Articles:

Sex and le/la Computer by Net Anon

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Short Stories:

LANCASHIRE LASS by Anna Jacobs (first chapter)

After the Funeral by PaulaHanasz (prospective first chapter)

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PREMIER ANNOUNCES THE WINNER OF THE

TASMANIA PACIFIC REGION PRIZE

 

The Premier Jim Bacon has announced that the inaugural $40,000 Tasmania

Pacific Region Prize is to be awarded to New Zealand novelist Elizabeth

Knox for her novelThe Vintner's Luck.

 

The Tasmania Pacific Region Prize is a $40,000 prize for the best novel

written by a resident or citizen of Australia, New Zealand or Melanesia.

 

The judges for the inaugural Tasmania Pacific Region Prize are Ms Amanda

Lohrey, Prof Brian Matthews and Prof Albert Wendt. The judges noted that it

was extremely difficult to choose one novel from the six excellent novels

short-listed.

 

The Premier also announced that the winner of the State Library's People's

Choice award is Thea Astley for her novel Drylands.

 

Tasmanians had the opportunity to say which they thought was the best novel

by voting at branches of the State Library of Tasmania, voting via the

Library's website, and at participating bookshops.

 

The inaugural Tasmania Pacific Region Prize and the State Library's

People's Choice Award was announced by the Premier, Jim Bacon, at a

Presentation Event at 5pm on the 1 April, 2001 at T42, Elizabeth Street

Pier, Hobart. Prior to the announcement of the prizes at the Presentation

Event, the work of all the short-listed authors was celebrated in the

'Writers in Conversation' Event presented by Arts Tasmania.

 

The six novels short-listed were:

· Drylands by Thea Astley: Viking ? Penguin Books Australia

· Baby No-Eyes by Patricia Grace: Penguin Books NZ

· The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox: Victoria University Press

· Believers to the Bright Coast by Vincent O'Sullivan: Penguin Books NZ

· Benang by Kim Scott: Fremantle Arts Centre Press

· Love and Vertigo by Hsu-Ming Teo: Allen & Unwin

 

 

Contact: Mary Knights

Arts Tasmania 6233 7310

E-mail: mknights@arts.tas.gov.au

 

Short Stories


 

READ AN EXTRACT from LANCASHIRE LASS by Anna Jacobs,

which is due out in Australia in paperback in late March 2001 - her first Australian historical

saga. This is the story of a group of migrants who come from Lancashire in

1857 to settle in the Peel Region of Western Australia - some willingly,

some unwillingly - especially Liza Docherty, the 'lass' of the title.

(published by Hodder & Stoughton UK, ISBN 0 340 74827 3)

 

We invite you to read Chapter 1 of this complex tale, written by an author

who was a migrant to Australia herself and who believes (after reading many

19th century migrants' diaries) that the emotional impact of changing

countries, as well as the reasons for making such a big move, have not

changed all that much.

 

CHAPTER 1 of LANCASHIRE LASS

March 1857

 

Dorothy Pringle stood in the doorway, smiling as she watched her cheerful

young maid working. The room was fragrant with polish and flowers, spring

sunlight was glinting through the windows and Liza, unaware that she was

being observed, was humming softly as she set the table, placing each plate

carefully and aligning the silverware round each setting.

When the knocker sounded, the girl looked up and jumped in shock. "Ooh, I

didn't know you were there, Mrs P."

The knocker sounded again, demanding attention not asking for it.

"Shall I answer the door, ma'am?"

"No, I'll do it. You finish in here."

Liza got on with her work. She loved making the table look nice, loved

everything about working here for such a kind mistress. She heard

conversation, the deep rumble of a man's voice, the soft tones of her

mistress, and paused, frowning. It sounded like - but it couldn't be, surely?

Mrs Pringle reappeared, looking puzzled. "It's your father."

