Catch Up 2022

This is my first post in almost a year. Apologies but there have been so many changes and a perfect storm of “busyness”.

Trees in the garden at my new abode.

At the beginning of this year I moved to a cottage in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and within a few weeks saw a snowstorm! All night the wind howled and circled and I felt as if I had been transported to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. The next morning I woke to a white landscape and a crusting of snow. Incredibly beautiful but so cold.

So, after packing up and driving five hours south of Sydney and hitting yet another reset button in my life, I settled in to the work that gives me my only steady anchor in life: writing. Since moving south I have been writing the sequel to both my books, Catch the Moon, Mary and Fields of Grace combined and am set to publish later this year.

Because CTMM and FOG have two characters in common: Rigel and Samantha, they have become the central characters in the long overdue sequel. I also introduced a charismatic protagonist to lure Mary Ferranti nee Granger back to her music after an absence of twenty years. My mother is painting a picture for the cover maintaining the extraordinary fortune I’ve enjoyed in having talented others gift me the cover images.

I have also been writing Book & Lyrics for three new musicals: THE LOVESONG OF RUBEN KEYES with composers, Frank Loman and Ricardo Nunes Fernandes and writer/performer, Lucy Aley-Parker. This is a two-hander (possibly four) musical about a middle-aged married couple who have never been compatible. Ruben is a romantic who worships T.S.Eliot (hence the title) and places his wife, Sara, on an impossible plinth stripping her of emotional ballast and the freedom to honour her wild escapist nature. Sara hides a truckload of baggage that can only be deciphered by a skilled counselor but Ruben won’t allow for her damage and as a consequence the marriage is doomed.

Composers Ricardo Nunes Fernandes and Frank Loman are creating some spectacular music and Frank, partnered with me, is writing original lyrics as well as shaping mine. Lucy is advising on script and providing a distanced eye and much-needed constructive criticism. A brilliant team based in London.

In another partnership I am co-writing a one-woman show for my talented friend, Angela Ayers. We are shining a light on the wasted talent of 50+ women who find themselves shelved in our outrageously misogynistic industry. It’s a depressing subject but Angela and I have injected it with some much-needed humour. We have called the show “A Rat in a Mask” because Angela told me she was painting a kangaroo in a scarf to ease her feelings of loss but she said it looked more like a rat in a mask. I said, “there’s our title!”

A Rat in a Mask – Angela Ayers Show

And finally I am writing Book & Lyrics for THE LAST TALE with brilliant composer, Shanon Whitelock. This has been a long project with lots of marvelous people offering support. A large-scale show set in Baghdad 800 A.D. about the famed storyteller Queen, Scheherazade. This musical is a joyous romp underscored with a darker message about women’s rights and freedom.

If I had to choose one discipline that brings me the greatest joy I would choose lyrics and the most exciting aspect of writing lyrics is hearing the music a gifted composer creates for them. Working with inspiring others raises the bar for all concerned. It’s the allowing of another’s ideas to meld and permeate your own that creates something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

That’s my world, the bubble I live in and breathe in and have the privilege of occupying without the chaotic intrusion of the outside world. But regarding the outside world: when will mankind learn to put the needs of community ahead of selfish individual cravings and desires? I see the actions of Putin as desperation stemming from inadequacy. He is not alone in this, millions of people across the planet only see what affects them but his power, platform and reach are insidiously wide and many will die before he is sated or halted. Trump set the tone for retrograde misogyny in America and the overturning of Roe versus Wade is a direct result of the selfish immaturity he exhibited and unleashed when he sanctioned the opening of Pandora’s Box. Perhaps he has shown the true face of that abberated brand of Christianity that bleeds into every aspect of American life and stains the corridors of power with its hypocritical sanctity. I’m not sure I understand how so many Christians believe themselves God’s personal messengers. I hear interpretations of the Bible that are so skewed as to be laughable but somehow they are sacrosanct because they are lifted from that book so many believe is God’s diary or memoir.

It is disturbing watching women slowly being reduced to servitude and desperation in a country that prides itself on equality and freedom. Again I am grateful for my bubble where I am free to think and observe and express without asking permission.

I have a friend who said that ultimately we must silence the arguments and simply leave the stubborn and the stuck behind. Jesus did that, too, when he could not make himself understood. He left the village, wiped the dust from his robes and said, “Let them sleep forever.” I know this flies in the face of God being aware of the fall of a sparrow but I wonder if we have time to debate with fools. When I was at school I was on the debating team and we invariably won even when we debated a POV we didn’t agree with. We did it by listening and constructing sound counter arguments that addressed salient points and then we presented our water-tight argument. As I said we invariably won but we could never have done so had we been unable to listen. What I am seeing today on social media are inflexible opinions expressed by people who cannot listen and sadly, what they mostly use to back up their fallible stances is the Bible.

