling motherhood with work and even a column called “Chinwag”. More recently, my columns covered diverse subjects from legal rights to parenting and good health.

This blog is dedicated to exploring what it takes to be human and a writer. It gives me satisfaction to touch on subjects we’ve all experienced and to find a common ground. Today, I’m feeling sorry for all those who are going through tough times. Whether it be ill health, emotional despair or grief, the one thing you need to know is that Iphone4 794you’re not alone.

If that’s the way you’re feeling, take a look around at your family and friends and see just how much they care about you. Sometimes people don’t tell you nearly as often as they should that they care, but they do. And it’s hard to interpret someone else’s feelings when you are sitting in the lonely corner.

There’s a way out of that corner. It’s simple; it’s just love.

So remember next time you feel you’re alone, you’re definitely not. There’s love around you for sure. You just need to open your eyes and see it.

I’m venturing outside now to play with my dog Koster. He’s a wonderful companion and a real member of our family. Dogs are unequaled. As animals they have evolved to form a unique relationship with humans. They understand love, loyalty, affection and companionship.

They give and they respond to love. I think they learned that from humans.

I’m sitting here pondering whether to have eggs for breakfast. It’s a huge decision for a Saturday morning. Huge. This is the one day of the week when anything goes. There are no rules on Saturday – you can sleep in as long as you want and there’ll be no: ‘Are you up yet?’ You can also stay in your pyjamas until lunch time if you want. I’m giving you my permission.

If you feel like running a movie marathon while your behind is parked on the couch…that’s fine too; equally a marathon run, bike ride or swim. Saturday offers the kind of freedom of motivation and action that is condensed into ouimagesr two day weekends. It’s all the more vital because we know the time is precious…to do exactly what we want.

Shame really. We should be living more deliberately every day of the week. There should be swims and bike rides, and movies and staying up late on all the days of the week, but that’s not how it works is it?

During the week we fall into that haze where the days blur into the next. We work too long and our thoughts focus on the immediacy of our surroundings, rarely straying beyond that funny, unreal cocoon we’ve lulled ourselves into. It’s safe to go to work each day and go through the same machinations. Drive, get in, coffee, check emails, knuckle down, look up and talk to colleagues, knuckle down some more. Perhaps at lunch you chug down a burger and a cap (great nutrition) while at your desk, and muse about what you’ll be doing on the weekend.

Then there’s hump day as it’s known. That’s Wednesday because you’re halfway there; halfway to the golden chalice…the weekend. Then Friday comes and there’s spring in the air, and in your step. More work, more coffee, more stress, but hey you can just about smell the weekend, can’t you?

Imagine how many weeks of your life have rolled by like this. Too many I guess.

I think there should be an inbuilt filter in everyone that triggers an alarm on weekdays when you’re working too hard and too long. It should be connected to a message on your iphone or tablet that says: “Do one thing today that you’ve been wanting to do for years”. That’ll be enough to poke you right out of that working weekday haze and reignite the rebel in you, ’cause when you’re rebelling against what you think you ought to be doing but are not, then you’re living.

Happy days folks and enjoy your weekend.

One of the characters in my short story collection Evil Imminent is fascinating me still. It’s been six months since I created Sybilla, ghost hunter extraordinaire. I remember creating her as a young, almost arrogant woman who, with the supreme confidence of the foolhardy, takes on one of the most haunted houses in Newtown, Sydney.

Despite the advice of her local paranormal group to stay away from the Mason House, she goes there alone. Well, I won’t give away anymore because that would be a real spoiler. Instead, I’ll satisfy my curiosity about Sybilla by interviewing her.

What attracted you to ghost hunting?

An experience I had as an eight year old girl. My parents moved to Berrima, a little town outside of Sydney. The thing about Berrima is that it’s very old and there are a lot of buildings that are haunted there. I was lying in bed, listening to my MP3 – really loved Green Day back then – and I felt like there was someone in the room with me. We’d only just moved into this house, so I suppose I was on edge a bit. Anyway, I rolled over and tried to ignore the feeling. It was then that it happened. It felt like a cold hand had grabbed my foot. I drew my feet up and started to panic. There was something…someone in the room with me; that much I knew for sure. I started to shake and shiver but then something just clicked. I thought I’ll be damned if I’m going to cower in a bed. So, I got up, and went and got the bible mum kept in the drawer in the hallway. I started to recite the Lord’s Prayer over and over. I put my hand on that bible and walked the perimeter of my room. It just came to be to say “Begone, back to where you came from.” I said that over and over til I couldn’t feel that presence anymore…I felt empowered then, even as an eight year old.

