Station Stories – A dog’s life

The police arrested someone down on the platforms at the junction.  Judging from the fist-sized item wrapped in a plastic shopping bag, the charge was possession.  (Aren’t the supermarkets sooo thoughtful for providing people with something to wrap their drugs in?) They lead the downcast man up and waited for the Police van just beside the barriers where I was working  They also brought the dog the man had with him – a docile black and tan Kelpie cross which they tied to the fence.  “We’ll just take this guy down to the station and charge him.  Then we’ll let him out and he can come collect the dog,” said they.  And off they went in the van.

This was about 5.00 pm.  The dog sat there for a while peering alertly in the direction the van had driven off.  Then something scared it and it started to cringe and shiver.  You could tell it was afraid it had been abandoned.

Dogs make me itch and sneeze, but the young medic and various customers and PSOs made soothing noises, patted the dog and brought it water which might have comforted it but didn’t stop its shivering.

People rushed past on their way home, the day darkened, the lights came on and by the time my shift had finished at 7.00 the dog was still waiting. It was a lovely dog and had many offers of a home.  We seriously discussed calling the RSPC but wiser heads told us that everything goes very slowly at a police station and the guy might still be back for his dog.  Sure enough when I rang back at 9.00 the dog had been picked up. Would the dog have been better off if we had called the RSPC?  Or would we have been separating a troubled man from his most devoted friend? Hard to call that one.

So Hungover


A man got off the train and collapsed onto a seat with his face in his hands.  When I went over to see if he was alright, he said, “I’m just sooo hungover. I had to get off the train.”  Poor thing, he didn’t thing he could even keep a glass of water down.  Unfortunately he’d chosen the wrong station for a quiet sit down. About 5 mins later 100 cheery school children came over from the Zoo.

Missing partner

On Friday C, one half of a homeless couple who frequent the station and make a living begging at the local shops, had mislaid her partner M. She came through the station twice, all the time worrying, worrying, about M.  First she went to the case worker and then to her partner’s step father as he is the contact if the police or hospitals pick up M when he’s drunk or has had an epileptic fit. She wasn’t willing to ring the police directly.  She clearly didn’t trust them.

C and M doss down in an old shed somewhere near the park which they say is nice and dry, thought I was relieved to hear that they have moved in with a friend for the winter.  Once when she was a bit drunk, C told me all about her life which seemed to involve abuse by ex-prisoner partners, estranged children and struggles with the State Trustees. She’s short and round and very non-descript looking, but on the rare occasions she takes off her beanie, she has beautiful auburn hair. She and M seem very happy together – a world of their own contained in the small backpacks they carry round.  I was very glad to see M safely back yesterday when he waved out of the train at me as they were going by.

Market Development Skills for Writers Workshop

The Market Development Skills for Writers workshop at the Writers Victoria was one of the most useful pieces of professional development I’ve ever done.  Over a free full day workshop for established writers sponsored by the Australian Council for the Arts, Hachette publicist Jaki Arthur gave us an insight into how big publishing works and how they work their publicity.

Cutting through the natural tendency of writers to over explain their work, she helped us formulate snappy descriptions of what sort of writers we were. (Historical fantasy with a chick lit twist) seven quick themes covered in our books, ( i.e. love, sex, death, travel, cookery, women’s power, the Great Barrier reef etc.)  and showed us how to write a strap line for a book.  (A beautiful courtesan, a deadly necromancer and the innocent young mage caught between them.)  We worked on a list of media outlets and taste makers we wanted to get the attention of and she gave us some pointers as to what these sort of people might be looking for.

She also showed us how to formulate more concrete and finite writer’s goals as an important way of nurturing and directing our careers. For instance, we broke down a general goal such as “ Make enough money to write full time,”  into something like “ Get my book in front of Jill Bloggs at the Write Place publishing house by the end of 2015.”

I found Jaki’s positive can-do attitude really encouraging and was reassured to feel that when faced with an important person to pitch myself to, I could bring out my themes and strapline instead of searching for words and babbling anxiously.

I had worried that the workshop wouldn’t help overcome my deep and innate talent for self-depreciation, but now armed with what I learnt I’m starting to feel that this whole big bad publicity thing might be … well … doable.

Thanks very much to Karen Le Roy from the Australia for the Arts, Kate Larsen from Writers Victoria and Jaki Arthur for running such an excellent workshop

First chapter critiqued

Put my first chapter up on the critters web site and felt extremely down all week because only one person did a crit. But what do you know? Everybody puts their crits up at the last minute (just like me, der!) so now I have seven sets of useful feedback and one offer to read the whole thing. Who would have thought criticism could make you feel so loved?

If you want to join Critters – and its open to everyone – the site is at


Station Stories – Noisy Mynahs take the bread loaf

Wednesday was one of those beautiful autumn days Melbourne specializes in.  Sunny with a slight chill in the air that sparkles on the skin like cool champagne sparkles on the tongue.  In the Sunflower field by the railway lines, the three homeless men were sitting outside the tent having yarn in the sun.  At my station the trees were bright with birdsong and the (Australian native) noisy mynahs were out in force, beating up impertinent top knot pigeons and squabbling over squashed jelly snakes.  Someone had thrown a loaf of bread still in its plastic bag onto the tracks and a neat circle of four mynahs had formed around it   As I watched, the one standing in the middle leaned over and with the flourish of someone instructing a class, pulled a crust out of a hole in the bag.

Genrecon 2013

Had a great time at Genrecon – meeting up with old friends and going to some great talks. Slight hitch on the Saturday night when I was stuck for 20 minutes in a lift at Rydges with writers, pirates, writing pirates and one person with serious claustrophobia. The good-looking pirate in the foreground is my publisher, the fabulous Lindy Cameron

product also contains - 1 Narelle Harris, 1 Pam Newman, 1 Jane Clifton, 1 Sharon Johnstone

Wednesday Writers blog post on Ebon Shores

This week I’m featured in the Wednesday Writers section of David Mcdonald’s website Ebon Shores view from the outside. 

Go to

 to read about  How I scared off the “You’re Crap Writer” fairy and learned to write again, or Re-taking Control of your career through the joy of ebook publishing.

Many thanks to the lovely David McDonald, talented short story writer and cricket maven, for the chance to vent.

Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop

I’m celebrating Australia Day weekend by taking part in the Book’d Out Blog Hop and Give Away which plans to highlight Aussie bloggers and Authors. Please post you comments/entries here and I’ll draw one of you out of a hat (you’ll have to trust me on this) and send you a free copy in either paperback or ebook of Mage Heart the first book of my award winning fantasy trilogy 


Thanks to Shellyrae at Book’d Out and Tash M. at Confessions From a Romaholic for organizing it all.

Click here to check out other fine bloggers and authors