Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Writer's World - Summer Temptations - Annie West

Hi everyone, and welcome to the first of my posts about 'A Writer's World'. Each month I'll share some aspect of my personal writer's world. It may be an aspect of the writing life I'm dealing with, a part of the world I'm in or my characters are (!) or something you're interested in discussing. If you have any suggestions or requests, just email me at annie@annie-west.com and I'll do my best to cover the topic.

So first off, since I live in the southern hemisphere, this January it's all about summer and the temptations it brings. I know some of you are in the chilly north but I figure you can use your imaginations to remember that long distant summer.

For me summer is pure temptation. It's cherry season for a start (YUM). Summer fruit is about in abundance, and having cooked and eaten my way through Christmas and New Year, it's an effort to rein in the expanded appetite (and waistline) and try to remember healthy eating. After all, it's the season for BBQs here and there's nothing more tempting than the smell of outdoor cooking. Days are long and it's the time for catching up with friends, for picnics, trips to the beach, or getting out with the family.

In Australia there's the summer tradition of test cricket. There's nothing as relaxing as pottering about to the sound of a cricket ball plocking against willow then racing to the TV to see what the fuss is about when someone hits a six or is clean bowled. There's also the Australian Open Tennis and the possibility of nail-biting matches to distract. There are books to be caught up on. That sense that, since it's summer we should find a little 'down time'.

Then there are the energetic things - setting goals for the year, plotting the calendar, tackling those things that have bugged you all year and you never had time for (what IS in the depths of the cupboard in the spare room?). Plus, living in a warm, coastal area, the garden is growing so fast I can almost see it rise. The weeds threaten to choke the place and I need to assert control.

For me, summer should be a mix of family time, relaxation and judicial tidying and catching up. In reality? Well, you may guess when I tell you the photo of the beach is one I took some time ago and I haven't been to the beach at all yet this summer.

So here comes the Writer's Summer Reality Check. My book is due at the end of the month. It's great to feel it's almost done, but to get to that stage, summer has been, for me, a matter of resisting temptation. OK, OK, so I didn't resist nearly enough of the food temptations. But I haven't treated myself to a week of lazing by the water, book in hand, or watching the stars of tennis battle it out on TV. I've been slogging away trying to make my story the best it can be. Hard to do when the rest of the family is on holidays. I want to join them, even when it comes to tackling the rampant weeds threatening my roses. Gee - that DOES sound desperate. Then there was the added complication of getting a passing flu virus and still needing to write. Than another virus hit the family. Sound familiar? The downside about being a writer is you don't get time off from your work just because of illness.

Of course there have been breaks between the work. I've still had a lovely summer so far. One of the treats was two days away in Sydney. I got to see the Picasso exhibition and then lunch just across the road from the art gallery in a pavilion looking over the domain (I've posted the view for you above). It was lovely sitting there, having a relaxed lunch and knowing those city buildings were full of people working when I wasn't! I spent time by the harbour, saw a terrific production of 'The Magic Flute' which made me laugh with delight, went to the movies and generally treated myself.

So, now I'd like to know: what does summer tempt you with? Does summer mean something special to you? Does it conjure special childhood memories, or are their more recent temptations that summer brings? Do you resist them or do you give in and enjoy? And if it's too much of a strain to remember summer, by all means tell me about your winter temptations.

As this is the first of my new columns I'm celebrating. I'LL GIVE AWAY TWO COPIES of my recent US release THE SAVAKIS MERGER. The books will go to two people, chosen at random from those who leave a comment.

If you want to catch up with Annie's books here are two up and coming releases to check out. GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT has already been released in the US and Australia but is a North American release in March. Meanwhile, Annie's just learned her story THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE is part of an anthology called GREEK AFFAIRS: TEMPTED BY THE TYCOONS, available in February in kindle edition and in March in paperback in the UK. Isn't it the most delicious cover? To find out more about any of these books, drop by Annie's website.

30 comments:

  1. Annie, lovely post! Up here in South East Queensland, today is also a summer tradition - lots and lots of rain (although thank goodness and touch wood, not as much as last year when we had major flooding). The birds are all looking wet and miserable and my laundry pile is starting to rival the height of the TBR pile! Good luck with the new book. As you know, I wait with bated breath for your latest masterpiece!

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  2. Thanks for a great post Annie! In Fiji it is as Anna says- summer and lots and lots of rain and yes, major flooding. The water has reached to the roofs of single storey buildings in my local town. I'm lucky as I stay out of town and our house is perched high up on a hillside but there are many people in low laying coastal areas.

