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

Friday, 24 June 2011

Quote of the Week

I'm fond of quotes which cast wide philosophical nets, evoke emotion and rearrange one's thinking. But sometimes you just can't beat the Oldies but Goodies like this of Dr Seuss (I Can Read with my Eyes Shut).

"The more that you read,
The more things you will know,
The more that you learn,
 The more places you'll go."

It simply recounts an epiphany I had in the girls' toilets of my new school in Adelaide as a wise old Grade One newbie (not sure why it occurred there, maybe because water inspires me); That books would always be my friends, that I could attain absolutely anything from within them and that their power was limitless.

Wouldn't it be lovely to bestow this upon children so that their worlds are boundless too?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Creative Illumination

It was still dark and bitterly cold at 6.00 am yesterday. Five year old declared it too cold for our early morning walk. At 3.5 degrees C I was inclined to agree. So we read on the couch instead. Snuggling together warmed a memory, which hatched an idea, that grew into an incredible urge to write a new picture book.  

Now I'm bubbling away with images, characters and half structured sentences like a percolator about to explode. I don't quite have a full pot but there's definitely a brew in the making. The feeling is tantalizing.

Stunt doubles no doubt are accustomed to the kick of adrenalin. They recognise its scent and relish its taste. They know how to harness its power. For we writers, that initial surge of motivation is no less subtle than a shot of adrenalin. I want to sprint down the beach, leap through the surf and slay slimy sea monsters: well I want to be in a comfy chair at least while I observe my characters as they do this.

What spurs you into a frenzy of writing? For me it's the scent of something new, something so crystal clear that you don't need to hunt it down and trap it on a page. It comes naturally and good naturedly (usually). It wants to be written. Heard that before?

So excuse me for now while I find my chair, put the pot on and acquaint myself with some new friends.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Hootenanny Book Launch

Winter time on Mount Tamborine. A melodious mix of wood smoke, cerulean skies, honey coloured sunshine and hot chocolates (with marshmallows the size of small clouds). And what better way to savour these delights than with a good book, the laughter of children and the odd nursery rhyme.

That's exactly how we spent this morning, basking in the winter sunshine of  The Kitchen Table at the Launch of "On the Night That We First Met", Hootenanny Book's inaugural publication. Creative Director and Editor, Nadine Bates, decided to put her heart where her mouth is and has not only produced Hootenanny's first picture book but also wrote it. Exquisitely illustrated by Slovakian Zlatica Hlavacova, On the Night That We First Met is a tender emotional recollection of a mother's first encounter with her new child. It gently emphasises that although a child may enter a family in many different ways, the way a child is acquired can never diminish the love and joy that is created by the union.

Author, Publisher, Tamborine Mountain
Devotee, Nadine Bates.

Nadine was on hand to read her new book to an enchanted audience while local entertainer, Tiffany kept the crowd of kids warm with a toe tapping mix of nursery rhyme favourites.
Tiffany gives the Wiggles a
run for their money.

We lingered on at The Kitchen Table long after the last bit of bunting fluttered away determined to ward off the winter chill with gigantic bowls of wild mushroom soup. It worked!

Thanks Hootenanny for a Hoot of a time and beautiful book to boot.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

It's Not Easy Being Seen (or Green)

Revered author Markus Zusak once pondered on the question, "Would you still write your book even if you knew it had no chance of publication?"

A similar query was raised at my Writers' Group today; "Are we still honestly hoping to be published authors one day or do we just write for the love of it?"

My emphatic reply was akin to Markus', "Yes. Definitely. World wide domination for me, thank you very much."

Markus emphasised that writing should be a fun experience, playing with words and enjoyable even if those words are full of darkness and horror. He stressed (that for him) being a writer had nothing to do with being published. Telling his story was far more essential and I suppose satisfying.

For those who are still fairly 'green' but inching ever skyward ready to burst through that low lying cloud of rejections any day now, for those 'developing', for those 'established' but keen to survive the next season, the purpose of why we write is not always clear.

For me it's a complex recipe of reasons. I find it cathartic. I write to share, inform, entertain. And there is of course that small part of me screaming out for acknowledgement; a need to be recognised and remembered for creating something memorable.

OK, maybe I'm not seeking world domination. Publication would be the blossoms on my tree. But like Markus (and I'm not comparing myself to His Holiness in any way), I'd still write because I honestly just like messing around with words.

