Renee Conoulty

Books

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Every Day in May

Hey Everyone!

Last month, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. I focussed on word count, aiming to add another 10,000 words to my work in progress.

If I could write 333 words every day, I'd hit my goal. Most days, I wrote 300 to 500 words. Some days I wrote many more but other days I wrote nothing. I woke up on April 30 with 2,300 words left to reach my goal, and the horrible realisation that April only had 30 days, not 31.

In all the fiction writing I've done, my best day was 1,300 words. Could I beat that? Could I beat it by 1,000 words?

Challenge accepted.

I never found that state of flow I was searching for but little by little, the words added up. I dictated in the car on the school run. I wrote while eating lunch. I did a writing sprint with a friend. I snuck away from the dinner party I was hosting to hide in the bedroom and write. I sat up until midnight and I made it.

I feel inspired. I want to keep the momentum going but I don't want that much pressure hanging over me. After missing a few days of writing, I found it took longer to get back into the story. I had to read over what I'd written and think about what was to come.

This month, I'm challenging myself to write something every day. It could be 1,000 words. It could be one. As long as I add something to my story.

Will you join me?

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Sing Loud, Sing Proud

Hey Everyone,

I'm not what you'd classify as an 'early morning person'. Not even a 'late morning person'. Afternoons are more my thing. Or nights. But not too late. I like my sleep as well. 

Today my alarm went off at 4.30am and I got out of bed without complaint. Okay, so maybe a little whinge. But I got up, got dressed and joined my fellow Australian Military Wives Choir friends to sing at the Anzac Day Dawn Service at RAAF Base Wagga (that's Royal Australian Air Force, if you're not all up on your Aussie military acronyms).

After the service, I was inspired to write the Anzac Day scene in my next novel and I'd like to share it with you now. The novel has the working title Sing From Our Hearts and is a women's fiction story told from the points of view of three military spouses (including Megan, below) and set in Wagga. It's still a work in progress and this scene is a first draft.

Photo taken before dawn service at RAAF Base Wagga began April 25, 2019.
Choir microphones, Australian flag and cenotaph in the foreground.
Deis, paved path and large gum tree in the background.

Sing Loud, Sing Proud

 Megan followed a group of uniformed recruits along the dimly-lit path from the carpark back through the front gate. Her military spouse ID had come in handy this morning, allowing her to park on the base rather than near the local shops, the next street over.

She accepted a copy of the order of service from the airman greeting the Anzac day dawn service attendees. The recruits turned left into the staging area while Megan continued up the path towards the RAAF Wagga Heritage Centre housed in the original front gate building.

Angie waved from the back door of the small museum. Megan crossed the exit lane to join the rest of the choir members to warm up. Spotlights shone on various displays around the room. Maybe she'd come back another day and have a proper look.

"I know this is a solemn occasion but make sure you smile while you're singing. Smiling will lift your soft palate and help you hit those high notes." Angie smiled encouragingly. "And think about landing on the notes rather than reaching for them. It might sound silly but mindset helps."

It wasn't the high notes Megan was worried about. It was all those silhouettes gathered under the gum trees she'd passed earlier.

Danielle wasn't here to support her. Her presence, along with the rest of the trainees, had been required at another service.

Strangers were all she had. People she'd never met listening to her. The only consolation was they'd hardly be able to see her, dressed in black in the pre-dawn light.

Her boots clicked on the paved path as Megan followed the other women past the deis to the microphones set up to the far side. The Australian flag hung at half-mast to their left and the bagpipe player stood solemnly behind them. Gathering in a semicircle around the two microphones, they waited for the service to start.

Papers rustled in nervous hands, feet shuffled in the grass, magpies warbled their morning song and a lone kookaburra laughed from high above them. Megan's eyes adjusted to the dim light, though the crowd remained faceless.

The service began. The catafalque party slow-marched past, close enough to touch, and took their places at the corners of the cenotaph, eyes downcast and rifles at rest.

A prayer, a reading, an address, then it was time to sing. The women shuffled closer to the microphone as the Australian Military Wives Choir were introduced.

