Posts Tagged ‘expression’

My new book ‘Belonging Places’ examines the universal theme of ‘belonging’, taking the reader on a journey through the eyes of three women – all at various stages of their lives.

“It’s a story that all women can relate to, and offers one answer to the age-old question: where do I fit in; where do I belong?” Maryann says.

Weston1-7 (1) small“It’s very much a healing journey for the reader and is set in real life scenarios. The issues my three central characters face are issues I’ve faced, and the women in my life have faced.”

The contemporary fiction novel tells the story of Liliana, Estelle and Jill. “Liliana Flint-Smith is young and starting out on her own. Leaving a dysfunctional family behind her and with nothing but a university degree in librarianship, Liliana moves to a remote village in the country,” Maryann says.

“Different from everyone else in the town, she must find her place in a society that doesn’t take kindly to strangers. With the help of an old woman who lives in the flat next to her, Liliana begins to find herself and discovers it was never about her changing, but about learning to be herself.”

And then there’s successful career woman, Estelle Wainwright.

“She’s burning up the career ladder and has just made editor at a national women’s magazine. Her husband Joel is also carving out his niche as an architect and, together with son Corey, is the picture of success. Or are they?” Maryann says.

“Estelle is fighting the tension within herself: work and home, career and husband, businesswoman and woman. She then has to navigate through a health crisis that will test the decisions she has made about how she lives her life.”

Our final character is Jill Bridges who’s ageing and struggling to stay afloat after the death of her lifetime partner, Maryann says.

“Her children are busy with their own lives, and she’s facing the prospect of a nursing home. But it’s her independence that makes her life worth living and she’ll be damned if she’ll bow to society’s plans for her,” Maryann says.

“She must find a way to triumph over old age and emerge into a life that still holds meaning.

“These are definitely experiences, challenges and triumphs women face every day. And that’s not to say that men shouldn’t read this book. There’s something in it for everyone, because that sense of belonging that gives us happiness in life is a quest all human beings, regardless of age and gender, are on.”

Belonging Places is available on Amazon:

In print, here;

As an eBook, here.

You can find out more about my books by visiting my website.

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It was 4am and I was wide awake. The day had been muddled with too many things to do and not enough focus. I had gone to bed too early perhaps, and with too much on my mind. A dark dream preceded my wakefulness and breathing heavily, and quickly, I awoke and pushed the tiredness away, glad that I was truly on the earthly plane and not battling the phantoms of my dreams.

I had dreamt someone stole my wallet; a dream that left me without any material security in a crowded place, rather like being naked. I’m not sure why I dreamt that. In any case, I reached for my i-phone, trying to take my mind off the dream and off a feeling of being lost…and without even 10 cents to my name.

I scrolled through my twitter feed and happened on a link from Dean Wesley Smith, a science fiction author. The particular post was titled: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. What a great thing to read at 4am in the morning – seemingly without a wallet.

As a newly published author with a dream of becoming a successful publisher, I read every word of that post. What attitude, a real down to earth look at why it’s quite conceivable and realistic to have the goal of successfully publishing my own books, or perhaps being a hybrid (author that is both indie and traditionally published).

A part of me has always liked the idea of the wild west and Dean is pictured on his blog in full cowboy regalia. In the fictional wild west battles were settled with a bar room brawl, or a shoot em up. Either way, no-one seemed to mince words. Well Dean’s post didn’t. He came right out and said write plenty of content across multiple genres, fill the shop, and readers will come because you’ve got full shelves and lots of variety. At 4am his no nonsense attitude was refreshing and I refocused on my publishing dreams, knowing that it was entirely possible I might be successful.

So then I went back to sleep and missed the commotion of the early morning in our house. My middle son had lost his wallet that night coming home from a nightclub and a wonderfully kind lady had phoned at 7am to let us know she had it and would drop it round to my son. As he was away for the weekend, in a large coastal city without any money, ID, or petrol for his car, this woman’s kind gesture meant everything to our son, and to us.

Dream mystery broken. Somehow I had picked up on the lost wallet thing. And as for Dean Wesley Smith and the kind lady who found my son’s wallet and returned it, thank you.