So what was it…the presence you’re talking about?

Oh, that. Yeah…turned out that our new house once belonged to the governor of the local jail. He was one hell of a cruel dude as the story went. He ended up dying in that house…in my room actually…trinity of terror

And you moved out of that bedroom…?

Nah. I enjoyed the suspense after that…and the game. They…spirits think they can scare you but the truth is they’re just dead. They can’t hurt anyone.

Ummm. So why did you join the Newtown Paranormal Society?

Just couldn’t get enough of ghost hunting. I love it and I’m pretty good at it really. I mean why should human beings be scared of the non-living. Just doesn’t make sense. We are way more powerful than them and I enjoy showing them who’s boss…

What’s your next big project Sybilla?

The Mason House of course. Everybody’s heard of it. That’s where Marcus Mason murdered his sister and his parents. He’s one evil son of a bitch and guess what?

Ah…what?

I’m gonna make that dude pay for what he did to his little sister. She was only eight years old.

Evil Imminent is a collection of horror/paranormal short stories and can be found on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QRE42J8. Trinity of Terror featuring ghost hunter Sybilla is one of seven stories in the collection.

It’s a humble Friday night and I’ve finished stewing my apples. My three sons are out and about, getting on with their busy lives and my husband has the remote – everyone’s happy. Me? I’m here in front of this computer screen and talking to you. I’m happy about that too.

The dogs are at my feet – Koster (English Staffy) is licking his paws in his clumsily, silly way and Fiona (Shih Tzu) is doing a better job of being dainty. A lot has happened since my last post, including finishing the edit on my new horror/paranormal thriller, Blood Visions.

My short story horror/paranormal collection, Evil Imminent, was released before Christmas to good reviews and I’m busy thinking about my next project – another paranormal thriller. Can’t wait to start writing that one.

As I sit in my upstairs home office, I’m looking out on a new year – one that is full of creative promise, time with family and cultivating my garden – which reminds me, the figs will be ripening soon and I can’t wait to taste those. There is definitely something wonderful about eating your own produce. Now I’m digressing from the real reason I began this blog tonight.

Below is one of my absolute favourites from Evil Imminent about a young couple who literally miss each other in this world. Without giving too much away, it’s here below for your reading. I hope you like it. If you do, head over to Amazon and pick up your e-book copy of Evil Imminent and the other six short stories on offer http://www.amazon.com/Evil-Imminent-Collection-Paranormal-Stories-ebook/dp/B00QRE42J8.

LOVE OUTLASTED

She drove down the long, overgrown driveway with its rambling greenery that once was a clipped hedge. The thick canopy overhead reminded her she was in the woods, miles from the nearest town. That had been their dream, to get away from the city and find a place where they could start a new life; one that was definitively their own – not their parents, or her sister’s, or even his older brother’s. One that was their’s: Gabby and Levi Allman.  “Of course, it would be rambling and eerie looking,” she said to her husband in the passenger seat, but like the shattering of glass all over again, remembering he wasn’t there. Would never be there again.

She brushed the tear away, as it slid down her cheek, the next welling up and spilling over to follow its track. With an impatient sniff, she wiped her hand hard across her face. Tears would do no-one any good she had learned in the past months, least of all herself.

It had been twelve months since the defence force messenger arrived at her work to break the news that Levi was missing in action, presumed dead. The allied forces had sent several platoons to search for Levi and his companions, without any luck. The Special Forces ranger had been on patrol with four of his regiment when they were ambushed close to enemy lines. At first the family liaison team had given her daily updates and it became clear it was unlikely he had survived the attack. As the weeks wore on, and then months, their visits became less frequent. Now she felt like a stalker, trying to get information out of them.  After receiving the news she had put her life on hold. How could she not? Their future was entwined like the heart-shaped ruby with its filigree patterned ring that he’d given her when he proposed five years ago. ‘Forever Together’ was engraved on the gold band.

