24 September 2016 - STUNNING SHOTS




STUNNING SHOTS

G'day folks,

From time to time we see things and wish we had a camera, but I guess it's a lot easier these days with mobile phones. Check out these snaps that were taken by keen photographers.




























































Clancy's comment: Loved the lil African kids.

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23 September 2016 - P.L. TRAVERS




P. L. TRAVERS

G'day folks,

Today I introduce someone I'd never heard of, yet she was born in Australia. Pamela Lyndon Travers, OBE was an Australian-born British novelist, actress, and journalist who emigrated to England and lived most of her adult life there.



Mysterious and prickly, author P.L. Travers created the beloved governess Mary Poppins, further popularized by the Disney film and stage musical of the same name.

“Perhaps we are born knowing the tales of our grandmothers and all their ancestral kin continually run in our blood repeating them endlessly, and the shock they give us when we first bear them is not of surprise but of recognition.”
—P.L. Travers

Synopsis

P.L. Travers was born on August 9, 1899, in Queensland, Australia. Her rich fantasy life propelled her to write stories and poems at an early age, and after a brief stint in the theater, she moved to London, England, to pursue a literary life, hobnobbing with Irish poets such as William Butler Yeats. The Mary Poppins tales sprang from Travers entertaining young visitors, combined with a love of mythology. The Disney film Mary Poppins made the notoriously private and prickly Travers immensely wealthy, but also unhappy. She died in London on April 23, 1996.




Early Life

P.L. Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff on August 9, 1899, in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia. Her mother, Margaret Agnes Morehead, was the sister of the Premier of Queensland. Her father, Travers Goff, was an unsuccessful bank manager and heavy drinker who died when she was 7.

Called Lyndon as a child, Travers moved with her mother and sisters to New South Wales after her father's death, where they were supported by a great aunt (the inspiration for her book Aunt Sass). She lived there for 10 years, although boarded at Sydney's Normanhurst Girls School during World War I.
Travers had a rich fantasy life and loved fairy tales and animals, often calling herself a hen. Her precocious reading led her to undertake The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and her writing talents emerged during her teens, when she began publishing poems in Australian periodicals.

Adopting the stage name Pamela (popular at the time) Lyndon Travers, she gained a modest reputation as a dancer and Shakespearean actress. Her wealthy relatives, however, did not approve; feeling that Australians lacked humor and lyricism, she left for London, England, to seek the literary life.



 Life as a Writer

 

Having begun her journalism career in Australia, Travers was able to parlay her voyage into travel stories for homeland papers. Once in England, she began publishing articles in various papers, including poems that she had submitted to The Irish Statesman. Its editor, George William Russell, pseudonymously known as AE, became a lifelong supporter of Travers.

Travers had a love of Irish mythology, perhaps stemming from her father's stories when she was a child, so the friendship had a special significance. Through Russell, she also became friends with poet William Butler Yeats, and further explored her mythological interests studying with mystic G.I. Gurdjieff.
Travers's first published book, Moscow Excursion (1934), utilized her travel-writing experience, but the book that would make her famous followed close on its heel. Recovering from a lung ailment in the country, she regaled two visiting children with tales of a magical nanny, complete with a parrot-head umbrella as a form of transportation and the ability to have tea parties on the ceiling.



She published the story, Mary Poppins, that same year (1934), and it was an instant success. Five more books in the series followed over the ensuing years, the last being Mary Poppins and the House Next Door in 1988, all with illustrations by Mary Shepard (daughter of the original illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh), despite their difficult relationship.

During World War II, Travers worked for the UK's Ministry of Information, and near the end of the war lived on a Navajo reservation in Arizona, acquiring an Indian name that she always kept secret.

Despite the success of the Poppins books, Travers continued to write other material—young adult novels, a play, essays and lectures on mythology and symbols—partly because she feared not being taken seriously as a writer. She also served as writer-in-residence at colleges such as Radcliffe and Smith, though she was not popular. The 1964 Disney movie Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, made Travers immensely wealthy, though she reportedly wept at the premiere. A 2013 film, Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers, tells the behind-the-scenes story of book to film.

 Personal Life

 

Notoriously private and prickly, Travers never married, but she had a longtime roommate, Madge Burnand, who many speculated was a romantic partner. In 1939, Travers adopted a son, Camillus, one of twin Irish boys. (He later ran into his twin in a pub—a shock, as he knew nothing of his real background.)
In 1999 author Valerie Lawson released a biography on Travers entitled Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers, which excavated the details of her very private life.



Death and Legacy

In 1977 Travers was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. She lived to age 96, dying in London from the effects of an epileptic seizure, on April 23, 1996.

She had planned to write Goodbye, Mary Poppins, to terminate the beloved governess, but instead heeded the outcry from both children and publishers. A musical Mary Poppins closer to Travers's original version of the character debuted on the London stage in 2004. And "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," born from the Disney film, through a song written by the Sherman Brothers (sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke), forever lives in the English language.


