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December 17, 2014 / diannegray

Hello Smiley Face!

I planted sunflower seeds about a month ago and my first sunflower bloomed this week.

To get an idea of the size of it, you’ll see a black smudge just above it slightly to the left – that’s a bee.

Sunflower

 Here’s a close-up for those who can’t see it

bee

I’m taking a blogging break for the holidays and wish you all a happy, safe and loving season.

I also want to take this opportunity to give a big shout out to all of you who have read my books this year and written reviews. It takes a lot of energy to read and review a book and each review is very much appreciated.

Stay safe, have fun and I’ll see you all in 2015!

November 26, 2014 / diannegray

Birthday Bonanza

Well folks, it’s that time of year again. Another birthday for me!

I like this time of year because all the lovely fruit on the trees around here is ready for picking.

I’m sitting on my back veranda (quaintly known as the Writer’s Nook) eating chocolate.

I look up and this is what I see.

Mango2

You may not notice those things hanging from the left of the tree at first, so here’s a closer view

Mango3

Common Mango

Then if I wander out the back with my chocolate I see these

Lichee

Lichee

And these

Bowen Mango

Bowen Mango

Nam Dok Mai Mango

Nam Dok Mai Mango

Breadfruit - an interesting history with Captain Bligh  and Mutiny on the Bounty

Breadfruit – this fruit has an interesting story to tell about Captain Bligh and Mutiny on the Bounty

Then I spotted this little cutie hiding near the shed

Surprise Pineapple

Surprise Pineapple

I’ve been without internet access for a while so I haven’t had a chance to catch up with my many friends here…

…but it’s back now, so I’m going to have a sip of champagne and read some blog posts before I get whisked off to dinner with friends!

November 13, 2014 / diannegray

Misty Morning RUC

It was very misty the other morning at the RUC. I jumped out of bed at about 4:30 am (yes – I slept in) to find the moon setting over the mountains and a beautiful mist rolling through the sugar cane fields. I sat for a while exploring my inner child – imagining any minute something mystical would emerge from the fog.

 

That light to the left is the setting moon

That light to the left is the setting moon

Straight on shot

Is that my muse emerging from the fog?

When I was a child my imagination wasn’t restrained by rules and rights and wrongs. Anything was possible and a mist, like the one I saw the other morning, would have opened all sorts of doors to the unknown. Stories of witches, monsters or fairies would have emerged to scare the living daylights out of my younger sister.

As a child it was a lot easier to flex that imagination muscle in my brain.

When the fog lifted I realised I no longer look at things like I use to when I was a child. This thought opened a door to that inactive imagination muscle, so I got it to work on the treadmill. I’m getting it into shape and it’s paying off.

I’m writing again and I’m sure I caught sight of my muse emerging from the fog, but it was early in the morning and I had sleep in my eyes.

The previous day the sugar cane next to the RUC had been cut – maybe this caused the fog, or the return of my muse. Either way, life is magical again.

This is one of the last fields to be cut. The cane cutting season will officially close this Saturday

This is one of the last fields to be cut. The cane cutting season will officially close this Saturday

 Have a mystical, magical week and take a few moments to sit back, relax and look at this beautiful world like a child again.

October 23, 2014 / diannegray

My mind is a garden

I’ve been suffering a severe bout of writer’s block for some time now, so I’ve taken out my frustration on the garden. I’ve cleared out decades of weeds, prepared the ground, planted seeds, pulled out more weeds and watered my babies into existence (then pulled out more weeds – they sprout everywhere!)

This has got me thinking (which can be a good or bad thing), that gardening is a lot like writing.

There are mountains of weeds in my mind that need clearing out. I guess weeds are something and a good sign that the fields of my mind aren’t barren. But there’s been no control over the growth. I’ve let things in and allowed them to grow without weeding them out. Instead of focusing on plants of substance I’ve been focusing on the negative things that creep in and grow so big that only a tractor can pull them out by the roots. Yeah okay, that sounds painful…

When we write we need to focus on the plants of substance and get rid of the weeds. We can clear the ground and plant the seeds, but we can’t expect them to grow without water and care (and pulling more weeds that sprout around them). Anyone can think of a story, but preparing it and spending the time to nurture it into existence is an art.

I see the farmers in this area out there every day on their tractors. They seem to work dawn till dusk seven days a week. They’re relentless because they have to be – after all, it’s their livelihood. They see me working in my garden every day. They give me a wave and tell me I work too hard. I give them a wave and tell them they work too hard. It’s like Groundhog Day, but sometimes you need that when you’re clearing the crap from the garden of your mind.

I gather the leftover mud and old sugar cane leaves from the fields and put them in my garden. I guess in that sense I’m harvesting what is discarded to add nutrients to the soil. When I write, I use experiences and emotions in the same way to add layers and sustenance to my stories.

Growth has its seasons and after all the work I’ve done on the RUC and in the garden I feel like I’m just coming into Spring.

All of the above is just a quick snapshot of my messy mind (sorry, I couldn’t take a photo).

Below are photos of how the real garden is progressing.

The corns seems to be growing well. I've put wire over the ground to stop the bandicoots from digging.

