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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

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.



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



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.



Another before shot from a different angle…



…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!


September 10, 2014 / diannegray

Wedding bliss

I’ve been offline for about a week for a very good reason. My daughter was married in Melbourne on Saturday and it was the wedding of the century (I’m not being bias! LOL). My daughter is one of the most organized people I know and the amount of planning and preparation that went into this wedding really showed on the day. Everything was absolutely perfect.
I haven’t received the ‘official’ photographs yet, but in the meantime check these out. We had an absolute ball!

The first few pics were taken in the photo booth that was set up during the reception.

Me and my friend Harriet

Me and my friend Harriet

Me and Harriet again

Me and Harriet again

Me and my son Nick and his girlfriend Hannah

My son Nick, his girlfriend Hannah and me (Hannah had her head down and all you can see is the hat!)

Nick, Hannah and me again

Nick, Hannah and me again

Nick thought the photos had finished so Hannah and I were trying to get him back

Nick thought the photos had finished so Hannah and I were trying to get him back

Oh well, just us left!

Oh well, just us left!

My beautiful daughter before the wedding

My beautiful daughter before the wedding

My daughter and two sons after the wedding

My daughter and my two sons after the wedding


I’m SO proud. My first experience as Mother of the Bride was one of the most amazing and loving experiences ever.

More pics to come when the ‘official’ photos come through!


August 23, 2014 / diannegray

Back on line

I’m back on-line thanks to my darling children who chipped in and bought me a new laptop after my other one was broken. What sweethearts they are! I would also like to thank El Guapo who gave me brilliant advice on how to retrieve the information from my old hard drive without spending a fortune. He also took me step-by-step through the entire process. What an amazing and thoughtful man he is. The good news is I was able to retrieve all my photos stored on the Data side of my old hard drive.

All my stories on the OS side of the hard drive were corrupted but I have them backed-up on disk. The only back-ups I didn’t have were recent edits to my current stories. This has put me back a couple of months in my work, but I’m a true believer in everything happens for a reason and, who knows, reworking my current stories may be just what they need!

So at the moment I’m trying to fight my way through the most confusing maze of all time – Windows 8.1. Who developed this madness?

Have you seen the picture of the baby wombat who was saved after its mother was killed on the road? A ranger in Victoria, Australia (Kim Hunter) is nursing this cute little darling back to health. I’m sure this picture will put a smile on your face!

Photo courtesy Parks Victoria Facebook

Photo courtesy: Parks Victoria Facebook

On Tuesday I had a visit from a baby kookaburra who scared the life out of me when it laughed loudly out of the blue while I was focusing on finding things on Windows 8.1. As soon as I picked up my video camera to film it laughing it stopped. Isn’t that always the way :D


I took a video the other day of the sugar cane harvesting. The scene was ideal. I captured the hauling tractor dumping sugar cane into the bins for the train to pick up, while another tractor in the distance was collecting the cane from the harvester. The white birds are egrets who love chasing the harvester around to catch insects thrown up by the activity. The large dark birds you may see in the sky are eagles looking for rats and mice.  If you like watching big machinery in action take a look at the clip.


Have a great weekend!

August 4, 2014 / diannegray


My laptop was dropped and broken on Friday night and I’m looking for a hard drive guru (or suggestions) to get all my information back.

Until I can scrounge another laptop from somewhere I’m offline. I can read emails and posts on my phone, but it’s a little slow so bear with me.

Fingers crossed I’ll be up and running again soon.


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