My book Shadowscape is all about mind power and intuition. It’s available at Amazon if you want to take a look. And I’m also beginning to fill the shop with Book 2 Dawn of the Shadowcasters out on 30 May 2014 through Lodestone Books. If you want to find out more about the books and why I write head over to Smashwords and read my author interview.

Well, here I am at the end of a huge year of writing, working and living. With just over a week left to say goodbye to 2014, the John Lennon song keeps playing in my head, ‘Happy Christmas’, as it always does each year:

“So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun…”

What have I done indeed. I know I have worked extremely hard at my day job, and at my fledgling career as an author. I’ve driven myself in 2013, all the while pondering the big questions: what’s my purpose, what should I really be doing, am I doing enough, am I enough… And so it goes on.

But it was towards the end of the year that I really got a burr in my saddle. I began to think about mortality. I began to think that as I was into middle age, I could no longer afford to muck about with the same stuff, doing it the same way, in the same patterns any longer. Something had to change; something was going to change in 2014 and that something would be me.

The only advantage of growing older is the getting of wisdom. After a while the same old dysfunctional patterns lose their meaning and become a little absurd in light of the reality that time is running out.

If I had intentions for 2014 it would be to live each day as well as I can. To say no more often; to cultivate my ‘spark’ of creativity instead of feeling it extinguished under the weight of the daily grind and other people’s demands that so often get put before my own needs, and to surround myself with positive, life affirming people more often.

I also need to spend more time at home, drinking the tranquillity and restoring the soul . Soon my children will go their own ways. Time is precious, it really is. I also need to spend time with myself, reflecting, making choices, deciding on ways to live, and living them.

This is called being true to yourself, and I need to focus on that too.

My creativity and writing deserve also to be nurtured because I’ve discovered that while I do that, life is richer and more rewarding. There is a deep satisfaction when I fulfil that particular contract with myself.

So, yes, John Lennon is going through the reel setting of my thoughts, over and over, and particularly the ‘Another year over, and what have you done…’ I should be satisfied with writing two novels in 2013, while raising three boys, keeping a home warm and welcoming and holding down a busy day job, while managing to put whatever energy I have into my special friendships with the women in my life.

When I look at it like that I’ve accomplished quite a lot really, and I’m more than thankful to myself for such a stupendous effort in 2013.

I’m determined though, that 2014 will be done with a little more time for ‘me’ because I deserve it and I’ve earned it. And because I simply want to stop for a while and reflect.

For those that celebrate Christmas have a wonderful one. And to all, a happy and healthy New Year where, when you find yourself in amongst the muddle that is sometimes life, you remain above everything else, true to yourself.

I have managed to file almost 30,000 words so far this month in National Novel Writing Month (#nanowrimo). It’s been a good experience for me because it has taken the seed of a novel and literally forced its germination. Belonging Places will be finished by November’s end. It is three novellas bound together by the common theme of finding your belonging place, and that place is always within. Here is the first chapter from the second novella, about a career woman who seemingly has it all, but does she?

ESTELLE’S STORY

Chapter 1

She flicked the cap machine on as she whizzed through the kitchen, brush in one hand, daycare lunch in the other. A quick, furtive glance at the kitchen clock told her she had exactly 10 minutes to get Corey ready. “Joel, Joel, we’ve got to go, can you hurry…please,” she yelled up the stairwell. By some miracle he would have heard and would miraculously appear down the stairs, on time. She knew he wouldn’t be doing that, so she called again, louder this time. “Joel, Joel. Come on!”

She grabbed a piece of toast out of the toaster and smeared it with vegemite. Corey was getting fidgety in his high chair. She smiled at him, as she reached for his coat and hat from the table. “Coming my little man. Just give mummy one more minute. Joel, I’m not kidding…”

She was about to tell her husband what she really thought about his lateness but he appeared round the corner while she was in mid-sentence. His blonde hair untidy, but in a suite and with his briefcase nevertheless. “In the nick of time, by the looks of things,” he said, planting a quick kiss on her cheek as he walked past, eager to get to the cap machine. Two cappuccinos coming up,” he said, getting the stainless steel flasks out of the cupboard on his way past.

