Paula Stevenson Writer

 

My Writing Life.

This is an image of writer Kate Llewellyn.

She was the one who inspired my writing life. She has just received an Order of Australia for services to literature.

Although I had degrees in literature and had been an English teacher, I had never really thought that I should write seriously.

Then one year I thought…this is it. The year for me. just ME.

So I enrolled in a Continuing Education course at Sydney Uni, my old alma mater. It was a Creative Writing course with writer Kate Llewellyn, pictured above.

The group comprised men and women from all walks of life all trying to find joy in words and to fire up their imagination.

Kate took us through various exercises and I remember thinking, where do they get this stuff from? Do they just make it up? I was stuck in relating real life memories and it took a while till I could free my imagination and tell tall tales!

I took a few of Kate’s courses , then  drifted into freelance journalism writing for many magazines and papers. But in my spare time I was scribbling and joining a writers group, sharing tales of rural life.

When my grandchildren were born, I rediscovered kid lit and the joy of Picture Books.

I created a Picture book for each of them, with photos not illustrations and I researched this world thoroughly following awards and  winners,  attending conferences, learning how to pitch and present a manuscript.

Then came years of submitting and editing and finally my debut Picture Book, ‘Buster follows his Nose,’ was published  by Little Pink Dog Books.

It has brought me great joy and a sense of  pride as I travel around schools and libraries and share my story with children.

Thanks Kate and all the other writers who have inspired and encouraged me over the years..

The Changing Face of Yoga…it’s all about balance!

When we made the big move to the country from the city more than 20 years ago, I had the occasional doubts.

We moved to a somewhat remote property 45 kms from town and with no neighbours in sight.

Luckily one of the first discoveries I made, was the existence of a yoga class in a town called Murrurundi. It was 80kms away.

The yoga was based in the grounds of an old Catholic convent in Murrurundi. This meant a round trip for me of about 160 kms but I have kept it up for all this time, delighting in driving along the highway and coming to the small town which nestles at the base of the Liverpool Ranges.

This first class was run by Andre and Lisa, who also ran retreats, boot camps and trained teachers in their methods. And for a few years it continued until the teachers moved on maybe missing the sea and the coast.

Through yoga I met quite a few locals and from them I was introduced to other community groups like a writing group and a book club. The book club has been active and stable for over 50 years and our writing group for more than 20 years. So with this move I had time to balance my passions and find time to write, read and exercise!

As Lisa and Andre moved on and the Convent was sold, there were replacements and other venues, like the RSL hall or the Bowling Club.

We had Harry, then Rick followed by the lovely Deb and Tess. Deb lived up on the hill and walked barefooted through the paddocks to our new venue, St Paul’s Anglican Church hall. At least we became ecumenical! We presented Deb with a bike complete with basket, as a farewell gift as she moved on.

Covid came and shut us down, even our subdued chanting was not allowed. But our new teacher, John became adept at mopping the hall and we wore masks when required.

Then John decided to indulge his travelling urge and we bid him farewell with the gift of a bottle of the local gin!

Luckily there was a local to take his place. Glenda was trained in Japanese yoga. Most of us knew her well as she also belonged to my writing group and the Book Club. It’s a small town!

We have all adapted to this new regime although we are quite rigid in the places where we put our mats in the hall. I do like to lie near a patch of sun as the hall can be very chilly in any season. And others dislike the air flow of the air conditioners.

We have remained a core group of about 12 or 13 each Friday and many are locals who live nearby and arrive at the hall on foot or by pushbike.  A few of us travel the long distance each week, grateful that such a class exists in the country. Of course the majority are women, but a few brave males turn up some weeks. As new people come to live in this quaint town, we have acquired some new members and also lost a few.

It is a fact of life, that as farmers age, they move on, often to the nearest town with good facilities and shops.

My good friend Sal, who often lies down next to me in the class, is doing just that and she will be leaving the yoga group as it will be too far to travel. I will miss the sight of her tugging on her special yoga socks to keep all her toes warm.

So the dynamics will change , someone else will lie down on their mat beside me and the morning tea gathering at the local Art Gallery after yoga,  will be a bit smaller.

But as we age and our practice changes as we deal with dodgy knees and hips, we accept the changes as a challenge and chant OMMMM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patchwork

Not a blog about writing…but creating with fabric.

Many years ago I took up patchwork, creating blocks by hand, piecing them, binding then hand quilting.

