Saturday, 12 October 2013

A new journey has begun

My first novel is now out in the world and I've also just completed my second book - "Cavendish Court, By the River, Book 1: The Dairy Cottage".

I've discovered I really enjoy the creative writing process and The Dairy Cottage has taken on a life of its own to become a 3 part series.  Originally the book was to be centered around Old Government House, Sydney in the early 1800's - convict times - but the personalities of the characters had other ideas and this story has become about Elizabeth and Ned and their life together.

I hope you enjoy it and if you do please add a review to where you purchased it, or drop me a message.  I love to hear from my readers.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Self Publishing formatting stress

Well, I have only recently joined the Indi Author world and even more recently tried to navigate the world of Smashwords. The website itself is fine, but getting my brain around all the formatting steps to get my book into the world of iBooks was a drama I don't want to repeat. I uploaded, I re-formatted, I uploaded, I re-formatted ..... this has been going on for a couple of hours now. Finally I went with the nuclear method they discuss in the 28 odd steps to formatting your manuscript. Once I finally trolled through the explanations and actioned the steps it actually turned out to not be that difficult and I have successfully uploaded my book. On reflection I realise I was putting up roadblocks which caused all the delay and stress. If I'd just read the instructions first time around it would have been done hours ago. How many of you don't read the instructions? Most I bet. Well, if you want to upload your novel to Smashwords I highly recommend following their instructions with every step. It will save a lot of stress later.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Topsy's next book The Dairy Cottage

Greetings! Having come near to completing my 2nd novel I have found myself going in an almost opposite direction to where I originally intended. Old Government House at Parramatta was to have been the focus of my story, but instead I have leaned very heavily towards the dairy cottage in the domain precincts of OGH.

The families living in the cottage became the story. So, having blind-sided myself accidentally, I have now decided to make one story into three. That is, the dairy cottage story of 1815-1820 becomes ‘Book 1’, and I continue later with Books 2 & 3, following the Cavendish family through to the beginning of the 20th century. How did I do this? I don’t know. It just happened. My fingers wrote a story my brain hadn’t even known about when I started this exercise.

All being well, Book 1 will be completed within a few weeks; edited and published by mid-July 2013. Watch for:

CAVENDISH COURT, BY THE RIVER Book 1 – The Dairy Cottage

Don’t hold me to it, but book 2, may be called:

CAVENDISH COURT, BY THE RIVER Book 2 – Peter Cavendish, Physician

I then anticipate the next one to be:


It’s really been quite good fun to start a project like this one. Turning to writing in my retirement years has been something of a revelation for me. I found I like writing. My dog hates it! I don’t pay enough attention to her, apparently. Nevertheless, she still loves me, and is often underfoot as I sit at my desk. Take care and enjoy life.

Cheers T.B.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

From my desk, 22/6/13

With winter upon us it would now be a great time to stay indoors and settle at the desk with a cuppa, ignoring the cold, wet day outside.  However, there are chores to be done and more writing has to be put aside accordingly, but only temporarily and for just a few hours.
I’ve recently returned from a trip to the Land of the Great White Cloud, New Zealand, visiting my family, and have come back refreshed and ready to go again.  And yes, it was cold and wet there, too.  But, it is also a beautiful country and worth the effort to go see it.
I am happy to report that my first novel, Interrupted Romance, has been well received, and energises me to continue with my second book, as yet unnamed.  But if all goes well it should be released before mid-August this year.  The proverbial “writers’ block” did hit me before my holiday, but I am back on schedule now and working towards chapters in the middle of my story.  Which, incidentally, is written around the times of 1815-1820, in old Parramatta, [known as the birthplace of the nation], when convict labour was available to private enterprise, and was, in reality, the making of the country’s wealth at that time.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Topsy's week that was



Hey, everybody… Excitement has reached fever pitch in our household with the release of both the eBook and the paperback versions of ‘Interrupted Romance’, my first novel.
Watching the figures pile into the promotional screen has been an eye-opener. It’s very encouraging to see that so many people are taking a copy of this first book of mine, and I hope to use that adrenalin to continue with the current story that is floating around between my head and my computer. 
I’ve been reading about the hospital system available to convicts during the period of 1811-1816, which is the timeframe of most of the next book. It’s astonishing to realise that for a time the hospital in Sydney was no more than a collection of tents. There were 4 men to a tent, sleeping on grass mattresses. One blanket to a tent – imagine that! So the strongest patient obviously got the blanket, and the rest went cold. Over many decades the hospital was altered, renovated, rebuilt, enlarged etc. and the medical and nursing staff were engaged often from the ranks of convicts, some qualified, some not. When reading the history of the hospital it struck me that it’s a wonder people survived at all, under what today would be called primitive conditions. Hygiene and sanitation were not all that impressive, and operations were the strap-me-down-and-cut-me type in many instances. The original nursing staff was apparently more often drunk than sober, and there were ‘odd’ goings-on in the nurses’ quarters upstairs – if you know what I mean! How things have changed… As time went on and fully qualified doctors and administrators took charge, the convict nurses were replaced with a more gentile type of woman who was given real medical training towards the end of the 19th century. 
The ‘dead’ house, or morgue, was moved away from the kitchen block to an area closer to the dissection room when new buildings were erected within the yard confines of the hospital grounds. I rather fancy that being a cook in that era would not have been very nice! 
Does anyone out there have any early Sydney hospital notes to add? 

