Monthly Archives: January 2014

My Writing Journey

On Friday I printed all the chapters of my WIP (Work-in-Progress) and today (Monday morning here in Australia) I will work on placing the chapters in order. I find it helpful when a WIP is nearly finished to do this and I work on the hard copy for a few days. Due to Christmas celebrations and family commitments I have pushed the completion date for my novel forward to the end of February.

I want to share a description of E. M. Forster’s library broadcast on the BBC: ‘You are soon in my library and soon out of it, for most of the books in my library are contained in a single room. I keep some more of them in a bedroom and in a little sitting-room and a bathroom cupboard, but most of them are in what we politely term the library. This is a commodious apartment – twenty-four feet by eighteen – and a very pleasant one. The ceiling is high, the paint white, the wallpaper ribboned-white, and the sun, when it shines, does so through lofty windows of early Victorian-Gothic.’

I can imagine this room with drifting white curtains at the windows,  a  pile of blank writing paper ready for use, and  E. M. Forster taking a fountain pen from the  top pocket of his suit coat.

Have a good writing week, Elise


Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

My Writing Journey

I finished the nearly last chapter of my WIP (work-in-progress). It is set in Northern California and I enjoyed the research for this chapter. I read about mushrooms and pine forests and crawfish and violet-green sparrows. It was a joy to write. I will leave that chapter now and come back to it in a few weeks to edit it several more times. Because my WIP is a time split novel I have chapters set in different time periods and I also move my characters around: different states in Australia and the one set in Northern California. Today I worked on a chapter set in 1968. My protagonist is a journalist, recently returned from Vietnam. I love reading a story with a twist in the tale and my WIP has exactly that. It takes time to plot and even then I sometimes change what I plotted in my outline. Such is a writer’s journey!

A  librarian friend, recently  in Paris, visited Shakespeare and Co and sent me a picture postcard of the bookshop. I am envious of the few hours she spent browsing there. She explained that one has to queue for entry as the bookshop would be overrun with people, locals and visitors from all around the world, otherwise.  The postcard she sent me is one I will keep.

As a writer do you hear the siren song of what you may write in the future? I do and it’s hard not to put pen to paper (read fingers to keyboard). A short story I started a few weeks ago hasn’t progressed further. It seems I am the type of writer who must finish one thing before I start another. The idea is there, fermenting, waiting for the right time. I need to research this story but I haven’t decided if I’m  going to finish it. But the protagonist is insistent and demanding so perhaps I will write her story.

Good writing, Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

My Writing Journey

A busy week with a writers group workshop and working on my WIP. I have particularly enjoyed re-working my Northern California chapter. I love research and the area I have set my story in is particularly beautiful. I will finish editing this chapter today. So not a lot to write about re my own writing as I have my head down and my fingers are typing as fast as they can. The main thing is that I have written or edited something everyday so as not to get away from my story.

An excerpt:   It was a place where a hundred generations of feet had padded across the soft brown pine needles. She imagined gold-bearing rocks beside dry trails, meadows and wild bees and the smell of wood-smoke laced with maple branches.

I like the way Americans call pastures ‘meadows’  and small towns ‘villages’ part of their English heritage I guess.  I was wondering if Americans use the word ‘pastures’  as well? Perhaps one of my American readers could let me know and also do you ever use the word ’track’ rather than ’trail’?

As promised some more thoughts about Aprons

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids, And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms,

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brown, bent over the hot wood stove, Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron, From the garden, it carried all sort of vegetables, After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls, In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees, When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds, When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folks knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes. REMEMBER  Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I don’t think anyone ever caught anything from an apron but love.


When she was searching for inspiration, she would study drawings sent to her by fans, sit on the floor and sift through personal photographs or walk outside to listen to mockingbirds. ‘Their melody is important to my work and life here,’ she said in a 1973 documentary. ‘I want my writing to levitate.’ Sometimes, she would bring a hand-held tape recorder to capture their songs. If all else failed, she would swim.

Have a good writing week, Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under Elise McCune

Blue Mountains Clouds


I took this cloud photo about a week ago, before the 
birds got to the flowers in the trees. Now the 
flowers are all on the ground!
In the last few weeks the cloud formations 
have been so beautiful and I find them an incredibly 
interesting subject to watch and capture on camera.
Hope you like the image.

My photographer friend Bianca Washington took this 
I have copied her email text and the photograph with her permission.


Filed under Elise McCune

Aristotle Quote in The Book Thief movie

The Book Thief:

Memory is the scribe of the soul ~ Aristotle.



