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READ WRITE INSPIRE. Welcome to my Words, a place devoted to making Reading and Writing for children more Inspired.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Don't Forget to Feed the Fish

This Xmas,
I’d like to put
up a tree in my heart,
instead of hanging presents.
I’d put names of all my friends.
Close friends & not so close friends.
The old friends, new friends. Those I see
every day & ones I rarely see. The ones that
I always remember & the ones I sometimes forget.
The ones that are always there & the ones that seldom are.
The friends of difficult times & the ones of happy times. Friends
who, without meaning, I have hurt, or without meaning, have hurt me.
Those that I know well & those I only know by name. Those that owe me
little & those that I owe so much. My humble friends & my important friends.
The names of all those that have passed through my life no matter how fleetingly.
A tree with very deep roots, very long, strong branches so that their names may
never be plucked from my heart. So that new names from all
Over may join the existing ones. A tree with pleasant shade so that our friendship
May take a moment of rest from the battles of life. May
the happy moments of Xmas brighten every day of your New Year.
With love from Dim xxx
In the spirit of Christmas and global socialisation, this tree imparts a message of hope and extends a hand of friendship. Many thanks to all who have encouraged, enlightened and entertained me on my writing odyssey this last year. It's been enthralling but it's time to take a wee break now before launching myself off the house roof with a new set of wings, ready to fly through 2012.
So until I get to blog again, have a tremendous festive season, restful break and productive New Year. Oh yeah, and can someone feed the fish for me now and then. Cheers.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

You gotta have Faith

True faith drops its letter in the post office box, and lets it go. Distrust holds on to a corner of it, and wonders that the answer never comes. From Days of Heaven upon Earth.

Anyone who knows me, is aware I'm not an overtly devout soul; more a believer of balance, karma, yin and yang kind of girl. But, whether it is a question of your religious faith, your personal life principles or just the confidence in yourself to send that forestalled manuscript in for submission, it pays to let go of the envelope sometimes; to believe in yourself.

To have belief in yourself is more than a matter of confidence. It requires commitment; commitment to letting go, breaking free, making choices. In other words, taking risks.

Small children do this, without thought, on a daily if not hourly basis. It is their prescription for life, their blue print for learning. They are seldom afraid to move forward because they are blissfully unaware of the risks involved. They have full faith in themselves. We bigger kids need the occasional dig in the ribs to remind us that a certain level of risk taking, having a go, going out on a limb is not only healthy but invigorating and often rewards us ten fold for the effort. Have a look at the clip below to reawaken your risk realisation...

I'm not talking about free falling from the Sydney Harbour Bridge if heights are not your thing. But even small calculated risks can go a tremendous way towards reestablishing ones faith in ones self. For some reason, I thought I was unable to ever produce a magnificent pavlova Finally prompted by the fact that ten year olds could achieve this (thanks Junior MasterChef), I attempted my first pav in over 25 years. Success! Followed by gratification, followed by faith in myself to recreate it again.

Marshmallow Pavlova ~ seem to satisfy the taste critiques
Faith can be sorely tested as a writer. But it is as vital as note paper, lap tops, creativity, dictionaries, good coffee and all the other tools writers need to persevere with their art. The confidence to take risks, let go of rubbish, begin again, enter that competition, get your manuscript assessed, speak to a crowd, and reject a rejection with good humour will only improve if you believe in yourself.

Fate may be our destination, but only you can decide the route with which to travel upon to reach it.

Monday, 31 October 2011

C'est la vie

Drinking to victory
no matter how big or small.
Celebrating Pink October
There have been a few comings and goings in my life of late. Swings and round abouts, ups and downs. Call them what you will. My little peanut of a brain prefers not to linger too long upon these quandaries of existence. But a couple of weekends ago, as I was running for the lives of others in the Pink Triathlon against Breast Cancer, the very sobering thought that I could be running for my own, tinged my spirits from the usual vibrant fuchsia to an uncertain dusky rose.

