Tag Archive | kate loveday

Famous Women in History

Women who were never boring- always awesome

These are famous women from history. Some were known for their beauty, some for their scandalous love affairs, and others for what they achieved in their lives. But they all had one thing in common. They were strong, independent women – women of spirit who weren’t afraid to take a chance. They grabbed life with both hands and to Hell with the rest of the world!

EVE

Eve-lgn

 

She was the one who started it all! She took a bite out of an apple that a serpent gave her and passed it to Adam, thereby creating original sin. It is because of her that women throughout time have been blamed for being seductresses.

A role model for ever?

 

 

CLEOPATRACleopatra-VII

Cleopatra ruled ancient Egypt for almost three decades. Well-educated and clever, she was a dominant ruler. Both her love affairs and military pacts with the Roman leaders, both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, as well as her striking beauty and powers of seduction, have earned her a lasting place in history.

The true love story of Antony and Cleopatra, two powerful figures, is intriguing and moving, and one of the great love stories of all times. They fell in love at first sight, and their relationship gave the country of Egypt great power. But their love affair angered the Romans, who were wary of the growing powers of the Egyptians. Despite all the threats, Antony and Cleopatra married. While he was fighting a battle against the Romans, Antony got false news of Cleopatra’s death. Devastated, he fell on his sword. When Cleopatra learned about Antony’s death she was broken hearted, and took her own life by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC.

 What a woman!

JOAN OF ARC

In 1424, at the age of 13, Jeanne d’Arc, an illiterate French shepherdess began having visions, in which Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine, and Saint Michael told Joan, as she was known in English, she must support King Charles VII and help rid France of the English. At the head of her troops Joan led them to capture first Orleans, then Rheims, Paris, and many other towns in an effort to free France from the English.

While the French lauded her for her accomplishments, the English declared her a heretic. Joan was captured eventually by the Burgundians, allies of the English, to whom they traded her for money. The English put her on trial, quickly convicted her and sentenced her to death.

On May 30, 1431, at the age of 19, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for her crimes against the English. In 1456, Pope Callixtux III declared that Joan was innocent of her crimes; at this time, she became a martyr. In 1909, Joan of Arc was beatified, meaning she was accorded the power to intervene on behalf of those who prayed in her name. In 1920, she was canonized, which is an official declaration of Sainthood.

A French heroine, brave beyond belief!

Queen Elizabeth 1st

Queen Elizabeth 1st ruled England from 1558 – 1603, and left us with an amazing picture of a glittering time of excitement and achievement. The Queen, larger than life as she inspired her people, was at the centre of it all.

Her father was the notorious King Henry the Eight, who had six wives. Elizabeth was the daughter of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded for suspected adultery and other trumped-up crimes, when Elizabeth was only three years old.

 

Elizabeth ruled wisely and fairly for forty five years, taking advice from her council of learned men, but going her own way. In spite of pressure from her advisers she refused to ever marry, and became known as the ‘Virgin Queen’. However, she loved the attention of  her devoted courtiers, and was rumoured to have affairs – particularly with her favourite, Robert, Lord Dudley who, it is believed, was her one true love, and, in later years, with Robert Devereux, the young earl of Essex.

 

She was a diplomatic ruler who restored the Church of England and eased tensions between England and France, and England thrived throughout her reign.

 

In an age when women were considered inferior to men, Elizabeth was a glorious exception.

 

Mae West

A 1930’s Hollywood sex symbol, Mae West was assertive in an age when women were supposed to be submissive; she was openly bawdy when respectability was the order of the day.

She began her career as a child star in vaudeville, and later went on to write her own plays, including “SEX”, for which she was arrested and sentenced to 10 days in jail for ‘corrupting the morals of youth.’ She got her first part in the movies in 1932, and with her first film she became a box-office smash hit, breaking all sorts of attendance records.

 

The controversy aroused by the sexy content in her first two films resulted in the studios establishing the Motion Picture Production Code, which regulated what content could be shown or said in pictures. After this she used ’double talk’, which could be interpreted in two ways, to get around the censorship rules.