The Bible was written two thousand years ago…by men. One of the beliefs back then was that the earth was flat and the sun and planets and stars revolved around it. America and the Antarctic were unknown to Europeans and Middle Easterners. Flight was a myth and sailing any great distance was impossible, except maybe for the incredible Phoenicians. My point here is that beliefs and positions held two thousand years ago are ripe for revision based on new information and discoveries. A small but salient point I would make to those people who believe absolutely that the Bible is the word of God – did God not know about the Universe? Did He not know about countries and racial groups outside of Canaan? It just seems very odd that the person who created everything had such a narrow view.

Finally, late 2021 the world lost two genius lyricists: Marilyn Bergman and Stephen Sondheim. I wonder if we will ever see their equal again. Growing up my favourite lyrics were Windmills of Your Mind. I considered it the perfect song: the circular lyrics spiraling upwards with the rising melody and then I discovered Sondheim and found my altar and idol.

Stephen Sondheim

Graeme Ratcliffe’s review of Fields of Grace | Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4503226752

Graeme Ratcliffe’s Reviews > Fields of Grace

Wendy Waters has managed to achieve something not often found in the contemporary novel. Her marvellously entertaining book, Fields of Grace, is at once literary yet as plot-driven as a spy thriller. Some writers are quite utilitarian in their use of language, they write well, often very well, but they render in charcoal. Ms Waters does not. She is Monet with a pen, and though her colours shine, they never detract from the drawing beneath, a well-structured and gripping yarn. Gripping, not only because of the emotional investment we can’t help but make in her lovingly realised characters, but also because of the care she takes with their backstories and their various fascinating, quirky, frequently amusing, sometimes sad and, at one point, truly terrifying journeys. From the opening pages I found myself intrigued by Grace Fielders, a woman with a past as exotic, mysterious and hidden as her old trunk, locked away, unopened for so many years. This trunk serves purposes historical, romantic and magical, a capsule to another time and place, the girl who still dances within the dying flesh of this determined yet gentle, ancient lady. A former actress from mystical, rural Devon, Grace relates to her granddaughter, Sam, the untold, erstwhile secret story of her early life, the world she knew before her life became mundane. We find her in the company of an eclectic group of stoically happy, yet emotionally unfulfilled, denizens of 1930s London, boarding at Wyncote House in Gloucester Mews. It is a cozy, very English place, but Grace will not be there for long. Talented and determined she soon finds herself launched into the dazzling world of the theatre. It is here that we meet the famous personalities. Woven seamlessly into the narrative, they tumble out in affectionate and sometime hilarious detail. We find John Gielgud nibbling on cake crumbs from his plate while he sips his tea and gossips resolutely. We are party to the shenanigans of Peggy Ashcroft, the saltiness of Harry Andrews and so much more, all these characters speaking in a voice ringing with authenticity. This is a world now gone but delicious to encounter, even if we might only take a tiny peek. Ms. Waters evokes, with a keen eye, the hazardous world of the theatre in a way that might find the reader giggling, if not contorted in a belly laugh, especially if the reader has ever dared to tread the boards. However, I have barely scratched the surface; there is so much more to this woman’s life. Suffice to say, from the curtain calls of the West End to the back alleys of Nazi Berlin to enigmatic ‘amberglow’, Fields of Grace is a thought provoking, intriguing, sometimes rollicking, sometimes distressing, world-class yet, still largely, hidden treasure. Take her key and unlock Grace’s hidden dusty trunk; you won’t be disappointed.

Author #Interview: Let’s Chat with #IndieAuthor Bryan R. Quinn!

Jean Lee's World

Follow Bryan on Twitter here!

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! I’m thrilled to continue sharing some lovely indie authors I’ve met in our community. This month, please welcome the mysterious Bryan R. Quinn!

You have a unique history in the publishing industry as well as in technical writing. From your experience, what do you consider to be the most unethical practice in the publishing industry, and what can be done about it?

Vanity publishing scams that milk naïve and, perhaps, desperate writers dry who haven’t done their due diligence are concerning. I hate to see writers, or anyone for that matter, get swindled. Writers need to investigate online publishers before trusting them with their hard-earned money.

Click here for more about this book.

