Catacomb Categories


W is for Edel Wignell

Bilby Secrets by Edel Wignell & Mark Jackson

Edel Wignell, her name caught my eye and when I googled her story caught my brain. Read on MacDuff!

Some little facts

Her first name rhymes with medal.

She lived on a sheep farm in northern Victoria when she was little.

She was born in Echuca. It’s a lovely little town, my first memories are of one of the most beautiful trees…but I digress.

She’s bequeathed her writing earnings and copyright to the Australian Society of Authors who have created the Edel Wignell Mentorship for new writers for children.

Wignell has written 100 books for children. Her writing for adults can be found in more than 100 journals!

Now for the big stuff

Wignell has been in pain for 30 years and while she’s done as much as she can she’s decided she’d like to be able to end her own life when she chooses. Just like Terry Pratchett she’s a full advocate of dying with dignity and as this is a topic dear to my heart I looked no further for an author to write about today.

So, here she is on the ABC website in July last year. Eloquent and covering the pain well, she looks like she could be the poster girl for any dying with dignity campaign. If you read the article you’ll notice the last paragraph talks about the End of Life Choices inquiry, it’s due to report this month and with a little googling I found it has until the 31st May. They’ll have to get their skates on, and I’m sure Wignell will be watching with great interest. The government then have six months to respond.

V is for Valerie Volk

Passion Play: The Oberammergau tales by Valerie Volk

I’ve found some absolutely fascinating people for today but I’ve gone with Volk for the useless reason that she was born near where I live and she was born in the same suburb as Sandy Stone, Barry Humphries fictional character. But also because of the book of Volk’s I’ve linked to and I’ll come to that.

She has multiple degrees that make my mouth water including a Masters in Creative Writing and a PhD in Gifted Education. Volk is also living in Adelaide, the number of authors I know in that little place is growing exponentially…I suggest if you want to author you should move to Adelaide, there’s something in the water.

She’s travelled on the Trans-Siberian Railway twice and ridden a camel in Mongolia. Such an amazing life. What really brought her to my attention is the book, I’ve linked to it so you can buy and read should you choose.

I first learned of the passion play in Oberammergau in the Chalet School books. It’s a play that has been performed every tenth year since 1634 and while it’s been criticised as being anti-semitic that doesn’t detract from the enormity of the event. Here’s a link to more details. Volk’s book seems to be a mixture of Oberammergau and Canterbury Tales.

I promise I’m not mentioning how she writes for the Lutheran Church, that’d be telling.

T is for Tangea Tansley

I’m getting up to the interesting letters of the alphabet and just to illustrate that point I find the most interesting name with a fascinating history. She’s only had a handful of books published but this one has just gone on my GoodReads Want To Read list.

It seems Tansley’s had an interesting life, I reckon she has my Grandma’s itchy feet. About 20 years ago she sat down and wrote a list of addresses she’d lived in, there were 60! You can read her biography for yourselves, it makes for dizzying reading and she’s only put in the highlights.

Then there’s her family. You’ve heard of Kozminsky? The jewellery people in Bourke Street, Melbourne? If you haven’t then you should, their stuff is just gorgeous. It turns out Tansley is related and she didn’t know for quite some years and it was only when her sister looked at a book written by Isidore Kozminsky on their shelves that they started putting two and two together. The book pictured is the story of her family and it sounds like a fabulous story. I must read it…

S is for Taku Scrutton

Multicultural Me by Taku Scrutton

Today I’m celebrating multiculturalism alongside Taku Scrutton. She’s still young but has packed a lot into her young life.

Scrutton moved here from Zimbabwe at the tender age of 19, she came alone leaving behind parents and siblings. Since she came here in 2002 she’s carved out a niche for herself talking about how to become accepted. If you look at her website you’ll find she has a multitude of skills including public speaking and only added writing to her lengthy list of talents.

If her videos are anything to go by then I wish I could attend one of her talks, but, alas, Perth is so far away. The ones I’ve watched have cute cartoons and are poetry.

I know she’s only published one book but she’s got plenty of time and I see more in her future.

R is for Heather Rossiter

Mawson’s Forgotten Men edited by Heather Rossiter

It’s always the unsung people who have the most interesting stories and it’s lovely to find Rossiter agrees with me. What would be even better is to find this book available for sale so I could link to it but, alas and alack, it isn’t.

Rossiter seems to have had the best of all worlds. She’s been a scientist and is also a writer, she’s taught and has also grown vines. Not only that but she’s also worked on three different continents!

She’s written a number of historical books that all look absolutely fascinating. Here’s a link to one you can buy Sweet Boy Dear Wife: Jane Dieulafoy in Persia 1881-1886 is the story of Jane Dieulafoy who travelled in Persia with her husband but dressed as a boy. She faced great tribulations should she have been unmasked as this is a country where women are veiled and enclosed.

Q is for rant

Sort of but not really. This is my third cycle through the alphabet, I’ve had issues with various letters but have managed to sort something out at some point, today it’s just not happening. I’ve found one ‘writer’ for Q who has won several awards for best unpublished manuscript but I can’t actually find her book. I did consider stretching things a little just for the sake of continuity but when I googled her further I decided this was exactly time for the rant I’ve been brewing for some time.

Authors need a web presence

I’m not the only one saying this, it’s been a topic of conversation on So You Want To Be A Writer, the podcasts put out by The Australian Writer’s Centre. I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to these podcasts, their vocal affectations drive me bananas but their content is very good and I told them so when I rated them on iTunes. I didn’t actually mention their vocal affectations but I did mention typewriters!

You need a web presence in order to be able to be found. If you want people to scribble a few words about you then you need to provide some information. But you need a web presence. Readers need to be able to find something about you. I’m not saying you have to disclose your life story but just something for people to find. It may help sell books.