“You are a lifesaver,” she said, unstrapping her young son, the image of his blonde haired, blue eyed dad, out of the high chair. “There you go baby. Mummy’s just about ready.” She kissed his round, still baby cheeks and ran the brush lightly through his hair. “Now, let’s get your coat on. It’s brrrr cold outside and I don’t want you getting brrrr cold.” Her son looked up at her with his big blue eyes, a smile on his face. She could have said anything to him, she thought, and he would still be smiling up at her. A pang of guilt shot through her. Why was she dragging her toddler out the door on such a cold winter’s day? She shook her head. “Now let’s not go through all that again Estelle,” she said, more to herself.

“What darling? What did you say,” her husband said, bringing her coat for her.

“Nothing. Talking to myself. Going mad actually, must be this new job promotion.”

He took Corey from her and pointed to the freshly brewed cappuccinos in their steel flasks. “You take these darling and I’ll go and strap munchkins in his car seat. Oh, and Estelle don’t forget your briefcase like yesterday.”

She looked at him as if to say ‘are you questioning my memory’. “Ok Joel, yes I forgot it yesterday, but we were in such a rush…”

“Like today,” he countered. “And I’m only trying to help.”

She waved him out the door and did a last minute check of the kitchen to make sure everything was off. She picked up a half eaten vegemite toast, the baby bag for Corey and her briefcase. One last hurried look in the mirror, and a mental note to get her long black hair cut on the weekend into a more manageable, shorter style, and she was out the door.

Hopping into the car with her son and husband, she heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Made it.”

He smiled at her and flicked the car into gear. “God the day has only just begun and I’m exhausted,” he said with a grin on his face.

She smiled a half-hearted attempt in agreement and fell silent. Corey dozed in the back. She had been up half the night with him. He had come home from daycare with the snuffles, a head cold picked up from one of the other 50 children there. Another pang of guilt. Stop it, she told herself. Just stop it. She leant her head back on the plush leather headrest of their Audi. Money had not been a problem for them for the past two years. Before, she was struggling to make it up the ladder in the editorial room, and he hadn’t been promoted to senior architect. Since then, they both had received promotions, she to Editor of the Woman’s Post and he to senior partner in Bladwell & Sons Architects. They had upgraded their home to a posh part of the city, and along with the move, bought the Audi. To anyone who noticed these things, they were a highly successful couple, with a beautiful baby boy. They had, quite simply, everything…and nothing she thought. She craved a day at home and reasoned that must be why she couldn’t lift herself out of her downer. She was just tired and nearing the end of her patience with the breakneck pace of her life, and its impacts on her family.

She gazed at the blur of suburban Sydney as it whirred past the tinted glass of the Audi’s windows. They lived on the North Shore now and it was a longer drive into the City. She had found a good daycare a few suburbs along and they were approaching it. She called softly to her son. “Honey, we’re nearly at daycare. Nearly time to see Benny and Matilda. Corey, wake up.”

Her blonde haired son stirred in his seat as the car came to a stop at the daycare. “I’ll take him,” Joel said to her, unstrapping his seatbelt.

“No. I’ll do this. You know how he hates you doing it.” She unbuckled her seatbelt, got out and opened the back door. Her son, bleary eyed was beginning to look around eagerly for his two friends. “Benny,” he murmured.

“That’s right petal,” she said carrying him through the front doors. “Let’s go and find Benny.” She put him down and he ran toward the main playing room. A daycare worker was there to greet him. “Let’s go find your friends Corey, shall we?” she said brightly, and the little man grinned at her. Estelle could only look as his tiny, tiny legs disappeared through the door. She turned away. It didn’t matter how many times they did this, every time sent a shiver of anxiety through her. She just didn’t like being separated for a whole day from her baby.

Deep in thought, she returned to the car. Joel had his usual worried frown to greet her. “Ok, he got off ok?”

“Yep,” she said, glancing at her watch. “We’ll need to hurry now to beat the bridge traffic.”

