Latest News

It's always interesting to be a guest speaker  - so many diverse groups from different organisations. But one of the pleasantest audiences I've had lately was last Saturday at the South Australian branch of ACLA (Australian Church Librarians Association)  - a lovely group who were really interested in books and writing.

As always, the two basic questions were a) Where do you get your ideas from?  and b) how long did it take you to write the book?

So I focused on the first question, and explored the origins of each of my six books, and tried to identify the sources that fed into each of these. A bit of a trip down memory lane, in fact, but also a useful reminder to me just what had been the background material that had generated each of these very different books. It was interesting, also, to realise the importance of travel in my writing, especially as my seventh book is due for release sometime in the next weeks. It's a small Picaro Press chapbook, one in a series which is now being produced by Ginninderra Press, and it will be in a similar format to my fifth book, Flowers & Forebears, which is currently out of print but should be available again very shortly.

The new book, Indochina Days, is a collection of poems, all of them written during our August/September tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. There I followed my usual practice of writing a poem each day, a wonderful way of fixing travel experiences in one's mind. It's all very well to keep a detailed journal, as I do, but the focus provided by writing the 'poem a day' is even more valuable, and a great memory-trigger. So it's these poems that will be published as Indochina Days, and it will be available, like all my other books, for purchase through the final (order) page of this web site. I've checked the draft copy, so it shouldn't be too long before it's available. After that, what next? Who knows?  I don't ... yet.

And more months have slipped away ...  No wonder!  It's been so busy. Right now I'm in Brisbane, staying at my son Nick's home, and the weather is the typical Queensland "Beautiful today, perfect ..."  - you all know the rest. But it's true.

I've been here not only for family catch-up, but mainly as a delegate to the three-yearly Synod of the Lutheran Church - an intense week of meetings, dialogues, debates which were strenuous, perturbing, disappointing, but ultimately hopeful for the future. Bis issue, of course, the ordination of women. So close a vote: about 64% in favour, but not quite the mandatory two-thirds. Just another 13 votes need from a group of 423 delegates!! Next time round, surely!

But another big part of this trip for me was a Queensland launch of Bystanders during Synod, which was a lovely experience. Almost 150 people came to the launch, with its great wines (donated by a most generous group of Barossa Valley winemakers, a group that does a lot of combined things under their title of 'Lutheran Winemakers - and, believe me, I'm grateful to them.) We'd carried the wines on the four day drive from Adelaide to Brisbane without any misadventure, as well as books, etc etc. A long slow but very pleasant trip. Stephen Rudolph, National Director of Lutheran Education Australia launched the book again at this event with lovely commendations, and sales have been good throughout the week.

Also on the Bystanders front, I was delighted by the wonderful review by Peter Pierce that appeared first in the Sydney Morning Herald, then the Canberra Times. I've been told it was also in the Melbourne Age, so am zealously hunting it there.

But, almost pack-up time here, and tomorrow we start the trek south again. However, it's OK  - I hear the weather there is just as good!

Looking back, it's frightening to see that my last update here was beginning of June - and it's now mid July. That entry was before the book launch for Bystanders ...  Since then, it's been such an action-packed few weeks that - while alarming - it's not at all surprising that I haven't put anything on this web page! 

An amazing book launch. About 200 people, so superbly catered for by the Immanuel Lutheran Church ladies (no wonder people come - they have a great reputation) and smoothly MC'd by the West Torrens Mayor, John Trainer. Guest speaker, the Rev. Dr Lynn Arnold AO, gave a launch speech that made me wonder whose wonderful book he was talking about! He showed me things in my book that even I hadn't realised were there. Great job, Lynn. Thank you. Also to the West Torrens Library Staff, who always make these occasions a pleasure for everyone, and the Hamra Centre Auditorium is the best spot for a launch that I know.

Since then, some really pleasing publicity - things like the Advertiser article in the Monday edition's faith coverage pages, the enthusiastic response from groups who are already using the book as a discussion guide, the tremendous wow! moment when I saw that Dymock's city bookshop in Rundle Mall had given my book a whole feature window. I confess to standing in Rundle Mall pretending to be a casual tourist whose camera just somehow by sheer chance was mainly directed towards Dymock's window ... A lovely interview for 5MBS radio was also a pleasure; talking to Emily Sutherland for Kaleidescope is always a delight.

The last few days have involved much more marketing activity, with interviews and photos for the Messenger Press, lots of discussion with people in various religious groups and education bodies who are interested in using the book as a discussion guide, a book signing at the National Pastors' Conference of the Lutheran Church and, last night, a wonderful hour and a half in conversation with Lynn Arnold on his fortnightly LifeFM radio program. I'd not expected to be the sole featured guest, but it was amazing how quickly the 90 minutes of the program sped by - it was probably the most in-depth interview I've ever had. With, of course, a most polished and engaged interviewer. Thank you again, Lynn.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, writing time has slipped. Despite the encouragement of some poems published in magazines such as The Mozzie and Tamba, and the need to produce new work for the various writing groups we belong to, there's been sadly little focus on what I love to do. Oh well, back to the quill soon, I hope.

Next on the agenda, though, is the big CSA (Christian Schools of Australia) conference next week, with its 1100 registered participants. I'll give a workshop during this and have also booked a 'Market Stall' in their exhibition hall. That will be an interesting (perhaps daunting) experience. Wait and see.