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…

View original post 721 more words

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…

View original post 1,738 more words

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”.

Image result for mermaids images
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.

Image result for mermaids images
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

See the source image
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!!!

See the source image
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.

Image result for lucy aley-parker
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.

See the source image

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.

I Remember When…

FRED 2A

Do you ever imagine yourself back in the past? I don’t mean hundreds of years ago. I mean ten or twenty years ago in your own lifetime. Sometimes when I want to remind myself that I’m actually on track and doing well I go back into my headspace and remember how I felt when

When I didn’t have my first book written.

When I stared at a blank page/computer screen and had no idea how to begin writing.

When I sat on Avalon Beach gazing towards a distant shore…America…and wishing I was there where stars and fortunes were made.

When I didn’t have my daughter.

When I wished life would start.

met9 (2)

Me at nineteen

I go back to my younger self and remember the hollow desperation and uncertainty that gnawed at me constantly. I used to imagine all manner of rescue scenarios involving perfect lovers and immaculate looks. I imagined that if I looked like Ava Gardner all of my problems would evaporate. I fantasised that a lover would arrive fully congniscent of my strengths and weaknesses and needs and aspirations and pave the way to happiness and success. I speculated that if I lived in America or England my talent would be celebrated and nurtured and supported.

I imagined that everybody else’s life was easier than mine and I fervently wished I was anybody else but me.

When I didn’t have my daughter.

I am twenty and newly arrived in London. My travelling companion, Jeanette, said I cried in my sleep the night we arrived. It didn’t surprise me. London was so beautiful, so shiny and so full of genius I doubted I would ever find my place in that metropolis. I didn’t have my daughter then and her spirit would have been watching and cheering me on but in those days I was deaf to angelic promptings. That came much later. Within a week of arriving in London, Jeanette got homesick and booked a flight back to Australia. So, I found a flat in Kilburn and set up house with my brother who had started to do extremely well in the world of time-share real estate. I got a job waitressing in a local Greek cafe and went for dozens of auditions. Over the next few months my brother and I seemed to run into Australian friends everywhere we went and many of them spent a night or two on our couch. My industry friends also started arriving, a succession of beautiful girls in the acting, singing and modelling world landed on our doorstep and couch surfed while they explored opportunities in London. My brother was in seventh heaven. I was riddled with even more self-doubt and rage at my inadequacies and the same old mantra looped in my head: If only I had spectacular looks, spectacular talent or a spectacular rescuer.

In the end London was too much for me and after a year I limped home to Australia and the balm of a mother and grandparents whose unflagging faith sustained me through another decade of not much happening.

met7

 

This photo was taken a year after I got back from London.

I can still see the hopelessness in my eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I stared at a blank page/computer screen and had no idea how to begin writing.

Fast forward to my daughter.

Still failing at everything else I tried to do, acting, singing, writing, I none-the-less succeeded in giving birth to a Genevra at school aged 7 (2)beautiful child whose enthusiasm for life was infectious and soul-quenching. Throughout the empty years where every avenue terminated in a dead end, my daughter kept me grounded. Her observations – “Mummy, that spider is nervous” “That dog is sad” “Dolphins are clever” – kept me invested in the moment. For her sake I was determined to succeed, show her that a woman could beat the odds. For her sake, I hurdled my self-doubt and developed an attitude of nothing ventured, nothing gained, complete 180 degree turn from the girl who ran away from London. I began to take my writing seriously and as a consequence met that spectre called writers’ block. I spent many agonising hours staring at a blank page or computer screen hoping for inspiration. It took me moving to America to discover that inspiration flows from effort.

But before America…

Naming a demon comes at a cost. But eventually, I had to name the demon. Australia. Many an artist has come to the same conclusion – Australia is no friend to the artistically-inclined. It belittles, exhausts and overlooks its talented sons and daughters. The land of my birth suited me as long as I was filled with self-loathing but when I started to heal I came to loathe Australia and its insatiable appetite for mediocrity in the Arts.