They were mostly silent during the remainder of their journey into the City. Luckily they worked close by each other, and Joel had access to free parking in his building. From Joe’s building, she only needed to walk the two remaining blocks to the Woman’s Post head office, the magazine she had started on as a cadet journalist more than a decade ago. Now she was editor. She pulled out her I-pad and checked her schedule for the day. There was a meeting with the advertising manager scheduled for 8.30am, a mere 25 minutes away. She hoped she was on time. And then was an editorial meeting with the heads of department at 10.30am. Next, lunch with the Editor in Chief, and there was an afternoon brief with legal on the Bannister story they putting on the front cover – a story about a young woman who had been raped. It was a brave call to put her on the cover, but it was national rape victim’s week and the Bannister woman was topical at the moment, because she had fought back against her attackers and had escaped certain death. Her bravery was inspiring. It also helped that she was young and beautiful, and someone people could relate to – everyone’s daughter, she thought ironically.

“Umm, busy day honey,” she said, without looking at her husband.

“Me too,” he said without taking his eyes of the looming traffic. They would just make it into the City before the worst of the peak hour rush. It wasn’t long before he was manoeuvring the Audi into the spot that was reserved for him. He leant over and began kissing her goodbye.

“This weekend promise me no more bringing home work from the office,” he said.

“I won’t if you won’t,” she answered, playfully.

“Seriously,” he said, looking directly into her eyes, “we need some long overdue family time.”

She kissed him back then, a lingering kiss. “I know. I know. And we will. As soon as the Bannister story is done…but this weekend, I promise no work on Saturday. No I-pad, no mobile, just you, me and Corey.”

He smiled warmly and all was forgiven, and she was reminded yet again just how much she was still in love with her childhood sweetheart, even after a decade of marriage. She grabbed her briefcase and headed for the street exit.

“Later,” she said winking at him, as he too disappeared through the building’s carpark lift.

He blew a kiss to her, as the lift doors closed on him. She quickened her pace, to try and make the seven minute walk in five. Damn, she thought to herself, she should have brought her flats. The new heels crunched the front of her feet up, and irritated the bunion that was beginning to form on her right foot. She compensated and put most of her weight onto her left foot. Arriving at her building with exactly two minutes to spare before the meeting with Miranda Bonnington, she flew past her personal assistant.

“Mail, coffee and hold the calls. Thanks Suzie.”

Suzie gave her an understanding smile. “Sure Estelle, copy that.”

She smiled, shut her door and made herself comfortable behind the huge oak desk that had been at the Post for almost a century. She settled into the leather chair and kicked off her shoes under the desk. Firing up her computer, she took note of the messages already on her desk and began prioritising them. She grabbed her notebook and pen, a legacy of being a journalist. She took them into every single meeting she attended, whether it was with the Prime Minister or to lunch with the Chair of the Board. Pen in hand, and sifting through her emails, she was ready for Miranda when she walked through the door.

She liked Miranda, but they rarely agreed. Miranda was, after all, the enemy. She was concerned primarily with making her bonus, and ensuring that sales revenues were met. On the other hand, Estelle was always concerned with preserving the editorial quality of the magazine. They often fought, always over a request for advertorial, the kind of content dressed up to look like a story, but designed to ‘sell’ the advertiser’s products. More and more, the commercial realities intruded for Estelle and she knew that sometimes she had to give into Miranda, but not always.

Today’s meeting was over a big pharmaceutical account Miranda had landed, and she wanted editorial support for a four page advertorial feature she planning for them. They were supposed to be talking about what stories might populate the feature and Estelle had made up her mind to be hard arsed about it. It might be an advertorial feature, but it was also going to contain meaningful and helpful content, in keeping with the ethos of Woman’s Post. Estelle could have done without the meeting today with Miranda; she didn’t really feel like a fight, but she was also conscious of the Board’s expectations of her, and that was to deliver a product that brought in revenue. Content was one thing, sales were another and the two were supposed to work seamlessly together to produce the revenue. She sighed heavily, wondering what was wrong with her today. From the very start, she had been dragging her heels. Her PA phoned. Miranda was outside her office. “Send her in Suzie, thanks.”