Clancy's comment: Wow, a very good innings, eh? 

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22 September 2016 - BARBARA CRANE - Guest Author




BARBARA CRANE
- Guest Author -

G'day folks,

Today, I interview a very sharp and interesting author from Long Beach, California.

Welcome, Barbara ...



1.   TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I’ve lived nearly all my life in Southern California. I grew up in Los Angeles, went to the Bay Area for college and returned. I now live in Long Beach, California, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, near the ocean. I’m a stone’s throw (a long throw!) from you in Australia. I’ve been writing for over 30 years—creative nonfiction, short stories and two novels.


2.   WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t make any moves in that direction until I joined a writing group about 30 years ago. Every Tuesday morning, I head up to Los Angeles to meet with a group of writers who share the importance of having a creative life. They are poets, short story writers, novelists, memoirists, journal keepers. The group is led by a gifted Los Angeles poet, Holly Prado. Everyone’s efforts are critiqued in a way that makes each writer want to take the next step. Lots of published novels, memoirs, poetry and nonfiction have come out of that workshop. It’s been very inspiring and has kept me on a creative path.



3.    WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?

I wouldn’t exactly say I shoot from the hip but I don’t plan either. I prepare with a lot of writing about the characters. I’m searching for who they are, what they are about, what they want out of life. I write their stories and their thoughts. I don’t usually use this writing in the short story or novel but it creeps into what I write. One other thing…I always know the ending before I begin. I don’t try and know it. I just know it. I’m open to the ending being different than what I imagined, but so far, the end turns out more or less as I originally envisioned.

4.   WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

I love to write. I love to sit in my office and invent and imagine and think. I love to find connections between characters and am excited when things pop up in the writing that I never expected.

5.   WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

Sitting down. Getting to it, especially a first draft. A first draft is kind of hell on earth. I sleep a lot. I snack. I water plants. I try not to call friends, but sometimes I give in.

6.   WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?

I was a teacher for some years. Then, a partner and I started a training and development business, where we created and taught corporate training programs. I wrote for newspapers and magazines about business. From the time I left teaching, I always went to my writing group every Tuesday morning and always was working on some creative writing project at the same time I was working to earn a living.


7.   WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I’m happiest with the novel I just published, When Water Was Everywhere. It’s an historical novel set in Los Angeles when California was part of Mexico in the 1840s. It took ten years and a lot of research.


8.   WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m not doing much creative writing at the moment. I’m spending most of my time marketing When Water Was Everywhere. I’m in a kind of strange moment. After years of working on this novel, I have some vague ideas of what I want to do next, but no way to get there yet. No characters, no story, no ending. Whew! It’s a tough time creatively. I’m going to do some art to take the pressure off myself of having to write.


9.   WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Great question. Almost anything. A song lyric, a conversation with a friend, a memory, something my grandchild says, a fragrance in the air, the way the light falls on the trees.




10.              WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?

Until I wrote this latest novel, which is historical fiction, I would have said that I don’t write a genre. I write what interests me. After writing When Water Was Everywhere, I’m very attracted to writing more historical fiction.


11.              DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?

Write. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Don’t show your writing to friends unless you are absolutely sure they will understand what you want from their reading. Don’t ask for critique and don’t believe them if they tell you what they don’t like. Every writer experiences a lot of criticism. You don’t need to hear it when you are starting out. Do find a supportive community that encourages you to write and gives you helpful feedback.

12.               DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?

I try not to think about an “uncreative time” as writer’s block. Maybe it’s downtime that I need. Maybe it’s a lot of ideas that haven’t coalesced into a story. Maybe it’s that I don’t want to work on anything “important” for a while.

I did have a serious case of writer’s block after college. An English teaching assistant brutally critiqued a paper when I was a freshman. For years, I didn’t write. About a dozen years later, another English professor, a really fine person, said something about writer’s block (I wish I remembered what it was!), and I felt a release from the nagging critic I had carried around. From then on, I wrote.

13.               DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?

 Preferred, yes, but it doesn’t happen this way very often. Get up early, go to the gym, sit down at my computer and write until 2:00. Eat lunch, do errands, eat dinner and go back to my computer for another hour or two. As I said, that doesn’t happen very often. First drafts are much more sporadic. Later drafts capture my attention. I can stick to them with a more disciplined schedule.


14.              DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I can pretty much only write seriously when I’m sitting in my office at my computer. Oh, also on an airplane. I love to write on airplanes.


15.              WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Seeing something come onto the page that I never expected.


16.              WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I love the American writer Zora Neale Hurston. She was a black anthropologist, folklorist, fiction writer who lived and contributed to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. She wrote my favorite book Their Eyes Were Watching God. I love her prose. It’s magical to me.


