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Caring for our fragile world

I had borne guilt and despair on the fate of our over-populated and polluted planet for many years. Then in a waking moment, I saw how I, a lowly middle-aged nobody, could save the Earth, her people and all her precious life.

It's the final, the siren to end the game is due any moment, and the ball tumbles goalwards. Our supporters roar, willing the ball to be straight and true, though some, like me, hold their breath. A goal will win the game for our team.

My local dog club runs a season-ending Fun Day with events designed to be fun and to test the bond between members and their dogs. Our most popular events include fancy dress, an agility-type slalom, a saveloy race (relay, not eating!), the waggliest tail and an event we call the "Ned Kelly".

My Lab Harry is almost eleven and half-years-old. He’s never been a very energetic dog – as I’ve commented to my training classes, his heeling in dog obedience rings was like dragging around a reluctant sack of potatoes!

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Fiction

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A faded photo of my dad from the 1970s inspired this microfiction. He had a faraway look in his eyes and a Mona Lisa smile on his much younger face. As art lovers have done for centuries with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, I wondered what was on my dad's mind when the photo was taken?

To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The rules were simple: tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280! The top ten stories to be published on the Meanjin Blog and the authors paid $1 a word.

"Fiction writers, magicians, politicians and priests are the only people rewarded for entertaining us with their lies." ~ Bangambiki Habyarimana

It's a warm, sunny day and I'm strolling along Brighton Promenade during my lunch break. The seagulls are circling and squawking and the sun's shimmering on the flat blue-green English Channel.

My class had a lesson on "conservation" at school the other day. Miss said that this was where people reused old things or used new things more carefully. She said conservation was important to stop the world from getting more dirty and to help make it healthy again.

"And now the piece de resistance," the old Colonel announced, leading his guest into a sunlit garden. "What do you think?" he enquired, waving his walking stick at the garden's centrepiece. Two life-size marble figures stood face to face, their hands caressing each other, their lips fused in a kiss.

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Nonfiction

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Dahab sits on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, 80 km northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh on the bottom tip, 148 km south of Israel and Jordan, and across the Gulf of Aqaba from Saudi Arabia, whose desert hills are visible from the beachfront on sunrise and sunset.

It's little wonder many writers thank their editors in forewords, dedications and acknowledgements. As I've found writing book reviews for Writing NSW, editors have a magic touch when it comes to reviewing a writer's work and suggestings edits.

"When you deal with nonfiction you deal with human characters." ~ Marya Hornbacher

As a kid growing up in Perth, W.A., in the 1960s and ’70s, I didn’t learn about the Vietnam War from classroom history lessons. Vietnam and the broader Indochina War were on our radio and TV news every morning and evening and in the front page headlines of our daily newspapers.

To help overcome writer's block and start writing the first sentences of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway is said to have reminded himself: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

One day in 2001, I saw Amy the yellow lab in Queens Park with her owner, “The bloke with a beard”. He told me that ‘John had died’ and ‘Amy was missing him’. It took a few moments before I realised he was talking about a fellow dog walker, “The old bloke who walked Amy the lab for his neighbour”.

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Reviews

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It is Christmas Day 1994 at Bilgoa Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. A "pink shouldered" Charlie Bright is pacing up and down on the sand at the water's edge, "like a coach on the touchline", calling out to his children, mastering their sleek new Christmas present surfboards on the waves.

When Writing NSW asked if I would like to review On the Blue Train by Kristel Thornell, a novel about the eleven days in 1926 when Agatha Christie disappeared, I thought it would be an interesting assignment and a chance to learn more about this famous author and to perhaps finally read one of her books.

"When you're tired of book reviews, you're tired of life." ~ Lev Grossman

This ancient-world whodunnit, A Roman Death, is set in 45 BC. Julius Caesar is at the height of his power, yet disquiet grows under his dictatorship. The Ides of March looms and Rome will soon descend into turmoil. And yet Caesar's is not the only Roman death!

Over the summer holidays, I caught an ABC Science Show podcast, The Year in Tech. Science reporter, Ariel Bogle, discussed with her editor, Jonathan Webb, tech stories that had caught her eye in 2017. She opened with an audio clip from the Ex Machina movie that instantly spiked my interest.

Dog On It is the first book in Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series. It’s a detective novel, featuring Bernie Little, “a slightly down-at-heel private investigator” and Chet, his “partially K-9 trained” dog. Chet is also the narrator of the story.

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