Independence Centenary of Finnish heroism!

Finland–and Finns globally–celebrate today, 6 December! My Grandad’s brother Edvard fought in the Civil War, and his son Rolf in the 1940s to win freedom from Russian overlords. 

Edvard Back soldier 2_NH

How Finnish “sisu” won freedom

This typical Finnish tenacity has been described as digging through a cement wall with a spoon, but you keep going. Since exploring my heritage I feel awed by the Finns’ tenacity to wrest freedom from Russian overlords, in true David vs. Goliath fashion.

Hero Edvard (at right) off to the Civil War

Russians invaded again in 1939

My father’s cousin Rolf Back enlisted in 1942 to fight in the crack unit, the Jaegars—on skis! He went on thirty patrols over the Soviet lines into Russian territory, wearing a white camouflage cape. (More of his unique stories next blog.)

CELEBRATION SPECIALS

Read their heroic stories (Special Independence Centenary prices!) Visit http://www.ruthbonetti.com/burn-my-letters/

Download an eBook now at Booktopia. (Did I say Amazon last blog? Working to fix a glitch in that system.)

Opposing sides

Victory owed much to Commander-in-Chief Mannerheim’s deployment of Jaeger regiments trained in Germany and armed with German weapons. During those crucial wars that led to Finland’s freedom (Civil War, Winter War and Continuation War) how did brothers at the other side of the world view the Finland-Russia-German struggle?

Edvard’s brothers Karl Johan Back and Wilhelm Anders Back viewed “The Hun” as their foe. They emigrated to escape conscription into the Russian army. In their land of refuge, Australians rejected conscription in two referenda.

Australian Displays of Patriotism

My grandfather W.A.Back made conspicuous donations to the war effort, second only to the mayor’s. WA raised money by driving people in his new automobile to farewell soldiers—for a fee. He and other family sent loads of provisions to aid Finns and other Europeans .

The pacifist dissenter brother Karl Johan protested his patriotism by writing two books A Consolidated History of Australia and The Royal Toast.
Locals suspected that KJ spied for the Germans, for he tended his bananas on the ridge by lantern light. But what is night to a Finn?
[Excerpt from Award-winning Burn My Letters available at our webstore.]

Jaeger soldier Rolf Back 

The sequel Midnight Sun to Southern Cross shares a family view of Finland’s history, more personal memoir and heritage discoveries. 5-star reviews at Goodreads.com and Amazon.

Download now at Booktopia.

Let’s celebrate with the Finns on 6 December!

Writers journey into print

Most authors traverse potholes on their paths to print.

Publishers rejected big name authors like J. K. Rowling, John le Carré, C.S. Lewis  (800 rejections) and now may regret their decisions. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before publication. Many self-published and were later “discovered” by big publishers. There’s an idea…

Self-Publish or Perish?

Encouragement is sweet!Burn-My-Letters-Caleb-prize-Omega-Writers

At Omega Writers‘ Sydney Conference Awards Night, Burn My Letters was announced winner of the CALEB Nonfiction prize. 

Its hero, Karl Johan Back, knew REJECTION. CENSORSHIP.

In 1899, the year “KJ” fled Finland, the Russian regime Board of Censors shut down four newspapers, and seven in 1900.

Why did Russian police track him to Suez?KJ Back and Orchid Hint: he described his writing as “pen-fighting.”

KJ self-published two books from his safe haven overlooking Byron Bay. In 1920, he tried to present a Morocco-bound copy of The Royal Toast to the visiting Prince of  Wales, hoping for patronage.

 PR Photo and Reviews

KJ mailed copies to newspapers. Some reviews were kind, others tepid or cutting:

“It should rank as one of the curiosities of Australian literature.”

“Twenty years ago Mr Back could not speak a word of English but now he is a fluent speaker and has absorbed the ideas and ideals of Australia.”

One noted that KJ was no Tennyson and advised against printing further books. Ouch!

Covers-1

KJ plays the Facebook PR game!

His Facebook page channels through his great-niece author, Ruth. OK, he died in 1962–that’s magical realism!

CHRISTMAS BOOK SPECIALS

from our webstore until 25 December!

5-star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Download eBooks there.

Celebrate Finland’s Independence

On 6 December, Finland celebrates its Centenary of Independence from Russian overlords. KJ’s brother Edvard fought in the Civil War, and nephew Rolf in the 1040s Continuation War, on ski patrols over the border into Russia (read more in Midnight Sun to Southern Cross). Perhaps KJ’s earlier “pen fighting” contributed in some way?

Christmas Book Flood

In Iceland, books are exchanged as Christmas Eve presents, to be read through the night while eating chocolates. This tradition is part of a season called Jolabokarflod or Christmas Book Flood.

That’s a great idea for a blessed Christmas and rejuvenating rest.

Writing Life Stories

What more precious gift to relatives and future generations than to write a family history or memoir? Do it now, before stories and insights are lost to dementia and coffins.

But how? HEAR TIPS IN COMING AUTHOR TALKS

  • EVERTON HILLS, Brisbane 21 September 7–8.30pm  Between the Lines Book Club – Hills Church 79 Queens Rd Everton Hills All welcome.
  • TOOWONG Library, Friday 22 September 10–11 am. Bookings: 3403 2590
  • CORINDA Library, Tuesday 26 September 10.30–11.30. Bookings: 3407 7701.

Consider: for whom do you write?

  • Will you circulate amongst family some copies produced at the local print shop?
  • Or might your stories resonate with Everyman and Everywoman?Back_family_collage.png

That challenging option, with good marketing and distribution, can reach more readers. If so, one writes with relatives peering over the shoulder, while wondering what flak the finished book might draw. They caution: “Change the names, write a novel, and avoid offence.” Kate Grenville took this sensible option with The Secret River.

My attempts to novelise felt stilted. Why waste my treasure trove of archival letters and diminish a great story? Let the characters speak for themselves. Narrative nonfiction morphed into memoir as I discovered and interpreted stories. Accepting my role as storyteller unlocked the cage to write more freely. Others might write different books, equally valid.
(Photo shows my great-grandparents with Granddad front left, ca. 1895 in Finland.)

Spot the black sheep? 

Some families draft ancestors into pens of white and black sheep, with little variegation between. What demons drove the reprobate to that more interesting story? Perhaps perspectives were slanted against him or her? My research validated a black sheep dismissed by my family yet appreciated by those at the other end of the world–who understood what propelled his actions. Avoiding all conflict makes for dull reading and robs readers of the opportunities to learn from generational patterns.

Shame on the family!

What family tree doesn’t sprout illegitimate twigs? Recent generations shrug but Great Aunt Flossie has concealed scandals with hushed euphemisms for her 90 years. She threatens legal action if her family name is besmirched. Living relatives cannot sue on behalf of “defamed” deceased. The defamation twins are libel (written words) and slander (spoken) false or malicious statements that damage someone’s reputation. Avoid pitfalls with nonjudgmental, factual reporting.
If you choose narrative nonfiction, cover yourself with upfront disclaimers:  “This is my interpretation…” and intersperse “I imagine that…” and “perhaps…” throughout. Endnotes can delineate fact from elaboration and acknowledge sources.

Dare to share?

Fact checking early drafts might elicit useful information–or invite criticism. Steel yourself for unsolicited advice: “Don’t include aspects that dishonour ancestors…”
Memorise a short but gracious mantra:
“Thank you. I hear what you say. I’ll choose appropriate content with care and prayer.”
Clamp your mouth on time-wasting justifications.

But what is truth? 

Contradictions are inevitable when sifting truths from myths of oral history.
Relatives view my many-faceted Grandfather from varied kaleidoscope angles to mine. This is the paradox of history; the events of World War 1 written by people from Germany, France, England or Australia would differ, even contradict in parts. Then, my emigre grandfather viewed “The Hun” as foe; back home in Finland, his brother fought in the Civil War backed by German training and weapons.Edvard_soldier_crop_NH
Relatives who share letters, documents, information and memories may envisage the book they would write and recoil if your version departs from their preconceptions.
My preferred style is life writing, to look under the surface of dates, events and facts and find the persons beneath. What drove two brothers to flee their native Finland to settle at the far end of the earth? Did they struggle, away from the security of the nest? Of course.
After a decade of research, countless drafts and edits, Burn My Letters and its sequel Midnight Sun to Southern Cross face the world–to positive reviews.
Available on Amazon (hard copy and eBook). Order autographed copies with Paypal at the web store.
                       (Adapted from a blog in Christian Writers Downunder Blogspot)

Ruth’s Words and Music

Queensland winters are balmy, all three weeks of them. Spring is in the air. I must rouse myself from (relative) hibernation to action a hectic time of Author Talks, readings, writers’ festival sessions. And music.

Sunny Sunshine Coast Book Launch

Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival director Wendy O’Hanlon launches Midnight Sun to Southern Cross at 10.15 on Sunday 13 August. 

“Writing Life Stories: Herding Black Sheep, Cupboard Skeletons and Libel Threats!”

Coolum, Saturday 12 August 11.30am.

Ruth urges; “What more precious gift to relatives and future generations than to write a family history or memoir? Do it now, before stories and insights are lost to dementia and coffins. This session offers tips to chart through choppy familial waters.”

FinnFest presentation, Sat 19 August 11 am

FinnFest Title

A tale of two brothers (the black sheep and the powerhouse businessman) who emigrated from Finland to Australia round 1900 to escape conscription into the Russian army.  Book signing and presentation hosted by Finncare. Video and audio footage and photographs illustrate readings from archival letters and Ruth’s books: Burn My Letters and Midnight Sun to Southern Cross.

Includes live music:

  • Sibelius’ Swan of Tuonela played by Finnish musician Emily Salonen (cor anglais) with pianist Peter Crane.
  • Ruth will play a Menuetto by Finnish composer Bernhard Crusell on clarinet.Emily-Salonen-Finn-Fest-Sibelius-cor-anglais
  • Finnish music from her grandfather’s home village played by string quartet.

See book reviews on Amazon (hard copy and eBook) and Goodreads (Feel free to add your own comments.)

Or buy autographed copies at the web store.
Brisbane Library Author TalksWA Big House Finn mag

Readings from Midnight Sun to Southern Cross of Ruth’s childhood memories of W. A. Back’s iconic Art Deco Hawken Drive “Big House with a lift in it!” and his part in the early development of St Lucia.

Hawken Dr liftWhat drove her Finnish Migrant-Made-Good grandfather?

He emigrated in 1902 to escape conscription into the Russian army.

 

 

  • ASHGROVE Library, Saturday 2 September 1–2pm. Bookings: 07 3407 1940
  • TOOWONG Library, Friday 22 September 10–11 am. Bookings: 3403 2590
  • CORINDA Library, Tuesday 26 September 10.30–11.30. Bookings: 3407 7701

FREE events but bookings essential.

(For details type Ruth Bonetti in the RH search web space.)

And Music

The Brisbane Symphony Orchestra season of delicious Mozart and Mahler is a pleasure to rehearse. We’ll perform Marriage of Figaro Overture, Piano Concerto No 22 with Suzanna Hlinka and Mahler 4th Symphony on 10 September (Sunshine Coast) and 17 September (Brisbane).

Life is never dull! Seize the moment. Enjoy.

  • And enjoy reading Jeanette O’Hagan’s review!

Out-Shine Competition and impress judges

You’re about to walk into a public spotlight. How to present a glowing, winning persona and performance? Communicate confidence based on your solid preparation and ability…

Whether your platform is words or music

It’s music competition season and my students compete this weekend. My lesson tips are refreshed from recent adjudicating at Mt Isa Eisteddfod, west of my birthplace. The train passed our sheep property, but never carried me west to Mt Isa.

My recent memoir Midnight Sun to Southern Cross describes my outback childhood and steps on my journey to become a Classical musician and educator. Of my culture shock when plunged into city schools after correspondence lessons in remote Queensland and transition from shy outback child into one who now enjoys communicating.

Covers-1Read on for Tips to Shine.

But first, sound a gong!

I’m thrilled that  Burn My Letters is shortlisted for the CALEB 2017 Nonfiction competition. It’s  the first book of my saga.

Winners will be announced at the Omega Writers Conference in Sydney 29 October.

Preparation: Remote control and sound test before if possible

What an experience to adjudicate recorder players via webinar at the Mt Isa School of the Air. How impressive that teachers instruct with no visual cues or demonstration so remote youngsters can learn music and compete.

FullSizeRender 2

Rural Internet is too poor for Skype so judging was on pure sound, no visuals. Young recorder competitors blew too close to the mic so I jumped in my chair at their initial raw sounds.

Performance Tips for Backstage

• Hand on forehead and slow deep breaths calms excess adrenaline.
• Buzz lips to prevent tension squeaks (clarinet and saxophone).
• Stand against a wall for upright posture.
• BREATHE!

Make a positive first impression

  • Walk on with upright posture that says ‘I am the greatest!’ Smile or exude gravitas.
  • Take a moment to poise before beginning. Breathe.

Tips to stand out from the crowd

When many deserve places the adjudicator prays for someone to shine. Colour your performance/presentation with wide range of dynamics/tonal colour. Just as actors exaggerate their vocal tone, facials and body language, so winning musicians exaggerate and contrast dynamics.

In my own coming presentations…

 Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival director Wendy O’Hanlon launches Midnight Sun at 10.15 on 13 August at Coolum.

I’ll share tips on Writing Memoir and Historical Biography Saturday 12 August 11.30.

FinnFest Presentation 19 August 11am at Finlandia Village, 343 Cleveland-Redland Bay Road, Thornlands Brisbane

FinnFest Title

Includes live music:

  • Sibelius’ Swan of Tuonela played by Emily Salonen (cor anglais) with Peter Crane (piano).
  • I’ll play a Menuetto by Finnish composer Bernhard Crusell on clarinet.
  • Finnish music from my grandfather’s home village played by string quartet.

I’ll remind myself that:

A mistake, glitch, or fluffed note is not doom. (I tell my clarinet students ‘If you squeak, make it a good one!’)

Think ‘Even though I stuff up I love and appreciate and respect myself!’

Communicate with listeners! Eye contact that interview panel or conference audience.

Play or speak musically with beautiful tone, and above all…

ENJOY your performance!

Books are available on Amazon (hard copy and eBook). Autographed copies via Paypal at the web store. ruthbonetti.com

Ginger up your confidence

The symptoms of nerves can be similar whether we present through words or music. Blame that old bogey fight-or-flight. Learn to channel excess adrenalin into energy and you can shine in the spotlight.

Spotlight takes you out of your comfort zone?

Participants at my recent Communication Confidence training day were primed to deliver a three-minute speech. One shared that past presentations caused severe nausea. She was reassured to hear seasoned performers also suffer:

Even Oscar-winning actors?

Dustin Hoffman found live acting far more stressful than filming. When performing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in London, he spent so much of his off-stage time in the bathroom that a plaque was attached to the door. It proclaimed ‘Dustin Hoffman is here’ and was signed by all the cast. (Excerpt from Don’t Freak Out–Speak Out).

After deep breathing and massaging pressure points, (and more tips below) Andrea spoke fluently, especially in an extempore segment.

Next day she emailed: ‘Yes, I did step out of my comfort zone but I felt pretty good about myself last night when I reflected on my day.’ She was willing to be quoted as ‘it will be good to help others and even better that I am not alone in these feelings.’Ironside State School St Lucia Jen Wedding 1957

Sharing does help!

Now that I’ve overcome my own agonising childhood and adolescence shyness, I’m glad to help others by sharing, both in training/coaching and in my recent memoir Midnight Sun to Southern Cross;

(That’s me on the left, in front of  purgatory Ironside State School. I write how dreaded headmaster Mr. Murray petrified me–and others including Alan Jones!)

Midnight Sun front cover

When I now coach people to boost their confidence in presentations, I can say ‘The person you are now is not who you will be in a decade or two or five. If I can conquer such shyness and fears, even welcome public performance, so can you.’ For I evolved from a shy outback child who hid in the toilet block rather than face fearsome peers into an adult who welcomes any platform to reach out with words and music.

That’s Granddad WA Back standing in the driver’s seat (under ‘Ruth’) in 1924 when this Migrant-made-good brought his family on a whirlwind world tour home to Finland.

WA Back Hawken Drive St Lucia Big House Finn magWelcome to my BOOK SIGNING 1 July, 11am–2pm.

Come to Mary Ryan’s Books and Coffee at Milton. Have a chat, see photos of development of St Lucia and my grandfather’s 1950s Art Deco ‘Big House’ with an elevator in it.Hawken Dr lift

I quote a cousin’s anecdote:

Granddad telephoned in the 1960s.

‘Please come quickly, there’s a woman in the bath and she won’t get out.’ A vagrant had knocked on the door and the ever hospitable Grandma offered her food and drink. In her dementia, she agreed when the woman announced ‘I would like a bath.’ Police evicted this uninvited guest from the bathroom.Hawke Drive St Lucia Art Deco Big House bath

Too far to travel? Where can we buy books?

See reviews on Amazon (hard copy and eBook). Autographed copies at the web store (and these have bonus inside cover photographs!)

More quick fix tips for nerves

  • Ginger is excellent for calming upset stomachs. Drink lemon and ginger tea or infuse grated fresh ginger in hot water.
  • Some prevent nausea by wearing acupressure magnets on elastic wristbands.
  • Massage the pressure point (called Neigun or PC6) which is located about two finger breadths above the wrist crease, between the two main tendons on the inner forearm. Press firmly or stroke towards the wrist. (Stroking from this point towards the elbow can induce vomiting.) This pressure point is also useful for treating shortness of breath, insomnia and anxiety.
  • Massage or press tender points in a radius of five centimetres around the navel to relieve emotional stress.

Presentation Confidence Training and Coaching

Now these books are published I have more time for presentations, training and coaching. Email to discuss how you or your organisation could benefit.

And enjoy reading the books! As did Jeanette O’Hagan (thanks for the review!)

Lift off then wind down

We throw everything into meeting that goal, whether a words or music performance, a publication or a submission. We’re powered by adrenalin, propped up by caffeine, alcohol or whatever. We must plan ahead to circumvent potential adrenal fatigue–as I did, in the last week before my launch of Midnight Sun to Southern Cross on 23 April.

Finnish touches

The launch was a buzz, including a short recital using the St Lucia Uniting Church organ that my Finnish grandfather W.A. Back donated in 1954. Finnish oboist Emily Salonen played The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius. The Finn Choir sang a moving Finlandia. Sound and video footage of central characters were played.MS launch St L

Guests enjoyed delicious Finnish Pulla and Lihapiirakka baked by chef Bianca Kasurinen, who worked with Jamie Oliver and in NY restaurants. 

 

Praise for Midnight Sun to Southern Cross

“A fascinating story of lives disrupted by wars; of those who sought their fortune in foreign lands, and those who were left behind.”–Annika Wiklund-Engblom, PhD. Third generation of those who stayed and always wondered.

Tell me the story…

In the tradition of great family migration stories, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross continues the saga of the Back brothers’ flight from Russian-occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth. From frozen Finland to the lush rainforests of northern New South Wales, to the dry and dusty sheep country of western Queensland, you follow the highs and lows of their new life under the Southern Cross.

PullaIt is an extraordinary tale of success, failure, hard work and dreaming. What drove the wheeler-dealer Wilhelm Anders Back, known as WA, to become in his time Australia’s richest Finn? And what stirred his eccentric writerly elder brother Karl Johan, KJ, pacifist and political dissenter? What of those who stayed behind in Finland, and bravely struggled to oust the Russians from their homeland? This book, and its predecessor, Burn My Letters, are timely in the centenary year of Finnish Independence.

WA’s granddaughter Ruth contrasts his and KJ’s formative years in Finland with her own upbringing in outback Queensland. Her voyage of discovery and self-discovery uncovers research in Finland and Australia, and interweaves her own transformation from shy bush girl to speaker and musician.

In the tradition of great family migration stories, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross continues the saga of the Back brothers’ flight from Russian-occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth.

It is an extraordinary tale of success, failure, hard work and dreaming.

What drove the wheeler-dealer Wilhelm Anders Back, known as WA, to become in his time Australia’s richest Finn? And what stirred his eccentric writerly elder brother Karl Johan, KJ, pacifist and political dissenter? What of those who stayed behind in Finland, and bravely struggled to oust the Russians from their homeland? This book, and its predecessor, Burn My Letters, are timely in the centenary year of Finnish Independence.Covers-1

WA’s granddaughter Ruth contrasts his and KJ’s formative years in Finland with her own upbringing in outback Queensland. Her voyage of discovery and self-discovery uncovers research in Finland and Australia, and interweaves her own transformation from shy bush girl to speaker and musician.

 

Read more at http://www.ruthbonetti.com/burn-my-letters/

Both Midnight Sun to Southern Cross and its predecessor Burn My Letters are $28 each, or special price of $50 for both books via Web orders at http://www.ruthbonetti.com/

Hear more about the saga.

How can we plan to prevent adrenal fatigue?

  • Eat regular meals, especially a solid breakfast, or “graze” on healthy snacks every few hours to maintain blood sugar levels.
  • Consult with your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist in case certain supplements may boost your energy. 
  • Unwind in a warm bath with your mix of essential oils, bubbles and Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate).
  • Schedule some ‘Me’ time each week and enough sleep.

Down-time to ease adrenal fatigue

That big event goes well. Relief (but you worked hard, didn’t you?) You read a chapter of a light book. Exhausted, sleep evades. Wriggly overcharge. Mind buzzes. Restless, aching legs. 

Or up-time

Thinks: I need shoulder stands, stretching exercises. A cobra or two, the ‘tranquility pose.’ Nah, too tired to get up. Maybe if I just lift my legs in bed, that’ll do. Maybe not.

So then I crawl out from the blankets, stretch, ‘lift the mountain’ with my arms. Touch my toes. Elevate my legs. Muscles creak gratefully. Breathe. Sleep.

Word Power–written, spoken & sung

Think of all the words we read, speak and write in a week, a year, a lifetime. What might encapsulate your output, by which people remember you? Politicians know a word, phrase or speech that can fast track their career. Or batter it (as in “things that batter” from Alexander Downer). Remember these?

  • I have a dream…” Revisit Martin Luther King Jnr.’s words in light of recent world events.
  • Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables”
  • Julia Gillard’s “misogyny” 
  • Paul Keating’s “the recession we had to have” 
  • “Drain the swamp”…

Do your words speak vision – or derision?

Freedom of speech is much debated at present. It’s allied with freedom of religion, seen through a kaleidoscope. Political perspectives and stances are volatile. We reel from the terrorist attack on tolerant Sweden, which welcomed so many refugees.

What of regimes where words are censored?

Many who enjoy freedom of speech and religion cannot imagine life under repression. Between 1987-1991, hundreds of thousands of Estonians expressed their patriotism in the only way they could – singing. Their Singing Revolution joined with fellow Baltic Republics of Latvia and Lithuania in nonviolent protests that gained their independence from the Soviet regime in 1991. See a documentary and SBS Great Continental Train Journeys: Riga to Tampere. (Where my great-uncle Edvard Back fought in the Civil War, as you can read in Midnight Sun to Southern Cross.)

Edvard Back soldier 2_NH

Finland fought for Independence with war and music

in 1899 (the year my great-uncle fled Finland, pursued by Russians at Suez), Jean Sibelius composed “Finland Awakens” (later renamed “Finlandia”) for a benefit concert to aid journalists repressed by the regime. Growling tremolo and biting brass chords paint in sound the “Great Hate” for Finland’s oppressors that contrast with a plaintive hymn tune. As Finns also expressed patriotism in choral groups, they added vocal lyrics: “Finland, behold, thy daylight now is dawning” and “Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.”

The Finn Choir sings this at my book launch 23 April, 2–4.30pm

“Midnight Sun to Southern Cross” tells much of Finland’s struggle for Independence, whose centenary is celebrated this year.Midnight Sun front cover

Dr Bill Glasson, AO, who shares similar heritage, will launch the book at St Lucia Uniting Church, Brisbane. A recital of Finnish music will use the organ that my grandfather W.A. Back donated in 1954. Finnish oboist Emily Salonen plays The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius on cor anglais.
Hear relevant passages from the book and footage of voices from the past.
It’s a free event and all welcome, but do let me know for space and catering.

Finnish pastries!

Afternoon tea will be catered by Finnish chef Bianca Kasurinen, who worked with Jamie Oliver. So please RSVP by reply email, or (61)411782404.

Where to order copies?

Autographed copies are available at the launch, or pre-order copies online.

Cheques can be mailed to PO Box 422, The Gap, Qld 4061 Australia. Or email for direct banking details. Like its predecessor, Burn My Letters, this second book of the saga, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross will be available as eBook (Kobo, Amazon, Book Depository).

So what’s it about?

In the tradition of great family migration stories, Midnight Sun to Southern Crosscontinues the saga of the Back brothers’ flight from Russian-occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth.

From frozen Finland to the lush rainforests of northern New South Wales, to the dry and dusty sheep country of western Queensland, you follow the highs and lows of their new life under the Southern Cross.

It is an extraordinary tale of success, failure, hard work and dreaming. What drove the wheeler-dealer Wilhelm Anders Back, known as WA, to became in his time Australia’s richest Finn? And what stirred his eccentric writerly elder brother Karl Johan, KJ, pacifist and political dissenter? What sustained those who stayed behind in Finland, as they bravely struggled to oust the Russians from their homeland? This book, and its predecessor, Burn My Letters, are timely in the centenary year of Finnish Independence.Inside Cover F

Ruth Bonetti, WA’s granddaughter, also contrasts his and Karl Johan’s formative years in Finland with her own upbringing in outback Queensland. For her, it is a voyage of discovery and self-discovery as she tells of her extensive search in Finland and Australia for the broad Back family history and weaves the story of her own life from shy bush girl to musician and writer, wife and mother.

Enjoy the Saga!

PS. To attend the launch, bookings (email, Facebook or phone) are essential.

 

Socks, jocks or books for Christmas?

Each Christmas, my dear departed mother gave shirts to the men in her life. Mine know they’ll receive books for the coming holidays. At writers festivals, I choose likely books, queue up for authors’ autographs. Don’t people love that personalised touch?

Some of these gifts become dog-eared, I confess. Because, er, I do check that the books and recipients are matched. Recycling helps save the planet. That’s one excuse.

Also, I buy many books written by writing buddies and colleagues. And help them by posting reviews on Goodreads.com – an addictive site where one can check out readers’ reviews of books before deciding whether to buy or borrow. Reviews are pure gold to authors hoping to be noticed amidst millions of competing titles. Especially as Indie publishers don’t have advertising budgets of the big imprints.

See Goodreads 5-star reviews of my recent book

Burn My LettersTwoCovers

There is nothing dull about this historical search, from the start I was drawinto the story, entertained, amused, challenged and moved.’

 

…a charming blend of well-researched narrative non-fiction and creative imagination. Ruth’s writing is cohesive and easy to read.’

Order on Amazon, as hardcopy and eBook. For autographed copies order here. There, buy Book 2 of the series at pre-publication special price.

Or send cheques to Words and Music, PO Box 422 The Gap Qld 4061 Australia.

Thanks for the great reviews! Feel free to add your own comments on Goodreads.com

Book 2 Midnight Sun to Southern Cross launches March 2017

It marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, which spread to Finland and on to Finnish Independence.

WA St Lucia view LRIn March 1937, 70 years ago, the University of Queensland foundation stone was laid. Book 2 of the Back Saga documents the development of St Lucia, and my grandfather W. A. Back’s part in the Coronation Park Ltd syndicate. This developed 148 acres of which the University resumed 200 blocks of land bought with The Mayne Inheritance. (Now, there’s a tale!) See him surveying his domain from his ‘Big House’ in 1950s Hawken Drive–and my contribution in Brisbane Art Deco

Book 2 moves between Australia and Finland to contrast Granddad’s formative years in Europe and my own upbringing in outback Queensland and in St Lucia, the iconic Brisbane suburb he developed. And of my own studies at that same university, after the culture shock of Ironside State School – a big stretch from correspondence school – and then Somerville House.