17.              WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
People tell me that after reading When Water Was Everywhere, they see Los Angeles in a new way. They see it as it was in the 1840s when water flowed from the mountains into the vast basin that is now Southern California. I wanted people to see that because it’s become the Los Angeles and Southern California I know.


18.              WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I try not to dwell on those. I don’t want anything to affect my thinking about what I’m going to write next.


19.              WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
If I’m writing creative nonfiction, I am. My first novel, The Oldest Things in the World, was semi-autobiographical, so, yes, it was greatly influenced by things that happened in my own life. But for many of my stories and my most recent novel, I think that my life experience in general, not individual incidents, have influenced my writing.


20.              OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love spending time with my husband, my family and friends. I love hiking in the mountains, any mountains, but particularly in our national parks. I love to travel and see how people in other countries live. I visit art museums because I love art and the creative process. I love reading.




21.              DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I had When Water Was Everywhere edited professionally. I think it’s important to “put your best foot forward,” so to speak.


22.     DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
The answer I gave in to question number 14 pretty much says it all.


23.              IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My husband. He’s incredibly resourceful and kind. I trust him.



24.              WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
In a perfect world, I’d tell them to stop making war and let people live their lives in peace. Since it’s a very imperfect world made up of billions of imperfect human beings, I don’t think anything I said would make any difference.


25.              WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
To keep writing, to keep smiling, to keep loving people (well, most of them!).


26.               WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I’m sorry, but I don’t know what book trailers are.


27.              DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
I see a little of myself in every character but I don’t “model” a character after myself, except the main character in my first novel, which was semi-autobiographical.




28.              DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
It did until a few friends and I decided to start our own publishing company, Lagoon House Press. It’s a cooperative press, meaning that it exists to publish our own work, although we may take on other authors as we go along. You can see what we’re about at www.lagoonhousepress.com.


29.              DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Sure, for a minute or two. I can’t quit. I have an inner drive that keeps me moving. When I have an idea, I have to put it into action. Sometimes I wish I could quit!


30.              WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
Without a doubt, it’s When Water Was Everywhere. I was very invested in the setting and making it come alive for readers. I grew more invested in the characters the more I knew about them.


31.               HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?
When I was in my 30s and 40s, success would have been to be a bestselling author. Now, as a grandmother, I feel I have achieved success in publishing a book I love and pursuing as many avenues as I can find to get it in readers’ hands or on their e-readers.

32.              WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I’d like them to know the Los Angeles that I know, the natural world that was once Los Angeles. I’d like them to feel satisfied with the characters and the way the story unfolded.



33.              WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
I can’t see this book as a movie, but I can see it as a modern opera. I think it’s a perfect story for an opera because it contains tragedy and perseverance, loss of faith and redemption.



34.              HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I called on an excellent book designer, Mike Ellison of Ellison/Godreau graphic designers. I talked about the book to him and gave him some images I thought he might use. I was blown away by the choices he gave me, especially the one I chose.



35.              WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
For my life, just to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I can. For my writing, to settle on another story to tell.





36.                WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I have a lot to learn in this area. I didn’t do much marketing for my first book. For this one, I’ve decided to give it all I can for a year. Marketing takes a lot of time, research and perseverance. I do the social media stuff, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. I have a blog on our Lagoon House Press website. I’ve sent out copies for review. The book was just published two months ago, so I’m just at the beginning of this journey.


37.               ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Yes, they are. I’ve received some independent critical recognition for my writing. The Oldest Things in the World won a fiction prize from ForeWord magazine. I’ve won literary prizes for my short fiction.



38.              DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Empathetic, kind, love to laugh, driven, intelligent. (More than five words, and all brutally honest!)


39.              WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Don’t get me started!



40.              WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
I went back to a book I hadn’t read since college, Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. I love it.



41.               WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
“I hope I’ll be remembered well.”


42.               WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
I would share if I could think of what would make me happier than I am now.


43.    ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Wonderful questions. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer them.

BLURB:
 
Once upon a time in Los Angeles, water was everywhere—in rivers that rendered the vast plain marsh and woodland; in underground streams that provided an abundance of water for people, cattle, orchards and vineyards. The American Henry Scott encounters this fertile landscape in When Water Was Everywhere. Arriving in the Mexican pueblo of Los Angeles in 1842, he meets Don Rodrigo Tilman (based on the historical John Temple). Scott becomes the foreman of Tilman’s newly-purchased cattle ranch along the Los Angeles River, the present day Rancho Los Cerritos. 

As Scott learns about ranchos and cattle, vaqueros and Indians, Mexican California and Tongva Indian village life come alive under Barbara Crane’s deft grasp of narrative and history. Tilman, Scott, Big Headed Girl (a young Tongva Indian woman) and Padre José’s (a Franciscan friar) unfolding stories assure the novel’s themes of loss, hope and redemption resonate from every page.








Clancy's comment: Thank you, Barbara. Loved your answer to question 39! Good luck. Keep going.

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