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Home > Author > Vena McGrath
Vena McGrath

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Member Since: Feb, 2004

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  Vena McGrath

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Secrets, Lies & Chat - Why do millions of people around the world spend time in chat rooms or chatting to friends and others via messenger services? My story tells why.

Background Information

I was born in Sydney Australia, at the conclusion of the Second World War, the third child of working class parents, and grew up ‘in my father’s pocket’, his princess till the day he passed away. My relationship with Dad, and the closeness we had, set the scene for how I would feel about men during my life.

My childhood, and teenage years to age 20, were spent in what would be regarded today as a dysfunctional family; my surviving brother, and my mother, were great friends, and my Dad and I were great friends. There was never any real closeness with my mother, something I regretted always.

The ability to write so easily came from my mother, who always wrote letters that were like mini novels. She was artistic and liked to paint in oils and could draw pictures of people and landscapes with ease. I was never artistic and drawing and painting were past-times I chose to steer clear of.

Once school was over, Certificate safely in hand, I opted to go to Secretarial College full-time for another year because it was all I wanted to do. Once the year of extra schooling was over, I realised my one real chance of getting a job was to join the Public Service, so I sat for the examination in Sydney, passed it and the medical examination, and commenced work as a junior stenographer in the NSW Police Department at age 16. 

Resignation from the Public Service at 18 seemed a better alternative than remaining a junior for another three years. Most of my friends outside the Public Service earned more money with less skills. A position closer to home was advertised in the local paper and after applying for the position and attending an interview, I became secretary to a marketing manager in a private company. 

My father decided to register a company for his business with my name on the documents as Company Secretary, so I resigned from my secretarial job and went to work with my father. At twenty I was married and gave up work to raise a family. Two of my children became involved in swimming and the cost of coaching, pool entry fees, clothing etc, and travelling to various swim meets stretched the family budget. I managed to secure three part-time jobs, during school hours, to pay for those costs.

Eventually I felt the need to find a life for myself and to use the skills I knew were still there. After many disappointing attempts at securing permanent office work, the day arrived when success knocked at my door and I returned to the workforce as a secretary in the centre management office of a large shopping centre management company. By this time my 3 children were in high school. After 12.5 years with that company, 6.5 of them travelling to/from the CBD daily, I was finding the travelling draining, and decided there had to be more to life than spending 3 hours a day in traffic to earn a living.

After resigning and spending a month at home, I became a temporary office worker until securing a full time position some 2.5 years later, once more with the Public Service.

The adventure into the world of writing came late in life due mainly to the fact that I could never see myself writing fiction, and my life didn’t seem to be interesting enough to write about, except family history notes for my children. I always read books, even as a child, and could never have enough of them to satisfy my need to read and learn. I read books well above my age group and the harder the text the better.

The desire to write a book one day was hidden in the recesses of my mind; an unattainable desire, or so I thought. One way to satisfy the desire to write was to try and put together the pieces of my life from my earliest childhood memories for my children, who were by then, adults. It was 1997. 

The story I started to write in 1997 for my family is far from complete; it became lost amongst all the other things that came into my life.Without even looking for them, I found online chat rooms; wandered in for a look and stayed. The addiction set in very quickly; I had found somewhere to spend the alone times of a night where I could have fun, meet people anonymously, and learn about computers.

Although being computer literate with word processing I was still ‘green’ about the other aspects of a computer. Surfing the net was a rarity and something I found slow and boring. Finding chat saved me from having to surf in order to find something interesting to spend my time doing. Chat became a crutch, and I grooved right into this new social medium I had stumbled upon.

Romantic relationships with men had held no interest for me during eleven years of separation/divorce, from 1988 to 1999. And yet here I was, online in a chat room, enjoying the flirting, and participating in it. Over a three year period from September 1999 to January 2003 I became involved with a number of men I met online first, either in the chat rooms or via online dating services.

That involvement in chat brought me to where I am today. An Australian author with my first book published in the USA in May 2005. Because of the way the manuscript is written, the book has been classified fiction/romance based on my real life, those three years of chat.

In the months I spent working with my editor in the USA, and the ensuing months getting the manuscript printed, I ventured into other areas of writing. A number of short stories came as the result of stories told to me by friends that sent my mind into overdrive – yes, I did attempt fiction and am enjoying the journey immensely.