Not one to share dilemmas openly or even ask for help in times of need, I went about getting a biopsy in an almost stealth like manner. Such cunning can, unfortunately, not be maintained for long when the questionable growth is situated in prime time position on your snout. Oh well. Luckily I don't harbour great quantities of vanity either but after the cut and slice, I did wonder why these things never appear on your feet or in some other inconspicuous body crevice.

Animosity is a great thing. I was able to go to workshops the day after with the same attitude of nonchalance I used to feel when walking the rain swept streets of London.  The other attendees were too polite and too involved with our combined cause to question my humble appearance.

However, bandages only conceal the superficial wound. I waited for the results with rising distress. It felt as though someone was singing my nerves with a hot little wielding iron like the one he used to cauterise my wound. I could almost smell my own fear like I could my own skin burning. His statements kept rising up in the fog of my anxiety; we should be able to save you, there are various levels of bad, don't wait too much longer, skin graph, lose half your nose...... How on earth was this supposed to be reassuring? I don't have time for this, I thought. I'm a busy mother for goodness sake. Wasn't he aware of all that entailed? I'd lost a close friend to a melanoma a few years ago. She left behind two young daughters. She was only 39 and I think of her daily.I wasn't about to forsake child and family for such an inconvenience. How rude??

But in the end....I didn't have too. I got the all clear. I'm going to be fine...for the time being. But I'm not just fine thanks to the results of the biopsy. I'm fine because throughout this short brush with another of life's uncertainties, I encountered some truly wonderful support, from some beautiful women who in spite of having concerns and tribulations of their own, still found room in their hearts to offer me solace and understanding.

As a writer, inspiration is often found in the most unassuming of places. To find it in the compassion of others is a truly fortunate discovery.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Pink Perfection

OK, so it's not the Gold Coast Marathon, Ironwomen or even the Half Ironman Triathlon, but for many the annual Gold Coast Pink Triathlon marks a significant challenge and worthy hurdle to clear. This all female event is hosted nation wide and encourages participants to compete in an effort to raise money for research towards Breast Cancer.

It's my second year in the running and I'm pleased that I managed to not only beat my time previously, but also come 4th in my age group. A noteworthy achievement for a serious non-sporty type.

But apart from the challenge and fun derived from participating, I swim, bike and run essentially so that future generations don't have to endure the experiences with Breast Cancer that many other female members of my family had to. If I can help achieve that in this smallest of ways, then I consider my self a real winner.

Check out more pics of the event on my Visual Stuff page.

For those wondering about my training strategy, let me just say;  for the other 364 days of the year, I type.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Success ~ Who needs it?

What defines success for you?

Have you succeeded when you get five sets of green traffic lights in a row?
Is success not burning the evening meal or even managing to dish up an evening meal?
Have you personally won, when you've gained second place in a writing competition?
Have you reached your pinnacle after landing the world's most awesome publishing contract, with promises of untold riches and glory?
Does the glow of success spread across your dial when a six year old student cries out, "I remember you. You're that author who spoke to us."?
Sadly, at times, I feel it's become an over exploited ideal, often inflated beyond the notion of simply achieving something you set out to attain. Fame, fortune and notoriety are often the measure of success these days in lieu of personal best, self satisfaction and humble adoration from you immediate peers. But it's a label we still all wish that, at some stage in our lives, we can apply to ourselves.

So what are the steps to success?

According to the illustrious and much admired, Maggie Beer, some of the main points to remember are as follows. They are equally as relevant no matter what path you are trying to succeed in be it personal, creative artist, parent or friend.

1. Search for what it is that's going to connect your mind and your heart

Sue Whiting, children's author and editor at Walker Books, declares that success comes from being true to you heart. Her belief is to write what is truly important to you, and not to succumb to the vagaries of market trends and mimicking others. She feels that versatility (in writing especially) can be a good thing, albeit a bit of a marketing nightmare from a publisher's point of view. But if you can find what connects your mind and with your heart, in other words, find your own unique voice, then success will follow.

