Writer’s Diary 6: Every Sentence



I recently finished a novel. It was a love novel, one of those ones you write because you love the subject or something about it. I love meta-fiction – it’s a meta-fiction novel.

But now that I have finished, what next? I’m now writing another novel, this one may be a series, but we will see.

I’ve come to realise that I missed the love I have for writing and words and sentences. I lost that lovin’ feeling with the publication of my novel, The Neighbour. I got all wound up in the expectations that I put on myself to promote on social media.

But I’ve wound all that back and loving writing again. What do I love? I love that every sentence is an opportunity to convey meaning – and that is simply it. I love sentences.

I love my chair, the blank page, and sentences.


Writer Talks: Julie Proudfoot

Had a lovely chat with Nadia L. King about writing and travel and social media, thank you, Nadia, was fun!

Julie Proudfoot grew up in country Victoria, Australia and has lived in Melbourne, London and California. She is an Australian writer who has had fiction, poetry and non-fiction works published in …

Source: Writer Talks: Julie Proudfoot

Quicky Writer’s Health For Back Pain & Mental Fatigue: Writer’s Diary 5

I’m sharing with you my fabulous, and quick – and when I say quick I mean minutes – daily remedies that work for me,  I hope they help you too.

These two simple things take a few minutes. For back health, four simple yoga exercises that are wonderful for back pain,and for mental fatigue an easy and quick meditation app.



(Photo credit: Jill Miller)


Lie on back with arms stretched out to the side

Raise right leg until pointing straight up

Move the raised leg left across the body & try to lower to the floor

Keep both shoulders on the floor

Turn your head to the right – hold for 5-20 secs then raise the leg again and lower back straight

Repeat with left leg.



(Photo credit: Yoga Basics)


Sit with right leg straight out in front of you, place the bottom of the left foot against the right thigh.

Slide your hands down your leg as far as you can, curling your spine, then grasp your leg where ever you are at, knee, calf, ankle – hold for a few seconds.

Repeat with other leg. Do both legs three times.



(Photo credit: Blue Osa)



Kneel on the floor

Stretch your right leg out to the right

Keep your left knee directly in line below your left hip and align your right heel with the left knee.

Place your right arm on your right leg

Bend your torso to the right, aiming to put your right ear on your right arm

Lift your left arm over your head, aiming to bring it down to the right and put palms of both hands together ( I did say aiming)

Keep facing forward, and hold it for a few seconds

Repeat on the other side



(Photo credit: Yoga Journal)


Stand, and cross your right ankle over your left. Place toes beside each other

Inhale, then as you bend forward, slowly exhale and bring fingers as close to floor as you can. Let your head hang

Exhale completely, relax abdomen, wait as the abdomen is voluntarily sucked upwards

Straighten and inhale

Repeat on other leg


… and for mental health/fatigue, to take you out of that deep writer-thinking-mode and relax your brain muscles, I use a meditation app on my phone that takes ten minutes.The app is the Head Space app which has the first ten sessions for free so you can try it out. I bought the whole thing and use it most days.

What do you do for writer’s health?





What Is Your Theme? Writer’s Diary:4



If you don’t know your theme, get to know it. You will be asked about it, best it doesn’t come as a surprise to you – Elizabeth Jolley.

Years ago, I read the above quote from Elizabeth Jolley, and decided to pay special attention to becoming aware of my themes. I thought I knew what my overarching theme was. I thought (loftily) that my themes were the psychology of behaviour with narratives on behavioural theory.

It is often said that theme is difficult to describe, and writers are frequently unaware of just what their themes are. Theme is not story or plot. Theme is the underlying idea, concept, or philosophy in your story. Theme is not what happens in your story, but what your story is about. Theme is often not a choice, especially for fiction writers, but evolves out of a writer’s interests and passions, and, as a result, writers very often – but not always – have the same theme throughout their works.

Now that I’ve completed my third book, it has become clearly apparent that my theme is more tangible, and less lofty, than ‘psychology of behaviour’. I can now be more exact. For some reason not known to me, I write from a male POV and my theme is as simple as crazy men doing weird shit, or, men’s decent into madness.

Knowing your theme can be a useful tool in getting your story finished. If I find I’m wondering what it is I’m actually trying to say, if I’m asking the question, who is this story about? or what is this story about (questions publishers and agents want you to know about your own work) or what message am I trying to get across? Being clear on theme can help answer those questions.