 

Although she only appeared in 12 films, as well as spending much time on the stage, she had a powerful impact on the public. She was way ahead of her time with her sexual innuendos and the way she made fun of the puritanical society of the day.

She once quipped, ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.’

 

She made sex her tool of trade, when women were supposed to be ladies.

 

Amy Johnson

 

In 1930 Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, and she set a string of other records throughout her career. She was regarded as one of the most inspirational women of the twentieth century.

She worked as a typist for a firm of solicitors until, at a loose end one Sunday afternoon, she made her way to Stag Lane Aerodrome in North London. She was enthralled by the primitive biplanes taking off and landing, and began to spend all her spare time at the aerodrome. She gained a ground engineer’s licence and took flying lessons, and in 1929 she was awarded her pilot’s licence.

Amy left Croydon Airport on  May 5th 1930 to fly solo from England to Australia. She was in a second-hand Gipsy Moth called Jason, with no radio link with the ground or reliable information about the weather. Her maps were basic but she had plotted the most direct route – simply by placing a ruler on the map. This took her over some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain and meant she had to fly in the open cockpit for at least eight hours at a time. In spite of a forced landing in a sandstorm in the Iraq desert she reached India in a record six days, and suddenly she was world famous. She became called the “British Girl Lindbergh”, “Wonderful Miss Johnson” and “The Lone Girl Flyer”.

When she ran into a monsoon near Rangoon a bumpy landing ripped a hole in Jason’s wing and damaged its propeller. A local technical institute repaired the wing and Amy landed in Australia on Saturday, May 24th  to tumultuous crowds. Over the next six weeks she was treated like a superstar. Women asked their hairdressers for an ‘Amy Johnson wave’ and at least ten songs were written about her, the most famous  being ‘Amy, Wonderful Amy’. Fan mail poured in and her fame was so great that an envelope addressed to ‘Amy wat flies in England’ reached her.

After a short courtship, Amy married Scottish pilot Jim Mollison in 1932, and they became known as the “flying sweethearts”. They both created many more records and won many air races. America took them to their hearts. They were given a ticker tape parade in New York and entertained by President Roosevelt.

A daring adventurer.

 

Elizabeth Taylor 

One of the greatest beauties of all time, Elizabeth Taylor started dancing at the age of 3, made her screen debut at the age of 10, and had a love life that made international headlines. She shone as an actress, winning two Oscars and numerous film awards, and her films grossed many millions at the box office.

 

Her personal life received constant media attention, and the public adored her for her passionate embrace of life.  She was married eight times to seven men, and led a jet set lifestyle, and amassed an incredibly expensive collection of jewelry.

 

Her most famous marriage was the fiery and passionate one to Richard Burton, whom she married twice.

She was the movie star of all times, with her marriages, her jewelry, her amazing violet eyes     her talent, and her spirit.

Shortly after her death, her son Michael Wilding released a statement, saying “My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love ….. We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.”

Truly a woman of spirit!

 

Kitty Morland was not famous, but she was every inch a woman of spirit. http://a.co/ctaYRGF

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breast cancer – no death sentence

A week ago I attended a reunion dinner—not for authors, but for women, young and old, from all walks of life. And as I looked around at the sixty or so women in the room, I felt inspired, and I had an upsurge of hope and gratitude, for we were all breast cancer survivors… and all still ALIVE.
We were part of the Encore group, run by the YWCA for those who have breast cancer, where I had participated in their wonderful hydrotherapy program.
I was a ‘newbie’ among the group, only in my first year of survival. The lovely lady alongside me told me she had been diagnosed fifteen years ago and had been back each year for her check, with no recurrence of the disease.

And as I felt the lifting of the dread that affects all of us who are diagnosed with that scourge of womanhood, I thought that if I can give hope to only one woman, then it is worth writing about my experience.