Do you see your work as a technical writer influence your prose style as a fiction writer? Technical writing must be precise and concise, so I apply…

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One planet, one backyard

I am living on the Hawkesbury River and this morning at 6am I looked out the window and saw a house floating by, the roof glimmering pale and ghostly in the dawn light. These past few weeks have flickered by in a pastiche of movie frame impressions. A man who should be sectioned is holding the world to ransom because we were stupid enough to sign off on nuclear weapons on 16th July 1945 in a project that sounds like a hotel highball: “The Manhattan Project”. Flushed with recent victory at a time when humanity should have been reassessing its values a bunch of ego-driven lunatics decided to develop a weapon so satanic the next Hitler could not fail. Well, here we are, at the gates of Hell. And on my own doorstep someone’s home floated by like a surreal image in a movie, except it isn’t a movie. It’s someone’s home.

Some people are getting the message. Some people are asking their neighbours if they need help. Some people are closing ranks around their families and friends and offering to pool their resources to overcome the tragedy of having to rebuild lives and livelihoods. But so many people still don’t get it. If we do not pull together now as the waters rise we will all drown. Isn’t it time we stopped relying on governments and institutions for our safety and started relying on each other? I have faith that Russian soldiers and ordinary Russians will start to question the morality of bombing the crap out of their neighbour. Likewise I am hoping this melee of natural disasters will wake us all up to the reality that we can’t function in isolation from our neighbours. That the entire world must pull together if we are to survive.

My entire post right now is about dissolving those imaginary property and national lines that divide us globally and individually. Stop putting money and ego above heart and health.

On that note, I would like to observe that people like Putin don’t have lives. Why else would he steal so many others? Until and unless you have tried to create something unique and original out of the common clay of your spiritual coil you have no idea what real life feels like. There is no deeper joy than contributing something meaningful to the lives of others. The joy of contribution shadows the addictive pleasure of distraction and greed. If people could find the courage to try being who they really are instead of mantling institutionalized positions of usurped power there would be no more war and poverty would look like the crime it is.

Fields of Grace made Best Reads 2021 List

So thrilled to see my book Fields of Grace in @thereadingdesk’s #top10readsof201 #list.

This novel was rejected by every publisher I submitted it to for almost a decade.

In 2019 I reluctantly decided to self-publish rather than let my beautiful story gather dust. It was a risky decision but oh, how it’s paid off.

#FieldsofGrace has made three #bestreadsof 2020 lists by UK #reviewers and now it’s sitting side-by-side with New York Times Bestsellers in a @tbrreviews Peter Donnelly’s #bestreads2021 list.

Motto: Don’t ever give up! https://www.instagram.com/p/CZAih1Qhpc3/?utm_medium=share_sheet

Best Reads of 2021 List by Peter Donnelly @TheReadingDesk

Post-Coronavirus World

Catch The Moon, Mary

pix1000-beautiful-night-1Imagine a world in which all your basic needs are met.

Imagine a world in which you can choose to work. Or NOT.

Your survival no longer depends on you finding a job, ANY job, and spending the greater part of your precious life doing something uninspiring, exhausting, soul-destroying or just plain boring.

Your needs are met.

So, how do you occupy your time?

You are free to do nothing if you wish. Or something you love.

Imagine that. Should everyone be free to live their best life? Or is it only the privilege of the rich, the transient or the misfit?

fairyArtists mostly live and work for love because we work willingly, without a time-clock, without bosses and without paychecks to carrot us into another week of slave labour making someone else rich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a song…

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Bisy Backson

Dreaming in high definition.

This is my first post in months.

Apologies. In the words of Winnie the Pooh I have been a Bisy-Backson aka “Busy Back Soon”.

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Magic at the junction between this world and Otherworld.

I have been busy polishing the final draft of the sequel to my debut novel, Catch the Moon, Mary and finishing a project I started years ago — a two-hander super dark musical about a childless couple caged in a New York apartment, worn out by their dead-end jobs, going nowhere. He reads Eliot and reminisces about the day he met his wife. She flips through fashion magazines, her head roaring with unresolved past pain. He has become a romantic, replaying an embedded vision of his wife dancing in the waves wearing a red dress. She was the embodiment of freedom, a sea creature, a wraith, not quite of this world. In his mind, she permanently dances on the shore at the intersection of two worlds, spinning, dreaming, longing for a way to escape her past.