When Con Docherty followed her into the room, not waiting to be invited,

Liza shot a worried glance sideways at her mistress. What was her father

doing here? And pushing into the parlour, too, with his dirty boots on. It

wasn't the last Friday of the month when he came to pick up her wages. Her

heart began to thump with anxiety. Perhaps there was trouble at home?

Con threw a surly look at the lady of the house, who barely came up to his

shoulder and yet always intimidated him. "I've come to take my daughter

away, I'm afraid, Mrs Pringle. She won't be able to work for you any more.

Her mother's ill, so she's needed at home." He turned to his daughter. "Go

and get your things together, girl!"

Liza looked doubtfully from one to the other, waiting for her mistress to

speak.

"You can come back when your mother is better," Dorothy said soothingly.

Con cleared his throat. "I'm afraid we're going to need her at home from

now on, missus, so if you can pay me what she's due, we won't trouble you

further."

Liza, who had paused at the doorway to listen, could not hold back a wail

of disappointment. She saw her father glare at her and clapped her hand

across her mouth. You didn't argue with Da, or go against his wishes if you

knew what was good for you, but the last thing she wanted, the very last,

was to leave here. She hated it at home.

Within half an hour she had her things packed and was walking towards the

town with her da carrying on his shoulder the wicker trunk she could

scarcely lift when it was full, but whose weight he hardly seemed to

notice. Liza was worried sick about her mam, but he'd told her to shut up

when she'd tried again to find out exactly what was wrong, so she walked

along in silence beside him, fretting.

Once they were over the rising piece of ground that separated the village

of Ashleigh from Pendleworth, the pretty lanes gave way to cobbled streets.

The town was dominated by the huge mill with its tall, smoking chimney and

by the two big houses, Pendleworth Hall and Rawley Manor, which lay to the

north-east and north-west, overlooking everything from a safe distance. The

Hall was the home of the Ludlams, who owned the mill - and a lot of other

things in the district as well. The Rawleys had lived at the Manor for

ever, but these days they did not bother much with the town, which had

doubled in size in the past twenty years.

Back at Ashleigh you couldn't see the mill or the big houses. The air

tasted sweeter out there and Liza loved the big shady trees round the

house. Here the air had a sooty taste to it and everything seemed darker,

with roofs of grey slate and square setts of grey stone paving the main

streets. Even the red bricks of the little terraced houses, built by the

Ludlams to house their workers, had been darkened to an indeterminate murky

brown by the smoke from the big mill chimney. Every month, when Da came for

her wages and brought her home for her Sunday off, Liza felt the narrow

streets closing round her like a vice. That hadn't worried her when she'd

known she'd be going back to the Pringles' in the evening, but she was

already dreading the thought of staying here.

She didn't try to speak again, just concentrated on keeping up with Da's

long strides. She only came up to his shoulder because she and her sister

took after their mam. Her two elder brothers took after Da and were burly

men already, but it was too soon to tell with Kieran, who had only just

turned nine.

At the lower end of Market Road they turned into Underby Street, where the

shop stood with its faded sign above the window, DOCHERTY, SECOND HAND

CLOTHING, and a grubby card in the door saying Best prices given. Liza's

steps faltered. She didn't want to live here again, not when she'd tasted

another sort of life, one where you had enough to eat every single day in a

house where things were kept lovely and clean - and where no one shouted at

you, let alone thumped you if you spoke out of turn.

As they walked through the shop with its piles of clothes and its sour

smell, she wrinkled her nose and tried not to breathe in. Passing into the

kitchen, she saw her sister standing in the scullery doorway, but Da

muttered, "Look sharp!" so she merely waved to Nancy and followed him

upstairs.

Through the open door of the front bedroom she saw Mam sleeping restlessly

but not looking as bad as Liza had feared, thank goodness. Da dumped the

trunk in the back bedroom and glanced towards the front room.

"It'll do her good to have you here looking after things. And it'll do me

good to have your help in the shop again. Get changed out of them fancy

clothes and come downstairs. I want some food an' you're a better cook than

our Nancy."