Would I still write, knowing that I'd never be published? Yes I would. What about you?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Top Five Things I Should Have Realised by Now

Apart from the blindingly obvious but undeniably true: No amount of money can secure your happiness, love, well being or publishing contract.
1. Ovens don't clean themselves. Well apparently some do but I'm not blessed with that type.

2.The uttering of the phrase, "Mummy is just having a quick lie down. Please don't disturb me." is not officially recognised in any child's language unless you're having a lie down in a floatation tank.

3. To achieve symphony orchestra like status with your writing you really ought to practise your scales...er scribing every single day. No wonder no orchestra has ever accepted me as a flautist.

4. Your significant other (read common old husband) will never be the literary critic you want him to be. You might as well ask the dog for feedback on your manuscript.

5. Homemade pasta turns out different every time depending on the size of the eggs you use. If only my chooks could grasp this basic concept, I'd be able to ensure consistency in at least one aspect of my life.

What are your life realisations?

What were your Five Most Memorable Breakfasts?

Mine include in no particular order:

1. The most delicious Eggs Benedict I've ever tasted whilst staying on Hayman Island. Taste possibly heightened by exquisite turquoise water views and salty sea breeze wafting about.

2. Stack of Crepes made by French house mate, Antony, whilst living in London. He cooked a two foot stack of wafer thin crepes which the residents of our little semi attached home ate in the narrow back garden under a crab apple tree. He was easy on the eyes, generous with his smiles, great with a spatula and a phenomenal cook. Ahh French savoire faire.....

3. Custard filled pastry and orange which I snuck out for at dawn whilst backpacking through Portugal with my sister. When backpacking through Europe one is always more vigilant about saving pennies than nourishing oneself. But this particular morning in Oporto, I relished the oozy sweet repast in secrecy and averted hunger. Note: don't follow such a slight breakfast with a half day tour of all of Oporto's Port houses...that sort of activity is best attempted with a stomach full of fry up.

4. Bowl of Congee (Chinese savoury rice porridge). Not my first congee experience but first time I had ever eaten it so early in the day, in such a cavernous restaurant with hundreds of other noisy Hong Kong residents.

5. Hot left over bolognaise with a fried egg on top received at the end of a four hour watch from 4 - 8am while crossing the Atlantic. It's always interesting cruising through the Bermuda Triangle. A fried egg just makes it even more memorable.....

Think about your food connections with life.....story ideas lurk in the most unseemly places.....

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Socially Write Stuff

Have it on good advice that to get ahead in this game one must become socially aware, media savvy, globally out there. OK. So set up various means of communicating with the Occupants of the Globe. Alright. Now spend countless hours delving in Occupants' thoughts, opinions, advice and more overwhelmingly, their observations about what a glorious day it is outside.

Being a bit old fashioned I still like to actually get outside, linger in a pool of weak winter sunshine and write about it in my diary. To no one. Writing to no one is wonderfully cleansing and pressure free. But alas once the sun sets I find myself here again, writing about not writing to an audience for the Occupants of the Globe.


Because I'm human. And we humans seem to love to Share, EVERYTHING, whether the other Occupants of the Globe want it or not. It's a basic built in survival technique. What's the point of being the only Chimpanzee left in the world in a tree full of fruit? Better to let all your mates know about it and continue on as a whole species to the next fruit tree.

Writers are of similar ilk. It's rare we don't share counsel and anecdotes with one another. Convincing all the Occupants of the Globe to read your take on Planet of the Apes is far easier if you share the book shelf with your mates and their tales of Apes Behaving Badly, the theory being, similar, creates interest, creates like, leads to want, results in a need that must be met.

So what are you? The Caring Sharing type who spends every ounce of energy describing to the Occupants of the Globe what the mountain looks like from the base at which you stand but will never properly leave.

 Or The High Achiever type intent on reaching the pinnacle before any other Occupant no matter what the cost.

Or somewhere in between like me, still On The Way Up. Eager to reach the summit but mindful to stop along the way and relay the views now and then.
Whatever your views on Social Awareness or the Climb to Success, one thing is for certain. Sometimes you just can't beat sitting in a pool of warm winter sunshine.....by yourself.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Interesting Fact # 1

Fellow Logophiles and Wordsmiths are well acquainted with the often bizarre oddities of the English Language but DID YOU KNOW that the combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways? The following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."

If words are one of our main tools of the trade, it might be easier to learn to write in Finnish. But in the words of Hemingway, Love the Word and defend it against its enemies!