Find all my book details, new writing and more at my website: www.jvlpoet.com
Sign up for my email newsletter and I’ll deliver lovely bookish WordyNerdBird emails into your inbox no more often than twice a month!
Why do we stop for a minute of silence on Remembrance Day?
Today marks the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the fighting in World War I.
It was called “The Great War” not because it was necessarily good, but because the world had never before known war, death or destruction on that scale.
It was supposed to be the “war that ends all wars”. If only it had been.
Yet the 20th century saw another “world war” and a seemingly never-ending succession of national and international conflicts that have continued into the 21st. As though World War I was not brutal enough, humans have worked hard over the past hundred years to develop even more efficient ways of killing each other.
Despite all that fighting, I live in a country that is free, democratic, and prosperous. That privilege is mine, and indeed every Australian’s, to a very large degree because of those who have fought to defend and preserve our freedom.
This morning, I paused at 11am, even though I was home on my own and there was already no noise. It was the intent of that minute of silence that was different.
We do not stop because it’s a nice thing to do, or because it’s expected of us. It cannot be a mere token, for that would be meaningless.
We do not stop for a minute’s silence to glorify the wars. We do not stop to rejoice in our own nation’s or our allies’ victories. We do not stop to continue the hate, nor to protest. It’s noot about what “side” we were on.
We stop to be thankful for those who fought. We remember tha in addition to the millions of soldiers, there were also doctors and nurses and various other support personnel who served. Many gave their lives, others came home damaged in one way or another. Not a single one of them was unaffected by what they experienced at war.
We stop to remember, because we must never allow ourselves to forget.
It is only by remembering the horrors of the past that we have any hope of not repeating them.
To all who served: I thank you from the bottom of my free and privileged Australian heart.
A memory that has become a family tradition.
I love a good family story or tradition, especially one that gets etched into the conversation patterns and banter for years to come. A moment of humour or a funny experience becomes part of who we are, both individually and collectively.
One of those stories half belongs to our great friend, Lindsay. He is a super nice person, and we’ve been friends for at least twenty years.
On one particular occasion maybe fifteen years ago, maybe more, he and I were outside doing some work on the farm that my husband and I were living on, and where Lindsay was a regular and most welcome visitor. I can’t remember what were talking about, but I remember this part of the conversation vividly.
We laughed. We told my husband the story. And it stuck. We still “do the routine” at least once a week. It honestly never gets old.
Monday was one of those days. After the lines were said and the laughter was had, I thought for a while, as I have often done before, about how clever a comeback it was.
I also thought about exactly what I am full of. It wasn’t much of a surprise to me when those thoughts began to turn into a poem. That’s what my thoughts do.
You can read the poem titled ‘Full’ at WordyNerdBird Writes.
I’m feeling positive about the progress I am making.
Now that I am making more progress in my recovery from my spinal surgery and I am moving a little more freely, I’ve decided to be more deliberate and purposeful about starting to retrain my muscles and building up some stamina for both my body and my mind.
Today I got out some pencils and a book, and started colouring, which is always something that makes me happy and peaceful. It’s also something I can do standing at the kitchen bench. I don’t have to do it all at once – it’s something I can do, and leave, and go back to through the day.
It may not seem like much, but getting this much done is a big achievement for me. I have been largely horizontal and only walking fairly short distances -although frequently – since the surgery on my spine on October 19.
Since my last update on my recovery, the first lot of bruising has faded to a dull shadow and the deeper bruising has begun to come to the surface now, so I am still all the colours of the rainbow, but the pain is less intense and more manageable now. I’ve ventured out of the house and walked around the yard, and begun to do light things around the house like folding laundry and doing dishes. Things that exhausted me at first are easier now, which is really encouraging. I have, however, learned the hard way that I am not ready for cutting pumpkin (it was just a little bit of butternut) or bending to get things out of low places. You don’t know until you try, right? Suffice to say that dinner on Monday was delicious, but I paid for it on Monday night and yesterday. The aggravation has settled now, though, much to my relief.