"Yes, Da." But when Mam was on her feet again, surely they would let her go

back - if her place was still vacant. Liza crossed her fingers tightly.

Please, let no one else be found to take her place! The Pringles didn't pay

high wages, which was why they'd taken on a girl from Underby Street, so

maybe there was a chance.

Da had vanished into the shop by the time she went down. In the scullery

Nancy, who had only just turned twelve and was small with it, was washing

the dishes half-heartedly. "I'm that glad you're back. Da's been in a

terrible mood all week, an' Niall hit me this morning." She sniffed

dolefully and rubbed at a bruise on her cheek with one wet, reddened hand.

"Well, never mind that now. You get that washing up finished. Mam would

have a fit if she came down and saw this mess. We'll take her up a cup of

tea as soon as she wakes."

"I can't do everything," Nancy muttered, scowling.

"Of course you can't. I'll feed Da first, then we'll clean up together."

Only she had to go into the shop first to ask him for money to buy tea and

food, because there was hardly anything in the house, which put him in a

bad mood and made him shout at her. It was, Liza thought miserably, as if

nothing had changed in the two years she'd been living away. Just her. And

she'd changed a lot. This place didn't feel like home any more - and she

didn't feel like putting up with things, either.

The next day Da went through her trunk and took her good working clothes to

sell in his shop.

When she begged him not to, Liza got a clout round the ear. It was then she

realised he really wasn't going to let her return to the Pringles. She wept

into the pillow that night and when Nancy turned to cuddle her, whispered,

"I'm not stopping here! Whatever he does, I'm not stopping!" Once her mam

was better she'd find a way to escape, then go somewhere so far away Da

would never find her again.

When he nipped out for a wet of ale, Liza went into the shop, took some of

her clothes from among the better stuff and hid them under the piles of old

things that were going for rags, hoping he wouldn't notice.

For the next two weeks she hardly had a minute to think, because there was

not only Mam to look after, but her elder brothers, Niall and Dermott, too.

They expected her to jump to attention and serve their needs the minute

they came home from the mill. As always they took the biggest share of the

food except for Da, and that didn't leave much for the younger children.

Once again Liza knew what it was to go hungry and began to feel bitterly

resentful of her brothers' greedy, bullying ways. The younger members of

the Docherty family did not starve, but they did not get enough to eat,

either, and she had sharp words with Niall more than once, for he was far

nastier than Dermott and always had been. When he hit her one day, she

picked up the frying pan and threatened to retaliate if he touched her again.

Luckily, Dermott began laughing.

"What's so funny?" Niall growled.

"The size of it - threatening you?" And Dermott was off again.

Niall started to grin. "You're going to beat me up, are you, our Liza? You

and whose army?" He picked her up and tossed her in the air a couple of

times, laughing as she shrieked in panic.

The two men were still chuckling as they walked out.

She watched them go, hands on hips. Well, she'd meant what she said. She

wasn't going to put up with their rough treatment any more.

***

When Andrew Pringle came home from one of his long rambles round the

countryside, Dorothy greeted him with, "Liza's father's taken her away to

help out at home. Her mother's ill, it seems. I'll have to get another

maid. Just when I'd got the girl nicely trained, too."

He pursed his lips and looked at her sideways.

She knew then that he was up to something and her heart skipped with

anxiety. That look never boded well.

"Don't bother to look for another maid, my dear. We'd have had to give Liza

notice soon anyway."

"Give her notice - but why?" Had he lost more of their money in one of his

silly schemes? Surely not? No, he was beaming at her like a village idiot,

not avoiding her eyes and mumbling out a confession of his losses as he had

so many times before.

He put an arm round her shoulders. "I've got some good news for you, my dear."

Heart sinking, she walked with him into the small parlour, asking, "What is

it?" before they'd even sat down, so anxious was she. His idea of good news

and hers often differed markedly.

"I've decided that we're never going to do well here in Pendleworth. There

simply aren't enough opportunities in an industrial district for a man like

me."