Social Media options

There are many social media options you can use for creating your web presence. The least I suggest is a website and one other option. You can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and several more. It’s very possible to go overboard so just choose one of those and start from there. The website is important as it can showcase your books and you can include a bio to give us some information. With your other choice you again get to choose how much information to give us, enough so we’re satisfied but not too much that you feel your privacy has been violated.

Giving your family privacy

When you’re online like this you’ll need to be thinking about the privacy of your family. How much do you want to give them? How much is appropriate to give them? Have a look around at some of the ‘celebrities’ and see how much they’re sharing, then have a look at other authors for the same information. You’ll find some vast differences. Some people share absolutely everything, they vomit their data onto the web for all to see for all time, others are much more discrete but do endeavour to give us something. Even if you only give us snippets of your writing life and some thoughts about a hobby or two.

Guest Posts

If you have a website it helps with marketing when you release your next book. It means you can supply guest posts to various bloggers who will then link back to your website. Good links mean it’s easier to find you, finding you often means more sales, sales should mean more money but I didn’t need to make that last link. Just because you have lots of followers on social media doesn’t automatically equal more sales but it may and the payoff may be bigger than without.

Rant over, at least for today. If you want me I’m at uni.

Edit: I completely forgot GoodReads! It’s exactly what every author needs, a profile on GoodReads.

P is for Christine Paice

The Word Ghost by Christine Paice

If I were a poet like Paice I’d be composing this article in rhyme but poetry and I rarely agree so I’m afraid the words will have to be slung together in a different way.

Having bribed her family to live with her in Kiama, Paice spends her time teaching creative writing and poetry as well as writing her own poetry and books. If you’ve got a poetry bent then you might want to consider buying them here (I get no recompense here).

It’s nice to see people doing poetry. Paice is no exception to this and won the Josephine Ulrick Award for poetry in 2009 as well as being the Poetry editor and political writer for Old Trout, An American Review and working as a mentor with an Indigenous poet.

O is for Mietta O’Donnell

Mietta’s Italian Family Recipes by Mietta O’Donnell

I never thought I’d have such trouble with O. I found it a challenge to find someone with this letter for whom I could actually find something to write. It seems a travesty to refer to her as O’Donnell when she is iconicly known by her first name.

O’Donnell was a journalist when she met up with Tony Knox in the 1970s, I won’t say it was a match made in heaven but it seemed to work despite their many differences. She was quiet and reserved, he was loud and argumentative but somehow they found a niche in the restaurant business and made it their own. You’ll have heard of their restaurant, called Mietta’s, it was the best of the best and my personal story is about how we managed to actually eat there one night.

My OH was the recipient of a prize, $250 voucher which we spent at Mietta’s. It was a wonderful experience and with the prices of the dishes there’s no way we’ll be able to do it again. The wine waiter that night just happened to be an old friend from school, he was very good and I was very silly but whether that was the alcohol or just I’ll leave you to decide.

O’Donnell died in a car accident in Tasmania in 2001. It was a very sad time for many people. One of the initiatives at Mietta’s was for writers to read and talk about their works, a valuable form of networking, not just for the writers but also for readers.

N is for Julie Nickerson

Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail by Julie Nickerson

It’s that time of week when I head out in the wilds of the internet and find an Australian author. The hunt was exhaustive, I hunted high and low and every bit in between…to be honest all I did was check my spreadsheet and go through all the females of the right letter before I found one of interest. Besides her story what caught my eye was her surname. If you think back to Nancy Drew, her boyfriend was Ned Nickerson, yes, sorry but really shallow today.

Here we go, Julie Nickerson! Someone like me who’s been writing since the year dot, although unlike me she had put pen to paper and you get to see on her About Me page an example of one of her books she wrote when she was young. She went about her business as an adult getting lots of experience in many different types of jobs (and probably collecting lots of stories) until she had children and rediscovered her love for writing. She’s been writing ever since.

As you can see from the photo pictured she has a penchant for alliteration and has carried that through as far as possible with her other books. She writes for young readers of 6+ years and also writes poetry.

Terry Pratchett

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

It was inevitable you’d get some Terry Pratchett thoughts today, Saturday was the first anniversary of his death and we have all been very sad. The Victorian Discworld Klatch community commemorated the day with a few craft activities in Treasury Gardens on Saturday, it was a quiet time but we all enjoyed it and just reminisced as one does on such occasions.

This article is not an exposé of the plot nor some thoughts about the book pictured as I’ve already done that back in November last year but more of a few random thoughts before I take the book off my desk and put it away.

If you look at the photo I’ve included here you’ll see the gold clothes that were made for him. I managed to pick up a goldish suit at the op shop one day, not quite bright enough but good enough for the present. My DD made me a hat which was meant to be just for one day but has become iconic and I’m currently planning the boots. For at least one day I’ll be totally decked out in gold, oo-er.

The Klatch is going well, every month we have some sort of function and they’re getting to be well attended. I took the opportunity to bring out some things and attempt some chain maille. We’ve proved it possible but we need some more appropriate metal links, possibly even making our own, we also need more equipment and to encourage people to bring their own equipment to ensure more than one person can make chain maille at any one time.

Pratchett books succeed in calming me down and therefore lowering my blood pressure, I should recommend them to my doctor.

I have a lot of Pratchett books and one day I’ll actually sit down to reread his first book The Carpet People twice. Once to read how he first wrote it when he was 17 and once to read how he rewrote it when he was 43, much older and more practiced at writing. It could be a useful exercise for any hopeful author to see the changes. I’ll share my thoughts, promise.

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I want to thank the Koolin people for their thousands of years of guardianship and caretaking of the area where I live.