2. Persistence

The old adage of practice makes perfect has and always will apply if we truly want to attain better than average. Unless you are born possessing unsurpassed skill in your chosen area, you will need to enhance whatever inherent talent you have. Practise you craft regularly be it writing, tuba playing or ironing without creases. Persistence is helped by thinking laterally too. But, like anything else, you can learn to be a lateral thinker.

3. Accept constructive criticism

Easier said than done but if you can recognise the fact that you can always do better, then you quite possibly will.

4. Believe in yourself

Straight forward enough notion but how to achieve this...by not being diluted by common opinion. Remember you can't please all the people all the time. Believing in your own abilities comes from confidence, which comes from timing and circumstance.

5. Never forget family and friends

Be kind, generous and grateful to those you meet on your way up for you may need them to help slow your fall should you slip down.

6. Learn to endure & never lose your sense of humour.

One of my many personal credos is to always look on the bright side of life. It's just, well, brighter over there. Plus you'll be able to spot the opportunities better. Harnessing those opportunities can lead to untold of success.

And finally,
"Ad Astra Per Aspera"
Success does not always come easily. Sometimes if you don't work hard, you will never succeed. Robin Williams once said that his over night fame took 20 years to attain. Many a burgeoning writer will share a similar tale. But by working through the adversities, wading through the mud, you will eventually reach your star of success. 


Monday, 3 October 2011

Getting Serious About Humour

I love humour. I love laughing at myself almost as much as I love laughing at others (if only because it seems less rude to do so) I also love writing with humour. But what are the critical elements which cause us to chuckle, which render us unable to suppress a snort or too, which leave us aching in the belly with laughter? What constitutes humour? And how do we find it for the stories we write?

At the recent CYA Conference in Brisbane, talented YA author and all round funny guy, Michael Gerard Bauer led us through an amusing little seminar exploring the ways in which to make people laugh.

There are basically two ways:

- Visual Humour - as with using your face to get a baby to smile
- With your Words - as writers, we do not have the visual back up that a stand up comic might use, therefore we need to use our words to deliver the punch(line). So...

* What is the common ingredient in humour?

- The Unexpected = Surprises. That is the punchline of a joke, the Boo that makes the baby laugh.
- The Extraordinary - told in an Unexpected way.

* Where do you find humour?

- Everywhere is the holistic answer.
- Comedy is often found in Tragedy
- In real life events
- From the mouth of babes (or children in general)

Peter Ustinov stated: Comedy is a funny way of being serious.

Indeed humour can be the shock absorber of life. At this point of the session, Michael invited audience members to recall and share a tragic / comic moment in their life.

For me this occurred about a decade ago. My husband had just been wheeled into ICU in Townsville General Hospital after a mammoth craniotomy. I was invited to join the crammed circle of nurses, doctors, and specialists around his bed to encourage his recovery. As they juggled clipboards, performed neurological obs, and adjusted various tubes leading in and out of my husband, I struggled to maintain a non wobbly lip and brave face. Five hours of waiting had all but frayed every nerve ending beyond repair, or so it felt. We all wondered at the possible outcomes this sort of operation could result in; brain damage, impairment of some kind.

He lay propped up on a meringue mountain of pillows. His head was heavily bandaged with most of his remaining hair sprouting from the top, and his eyes were bruised puffy slits. He looked like a pavlova gone horribly wrong. I couldn't speak a word. The bedside crowd of professionals muttered encouragingly, "Come on mate. Wake up. Your wife is here."

A puffy eye split open. In a groggy but voluble voice, my husband exclaimed, "That's not my wife. I married a blonde."
(see my profile pic for clarification)

Clip boards were dropped, sharp intakes of breath were heard, looks of alarm flooded the faces of the bedside crowd. I laughed out loud. And quickly reassured the professionals. At least they hadn't damaged his sense of humour.

For me, being able to find the humour in tough times like those, was a way of not only coping with them but sharing bleak and not always good news with others in a non threatening, hopeful way.