It took a long time to complete each quilt but I was able to carry blocks around with me and keep sewing while waiting to pick up kids from sport etc.

My dear mother in law also took up the art in her retirement and made all the grand kids quilts, sewing by machine.

I treasure all these quilts and they provide great memories.

I recently visited an old friend who is an accomplished quilter.

She has her quilts everywhere, and the unfinished ones hang on a wall awaiting the final quilting.

So it inspired me to get all my quilts out of the drawer and display

I have some of them in an old boot rack in my home, which has a collection of shoe lasts on the top shelves.

But underneath I have folded many of my quilts, including an Amish design and one with appliqued wild flowers.

So as I stitch my words together and try to create a new manuscript, I think of those times and how patient and determined I was to complete the creation.

A good lesson in these busy times.

 

Buster’s Journey So Far

‘Buster Follows his Nose’ has been made Book of the Moment at my local bookstore, Huntabook Scone!

 

Then he was off to Sydney, visiting a number of bookshops, where he met lots of great booksellers, who were very welcoming.

He was discovered on the shelves at Novella in Wahroonga, then at Dymocks in Chatswood..

Then he was found at Dymocks at Neutral Bay and chatted with fellow author Deb Tidball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off to Crows Nest where his cover was blessed with a special autographed banner by the lovely staff at Constant Reader.

 

 

Then a trip to Berkelouw Bookshop at Hornsby where he not only met the wonderful Ann but also ran into Sara Acton signing copies of Mr Walker, written by Jess Black

 

Now that school is back, Buster has some bookings at Scone Public, Tamworth Library and Scone Library.

He loved his time at Blandford Public at the end of last term , a small school with a great history.

Launch of ‘Buster Follows His Nose’

At last the day has come!

My debut Picture Book, ‘Buster Follows his Nose’ was released into the wild and I had a book launch in my local town Scone at my local bookstore Huntabook.

I had been preparing for some time, so I had my appropriately themed jumper with dogs, ready to wear and a large banner featuring the cover of the book.

Ian and his staff had the shop open and ready for us and we welcomed many from the local area and from Sydney. The illustrator Jenny Hale came up from Sydney with her husband and stayed with us at our farm then came with us to the launch, so we could share the excitement. Members of the writing group I have belonged to for more than 20 years came along for support and it was great to see so many familiar smiling faces. They even helped with the catering and one clever cook made some fluffy scones with jam and cream…totally appropriate for Scone!

I talked about my journey to publication, and the need for persistence and dedication and Jenny explained some of the processes involved in the creation of her wonderful illustrations.

I donated copies to local schools and libraries and I am getting ready to do some presentations at Scone Library and at local schools.

Buster is on his way!

 

 

Creeks Up!

My driveway looks like a river as the water rushes to the creek below.

The family of roos stand quietly waiting for me to pass. The creek is up, not running too fast but it is impassable.Never mind, nowhere to go today.

The creek crossing is looking a bit vulnerable with water up to the logs and wire. We will probably need to do some repairs again.

My morning walk has to be abbreviated as I can’t get across the first gully which is roaring and I should have worn my wellies!

 

But it is minor compared to the scenes from further north at Lismore.

And we always have our spirits lifted when our rain gauge spills over!

 

Eagles Tales

We are blessed in having quite a few wedge tailed eagles soaring in the skies above our property.

Of course the recent mouse plague has been a god send for them!

After the latest flood, Dave 1 and 2 were inspecting the destroyed creek crossings, when they spotted an eagle, perched low on a tree on one side of the creek. It just sat and watched them.

The next day we went down the road to look for it. I spotted what seemed to be a log on a rock.

It was the eagle, quite small really and with dark feathers, well camouflaged.

When we approached it hopped away in an ungainly fashion and flapped its wings ineffectively. It must be injured we decided.

We rang Wild Life Aid and were helped by a lovely lady who searched out raptor experts. One was Ben from our local vet so I chatted to him and told him the location.

He came out and went to the site with my husband, Dave 1. They approached quietly and threw an old towel over it so they could handle it.

Off it went to the vet clinic at Satur, to be x-rayed.

Ben rang later to report that it had a chronic break in a joint and they were seeking advice from the Dubbo Zoo.

Sadly the advice was that it could not be mended and the mighty bird was euthanised.

 

 

We were reminded we had a happier tale from a few years ago.

Dave 2 found an eagle on the road on the way to work and lifted it into the back of his ute.

