Archive | October, 2011

Jacaranda Time

31 Oct

Aren’t we lucky? Here in Sydney, Australia, it doesn’t take long before one feast of spectacular lilac flowers is replaced by another!

Only two or three weeks ago, the fragrant wisteria bunches were spilling over fences and pergolas; even dangling from obliging trees!!

From one head-turner to another: here comes the jacarandas! Leafless trees enveloped by eye-catching lilac flowers! Close-up or at a distance, a sight for sore eyes!

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Back to the Piano!

29 Oct

This afternoon, I treated myself to some music. Not just by switching on the radio, c.d. player or whatever. No: I decided to make my own. I played the piano.

Rusty, yes, but still it sparked the idea. I could still do it, despite scant attention of late to such things. Somehow, it brought me back to another time, another era: my pre school  life.

From early childhood, I remember my mother playing. Her repertoire was dominated by a handful of tunes: ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’, ‘Repaz Band’, and ‘Norwegian Cradle Song’. Hands up who’s heard of these! But, in my youth, they were as familiar to me as the top of the pops.

So, is it surprising that, as a youngster, I wanted to give music a go? After all, it was in the genes.

And today I demonstrated that, just like riding a bicycle, you never forget.

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There’s More to Writing

28 Oct

Have you ever written and published a book? Hoped for commercial success?

Did you approach it with your eyes wide open? Or were you as naive as myself, and thought that all you had to do was get it onto the market?

Much as having a child doesn’t stop when you’re finally wheeled out of the labour ward, creating a book doesn’t finish when you’ve got it in your hands. Like a baby, you may love it and want to see it adored by relatives, friends and society, but the journey is only just beginning.

You may watch and see how your human child gets on at playgroup, school, university and so on, trying to smooth his (or her) pathway to success. Your input is critical, yet aren’t the intrinsic qualities of the child  all important, too?

I guess it’s much the same for books. To really succeed, you need good marketing strategy, receptive listeners and a conducive environment for sales. Oh, yes! It sure helps if the book is capable of winning and holding popularity and status!

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Australian Short Stories: My Way

27 Oct

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What pops into your mind when someone says ‘Australian Short Stories’?

Do you think of the outback: tales of bush-men boiling a billy on a camp-fires? Kelpies and cattle dogs earning their keep by rounding up herds of sheep or cattle? Agricultural scenes: the rugged lifestyle of being a wheat or sugar cane grower?

If these are typical of the depictions you expect to see in my Short Story Collections, you’ll be in for a surprise.

My ‘Life and Love in Australia’ series of four volumes is dominated by tales of romance. Whether set in city or country, they feature a diverse selection of  characters, plots and motivations.

You’ll find music-lovers, party-goers and dancers, as well as quiet, older folk, sometimes  finding romance when they least expect it. You’ll also discover tales of human interest, such as parents’ concerns over their children’s lives, or something quite different like a humorous account of musical performance gone awry.

So, next time you hear the words ‘Australian Short Stories’, why not think of those of Margaret Lynette Sharp?

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Who is my Favourite Character?

26 Oct

As the author of four volumes of fiction, I’ve created many, many characters.

Several stand out in mu mind, but none more than Allen, the hero of both  ‘The Girl Next Door’ and ‘A Second Chance,’ from  my second book of modern Australian Short Stories: ‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’.

It’s his personality traits  in ‘The Girl Next Door’, combined with hapless fate, that endear him to me.

From early on, Cupid’s arrow strikes him, but circumstances always seem to create an embargo to the feelings they nurture. Vicki, the girl of his dreams, is overseen by her protective mother. It transpires she’s too young, too busy, and so on to be allowed out with him. At length, he summons courage to ask her on a date, but alas! Fate has done it to him again, and he learns the lesson of the perils of procrastination.

They meet up again in the final story, ‘A Second Chance’, under quite different circumstances. I’ll leave you to read ‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’ to discover the outcome!

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Australian Author Margaret Lynette Sharp: Which Book Am I Proud Of?

