It's Officially Launched

Web of Lies was launched last Sunday just in time for Christmas. Great gifts for grandmothers, mothers, daughters, nieces and sisters, or that special friend in your life.

Web of lies...hope for tomorrow

Web of lies...hope for tomorrow

Here's the blurb:

High school sweethearts, Stephanie and Lachlan are torn apart by circumstance, bad decisions and a web of lies, leaving an unknown future for their son, Ryan.

Eight years later they reconnect, but the time apart has changed them. The family had made decisions based on lies and deceit and now must find a way to either reveal the truth or live with their mistakes. On the surface their arrangements seem flawless, but dig deeper, and the truth is not as it appears.

Lachlan and Stephanie are forced to confront the consequences of their actions and the entire family is compelled to reveal the truth, find forgiveness, and renew loving one another. but the hardest decision is still to come.

If you've been following my blog tour, thank you!

Here is where I'm blogging in the lead up to Christmas:

3rd December:  http://laussieswritingblog.blogspot.com.au/

4th December:  http://ishmarind.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/author-laura-oconnell-speaks-about-her.html?showComment=1354576020540

10th December:  http://nas-dean.blogspot.com.au/

10th December:  http://julietmadison.wordpress.com/

11th December:  http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com.au/

12th December: http://freshfiction.com/

19th December:   http://romancebookhaven.blogspot.com.au/

When you've read the book, I'd love to hear your comments, so don't be shy, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page. Thanks!

Jigsaw Puzzles and Writing

A Christian Riese Lassen Puzzle

A Christian Riese Lassen Puzzle

Did you know there's a lot of similarities between doing a jigsaw puzzle and writing a book?

Several years ago, I completed a jigsaw puzzle of an orchestra. It was all musical instruments, bald heads and red noses. It was a challenge and it was fun. I worked the jigsaw to keep my mind quiet and focused during an extremely busy time in my life. Putting all the pieces together helped in reducing stress when I felt my life was out of control.

I also found the shapes, splashes of colour and the slotting together of all those shapes and colours aided my creativity as I planned my manuscript. Ideas for my work come to me at different times and places. I jot them down on loose pieces of paper or in my trusty notebook with its worn, grubby edges. When I'm ready to start a new writing project, I have my puzzle pieces to hand, ie., the research content, characters, plot ideas, and setting. I sort and swap, change and rearrange all these elements together to make the plot of my new novel. I approach my jigsaws in the same way. I paddle my fingers through all the pieces, searching for all the straight edges and when that outline is finished, I start filling in the middle.

While I'm writing and puzzling, I have my earphones on and listen to my favourite musician, James Andrew Black. These two activities keep me focused and in the world I've created until the work is done. An added bonus is being able to rest the eyes on colour and shape, which is a great relief after looking at black and white text for extended periods.

Recently, I understood why the travelling around Australia exercise sabotaged my writing. I had no jigsaw puzzle time while writing Web of Lies and this project took much longer than I'd planned. Now, I'm one hundred percent focused on my new novel, Broken Dreams, working title. My new jigsaw, of two swimming dolphins, a Christian Riese Lassen puzzle, is laid out on my dining room table, ready for me to place random pieces whenever I get up and walk around to release the tension in my shoulders from hunching over the keyboard. By the time I finish writing my first draft, the puzzle is done, too. It's also a great visual tool to monitor the progress on my novel, as the puzzle comes together so does my manuscript.

How about you, do you have an activity you do while you're writing or performing your work?


New Release - Web of Lies Cover

All the hard work of writing has been done. All the hard work of designing the cover has been done. Web of Lies will be released on 1st December, 2012. Throughout the next few months I'll share with you my inspiration for writing this novel.

Hope for tomorrow and begin the change you desire.

Hope for tomorrow and begin the change you desire.

For the Children...

As I've been travelling this vast country during recent months, I've thought about the freedom and choice of lifestyles we have in Australia. I imagined what it must be like to live in a place where tomorrow doesn't have the certainty we take for granted.

I wandered in my imagination to a country that had been destroyed by war. Buildings razed beyond recognition. People huddling against the rubble with a sheet of cloth protecting them from the weather. No toilet, no water, no bed, no kitchen, a couple of pots and pans, if I was lucky.

I became one of those people....

All my possessions gathered at my feet, my toddler huddled close to me for security, trusting me I will provide a meal for her. I know her belly is empty. I see hunger in her eyes. 'Please Mummy can I have something to eat?'

I pull her closer. Her skin is cold. The rag that covers her body offers no warmth.

My stomach aches. We haven't had food for over a week. My energy is low and all I want to do is lean against this wall of rubble and slip away from the poverty, but I can't. I have six children depending on me. The eldest, a daughter, who is ten years old, rummages in the bins for scraps of food, while the youngest sucks on my empty breast hoping for a drop of nourishment. But there is none.