It sat there till lunch time, then we spotted it lifting its head up. It was very much alive! Then it hopped onto the tray and jumped down.

We caught it in an old towel and secured it in a box.

The Wires team came out and took the bird off for any treatment.

A few weeks later they rang to say the eagle was ready for release and asked where it had been found.

We drove down to Kars Springs Rd and with camera ready, watched it being released.

It soared into the sky and then to a nearby tree where we had often seen other eagles.

Now we see a pair in the sky checking out the paddocks below and circling back to their eerie.

It’s a great sight.

A Walk in the Wild

A few days ago we drove out to a back paddock as David had noticed a tree with an unusual mass of blossom.

It stood near a dry creek bed, Rocky Creek, an old tree with bunches of pink and white fuzzy flowers hanging down with fine drooping leaves. We brought some back and scanned the reference books.

 

 

 

 

 

It was a Yellow Box tree, Eucalyptus melliodora , meaning honey scented and we could smell the nectar in the air. There used to be large stands of these but now they are threatened. They are crucial to the long term survival of a number of birds like the superb parrot and the regent honey eater.

In the adjacent paddock, we noticed a mound with plants and flowers; they were wild iris, these ones with blue flowers. We had found a mound before and I had transplanted a lot to my garden, where they now flower well, having changed from white to purple. I have also gifted some plants to friends elsewhere and they are growing happily in Maldon.


These patches of plants must have been the site of huts many years ago when casual workers lived near the creek and springs, without electricity and helped out on the property maybe eliminating the plague of rabbits. We have some paddocks named after these families: Haywards, Keys and Doolans.

This spring, we have noticed swarms of bees in the paddocks and these Yellow Box and later flowering White Box, will provide a great source of food as well as being a patch of beauty in the wild.

 

 

 

 

Review of ‘I Wonder’, by Allison Paterson, Illustrations  by Nancy Bevington; published by Big Sky Publishing 2021.

This review is hosted by www.justkidslit.com/blog and Books on Tour Marketing.

This delightful picture book has a serious message. It explores the theme of the pollution of our oceans and clearly explains to kids what simple steps they can take to protect the land and sea.

The central character is a small red toy boat which is left behind on the beach and as the days go by, it worries that it has been totally forgotten. It is joined by others, a chip packet, a take away cup, and a plastic bag and these items are blown into the sea. The little red boat ponders the idea that these objects are rubbish, litter or waste and so he has to consider his own state.

Luckily he is picked up by a child, repaired and repainted so he can resume his love of the beach and bobbing about in the water.

The illustrations are quite lovely with soft pastels and many full page images. At the end of the story there are two pages with issues to discuss with others.

One is ‘What steps can you take?’, such as not leaving rubbish but using the bins and re cycling broken things. The other asks a series of questions. Did you know it takes years for plastics to break down? Did you know thousands of marine creatures die each year from pollution?

This picture book provides a new perspective on recycling efforts and relates to the everyday experience of many children as they play on our beautiful beaches in Australia.

September 1st…Wattle Day

When I was a kid, my family went for a short holiday to the Southern Highlands, and we stayed in an old hotel. One night was set down as a fancy dress competition and parade and some families , who had been before, had brought costumes with them.

We had to be inventive.

I wore green shorts and top and mum pinned swathes of wattle over me. I carried a sign that said ‘Wattle I wear‘. I thought it was funny but I didn’t win.

Now in the country we celebrate Wattle Day often. Acacias are native to Australia and the Pacific Islands are are a fitting emblem. The common name of wattle seems to be of Old English derivation relating to the wattle stems used to weave and form fences, walls and roofs.

 

 

In August the Cootamundra wattles in our woodlot are covered in flowers and they last for ages. Aboriginal used to harvest the seed and grind them into flour or use them to bake a cake. You can now buy such wattle seeds from bush food companies, like @melbournebushfoods.

In our paddocks, there are yellow wattles springing up everywhere providing nectar for the bees and near the road leading from Scone, at Owens Gap, the land is dotted with the same variety, highlighting the hills.

I was drawn to a vibrant plant and stopped to take an image. It was a large plant, with huge caterpillar like flower heads and strappy leaves, a Sydney Golden wattle, a bit out of its territory. But just in time for Sept 1st.

We have two other varieties in our garden, a longifolia and buxifolia, so as Spring races in, we always have bright patches of colour and the air is filled with their sweet perfume and the constant hum of the bees.