Sitting for any length of time is still an issue: I’m currently managing about ten minutes at a time before I have had enough. That means I will have to be ready to stand up most of the day when I go back to work in a couple of weeks. I will have exams to mark and papers to grade, so this seems like a good way to begin to prepare for that sort of thing. I can gradually build up to standing for longer periods of time without feeling any pressure to “perform”.
I also plan to start walking a bit further than I have been, especially now that I am a bit more confident and steady on my feet.
I fully understand that healing and recovery can’t be rushed, but I think that small progress in these ways will only help me to get stronger. And when I have had enough each time, my bed or my recliner will still be here waiting for me.
Today I am feeling positive and encouraged, which is also helpful to my healing and easier to live with all round.
The Sparkly Badgers Christmas Anthology is available for preorder.
One of the things I love most about the Indie author community is the way people encourage each other and work together.
Of course, you can find bullies and selfish people anywhere, but I have been very blessed to move in really supportive circles full of very positive people.
One such group goes by the name of Sparkly Badgers. It’s a group based on Facebook, although the members can be found on all sorts of social media. The Sparkly Badgers are deliberate about encouraging and supporting each other and the books we write.
They’ve done something really special recently, though, by creating the Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology.
This book is a family-friendly Christmas themed anthology designed to not only provide readers with an excellent collection of holiday reading, but also to raIse money for the Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled. It’s a project I am most honoured and proud to be part of, and which I am happy to encourage my readers to order.
It contains short stories and poetry in a variety of genres, all related one way or another to the Christmas theme.
All profits from the sale of this delightful book will go towards enriching the lives of disabled kids by providing them with a most enjoyable and memorable experience.
The Sparkly Badgers Christmas Anthology is available for preorder now, and is due for release on November 16. After that date, it will also be available in paperback.
I’ve preordered my copy, and I hope you will, too!
It’s available on Amazon.
An award such as this is signifies a job well done and a book worth reading.
I’m very excited to show off the new bling on the cover of The Silver Feather.
I received notification a couple of months ago that The Silver Feather had won ‘Official Selection’ in the short story category of the New Apple Summer eBook Awards, but the award didn’t arrive until today.
The original email explained that an Official Selection was awarded when the judges were unable to make a decision between two books for first and second place.
So it’s basically equal first, I thought, I can live with that. Holy Toledo! I’ve won another award! I told my husband. I texted my best friend. Naturally, I began to wonder what the other book was, and figured I would have to wait until official announcements were made.
Then one of the Indie Fabs messaged the rest of us and announced that our anthology, Once Upon a Fabulous Time, had won something in the New Apple awards.
Well, blow me down if The Silver Feather didn’t tie for first with the anthology containing my two fantasy/fairy tale novellas, alongside those excellent stories penned by my fellow Fabs.
I was perfectly happy with that, as there is nobody I would rather share first place with than my Fabs.
So Once Upon A Fabulous Time has some lovely new bling on the cover, too!
It’s exciting to show it off, but the deeper value is in the encouragement that an award like this gives to an author. These awards are judged by experts, not popularly voted or arbitrarily given.
These badges on our covers are an assurance of quality and excellence in storytelling. They are something of which we can be justifiably proud because they signify a job well done and a book worth reading.
It’s great to be able to say that today was a positive day.
Today was a good day.
I rested for most of the day. I made some promo graphics, played on social media, and I’ve been listening to an audiobook of the history of the Romanov dynasty, which is super interesting for my history-loving brain, so my body can relax and heal.
I did manage a couple of non-taxing tasks around the place in my walking/standing times, which felt good.
It was a lovely spring day, so I opened doors and windows to let the fresh air though the house. I tidied a few small things away, and sorted out the mounting pile of papers on my desk and worked out what to do with them.
The junk is in the recycling, and I now have a “to do” pile for tomorrow and a “to file” pile for that currently far-off day when I can comfortably and safely bend down to use my filing drawer. Both piles of papers are small. This makes me happy.