Miranda flung the door open with such confidence and strode in, in her nine inch heels. Estelle wondered how she walked in them, when she could only manage ‘sensible’ stilettos with her bunion. She got up and extended her hand.

“Miranda Bonnington. How are you, sit down.”

Miranda fired back. “Estelle Wainwright. Long time between meetings.”

“Yeah. Sales must be going well,” she said, immediately regretting her sarcasm.

Miranda sat down in her impossible straight, short skirt, and gave her long, honey coloured hair a flick, pretending to ignore Estelle’s comment.

“Well, let’s get down to business, shall we. You might have heard that I’ve got the Raine account and we want to do a four page feature. I was wondering if I could have Steph Jones to work on it?”

Estelle closed her eyes and forced back the cynical smile that had begun to form. So typical of Miranda to want control, and taking a backdoor approach to get it.

“You and I both know that Steph is one of our lead writers and is actually working on the Bannister story at the moment. What I can give you is Dianna Greenway, but under my direction not yours. You and I both know my journalists do not answer to you Miranda. In any case, you have your sales feature writer, why not use him?”

It was Miranda’s turn to smile cynically. “You and I both know that he’s not up to the job. The Raine account needs a quality writer…”

“Which is why you can have Dianna under my supervision. You’ll get your quality.”

Miranda sensed she did not have the power in the conversation. “Ok, I can work with that, but I want to suggest the story leads.”

Estelle nodded. “Sure, send me your suggestions and I’ll consider them.”

Miranda was not going to be rolled that easily. “Well I was talking with one of the Board yesterday and they are also on the Raine Board as well. Turns out he wants the best possible stories done, and I suggested something on their leading market position…written non-commercially of course.”

“Alright Miranda, you’ve made your point. We’ll include that story in our mix. But I really need to cut this meeting short – got to get to the editorial meeting later this morning and I’ve a million and one things to do before then.”

Miranda got up, stretching her legs and smoothing her skirt like a panther arising for her morning walk. There was definitely something feline about her, Estelle thought.

“Well, I’ll be in touch, via email. Saves time.”

Estelle smiled at her. “Yes, that’d be the shot. Email.” As she watched Miranda slink her way out of her office, in her nine centimetre heels, she knew she had won the battle but Miranda had also made her point too. She needed to watch that one more closely, she thought. She yawned, and sipped her coffee which was cold. Swinging around in her chair she took in the view of the city’s skyline. What a view, she thought. Immediately Corey came into her mind, and she knew he’d be having little lunch by now.

A lot of things have crossed my radar this week, inspiring me to post a blog so rather than talk about one specific subject, here’s my week in review. Well, firstly I received my copy edited manuscript from Lodestone Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing.

I’ve never had an editor before – well, I’m trained as a newspaper and magazine editor, but not as a book editor. What a great experience having someone who is professional go through your manuscript. It reminded me of my early college days, where in a lecture a light would come on, an Ah Ha Moment when you got that much needed visual on what the problems or issues were. Eureka, as we say in Australia.

One of the things I am guilty of from time to time is ‘author intrusion’ – so the reader will have their head in the dialogue and the descriptions, getting right into the characters, and next thing my voice is right there in the mix. Being made aware of that by the editor, was good. And she didn’t correct it, but left it to me to rewrite. Wonderful. I’m learning.

Re-reading over Dawn of the Shadowcasters which will hopefully be out on Lodestone Books in the very near future, was a good experience and while it’s hard to be objective about your own work, it made me sit down and congratulate myself…just a bit (hubris is quite dangerous you know). The manuscript was written on weekends and in holidays, at a time when I was particularly busy with my day job/career – it’s a testament to the willpower of authors that they stick with the task, and perhaps an indication of the passion with which we go about achieving that task.

From novels to dogs. I am a self-confessed dog lover with the most adorable English Staffordshire you could wish for. We are thinking about fielding him in one of the Australian Rules Football sides because he is an avid football player, using his feet to ‘hold onto’ the ball and jumping in the air, like the best of the highflyers, to catch a football when it’s kicked in his direction. I reckon he would go alright at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on finals night.