Dorothy felt her apprehension increase and weigh down like a lead weight in

her belly. "Just say it straight out, Andrew," she begged.

After another of his assessing glances, he took a deep breath and said

quickly, "Well - I've decided to emigrate to Australia."

For a moment she couldn't believe she'd heard correctly and could only

blink at him as she considered the words in her mind. But whichever way she

tried it, they meant the same. "Emigrate to Australia!" she said faintly.

"But - but why should you go there?"

He was avoiding her eyes completely now. "We're all going there, Dorothy.

In fact - well, I've already booked our passages."

"What?" The room spun round her for a minute, then settled down. She wanted

to scream at him, but what good had getting angry ever done? In his own

quiet way, he was as immovable as the Pennine Hills. "I don't understand.

Why should we want to go to Australia? It's a place for convicts, not

gentlefolk." And they were gentlefolk, however poor they'd become. That

thought always consoled her.

"That's Sydney you're thinking about. Western Australia has far fewer

convicts than the rest and only got some because they asked for them.

People mostly go out there as free settlers."

"Well, I still don't want to go."

"You must allow me to be the judge of that, my dear. I am, after all, the

head of the family, and I sincerely believe we'll be able to make a better

life for ourselves in the Antipodes. Things are going from bad to worse in

England and people tell me there are great opportunities in the colonies if

you're willing to work hard - which I hope I am."

When Andrew gave her a radiant smile, like a small boy who'd brought her a

present, her heart sank still further, for he only got that look in his

eyes when he was well into one of his schemes. She should have guessed he

was up to something because he'd been in a good mood lately. But he always

cheered up as spring approached and he could spend more time outdoors in

his beloved garden, so she had thought nothing of it. "Well, you can just

go there on your own. Find out what it's like and if it looks promising,

Kitty and I will follow you later."

"I'm afraid I can't do that. You see, you'd have nowhere to live if you

stayed here. Anyway, a wife's place is with her husband and a daughter

should live with her parents till she marries, especially an only child

like our dear Kitty."

For a moment Dorothy could hardly breathe, then the words came out twice as

loudly as usual. "What do you mean, we'd have nowhere to live? We have this

house."

"Not any longer. I've sold it to Mr Ludlam. We're going to need the money

to buy a piece of land in Australia, you see. A farm. My forebears were

farmers and now I'm going to be one too. That's why things haven't gone

well for me before. I've been going against my nature."

Dorothy had difficulty putting words together and they came out in short,

angry bursts. "But - but what if it all - what if it goes wrong?" Most of

his schemes did fail, but there had always been the house to fall back on -

that and her small annuity. This time they would have absolutely nothing

left except the fifty pounds she received every year, the legacy of an old

aunt, which had been intended for pin money not household expenses. He

always took it away from her immediately, anyway.

Andrew waved her objections aside. "I won't let it go wrong. Now, I really

must start clearing out my shed and you will have to start on the house

because we're sailing next month. We can only take essential items with us

- and no furniture. It's quite providential that Liza has left, really, but

Maggie will be coming with us, of course. She's been with us for fifteen

years and I'm sure she won't leave us in the lurch, so I've booked her a

passage, too."

Dorothy sat motionless for a long time after he'd left, feeling stiff and

shocked. This was worse than anything he had done before, far worse. She

decided to say nothing to Kitty yet, dreading her daughter's reaction, but

went to confide in Maggie, who stared at her in horror and burst into tears.

"Mrs P, he never!"

Dorothy could only nod unhappily. "You will come with us, won't you, Maggie?"

"How can I? I have Mam to think of - and my sisters. How can I?"

That evening, after their daughter had gone to bed, Dorothy tried once

more. "Andrew, I've been thinking. It'd make so much more sense for you to

go out to Australia first and - and investigate the situation. Kitty and I

can go and stay with my sister. You know how Nora dotes on the girl. She'll

have us for sure." And would make them pay for it in small services and

regularly expressed gratitude, but it'd be worth it.