The knot in Megan's stomach tightened. What was she doing? This whole thing seemed surreal. She'd never been to a church service before let alone a dawn service. She hated public speaking. But she'd run out of time to panic.

The last four bars of the now-familiar hymn boomed through the large speakers as an introduction. The opening note swelled inside her and Megan's voice blended seamlessly with the other women.

"Abide with me, fast falls the eventide."

She glanced down at her torch-lit order of service, double checking the words for the next line.

"The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide."

Megan's senses sharpened as she became fully present in the moment. The subtle lightening of the sky as the sun neared the horizon chasing away her fear.

"When other helpers fail and comforts flee."

The knot in her stomach unravelled.

"Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me."

The final verse ended, the sound echoing for a moment. Megan couldn't keep the grin from her face. Her whole body hummed.

She glanced behind her as the piper began to play. She'd always thought bagpipes sounded like a cat in considerable pain but this was something else. The high reedy sound combined with the deeper droning bass sent a shiver down her spine. She turned back to face the cenotaph and watched as wreaths of colourful flowers and sprigs of rosemary were laid at its base.

Her voice joined with those of the crowd as they responded to the ode. "We will remember them. Lest we forget."

The haunting notes of the last post filled the air. Megan's mind wandered to the shores of Gallipoli. The sacrifices made so that she could be here, in this moment, in this life.

A babies cry broke the minute of silence, a reminder of why the war was fought rather than an interruption.

The bugle began, again. Rousing her back into the present. A cue to prepare for the next song.

The Australian National Anthem. The warmth of pride filled her as she sang, loud and proud.

She sang from her heart.

She sang for her heart.


The representatives of the Wagga branch of the Australian Military Wives Choir who were available to sing at the dawn service on Anzac day 2019
Left to right: Bec (the choir director), Angie (whose name I stole for my story), Me and Emma (who I'll be sure to work into a future story...)
We sang loud and proud today - thanks ladies

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Aussie Rules

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to welcome Mel A. Rowe back to my blog to have a chat about one of Australia's most popular sports. The first official game of the season is kicking off today. Over to you, Mel.

Aussie Rules played Territorian Style

Because I wrote a Sports Romance about Football, also known as Footy, or Aussie Rules, I thought I’d better explain the game of many names. Officially, it is known as AFL (Australian Football League) that is an internationally-recognised Australian sport many enjoy and play during Winter…

Except in the Top End of Australia. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Seven Sweet Kisses for Valentine's Day

Hey Everyone!

Happy Valentines Day! To celebrate, here's a sweet kiss, or seven. 

My publisher, Kindred Ink Press, has a collection of sweet short stories available for free on their website. The first story in the collection is one of mine, the other six stories are written by other Kindred Ink Press authors.

Kindred Kisses Volume 1

From prequels to sequels to deleted scenes, we’ve got seven short stories to get you hooked and keep you coming back for more.

Cheek to Cheek by Renee Conoulty

Nadiene just lost her swing dance partner—and long-term crush—to another woman. Defeated, she sets out on a search for a replacement dance partner, not expecting anything that comes next.

Cheek to Cheek is a mini sequel to Don’t Mean a Thing, where we first meet Nadiene. Grab your copy today!

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Furiously Swinging Through Life

Hey Everyone!

Over the past twelve months, I've been participating in the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly Furious Fiction competition. You can find out more about the competition here - https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/

I decided to add another level to the challenge so as well as the official prompts, I worked a reference to swing dancing into each story. I'm collating the stories into a themed collection titled Swinging Through Life. Here's the blurb...


Swinging Through Life: Flash Fiction Collection

The dance of life – one step forward, one step back.

Whether they lead or follow, the characters from these twelve tiny tales will dance through your heart. Will innocent Dulcie be caught in a seedy speakeasy? Can ambitious Kate get the attention she desires? Does swing dancing always lead to romancing?

If you like stories you can read before your coffee goes cold, you'll love this flash fiction collection. Grab your copy of Swinging Through Life and jazz up your reading list today.


And here's the cover... You'll have to work a bit harder for this one.