Melissa Donovan says theme can be described as broadly as redemption, sacrifice, betrayal, loyalty, greed, justice, oppression, revenge, and love or they can ask questions or pit two ideas against each other: science vs. faith, good vs. evil, why are we here and what happens when we die?

When I put the question, what do you think your themes are, out to social media, writers were much more specific about their themes:

Kim Swivel: love, bigotry, class, political stupidity, Australian iconography

Anna Spargo-Ryan: Mental illness, family violence, parent-child relationships, substance use, love, loss, food.

Jade Aleesha: My most recent novel explores the power of the media and government to redefine history, and the overlooked role of women in revolution.

Caroline Hutton: Secrecy in families, letting go of old hurts, staying whole in marriage, marital expectations of boundaries vs secrets

Sarah Jansen: Abandonment, the pursuit of happiness, self-reliance, unexpected situations

Sarah Widdup: Relationships, imbalance, expectation, equilibrium

Bianca Nogrady: Family and what we would do for them (or not). Also choice … I’m fascinated by this idea that choice is generally viewed as a good thing in that it gives us a sense of control, that we can always choose between options, however bad those options are. I think there are some choices that we never want to be faced with, and in some situations we would rather have those choices taken away from us.

Eliza Henry Jones: The themes of my writing have always changed to reflect whatever it was I happened to be grappling with at that time in my life. Reading back over (very, very, very poor) novels that I wrote as a teenager is almost like reading a diary. I’ve explored issues of religion, dementia, adoption, substance abuse and parental mental illness. I think what I keep coming back to again and again, though, are themes of grief and letting go.

Fleur Ferris: Online safety, grief, consequence, religious extremism, fanaticism, misuse of power, bullying, identity, relationships/friendships/family. (Not all in the same book…OMG, it doesn’t matter. I’m so miserable!) *rushes to computer and begins writing a romantic comedy.

Robyne Young: Emotional and geographical displacement, punishment, feminism, family.

One of the benefits of knowing your theme means you can look where other writers have explored the same themes with success. Men’s decent into madness threw up the following titles, which also made me aware that, so far, I’ve only found male authors who have approached the same theme, so I’d better get to work!

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey; Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad; The Stranger, Albert Camus; Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk; The Shining, Stephen King; King Lear, Shakespeare; Catch-22, Joseph Hellar; Lord of the Flies, William Golding; Shutter Island, Denis Lehane; Hamlet, Shakespeare.





Published by Xoum: Excerpt From The Neighbour – Chapter five

SCROLL DOWN TO READ an excerpt from Chapter five (5) of The Neighbour

A Psychological Drama -you will never think of your neighbour in the same way again.

(Winner of the Seizure Viva Novella prize)


U.S. Amazon

Australian bookstore Booktopia $13.25

Australian Bookstore Readings  $14.95

Australian Bookstore Seizure $14,99

Australian bBookstore New South Books $14.95


U.S. Amazon 

Amazon Australia $4.99


Xoum Kindle, Google Books Ibookstore Kobo

He dips the syringe in the bottle and draws it back to suck the ink within it. Bubbles rush and crackle. He dismantles his pen and pokes the syringe into it. The slow, detailed movements smooth his frayed mind. The ink, like black blood, fills the pen shaft quickly. He takes the syringe to the kitchen sink and pulls the plunger out. It sucks against itself with the pressure that has nowhere else to go.

The floorboards creek in the bedroom; he lifts his chin to listen. Laney is up now. He turns the water on fast.

Laney had laughed about his pen and ink when he first used it in front of her. ‘Who are you? Professor Plum?’ He wanted to explain that it isn’t the pen that he’s interested in. It’s something about how easy it is to fill it up again once it’s drained; it satisfies. But her laugh was a taunt, so he let it go.

He holds the clean syringe up to the light of the window to check for any spots that remain. One little dry speck in the ink will cause uneven lines, bumpy lines that annoy like rocks on a road.

Sam’s feet patter on the floorboards down the hallway towards the lounge, where he’ll switch the television on. And in a daze, he’ll snuggle under his blanket. He’d given up the need for his blanket last year, but now needs it near him always. Luke will sit with him later, and they’ll comfort each other.