Another daughter dawdles toward our home, searching for food her eyes full of despair. No shoes, a ragged dress that is held on her shoulder by a mere scrap of fabric, her skin caked in dirt. A son carries a small bucket. Brown liquid splashes over the sides. He slows so the liquid will be contained. There is water for us to drink...maybe. My other sons, six and eight come back empty handed. All we have for today is a cup of water each to drink. The water is dirty, but it is all we have.

The smell of death is all around me. Anguished cries of desperation reach into the human parts of me. I want to do so much for them, but I have nothing to give. I'm struggling to keep myself and my family alive.

A cold wind blows and fills my nostrils with a mixture of human excrement, decaying meat and sulphur fumes. Death is coming, too quickly. I draw my children closer. I have to get my family out of this wasteland. I must do something before the last of my energy leaves me. Bombs explode in the distance. I am powerless, but I have hope. Tomorrow will be a new day, but each tomorrow becomes the same as yesterday.

Tomorrow has come and with it comes a ray of hope. A man approaches me and says he can help us leave the torment tomorrow. He promises an education for my kids, a home, employment and a future. 'I have no money', I say. 'Why do you want to help this woman who can't pay?'

'I have a way to get you to Australia. You can pay when you find your future in Australia. I will keep a record.'

Is this my new hope? Dare I believe it to be true? What choice do I have? None. Staying means certain death for me and my children. I see others around me packing their meagre possessions. They are in search of hope and a future, just like me. I know nothing about Australia, but perhaps it is good there.

For the children I will do anything...

This is what I imagine the life of a refugee is like before they come to Australia. How can we deny these desperate people entry to our country when all they want is an opportunity to have a little of what we have?

Daring To Dream Again ...

King Lake, Victoria

King Lake, Victoria

As I hear about the flooding in Queensland I'm reminded it has been two years since the raging bushfires swept through Kinglake in Victoria destroying everything in their path. These catastrophic events are part of the Australian life but that doesn't make it any easier for those who are caught in the middle of the events losing family and friends and everything they own, including their treasured family history in the forms of photographs and mementoes.

Both of these events have seen me in tears as I watched the destruction happening before my eyes on the television. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for the people who are experiencing every terrifying second that unfolds.

Last week we stayed in The Gum Trees Camping Area at Kinglake National Park, 65 kilometres north of Melbourne. It was a welcome break after the hectic pace of Christmas in Melbourne: a time to reflect on 2010 and what I'm expecting for 2011; and also time to think about the lives of the people who are still living in Kinglake two years on.

A walk down the main street of Kinglake showed me a close knit community brought together by life threatening events. Groups of people sat together in fellowship. The storekeepers were friendly and open to us strangers welcoming us into their community. I felt encouraged by these people who'd been through so much but could be so open and friendly to us.

Out of the town we drove along the quiet, eerie roads that had been devastated by the fire. Here we felt the oppression of lives lost and dreams that might have been. I couldn't stop the tears that rained down my face when I saw the letterboxes standing at the front of the properties that no longer held a house, and the precious lives that used to live within the homes. We drove this road for no more than a few minutes when I asked Frank to turn around. I couldn't take any more of the sadness that had crept upon my spirit. Some of the people had died and some had left to live elsewhere. Who could blame them when their past lives had been swept away from them?

Kinglake is a place of dreams damaged and dreams lost, but it's also a place of faith and hope for those who decided to stay and rebuild their lives. Hope can be seen in their faces, their new homes and the reaching out to strangers. I've decided the people of Kinglake, both those who decided to stay, and those who have moved on are courageous. Neither of these groups of people are right or wrong. They've made a choice based on their own abilities and talents, personal history and dreams. Well done to all of you!

In the forest, we saw the charred trunks of the trees standing like sentinels, a reminder of the destruction, but our hearts were filled with gladness when we saw the new growth emerging from the forest floor. Most of it was about a metre high and there was evidence of wombats and echidnas, and an increasing number of birds seemed to come in daily.

The bush was regenerating. The trunks of the burned trees had new shoots coming out of their blackened trunks seeking the food they need for survival. Soon the lower shoots will fall away as the trees become strong and lose their charred skins and grow new high branches that will give them the nourishment they need.

There is new life happening in Kinglake and the surrounding areas that were burned in February 2009. For the flooded areas of Central and Southern Queensland new shoots of hope will come for you, too. But first, I encourage you to allow yourself to feel the pain of your losses, and grieve for them, and when the time is right for you, take hold of all the courage you can muster and step out in faith. Soon hope will come to you, so that you, too, can dare to dream of a future again.