Tag Archives: Australian author

Lest we forget

25 Apr

It’s Anzac Day, a day of sacred remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorating a bloody and blunder-ridden battle that was one of the first Australia had fought as a newly federated nation. It wasn’t glorious. It certainly wasn’t romantic. We weren’t even victorious. How typical of Australians to cling to the memory of a blue* we comprehensively lost; with our Kiwi brethren, our annual day to bash the Brits for their ANZAC_biscuitsmilitary ignorance and strategic stupidity, and to break our teeth on syrupy biscuits that, more than any other culinary tradition, proclaim our loyalty to our colonial and rural past and a way of life that most contemporary Australians have no genuine relation to.

It certainly makes for pretty movies. Mel Gibson never looked so good as he did ducking snipers and dashing across trenches in a futile effort to stop his mates going over the top.

In spite of all that cynicism and the sense sometimes that really, it’s just another excuse to stay home from work, Anzac Day is nevertheless the most important day in our national calendar. More important, certainly, than Australia Day, the purpose of which nobody seems too sure about, beyond its marking of the definitive end of the Christmas/summer break. And it’s becoming increasingly significant, as the swelling throngs of visitors to Gallipoli, the barren peninsula in Turkish Thrace where it all went wrong, and to the dawn ceremonies that take place in every city and town, attest.

dawn ceremony

There are plenty of commentators more expert than I to explain why a farcical fight a century ago is growing in fascination for Australians. I think perhaps it’s because we are increasingly uncertain of what it means to be Australian – a kind of national thrashing-about for values because we’ve let go of concepts like a fair go for everybody.

At the same time, we’re letting go of the respectful hush with which we’ve historically spoken of our war dead. We’re less ready to believe they were all heroes, although not for one moment or by one inch do we respect any less the courage, endurance and determination they carried into Anzac Cove. This article tells how the release of war archives are giving new generations the chance to know something of the Anzac ancestors they never met.

“My grandfather’s story does not fit easily with the Anzac myth. But unlike many from the older generation, my siblings and cousins are happy to look the truth of his service in the face.”

We’re also becoming more respectful of the role our indigenous peoples played in this and other wars. Around a thousand of them fought in the First World War, and returned home to the same prejudice, discrimination and lack of rights or recognition they lived with before they enlisted. As their descendants now march in Anzac Day parades in remembrance, it feels like perhaps we’re dismantling some of the walls, just a little, that should have come down long, long ago.

GallipoliSo that while the golden cinematic glow gives way to a more realistic assessment of our ANZAC legends, the real lustre of ANZAC Day remains and grows. These were real men and women serving in brutal and terrifying conditions, with next to no control over their lives or futures. They had each others’ backs; they served and sacrificed and suffered and skylarked. Those who came home came home damaged, whether or not they brought home visible wounds, and they picked up where they left off, raising families and building a country.

Individually and collectively, their stories are worth remembering.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Happy Anzac Day.

Gracie x

* a “blue” is a fight in Australian slang

Friday in Five

22 Apr

This week’s favourite thing will take a little longer than five minutes, but it’s so worth it!

sunrise

I had the very great privilege of being in the Brisbane Baroque Festival audience when Emily Cox’s Canticum Chamber Choir performed Vivaldi’s Women of the Pieta suite, which Vivaldi wrote for the Ospedale of the Pieta, a home for the care of illegitimate daughters of Venetian noblemen in Venice. These received a thorough education and superb musical training – usually funded by their (mostly anonymous) fathers – and their performances were famed throughout Europe and beyond.

It turns out Vivaldi wrote a lot of music just for these young girls, and accomplished conductor Emily Cox made sure we understood why, artfully leading her choir and orchestra of women into producing some of the finest choral music I’ve ever heard. It was breathtaking in its beauty, soaring and sweeping and perfectly set in Brisbane’s Gothic Revival Anglican Cathedral.

Sadly, this week’s performance in Brisbane wasn’t recorded – or not yet that I’ve discovered – so here instead is a recording made for the BBC some years ago. Should you have the opportunity to hear this wonderful piece live, don’t miss it!

I’d love to hear your favourite things this week! Why not drop me a line?

Have a beautiful weekend!

Gracie x

Friday in Five

15 Apr

Got five minutes? Here’s what I’ve loved this week.

