Archive | April, 2012

‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’: My First Review

30 Apr

Last Saturday seemed set to unfold like any other day. I’d sat down at the computer, checking the e-mails, Googling a few items:  the normal things I’d done countless times before. But then I saw it:  ‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’ had been reviewed by an Australian author!

Before my startled, disbelieving eyes I read her review. I should say, I tried to read it, because before I was half way through I lost my focus. I was, in a word, stunned.

The reviewer, Jenny Schwartz, has a string of published titles to her credit, including a play. She writes an informative, professional-looking blog that focuses on books. In her eyes, ‘A Taste…’ had made the grade!

Let me quote:’  ‘ A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’ by Margaret Lynette Sharp is a collection of gentle, heartwarming stories… ‘  ‘:  ‘draw you into a personal experience’ :  ‘easy rhythm of the dialogue’:  ‘these stories feel distinctly Australian to me’ : ‘compassionate, entertaining humanity’.

Jenny has rated this book five stars out of five. Her review is linked to the Australian Women Writers Challenge, as well as other sites.

Copyright ©

A Meeting of Musical Minds

29 Apr

It isn’t every day that a celebrity visits us, but very recently we had that privilege.

The lead singer and founder of Sydney’s cover band ‘The Bandits’ spent part of his afternoon in our company, discussing with lively interest the popular music of the 60’s to 80’s,  and branching off into talk of guitar accessories.

My husband Ronald Sharp, the esteemed pipe organ builder, and I have become loyal, enthusiastic fans of Paul and ‘The Bandits’. They are superb entertainers, and  we never tire of their ever-increasing repertoire. Some of our favourite tunes are  evergreens such as  ‘Love is in the Air’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘La Bamba’, but, with Paul, Conrad, Gary and Warwick on the lookout for other great material, we’re often treated to new, highly danceable numbers.

Long live the great Australian band, ‘The Bandits’!

Copyright ©

Impressions of a Booklover

25 Apr

What books you’ve read have really left their mark: imprinted themselves on your memory?

I’m talking here about fiction, though I guess on reflection, without that qualification, this type of book is more likely to stand out anyway, due to its strong likelihood of emotional impact.

Today, I asked my husband Ron, the creator of the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ, this question. His answer: detective novels, particularly Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s  ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, which he described as ‘terrifying’.

Looking back over my own life, my first tight connection with a character, and hence her fortunes, was  Beth March from ‘Little Women’. I guess the reason  identified with her so well because she had similar interests and characteristics to me, particularly her love of music and her perseverance.  Her life events,  particularly her misfortunes, touched me as though she were a real person, a best friend or closer.

For different reasons entirely, I remember Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’. The plot and the characters enthralled me, though the events described were more than disturbing.

The volumes of James Herriot are well imprinted on me.  Although some  stories were sad, even quite disturbing, those with ‘happy endings’ or of very humorous flavour blended together to make the entire volume an enjoyable one.

In my own writing, I empathize with Bob, the central character in ‘First Impressions’, a tale from the short story collection entitled ‘A Taste of Life and Love in Australia’. His struggle between his desire for peer acceptance goes up against an even greater goal: to find love.

I could go on and on, but I hope I’ve made my point, and have got you thinking.

What books have stuck with you for years and years?

Copyright ©

The Magic of Musical Memory

24 Apr

After a break of many months, last night I played my piano accordion.

In the intervening time, I’d scarcely, if at all, given it a thought: so occupied I was with writing and publishing ‘Long and Short Australian Stories’, our sixth book.

Does it surprise you that I played at an approximately equal level of competence to my previous performance?  To be honest, I expected as much.  Past experience has backed this up.

Yet, on reflection, it  seems a little puzzling. Let me conjecture.

Our brains appear to be so remarkably wired that, at least where music is concerned,with minimal prodding we are able to execute relatively difficult tactile actions. Anyone who has ever played a piano accordion will vouch that, for the bass, tactile memory is critical.

Without exception, everything I played last night had a catchy, well known tune, and I strongly suspect this greatly assisted me. Yet it happens in many other, unrelated activities.

With music having such a deep effect on our moods and emotions, is it little wonder that we tend to remember how to play what we love?

Copyright ©

Love and Marriage

23 Apr

Once upon a time, someone- a woman of senior years- observed to me that she       ” didn’t know why young women got dressed up to get married when what they were really doing was committing themselves to a life behind the kitchen sink.”

Cynical? Perhaps. But, even today, is there any truth in it?

In marrying, are women thrusting themselves into the burden of responsibility: for attending to the needs of an unspecified number of people for an unspecified length of time? If so, is this reason to dress up and celebrate the day of this commitment?

Or is the marriage ceremony symbolic of something much higher? The strength of a bond, the hope of its endurance: the overwhelming, all-encompassing feeling we call love?

I for one hope it’s the latter.

Copyright ©

A Great, Grey Day at the Beach!

22 Apr

Why is it that everyone, well, almost everyone, thinks that you need blue skies to have a great day at the beach?

Rubbish. With barely a streak of blue amongst the stunning shades of grey in the sky, I spent a few delightful hours at one of Sydney’s beaches today.

The day was warm and almost windless, and the sea was calm. For a while, I was swimming solo in the baths: until someone else, perhaps spurred on by my presence, or perhaps aware that all was well anyway: swam out into the depths.

The wonderful thing about being alone in the water is that you need never fear collisions with others, and can concentrate fully on the underwater scenery. The shells, the rocks, the sea-plants were all in better focus! In short, I had a very relaxing time!

And, back on dry land, what was their to complain about? The cloudy sky brought with it lovely patterns of muted colours, and soft, misty light in the distance. No glare, no squinting, no harshness: just tranquility!

I’m the first to admit that I, too, like a day in the sun, but realistically, what’s wrong with this subtle, soothing contrast that a cloudy day provides?

Copyright ©

My 150th Post!

20 Apr

What a milestone! My 150th post!

Doesn’t seem long ago that my 100th saw the light of day, and from that, my first follower, Jennifer Avventura, came into my life. Since then, other bloggers have joined her ranks, some leaving lovely comments.

Between then and now, life has had its ups and downs.

The chief apex is, in terms of satisfaction, the publication of our sixth book, ‘Long and Short Australian Stories’, which was released last week, on the 11th April. Even the cover has special significance since my husband, Ronald Sharp B.E.M. took the beach photo that forms its basis on the eve of our wedding anniversary. A day to remember!

Another happy event came from an unexpected source: my blog found its way onto Jennifer Avventura’s list of nominees for ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’. I must admit, I’m more than a little unclear if this is an honour or not! Why is Jennifer passing it on so readily?!

The downside to our life has probably been the closure of our local river baths due to pollution, initially caused by torrential rain. Our Swimming Club cancelled all meeting from the end of February, and, with more heavy rain over the past few days, the problem seems no closer to resolution. I guess if and when it’s all fixed and clean, we’ll really appreciate it.

So, here we are on a Friday night, and I’m signing off.

150 posts down, who knows how many to go?

Copyright ©