I am also feeling positive and happy for more creative reasons.
I submitted a short story for an anthology after being recommended to the publisher by a fellow author. I hope they accept it, just because I would appreciate the encouragement of having them like it enough to include it.
I also submitted a poem that I was commissioned to write a couple of months ago. You may recall me writing in March about the bushfires that devastated our local area. One of the farmers who lost everything except his wife and children in the fires provided me with some photos and written reflections, and asked me to write a poem based on those to demonstrate the power of loss and grief experienced by farmers in the region.
My poem will be used to accompany a working report to the Government on the impact on farmers of the loss os property, livestock and livelihood as a result of the fires, so it was an absolute privilege to be asked to write such a piece. Of course, there is always a bit of tension in knowing it’s important and wanting it to be exactly right, but I am probably just as obsessive about every poem I write, so I am experienced at dealing with that. I really hope he likes it.
So, for now, it’s more waiting but I have plenty to keep me occupied. My “ideas and plans” writing notebook is still quite full. Be afraid!
Today, I ventured beyond home for the first time since coming home after surgery.
I had to go out today. There was sunshine. There were people. It was traumatic.
My driver’s license expires on Thursday, so my husband agreed to take me to the next town where I could get the photo taken, sign the form, and give a chunk of my cash to the government for a new one.
I did my hair, put on real clothes instead of pyjamas, and put on some makeup.
I thought I was doing okay for someone recovering from surgery, so I sent a snap to my best friend.
Naturally, she was both encouraging and completely understanding of why I made the extra effort. She is consistently awesome like that.
Let’s face it, you don’t want to be thinking “Oh yeah, that was that month where I spent two weeks nearly dying from a mystery chest infection and then ended up having spinal surgery after screaming non-stop for four days!” every time you look at your license photo for the next ten years, do you?
The drive to Camperdown wasn’t too bad. I had the seat reclined a fair way because I still can’t sit comfortably for more than about eight minutes, and my husband was pretty good at missing the worst of the bumps.
I walked from the car to the shire offices without too much trouble. I didn’t have to wait long, thankfully, and everything went smoothly so that the license renewal was taken care of in just a few minutes.
Then my husband suggested we call at the supermarket to pick up something for dinner. My approach to grocery shopping is quite pragmatic: get in, get what you need, and get out. I thought I could handle that, even at this stage of my recovery.
Of course, it’s never that simple when you really need it to be. I wasn’t two meters through the door of the store when an acquaintance stopped me for a chat. I had the cart to hold onto – what a clever disguise for an disability support walker that was! – and it was a very good thing, because just standing there, I could feel myself fading and the sweat breaking out on my skin as I tried to pretend there was nothing wrong. In the end, I told her I had to go and staggered off to find my husband, who had been gathering the things we needed and had his arms full of stuff. We went to find the last couple of things, and that was when he pointed out the Harry Potter Quidditch Match LEGO set.
That may not seem significant to you, but Harry Potter and LEGO are both big-ticket items in my world. I didn’t have to rationalise anything. It was coming home with me. I left the set with Aragog behind, though, because while Hagrid may love giant spiders, I do not.
We got through the checkout and back to the car, and my lower back where I had the surgery last week was really starting to hurt.
The road seemed longer and much bumpier on the way home than it had on the way there. I was really thankful that I wasn’t sitting upright, and tried not to complain but couldn’t help making those awkward little little grunty noise that you make when something hurts and you try to just grit your teeth but the sound gets out anyway.
When we got home I had to take some ibuprofen and lie down. I didn’t even take a moment first to look at my new LEGO set. And once again, I am writing a blog post on my iPad while lying flat on my back.
The good thing is that my driver’s license is good for another ten years.
The not-so-good thing is that I know I am nowhere near ready to use it.
Sometimes, fiction is only slightly more horrific than real life.
Yesterday I wrote something other than a blog post for the first time in a couple of weeks. After being ill, having surgery, and then finding myself entirely without focus, it felt so good to have the words flowing again. I knew it would happen; I just had to wait for my muse.