Jaw-drop of the week

JudithbeheadingHolofernesA new Caravaggio! I can scarcely believe it. In my first-ever visit to the Louvre in Paris many years ago, I spent a few minutes fighting the crowds to see the Mona Lisa then wandered into the gallery next door, where I was very much more moved by Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin. Since then I’ve become a bit of a Caravaggio crack-head. So I was very excited by this report of an unknown Caravaggio discovered – aren’t they always? – in somebody’s French attic. It’s believed to be related to this painting of Judith beheading Holofernes, currently on display in Rome. Can’t wait to hear where the new discovery will end up – I do hope it becomes available for public viewing.

Pic of the week

Pippa going to the partyEagle-eyed reader and author-in-the-making, Helen from England’s Oldham region, discovered this pretty girl recently and thought she could have been purposely painted for A Case for Trust. If you’ve read the book, you can probably guess the scene! Flirty and fabulous – perfectly fitting! Thanks, Helen!

 
 
 
 

Fashion of the week

Apparently Adidas is ageless! time travel

In another fascinating discovery this week, scientists have discovered a 1500 year old Mongolian mummy, seemingly wearing Adidas boots!

 
 
 
 

Awwwww of the week

Because you were so delightfully interested in the future of our koalas (thank you!), here’s some good news on another critter, very close to my own heart. Brush-tailed rock wallabies, also known as pretty-faced wallabies (for obvious reasons!) are critically endangered in the southernmost parts of Australia, and vulnerable in the rest of their natural geographic range. I have a mother wallaby of this type who often appears in my backyard, and the last two years she’s brought a joey in her pouch with her. This is her right here.brush-tailed rock wallaby kb

Song of the week

darren percivalYou might not know him outside of Oz, but Darren Percival is a local performer who was runner-up in Australia’s first The Voice competition a few years back and has had some terrific commercial success since. The reason he’s my singer of the week, though, is because he’s one of the most generous performers I’ve seen, consistently sharing his “airtime” and visibility with up-and-coming performers. This week he kicked off a series of very affordable workshops that give a whole range of people from all walks of life the opportunity to open up their lungs and hearts and have a good sing. He’s a true “soul” performer in every sense of the word – and his music is magnificent, too. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear what you’ve loved this week! Drop me a note in the comments box? I’m always happy to share!

Gracie x

Friday in Five

8 Apr

Got five minutes? Here are the things I loved most this week.

Pic of the week

fieldoflightuluruOh my word, how glorious is this? I am madly trying to work out how I can possibly afford to get there to see this amazing Field of Light installation by Bruce Munro at iconic, sacred Uluru in Australia’s outback. I already have my big trip planned for this year, but get there I will.

Flick of the week

WeareallconnectedWatch this brilliantly crafted and intriguing little clip right to the end, for a message so pertinent, wherever you are today.

 

Book of the week

It’s been a difficult week for a number of women close to me. How to help? How to support? In the end, I gravitated to one of my favourite women in crisis: the sublime Nora Ephron. Here’s what she said to me from across the chasm:

i-feel-bad-about-my-neck-2“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”

After that, it was obvious. I bought my friends books, by Nora Ephron. Their problems are not trivial, but they are all helped by courage and humour.

Person of the week

veiledvirginSomebody I’d never heard of, but who has brought so much joy and awe to my Facebook friends this week that I thought I’d share his work here as well.

Giovanni Strazza was a 19th Century Italian sculptor working in Rome. His exquisite piece, the Veiled Virgin, carved from Carrara marble, now resides in the Presentation Convent at St John’s, Newfoundland.

Another big trip for me to add to the bucket list, because when I look at her, I can’t believe my eyes, or his talent. I want to see it up close.

 

I’ll leave you with this, my song of the week. Let me know what you’ve loved this week?

Song of the week

Happy days indeJudyandBarbed. Two of the best songstresses of all time, together, making me happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Gracie x

 

‘A Case for Trust’ is here!

25 Mar

A Case for Trust Cover
It’s such a thrill to have the chance to bring this book into the world.

A long, lazy Easter weekend coming up?

22 Mar

For me, the long Easter weekend is the perfect escape for reading! If you’re looking for something new, may I humbly suggest these two romances?

Hearts on Hold is still on sale (for just a few more days) and has had some lovely reader reviews…

9780857990594_Hearts On Hold-1“…beautifully written, a story of love, grief and acceptance, and finding the one that can make you feel whole again. First time author Ms. MacGregor is a magical storyteller.” 

“Gracie Macgregor has written Hearts On Hold beautifully with good research and likable characters. Her description of the smallest detail and her insight does not fail to move you.” 

