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May 20, 2016 / diannegray

Only cats and writers live more than one life

I thought of that line the other day when I saw my mother-in-law’s cat run in front of a truck. I nearly had a heart-attack thinking she was going to be squished (you’ll be pleased to know that the cat and the truck survived unscathed).

After the shock subsided I thought about the “nine lives” myth and related it to the many lives I’ve lived through my words. Once a story is finished I close that life and start another. But to do this I need to open a new reality and live through the story.

If I get a phone call when I’m writing it takes me a few seconds to snap back into this reality and remember who I am, what I’m doing and what I’m supposed to be saying.

Hello, is a good start.

   What are you doing? Feel like coffee?

Um, not sure at the moment, because saying you’re just about to walk into a serial-killers house to search for bodies doesn’t quite cut it with elderly neighbours.

So I’ve taken to putting my phone on silent when I’m writing.

Having tradesmen working in the house is just as difficult. I’ve had a tiler doing the bathroom in the RUC and he learned pretty quickly to avoid me when I’m at the computer. Actually, he has no choice – I can’t hear what he’s saying when I’m writing.  He tells me I’ve been In The Zone and he’s absolutely right.

I got a little crazy and put the words on one of my favourite pictures.

Cats and writers_1

When I’m old and decrepit (like next week the way I’m going) I can pin it up on my wall and brag about how young and fit I used to be🙂

Have you ever been accused of being In The Zone? 

Sometimes I don’t even have to be writing to get to that state (as some people will attest when they say I’ve ignored them in the street!)

I’m feeling pensive today so I thought I would link this post to the WP daily prompt.

xxx Have a great weekend! xxx

May 14, 2016 / diannegray

Writing for Competitions

This morning as I slipped on my shoe I felt a ball of cold stuff under my toes. For those of you with arachnophobia it would be your worst nightmare. I’m usually more careful, but I was in a rush. I didn’t get bitten – I pulled off the shoe to find a huntsman spider looking at me as if I was insane for testing its patience like that. If I had been in a nightclub I would have won the break-dancing competition.

I bet you’re glad I shared this story with you – you’re welcome. But that’s all beside the point of this post.

In the last few years I’ve been asked a lot about writing for awards and competitions. I feel like my first big break came when I won my first award. Then over the years, winning more awards really helped me polish my writing as well as landing me a few good jobs. It also provided me with some great marketing tools and introduced me to a load of interesting people.

This week the lovely people at gave me the opportunity to talk about writing for awards and competitions. It’s only a short article, so if you’ve got a minute, please go over and check it out.

My Writer’s Nook has been getting the work-out of its life for the past month or so. It seems my muse came back from vacation with a vengeance and is shooting me with so many arrows of ideas that I’ve been averaging about 5,000 words a day (not all good words, but hey – they’re words!)

So I thought I put my favourite picture here – the view from my Writer’s Nook.


xxx Have  great weekend! xxx


May 2, 2016 / diannegray


After scoring a bronze in the Ruth Rendell short story award I’ve now been commissioned to write another story. I’ve been doing a happy dance since receiving this news yesterday – but it’s probably time to hang up my dancing shoes and get to work!

So I guess you’re wondering why I named this post Ulysses. 

It could be because I once read Ulysses by James Joyce as a bet with a friend who said I’d never get through it. Well, I got through it and at times it was a struggle but I’m really glad I did. Parts of it are completely unreadable, but I think this was due to the author experimenting with different styles of writing and use of language. Other parts of it flow like poetry and leave you with an overwhelming feeling that you’ve just stumbled upon the most beautiful words ever written. The most important lesson I learned from reading this book that there is no right way to write a story – be yourself, think like a child, write from your heart.

The other reason I could have named this post Ulysses is because I stumbled across a beautiful butterfly on my dog walk the other day. The Blue Mountain (or Ulysses) butterfly with its iridescent electric blue wings is unique to this part of the world. It was once a threatened species, but due to dedicated conservationists it’s now more prevalent.

Do you realise how hard it is to get a photo of these beauties? They move so fast! This one stayed still for me – what a star.

It’s just a baby – but still colourful.

Blue mountain butterfly

Then I saw this one – I don’t know the name for it but I see them everywhere here.
It must have been a good day for butterfliesButterfly

xxx Have a wonderful week! xxx

April 11, 2016 / diannegray

The power of insects

I came across a few strong little creatures on my walk last week.

The first ones I noticed were a line of ants carrying loads of white things from one side of the paddock to the other. Maybe they were moving house. I managed to get a clear shot of one of them (hey – ants are small so it wasn’t that easy).


A few kilometres on I heard a buzzing sound on the ground and saw two insects fighting or mating, (it’s hard to tell the difference in the insect world), or the third thing that could have been happening was the wasp emerging from a host insect (which is a pretty hideous thought!)

Once I had snapped this shot they flew (still joined together) to a branch and sat there for a while doing who-knows-what.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to be at the pointy end of that red wasp’s sting. Many years ago I was stung by something very similar. It managed to sneak beneath my shirt and get me on the stomach. As I was trying to get it off it also stung my fingers. I was very sick (including horrific burning and itching, fevers and nightmares) for about four days. I was also a passenger in a car when it happened and ended up jumping out while we were still moving (slowly – luckily!)