When my GP told me she thought the thickening in my breast was cancer, I found it hard to accept. It couldn’t be! Not me! But a mammogram confirmed the deadly suspicion.

At my first consultation with the specialist he spelt it all out. There was no doubt about the diagnosis, and he explained all the possibilities, and I was left in no doubt that I must have a mastectomy.
Yes, I was going to lose a breast. That takes a bit of coming to terms with.

I went through a range of tests – MRI scan, PET scan, blood tests etc. …you name it, I probably had it.

    I was grateful for the loving support of my husband, who was with me every step of the way.

Then back to the next consultation. The cancer had not spread…yet…but I must have surgery as soon as possible, and we were given the next available date; in two weeks time.
Then a consultation with a breast nurse. These dedicated nurses are there to answer all the questions you have about the process. We discussed breast reconstruction, and prostheses, or breast forms as they are called, and she had examples there for us to see. Amazingly these are so realistic now they even feel like the real thing, and absorb the body temperature when you wear them.

The day of surgery arrived, and I admit I was scared. When I woke up in recovery I remember my first words were, ‘I’m still alive’. I had little pain, then or at any time while in hospital, and, while recovering at home, simple panadol was enough to ease any discomfort.
The next morning my specialist called in early to tell me the surgery had been successful, and the cancer had been all removed. A little later in the morning the whole breast cancer team visited, and we discussed all relevant issues.

After a short stay in hospital, it was home, and then a few months of visits to the hospital for treatment. I was fortunate in not needing Chemo or radiotherapy, and after I returned for my first annual mammogram and visit to the specialist, I was able to dispense with the drug I had been taking, and I was told my prognosis was good.
To celebrate, my husband and I went on a cruise, and returned just in time for Christmas, which we spent with family, including our two young grand-daughters.

So now, after a year and more since diagnosis, I am looking forward to a long and healthy future. Along with all my fellow-survivors at the Encore reunion dinner.

So don’t lose hope—remember…
BREAST CANCER IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE.

SUMMERTIME

It is hot. Blisteringly, scorchingly hot, with the mercury hovering just below the forty degree Celsius mark. The sun blazes in a clear, blue sky, and all I can think of is the ocean nearby. That wonderful cool, clear water.

I don my swimsuit, a tee, sandals. Splosh on sunscreen, pick up a hat, sunnies, towel, bottle of water, and toss it all into the beach bag.  Drive five minutes to the beach and find a park close by.

The water beckons enticingly. Aqua blue, calm, with just a gentle ripple. The sand at the edge of the water glistens in the sun as a wavelet surges gently up onto the shore, before receding lazily to recoup its spent energy. I am amazed to see so few people on the beach and in the water. Plenty of room for many more.

I tumble from the car and cross the hot pavement onto the sand. Trudge through the soft sand. The red-hot sand infiltrates my sandals and my feet burn. Now I know what it’s like to walk over hot coals.

Reaching the strip of hard, wet sand above the water line I shed the sandals and the damp sand cools my feet. I drop the bag. Off with the tee, I head into the water and wade in.

The cool water caresses my legs. Little fish swim only feet from the shore, where ridges in the sandy bottom dig into my feet. Ouch!  But they are soon left behind for the smooth, sandy ocean floor.

I’m in waist deep and the water feels cold. There’s only one thing to do. Dive under and swim. After the heat, the cold water is sheer bliss! I come up with a gasp, shake my head and push the hair back from my face.

I look around. There are a few other souls in the water nearby. Teenagers splashing, diving, and horsing around. A few children on paddle boards. A group of three women a little way off, chest deep, hats on, bobbing down deeper now and then as they hold an animated conversation.

A couple of serious swimmers further out are practising their strokes.

I look down. The water is so clear I can see the shape of my toenails, and the occasional pebble on the sandy bottom. A lone strand of seaweed drifts by. But mainly it’s just clear, rejuvenating water. I swim a bit, do a few stretches and kicks, float lazily. The heat is forgotten.