In his office, Luke sits before his diary, and places a cross over today. He obliterates it, done, no more today. Now all he has to do is live it. He flicks the diary pages and counts the days that lead up to the anniversary of Lily’s death: seven months and twelve days. This is how much time he has given himself to repay his debt to Angie.

The time feels different depending on whether he looks forward to it or braces for it. Maybe he’s wrong to control things this way, but he has to do something; the idea of life, or no life, after that day fills him with relief, like a bloodletting. Some say suicide is selfish. He doesn’t want it to be that way. He tries to get his head around this idea, that it would be selfish. He can’t think of anyone who won’t carry on in life as though nothing had happened, who won’t think life was better with him gone, who won’t think justice had been done.

He sees Laney on the deck outside the window above the desk. She’s taken up smoking again, and she’s taken it on with gusto. She draws on it hard as if to fuel her life.

She pulls the cigarette from her mouth and calls out across the yard, and in a sudden movement waves her arm about wildly at something in the garden. Cigarette ashes float away like snowflakes. He wishes it would snow; it’s the most innocent thing he can think of. Laney calls out again and jumps off the deck. Luke leans forward to see who she calls to. A large brown dog skulks around the scrub of the far garden with its head low and its ears back. Laney moves closer, but shoos it with her cigarette. ‘Shoo, shoo.’

Frightened by her calls and arm flinging, the dog bounds away. It bends its long neck to turn and look back at her. When it sees that Laney doesn’t give chase, it returns to the same spot in the garden. It takes careful steps among the weeds.

Laney shoos and stomps and calls out at it. ‘Get outta here, go home.’ Eventually, it runs, the poor dog, down the side of the house, and this time is gone.

Laney is in her pyjamas. Her hair hangs lank around her pale face. She stands metres from the garden bed that had drawn the dog’s attention. Luke taps on the window with his bony knuckle. She doesn’t hear. She steps closer to the garden bed. She picks her path in bare feet across the sparse brown grass while two fingers cling in the air to the cigarette that has burned down to the yellow butt.

Luke taps again on the window, harder, quicker. She looks up, but doesn’t see him wave at her. He stands up suddenly and knocks his chair backwards. It glides and crashes against the wall. He crooks his finger in the old metal hook of the timber window, and yanks at it once, then again, and forces it open. It halts at an inch wide and won’t budge. He puts his mouth to the gap and calls to Laney.


She lowers herself to the ground, crouches, and parts the small bushes to look into the garden bed. Blood pumps into his forehead. He imagines a bloodletting that sets him free, and he calls to her again. This time, it is more urgent.

‘We should have breakfast now!’

Laney finds the dead animal.

When his brother drowned, their mother approached them as they floated in the water. She smiled and said something. She thought they were playing, swimming in the water tank that was sawn in half just for them. But what she saw was his brother, as he floated, face down. He wafted in the swells that still billowed and sank from the movements of their play. And Luke, with his back pressed hard to the wriggly tin wall, tried to get distance from the situation that was Bob. And his mother’s hand clasped to her mouth so hard that he can still recall the sound, like a bird hitting a window: Fwomp.

Laney claps her hand to her mouth as she rises and steps away from the unkempt tumble of weeds and forgotten plants that provide the hurried cover for the dead cat


Where is The Neighbour Available?


U.S. Amazon

Australian bookstore Booktopia $13.25

Australian Bookstore Readings  $14.95

Australian Bookstore Seizure $14,99

Australian bBookstore New South Books $14.95


U.S. Amazon 

Amazon Australia $4.99


Xoum Kindle, Google Books Ibookstore Kobo



That Word When: Writer’s diary, 3.



There’s nothing wrong with the word ‘when’, and many many writers, including myself, use it in the way that I’m about to tell you can distance your reader from the action and lose them a little bit; they might start thinking of cats and drop the book and look around for the kitty litter tray and never come back. I’ve just read this sentence at the beginning of my chapter 9:

When Ulrik breathes in the taste of hot dust, he remembers where he is.” And I’ve edited out two words, ‘when’ and ‘he’. “Ulrik breathes in the taste of hot dust, and remembers where he is.”

The difference is that the word ‘when’  means the action is not happening now, it happened at some time in the past or will happen some time in the future. There’s no urgency to keep reading, it’s not happening right now, and there’s probably no dire consequences bc Ulrik is perfectly fine right now. Taking out that word ‘when’ has dropped the reader right into the action.

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