It was only when she felt herself slide into depression, mixed with what had become nightly drinking sessions to obliterate the pain that ached like a knife in her heart, that she knew she had to at least try and move on. She called the real estate agent they’d been talking with before Levi left on deployment; it was supposed to be his last with the army. They had agreed that she would continue her playwriting, while he investigated establishing his own security firm. She would try; just try to live the way they planned, but without her husband. The air in the car felt stuffy, so she opened the window and swallowed the lump rising in her throat. She would not cry.

She slowed the SUV for the deep potholes that had carved their way into the road. How much further, she wondered, to the three bedroom cottage they had chosen, complete with verandas and a garden of lavender and honeysuckle roses…. She wasn’t disappointed. Through the trees ahead she saw the house. It was just like she had imagined. She felt the glass inside her begin to shatter again and taking a deep breath, she gripped the steering wheel and slipped the car back into second gear for the climb up the steep track.

Slowing the car to a stop in the driveway, she sat for a minute to take in the landscape. It was isolated alright and she wondered how she would cope with that, but she reasoned that nothing could be worse than losing her husband. The psychiatrist she’d been seeing during these long, lonely months without Levi, had warned her against the move.

“You’re not strong enough,” Dr Gambert had said. “Barely twelve months widowed …I mean having lost the love of your life, and you are planning to leave all your support systems behind. It’s not the sensible thing to do, Gabby.”

She had shaken her head at the doctor’s attempt to influence her decisions. She was having none of it. She knew what she wanted to do and she owed it to Levi to start the life they planned. Gabby still hoped Levi would come home to her and what better place to come home to, than their dream home which they had been looking at online – it ticked all the boxes – to begin their new life. She hardened her resolve and opened the car door, grabbing her overnight bag from the backseat – the suitcases and boxes could wait until the morning. She trod wearily up the stairs. The agent had left a ‘welcome’ note on the door and the key was under the mat. She jiggled the old lock and, opening the front door, she was hit by the dust that enveloped the inside of the house. She sneezed. This would not do at all. Inside she heard the phone ringing and, slamming the front door, made her way through the dim light that struggled through the blinds, following the ringing, until she found the wall phone in the kitchen.

“Hello,” she said impatiently, annoyed that someone was disturbing her already. The worried voice of her protective sister, Carey, greeted her.

“Gabby. Oh, thank God you’re there safe and sound. I’ve been worried about you all day.”

She stood on one foot, hand on hip and gripped the receiver. “Why would you worry Carey? For the hundredth time I’m telling you ‘I’m okay’. I know this is what Levi would have wanted. Why won’t you try to understand?”

She could hear her sister’s thoughts, wondering how best to pacify her, without her taking offence and hanging up the phone. “You know Gabby I’m not trying to interfere. It’s just that it’s miles from anywhere and you haven’t been well lately. I’m worried about you.  At a time when you should be near people, you remove yourself altogether and isolate yourself. Come on Gabby, have a think about it.”

“If you think I’m coming back to be fussed over and have other people make my decisions like you’ve all been trying to do, you’ve got another thing coming. I haven’t forgotten sis, that it was you who signed the forms to put me in that hospital. Emotional exhaustion they said. Well that was no excuse for those drugs they pumped into me, day in day out. I couldn’t think.”

Her sister interrupted, hoping for common sense. “You and I know you’d been drinking, and mixing that with your sleeping pills. God knows what could have happened. Look Gabby, I don’t want to fight. You are my sister and I want to help you.”

Gabby was about to hang up and Carey knew it.

“I’ll call you tomorrow?” her sister said, before the line went dead.

She leant against the bench. It was a modern kitchen with a view of the woods stretching all the way back to the nearby mountains. Perfect for cooking romantic dinners. She let her mind wander to happier times.

“You got the wine, Honey?” she called to him from the kitchen. She was making his favourite dish, beef fillet mignon and he was supposed to be uncorking a twenty-year-old Shiraz.

“I have,” he said, breezing past her with a kiss and selecting two long stemmed glasses from the cupboard. “Music too.”

“You’ve thought of everything,” she said, taking their meal from the stove. “Done.”

