Funny the things you do when you have a new book out.

I hate the thought of shopping (even more than camping or cleaning) and spring fashion means little to me beyond discarding the dacks of track and swapping my uggies for birkis.

Yet this week, in the interests of shameless self-promotion, I found myself purchasing a frothy frock and MCing a Spring Fashion Parade fundraiser for three hundred and fifty mums from Brisbane Boy’s College.

BBC wnner Bronwyn McEntee 2

I even did my bit for worthy causes such as Hope Foundation and Street Swags by auctioning off the right to have a character in my next novel named after one lucky winner.

The ladies were quick to take up the challenge, and after a couple of champagnes and a spirited bidding war, the lovely Bronwyn McEntee (pictured here) emerged the victor, outbidding dozens of less committed bibliophiles, to take out the prize for an undisclosed sum.

Congratulations Bronwyn, I already have an evil character in mind for you in my current work-in-progress. Watch this space!

 

 

campingTwo things I can do without in my life.

1. Cleaning. Yesterday, a nice man demolished our bathroom. Today, the haze settled to a fine blanket of dust coating every surface in our house.  I started Mr Sheening after breakfast, but unfortunately I started with the bookshelves in the dining room, precipitating an avalanche of chaos that has now engulfed two entire rooms. (I am dealing with this by hiding out in my office and writing this very important post.)

2. Camping. I came clean to hubba hubby on our wedding day. I don’t camp, don’t try to make me. I won’t, he promised. And so far he hasn’t.

Not that my last (and only) camping experience particulary scarred me. It was vaguely pleasant, I recall, in a bracing, cold-showery sort of way, in the beautiful Conondale Ranges near Gympie.

I went with a friend from National Parks who came well-prepared with an itemised list.

I’m bringing the tent, the camp oven, a saucepan and frypan, utensils, cutlery, plates, two bedrolls, a hurricane lamp, a torch, a portable table and chairs, an esky, ice, food for two days and a night, a pack of cards, a portable radio-cassette player and earplugs in case the other campers are noisy, she said. What are you bringing?

Um, the red wine? I suggested.

Fast-forward twenty-odd years, and I am about to break my ‘No Camping’ rule.

Yes, I am going on camp for two days over the September school holidays – the Meanjin Young Writers’ Camp at Griffith University. And the good news is that I get to sleep in my own bed at night!

I’m going with the good folk at ALEA – the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association, who are preparing now for their 34th Annual Young Writers’ Camp.

ALEA are bringing the kids (up to 120 keen young writers from Grades 5-8), and the authors (including the awesome Melaina Faranda, Julie Fison, Pat Flynn, Kate Hunter, Mark Svendsen and of course, little old me). And what am I bringing?

Um, the red pens?

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, there’s a tsunami of books spilling out of the dining room that needs my attention. Putting them back on the shelves will be quite enough cleaning for one day. ;)

 

car back2Eight weeks after it was stolen, my station wagon is finally back home – paddle board on top, and wetsuits and boogie board still in the boot.

Brickbats to the thief for gouging every panel before hoiking my key into the bush (that’s malicious damage, dummy, on top of auto theft when it goes to court – and yes, they did get your fingerprints).

And bouquets to the good folk at Yamba Police Station, the forensic cleaners, panel beaters and painters at Raven Smash Repairs at Grafton, Advanced Car Carriers and Allianz Insurance for bringing it home.

A short story – with a twist in the end.

When police found my car abandoned in the bush, I ‘fessed straight up to the insurer and panel beater that the little divot in the centre of the back bumper bar couldn’t be blamed on a robber. That was me, nudging a post.

No worries, they said. And blow me down, they fixed it anyway.

Karma. My car is now in better nick than before it was nicked. Don’t you just love a happy ending to a story?

 

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Choice article from Rocky Life to kickstart Book Week  2014 – Connect to Reading.

Looking forward to connecting with heaps of readers this week at Ashgrove Literature Festival, St Williams Grovely, and Sharing Stories – Connect to Reading with Authors & Illustrators – a Book Week Event for Kids aged 10-13 | Book Links Qld Inc.

Hope to see you round the writerly ridges this Book Week!

 

Indigenous Literacy Foundation

I rarely give away my favourite books. They’re like friends that I like to keep close, on hand for when I need the  fun and comfort they offer.

Even lending them out is fraught. I press them onto friends in the afterglow of reading, blissfully unaware of what went where, and to whom, and only months later wonder what happened to those that didn’t make it back home.