Ah! This is what I missed so much when I lived in other places – South Australia’s long stretches of sheltered, white, sandy beach. Not crowded. Usually calm enough to actually swim in.

What! No surf? you say. No, if you want surf, go further down the coast. For me, I like to swim, float, cool off. Forget the heat.

This is Adelaide in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration comes first

I always enjoy learning the history of places I visit, and while living on the beautiful mid-north coast of New South Wales, I researched the past of Bulahdelah, a picturesque village about 200kms north of Sydney on the Myall River.

 Bulahdelah Mountain  Looking out from Bulahdelah Mountain

 In the early days of colonisation  Bulahdelah was well-known as a timber-cutting area, home to magnificent cedar trees. The local Historical Society is active, and they made their information freely available to me, and I searched records and pored over photos. Then an artist friend loaned me a book of ‘Rachel Henning’s Letters’- letters that had been written by the English wife of a Bulahdelah timber-mill manager in the mid-nineteenth century to her various family members. In them she described her daily life, which she found very agreeable.

 This made me curious about the lifestyle and conditions for all women in the nineteenth century

What my research found was that women then had few rights and were dominated by the men of the time, and not all women led the pleasant life enjoyed by Rachel Henning.

The law in that era stated that when a woman married, all her assets became her husband’s property, and the law gave him the right to force her to obey him in every area of her life.  This meant she was totally dependent on him for everything, both financially and emotionally. If he turned out to be heartless, violent or miserly, she had little or no recourse.

So, under the laws of the day a woman had few rights; prior to her marriage, she must obey her father, and when she married all her property became her husband’s on the day of their marriage. She became virtually his chattel, to treat as he wished. No matter how badly he chose to treat her, she had to bear it.

Women were considered to be physically, emotionally and intellectually inferior to men, and the entrenched and patronising attitudes of the time meant that the judiciary, all male, took the view that whatever the man did was right and a woman was meant to be an obedient homemaker and bedwarmer for her husband, while not expecting sexual pleasure herself!

haifrm20[1]

Throughout history there have been many influential women

 But on investigation it becomes obvious that they were either rulers, like Elizabeth 1, in England, or Catherine of Russia, or else they were wives, mistresses or concubines of influential men. Many of them had great power.

Strong, powerful women. 1237405994_top-10-hottest-historical-women_flash

But what of the ordinary, everyday women…

Women who had the spirit to rebel against this injustice – women who refused to be browbeaten by the men?  And if they defied custom – could they face the results of going against the conventions of the day?

Happiness – and love – could not have been easy!

It was these findings that incensed me and provoked me into writing the Redwoods  series.

AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN  is the first novel in the series. This book focuses on life in Australia in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and to make the story authentic meant researching many details in Sydney in that era. Which hotels, pubs, churches etc had been built by then? Where would Kitty and her mother have shopped? How far had the suburbs spread by then? What transport was available?  It also looks at the attitudes that caused Kitty much unhappiness in her marriage.

Independant Woman final

 After I finished ‘An Independent Woman’ I started to think seriously of my  next book ,which  continues Kitty’s story and begin that of her young daughter Joy. However, I found that writing in a series throws up a whole new set of problems for an author. I have covered this topic in  my blog on writing a series  (Sept 7)

 A Liberated Woman finalBy the time I came to write ‘A LIBERATED WOMAN’ I had already done a lot of research into Sydney in the late 1800’s for ‘An Independent Woman’. However by 1893, the starting date of this book, the political climate had changed. There was hot debate over the looming prospect of Federation.  Some colonies were for Federation, some against, and I needed to research the political figures of the day and their opinions. Also, Australia was in the grip of an economic depression – did this affect my characters?

Then there was a whole new world to portray when Joy went to England, to meet her English family, to be presented to Queen Victoria, and to have a London Season. The relatively free and easy lifestyle of Australia gave way to the strict social codes of Victorian England, where life was highly regulated.

