And the verdict is …?

It’s been three weeks since I’ve written and there are several good reasons. Let’s just say I’ve run the full gamut of emotions – happy and excited but also terribly, terribly sad. I’m not going to get into the sad part in this blog today – it’s too raw and an unfinished story. So I’ll confine myself to the bubbly parts, especially the long-overdue feedback on my manuscript assessment!

Before HWB and I headed to Sydney for the big reveal we were invited to join our great friends Hannah and Nick for their work Christmas outing – a whale-watching cruise and BBQ. Yes, the summer BBQ season has officially launched!

Hangin’ with friends

Unfortunately I was prevented from joining the gang on the boat as I was doing an interview for a new job – still with World Vision but in a role which would present exciting new challenges (still waiting for news on that one …). But HWB went out and had a fabulous time communing with dozens of dolphins – his favourite creature of all time.

Despite blustery conditions, the following BBQ down by the wharf was lots of fun and the perfect location to take in views of our fabulous inlet.

HWB and the lads were in their element charring things on the grill.

Lads 🙂

The following day we hit the long road to Sydney. It’s a five hour drive from Narooma and I was quivering with anticipation, hope and fear all the way. On the morrow I would hear – from someone who really knows – whether or not there was a glimmer of publishing hope for Under New Management.

The verdict was delivered at Writing NSW by publisher and editor Linda Funnell. And …???

She really, really liked it. “Lively and engaging writing style…page turner … topical setting … appealing protagonist … strong opening … well-handled dialogue…”. In short she skipped straight to the bit about how to get the manuscript out to agents and publishers!

Linda 🙂

As we dug into the details, Linda helpfully delivered some pithy advice on a couple of areas for fine tuning and happily confirmed my instinct to stick with the susurrus. She also advised me to retain my controversial title. Some beta readers haven’t warmed to Under New Management. Sorry guys, it’s staying – for now anyway 🙂

I floated from our session filled to the brim with renewed enthusiasm and plans to dive straight into final editing. But first HWB and I planned to make the most of our time in the big city of lights.

Since HWB hails from Malta via Melbourne and I’m an Adelaidean, neither of us know Sydney very well and on previous visits we’ve generally stayed in the tourist hub of Circular Quay and The Rocks. This time we stuck a pin in the map halfway between Writing NSW and the city centre and found ourselves at the very lovely Verona Guest House in Glebe.

Verona Guest House

After exploring this gorgeous locale, Glebe is now my new favourite Sydney destination. It’s like a village within the city, buzzing with boutique eateries, adorned with Victorian and Edwardian architecture and pulsing with a friendly, community vibe. But its best gift was a dinner with dear friends of ours, Jeremy and Bettina, who joined us for a wonderful evening at Pizzeria Alfredo.

Happy times 🙂

The fun didn’t stop there! On Saturday afternoon we shopped till we dropped (we tend to go a bit crazy when we visit places with more than one shoe emporium – Narooma’s totally gorgeous, but a teeny bit short on boutiques) and then headed to our favourite Sydney restaurant for a nosh.

Quaffing 🙂

Malabar in Darlinghurst serves up divine south Indian cuisine, with each flavoursome, aromatic dish excelling the last. I’m not generally into posting food pics (except when dining in Michelin-starred restaurants in castles in Carcassone), but Malabar’s spinach chaat deserves recording for posterity. Who knew that chickpea-battered spinach leaves could taste so ambrosial?

Spinach chaat – yum!

We rounded off our city adventure with an evening at Happy Endings Comedy Club where we laughed ourselves silly for several hours – a pre-emptive exercise that buoyed us up for what was to become a difficult week ahead.

Bright lights- the iconic Kings Cross Coke sign

I now draw a veil over the last seven days. It was precious, and painful and poignant and not to be spoken of lightly.

This afternoon as I sat quietly back at home I was filled with a deep gratitude for the great joys of life – family, love, inspiration, adventure, friends, nature. I found that it’s not possible to be entirely sad when a king parrot is chirping madly on your deck demanding that his seed dish be replenished.

Now, as the sun sets behind the spotted gums, I’ve come to a place of tranquility. I know that whatever the week ahead brings HWB and I will be ready to meet it, hand in hand …

Sticking With The Susurrus!

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been wrestling with the advice I received at my writers’ workshop, especially in regard to pruning my manuscript of some of my more lavish linguistic flourishes.

The problem is that when I come across an offending word I just can’t find anything that fits as well or expresses quite what I wanted to say. There are so many nuances in words and I love them all. By the time I’d worked through my first five pages I’d come across incendiary, bastions, pantheon, conducive and pandemonium and couldn’t bring myself to delete any of them.

At the same time I’ve been reading my way through some of the recently published works in my genre by Australian women writers, endeavoring to discover the magic ingredients that make up a publishable book. A red hot seller at the moment is Sophie Green‘s The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle.

It was a pleasurable read but that’s not what made me leap from my chair and flourish the book around the room while hooting with glee. It was because the very day after the workshop I came across something rather remarkable. Sophie had deployed the word susurration. Not just susurrus, but susurration!!!

If it’s good enough for Sophie it’s good enough for me. I’m sorry Rachel and Dianne, but my susurrus is going straight back into the manuscript and it’s staying there, along with all the other mellifluous, delicious, exquisitely expressive words with which my manuscript is littered.

Several of my beta readers told me that they enjoyed my use of language and upon reflection I believe this is part of my distinctive voice. I don’t think that readers need to be patronised and fed words suitable for a reading ago of ten. I’m sticking to my guns. Well, at least until I get feedback from my manuscript assessment …

I’ve taken the plunge and sent off the submission – the first 4000 words of my book along with a synopsis and writer’s biography. My finger quailed over the send key for quite some time before I dispatched it on its way. This is the real deal. My baby is going to be scrutinised and assessed by someone who really knows the business and I’ll be quaking in my shoes until I hear her verdict.

Happily, over this October long weekend, I’ve had some high quality distraction in the form of a visit from one of HWB’s old school mates from Melbourne. Chris was great company and HWB and I love entertaining.

Best of all, Chris is an experienced boatie and he arrived just in time to guide us through the exciting process of launching our boat, Splashback. While we bought her before we headed to France there wasn’t time then to do the fine tuning to get her seaworthy, so this weekend was her maiden voyage.

About to launch!

It was a gorgeous day, and it was wonderful to get out on the waters of the magnificent Wagonga Inlet. Skipper HWB was a very happy camper.

On our cruise we came across two white-bellied sea eagles soaring above us, a seal waving a lazy fin in the shallows, and squadrons of pelicans cruising the shore. Chris affirmed what we already know – we live in paradise.

Cruising

I’m looking forward to many future cruises and fun times, especially when we have our influx of summer visitors. As daylight savings has now officially commenced it’s not long before we’ll be getting in to swimming, sand and sun mode. Bring it on!