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Winner of Cutest Selfie of the Year – Michael Gerard Bauer!

The inaugural Big Lit Quiz, courtesy of Book Links Queensland, was a fun way to wrap up a fabulous year of work-related events. (No, our Writers’ Bloc team didn’t win against all those impressive Teacher-Librarians, and no, work is not over for the year, I do still have a middle-grade novel to finish, but hey, who doesn’t?)

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Big Lit Quiz Writers’ Bloc team with Samantha Wheeler, Michael Gerard Bauer & Richard Newsome

Rifling through my calendar reminded me of how little I’ve blogged lately, so here’s a quick catch-up on some year highlights including:

Eight weeks in schools, at Festivals and in book shops, running workshops, promoting my books, and championing all the good stuff about reading, writing and literature…

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In Conversation with Catherine Jinks

Enjoying not one, not two, but three In Conversations:

with wonderful Australian writers Melina Marchetta and Catherine Jinks,

and American YA superstar David Levithan…

And what a pleasure it was to see my brilliant mentor, first reader and former publisher Leonie Tyle win CBCA Queensland’s Dame Annabelle Rankin Award for Distinguished Services to Children’s Literature during this year’s Book Week celebrations…

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With Leonie Tyle, 2016 winner of Dame Annabelle Rankin Award for Services to Children’s Literature

Finally, we ended the year on a high note with the youngest of our four children graduating high school! That’s twelve years of schooling done and dusted for him and 21 years straight of being a school mum over for me.

Not that it will make much difference on the ground – early bird bookings for author visits are coming in from schools as far afield as Mareeba and Herberton in the far north to all points south, so expect to see me still hanging around the school yard next year.🙂

Now, where was I before this unaccustomed urge to blog took over … oh yes, of course, the unfinished middle-grade novel!

Clearly now is the write time to wish you all a fabulous festive season – see you on the other side!

Where Creativity Starts

I try not to flinch every time someone says they are ‘bored of’ something.

Half my brain screams ‘Bored with: it’s tired of; bored with!’ while the other half calmly reasons that language evolves. If young people unanimously decide to go with bored of, who am I to swim against the linguistic tide in my old-fashioned neck-to-knees swimsuit and flowered bathing cap?

And so I gamely dog-paddle on, chin up, through a rising tide of complaints, kids bored of this, bored of that, and try to focus on the real issue…

And that is the belief that being bored is somehow a bad thing.Something to be avoided at all costs. Or fended off with scheduled activities or screen time courtesy of the ubiquitous array of electronic boredom busters.

Lordy me, when did boredom become such a threat? Once upon a time, anyone with the temerity (or lack of imagination) to be bored was either given a job to do or told to make their own fun.

Nowadays, someone passes them an iPad. Or turns on the telly.

No-one tells kids the truth. That boredom is their friend. It’s where creativity is sparked, ideas are born. It’s that  space in our busy lives where we can take the time to amble aimlessly, discover hidden worlds, dream up a story, paint a picture, write a song, build a better mouse trap.

The mind is a marvelous thing. Give it some space to meander and it will surprise you. I know this because all my stories have been daydreamed into existence. I once spent three entire months thinking about a kid called Henry Hoey Hobson before I wrote the first word of his story. Other stories have simmered on the back hotplate of my mind, sometimes for years, till a lull in the busy-busy of life created space for it to move to the front burner.

So don’t fill let your kids fill their days with busy-busy. Even if you’re a mad scheduler and can’t help yourself, schedule some time out for them. Every day. No activities. No screens. No homework.

Let them be bored. Allow them to daydream. And watch their creativity flow.

 

 

 

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Image  —  Posted: July 18, 2016 in Writing

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Half the cast were hiding (including YA superstars Rebecca Lim, Nova Weeetman, Kirsty Eagar and Fleur Ferris), but here’s a glimpse of Voices’ fabulousness including Children’s Laureate Lee Hobbs, indigenous authors Lesley Williams, Ellen Van Neerven and photo bomber Greg Dreise, performance poet Phil Wilcox, the talented Janeen Bryan, Samantha Wheeler, Julie Fison, Serena Geddes, Lynette Noni, James Phelan, Shelley Davidow and Sarah Kinsella with festival uber-organiser Kelly Dunham, her ever sunny self in yellow. :)

Voices on the Coast rang out loud and strong this week with four-and-a-thousand school kids and more than thirty authors, illustrators, poets and performers converging on the Sunshine Coast University for Immanuel College’s 20th annual celebration of literature.

Thank the high heavens I have a voice that can be heard in the back paddock because it was put through its paces over two packed days of workshops, talks, and signings (and yes, a bit of after-hours goofing off with assorted creative types too).

I’ve had had a soft spot for Voices since the festival was kind enough to launch my debut novel Dust seven years ago and I do love to be invited back (and yes, that is a hint, Kelly!)