Image result for girl in red dress dancing in the sea Paintings

I have drawn on the Celtic myths of Selkies, seals who can turn into beautiful women and seduce sailors and the fantastic tails of mermaids, for inspiration. One has to wonder how many of the woman-to-fish fantasies were born in the minds of lonely sailors or lovelorn fishermen. No matter, they make compelling fodder for writers.

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Siren song by moonlight.

The other thing I have been doing in lockdown is landscaping the vacant block next door and it has become a stairway to heaven with twisting paths leading up the steep hillside, sentinelled by hardy succulents that can endure tough dry Australian summers, brittle, rainless winters and perfect springs and autumns.

With Climate Change a foreboding presence it is imperative that we all green up our immediate environment. Planting a garden is my small contribution. That and living simply and being diligent about refusing plastic wherever possible.

In addition to the new book and the new musical there are screenplays afoot for my two self-published books, Catch the Moon, Mary and Fields of Grace.

All in all lockdown is serving me well. At least I am keeping myself occupied.

The great thing about creating new works is the opportunity to partner with incredible others.

With the books I am blessed to have found Sarah Sansom, a brilliant marketer/blogger and reviewer based in the UK. She has been a tower of support since we met virtually last year. Full of energy, enthusiasm and ideas, Sarah is like a guardian angel. Please check out her site: https://thebookswhiskers.wordpress.com/author/sarahsansom76/

The Book's Whiskers book blog logo

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Beautiful Sarah Sansom

With the musical I am blessed thrice in having the opportunity to develop the work with Frank Loman, Lucy Aley-Parker and composer, Ricardo Nunes Fernandes in London.

https://frankloman.com/

Frank Loman at The Pheasantry with Ricardo Fernandes on piano.

Finishing the book of the musical to first draft required a truckload of discipline because I don’t usually write DARK! I love light and redemption but there was simply no way this particular couple could have a happy ending. The musical is decidedly dark and…damp! Throughout the play, rain splatters, lightning cracks, thunder rumbles and the sea moans, sirening the couple back to its dangerous embrace. I was really worried that such a disturbing book would not fly but when my London friends, Lucy, Frank and Ricardo read it they gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up and so, I bogged down and sketched out the lyrics, arguably the best lyrics I have ever written! Maybe because I have nothing else to do!!!

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The sea kept calling.

May be an image of Ricardo Fernandes and smiling
Ricardo Nunes Fernandes is one of the most exciting young composers on the scene today.
I am beyond excited to work with him.

Ricardo Nunes Fernandes accompanying Frank Loman singing One Bag of Gold from The Last Tale Music by Shanon Whitelock Lyrics and Book by Wendy Waters.

Lucy Aley-Parker has been a friend since 2015 when she directed the staged reading of the first chapter of my novel, Catch the Moon, Mary. Lucy is a gifted writer, director, performer and producer. I trust her judgement implicitly.

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Gorgeous Lucy Aley-Parker

Lucy Aley-Parker – IMDb

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1793176

Lucy Aley-Parker, Actress: Swim. Originally training at Webber Douglas, she spent over ten years in the profession, gaining experience in Rep, TV, film, radio and panto. After a large gap in her acting career, working in the corporate world of publishing and exhibition management, she returned fully to professional acting in 2012.

Me centre holding script of my play based on Catch the Moon, Mary with cast at Tristan Bates Theatre.

Years ago a clairvoyant told me I would need to get my work to England because it would never gain traction in Australia. At the time I wondered how it would be possible, I was a single mother with a small child and no money for travel, let alone, the time to do so. But fate has an uncanny way of weaving her web and manipulating algorithms. In 2015 a tiny publishing house in Scotland published my debut novel (turned down by every publisher and agent in Australia) and I begged, borrowed and partially saved my fare and accommodation for a whirlwind trip to London to launch my book. On that trip I met Lucy Aley-Parker and Amanda Redman, two of the most supportive and talented people I have ever known. They opened my mind to possibilities I had never considered in Australia.

England has been amazing for me, doors have opened and people have been far more receptive to my work. Maybe it’s because I love whimsy and anything remotely fey. There is always a ghost at the table. I love exploring the intersection between our reality and Otherworld. Both my books have garnered praise in the UK.

And now a new musical is brewing and it has given me and my friends a marvellous challenge and as we bring it to life we will explore all sorts of options for music, staging, performance and pushing the boundaries.

As Lucy said in our most recent Zoom reading of the musical: “These are two people who simply never should have been together.” Amen.

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Author Wendy Waters Interview – AllAuthor

https://allauthor.com/interview/wendywaters

Sarah’s review of Catch the Moon, Mary

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3323519941

An impossible passion.