What have I done all year?

My husband laughed at me last week when I complained that it was so warm that it could almost be spring. ‘My Love,’ Shane said (he always calls me that). ‘It’s September. It is spring.”

As one gets older, the years fly by quicker but I’ve felt like I’ve been in a vacuum/rollercoaster in 2013. For those who only hear my news via this website, I wanted to share my big happenings of 2013.

I started the year working on and polishing the final draft of The Blood She Betrayed, before I sent it back to my Publisher and her red ink, but on January 26, my coastal hometown of Bargara was hit by six tornadoes. Relentless rain from ex-Cyclone Oswald that same weekend brought the biggest floods to our city of Bundaberg more than 120 years.

Flooded Bundaberg, 2013. Photo: Chris Hadfield

Thousands of people were evacuated and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged (including 70 shops). Our shopping centre had to be closed for four months for repairs. Homelessness and unemployment hit our city and we all helped pick up the pieces and rebuild, even if it was in small ways. PS: A big thank you to astronaut Chris Hadfield, who took this photo of the Bundaberg floods from the International Space Station and shared it on Twitter. Gotta love an astronaut.

Dark Dangerous Delicious

After breaking my left leg (a full tibia plateau that needed surgery, a plate and 16 screws) last year, I thought I’d be safe from hospitals this year but I broke my right patella on April 30. I had to hobble around on crutches, my leg in a straight brace, for three months. I presented two workshops at this year’s WriteFest. Here I am with my Dark, Dangerous, Delicious participants – they were awesome! (Can you tell I’m sitting in a wheelchair?)

Vanessa Marsh & Cheryse Durrant

APN Journalist of the Year Vanessa Marsh interviewed me for an article in the Bundaberg NewsMail’s Weekend magazine to announce the upcoming launch of my novel, The Blood She Betrayed. I was delighted that Vanessa was chosen to do the interview because we used to work at the NewsMail together and I’ve taken a keen interest in her career ever since. It was an ego-tripping experience talking about myself and my book for an hour – I remembered when I was younger and nobody wanted to hear me talk about my stories. The interview was extra special because my parents were staying with me at the time and Dad added his two cents 🙂

Cheryse Durrant with one of her senior students

The floods and a broken kneecap prevented me teaching writing classes at the library for six months but we revived the Creative Dragons classes in Term 3 and had a ball. Here I am with Michael, who writes sci fi military novels.


The NewsMail‘s highly anticipated Bundaberg & The Four Elements book (compiled and written by myself under my real-life persona last year) was launched in August. Fantasy author Louise Cusack and I had visited Bundaberg Dymocks that morning to give them chocolates on National Booksellers Day. We nipped across the road so Lou could buy a copy of my 216-page Elements book and customers were queuing to buy copies. When they found out I’d written this book, I ended up being asked to sign my name on books at the counter. Naturally, this was all good practice for my upcoming The Blood She Betrayed book launch!

Laree & Cher

Bundy Writers friend Laree Chapman and I got to feel a Harley between our legs when we attended the ReIGNITE seminars to regenerate business growth in Bundaberg after the floods.

Scamp 40th birthday

Finally, I saw in a major birthday this year but didn’t have time to celebrate because I was preparing for the book launch. Here’s my cat Scamp, trying to decide if she should eat my birthday figs and chocolate chip cookies. Shane and I also celebrate 10 years of marriage this month. Again, I’ll probably spend more time with The Blood She Betrayed than my husband but that’s okay. He loves me and he’s my Muse 🙂

That was it for the first eight months of the year and now I’m looking forward to GenreCon in October when Clan Destine will release the physical book. Launching a debut novel has been a steep learning curve for me, but I’m hoping the process will get easier in coming years…

George stops by for coffee

My dear friend and neighbour Steph turned up on my doorstep this afternoon with an early birthday pressie – a Breville BarVista coffee machine! She’s away at a medical conference for a week and didn’t want me to miss out on my daily cuppa while editing Shahkara. During the past month, we’ve become accustomed to making good coffee with her beloved machine, George (it gained its name from the George Clooney Nespresso TV commercial so my machine is now George II). Mmmm, the aroma of coffee is already calling. Sorry… have to go!

Foretold shortlisted

A dose of sunshine and hot lemon juice to battle my ‘flu arrived in a letter from Western Australia today. My short story Foretold was shorlisted in the KSP Speculative Fiction Awards (open category). This is the first story I have entered in a competition under my Cheryse Durrant pen-name so I was ecstatic. The winner will be announced by Australian fantasy author Juliet Marillier next weekend. I haven’t been placed, but it’s exciting to be shortlisted, and I want to track down the other shortlisted entries because the judge’s comments sounded so tantalising, especially Carol Ryles’ St Olivia’s Light – starring what else but a leadlight angel. How divine…

My cough still lurks like an unwelcome visitor, but I’m feeling much better than last month when all I wanted to do was sleep in non-working hours! The chest infection really put the brakes on my Shahkara rewrites. I don’t know whether I want to pin the pages to my bedroom wall and fire them with darts, or find an incinerator and burn each page. No, one can’t do that. One should always recycle. *Sigh* As much as I sound like I am angsting, the manuscript is shaping up nicely. Even when you feel overwhelmed by the power of your story – plagued by those insidious doubts that you could never do it justice – you just have to cultivate the confidence that your story will show you the way. And little letters in the mail from story competition organisers always give you that extra puff in the right direction!