'When you can laugh at something supposedly larger and more overwhelming than yourself, then you cannot and will not be over come by it.'

* What makes something funny?

- Surprise (as long as it's pleasant and non threatening.
- Unexpected events (which must involve some incongruity or contrast)

Michael waving his Ringo around in a surprising, unexpected and exaggerated way.
Read his Ishmael series for full peg explanation.

 * How do you inject a dose of humour into your writing?

- Use Exaggeration. Create surprising situations in your storyline in outlandish, over the top ways.

- Base the incident on real life happenings. Truth is often stranger than fiction and often funnier too.

- Create Characters with surprising, unusual and exaggerated qualities.Readers need to be able to sympathise with characters in humour. Therefore characters need a distinct and surprising way of looking at the world.

- Have characters contrast and clash with other characters or world at large to allow the readers to emphasis.

- Use secondary characters to expand on comedy.

- Deliberately set up your audience. Then sabotage their expectation with Surprise. Give readers something entirely different from that which they think they are reading towards. Don't forget, you can manipulate the audience.

- Using surprising language; words, images, similes, metaphors.

 Michael's Top Tip for infusing Humour into your writing

* Use the Extraordinary in Unexpected, Surprising and Exaggerated ways. 

For me, life is naturally humourous. I like to look on the bright side, because it often makes me laugh or at least feel better about the dull bits. Funny doesn't always coincide with good, but funny is good. Try adding it to your writing and brighten someones day.

Nothing to do with craniotomies but something to a have giggle at.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Trail Blazing ~ An Introduction to Book Trailers

First cab off my rank at this year's CYA Conference in Brisbane, was an Introduction to Book Trailers by exciting Children's Author and Presenter Tristan Bancks.

 I'd been hearing plenty of who ha recently about the necessity of creating Book Trailers, and having viewed a few, was naturally curious as to what all the furore was about. Tristan presented a very straightforward over view of the importance, creation and role of Book Trailers for we literary folk. Here are some of the main points to consider if you are contemplating this form of promotion.

A Book Trailer should be all about bringing a story alive Visually.

It is essentially  an Animated Blurb of your book; the vehicle with which a story is brought alive visually.

They can be about YOU or YOUR BOOK. You may not have a published work to share yet but could just share yourself.

Tristan's Intro trailer featuring Max Slater HuntsThe Cool

Book Trailers should include:

- An Introduction: in order to connect authors with their reading audience.
- Snap shots of the story
- A Teaser of things to come
- Emotional Triggers
- Restraint

Book Trailers must be:

- No more than 1 minute in duration to be really effective. 30 seconds is ideal.
- Be Short, Pithy, Precise and Polished. Tristan's Short is Good, Long is Bad Popcorn Theory summed up Book Trailer viewer psyche  ~ Buy a small popcorn and eat it fast...

Elements of a Book Trailer:

- Sound + Effects + Music
- Imagery (use of Black & white vs colour, the Kens Burns effect; using movement within still imagery, stills, film format or book covers)
- Transitions from one scene to another. Sews the film together.
- Titles
- Voice Overs
- Illustrations

Book Trailers are essentially VISUAL and ORAL so Voice Overs are crucial as opposed to just having text on your trailer.

Things to Keep in Mind when making a Book Trailer:

- Make the trailer better than the book.
- Try to visualise it before you start.
- Try to think of something unique that could possibly go viral. This is especially important with kids as it increases popularity, exposure and longevity of your trailer.
- Write a script.
- Plan a vision board after gathering images.*

* Take pictures or video yourself. And always get the rights or permission for any sound or images you use. Your Book Trailer may be removed out of circulation if you infringe on copyright laws. There are a wealth of sites from which you can obtain royalty free music and pictures for example; Flickr, Sound Book, Google Images and so on.

Ways to Create Book Trailers (for free):

- Use your contacts especially regarding imagery, and music composition
- Commission students to design and create for you as part of their creative assignments and IT studies.
- Set up Competitions for trailer design.
- Do it yourself. Anyone with a modicum of common sense (including yours truly) can usually find their way around iMovie and Windows Movie Maker editing programs with relative ease.
- Enlist the professional expertise of your publisher for an even more polished look.