Filed under Elise McCune

The Book Thief

The Book Thief Stole My Heart

I was fortunate to be invited by a friend to see The Book Thief a film based on the beloved international bestseller by Markus Zusak.  I was enthralled by  every minute of this film;  a world at war as seen through the eyes of a child.  The story is of a spirited young girl sent to live with a foster family in WWII Germany. Intrigued by the only book she brought with her, a book that a minister has dropped in the snow when her little brother is being buried and she picks up, she begins collecting books as she finds them. A child who wants to learn to read and creates a magical world. The film was shown at the Rivoli  a beautiful old theatre in Camberwell, Victoria. This is the suburb where Geoffrey Rush lives (or nearby) and he came along. He introduced the film and was interviewed when the film finished. He then answered questions from the audience about the film and the actors and his role in it. Our own local boy made good. I wish he would swap acting for politics and become Prime Minister! He  told the audience his next role is the Sun God, Ra, so I guess I’d rather see him acting than anything else. There are actors, who even when not acting, your eyes follow, Geoffrey is one such actor. The film is one not to miss.  It portrays the power of goodness and determination and how one young girl’s overpowering love and magical thinking can overcome death, who in this movie, was a rather intriguing character. I loved this movie and out of ten stars I would give it ten.

Have you read the short story by Somerset Maugham about a person who meets Death in the market place? One to check out and read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Elise McCune

My Writing Journey

I had a good writing week.  I only have a couple of thousand words to write to finish my last chapter (there are still a couple of ones I have to write) then it’s editing and finishing some research. I left my short story unfinished but I may decide to  finish it as I don’t love it as I should. I also sorted through masses of clippings, print-outs and outlines for stories  long forgotten. I did find some interesting pieces saved from years ago. One is on the history of aprons. I sent it to my friend Bianca  and she wrote back:

I absolutely love it. It has to be high on my list of favourites, bringing back memories of my childhood in our little flat in Littlehampton when Mum used to work miracles in what was a landing (or free space area) converted into a little kitchen, where two was a crowd.

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material.

But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

I will continue the history of aprons next week.

The last verse of:

The Song of Wandering Aengus

Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

The song is one of my favourite poems.

This is a description of the home of Anais Nin and Rupert Pole in the hills of Silver Lake, near L. A.

A glass- and-concrete house on a hilly Silver Lake street.

Eric Lloyd Wright, a third-generation architect designed the house for his half-brother Rupert and Anais.

In the sixth volume of her Diary, Anais described the one-storey dwelling perched above the city as ‘one large studio, no separate, small partitions. It had the sense of space of Japanese houses; it had the vista of a Japanese screen, all sky, mountains, lake, as if one lived out of doors. Yet the roof, held by its heavy beams, gave a feeling of protection while the big windows which separated the roof from the studio framed the flight of birds, the sailing of clouds.’  What I love most is the feeling of light and space that Anais writes about in their home. And there’s a small interior Japanese garden cut into the floor near one of the glass panels of the living room wall, where Anais would etch swirls in the sand with a small hand shovel. The stone fireplace, she wrote, was ‘like that of a castle’. There was a grand piano and packed bookshelves.


 I read recently ‘WAS’ is a passive word. Do not let anyone tell you  it is. ‘WAS’ is infrequently passive, and is a part of good English. It is a wonderful verb. If it suits your story use it freely.

English is fun. It is a flexible language for telling stories.

Have a good writing week and to all a Happy New Year, Elise x

Leave a comment

Filed under Elise McCune

New Year 2014

My  previous post (photographs of New York, wartime 1941 turns to 1942) shows images of the era my WIP is set in. The reference to booze is one that I was concerned about. It is a downloaded post (as referenced) and I did not change it. The reason for my concern is the alcohol related violence among young people here in Australia. Young men are being king-hit in the streets for no reason and left dead or dying or damaged for life. Other young men are arrested for attempted murder or murder. Many lives are destroyed by  alcohol. Like most things in life moderation is the key. A glass or two of wine or a rum and coke is not a problem in most cases. Education and the influence of a home environment where alcohol is not taken in excessive amounts can help. Let’s get behind our children and young people and help them by education both at home and in the general community. So many lives lost and destroyed for no reason at all.


Filed under Elise McCune

Old-School New Year’s Eve: Photos From a Vanished, Wartime New York

1941 turns to 1942

Leave a comment

Filed under A Writer’s Notebook