This year, I had fun judging the Short, Sharp and Snappy 50 word writing competition (after Festival Organiser Kelly Dunham did all the hard work shortlisting the 320 entries!) 

To all the hundreds of kids (and smattering of keen adults) who came to my talks and workshops, thanks heaps, I loved sharing stories with you.

I know you came for the writing tips and left in love with my beagle, so this is for you …20160609_125234

Yup, the pup missed me.

But now Huggy has a new bed to curl up in, while I can go back to pounding out words on my keyboard.  Both of us, where we belong.🙂

 

 

 

 

Robyn Stacey, Room 710 Tower Mill Motel, 2015. Courtesy the artist

Robyn Stacey, Room 710 Tower Mill Motel, Cloudland Exhibtion, Museum of Brisbane until 3 April 2016

My standard reply is always ‘real life.’

It’s a handy catchall. Because inspiration is literally everywhere – in the lives we live, the paths we choose, the mistakes we make, and the people we encounter along the way …

Stir in all the experiences and art that we expose ourselves to and a healthy dose of imagination, and you have a rich base for the alchemy of ideas.

Right now I’m feeling inspired after seeing Robyn Stacey’s spectacular Cloud Land photographic exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane.

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Robyn Pacey’s Magistrate’s chamber, Children’s Court, Tyron Presiding

I wandered in for a quick heads up before tomorrow’s writing camp for Corinda State High students and found myself in a stunning topsy turvy world.

Stacey brings the outside in, projecting stunning city views into darkened rooms, using the ancient camera obscura technique.

She captures fleeting glimpses of lives, producing moments that resonate in a lush and surreal setting that literally turns Brisbane on its head.

Any one of her photographs could balloon into any number of stories given the prod of a healthy imagination.

Which is what I’ll be doing tomorrow with Year 7, 8 and 9 from Corinda State High: giving their imaginations a prod and seeing what stories they come up with inspired by Cloudland.🙂

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Nun’s Cell, All Hallows Convent, Story Bridge – Robyn Pacey, Cloudland Exhibiton at Museum of Brisbane until 3 April.

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So tell me, whaddaya think of the new look Henry Hoey Hobson?

Penguin Random House has shouted my adored middle child a brand new jacket and I couldn’t be happier.

‘Henry is an in-house favourite,’ says my lovely publisher Zoe Walton. ‘We wanted to give him a fresh new look that’s fun and grabs young readers’ attention.’

So brace yourself young readers, the rejacketed Henry Hoey Hobson is heading your way soon. Look for him in bookstores from 1 March.🙂

(Cover design by Christa Moffitt of Christabella Designs, who also designed covers for fellow Random House award winners Two Wolves and Are You Seeing Me?)

 

1955 FILM : "SEVEN YEAR ITCH"MARILYN MONROE AND TOM EWELL

1955 FILM : “SEVEN YEAR ITCH” MARILYN MONROE AND TOM EWELL

‘The seven year itch, a time of potential crisis when you traditionally take stock of your relationship and decide whether it’s what you really want or not.’ Daily Mail Online

Dear Blog,

It’s exactly seven years since you first came into my life.

Back then, you were a bit shy, hesitant, and let’s be honest (we’ve known each other long enough to be candid), a trifle underwhelming.

I was an internet virgin. Nervously attending the kind of workshop that those in the know recommended to those without a clue (before their first publisher had their way with them).

I remember blushing when the workshop convener at the Qld Writers Centre suggested I  google myself (I’d never done that before – and certainly not in a room full of strangers).

oh-my-blog-I found only two online references to myself (an article on dispute resolution dating back to the nineties, and a more current tuckshop roster for my kids’ primary school).

Clearly there was work to be done on developing this author’s platform. And apparently you were the blog that would do it for me.

The lovely convener that set us up, explained your needs and what I should do with your widgets, and somehow we survived our first awkward encounters.

Ironically, one of my first posts protested parallel importation of books – and seven years later, Aussie writers are fighting that battle again. (Thanks for providing the handy link to click if anyone wants to sign the Petition to save Australian literature).

Our blogging efforts went to the next level when I worked out that a bit of visual stimulation (and even some Elvis the Pelvis) could add a bit of fun. And suddenly there was no stopping us.

We went at it like rabbits. But after seven years, more than 200 posts, and 71,000 views from more than 10,000 visitors, I began to wonder if it might be time for a change.

I found myself making discrete inquiries to friends about their website designers. Late at night, I previewed other blog themes, colours and fonts. I fantasized about a more exciting website that could show me off, take me to new places, introduce me to new friends.

I went back through seven years of archives, trying to see how to do things better and a funny thing happened.

As I retraced my steps, through all the ups and downs of this writing life, and the funny, sadinspiring and beautiful moments that we’ve shared, I fell in love with you, dear blog, all over again.

So you can scratch that seven year itch. The comfort of the tried and true is strong enough to keep us together.

Rest easy, dear blog, looks like you’re stuck with me for a good few years yet. Cxx