CS monthly photo #17


We were drifting about our gîte’s location in Buxières-les-Mines one morning (you can tell, can’t you ?) when Stringer saw this small piece of rural heaven. It seemed to him to encapsulate the fundamental beauty of everything bucolic in France, and he committed it to the Nikon Coolpix’s hard drive …

Just watched myself for an hour !

Sent: Friday, 13 February 2015 9:48 AM
To: Margaret Rose STRINGER
Subject: Author talk video footage- Sutherland Library

Hello Margaret Rose,
I hope all is well with you. I am just sending you the video of your author talk presented at Sutherland Library. Apologies for the delay with sending you this.  Could you please view this, and advise us of any changes required before this is posted on our website.


Password:  yyyyyyyyyyyy

Many thanks,

The video of the last Library Talk I gave, last year, has finally become reality.

As you can see, at this point it hadn’t been vetted by me (it since has, and 0’20” tagged for removal !).

When it’s available, I’ll post the link to it on the Library’s site: even though just under an hour, you might be able to persevere through SOME of it …

Yes, this is nothing more than a headsup. I knew you’d all forgotten about it.   [grin]

CS monthly photo #16

You have seen a photo from hereabouts, before in this series: Stringer and I were on our way up the hill leading to the tiny comune (in fact I believe it to be even smaller – known as a frazione) of Porciano when he turned around and shot that other one.

This to me explains everything I have loved about ruined castles. When you look through that gateway, you can fill your imagination with whatever you want; you’re not obliged to see restauro of dubious taste, or someone’s idea of what it probably looked like. You simply gaze, and dream …

Something from Florent

My Belgian friend Florent Diverchy has reviewed Atlmd, as per the following:

I promised it long ago, but I finally wrote a review of your book: you will find it here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R37YQZSE5YVLRC/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1922089028&nodeID=283155&store=books

I’m very grateful to have been able to read it!

I hope everything’s ok down under

and it’s that link I hope you will follow.

Having long since stopped feeling the slightest anxiety about how my publishers might react to criticism from me, I also include part of my email response to him:

This is an absolutely joyous thing for me, your review, Florent – and I thank you with all my heart !

It’s difficult to explain how much it means to me, something written without fear or favour, without pressure of any kind, and yet turning out so absolutely positive. To be able to fully understand, you’d have to know what it’s like to have a publisher agree virtually instantly to publish your manuscript; but then, when it doesn’t turn out to be a runaway best-seller, simply turn around and walk away.

But this is what mine did. No-one there gave me the smallest, slightest encouragement; no-one attempted to cheer me up or offer any kind of suggestion as to why they could not seem to get my book displayed, reviewed or in any way publicised. The only thing they told me was that they preferred that I did not attempt to do any publicity of my own !!! (You won’t be surprised to learn that I ignored that.)

Reviews like yours are my heart’s blood. I shall say no more – except to add that my gratitude is unending.

The more my book is reviewed like this – by Florent and by so many of you wonderful readers ! – the angrier I become with FP. I know it’s not a nice thing to admit to; I know I should be ‘christian’ about it. I’m not that kind of person. I’m a crabby old codger who has never understood why FP bothered to publish my book since they showed themselves unwilling right from the start to publicise it in any way. Were I to write a list of their activities since August 2013, I think you’d forgive me …

Anyway. I’ve stopped now.   [grin]

I hope this goes on forever !

Trent’s World (the Blog)

Trent said a few days back he was going to read and review fellow-bloggers’ writings, and today it was my turn !   :-)

Happily, I had already stated my opinion that he reviews well; and this review of Atlmd supports my contention: he does a kind of “this is my response” rather than a “this is what the book is about” – although, in truth, he does seem to combine the two …

It gives me endless, endless delight to observe that everyone who has read the book and reviewed it has remarked upon my ability to show Chic as a really nice bloke. That was what I sought to do, more than anything; for he was indeed a lovely man (as my friend Rose said, “A lovely, funny man !”).

I wouldn’t mind if bloggers were still reviewing Atlmd when the cows eventually come home and I am coughing my last breath: the joy of having people like Trent and the rest of you writing about it is … it’s … I simply have no words.

You make me happy.

CS monthly photo #15

From the Saoû gîte

From the Saoû gîte

Here’s a great frame taken from inside the most expensive gîte we ever stayed in. It was in a beautiful part of France, and it had a beautiful outlook. It also had a beautiful kitchen – possibly the best we ever had temporary control of. And that was It. The rest was rubbish. Pour les touristes, c’est la vie !   :)

2014 in review – I have questions !

“The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 52,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.”

You can’t: I’ve removed the link. You really don’t want to be bored shitless with all that STUFF.



Still, in regard to it, what on earth do these things mean – listed under “Posting Patterns” ?