He glared at her. "Certainly not! You're my wife and you're coming with me.

So is our daughter. Have you told her about it yet?"

"N-no."

"Then I'll tell her myself in the morning."

The news made Kitty throw a tantrum and she continued to weep at regular

intervals till her eyes were puffy and her nose red. Dorothy argued,

scolded and cajoled, trying every way she could think of to make her

husband see reason, especially as Maggie was definitely not coming with

them. But nothing they did or said could move him from his decision.

It wasn't often she wept, but she did now, and just as bitterly as

fifteen-year-old Kitty.

But although their tears drove Andrew from the house into the garden he

loved and cared for himself, they did not make him change his mind.

***

When Liza's mother was well enough to come down and sit on the rocking

chair in the kitchen, things improved a little in Underby Street. Mary

Docherty was as gentle and ineffective as ever, but Con would not let

anyone except himself bully his wife, so she was able to protect the

younger children a bit from her two eldest sons and share out the food more

fairly, too.

One evening a few days afterwards Da came into the back room, beaming

broadly, and beckoned to Liza. "Come into the shop a minute, will ye, girl?

I've some good news for you."

She brightened and followed him, hoping he'd got her place back. He hadn't

found the clothes she'd hidden, and she was sure Mrs P. would understand if

she didn't have all her old things.

"Come over here to the light." He grabbed her and ran his hand down her

body in a way that made her yelp in protest and try to pull away. "Stand

still, will ye!" he roared, feeling the swell of her breasts in a

dispassionate way, pinching the flesh of her upper arms, then turning her

round first one way, then the other. After the initial shock she didn't

dare protest, because Con Docherty was very much master in his own house,

and even Niall and Dermott did not dare defy him.

As he pushed her away, he pursed his lips, put his head on one side and

asked, "How old are ye now?"

"Eighteen."

He nodded. "Thought so. You're a woman growed, that's for sure."

What had got into him tonight? When had he ever cared about her? It was

sons who mattered to him, not daughters.

"Teddy Marshall's wife has been dead these two months now. 'Tis hard for a

man on his own. He needs a woman to look after things for him." He smiled

knowingly as he added, "And of course, to warm his bed."

Liza stared at him in horror, guessing what was coming next.

"So I telled him he could wed you. I could see he fancied you when he came

into the shop last week. It'll be better for you than going off to work for

that uppity Pringle woman. You'll have your own house and Teddy's a good

provider. He's comin' over to see you in a few minutes. We'll fix it all up

then." He stared at her again, then added abruptly, "You'd better do

something with your hair, though, instead of scraping it back in a bun like

an old woman. There's some ribbons in the bottom drawer. Use one of them."

His eyes softened. "You've a fine head of hair on you. You're black Irish,

like your mother's side of the family. Good lookers, the Brennans." He made

a fist and stared down at it admiringly, "Though the Dochertys are built

stronger."

Liza didn't move for a moment - couldn't! - and when she found her voice

again, it came out nearer to a squeak. "But Da, Mr Marshall's old!"

He scowled. "He's no more than thirty-five. Younger than me. A man's in his

prime at thirty-five, let me tell you, young lady. It's women as fade after

thirty. Look at your mother. She once had rosy cheeks an' bright blue eyes

just like yours." He gazed into the distance for a moment, then added more

softly, "And Mary was prettier than you'll ever be - you're too

sharp-featured, you are - though you wouldn't think it to look at her now."

Liza sought desperately for some way to change his mind. "But, Da, I don't

want to marry anyone yet." Especially not Mr Marshall. He was another

large, heavy-handed man, very like her father only uglier. Mrs Marshall had

died in childbed recently and the latest baby with her, but he had three

sons and young as they were, they were already shaping up to be bullies.

Liza's little brother Kieran was absolutely terrified of them. She

shuddered at the memory of how Mr Marshall had caught her in a corner and

rubbed himself against her last time he came into the shop. It had made her

feel sick and she'd expected her father to protest, but he hadn't. Now she

understood what that had all been about. It was the real reason she'd been

brought home from Mrs Pringle's. No doubt Mr Marshall was slipping her

father some money to hurry things up. Well, she wasn't going to agree to

it. Oh, no!