My research for this included learning the protocol of presentation at Court, and what activities happened where and when during the Season – from garden parties and coming-out balls…

 comingoutlg[1]

 to a week at Royal Ascot for the thoroughbred racing….

 Ascot,-Royal-Enclosur[1]  Royal enclosure at Ascot, 1800’s

‘A MODERN WOMAN’, the last book in the trilogy, begins with the commencement of the new century, a time of hope and new beginnings, and focuses on Joy’s life now she has becomes a woman – on her relationships, and on her burning ambition to make Redwoods into a successful thoroughbred horse stud, an ambition that was born back in England when she visited Royal Ascot with her grandfather.

modern1-1a

 As I had already done a great deal of research into women’s roles in those early years for the previous two books I had no need to delve further there, but I knew little of horse breeding.  So my research focused on that. I investigated some of the ailments that can afflict horses, watched the birth of a foal on ‘You Tube’ video and ‘picked the brains’ of a horse breeder. All very interesting.

 For the racetrack scenes I drew on my own experiences, having been a lover of thoroughbred racing and a frequent visitor to the races for many years. I have always loved the thrill of watching those magnificent animals stretching towards the winning post, every fibre in their bodies striving to win, and then to see how they relish the cheers of the crowd when they beat the rest of the field!                       

                                           !How they love to race!      371128-race-horses

 Having once been the part-owner of a racehorse I understand the nervous excitement  Joy felt  before and during each race, and the euphoria when her horse came first past the post – a feeling that’s hard to beat! And I understand too the affection and attachment you feel for your horse, win or lose!

As for the relationships and emotions of the characters, in all the books– well, allowing for the difference in the conventions of the time they’re not all that different from those of people today. Times change, but people don’t.

Over the centuries we have all had similar needs and desires – for a good life, security, a loving partner. A wish for romance is strong in many of us. And we all experience similar emotions at times. Love, hate, fear, anger, frustration. We all have different ways of dealing with them, and so it is for the people of Redwoods.

I had a lot fun doing this research, and putting the characters into the situations in these books. I hope you will enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed telling their stories.

‘A MODERN WOMAN’ is due to be released on March 1st, when it will be available on Amazon and can now be pre-ordered on SmashwordsApple iBooks, Barnes &Noble , and Kobo

 

 www.kateloveday.com

Research before Writing

I am re-blogging this from an Eescapades post

When I decided to write my first novel, ‘Inheritance’ I had been up in far north Queensland for several months, and had come to love the area.

We were based at a little place called Flying Fish Point, a few kilometres east of Innisfail, bounded by the mouth of the Johnstone River on one side and the ocean on another. A glorious place, where the forest is lush and deep green, the golden beach is long, and the cerulean sea and sky almost seem to merge.

From here we made trips to the Daintree rainforest, to the huge plateau of the Tablelands, up to Cairns, Port Douglas and as far north as Cooktown. All wonderful places. And wonder of them all, we went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.

But there was a downside to this paradise, for we were all aware that in the waters of the Johnstone River and the myriad creeks and rivers nearby lived that most fearsome of creatures, the saltwater crocodile.

I knew my book had to be set in this superb place, and that my main character would be a spirited young woman. In such a place the story needed to have elements of adventure, and mystery, and to reveal something of the soul of the place. It should also include some of the lore of the aboriginal people who were the original inhabitants of the land.

I set the story on Yallandoo, a cattle station (ranch). But I was born and bred a city girl, with little knowledge of cattle stations, or rodeos, or aboriginal culture and spiritual beliefs, and their burial rites. Or the habits of crocodiles.

What I do know a lot about is life, people, and human nature. The rest I had to research.

That included how to brand a steer, how points are allotted at a rodeo, the Aboriginal Dreamtime, how immigrants to the Snowy River scheme were housed on arrival, how a fire is fought without piped water, and just how dangerous is the ‘saltie’?, as the local crocs are called, (very dangerous!), to name a few.