Get it to the People by:

- Posting on your Blog or Website
- Social media sites such as Facebook
- YouTube
- TeacherTube (if you are serious about reaching a wider and  more children orientated market)

Will they work?

They jury is still divided over this one. A Book Trailer is simply another form of promoting your book. After the initial razzle dazzle of your launch has faded, many publishers simply can not invest in long term publicity for either you or your book. It's something you, as an author, must learn to keep in perpetual motion for as long as possible in order to reap maximum potential and exposure. A Book Trailer may help you maintain this forward motion.

While your Book Trailer might not gain a million views instantly or even over hundred, it is still beneficial when used in conjunction with such things as book launches, author presentations and workshops, all of which help serve the generation of a few dollars and help show your audience another dimension of yourself and your capabilities.

Of course, the slicker your production, the more clever your presentation, then the better the results all round.

Tristan stressed that it is not 100% necessary to do everything to promote your work. If rambling on via your Blog or on Facebook is more your thing rather than specialising in visual creativity, then stick with that. In other words, do whatever comes most naturally to YOU.

Tristan's Top Tips on Book Trailers:

* Keep it Simple   *  Keep it Short    * Be Innovative (and not too complex)

Check out this cool Book Trailer of Tristan's for an example of a dinky DIY.

Book Trailer for Nit Boy featuring animation

There are literally billions of trailers for books out there, some disturbingly brilliant, others laughably lame. Have a look and see what might work for your genre. If it is your thing, why not give it a try? I'm just waiting for an excuse...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

That was then. This is how...I've changed?

Does time really have the restorative abilities to salve all hurts, tame desires, or alter one's beliefs? Can time really change a person? Or is it what transpires within the passing of time that causes change? That which we call, ageing? The answers to these philosophical musings will not be found here. I barely realise there's been a passing of years; too busy barrelling head on into tomorrow to register now properly, let alone thank yesterday for all that it provided. That was then, this is now, but there once was a time.....

About two decades ago.....

* I shared my zeal for life and empty ramblings, taste in music and love of the sun, with friends on the beach, by the bar, in the night club or in a letter. We roamed in loud, raucous, carefree groups. We laughed and cried...together.

Me & Murray, the Giant Trevaly
Getting a big catch rather than
being one. HI 1992


* We immerse ourselves in individual, insular enjoyment; trainloads at a time, delirious with devices. We ignore our parents' advice and talk happily and randomly to strangers, often faceless and faraway, as though our own existence depended on it. Real life risk and adventures exchanged in furtive one liners in cyber space using words without vowels.

Wind in my hair, water in my shoes.
It's been a lovely cruise - Jimmy Buffet


* The best part of my day was rushing out to the beach after work to bask in the sunshine beneath slapping coconut palm fronds and read a book, for the rest of the daylight hours.


* I read in snatches and get text reminders of when I'm due for a check up at the sun clinic.


* I drank more bourbon, was young, dumb and full of fun, and was careful about how long it took to get ready to go out.


* I drink more coffee, am prone to loud bouts of shouting, which goes largely unnoticed, and am careful to remember to put shoes on before going out.

Anatola, Turkey July 1993
Yes, a lot has transpired since the heady, salad days of my youth on Hamilton Island: before I left to discover cheap Bulgarian red, the Internet, bidets and the truth about the Bermuda Triangle. But has it transformed me into someone different? Possibly the stint in the Bermuda Triangle, but probably not.

Traipsing around the world has more likely strengthen my resolve, sharpened my senses, and fine tuned my desires. That is to say, time has only cemented what was and is, me. I'm no more smarter, nor no more cynical than I was twenty years ago. Just a little more resigned and given to winking with an 'ah yes' expression to other peoples' affirmations. I'm still prone to bouts of idiocy and wanting to dance and sing out loud; I just channel it into Wiggles songs now. And move with more caution.