She lifted the fillets onto the waiting white plates. The steam and fragrances reminded her she hadn’t eaten all day, thinking about his impending departure. It was only two weeks until he shipped out and she desperately didn’t want him to leave. She carefully carried the plates into the dining room and heard him draw in his breath.

“Beautiful.”

“Oh, I hope it’s okay,” she said, not entirely confident in her cooking skills.

“No, I mean you. You’re beautiful.”

She looked at him, held in his gaze for what seemed a long moment. He mouthed, “I love you.”

She smiled. “I love you,” she said out loud.

Gabby shook her head, suddenly aware that darkness had fallen while she was lost in her dreaming.  She wasn’t in their marital home anymore. She was in a cottage, miles from anywhere and waiting for God knows what. She felt the cold emptiness of the room drowning her. She felt the tears beginning again; the glass breaking. With renewed determination, she flicked on the light and lit the small gas heater in the lounge room, briefly contemplating starting the fire in the hearth but the thought of gathering wood in the dark was too much. That was something Levi would have done. She wandered upstairs and opened the window in the master bedroom, glancing ­­ at the queen bed. She felt the loneliness of the room and its emptiness. She knew she would never look at a marriage bed again without the sharp pain that hit her in the chest.

As she opened the window, she paused. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw the familiar red flannel shirt he used to wear at home. “Levi,” she called, questioningly. She peered into the darkness. No, it was just her mind playing tricks. She sighed and decided that she would eat the sandwich she hadn’t wanted at lunch time and then go to bed. A deep fatigue overcame her, as she descended the stairs and dug the sandwich from her bag. She made her way to the lounge room and sank into the sofa near the heater – their sofa – that had arrived from the city a day before her. She tugged the rug from the other end of the sofa and covered her legs, watching the red and blue flames of gas dance their way across the heater. It was no open fire, but it would do she thought. She leant her head back on the sofa’s arm, adjusting the lumpy cushions. Perhaps she would eat that sandwich in the morning; or perhaps not. She slipped the blue sleeping pills in her mouth and took a long sip of the wine she had brought in from the car.

Gabby woke from a deep slumber to the early morning rays of the sun warming her feet. She rolled over, remembering she had fallen asleep on the sofa. Sounds from the kitchen startled her. She was alone in the house, but there was no mistaking the clatter of saucepans, and eggs being beaten in a ceramic mixing bowl. She crept to the door and holding her breath, peered round the corner. She saw red flannel. Unmistakeable. Shock ran through her body, electrifying her fingers with excitement. “How…” She swallowed hard and called his name. “Levi.”

He turned, gazing intently at her, as though he was seeing her for the first time.

For that one, long moment their eyes locked. “You’re home. I knew you would come,” she said.

Levi Allman drove the hire car all night. He didn’t care that tiredness seeped through his bones. It was winter and he’d only been back in the country for a month. Long enough to learn what had happened.

He turned the radio up as far as it would go, listening to the sounds of Coldplay’s Violet Hill. Why? He’d been asking himself this question over and over. For twelve long months he and his companions had been detained in a Taliban training camp, along with a handful of westerners captured around the same time. He’d fared better than most of them because of his training, but he’d learned the hard way that there is no ‘why or how’.

The countryside was slipping away as he pressed harder on the accelerator. He wanted to get to the cottage. It should have been their cottage; the home they’d planned to live in, long into the future. He’d been driving since yesterday afternoon and it was nearly dawn. He just needed to see the house. Carey had told him what had happened. How deeply Gabby had grieved for him until it sent her over the edge. The early morning fog was drifting in, giving the forest an eerie feel. He stared ahead at the thin white line in the middle of the road. When they had discussed moving to the country, they had joked that miles from nowhere they’d still have each other. He let the memories wander – of their anniversary dinner just before he went on tour, of their last night of lovemaking and the way he had held her until the early morning hours, stroking her hair and promising he’d come back.

Oncoming car lights brought him back to reality, and the last hour on the interstate slipped by in the memories of their life together. Before long he turned the car into the winding driveway, with its thick, overgrown hedge and the encroaching woodlands. She would have found this eerie, but kind of fun. As a playwright it would have appealed to her ‘sense of the dramatic’. He gripped the steering wheel as the rustic cottage came into sight with its honeysuckle covered veranda. The sweet smells of home, he thought with such irony that it hurt.