Saturday, 11 May 2013

My Place. My Hometown.

Hi everyone…  The day is fast approaching for the cover artist to begin working on my particular cover [starting 17th May].  For those of you who have already signed in to be notified of all proceedings about the book via the Newsletter, you will soon be rewarded by being the first to know of the launch date.

It’s an exciting time for someone of my years to be starting over, as it were, as I’m sure you will all appreciate.   The possibility of a story going worldwide is today a normal thing for so many people, but for me it’s awe-inspiring and a little over-whelming.  The computer age has been around for a while now, and I’m slowly catching up with it, or some of it, but I am still amazed at what is possible these days.

The second book, on which I am currently working, is under way and progressing nicely.  I am using some of my four years’ experience as a tour guide in Old Government House at Parramatta to garnish the story a little.  The location is well known to me, as is the Dairy Cottage, originally known as Salter’s Cottage, and is an actual historical building close by the House.

George Salter was convicted in March 1788 for his part in the death of two excise men who had caught him and three accomplices smuggling.  The other three were hanged and George was sentenced to seven years’ transportation.   But as a model prisoner he was granted land by the river, and ran a ten acre farm of wheat, and almost twenty acres of maize.  Governor Lachlan Macquarie converted the original one room cottage to a dairy, after George left the area to go to Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania] around 1815, and various extensions were made after that.  ‘My’ cottage is a little embellished, but the location is correct.

And in my mind’s eye I see the area about which I write, knowing that it has changed remarkably in 200 years, yet staying somewhat near the original state…  What a paradox of words that is!! 

The domain around the House is similar to all those years ago; the river course has barely moved – there is no longer a tiny island near the House that the river used to pass along on both sides; the same river my brother and I used to swim in, train in, when the swimming pool was unavailable; the river where countless fishermen have pulled eels up onto the banks and boiled up in old four gallon drums.  Ugh!  The same river which today provides abundant quantities of very fat carp, caught by Asian men who apparently treat them as a delicacy.  This is all in the fresh water section before the water tumbles over the weir to join the salt water, tidal water, coming in from Port Jackson.

This is where I grew up, where my father took us for walks along the river to places that are no longer accessible to the public; where he taught us some of the history of Parramatta, as he knew it, and won’t be found in any history book.  This is MY place.  My hometown.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Invitation from Topsy Baxter

The date for my first book becoming available for the world to read is fast approaching.

While we wait I'd like to invite readers to subscribe to my monthly newsletter and this month I'll be sending out an update on the book launch for Interrupted Romance.

The 1st chapter is free to read on my website.  Please click over and have a read on and while you are there you can subscribe from the website, or by following this link: Subscribe

You will read about what I'm working on during the month and hear about new book launches before they happen.  There may also be some competitions and giveaways coming up over the next few months.

Drop by, have a read of my book and drop me a comment if you feel so inclined.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Historic and Romantic Parramatta, NSW

With another week having rushed by me there seems to be a hole in my work calendar that wasn’t filled by work! I certainly can’t ascribe to the saying “that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. I’ve done nothing but play… all bowls. It was both fun and rewarding, and my game has improved somewhat as a result of the many days out on the greens this week. The theme of my next book, as yet untitled, is both historic and romantic. The main characters are taking shape and the scenes are played out in an area that I know well, having been born and raised a mere few kilometers away. From memory I can almost relive some of my childhood trips to Parramatta Park, where I rode my bicycle along the pathways or over the rolling hills. With some imagination, those same places are coming to life again in a slightly different way and without a bike. The time frame in which I am setting the story, 1815 – 1820, was an important period in the life of a new colony. It was a time in which the problem of growing enough food for all the residents, particularly in the region of greater Sydney, had been solved. New businesses and farms were flourishing [many with help from the convict labourers]; the huge mountain range to the west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains, had been crossed and new grazing lands discovered. This opened up the country for sheep, cattle and wheat growers. I hope it also opens my mind to a ‘rollicking yarn’ as the saying goes.’’ Cheers T.B.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Musings from my keyboard

The date for the commencement of the cover art process for my book, Interrupted Romance, is creeping closer all the time... to 20th May. Meanwhile, my second book is progressing each day and I've reached the 4th chapter. Who knows how many chapters it will end up with?

This new story is set in Parramatta, known as the cradle city of the nation of Australia, where the convicts laboured to cultivate enough food to feed the colony of New South Wales, as it was known at the end of the 18th century, into the beginning of the 19th century. Very few of these early convicts and settlers ever returned to old England, and were basically forced to establish new lives and/or identities for themselves and their families... or died trying.

The tale revolves in and around [Old] Government House, which is currently the oldest standing public building in Australia, and thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Parramatta River does actually run along beside the House as described in the book. The fields and paddocks described have since been given back to the public in the form of Parramatta Park, which includes a great new football stadium close to, and within walking distance of, the CBD.  Picnic areas abound within the confines of the park, along with cycling tracks, exercise areas etc. It's a great place to start for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in local history, and close to other historical buildings, such as: Elizabeth Farm House, Hambledon Cottage, Roseneath and many more. Some days the words flow like river water - but there are days when it just gets too hard, and those are the days to go back to tracing my family tree in Scotland and England. That's a rewarding pastime for any one interested in family!

Cheers, TB