So after spending precious seconds agonising over whether or not to say Yes, to invite the past into the present, I have finally deduced that it is better to be laughed at and laugh with those that remotely know you or otherwise in this life because I'm not sure if they'll have Face Book in the next one. After all,

Today is just the Tomorrow you were worried about Yesterday.

Monday, 12 September 2011

My Apprenticeship

As they roll up the banners for another year, after a month during which nearly every Children's Literary Festival and Writing Festival took place, as the buzz within and around me slowly dissipates into the stratosphere, I reflect on what was another sublime cluster of highs in My Writer's Story. I prefer story to journey because I have always felt life, while an incredible trip at times, is broken into equally as incredible chapters.

The latest chapter featured my attendance at this year's CYA Conference for Children and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators. The one day, all you can fit in conference for Alligators (grown up writers) was a phenomenal program of success stories, informative sessions, hands on workshops and master classes. Perhaps the highlight of the day for many an aspiring writer or illustrator was the opportunity to pitch their manuscripts and artwork face to face with industry representatives from such  renowned publishing houses as Walker Books, Harper Collins, Random House, Hootenanny Books and literary agents including Jacinta di Mase.

Fellow emerging writers, Karen Tyrrel, Picture Book 3rd place winner, Renee Taprell & Charmaine Clancy
I will not recount each sterling bit of advice I was exposed to. It would take until the next conference to list it all. But here are some of the pearls I managed to sneak away with:

Tristan Bancks  ~ Anyone can make a Book Trailer. Keep it pithy, pacey and polished.

Aleesah Darlison ~ On creating a Picture Book, Story = Words + Art. Keep it real, think carefully about your characters, don't make life easy for them and Read and Write with your target audience in mind.

Julie Fison ~ On writing engaging Adventure Books, write what you know, who you are, what matters to you. And to exercise patience. Write, wait, write, wait, polish, polish, polish. Persist and market yourself.

Sue Whiting ~ Write what makes your heart sing. Be true to yourself, don't be a faker. Versatility may be a marketing nightmare in the publishing world but is not always a negative. Make sure the next book you write is better than the last...

Michael Gerard Bauer getting serious
about humour
Karen Guinn Robertson ~ You don't need to be a techno whizz kid to publish your work on E Books and create fantastic Book Apps to enjoy the all important freedom and power of Global Marketing.

Michael Gerard Bauer ~ Reminded us that if you can laugh at something bigger, and more overwhelming than you, then it has not and can not, overcome you. Humour is serious business in writing and comedy is a funny way of being serious.

Amanda Ashby ~ Illustrated that TV is not just a necessary evil but can be a Writer's best friend. (had to pop out for my pitching session but completely captivated by Amanda's passion and enthusiasm on this subject.)

What did I gain from the Conference?
The crystal clear realisation that I am proud of what I do, the industry I have ingratiated myself into, the people I know, the skills I have, the knowledge I continue to amass, and the reasons I persist. It is an Apprenticeship of sorts. I'm continually learning my trade, improving on my craft, expanding my potential. The CYA Conference serves to cement these affirmations and provide invaluable information, feedback and contacts.

To be surrounded by such an intoxicating sea of aspiring and inspiring writers, illustrators and industry personnel, all of whom continually over awe me with their genuine warmth, skills and interest, only fuels my passion to push on.

Where am I now?
Meeting some of the first time delegates, I was reminded of myself less than a year ago. Then, I was almost too shy, too embarrassed, too modest, too ill equipped to blurt on about my writing apprenticeship. Now, I confidently answer the question, 'So, what do you do?' with 'I'm a children's author.'
It says so on my card.