Ihad the most wonderful time for weeks and months, delving into all these fascinating subjects – in books and papers, in libraries, and on the internet. I love research, but I am so easily led from my subject into interesting by-ways, which runs away with the time!

I have tried to keep things authentic, and if you pick up any irregularities in the facts of the story, you must blame it on the fact I’m really just a city girl!

Inheritance is now available as an Ebook in all formats on Harlequin’s Ecscape Publishing.

 

 

 

On being a woman

It’s never been easy being a woman, and perhaps this is a good time to reflect on that, and the  attitudes to women and their rights in general today.

  It is the week in which Australia’s first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was deposed. She had crashed through the glass ceiling to become the first woman in Australia to reach the highest post in the land, but its shattering must have left her with cuts that will take a long time to heal.

 690847-julia-gillard

Gracious in defeat she thanked her supporters, but added, ‘I’ve been a little bit bemused by those colleagues in the newspapers who have admitted that I have suffered more pressure as a result of my gender than other prime ministers in the past.’ I would like to think that her following words are correct –‘What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that.’ But how long will it take?

            I have no intention of going into the politics involved here but, given that she made mistakes, I believe she received more bad press than previtabbottous PM’s had for their mistakes. Take, for instance, this photo reporting of Tony Abbott, the leader  of the Opposition, as he addressed a rally, standing beneath a placard  saying ‘Ditch the Witch’.

Of course these are not the most pressing issues women are facing today.  

Amnesty   USA recently reported, following results of their current research, that, compared to her male counterpart, a girl growing up in the developing world is more likely to die before her fifth birthday and less likely to go to school. She is less likely to receive adequate food or health care, less likely to receive economic opportunities, more likely to be forced to marry before the age of 16, and more likely to be the victim of sexual and domestic abuse.

Do you know that women account for 70 percent of the world population living in absolute poverty (on less than $1.00 a day), and that women make up 80 percent of all refugees and displaced people. Instruments of genocide such as sexurefuge womenal  violence and rape are often directed at women and girls, and the majority of persons smuggled illegally across country borders are women. Many of them have been kidnapped or sold by their own families into the sex industry.

Five hundred thousand women die every year from childbirth complications— that’s one woman every minute. Girl babies have even been killed in countries where males are considered more valuable.

Women are denied property rights and inheritance in many countries. Worldwide, women own only 1 percent of the world’s property.They work two-thirds of all the world’s labour hours but earn just 10 percent of the world’s wages.

In the developed world we are more fortunate, but even here gender inequality abounds. Domestic violence is all too frequent, as men use their superior physical strength to quell opposition to their wishes or vent their anger. Sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape are all too common. The recent rape and murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne, which brought thousands of that city’s citizens to the streets in protest at violence against women, received much publicity but for that one atrocity, that touched so many hearts, there are many more that do not receive much publicity.

We have come a long way, however, from the universal conditions that were standard  treatment of women in recent centuries, here in Australia and Britain and the USA as well as other developed countries. Then the laws of the day stated that when a woman married, all her assets became her husband’s property, and the law gave him the right to force her to obey him in every area of her life.  This meant she was totally dependent on him for everything, both financially and emotionally. If he turned out to be heartless, violent or miserly, she had little or no recourse.  Under the laws of the day a woman had few rights; prior to her marriage, she must obey her father, and when she married all her property became her husband’s on the day of their marriage. She became virtually his chattel, to treat as he wished. No matter how badly he chose to treat her, she had no redress. Women were considered to be physically, emotionally and intellectually inferior to men, and the entrenched and patronising attitudes of the time meant that the judiciary, all male, took the view that whatever the man did was right.

Rose Scott, a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Australia, wrote: “Men have come to look upon women as a sort of appendage to themselves, a sort of tail that can only wag when man – the dog – is pleased!’ This meant that a woman was meant to be an obedient homemaker and bed-warmer for her husband, while not expecting sexual pleasure herself! For the average woman, life was not easy. It was these findings that led me to write An Independent Woman the first book in a fictional series based on my research.