So when Riverbend Books asked if I’d like to celebrate National Bookshop Day by donating a favourite or much-loved book to the Great Book Swap to aid Indigenous Literacy I immediately said yes,  because it’s such a great cause. But later, I felt a secret pang about donating a favourite or much-loved book. 

Sigh. So much easier to give away the ones that we don’t care for.

But luckily this story has a happy ending.Great Book Swap

A quick search of my bookshelves unearthed two copies of one of my favourite books: Karen Foxlee’s gorgeous modern fairy tale, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy.

(I can bring myself to part with the paperback because the American hardcover edition with its gloriously illustrated end pages will never leave my shelves.)

So, hope to see you on Saturday 9 August at Riverbend Books where I’ll be swapping one of my much-loved books.

Which favourite book are you prepared to part with for a good cause?

CBCA QLD Book Week Dinner

Image  —  Posted: July 29, 2014 in Events, Intruder
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funny-kid-jokes-4Every time I start referring to a book as my ‘new baby’, a conversation from long ago comes back to haunt me . . .

A girlfriend and I were caught wrong-footed at a Uni party where a mutual friend was showing off his new baby (a genuine ‘little surprise’ in those pre-procreational days).

One look at the wee babe’s finger-in-the-power-socket expression and hair, and we stammered out something like ‘Oooh, nice booties’ and escaped to the bar.

My girlfriend asked me quite seriously what I’d do if I ever had an FLK, a funny looking kid.

‘Well, I wouldn’t know, would I?’ I remember saying. ‘I’d think it was beautiful and no-one would be game to tell me any different.’

Sigh. So young. Fast forward thirty-odd years, and I’ve found that book babies don’t get treated with kid gloves. If you’ve given birth to an FLK, trust me, you find out pretty damn quick in the world of online reviews where everyone’s a critic.

One way or another, first reviews do put us out of our misery. I know we can never please all of the punters all of the time, but at least I can take heart from the comments coming in; Intruder isn’t just beautiful in my eyes. :)

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‘This is contemporary realistic Aussie teen fiction at its best. Christine Bongers’ voice is engaging, drawing the reader in with her easy style and at times lyrical first person narration… compelling coming of age drama addressing identity, belonging and truth.’  CBCA Buzz About Books, July 2014

‘Although from the title and the opening chapters, this book would appear to be a thriller, it is much more than that. It is a complex and exciting story about the relationships that people have and the secrets that they keep from one another…Big themes like death, friendship, parenting, bullying and intruders are dealt with sensitively in this compelling book. Highly recommended. ReadPlus.

Intruder is a story that will be adored by those on the transition between childhood and adolescence.  It has just enough suspense to keep turning the page, but not enough to terrify; its characters are diverse, realistic, memorable and recognisable and show that we all need a little bit of everyone to enrich our lives.’ Barbara Braxton, Australian Teacher Librarian Network, REVIEW: Intruder Yr 6-8.

Intruder by Christine Bongers was impossible to not fall in love with …suspenseful yet not scary, full of real fears and the harsh realities of family life but also moments of laughter and love that transcends all. It really is beautiful.’ Children’s Books Daily

‘I love the gritty realism that defines this author’s writing…Intruder is smart and funny, with authentic characters and poignant moments of insight and affection. Highly recommended.’ You’vegotbuckley’s.edublog, this is the best book, ever…

‘Bongers does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life with all their foibles; her descriptions of Herc and his interaction with Kat are priceless. There’s a lot of charm in this yarn, mixing humour and tension in a believable scenario that unearths home truths and serves up a warning about the dangers of jumping to conclusions. It also contains a message on the power of family and trust to overcome even the most dire of situations. Kat and dog might not be superheroes, but they make a winning pair.’ Vampires in the Sunburnt Country.

‘A complex, intelligent novel … minor characters are beautifully fleshed out and the dialogue sparkles with life. Recommended.’ Magpies Magazine, June 2014.

‘Intruder is a satisfying read containing some crime, some romance and some drama. It’s a really nicely constructed story about family, grief and healing, and it stars an absolutely charming dog.’ Readings.com.au.

‘This is a book about family, friendship and facing fear, with an unexpected twist at the end … suitable for readers from 11 upwards. The incident with the intruder, while frightening Kat, is handled sensitively with suspense rather than terror, and encourages discussion about personal safety.’ The Reading Stack

Please feel free to add your own review, either in the comments below or by clicking on the following link: Goodreads | Intruder by Christine Bongers — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists.