Tuesday, 25 November 2014


As a very little girl – perhaps five years old – I dreamed of being a trapeze artist. It is possible I was influenced by old circus films and frothy pink costumes, but I believe the desire spoke to something deeper than that which I had seen with my physical eyes. I believe it spoke to something embedded in my spirit before I was formed in my mother’s womb; that when God dreamed me up He also planted in me the dream that would lead me to places of fulfilment.
            For most of this year I have been travelling and speaking to groups about Marion Fromm’s work with landmine survivors and the book I wrote about this. In her childhood she dreamed of defying convention to do dangerous and outrageous things like smuggling bibles into China – all of which prepared her for what she does, today, in Cambodia. I use my trapeze story to illustrate how childhood ambitions seem to influence our adult choices and interests and how this was so in Marion’s life. I encourage my audiences to allow the resurrection of dreams that died long ago, and use them to fulfil their deepest heart desires.
            This has led me to thinking about trapezes and what this might say about the dream God embedded in me before I was born: perhaps it did say something about my enjoyment of performance – singing, acting, public speaking – but if that was the case why do I so dislike heights? And why have I never been interested in anything remotely sporty or physical?
            Recently, I woke up thinking about a picture that a week or so prior had appeared on my Face Book. In a split second a trapeze superimposed itself on it. It was like a window opening on my soul. Suddenly, it made sense.

           Learn to view things from a heavenly perspective. And dream big with God.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Whittling With Words

A recent topic at my writing group posed the question, “What most lights your fire about writing?” Was it the aspect of being able to go anywhere, anytime, in flights of fancy? Was it the opportunity for unfettered self-expression? Was it simply to delight in fencing with the English language? Of course, it was all of those things, but the last one hit the sweet spot. Without a doubt it’s in the process of crafting a piece of writing that I find the most pleasure.
            I spend time finding just the right word. I get lost in a thesaurus, going down side tracks and detours of meaning and nuance, until I find the one word that sings to me. It fascinates me that the right word is rarely an unusual or lengthy one but a simple one of common usage. Placing that one right word in a phrase, and then a sentence, where all the other words have rhythm that complement it, is rather like a piece of music where particular intervals between notes make for a more striking melody.
            Like an old-timer on the front porch whittling away at a stick to make a whimsy toy to amuse his grandchildren, I can whittle away at words; building a sentence to build a paragraph and, from there, a short story or a chapter in a book.  
            The shavings? That’s called ‘editing’.

Monday, 15 September 2014

With the release of my first book earlier this year I was dreaming and living bigger than I imagined was possible. For several months the adrenalin rush energised and sustained me through bouts of panic. I discovered I wasn’t a coward, people received me and the book and…hey, this is fun!
                Then a fresh wave of inadequacy dumped on me. Exhaustion set in. Scouting for prospective speaking engagements became the equivalent of a hike along Kokoda. Could I keep doing this? And for how long? I wasn’t getting any younger, so did I really want to push myself this hard?
                This was alarming enough, but when it began to affect my longer term dreams, I knew I was in trouble. Will I be able to continue short term mission trips to Cambodia? Will I have the energy to go, one more time, to Finland? Will I ever visit the Pitjajinjara Lands and sit in a circle with its women? Will I ever finish the novel that’s been in my heart for nearly twenty years? Contemplating the last one brought me to my knees. And I’m still not on my feet, not really.
                But the truth is I have come too far to go back.  Like the Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Track, it’s down to one foot in front of the other, keep up and keep on, or lie down and die.  The only shame is in giving up.
                It's time to stop gasping for breath and put on a shark suit.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

On Cinquains and Sixties Satire

At a recent workshop meeting of my writing group I learnt to write a cinquain – a poem of eleven words over five lines: first line of one noun; second line of two adjectives to describe that noun; line three of three verbs; line four, a four word phrase (a poet’s comment on the noun); last line, a noun relating back to first one).  I can write a cinquain while I wait for a bus. Cinquaines may replace crossword puzzles as my brain gym!
            It set me to wondering; why don’t I write more poetry?  It’s so satisfying, playing with words in ways that delight me and which are so different to writing prose fiction. At school - somehow, sometime - I was infected with the idea that real poetry rhymed and rhyming was hard. Also, poetry was deep, meaningful and serious, which meant it couldn’t be fun.  I had not yet been introduced to the irony and satire of the likes of John Donne, and Roger McGough and Bruce Dawe weren’t in school texts yet.
            Fast forward to 2014. Current time constraints mean I can put together a poem for my monthly writing group more readily than I can write a short story and so I‘ve been ‘having a go’ at verse. It’s also interesting to me that I find it easier to be more light-hearted and amusing in poetry that in prose. Perhaps I can put this down to exposure to the lyrics of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, which were so enjoyed by my mother.           
            Today I unearthed another possibility: rummaging through some second hand CDs I found “Tom Lehrer in Concert” and was instantly transported back to the 60’s. A fellow boarder in the church-run hostel in which I lived had managed to get her hands on a copy, despite the fact that his recordings of satirical humour in verse - accompanied by some clever piano playing - were banned in Australia at the time. Lehrer’s cleverly observant anarchic satire was typical of 60’s uni student humour. Listening to his songs today made me grin with pleasure. What fun they are and how tame by modern standards. 

Friday, 6 June 2014


Kez frowned and twirled a strand of hair round one finger.
            “I feel as though I’ve forgotten something. Can’t think what it would be.”
            Martin lowered the book he’d just opened and contemplated his wife over the top of his glasses.
            “Of course you can’t. You’ve forgotten it, remember.” He returned his attention to the book, shaking loose papers from it onto his chest. “Someone’s forgotten they’ve left all this stuff in here.”
            “Looks like library receipts,” said Kez, reaching over to snatch up the nearest. “Gosh! Who borrows nine books at once?”
            Martin pretended to snatch it back, but Kez held it out of reach, reading out book titles at arm’s length.
            “ ‘Old Filth’. There’s a title to conjure with. ‘Eros Defiled’, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, ‘Love in a Cold Climate’, ‘Nights in Rhodanthe.’ Whoever it is, she’s definitely reading to a theme. I suppose it’s a her.  Oh damn!” She swung her legs out of bed, tossing the receipt to one side. “That’s what it is! Supposed to meet the White Knight for coffee this morning. Damn! Have to rush now. I’ll turn up looking a right mess.” She disappeared into the ensuite.
            As usual, Martin smiled at his wife’s name for her friend, Barb. It was an apt nick name for a woman who affected an all-white wardrobe and a reputation for marrying lame ducks. He picked up the other pieces fallen from the book and unfolded the largest. It was an overdue book notification, complete with name and address.
            “Hey, Kez,” he shouted against the noise of the shower. “Guess, what?”


Kez lowered her latte to its saucer and asked, “Read any interesting books lately, Barbie? Like…visited the library?”
            “Silly. Book groups are your hobby. When do I have time to read? Real life is much more interesting.”
            “Just wondering. Thought your ‘latest’ might like you to read aloud to him.”
            “Not like you to be catty, Kez. He hasn’t had a great education, but I’m proud to be Mrs. Roger Black. He’s got charisma, and he’s willing, and with a bit of help from me he’ll turn his life around and make something of himself. He’s got real potential.”
            “As what?”
            “As a writer, that’s what!” Barb flicked her blonde mane and adjusted the lapel of her cashmere jacket. “Oh, Kez, he shuts himself in the study for hours, won’t let me interrupt. And then, at night, he reads it to me. He’s got talent, he really has.”
            Kez wasn’t convinced, but Barb had once worked in the publishing world, and she used to be a reader, before she started collecting husbands. It’s possible she’d recognise a potential best seller. 
            “Well, I’d be happy to read the manuscript. Copy edit, too, if he wants,” she said, stroking a few ruffled feathers.
            “Would you? That would be wonderful! Especially as I’ve got a publisher who’s agreed to look at it.”
            “Not Bernard?”
             “Yes.” Barb giggled.  “At least one of my exes came up trumps.”


By the time his book hit the shelves Roger had moved on to join Barbie’s list of exes. Not only did he still have a library card in her name, he had signed a contract for further titles to be published under the pseudonym of B. Knight-Black.
            “Barb should have him for identity theft,” said Martin.
            “Yep. Right after Bernard sues him for plagiarism, I reckon,” said Kez.

© Rhonda Pooley  4.6.14                                                                                

Friday, 2 May 2014

 (inspired by a cafe name)

In the Garden of Eatin’
Dining sparse and wise leaves us bereft,
Crying “My genes aren’t my fault, it’s not fair!”
So with devil’s desire we eat, as we please, from the sinister tree on the left
And the result we must suck up and bear.

In the Garden of Eatin’
Choice is undeniable,
Though its root is more pride than need.
To shy at fences of self-denial we’re liable,
Opting less for nutrition than greed.

Too soon in the Garden of Eatin’
We’re faced with a widening girth,
Gut-groaning regret, and reflux at night.
With a wardrobe now useless, we ask “What’s it worth?
Time to dine from the life-giving tree on the right!
For it’s true…desiring a devilish tree
Is to eat inappropriately.”

© Rhonda Pooley  30.4.13

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Pigeons rachet from a branch,
Like brittle pages, wind riffles leaves,
Low, bruised nimbus are summer’s thieves.
A change is on the way.
Blinds rattle, a door slams,
Raindrops in dust find sudden death,
All that lives holds its breath.
A change is on the way.

Wind-whipped wrappers, like baubles, on gates,
Ink lines of ants homeward scurry
Gaggles of children from schoolyards hurry.
A change is on the way.
Hatches are battened, chairs flattened,
Hasty unpegging of laundry to plunder,
A howling dog competing with thunder.
A change is on the way.

A ripping lights the sky,
A smattering, a splattering
A drizzling, a mizzling
And zigzags rend the sky
A rivulet, a brooklet
A-streaming, a-teeming
Rush, gush, lush
Cool change.

 © Rhonda Pooley  2014

Sunday, 9 March 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour
Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky invited me to My Writing Process blog tour. Link to her at 

What am I working on?
At the moment I only have time for short story writing because I’m busy making a platform of speaking engagements to showcase my book Cambodian Harvest which will be released in April. I’m looking forward to getting back to working on my novel which has an historical premise. You can read my latest short pieces, Of Mice and Angels, on Rhonda Pooley - Writer (blog)
 or A Day At The Beach  on https://www.facebook.com/rhondapooleywriter?fref=ts   

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
In terms of the biography, Cambodian Harvest, I have aimed for a journalistic approach which is not common among Christian biographers. I particularly admire Peter McSimons’ style (although not necessarily his politics!). My short stories and novel might be termed ‘literary fiction’ by some, but they aren’t so high falutin’ as that - trust me!

Why do I write what I do?
I’m interested in how the past impinges on the present - for better or worse – and how people handle that. My stories reflect this even when I haven’t set out with that consciously in mind. I write from a biblical world view, but with a non-Christian audience in mind.

How does my writing process work?
Slowly! And I’m a very linear sort of fiction writer. I like to start at what I think is the beginning and then work with a particular ending in mind. But in practice it rarely works out like that. Achieving a good ending is always the hardest thing for me.

Next week you will meet Anusha Atukorala on the Writing Process Blog Tour. Anusha is an accomplished public speaker as well as a writer of encouragement and warmth. Visit her at ‘Dancing in the Rain’:  anusha-atukorala.webnode.com 
I have invited two more writers but I haven't had confirmation and information from them yet.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Murial Mouse, in black beret and red smock, paused, paint brush in hand. Friend Merry gave an admiring sigh.
            “How come you’re so famous, Murial?”
            “Pull up a cushion and I’ll tell you,” said Murial, wiping a speck of paint from her nose with the back of her paw.
            “While I was still a bump in mummy’s tummy, she dreamed a dream about me. At the time, she was eating cheese and reading about Mike the angel who painted his sister’s chapel, so she…”
            “Don’t you mean…?” interrupted Friend Merry.
            Murial raised an imperious paw and made a mouth zipping motion.                            
            “…So she knew about big dreams. She dreamed I would paint…heaven.”
            Murial closed both eyes and paused as though waiting for a drum roll to stop. “When she told me about it, it became my very favouritest bedtime story. ‘Merle,’ she’d say, ‘Merle…’
            “But your name isn’t Merle,” frowned Friend Merry.
            “How do you expect me to finish this story if you keep interrupting,” snapped Murial.
            “’Merle’, she’d say, ‘Anyone can dream big dreams, but they come to pass little by little. You must remember that.’ So I practised painting, first on a mouse pad, then on a mouse tarp.”
            “Do you mean a mouse trap?”
            “I mean one of those big plastic sheet things that cover mouse holes and keep out the rain. Where was I? Oh yes,” Murial continued, “One day it occurred to me that if that Mike angel chap could paint ceilings, I could paint walls. So I painted my bedroom, the bathroom, the long wall in the hallway…”
            “Different colours or all the same?”
            Murial raised one eyebrow.
            “I painted white horses and thrones, and rainbows and a huge crystal sea. I used all four walls of the kitchen to do the angels, of course, because of there being thousands of them. And that, dear Merry, is how I came to be famous.” She twitched her whiskers. “And how I got my new name.”
            “How so, Murial?”
            “Because of painting all those Murials, of course.”
            “But, but, but…” squeaked Friend Merry, jumping up and down, “You mean a…a… mural!
            “Exactly,” said Murial, striking a pose at her easel.

NB: Murial’s mum was a big fan of the Bible. She knew about Joseph and Abraham. That’s how she knew about big dreams. Murial knew about heaven from reading the Book of Revelations chapters 4, 5 and 19 and also Ezekiel chapter 1. And if you read Revelations 3:12 you will see she is not the only person to get a new name.

© Rhonda Pooley 2012


It’s weird. I feel weird! On April 1st (it’s a good thing I’m not superstitious) my book will be on the shelves, actually in print and available for purchase. It’s been two years of my life given to researching, interviewing and writing, a year looking for the best publishing option, and almost another year waiting for its release.  And now the hard work begins, they tell me. Marketing.
            I think I will enjoy this part when I’m actually doing it. I like people. I like listening to their stories, I like telling my own.  But merely thinking about the cold calling to make the opportunities to do that is daunting.  It reminds me of those last few minutes when you’re standing in the wings about to make your stage entrance. Sweat-making terrifying. But it’s all onward and forward and lead on, McDuff, because you can’t stand still. The show has to go on. So I need to give myself a daily pep talk, keep my eye on the prize, and engage in the journey one step at a time.
            I’m reminded that prizes and treasures are very often at the end of dark tunnels and hidden in dark caves, so I’ll be looking for light, and some light bulb moments, to lead the way. And that brings to mind a really old hymn:
                                    Lead, kindly Light…Lead thou me on
                                    Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
                                    The distant scene; one step enough for me.*