Edvard_c

What of family members who remained in Finland? Read the parts they played in the struggle to oust Russian overlords from their homeland. (My father’s uncle Edvard on right)

Granddad’s story is bookended by ‘Those who go, those who stay.’ In 1920, Sister Anna Sanna (Ny)Holm joined her brothers, the first complete Finnish family to emigrate to Australia. Holms leave Finland_LR

 

 

What better Christmas holiday than to relax with a book?

Enjoy reading! 

Walk Out – Talk In-clusive

The audience of ultimate indignity…someone walked out of your keynote. How to continue, wondering what nerve was hit? What sacred cow did you shoot?

We imagine the worst, take it as a condemnation of our words. But perhaps they went to take an emergency phone call or to the bathroom?

Misread Body language?

If pressured, we may misread signals. As I did, presenting my first American sessions, aware that a co-faculty member sat with bland face–as he processed my words. Yet he came first to shake hands and say “I was intrigued that you said…”

Some do tell it straight…

By posting a blog as did Yassim Abdel-Magied. She protested that acclaimed author Lionel Shriver’s Brisbane Writers Festival keynote address targeted “cultural appropriation, identity politics and political correctness.”

Stay on topic

To their credit, festival organisers quickly mounted a right of reply, saying Shriver “didn’t stay with the agreed brief” of “community and belonging” but reverted to her submitted topic of “fiction and identity politics.” Even a respected author who won awards for We Need to Talk About Kevin should stay on topic. 

FullSizeRender

Natural habitat

Writers festivals are my natural habitat. They attract thinking, articulate people, who discuss reactions, smiling as they plod though mud between tents to absorb yet more challenging ideas. Mega thanks, Byron Writers Festival and Jesse Blackadder for the opportunity to launch my book Burn My Letters.

This inspiring festival is unique amongst others in giving space for humble indie authors.

Hear radio interview

A new writers festival

And for Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival where director Wendy Hanlon launched Burn My Letters in an innovative, inclusive and friendly atmosphere. In it, I give voice to one who was censored, I “step into other people’s shoes, and try on their hats” (to quote Shriver) as authors do.FullSizeRender

I’m thrilled with 5-star reviews on Goodreads.

What’s it all about?

Out of town, I missed the BWF keynote furore. But reading the transcript I’m of two minds. I sympathise with those who felt confronted by the speech, but wonder how many silent majority audience agreed. The sort of people Hillary Clinton dismissed as “deplorables” who feel so ridiculed for conservative beliefs, and disenfranchised that they would even consider voting for extreme right politicians.

Some commentators including The Financial Review sided with Shriver.

Bring on the debate – pro and con

Did some nod at her words: “The left’s embrace of gotcha hypersensitivity inevitably invites backlash. Donald Trump appeals to people who have had it up to their eyeballs with being told what they can and cannot say. Pushing back against a mainstream culture of speak-no-evil suppression, they lash out in defiance, and then what they say is pretty appalling.”

Abdel-Magiel has appeared on GotchaLand ABC QandA panels.

But it’s simplistic to dub a walkout as as publicity stunt, not knowing sensitivities that prompted it. We value our country’s freedom of speech that enabled Abdel-Magied her voice. We can always learn from criticism.

But as a wordsmith, I worry that increasingly, words are curtailed, censored, criticised.

Shriver cited recent authors that the left judges for “cultural appropriation.” Do we add the white Harper Lee whose To Kill a Mocking Bird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin that took on American racial prejudices? Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood?

What price words?

The Australian government deems words so cheap that they consider changing laws to cut copyright to a mere 15 years. Or allow parallel importation of books, that would decimate authors’ already meagre incomes.

We need to talk, with open minds, respect and sensitivity. Dialogue, not monologue. Unless we’re the keynote speaker.