“This is a smart, sexy, funny and suspenseful tale. Oh, there’s romance alright – but it’s at the heart of a multi-layered story filled with mystery, foul play, heartache, history, art and humour.” 

 

A Case for Trust Cover

And A Case for Trust is available for pre-order to arrive on your e-reader this Friday, 25 March.

It’s early days, but some four-star ratings are appearing from the advance readers, so here’s hoping you might enjoy it, too!

You can read an excerpt here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both are available through all the normal e-book sellers.

Whatever you get up to this weekend, bring on the chocolate and stay safe and joyful! Happy Easter!

Gracie x

 

On sale! (Shameless plug!)

9 Mar

xlendi_bay_final

Hearts on Hold, my first novel with Escape Publishing, is currently on sale for just 99 cents on Amazon and iTunes, in advance of the release of my next novel, A Case for Trust, which will be available from 25 March (although you can pre-order it right now at a great discount, too!).

All the usual ebook sellers have it, so if you’re in the mood for a little suspense and plenty of romance, why don’t you try it? And please let me know what you think!

With love and thanks,

Gracie x

A sad refrain

5 Mar

 

Pat-Conroy-The-Prince-of-TidesWe’re losing too many great writers, too many great words. Vale, Pat Conroy, Prince of Tides.

Friday in Five: Angsty edition

4 Mar

I’ve been in a reflective, melancholic mood this week. Here are a few of the things I’ve loved. If they comfort you too, feel free to share!

tiny beautiful thingsBook of the week

Before there was Wild there was Sugar. Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild, was the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, and the person thousands turned to for advice. Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar is perfectly titled. Dip into it, be charmed by it, be inspired by it. A chapter a day is a wonderful antidote to so many of life’s ills. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Song of the week

Blacklab-1Paul Durham and Andy Ellis are the core members of Californian indie rock band Black Lab. Their 2007 album, Passion Leaves a Trace, is my go-to collection for dosing an attack of the blues. This Night has perfectly suited my mood every night this week.

 

 

Pic of the week

Nathan McNeil

The Canon Light Awards 2015 include some breathtaking images. My favourite is this one by Set in Stone Photography photographer Nathan McNeil, titled The Courage to Let Go.

 

Flick of the weekWho would you most like to have dinner with

Who would you most like to have dinner with? Not a commercial entertainment film at all, but full of emotion and heart. Two-tissue warning!

 

 

Person of the week

KimmelJimmy Kimmel. Not usually a guy I like to spend a lot of time with, but this week his clips have appeared in my various feeds at strange and serendipitous times. Take this one for example. Batman. And Superman. Henry Cavill. Ben Affleck. Even Matt Damon drops in. For making me laugh when I was quite determined life was no laughing matter, my person of the week is Kimmel. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear about your favourite things this week. Drop me a note?

Gracie x

Friday in Five

19 Feb

Here are five things I loved this week. Feel free to share the love!

Life After LifeBook of the week

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.

I didn’t even think I liked it… but I can’t stop thinking and talking about it!

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?”

It’s a fascinating premise, and Atkinson’s development of characters and circumstances is masterful.

 

Song of the week

jacques-brel-cigaretteMy French fascination continues unabated. With Ne Me Quitte Pas, Jacques Brel makes me weep in places I didn’t know held tears.

 

 

 

Picture of the week

GWvisual

Gravitational waves. It turns out Einstein was right. Again.

I rarely can comprehend the magnitude or importance of the discoveries coming out of NASA, but regardless, I find the space discovery absurdly romantic.

And thank heavens we have IFLScience to make the wonders of the universe real and relevant and understandable, even for romance writers.

 

Flick of the week

28-burry-bale.w529.h352The Big Short should be compulsory viewing for every adult, every year, until we stop being so stupid. Michael Burry, whose role in exposing the fraud that destroyed the global economy and made millions homeless, jobless and hopeless is played so ably by Christian Bale, has abandoned his corporate work and is now investing privately. And what calamity is he betting on now? Water shortages. If that doesn’t frighten you, I don’t know what will.

And finally, person of the week?

The irrepressible Tim Minchin, who says in song what so many people have been thinking: it’s time for Cardinal George Pell to front Australia’s child sex abuse royal commission in person. tim minchinBut since the mountain won’t come to Muhammad (or Melbourne, at least), Minchin is putting the proceeds from his new recording towards the expenses of Ballarat survivors travelling to Rome to hear the Cardinal’s testimony there.

 

Hope you’ve found lots to love in your own life this week. Happy weekend!

Gracie x

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