I applied for and was accepted as an expert on ‘chat online’ with, an accomplishment I am proud of. Media exposure so far include an article in the St Marys/Mt Druitt Standard local newspaper, an interview on Channel 31 for Joy’s World, inclusion in The Sydney Morning Herald Icon article titled 'The Net Effect', an appearance on Today Tonight, a live to air interview with Julie McCrossin on ABC National Radio, a feature in The Courier Mail Brisbane newspaper and features in a Victorian regional newspaper, the Blacktown Sun newspaper and the NSW Department of Commerce Communique in newspaper format and on the intranet.

I am contacted from time to time by journalists for information on online dating and chat rooms and also have been contacted by parents who, after reading my book or an article about the book, have felt the need to touch base to discuss their real concerns for their children and their exposure to the Internet and the effects that exposure is having on the children and the families.

My aim is to educate wherever possible and my passion is the possible unseen danger for everyone who enters the world of the internet, most especially the children.

Be aware, be wary, and beware, are my words of wisdom for anyone who cares to listen or read. I will always be willing to speak to anyone by any medium about the internet, the dangers, and the wonder of it all in the right context, because those of us who do have wisdom from exposure, should make it our business to share this wisdom and save others from falling into the pits that we may have fallen into.

Writing gives me the chance to be heard, even by just a few. Those few can spread the word and will be believed by their friends and relatives much more easily than I will be. Word of mouth is the greatest form of communication and advertising as it gives people a sense of safety. I rely on that to ensure the little I can do matters.

I regained control of my manuscript 'Secrets, Lies & Chat' after having signed a settlement agreement with the publisher and regained full rights.  I have rewritten the manuscript and returned the story to the way I wanted it, not how it ended up.  It wasn't a labour of love really as the last thing I ever wanted was to work on the story again once it was published but some things in life we need to do for closure.  I have closed my website due to disinterest by me and others and in an effort to reduce the costs of living.  I disposed of most of the stock of my book I had because they were taking up space unnecessarily.  The money I spent on buying the books was spent because I had a dream.  Dreams often do come true, just not in this particular case!

The opinions expressed to me by some who have read the book (in its published format) differ vastly.  That, to me, is a satisfactory result as it is a story that will affect different people in different ways.  It was never written to be a romance story or even a good-feel story.  It's reality and reality does bite! 

The personal attacks on me that have come from some quarters roll off me like water off my pup's back.  People who can only try to control by personal attack are the ones with problems, not me.  Amazing how jealousy shows itself.  I did something that I dreamed of doing with little knowledge of how to do it.  Perhaps if they tried to do similar they would spend less time throwing dung at others who manage to realise a dream through sheer determination and dedication.

In July 2010 I retired from the ratrace of employment and joined the ranks of the Aged Pensioner. I worked over a year longer than I needed to by law to obtain the pension because I chose to.  By the time July arrived I'd had enough and knew it was time to walk away.  I had lost all my motivation and incentive to work and felt that the workplace I was in was attuned to younger people with different principles to my own.  This made me realise that I had served my purpose and after 30 years of full-time work I should back out.  I miss that pay every two weeks and the freedom it gave me but when you come to the crossroads you have to choose which way to go.  I now live on the South Coast of NSW a short stroll from the beautiful shores of Jervis Bay.  I can hear the waves rolling in of a night and the air is fresh and just amazing.  There are no traffic lights, hardly any cars let alone trucks on the roads.  It's 25km to Nowra from here and that's where you find the traffic lights, the masses of people and cars and trucks and buses.

Life is good in 2011 while I wait impatiently for my new home down here to be completed so I can move in and settle down again.





Birth Place
Sydney,  Australia

My number one achievement? Accepting that I am less than whatever perfect is perceived to be and getting on with life respecting who I am and what I stand for.

Additional Information

Most of my work is on Authors Den but a search on secrets lies and chat or my name will bring up other articles I have written that are published on the internet. I started a journalist course by correspondence a couple of years ago but gave it away because of time constraints and not being able to fulfill what I was required to because I had a full-time job during business hours. I know that I prefer just to write at will anyhow rather than to try and write to suit an employer.

Favorite Links

My story about dendritic keratitis with a link to a doctor's report on keratitis and the real dangers that sufferers face

Vena McGrath - 1945 to 2003
My personal website I set up in 2001 and work in from time to time updating my life. There are links there to other websites. Also visit my official website :)

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