[caption id="attachment_14463" align="alignleft" width="400"]greek-cafes-&-milk-bars Cover Photo: the Popular Café Cootamundra 1952[/caption] A recently published book by two researchers into the role of Greek families in the cultural history of Australia, got me thinking back to my childhood in the Clarence Valley of the forties and fifties. Effie Alexakis and Leonard Janiszewski have been researching this topic for decades. They now work at the Macquarie University in Sydney. In the early 20th century, many migrants from Greece emigrated to Australia, often to escape war and its aftermath, and to find economic salvation. Some of the milk bar and café owners who came to Grafton, my place of birth, were from the island of Kythera, lying opposite the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula.  Their descendants back home, called Australia “Big Kythera”, and even today,  the islanders often speak English with an Aussie twang.

I really enjoyed this novel, published by Ginnindera Press, about an unrequited love relationship set in South Africa during apartheid. The voice is unique: poetic and full of beauty from the outset. Themes are universal: love, friendship, family issues, mystery, and psychological damage. The opening paragraphs are especially poetic:

There is a rocky ledge that leans over the sea at Llandudno. It juts out on three sides, exposed to the changing shades of ocean and sky, the blues, the greys, the oranges and reds of sunset, and the pale violet hues of early dawn.

 It is a hidden place. A steep flight of steps hewn from rock leads down from the road to a pristine crescent of white beach. At the far end, a wall of huge boulders are piled haphazardly, one against the other.

The Nib Icon

Every year around this time, some lucky members of Waverley Library, and other interested parties, are invited to a special breakfast for The Nib Awards. The award, in its 16th year, recognises excellence in literary research, skill in creative writing,  and relevance of literary works for the community. fowl-logoBeing a member of the Friends of Waverley Library (FOWL), I am happy to be included each year on the guest list for the Nib Awards. The Nib is an annual literary competition administered by the Waverley Council, already in its sixteenth year. It was held last Thursday morning, 23rd November, at 7.30am in a venue that overlooked Bondi Beach and the sea. Generously sponsored by Mark and Evette Moran this year, the prize money had increased to $30,000 with a first prize of $20,000.

The Nib Icon

Every year around this time, some lucky members of Waverley Library, and other interested parties, are invited to a special breakfast for The Nib Awards. The award, in its 16th year, recognises excellence in literary research, skill in creative writing,  and relevance of literary works for the community. fowl-logoBeing a member of the Friends of Waverley Library (FOWL), I am happy to be included each year on the guest list for the Nib Awards. The Nib is an annual literary competition administered by the Waverley Council, already in its sixteenth year. It was held last Thursday morning, 23rd November, at 7.30am in a venue that overlooked Bondi Beach and the sea. Generously sponsored by Mark and Evette Moran this year, the prize money had increased to $30,000 with a first prize of $20,000.

The Nib IconTHE NIB AWARD
The Waverley Library Award for Literature, established in 2002, is entitled 'the Nib'. Organised and financed by Waverley Council, it is managed by Waverley Library, with the support of a committee, and a number of community establishments, including Friends of Waverley Library, Gertrude & Alice Bookshop, and local RSL Clubs. The Nib promotes research-based Australian literature, with a generous prize of $20,000. Definitely the best book I have read this year, is one of the finalists for the 2017 Nib Award. It's The Phoenix Years : Art, Resistance and the Making of Modern China by Madeleine O'Dea. Foreign correspondent Madeleine O'Dea has been an eyewitness for over thirty years to the economic success of China, the ongoing struggle for human rights and free expression there, and the rise of its contemporary art and cultural scene. Her book, The Phoenix Years is vital reading for anyone interested in China today.

WE ARE  indeed NOT ALONE

I joined WANA tribe, after having read a book entitled: Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by American writer and blogger, Kristen Lamb. I'd recommend it to anyone trying to understand the world of social media and blogging. It's a first step into learning how to increase traffic to your site. [caption id="attachment_11422" align="alignnone" width="640"]waiting-for-food Pelicans at The Entrance, Central Coast of NSW[/caption] The online Book on Social Media and Blogging that led me to better my social media skills and improve my blogging: kristen-lamb-book
Kristen says in explaining the concept of WANA tribe:
WANA stands for We Are Not Alone, and began as the title of my #1 best-selling social media book. I named the book, We Are Not Alone—The Writers’ Guide to Social Media, because I saw that social media was a game-changer for creative professionals, if only they could let loose of fear and understand that we don’t have to change our personalities to be successful. Social media isn’t about spamming people for free on ten different sites; it is about community and connection.