26 Oct

As an Australian author with a total of five books published, I’ve been asked this question.  Which of your books are you most proud?

This is a tough one.  It’s akin to asking, “Which is your favourite child?”

I guess you could liken my first four to quadruplets, since they’re four of a kind. Even their names are closely linked.  ’25 Stories of Life and Love in Australia’, ‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’, ‘The Essence of Life and Love in Australia’, and, you guessed it, ‘Reflections of Life and Love in Australia.’  These volumes are dominated by romances, though some are interspersed with tales of human interest.  They’re quite short, averaging just four or five pages, flowing,and easy to comprehend.

My latest creation, ’60 Questions, Insights and Reminiscences’ is currently an ‘only child’, of sorts.  Will it remain so?  Who knows?

All five volumes are edited by my husband, Ronald Sharp, the creator of the Grand Organ in the Sydney Opera House.  His creative influence has touched all these books through his innovative style.

Back to the question.

I’m proud of them all, since within each there are stand-out favourites that show my own characteristic style to best advantage.

But, if pressed for an answer, I’ ll say the last.

Why?

Because ’60 Questions, Insights and Reminiscences’ makes me smile!

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My Favourite Game

25 Oct

Being a writer, is it really surprising that my favourite game revolves around words?

Yes, it’s Scrabble: the challenge to maximise your points-score with words.

I discovered it when I was quite young, about ten or so, and my parents encouraged my interest. An especially fine, one-to-one game, there were however times when I’d pit my skills against a couple of players.

Even into her declining years, my late mother loved to take up the challenge against me, and heartily rejoiced when she was the victor. Our games often lingered since neither of us gave up without exhausting our brains, scrounging for an elusive bonus score!

Our well-worn dictionary testifies to its status as umpire!

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Do You Believe in Luck?

24 Oct

Do you believe in luck?

Luck, fate, chance. Whatever you call it, the meaning has one common thread. Unpredictability. Events and circumstances can go one way or another. For better or for worse,  the outcome is out of our hands.

Some people say they make their own luck. All of us are presented with crossroads at one time or another, and which way we turn often depends wholly on us.

Is critical analysis the basis of good fortune?

Does fortune favour the bold? Is it all about grasping at opportunities? Or, do fools go where angels fear to tread?

Is it luck that leads us to find the right job, the right home, the right partner in life? Or, do we set the stage by actions that increase the probabilities of this happening?

Do those who say they’re ‘lucky’ really mean they know how to maximise their chances of success?

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How Times Have Changed, or Have They?

24 Oct

Up there, in the deepest recesses of my brain, are memories of my childhood. And what shines bright on the scale of happiness are my thoughts of flowers.

I’ve already spoken of the purple pelargoniums and red geraniums of home, but there’s another vivid image to relate.

Just down the street from my childhood home lived my Aunty, Uncle and their family. Their front garden was dominated by a single tree: a massive, old-fashioned frangipanni.

What tree could herald the changes of the seasons more spectacularly? From a bare, statuesque framework in winter, as if my magic it became a richly perfumed fountain of gorgeous white and yellow flowers that fell to the ground. I loved to gather them up and take them home, where they found a second life in shallow float-bowls.

Do the kids of today still delight in such things? Or has technology swept them into a different world, and different values?

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The Purple Flowers of Yesteryear

23 Oct

Do you have in your garden a special plant: a plant that takes you back to your beginnings?

I do. Tenaciously, it soldiers on. Right now it’s in full bloom, creating a vibrant display of glorious colour.  Just as it did, long ago, in another front garden, when I was very small.

That’s what I most remember: the bright purple petals splashed with wine, mingling amongst its companions, the fire-engine red geraniums.  I was too young to get my head around the long names, especially the patterned, precious pelargoniums; doubly prized since they flowered less often.

As a child, I loved to pick the flowers: gathering ferns to complete the display. Did my fresh eyes perceive the wonder of it all ever more brightly?

By happy chance, my parents struck cuttings from the original plants, and these and their offspring are still with us today.  A symbol, a reminder, of another time, another life.

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