I'm no longer a first year Apprentice. There's still plenty to learn, to fine tune. There are still plenty of chapters to journey through. Personally I can't wait.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Random Acts of Publicity # 2

Couldn't resist squeezing in another RAP before it ends this week. In order to add a little Aussie flavour to the mix, I've chosen one of my all time favourite children's picture books, "Dimity Dumpty The Story of Humpty's Little Sister" by renowned Australian author and illustrator, Bob Graham. He really needs no introduction having written and illustrated dozens of children's books, earning him multiple awards and literary acclaim. His latest book, "April Underhill, Tooth Fairy" was short listed for the 2011 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

I love this gorgeous picture book for so many reasons. Here are just some of them:

1.) It's always nice to see you own name in print even if it is just the title of someone else's book.

2.) Bob Graham is home grown Aussie talent.

3.) Dimity Dumpty unashamedly features chickens. I love chickens.

4.) The expiry date on the Humpty's travelling 'egg carton' caravan holds special significance for me. It's the birth date of my daughter.

5.) Dominic Dumpty, Dimity's father, made her a little silver flute. I still have my silver flute, but play with less finesse than Dimity D.

6.) Hot chocolate is one of my favourite beverages and is used beautifully to describe the sweet pleasantness of Dimity's flute playing.

7.) The simple illustrations are brimming with clever detail, colour and subtle visual narrative, which evokes all the charm and thrills of life as a circus carney.

8.) Dimity Dumpty is a jolly expansion on the well known traditional nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, high lighting the story of Humpty's lesser known, shy, yet resourceful little sister, his family's involvement in the world of a travelling circus and some of Humpty's own more dubious short comings. Fortunately for Humpty, both he and Dimity, live to fulfil each of their own dreams much to the delight of all around them.
Bob Graham
Bob Graham's Dimity Dumpty may not need extra plugging but it certainly deserves its place on our bookshelf. What about yours?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Random Acts of Publicity 2011

I'm a firm believer in Support the Supporters and what better way to apply this belief than in this week's Random Acts of Publicity 2011 event hosted by
Darcy Pattison .

The idea is simple, promote a friend's (latest) book or even you favourite book by blogging about it, talking about it, reviewing it and of course encouraging others to READ it.

There is a veritable plethora of superb children's books, including picture books, crafted by skilled and gifted authors and illustrators, all worthy of mention but for me to list them all would bust my blog. So I decided to think on a local scale and am proud to beat the drum for fellow Gold Coast Children's Author and Illustrator Angela Sunde and her debut children's book, POND MAGIC.

Pond Magic is a humorous little tale fresh from the Aussie Chomps Series by Penguin that is so incredibly popular with kids. It's bursting with originality, the scent of garlic, handsome princes and the sort of pre-teen angst that is definitely not assuaged by having your face turn green. A modern, french stylised fairy tale, well worth having a taste of.

I can't wait to consume more from this talented writer. C'est magnifique Angela.

And viva la RAP.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

7th Katheen Julia Bates Writing for Children Competition

I don't know if it's that time of year or if the stars just happen to be in good alignment. The air is thick with the Literary Festival, Writing Conference, and Award Vibe. It's as challenging to cope with as a lungful of wattle blossom but every bit as beautiful to behold and far more exciting to be part of.

So what better way to launch myself into this weekend's CYA Conference for Children's Writers and Illustrators than by being Short Listed in the 7th KATHLEEN JULIA BATES WRITING FOR CHILDREN MEMORIAL COMPETITION with my Picture Book entry 'Rainforest Magic'?
The competition is conducted by Di Bates of Enterprising Words in conjunction with their popular and invaluable e-zine publication, Buzz Words Magazine. It's an absolute honour to have my manuscript judged as worthy of a Top Ten Placing in this year's comp. Plus it fills me with enough warm fuzzies to approach my CYA Pitch with a winning smile...well at least on the inside.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Marshall Allan Hill Children's Writing Award

Thrilled to discover that one of my short stories for children was shortlisted for the Marshall Allan Hill Children's Writing Award 2011 Competition. This annual award is conducted by Jelli Beanz Publishing who focus on short stories and poetry especially for children.

"Voice of Winston", is a humourous little tale about one girl surmounting her fears in the pool with the help of an over talkative mozzie. It didn't quite win this year but has given me plenty of warm fuzzy feelings to 'just keep swimming.'

