to-do-2Forget New Year resolutions, February is when it gets real, people.

School is back, Uni beckons, the heat is unrelenting, but the holidays are definitely over.

I’ve finally found the courage to peek at the scales through a gap in my fingers (damn you trifle!) and have nancy-ganzed my loins for some big jobs ahead.

Two months away from the work-in-progress has allowed me to see it with fresh eyes. I’ve fixed the most glaring flaws and am back in the rhythm with a writing schedule that will see the manuscript done and dusted by the end of the month – go me!

romancing-the-stars-gold-coastFebruary is also when school visits and book events kickstart – first cab off the rank is Romancing the Stars at the Gold Coast on Friday 17 February.

You can take a shot at speed-dating a roomful of authors and illustrators – it’s seriously fun, so please come along if you can to support Book Links (Qld) – the Centre for Children’s Literature.

Click here to check out the lineup of talent and book your slot on the night. Would love to see you there!

Nawwww, who’s a good boy?

Posted: February 3, 2017 in Writing
8th-bday

It’s my birthday – I’m 8 today!

Dear Dog Park humans,

I may only understand about fifteen spoken words, but I know what you’ve been saying about me:

That Huggy is fat. And lazy. And probably depressed.

Well, I have news for you people: I HAVE A THYROID CONDITION.

Yes, that’s right. I am officially one sick puppy.

And I had to all but expire and break out in lesions before anyone figured it out.

Sheesh.

Lucky my mummy disobeyed the pool boy (she lets him sleep in her bed, but in the things that matter, she’s the boss).

He said don’t waste your money on any expensive blood tests. But she said that I’m worth it (and I am).

happy-huggy

Me on drugs – thank you thyroxine!

After only two weeks of twice-daily vegemite licks (with some tiny pellet in it that I can’t be bothered spitting out), I’m a new beagle.

I’ve dropped two kilos and five years! I can do backflips again when Mummy puts on her togs.

Even the pool boy is happy. He says we can amortise the cost of the vet fees and drugs over the extra five years I’ve been granted. (A month ago he thought I wouldn’t make eight, but today I proved him wrong – Happy Birthday to me!)

He also says that I’m a good boy, a very good boy – and yes I am.

[If you want to see just how much my humans have always loved me – click on this link Confessions of a dog owner | Christine Bongers]

big-lit-quiz-2

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?)

big-lit-quiz-1

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…

in-conversation-with-catherine-jinks

In Conversation with Catherine Jinks

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

with wonderful Australian writers Catherine Jinks and Melina Marchetta (who has a brilliant new crime novel out Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil – get it for Xmas!)

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…

leonie-tyle-dame-annabelle-rankin-award

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.

 

 

 

screenshot-2016-07-04-16-53-18_orig

Image  —  Posted: July 18, 2016 in Writing

Voices on the Sunshine Coast.jpg

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.

MoB-Robyn-Stacey-Magistrates-Chamber-Childrens-Court-Tyrone-presiding

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. 🙂

Nun's Cell, All Hallows Convent, Story Bridge - Robyn Stacey Cloudland Exhbition, MoB

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