I suppose the first one might mean that I didn’t miss a single day from 12/4 to 8/6 … but ‘best day’ ??? 91 posts ???

And under the somewhat appalling heading of “Attractions” I see the dreaded LIOLI #2 !!! Does this mean another competition – but one without a prize !!! – is going to have to be mounted ? Maybe even another LIOLI ??? If so, it will have to be book-related.   [grin]

And what about referrers ? – my ‘top’ list includes these three highly unlikely sources. I don’t even know what widgets.wp.com bloody IS ! – do any of you ? And the forums ???? Good grief !

All these stats are rather strange, to me. Possibly I mean surprising.

Q: do I need ‘em ?
A: I don’t think so.

But I would like some opinions on what that ‘best day’ figure could mean …

2015: better, I think … I HOPE !

And I hope so for you all, mes amis ! I wish you everything you want in the coming year (and me, too !).

This one for me was marked by my efforts to publicise “Atlmd” through library talks and through making your lives miserable by going on and on and ON about it. The former were huge fun, and I enjoyed them enormously; and the latter I have also enjoyed – and many of you have dutifully got hold of a copy and taken it away to read under a blanket with a torch …


As for the next one – no idea. Aucune idée. I’ll play it by ear, I think.

There I am - second from left ... :D

There I am – second from left (not counting Woodstock) … :D

I shall be cruelly honest – with apologies …

Anyone who has read “Atlmd” will be aware that this time of year is not one I’m ever likely to celebrate.

During the christmas of 2005, Stringer was lying in a hospital bed in this flat’s loungeroom, where he’d been since the 5th December. I had seen a dreadful occurrence at the hospital some 2½ weeks earlier that had forced me to comprehend that he was actually dying; but I regret to say that I managed to push it to the back of my panic-stricken brain and camouflage it. My husband was very ill …

Here we were, the pair of us, in our totally reversed rôles, and he doing better than me.

The one good thing that happened was that my beloved second-eldest sister, Jo, managed a couple of days with us, up from Melbourne, and that was wonderful. But as Jo herself died 3 years later, leaving me with neither of the two people I loved by far the most deeply, the memory of her being here isn’t really … good.

As to why I put this online, it’s so that people will not ask me what I’m doing for xmas. I’m not trying to apply emotional blackmail by relating the above; I just don’t want to have to talk about what I “do” at xmas. Ever, if possible.

Because I do nothing at all at xmas – celebratory, that is.

Tonight I’ve brought up a shopping trolley left in the building’s garbage room by some shit, and am gradually clearing out things I can no longer pretend I’ll ever look at again. I shall then have a tall set of shelves I can move into the loungeroom and use for DVDs and CDs – although where I’m going to put it is a bit of a mystery as yet.

So much for all that then.

As to those who haven’t read “Atlmd”, you should peruse the reviews !

A 55th reunion – without me

You know I was born in Perth, Western Australia, and lived there till I was 21 …? – well, a lot of you do.

So, obviously, I went to school there: in fact, I and my four sisters attended the one school from kindergarten to Leaving|Matriculation (the last year). Loreto Convent, Claremont, called Loreto ‘Osborne’ for the hotel it once was; but it hasn’t existed since the mid-’70s (and where it once stood is now a classy residential condo kind of place). It has often occurred to me to wonder what the nuns thought as each little Dunphy girl arrived in kindy, face scrubbed and shining and plaits in doorknockers … perhaps something along the lines of “Dear God, help us withstand this one, too ?”.

Like most schools, class reunions according to the final year of study are arranged. I don’t know why, but I suspect it has to do with the woman organising this year’s 55th – she who was Head Pre in 1959, my first final year (of two); Mary was e’en then an excellent organiser – but I received an invite. I should genuinely have loved to go; but I can’t sleep away from home, because of my cactus lower back and my need for either my own adjustable bed or a BIG recliner chair, so I couldn’t. That didn’t stop me from emailing her and demanding photos, though …

And in due course, they arrived !

And NOW you see why this post is relevant to this blog ! – aren’t they wonderful ?  I was|am so touched and so grateful … and yes, I did cry a bit. I remember them awfully well, even if I didn’t recognize some of them. I had to wonder who would recognize me:

And here’s Mary’s card that was part of the parcel sent:

I can only hope that those who get to read “Atlmd” don’t faint: it’s not a very Loreto kind of book.

Still, that was then, eh ?   :D

Here is the photo from the linked article, slightly improved on by me:

That was my school, alright: taken from the rear, probably from ‘the avenue’. It must’ve been some time after ’56, as the roof of the new classroom is seen on the left. It was a very fine old building, and my schooldays up to ’59 were equally fine: it was just my second final year of ’60 that wasn’t (and that wasn’t ALL bad !).