Her father nudged her. "'Tis the best chance you're ever likely to get.

You'll be set for life. Young men don't have money like the older ones do."

"I won't do it."

He scowled at her. "Don't be stupid, girl! Have a bit of sense for once!"

There was the sound of clogs on the road outside and the little brass

doorbell on its wobbly curled spring tinkled wildly. Con turned round

smiling. "There you are, lad. I was just tellin' my lass that you're to wed

her."

Teddy Marshall nodded. "Good." But his eyes were on Liza, raking up and

down her body.

She stared back at him in horror. He had thinning brown hair and a lumpy

nose, and always smelled sour, as if he washed even less than her father

did. He had beaten his other wife, given her many a bruise, broken her arm

once - everyone knew that.

"I'm sorry, but I don't want to get wed," she said as firmly as she could

manage, because inside she was shivering with fear at the thought of

defying Da.

Both men ignored her.

"I'll go and see the priest tomorrow morning, then, shall I?" Teddy said

over her head.

"Aye. Sooner it's done the better. Our Nancy's twelve. She can take over

helpin' me in the shop an' my Mary will just have to pull herself together."

"But Da - "

Con turned to his daughter. "We'll have no more silliness from you, my

girl. You'll do as I tell you or you'll be feeling the back of me hand, so

you will."

She shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I don't want to marry anyone." She

nodded to the other man and tried to soften her refusal. "Thanks all the

same, Mr Marshall."

Da came over and clouted her, then pushed her towards his friend. "Stay

here and talk to Teddy. He'll soon change your mind. I have to see your mam

about something." He was gone before she could protest.

Mr Marshall moved swiftly to grab her. Liza shrieked and tried to pull away

but he ignored that and began to fumble with her body, his fingers tweaking

her nipples. She wriggled and tried to kick him but he was so much bigger

than she was that she felt like a toy in the hands of a clumsy child.

"I won't do it!" she panted, glaring up at him. "No one can make me say

yes in church. Let go of me!"

"You will do it," Marshall said. "And we can so make you." Again his

fingers nipped and tweaked, and she couldn't help crying out in pain.

When he started to lift her skirt, however, there was a cough behind them

and her father said, "That's enough, lad. A bit of a feel's one thing, but

you don't get anything else afore you're wed. She's a good girl, my Liza

is, an' she's staying untouched till Father Michael has married you."

Teddy let go of Liza, breathing deeply and adjusting his trousers. "Well,

let's get it done quick, then."

"Come away to the pub with ye and we'll discuss the details. A sup or two

of ale an' you'll last out a bit longer."

The two men laughed and went out together, but Marshall turned at the door

to stare across at the white-faced, trembling girl. "I'm looking forward

very much to makin' a woman of you, Liza Docherty."

She shook her head, holding herself upright until they'd left, then she

drew in a long, sobbing breath. Mr Marshall's clogs make a loud clopping

noise as he walked away, her father's shoes sounding like a faint echo

beside them. He always made a lot of noise, Mr Marshall did. And his sons

used their iron-tipped clogs to terrorise other kids. They'd be hell on a

young step-mother, those three would.

She couldn't seem to move again until the sound of the men's footsteps had

died right away down the bottom of the street and only then did her mother

slip into the shop to join her. "He told you, did he, love?"

Liza smeared away the tears. "You knew what he was planning, Mam. You knew!"

Mary's voice sounded weary. "He only told me this morning."

"Why didn't you warn me?"

"What good would that have done?"

"It'd maybe have given me time to think of something. I tell you flat, Mam:

I won't marry Mr Marshall."

Mary looked at her daughter. "Your da will make you." Her voice was

toneless, as if she didn't care about that or anything else.