...

WANA Tribe is a place where creative people can be themselves and connect with other artists. Form critique groups, discussions, post your art, network, or just sit back and be inspired. No matter where you turn on WANA Tribe you will find passion and imagination and people who understand you. Why? Because they are just like you.  
We Are Not Alone! Wanna join?
This book helped me understand and start to use  social media a lot better. We writers are often technically challenged, so thanks must go to Kristen.  Actually, I need lots more help in  reality...
Trying to set up a self-hosted website nearly made me consider giving up entirely, but I'm proud to say I didn't, and I achieved my goal, after a lot of time spent asking for help. I'm still struggling with being able to use Hootsuite, but am determined to get there.

Double Madness by Caroline de Costa

Published by Margaret River Press, 2015

 If you like detective stories and a rollicking good read, with a nice dose of voyeurism thrown in, this first novel by Caroline de Costa, is definitely for you. “Double Madness” is a crime novel set in far North Queensland. Not surprisingly, place is a very strong element throughout the novel, reflecting the beauty of this humid, lush area full of spectacular scenery. A woman’s body is discovered tied to a tree with expensive silk scarves in the rainforest, several weeks after cyclone Yasi has devastated the region. It’s a mystery as to who the woman is and how she died. The main criminal investigation that follows is led by attractive indigenous detective, Cass Diamond, supported by her boss, Leslie Ferrando and other crime fighters. the-cover-of-double-madnessThe theme of doctors being blackmailed enters in the second chapter, suggesting a motive for the woman’s murder, and the narrator is careful to portray the missing husband of Odile Janvier as probably not capable of carrying it out. The irony and subtle humour underlying this novel is apparent early on through the author’s choice of names. The Latino names (Borgese and Ferrando) echo those of well-known male detectives in other novels, but the shining designation of “Cass Diamond” to the young female detective breaks the mould, as does the murdered woman’s name, “Odile Janvier”, that seems to suit her perfectly. Straight, unisex Aussie names (Chris, Tim, Troy) offer an ironic contrast to the more exotic ones. There is also a subtle pairing and doubling of names, underscoring the theme of the book’s title, and emphasising difference, as well as Australia’s multicultural mix.

the-first-stoneWhen I studied The First Stone by Helen Garner at the University of Technology, Sydney as part of a Master's degree in Professional Writing, I noticed that there were two camps: those who loved her book, and those who saw her as a traitor to the feminist cause. It made me ask myself whether I, too, was such a traitor. I was in the former camp, but many of the (younger) women belonged to the other side, along with (I think) the male teacher at the time. Admittedly, this was one of her more polemical works, in that it dealt with her support of a master at a Melbourne university college, who in 1995 was accused of sexual misconduct towards two female residents. The main reason for her support, I gathered, was her compassion for the master and his family, over what she saw as a minor incident that could have been handled differently. Instead, he and his family had to suffer the ignominy of his sacking and public disgrace. It showed up a dichotomy between older and younger  feminists

“Knitting and Other Stories”, from the 2013 Margaret River Short Story Competition, edited by Richard Rossiter Published by Margaret River Press, 2013 (First published on Margaret River Press website) cover-of-anthology The three stories I’ve chosen to review attracted me first and foremost by the authentic voice and original characters they contained. Other elements I looked for in selecting my favourites (always a subjective experience!) were fascinating story lines, emotional impact and jazzy language. This was the second year of the Western Australia Margaret River Story Competition; 24 stories were chosen from 256 entries from all over Australia to go in the Collection. A majority of the stories focus on characters who inhabit the social fringes and exhibit eccentricities, like the woman in the winning well-crafted entry “Knitting”, who shuns marriage and romance, yet knits obsessively as her mother once did, and ultimately embraces the idea of enforced single parenthood. Other topics include marriage breakdowns, adolescent sexual experience and quirky behaviours linked to grief through loss. Many of the stories are dark, but there are also flashes of humour and irony that lure the reader into their aura. There are so many stories in this collection that possess one or other of the many criteria that attract readers: the humour and irony in “Down on the Farm” (Louise D’Arcy); the simplicity and empathy enshrined in both The Girl on the Train (Amanda Clarke) and “The Bend in the Road” (Kathy George); and the mystery in The Wolf at the Door by Daniela Giorgi.