It was a bit scary for me to get this close to the beast, but I felt better once I’d taken the shot and knew I had (almost) overcome my fear of wasps.

Have you ever been so frightened by an insect that you’ve jumped out of a moving vehicle?
I hope not…

xxx Have a great week! xxx

April 4, 2016 / diannegray

Something I never do

I was feeling a little weird yesterday. Nothing was doing it for me. I sat down and tried to write with no luck, I tried to watch some TV with no interest, and took to the garden with no energy. I figured it must have been the three week blues hitting right on time after the death of my mother. The same thing happened when my father died. Three weeks on the dot and then three months on the dot after the tragedy I fell in a deep hole.

To pull myself out of this funk I did something I never do – I went for a walk to the creek without the dogs.

I guess you’re wondering why this is something I never do, so I’ll try to give a brief explanation. The dogs scare away nasties like snakes, razorback pigs and large goannas. Most of these creatures won’t hurt you if they hear you coming because they run off into the bush. And, believe me, my dogs (at around 60 kilos) are noisy as they thud around – you can hear them coming for miles.

So I walked off by myself down to the creek, wondering if I was going to creep up on some creature that would be scared by my sudden appearance and jump out to attack.

It was so different without the dogs. Normally they gallop across the ground, over the fields and then dive into the water without a care in the world. But without their riotous behaviour I saw things I’ve never seen before.



Okay – so you probably can’t see the fish, but they were occasionally coming to the surface to catch bugs so the ripples on the water are signs of where they’ve been.

Note before I continue: I upgraded my phone a few months back from Samsung to iPhone and I have to say, the iPhone takes absolutely crappy pictures compared to the Samsung (i.e. I hate it). In future I’ll be taking my old Samsung with me to take pics on my walk.

And then something I’ve never seen before – Blue-tailed Damselflies!


If you can’t see them, they are in the top right hand corner and not very clear (did I tell you I hated this iPhone?) There were about 20 of them flitting across the water, but I just couldn’t get the iPhone to focus clearly on them (and I took about 30 shots).

I climbed down into the waterfall and sat there for a while – something I never do with the dogs because they think it’s cuddle time and try to drown me.


I came home from my walk feeling renewed and ready to take on the world again!

I was planning on taking photos of the new nest of red finches when they fledged, but the little blighters flew the coop before I could capture a few good shots. So instead, I’ll put a pic here of a guy that followed me around when I was down south with my mother.

This guy kept me company when I was away from the farm…


…and every time I saw him he would say “HELLO!” which was a little freaky😀

***Have a great week***

March 24, 2016 / diannegray

Ruth Rendell Short Story Award – Top Three

It’s been a bitter/sweet few weeks for this old farm girl!

I found out a week before my mother passed away (last blog post) that I had been shortlisted in the top three of the Ruth Rendell short story award and was invited to the Hampstead Theatre in London for the awards event. The judge was the lovely and talented Lynda La Plante and the award only occurs every two years, but (naturally) my place was by my mother’s side where I stayed until the end. When I told her I had been shortlisted she was over the moon (she was my biggest fan and absolutely loved Baroness Ruth Rendell).

The story I wrote is called Pocketful of Posies and is the first story I’ve written in four years. I had been suffering a chronic bout of writer’s block (or just pure laziness), but when this one came up I just couldn’t resist putting pen to paper. I think we all need a little nudge sometimes – and this was my nudge! As it turns out I came third and am deeply honoured to be part of Ruth Rendell’s wonderful legacy.

Ever since writing this story I have had two more in my head fighting their way to the surface. So I’m hoping to have two novels written by the end of the year (I said hoping).

My forte is short stories. When I start a novel I want to cut to the chase immediately, no superfluous rubbish, loads of movement and action and then – The End. Unfortunately, this mode of writing isn’t the ideal for novels. I feel like the European tourist when they first land in Australia when I start writing a novel. This land is so BIG, there is far too much SPACE to work in and I feel agoraphobic!

When writing a novel I need to describe a character slowly instead of the short, sharp, punch approach. I need to dig deep into their lives, breathe their air, walk in their footsteps and feel their heartbeat for months on end. By the time I’m finished with a character they become part of my extended family and I often feel like talking about them with friends as if we all know them personally.

I’ve been called an unconventional writer because I actually only write when I feel like writing. This goes against everything we ever read about being a real writer. Apparently we’re supposed to force ourselves to write every day. I can’t do this because I don’t feel like writing every day. I write when the moment takes me and not a moment sooner – but I’m very glad I decided to write this story for such a great competition :)

I have another nest of Red Finches ready to take flight so I’m hoping to have some photos for you very soon.

***Have a great week!***


March 14, 2016 / diannegray

Just a short note

As some of you may know I’ve been away for over three weeks with my mother who has been in palliative care.  Saddly my mother passed away yesterday. I was at her side at the end and I’m so thankful to all the nurses and doctors who cared for her and for the precious time we shared in her last weeks.

I’m  without my laptop at the moment so writing posts and sharing information on social media isn’t as easy as I thought it would be on my tablet and phone.

I’ve closed comments mainly because I’m finding it difficult to navigate this new fangled machine – but I’ll be back home snuggly settled in a couple of weeks. The ‘like’ button doesn’t mean you like this post, it’s a show of love and support.