Liza stared at her. Married to Mr Marshall, she'd soon look like this. His

other wife had done. Beaten. Hopeless. At that moment, she determined that

she'd do anything, even run away from home, if necessary, to escape such a

fate.

"Liza, love - "

"I won't marry him," she said again, then shouted, "I won't. I won't!" But

the piles of old clothes muffled the words so that they faded to nothing

and her mother had already shuffled away into the back room. "I won't,

though," Liza whispered, then sniffed away the tears that were still

threatening before following her mam.

 

Anna Jacobs: 12/00 SEASONS OF LOVE, 2/01 OUR POLLY (hbk) & LANCASHIRE LASS

(pbk)

Sherry-Anne Jacobs, A PROPER MATCH, regency romance

http://www.annajacobs.com (writing mainly as Anna Jacobs)

 

I thought it might be useful to give you a list of my Anna Jacobs books to

put with the extract - and also, could you please mention my web site

http://www.annajacobs.com and the fact that I have an email announcements

list for Anna Jacobs readers at

http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/AnnaJacobs which people can join to

receive the latest book news first.

 

ANNA JACOBS' historical sagas (published by Hodder & Stoughton UK)

The Gibson Family Saga (1820-65)

1. Salem Street

2. High Street

3. Ridge Hill

4. Hallam Square

5. Spinners Lake

 

Jessie - tale of the early railways 1840

Our Lizzie - tale of home front in WWI

Like No Other - tale of the moors and Lancashire weavers in 1750

Lancashire Lass - Australia/Lancashire tale in 1857

Our Polly - 1920s tale of a woman's struggle to keep her handicapped son

Coming:

Lancashire Legacy - Australian/Lancashire tale in 1876, sequel to L/Lass

Down Weavers Lane - tale of Lancashire in 1830

 

Published by Severn House UK, historical romances

Seasons of Love - England, France and Italy in 1840s

A Forbidden Embrace (coming September 2001) - regency romance set in 1817

 

Published by Avid Press (http://www.avidpress.com) in both paperback and

ebook formats

A Proper Match, written as Sherry-Anne Jacobs - reissue of first novel,

formerly titled Persons of Rank

 


 

FROM A BEST SELLING AUTHOR, CLIMBING THE CHARTS, TO A NEW WRITER SEEKING FEEDACK--

After the Funeral

by Paula Hanasz

 

My name is Paula Hanasz, i am a young Sydney writer who has just

completed a 'novella' of about 16 000 words. I am now looking for

somewhere to publish it or get feedback.

 

It is called 'After the Funeral' (yes, i know now there's a book

under that title by Agatha Christie, so i'm open to suggestions).

It is written in a 'circular narrative' where there is no

beginning or end, and you could start reading virtually at any

point. I like this technique because it allows me to play with

the concept of time and brings a certain touching poignancy to the

characters and their story, which i hope comes across.

 

Essaentially the plot is this: Mark fakes his own death to escape

his debts, but faking one's death is a very costly enterprise so

Mark fakes his own death to escape his debts, but faking one's

death is a very costly enterprise so...so you get the idea. It is

set in a week, each chapter being a day. It's also quite humorous,

and the characters are comical rather than tragic. However, there is

an underlying serious tone.

 

Below is an extract from the 'Thursday' chapter where the main

character, Mark, has just borrowed money and his best friend, Barry,

is...well, read on:

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

He receded down the street, his mind already going as fast as the

new car would. He barely spared a thought for Bazza who at that

time, poor thing, was frantically searching for his hairpiece in Mrs

Pumpernickel's prized petunias.

 

He had been diligently researching all afternoon modeling agencies

to hire mourners for Mark's memorial. He even insisted on checking

out the goods himself. Yet as systematic and thorough as he was,

so were his rejecters.

 

"No thank you!" the managers would shriek in a staccato as if he

had insulted them.

 

Perplexed and dejected Bazza walked back to his car, getting lost

in the winding streets (the rows of renovated terrace houses all

looked the same to him) and he could just sense a parking ticket

flapping happily between his windscreen and wiper as if it was

he most harmless thing in the world.