Where did it all start, this supremacy of men over women that so many men seem to believe is their right? Back in the days of the caveman, I suppose, when his sheer physical strength meant that the man went out hunting to catch the food and the woman’s part was to serve her master, to cook his food, to share his bed and to bear him children to increase the population. It was the survival of the fittest, and he took what he wanted by sheer brute strength.

Yes, we’ve come a long way since then, but it’s taken thousands of years. Fortunately changes have happened more rapidly in the last century. We must thank the suffragettes for gaining women the right to vote, for that gave us the the power to influence the laws of the day. And today the power of the media in all its forms means that what happens today is known worldwide in a matter of moments.

           So where are women’s rights going today? I think this quote from World Vision Magazine – Spring 2007 says most of it:-According to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan: “No tool for development is more effective than education for the empowerment of women.”

This one thing can do more to address extreme poverty than food, shelter, health care, economic development, or increased foreign assistance. There is a saying in Ghana: “If you educate a man, you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” When a girl is educated, her income potential increases, maternal and infant mortality is reduced, her children are more likely to be immunized, the birth rate decreases, and HIV infection rates (especially in Africa) are lowered. She is more likely to acquire skills to improve her family’s economic stability, and she is more likely to ensure that her daughters also receive an education. Educating girls pays dividend after dividend to the whole community.

Many of us women in developed nations already have these advantages, but we still have many issues to address. There are still individuals in the male population, here and worldwide, who think that the advantage of their physical strength gives them the right to take what they want, when they want it. And here in Australia, in our enlightened society,  some males will do whatever they can to bring down the woman who achieves greatness, believing she is not worthy.

When will another woman be brave enough to aspire to be Prime Minister of our country?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing new under the sun

There’s nothing new under the sun. How many times have you heard that? A dozen? A hundred?  When it comes to fiction it’s true – no matter what idea you come up with it’s been done before. But as a writer it’s your responsibility to make it all seem fresh and alive, as if it’s being told for the first time. This applies to all genres – mystery, romance, dramas of human endeavour, in fact all fiction.

Take all the great love stories – Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, Casablanca. Add a few of your own favourites if you like, and think about them. They’re all about love, about boy meets girl, man meets woman, and about the obstacles that come between them and their true love. Same idea, different problems, different resolutions, different writing. Those authors took an old idea and, using their own special magic, wove stories that have been loved by generations of readers. They haven’t all been joyful stories, many of them haven’t had happy endings.

But they have all touched our hearts.

And how have they done it? The authors have taken the idea, and they’ve created their characters and situations and woven their stories around them. But it’s the characters that are the pivot. If the characters are real people, people that come alive, people that we can love or hate, then we care about them, and we care what happens to them.  And that keeps us turning the pages to the very end and then, perhaps, we’re sorry that it is the end.

As a writer how can you do this? First, your characters must be real to you – you must know them intimately. As you write you must be able to get inside their heads, to know how they feel. If you don’t know, then how can you make your reader know? Your reader wants to feel their emotions, to share in them. Emotions are mankind’s common language, we all have the same emotions – love, hate, anger, sorrow, joy – and we never lose them.  And as well as the emotions, you need to know how your characters will react to any situation. For this point in time you must become your character. And of course you must create situations that will put them through the wringer, so we can see how they’ll come out on the other side, see how much they’ve changed.

All this means that as you create your story you must write from your heart. However, once you’ve finished the story you must begin to use your head, for this is when you must take your rough diamond and polish it.

You owe it to your readers to make sure your words flow in a manner as close to perfect as you can make it. It’s not just a matter of ensuring there are no errors in spelling or grammar, you must also think about the sounds of the words. Are they pleasing to the ear? If in doubt, read your work aloud.  Do the words sing? Do they convey your idea as you wish? Or are they stilted and banal? Simple words, beautifully expressed, should be your aim.

So there it is. WRITE from the heart – EDIT with the head. Take an old idea and make it new.

And perhaps your story will touch hearts!

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