He found the key under the mat and let himself in, taking no time to absorb his surroundings. He was hungry after the long drive, so he found the kitchen, not wanting to disturb the deathly quiet of the house in the dawn. He searched for the ceramic bowl they always used to prepare scrambled eggs and took half a dozen small brown eggs from his backpack, along with the loaf of bread he’d bought at the last town he travelled through. He whisked the eggs just the way she liked them and set two places at the table. Old habits were hard to break. In the long months in Afghanistan he’d dreamed of their breakfasts together in their new home.

It wasn’t long before the eggs were cooking in the pan and he turned the mixture over, not wanting to overcook them. He shivered. The air in the cottage was cold. Perhaps he would turn on the heater after all. Something in his periphery made him turn toward the door and he could have sworn he smelled her smell. He looked into the dusty air hoping she would appear, but knowing that was impossible.

He sat down heavily at the table and let the pent up emotion wash over him, wave after wave, and he cried until it seemed there were no more tears left. One month. One month was all it took between her suicide and his repatriation. A special operations force had broken the Taliban’s defences and he, along with the other prisoners were liberated. But he had come home to find his wife couldn’t wait for him. Consumed by her grief, she had chosen this house, their future home, to take her life.

“Oh Gabby. Why?” he said. “Why couldn’t you have held on…not let hope slip away…I had nothing but hope to live on, but you…you stopped looking for it…why?”

But there was no answering him in this world, and perhaps the next.

He would not stay on at the cottage. He could not. He ate the cold eggs and cleaned up quickly. There was nothing left here for him. Gathering his backpack, he walked slowly to the front door – a doorway that marked both his past and future. He stopped at the lounge room. Carey had told him it was here that she’d done it. He shuddered.

“Goodbye my love,” he said, through the tears streaming down his face.

With grim resolve he walked through the door, shutting it firmly behind him.

I have been catching up on my reading these holidays, something that a writer never gets enough time for. With any spare time I get I’m usually plotting, writing or editing, marketing or on the social media juggernaut. But reading plugs up the gaps just as surely as writing and reflecting on what I’ve written. Such is the creative process that it is cathartic and insightful, and getting the insight from other writers is just a huge privilege.blog

I’m not going to harp on any more about Stephen King. Anyone who follows this page will know that I have a professional crush on his storytelling genius, but I’ve also been thoughtfully reading other authors’ blogs and musings and am loving their descriptions. I read Hayden Thorne’s blog today about how he spent New Year’s eve watching Hercule Poirot on Netflix while drinking out of an old [possibly lead laden] teapot. It struck me as very comical because I pretty much did the same thing minus the teapot. I had been out the night before and most of the day and the very thing I wanted was an early night. And that was that. So I rang in the New Year with sleep and living up to my own expectations at that time. It all worked and was a great way to start 2015!

On that subject, one of my main aims this year is for better health. That means saying ‘no’ more often, doing what energises not what depletes and being around positive people sans any draining drama. Yoh! Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout.

I also watched an interview with Ariana Huffington over the break. My god that woman resonated with me. She’s just released a book called ‘Thrive’. Her message is that power and money [and the pursuit of] are not enough [not a new concept I know] and that you need to find a rich inner life, including sleep, to be successful. Her story is borne from experience when her former overworked self collapsed at her desk giving her the wake up she needed.

It was so good to hear her speak about the importance of finding meaning within yourself; of developing that inner life which is what I’ve been raving on about for decades. As a former workaholic I know only too well the dangers of giving your all to a pursuit you really haven’t thought all that deeply about. Yes workaholics can be shallow, stupid people until they wake up to the fact that life is so much more than the external. The answers to life’s riddles are within.

We all have creativity inside us and I would urge anyone to follow that, in between whatever external life demands you have. And it can be as simple as putting in a garden, a vege patch, painting up some old furniture, getting a good lead pencil and drawing what you see. If you are like me it is finding the meaning and joy in the words.

Here’s to 2015 and an abundance of creativity and free flowing prosperity in whatever it is you are imagining and creating.

Speaking of creating my short story collection Evil Imminent has just been honestly reviewed over @iheartreading. Head over and take a look at what I was creating last year.