 

Suddenly, a little wind picked up. It tussled Barry's hair and he

smiled proudly - he had hair!

 

A breeze blew again and tickled his scalp and kept on tickling

kept on tickling a bit too much.

 

"Hang on" thought Barry stopping mid-stride with the effort

"something's not right" he was, after all, an astute fellow.

 

He felt the back of his head and felt the sticky toupee glue.

 

The hairpiece was coming unstuck.

 

"My hairpiece is coming unstuck!" Barry shrieked as if expecting

someone to care.

 

Suddenly another gust of wind hit at the hair and tore it right

off.

 

Barry pirouetted (quite elegantly for a man of his age and

stature) in an attempt to catch it.In the process his hands got

stuck to the top of his head and he ran or stumbled a few

steps like a hostage to the terrorist wind.

 

Meanwhile, the toupee was having a much better time, wafting happily

through the air, out of reach of greedy hands and greasy heads.

Having eventually had enough air, it landed,

like a very hairy butterfly, in Mrs Pumpernickel's prized petunias.

 

Barry wished he could just call

"Toooooooooooooupeeeeeeeee...heeeeeeere toupee,

toupee, toupee " out to it like a cat and it would come bouncing

back and curl up nicely on his head. But instead he had to sneak

into the little garden, trampling all over the pretty plants and

search for his lost hair while the flower petals screamed in

pain.

 

He was not aware Mrs Pumpernickel was watching from her lair.

 

"Oi- you!" she shrilled, squinting beady little eyes at Barry.

 

"Iíve, ahh, Iíve lost my hair "

 

"Well, I can see that! But what the hell are you doing in my

petunias, you lout?"

 

"Looking for it!"

 

"Your hair?! You fool! Your haaaaaiiirr?!" she screeched.

 

"Yes, you see-"

 

"I see you massacring my beautiful flowers - my children! Get out -

out, out, out, out, out!"

 

"But - but it cost me-"

 

"OUT! Out before I call the cops, you dole-bludging, dope-smoking,

sex-crazed, migrant lover you! Get out!"

 

Bazza obeyed, geriatrics scared him like nothing else. It was

something about how close they were to death, maybe it was

contagious.

 

He jogged to the corner, then rested for twice as long as his

run. He was about to walk off more sullenly than before when he

spotted, right in front of him, Top Quality Modelling Agency.Right

where Harding's House of Whores used to be, he noted and walked in

confidently.

 

There he got lucky, not like some used to, but booked a few

good-looking girls for Sunday. And he didn't get a parking fine

after all.

 

So Bazza was able to happily drive off into the sunset (the

clouds were clearing), his mind busy forming lists of lists he'd

have to make.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I hope you liked that. If you would be interested in reading more

i can email the file or post a hard copy.

 

Thank you for your time, i understand you must be busy.

 

 

sincerely yours,

~Paula Hanasz


 

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Sex and le/la Computer

by Net Anon

 

A language instructor was explaining to her class that in French, nouns,

unlike their English counterparts, are grammatically designated as

masculine or feminine.

 

House," in French, is feminine - "la maison."

Pencil," in French, is masculine "le crayon."

 

One puzzled student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"

 

The teacher did not know, and the word wasn't in her French dictionary.

So for fun she split the class into two groups appropriately enough, by

gender and asked them to decide whether "computer" should be a masculine

or feminine noun. Both groups were required to give four reasons for

their recommendation.

 

The men's group decided that computers should definitely be of the

feminine gender ("la computer"), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is

incomprehensible to everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for

possible later retrireview; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending

half your paycheck on accessories for it.

 

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine

("le computer"), because:

1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but they are still clueless;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they

ARE the problem; and

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you'd waited a

little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

 

(JUST FOR THE RECORD, MY FRENCH CONNECTION TELLS ME THAT IT IS DEFINITELY

Le COMPUTER)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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