When I sat on Avalon Beach gazing at a distant shore…America…and wishing I was there where stars and fortunes were made.

I remember the day I admitted to myself that I could not stay in Australia, that I had to go back and face the challenge of London or  make the giant leap to America. I felt sick with the realisation that my own country would never give me a chance to shine. It was so difficult because I had a nice life with my daughter. We lived in Sydney’s northern beaches: minimal rent, lots of friends. I had work that paid enough for us to live well, go out with friends and go on holidays. But I had no future and I knew it. I sat on Avalon Beach craving a way to reach that distant shore – America. And then on holiday in Hawaii I met the American dream – tall, stunning, blonde, surfie-musician-builder wearing white jeans and an apple-green silk shirt that matched his eyes. He looked like a cross between Brad Pitt and James Dean. We fell in love and he followed me back to Australia and then promised me America. My daughter and I landed on that longed-for shore in 1993.

hand reaching down to save

When I didn’t have my first book written.

However back on his own turf my knight in shining armour rusted dramatically. But America glittered and glowed and delivered everything I hoped it would. As my own star rose my marriage fell apart. But in spite of my ragged homelife, opportunities flowed in and my belief in myself grew apace. No longer riddled with self-doubt, America held up a mirror to a woman who was gifted, strong and beautiful and my headspace changed dramatically. But my home-life was deranged and becoming dangerous, the fights escalated to threatened violence and so my daughter and I limped back to Australia, once again to the balm and care of my patient mother. And I sank into another decade of despair in ancient, weather-beaten Australia which provided sanctuary in tandem with spiritual desolation. But in that arid space I wrote Catch the Moon, Mary and produced my first fully-fledged musical, Scheherazade.

cropped-ctmm-cropped2-2.jpg

When I wished life would start.

Having at last beaten writers’ block and achieved excellence I believed success would follow as night the day. And so I waited. And waited. And when nothing much happened despair gripped again like winter chill. The space in my head was an icy chamber but in one corner a tiny flame flickered hope.

And then slowly but surely little bursts of applause from people I never dreamed I would meet or get to know. People from all over the world got in touch via Twitter or Facebook and talked about the impact of my book. They told me Catch the Moon, Mary made them think and cry and ultimately restored their faith in themselves just as my leading lady, Mary Granger had. My headspace began to fill with joy that I was able to make a difference through my words. Give hope where there was none, build bridges. The look in my eyes changed from blank to light. Where there had been a reflection of hopelessness now hope shone.

Wendy Waters - Personal Pic 2

When I go back to that mental space.

When I go back into that mental space I feel a cold wind, the familiar breath of hollow despair. I remember seeking a sign or a light or a way through to the promised land of success where I firmly believed happiness resided in fragrant drafts of confidence. The land of success would open up other shores, other opportunities. It always felt out of reach and slipping further away as if I had somehow coralled myself in a tiny boat with no oars, adrift and slave to the currents. I truly felt that powerless. Depression gripped like a vice.

 

 

But that flame…

That tiny flame warmed me enough to attempt my own rescue.

Naming the rescuer is as talismanic as naming the demon.

The rescuer’s name was excellence and excellence does not pursue. Excellence must be pursued and the more diligently you chase excellence the stronger your faith in yourself becomes. Your tiny boat suddenly sprouts oars and you can chart your course. I started charting my course when I gave up hoping for rescue and started focusing on my quest for excellence. sistine-chapel-ceiling-creation-of-adam-1510.jpg!Large

There are days…

But still there are days I fall back into the old ways. The light is dim and the rage is a pervasive gloaming. But I am a long way from the girl who cried in her sleep in London and I don’t ever want to go back to that lonely, faithless place in which I have no power and no oars.

Today I have four souls upon whom I can build my faith: my mother, my daughter, my granddaughter and…

 

mum in London

Mum in London in 2017 when we flew over for the reading of Catch the Moon, Mary and my musical, FRED at Tristan Bates Theatre.

My beautiful daughter, Genevra with the greatest gift of all, my grandaughter, Lily.

profile pic

                                                And now finally I have me!