    Do not enter me in the giveaway as I read and enjoyed The Savakis Merger! That is one hot story where the heroine decides to go for the stranger on the beach!!!!

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    1. I second what Anna says, Nas! Stay safe!

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    2. Nas and Anna, I've been wondering how you're both doing. Watching the news about floods in Fiji and in SE Queensland. Hope you're doing OK.

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  3. Ha, Anna, you're making me smile with your talk of a masterpiece. Fingers crossed.

    Yes, I've heard of the Qld rainstorms in summer. Glad it's not as bad there as last year.

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  4. Hi Nas, the flooding sounds dreadful. I had no idea. How hard for the people in town. I bet you're counting yourself lucky you're on the hill. I love summer but the storms can be too much, can't they.

    Thanks for the lovely words about 'The Savakis Merger'. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Just saw on the news - people are using boats and canoes in the main street in Nadi Town.

      http://www.fijitv.info/news

      the first link on 6 pm news is where I stay.

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    2. Boats in the main street of Nadi? Wow. That's bringing back memories of the awful floods here last year. Hope it's over soon, Nas.

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  5. Hi Annie - for me, I know it's summer when all the delicious fruits come out.

    I just love peaches, nectarines and mangoes. Mangoes are just so delicious and versatile. We're having chicken, mango and avocado salad for dinner tonight :)

    I also know it's summer when there's nothing on TV except the cricket and tennis (Aussie Open) and it's still light at 8.30pm :)

    Like Nas, I've already read TSM so no need to enter me in the comp :)

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  6. When I think summer, I think strawberry shortcake. I love strawberries and summer is the only time I really buy them. This past summer wasn't a normal summer because of the tornado damage from May, but I'm looking forward to maybe this coming summer to be a happier one. My grandkids are looking forward to time in the pool. I'm hoping we will have a small vegetable and herb garden this year. I love fresh grown veggies.

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  7. Hi Annie - summer in Oz for me is very much as you described. My special loves are yes, the fruit as you say (says she who was just presented with a HUGE bucket of fresh blackberries this morning! Bliss!, and who has feasted on nectarines for lunch) - but also the relaxed family time. Days by the pool - lounging and catching up, walks along the beach and evenings of no pressure where we play board games with the kids (old and young,)out in the gauzed area listening to the insects croak and twitter.

    I adore summer; it's my time. HOWEVER... this summer was the same as yours. With deadlines right up till the 23rd of December and then new ones that extended to the 23rd of January - I feel quite cheated. I guess it hasn't helped (or maybe it has) that this summer was also not the best weather the central eastern coast of Australia has ever experienced. So, fingers crossed, maybe I'll get to catch up in February where it's predicted to be hot?

    But there's just that pesky thing of another book due... Yes Annie, the writers reality is not the one most people assume it is...

    Good luck with the new book. I know it will be sublime.

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  8. Hi Joanne,

    Chicken, mango and avocado salad sounds fabulous. Hm. Suspect my evening meal won't be nearly so exotic and luscious. Maybe tomorrow. I love summer fruit though I do miss the passing of navel orange season. As for summer sport - I must say there's something very nice about watching others exert themselves when it's hot!

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  9. Linda, strawberry shortcake sounds amazing. I've never tried it but still salivate over the idea. We used to live next door to people who grew strawberries commercially and we'd help at harvest time. Must say I'd rather eat them than pick them! I'm imagining you with a bowl of strawberries, watching the grandkids in the pool. Something to look forward to.

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  10. Kaz, it's lovely to see you here. Fantastic about the blackberries. I love them, particularly when someone else makes them into jelly! What, me lazy? I love that you mention the summer sound of insects. It's not summer for me unless there are cicadas in the trees.

    Commisserations on the deadlines. I can't wait to get this current book done and dusted and think about relaxing. Hope the rest of your summer is a beauty.

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  11. Hi, Annie! Love the pics!

    I agree with everyone talking about delicious summer fruits. Mangoes, peaches and lychees have kept me alive this summer. Yum! Strawberry gelati has been a favourite too.

    Good luck with your deadline. You will treat yourself to gelati right after you hand the book in, right? The chocolate variety has restorative powers, trust me.

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  12. Oh, yes, I hear what you're saying, Annie, the temptations of summer are certainly multitudinous. And, like you, I haven't had as much time as I'd like to sample all the holiday fun so far this summer. But I have managed to enjoy the odd ice-cold beer at the end of a long hot day on the front veranda with the DH, as the sun sinks below the tree line and the shadows lengthen and the kookaburras put on a symphonic display. There's certainly something quintessentially summery about that.