And onto social media. Came across the debate this week on whether Google+ is better than Facebook. The evidence says no – it’ll take a bit longer to knock the Facebook juggernaut that blazed the path for social media, off it’s course, but I really believe all the platforms offer something valuable for authors. I’ve found that different ones suit me better than others. I love Twitter for it’s community, information and opportunity to express. I’ve only just joined Google+ and I find it interesting. I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but I know that’s where you’ve got to be to connect with readers, so I persevere. And I love to blog, on the weekends when I’ve got time.

Speaking of social media, I got a comment on a post about the importance of ‘being who you are’. The commentator pointed out it was often easier said than done. True enough, but it’s got to be at least an intention. I replied that it was always a goal that was right to strive for and that doing what makes you happy is a good place to start. Ummm. Intention + goal + choice = happiness. A most logical equation.

And on that note, I’ll end where I’m happiest – ready to do some more with my edited copy of Dawn of the Shadowcasters.

Oh, and if you want to follow me on Twitter I’m @MaryannWeston. Google+Maryann Weston and if you feel inclined to like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shadowscape.stevievegas

When I was at uni I fell in love, rather passionately, with the existential writers, particularly Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The  fact they were writing about how I had felt all my life, was the most incredible of revelations.

That you could be isolated  in a world that was both absurd and indifferent had not been lost on me, and that to live on the edge and try and make sense out of what can only be described as often bizarre behaviour, situations and systems…well, I thought I was the only one who noticed.

That’s how I felt; very different from everyone else at that stage of my life. That was until I read Albert Camus’ The Plague and Jean Paul Sartre’s The Wall. At once I saw truthfulness sit down beside absurdity; such sharp observations in those writings that I saw at once just how peculiar people, and life, can be. It was at that moment I understood that I was not the absurd, rather a spectator of the absurd.

Mind you, that is not to say that people, life and situations are not incredibly wonderful at times. It’s just that sometimes life can border on the senseless and the illogical. And you are left speechless in its wake.

Uni days aside, now that I have grown from that rebellious young adult, into that rebellious middle aged, married mum of three, I still catch a glimpse of Camus’ existential world – every now and then. When I do, I smile a half smile and walk on by, to the next situation where I hope there is meaning.

And that brings me to freedom. For the existential writers, freedom was the ideal and something to be attained because to be truly free was to be above the meaningless. In freedom you found yourself, and in yourself you found freedom.

 “In freedom you found yourself, and in yourself you found freedom.”

If someone was to ask me what was the most important thing to me, personally (family and children aside), I would have to say freedom. In the end, just like at uni, I am always striving for freedom.

I had quite a pressurised few days to get through, on a national stage recently. It’s the kind of pressure that when something goes wrong it can be quite disastrous, and it stays with you for awhile. You can come away bruised and battered and regretting the way time unwound for you.

I spent a good deal of time mentally preparing for this major task, and did what I could professionally to make sure things went smoothly. In the pressure cooker that steamed away over 48 hours, I chose to remain calm and take every opportunity to have a laugh.

A young colleague of mine reminded me of the Charlie Chaplin quote that ‘a day without laughter is a day wasted’. It is quite true. Laughter relaxes and causes you to look at things differently. I kept thinking to myself: what is so grave that it needs to be taken that seriously. Once you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your ‘t’s’ professionally and satisfied yourself that you have done everything you can possibly do – the only place to go, is with the flow.

So I flowed along during my 48 hours in the pressure cooker. I laughed when I could and really listened to the new people I met. I marvelled at the situations I found myself in, like a dawn coming up over the Sydney Opera House at 5am, or a midnight walk through the streets of Sydney, or watching the lights glisten on the harbour against that beautiful sound of the ocean nearby.

I kept thinking to myself, if only we could navigate through every pressurized situation in life, to avoid the stressful mental and physical impacts that can sometimes result.

It helps to have no fear which in turn provokes a philosophical frame of mind. And it certainly helps to laugh a lot, when you can. That smile and lightness then becomes a gift to others.

There is not much of a line between being down and hard to be around, and giving the best of yourself. It’s a curved line, and it’s called a smile.