The photos from the reunion were not among the best Mary has ever taken, I think (without any wish to insult her ! – everyone knows I am the world’s worst photog. !); so I scanned ’em and sent ’em off to my invaluable friend Pike, up there in Finland. She did her thing, and that’s why you can see them without swearing.   {grin}

Yaaay for Pike – again ! Thank-you, you clever thing !

Addendum: how about two more photos, eh ? The first is the ’59 B&W class photo, in which you can see eleven of those in the big photo above. Test: pick ’em !   {grin}

The second is a photo of a few of us in, I THINK, ’76: whichever was the year that Stringer and I drove across the Nullarbor from Sydney to Perth to visit my mother to test-drive our new Toyota 4Runner. This time, there are sixin the color shot who are also in that big group shot. Do your best with that one, too !

On being published


Now that I’m done with the spruiking side of Atlmd, I have more time than ever to reflect upon – well, what’s gone down …

In all the talks I’ve given, I’ve been asked in the Q&A part afterwards about being published as opposed to doing the publishing oneself, and I’ve told the truth: the only difference is that it doesn’t cost the writer but the publisher.

In which case, you would think, said publisher would pull out all stops to recover outgoings …

Such is not the case – not only with me, who am the least self-effacing of clients, but with every single published writer whose work doesn’t instantly shoot to the top of the charts upon being released to the world. (And how this happens remains a mystery to me: I can only think that either the writer or the publishing company knows someone whose opinion carries weight and has ensured that it’s plastered everywhere upon the book’s release …) The enormous majority of we first-time writers are, simply, left to do our own thing as best we might.

But it’s even more negative than that in Australia.

Being up to me to try to arrange to get my book displayed within bookshops, rather than merely added to their shelves in whatever they thought was the appropriate area, I spent an unenviable time ’phoning them, all over the country. I was bold enough to ask them, too, to give me a venue for an author talk ! – more fool me. It was fairly soon obvious that no bookshop in the country had the slightest interest in even talking to me, let alone in going along with my suggestions. Bookshops don’t want to be badgered by authors: they want to (when they have to) hear from the publicity people from the publishing companies; and who could blame them ?! – that’s why there are publicity people, after all.

When I eventually realised that I was on my own, and decided to start trying to get myself accepted as a speaker in the Sydney area library circles, I found to my amazement and disgust that some libraries think as the bookshops do ! I could forgive the bookshops, because their income depends on attracting large numbers of people to come along, listen, and buy the book; but the libraries ? – they have no such excuse. Those that kid themselves that their reputations allow them only to invite famous writers to speak … well, not to put too fine a point upon it, they are delusional. And they are not doing their readers any service at all. Happily, there were many libraries with no such ludicrous ideas of their own importance, and felt that theirs matched mine.   :)

Then there were the reviewers: I approached a whole shitload of the known ones. And got nowhere. They, too, expect to be dealing with publishers’ publicity and marketing people. I was able, when sending along copies of my book to every ABC radio presenter whose show ever reviews or talks about books, to point out that I have been employed in several different areas of the ABC, in my time. Nothing interested them; and no-one could remember having received the book when I followed up by ’phone.

I was even told by some reviewers I met at Library Talks that s/he was in the process of writing up Atlmd – but nothing was ever seen. This I found a remarkable kind of lie, without anything to give it meaning.

You will, by now, think I’m a miserable whinger. Such is not my intention.

I wonder why this is the known pattern for first-time authors, all of whom have gone from the ecstatic joy of being contracted to publish their books to the utter misery of not knowing why their publishers ever made the offer. I am completely puzzled by the thought of the publishers’ outlays on the printing and distribution, followed by (apparently) a total lack of interest in even covering those outlays, let alone in making a profit.

For me, who outlaid something like $1,500 in undertaking a postgraduate degree, having my ms assessed and structurally edited AND joining a couple of writers’ organisations, and all because I wanted to present only the best possible version of my story to anyone potentially interested in it, it’s money down the drain. I don’t give a shit about that: income was never my motivation in wanting to be published. All I’ve ever sought is for people to read the book to understand what kind of man Stringer was – there aren’t too many like him.

But on the upside, you now comprehend how wonderful, thrilling, exciting, tear-jerking and utterly SUPER have been your reviews. Without them, and without the lovely comments from those still intending to read Atlmd, all would be as nought. I am in your debt forever.

Book clubs

I’ve just discovered that we have one in Pyrmont.

My experience of a book club is limited to one that I tried a few years ago, whereat I found that the opinions expressed were without exception entirely contrary to mine.

You’ll be amazed to learn that I didn’t give ’em all a spray and say as much: I merely kept my mouth shut and never went back.

If I went to this one, it would be for the porpoise of getting them to read MY book at some stage: is that simply too selfish for words ? Would I be being manipulative ?

I suspect I would.

Sighh …


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