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  13. Vanessa, gelati for deadline stress? I love it! I'll have to try your theory. I adore gelati so any excuse.

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  14. How poetic, Michelle. Easy to see you love writing. We ate outside the other evening, looking up the hill at the bush and listening to the birds - very relaxing. I think sitting on the verandah with your DH at the end of the day would be a perfect way to spend the end of a summer's day.

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  15. From the very beginning I read and reviewed your debut and I'm still enjoying and loving your books/posts.

    Looking forward to reading your weekly post.

    Happy New Year dear friend. Your name sake is Annie Sending you kisses, hand shakes and wondering when she can receive her next treat.

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  16. Hi Marilyn, my namesake Annie sounds like a real character! She's a very goodlooking dog too.

    It's lovely to hear you're still reading my books. It doesn't seem all that long ago my debut book hit the shelves.

    It's great to see you here. The column will be monthly, but don't forget you can contact me if you have requests or suggestions on topics you want to discuss.

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  17. Annie, I used to love summer and the opportunity to go to the beach and work on a tan and sometimes get thoroughly sunburned! Bad, bad! I don't do that anymore! And actually the grittiness of the whole sand thing didn't used to bother me when I was a kid - in fact, I couldn't wait! I still love the feel of it sifting between my toes... but I sure can do without it under the elastic of my togs or the straps on my shoulders!

    These days, I live inland. I love the smell of the eucalypts on a hot summer day and the sound of cicadas. And of course summer now means a jolly good clean up before the bushfire season!

    I love the cover of your anthology! Congratulations on having two books out so close together!

    Don't put me in the draw - I've read the gorgeous Savakis Merger!
    :)
    Sharon

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  18. I LOVE cherries! - and they have such a short season. It's funny how summers always seemed sunny and endless when you look back at being a child - now you blink and hey, that was summer!

    pageturner345@gmail.com

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  19. Hi Annie, I so enjoyed your blog. Ah, summer temptations! For me, going swimming in a harbour pool, floating on my back knowing I should be writing but justifying time in the water as meditation time, when my mind is open to creativity. Seriously, I can solve knotty plot problems and character quirks while I'm swimming! (Though the lousy weather this summer has meant not much swimming at all.)
    Christmas in Australia is a summer celebration which means my friends laden me with gifts of chocolate. Temptation multiplied. Sadly I gave in to multiple boxes this year which means I am joining you in trying to repair the results of the overindulgence!
    Good luck with getting your new book finished--I'm sure it will be every bit as wonderful as all your others. Your readers will just see sheer enjoyment and have no idea of the sheer effort to keep butt on seat that a summertime deadline entails!

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  20. Sharon, you've brought back memories of those long summer days at the beach as a kid. You're right though, sand in clothes is something I can do without now. Luckily where I cam I can get the eucalypts and cicadas as well as coast breezes. What? Me brag? Good luck with the pre-bushfire season cleanup. That's a big job.

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  21. Hi Alison, you're so right. The summers of my childhood seemed to last and last. I suppose that's because we let the grown ups do the organising and just enjoyed ourselves. Lovely days.

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  22. Kandy, how fascinating that you solve your plot problems while swimming. I find water - either a shower or a walk beside the sea are great for inspiring creative thoughts. I wonder what it is about water that works so wonderfully?

    Ah, I hope your efforts to undo the effects of chocolate are more successful than mine! I'll have to work harder. It's difficult to get my usual exercise with the book due so soon. Thanks for the kind words about the writing. Let's hope the readers enjoy it and don't see the hard work.

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  23. Hi Annie, being in NZ, my summer is pretty much exactly as you describe yours... bbq's, salads... bright salads after the damp dark winters... walks after dinner with the kids either to the beach or parks, more outside jobs done around the home, do you have Daylight Savings where you are? Our summers mean it's daylight till 9pm. What I like the best about summer is people are just generally happier :) I'm proud owner of this book so no need to include me :) Thanks.

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  24. Hi Tash,

    Yes, we do have daylight saving time here. It's always lovely when the day lasts longer, though it's not quite as late as yours. I love the feeling of being more active (usually) despite the heat. Having said that this is one of the wettest summers we've had in a while.

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  25. It's getting late in the day and I thought that instead of waiting till the next blog is up to announce winners of my book prizes I'd do it now. So from my random draw, the winners of 'The Savakis Merger' are Linda Henderson and Kandy Shepherd. CONGRATULATIONS! If you contact me at annie@annie-west.com with your postal address I'll get the books sent out to you.

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