* Cardinal John Henry Newman

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


It was a fact. We were sick of lush meadows stuffed behind clumps of rhododendron and boring rows of hawthorn.  Six months away from home and we were hanging out for sun-parched paddocks and a sea that was clear blue, with sand that was warm under foot. Dad promised us a holiday at a proper beach. He kept his word, but even he couldn’t deliver good weather for it.
            Our holiday arrived in a squall of wind and rain, but Dan and I climbed into the car behind Mum and Dad and chattered all the way. We were sure the bruised clouds would disappear and those weather leprechauns would turn on summer for us. The purple ‘dendrons gave way to open road and eventually we glimpsed snatches of sea at the end of long fingers of rock pointing into the Atlantic.  To our cries of ‘Are we there yet?’ just to annoy Dad, the car swept round the last bend and there it was…the sea. But no sand. The ocean, driven by the force of an Atlantic gale, had overwhelmed all trace of sand and was pounding the low wall of the Strand. We stood beside the car, hunched against the wind like the spindly grasses bent horizontal at our feet.
            A distant tanker pitched and rolled, slowly being driven onto Bull Rock whose monstrous granite head seethed foam through ranks of black teeth. We watched as a tiny orange craft struggled to winch small figures to safety. A tide of black oil grew wider.
            We went back again the next day to join a small crowd on the cliff top. We stood in silence watching the still-furious sea. That ship died before our eyes; a grey hulk breaking up in Joyce’s snot-green sea; a bull elephant lowering itself into a muddy waterhole.
            It was a slow death. Dan and I were quickly bored.
            ‘D’you think there’ll be some sand tomorrow?’ we asked.
Mum explained about the oil slick.
            ‘It’s not fair! Stuck here all week and no beach?’
Dad gave us a look that said, that’s enough, and then he turned to Mum and cocked a thumb at the tanker.
            ‘Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles,’ he said.  ‘Ship happens.’
We had no idea why Mum and Dad dissolved into helpless laughter.
            A year later Dad’s job took us back to Australia. Our very first treat was a day at Bondi.

© Rhonda Pooley, 2014                      A DAY AT THE BEACH

Thursday, 9 January 2014

My book Cambodian Harvest is now listed on Koorong bookshop's website, and will be available for purchase 1st April 2014. The dream becoming reality!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

                                        SLEEP, FAITH AND THE WRITING LIFE

OK, the silly season is over. It’s time to get back to work, or to writing. There are people who think it’s not the same thing. Whichever, it involves a few adjustments, which is why I tore out two newspaper items (annoying my husband in the process) that eventually provoked this post.
            The first one was headed, ‘Sleep loss a kick to the head’ which discussed a study that found going without sleep causes changes to the brain that resemble those that result from a blow to the head.  Indicators of brain damage from concussion, for example, include a rise in NSE and S-100B chemicals in the blood. The same rise in NSE and S-100B is shown in people who went without sleep for just one night.
            The second item concerned scientific research that indicates that people with religious belief have ‘thicker’ sections of brain. These thicknesses enhance a person’s resistance to depression.
            Both of these studies have implications for writers – well, this particular one, anyway. When I’m committed to disciplined writing, I’m inclined to both sleeplessness and bouts of low spirits. I’ve been known to sit up all night to write and that can cause me to be pretty tired and ‘low’ the next day - especially so, if I’m not happy with what I’ve written, in which case I could sink into a real ‘slough of despond’ (thank you, Mr Bunyan; no one has described it better!). But generally speaking, I no longer descend that far, because a faith-based outlook has been my preferred option for many years now. In those years before I had faith in Jesus Christ I often found it difficult to get out of bed, let alone muster confidence to put pen to paper.
            So, there I have it. To write efficiently I need to make sure I get a good night’s sleep, and then, so I don’t get depressed about how the work is progressing, I need to keep faith in the God who loved me enough to die for me. Simple, isn't it?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Pushing Out the Boat

       Yes, it's all about pushing out the boat at the moment...a little bit more every day. Yesterday, the pushing involved working on a brochure; today, its about setting up Blog and Face Book pages that relate directly to the writing process and the books I write, particularly Cambodian Harvest  which will be released in April this year.  In the journey it often seems I'm right out in the middle of the Pacific without a paddle, but I'm learning!

       What is your dream?  Are you willing to leave your familiar harbour to reach it?