As it turns out, my muse has a very dark sense of humour. As I commented to my best friend this evening, “It’s a bit sad that a horror story can be so highly autobiographical.”
The story is one I started at some point during my illness, most likely when I had started to come back to life after failing to die at the hands of whatever disease it was that I had, although I don’t remember writing it then.
I’m not going to give any spoilers, but I will say that I love the opening line, and while I am confident that this gruesome little story does reflect my own experiences of the past three weeks, it also holds some twists that even surprised me as I was writing it.
After some sleep and a bit of thoughtful editing today, I have made ‘Contaminus’ available to read for free on WordyNerdBird Writes.
Get into these great offers for Halloween!
I once said to a friend that if I can’t sell horror books in October, I’m doing something wrong.
This month, however, my focus has hardly been on selling books. Ten days with a deathly chest infection led to a ruptured disc in my back, followed by three days of screaming before emergency surgery to remove the shattered disc material, free the trapped nerve and restore my sanity took place last Friday. It’s certainly been a horror month, but not in the way I had envisaged.
I’m recovering, though, and it’s not too late to share with you some bookish Halloween goodies that are going on.
As a way of saying “thank you” to those who have bought my horror books, or who feel like picking some up so they can participate, I am offering a $10 Amazon gift card to a reader who shows me a picture of at least three of the specified books on my Facebook page.
I am doubling this special offer by running the same giveaway right here on my blog.
Like this post
Share this post
Add a picture of three or more of my horror books on your device in the comments.
You may enter in both places. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced on October 31.
A very special and sparkly group of dynamic and talented writers is hosting a Halloween Ghost Hunt in which every participant may claim a free book, but only one lucky ghost hunter will walk away with the prize swag of every book on offer.
Find every ghost, collect and arrange the letters, and submit the spooky phrase in order to be eligible to win a bunch of books, sweets and gifts.
The ghosts will look just like this one, each with a mystery letter instead of the question mark. .
Visit the event page on Facebook for all the details.
Book Squirrel goes nuts over a great creepy read, and has compiled a collection of great Halloween reads for you to peruse and enjoy.
You can find them all at Spooktober Reads.
A brilliant otherworldly collection for Halloween 2018!
27 excellent paranormal stories at a bargain price.
Get your copy at Amazon.
I’ve informed my family and friends that books are the new candy this year, and I’m stocking up on so,e fabulous treats for myself.
I hope you enjoy your Halloween as much as I intend to enjoy mine!
My recovery from spinal surgery demands that my priorities change.
There were so many things I had planned to be doing this week.
As a horror author, promoting my books leading up to Halloween was always going to be a major focus. I had a major promotion and giveaway planned. I had a well crafted social media campaign organised. October was going to be my time.
As a teacher, my classes are continuing even though I am not there. Lessons need to be developed and delivered, and my students have exams coming up.
There are things I need to read and other things I need to write.
None of that is happening.
I am now home from hospital. I am moving and thinking very slowly, and trying to heal after spinal surgery. The local anaesthetic that was embedded in the site of my surgery and in the incision has worn off and I am feeling the reality of what my body has been through. My Fibromyalgia has also joined the pain train today, so while I am trying to wean myself off the fancy pain killers, the motivation to do so is less today than it was yesterday. My eyes don’t want to focus any more than my brain does.
I know this will not last. And I know I must be kind to myself while it does.
The writing, the work and the social media hamster wheel will all be there when things improve.
Yet I can’t help feeling frustrated by my slowness or inability to focus on anything. I am not accustomed to inactivity and my mindset is certainly not one that surrenders to pain. Yet that is exactly where I find myself.
The challenge for me is to accept where I am and be willing to rest instead of letting my frustration push me and ending up with sub-standard results.
The priority for today and the immediate future has to be self-care and self-preservation. My spine demands it. Everything else will just have to wait.
If you would like to encourage or support me, you could