Keep an eye out on my Kool Kidz page for it some time soon!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

New Page for the Young Ones

Kids keep me teetering along that fine line of complacency and wanting to do better. Their sense of logic, realism, fantasy and tender pragmatism somehow weaves into rich, satisfying life tapestries in ways I could never create with mere words, but try constantly to emulate. Their raw enthusiasm breathes life into art the same way coffee kick starts my tired brain. I simultaneously marvel and envy their crafty naivety. This also happens to be why I adore writing for them.

During recent Book Week Writing Workshops, when I asked students why they thought I might enjoy writing, the reply was often, "Because you like having fun." Yes. Who doesn't? Writing for kids is truck loads of fun.

One of the frequently asked questions I got asked (being not quite as well known as JK Rowling) was, "What have you written?" I garbled on about short stories for school magazines, picture books etc.

Hindsight being 100% correct and 100% useless meant I'd completely overlooked bringing along a copy of one of my published short stories to read to them. D'oh.

So with along with thanks to all the kids who helped highlight my shortcomings and strengthen my writing mojo, here is a page especially for you, Kool Kidz Stuff. It includes excerpts of An Eggspensive Venture, a short story which was in NSW The School Magazine Blast Off. Enjoy.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dear Budding Authors & Illustrators

One of the serendipitous side effects of conducting school workshops, is the enthusiastic emergence of creative talent. Following a week of Writing and Illustrating Workshops conducted by Angela Sunde and myself, many students of Coomera Rivers State School, have approached us keen to develop their ideas and launch their stories and illustrations upon the world at large.

Angela was able to assist with various suggestions where kids from 6 - 18 years of age can indulge in the art of creative story telling, poem writing and illustrating. We both strongly encourage children with a creative flare and a burning desire to take it further to check out these sites. They offer kids information about Writing events, Conferences and Workshops, Festivals and Competitions, all designed to show case and promote the work of young writers and illustrators.

If you know of any people who want their stories heard please feel free to pass these onto them.

This is merely a start. Keep an eye out for more and keep on Loving Books!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Writers' Workshop Book Week 2011

Day Three of National Book Week 2011 and I've well and truly set sail on my Inaugural Writers' Workshop sojourn. I've always been thrilled to be part of workshops on anything of a literary nature, inevitably walking away with some new precious gem of knowledge on the craft of writing and renewed desire to continue turning pages.

Now the pencil is in an other's hand or rather hands. Who would have thought that conducting Writing Workshops could be so utterly enjoyable? Fun, is the best way I can describe my first foray into imparting to primary aged students of Coomera Rivers State School some of the finer nuances of Picture Book writing. Gruelling would be another. Six classes in under six hours was certainly not for the faint hearted but I would not hesitate to repeat the experience.

Any concerns about them not 'liking' the subject matter were quickly dismissed. All grades from Preppies to Year 7 sat enraptured as they were guided through typical picture book:
Storyboarding ideas

- Structure
- Idea creation
- Character Development
- Story Arc
- Story boarding

With the main aim of showing them that a love of stories will lead them to want to read more and more. And maybe even write or illustrate their own stories.

Heads down, tails up. CRSS Preps scribe away.

The Preppies aged 5-6 years, especially impressed me partly with their inherent malleability and partly because their imaginations are still so fresh and unfettered that ideas simply spilled out of their mouths straight onto the page.
Together we were able to create some incredible picture book story ideas.

Some of the older kids were so stimulated to develop ideas inspired by the workshops and the illustrating sessions by Angela Sunde that they have teamed up with fellow students determined to produce their very own book.

Admirable ambitions, which Angela and myself will endeavour to help them maintain by providing info on Literary Competitions designed especially for kids.

Should we be worried? YES. Should we be garnering yet more competition for ourselves. DEFINITELY YES. These young inspired writers SHOULD be our audience today and our welcome contemporaries in years to come.

I'm just grateful to have been part of this wonderful voyage.