The corn seems to be growing well. I’m staggering the planting so that it doesn’t all fruit at once. I’ve put wire over the ground to stop the bandicoots from digging it up.

For your viewing pleasure, a close up of the corn

For your viewing pleasure, a close-up of the corn

The seriously sick avocado plant that was in a pot for 12 months has now bust to life with new leaves and flowers

The seriously sick avocado tree that was in a pot for 12 months has now burst to life with new leaves and flowers

I saved the old green laundry tubs from being trashed and planted cucumber in them. On the right is the old boiler and I planted zucchini in it

I saved the old green cement laundry tub from being trashed and I planted cucumber in  it. On the right is the old boiler that I dragged into the garden  to use for zucchini plants. I just love recycling!

My passion fruit vines are growing like Jack and the Beanstalk and I found this beauty the other day

My passion fruit vines are growing like Jack and the Beanstalk and I found this beauty the other day

Speaking of gardens – check out the latest review of my book Wolf Pear  by the amazing author Billy Ray Chitwood

Do you ever take two things, like gardening and writing, and compare them – or is my mind just growing nut trees?

Have a great week

October 20, 2014 / diannegray

UPDATE: Amazon accepting submissions from authors ($1,500 advance on offer)

In my last post I talked about Amazon accepting submissions from Authors and offering a $1,500 advance. Amazon has now announced this new publishing scheme is called Kindle Scout.

For those of you who questioned the authenticity of this, you can now Google Kindle Scout – or if you prefer links, you’ll find it here.

It’ll be really interesting to see how this goes. I read through the terms and conditions and strongly suggest if you’re thinking about submitting your story, you do the same.

Back to normal posts soon :)

PS – thanks for the reminder Nancy

October 3, 2014 / diannegray

Amazon accepting submissions from authors ($1,500 advance on offer)

This morning I received an email from Amazon. I’m not a US citizen, nor do I have a U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number  – but I’m sure many of you out there do, so take a peek at this.

*******

Dear Author,

Thanks for subscribing to receive updates on Amazon’s new publishing program! We’re excited to announce that we’ll be opening for submissions in a couple weeks.

We’ll be welcoming submissions for English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller, and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres. Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible.

It only takes 15 minutes to complete a submission. Here are the things that you should prepare to successfully submit your book:

  • Complete, never-before-published manuscript & book cover image – We’re looking for 50,000 words or more in Word format and a book cover image that reflects the essence and uniqueness of your book. Make sure your work is ready for others to read. Only the first pages will be posted to the website (approx. 3,000 words).
  • Book one-liner – A very short pitch (no longer than 45 characters) for your book that will be used on the homepage and throughout the website. Think of examples like “Space opera meets the Middle Ages” or “How far will one woman go to save her family?”
  • Book description- Help readers understand the content and quality of your book. Keep the description to 500 characters or less.
  • Your bio & picture – Give readers a chance to learn more about you. You will also have a chance to answer relevant questions regarding your book and personal story in a short Q&A section.

We’ll also ask you to review and accept our submission and publishing agreement that grants us a 45-day exclusivity period to post your excerpt and tally nominations. If chosen for publication, you will receive a $1,500 advance, 5-year renewable term, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and Amazon-featured marketing. If not, you automatically get all your rights back at the end of the 45-day exclusivity period.
We’ll send you an email as soon as we’re open for submissions. Looking forward to hearing from you!

*******************

Sounds very interesting indeed….

They also provide an email address if you have any questions newpublishingprogram@amazon.com.

If you decide to go ahead with it, let us all know how you go!

 

October 1, 2014 / diannegray

Somebody stop me!

It all started when I had to plant my avocado tree. It had been sitting in a pot for 12 months and even though I have a huge block with plenty of room I decided it needed to be planted out the back of the old shed near the mulberry tree in the dense mess that used to be the chook yard and pig pen.

Just like me to choose the hardest space to clear, just to plant one tree.

So I dived into the jungle and fought off snakes and spiders for my love of avocadoes (or maybe hubby helped with the tractor). Yes, I could have just gone to the shops and bought an avocado to have with my morning toast, but that would have been far too easy.

Last time I cleared a garden at the farm I forgot to take before shots (kicking myself because the change was dramatic). So this time I took some before and after shots.

Enjoy!

Garden1_before

In case you didn’t notice – this is a ‘before’ shot ;)

 

Garden1_after

I discovered an old toilet and septic from the original house before the main house was built. Handy in the garden! :D The large tree to the left is a ‘Five Corner’ (or Star Fruit) tree. The one on the right is a Mulberry.

 

Garden5_before

Another before shot from a different angle…

 

Garden4_after

…and from the same angle after

 

The good news is I can now get to the mulberry tree!

And I ate that cute little sucker after taking this pic!

And I ate that cute little sucker after taking this pic!

 

The Cooktown Orchids are in bloom so I just had to get a shot of them!

The Cooktown Orchids are in bloom so I just had to get a shot of them!

My father-in-law was so impressed he bought another avocado tree so I planted that as well. 

Okay – enough of the gardening already! Time to get back to writing

Have a great week!

xxxxx

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