Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

CBCA 2014 Short list Older Readers

 

Well, I did warn hubba hubby last night: ‘I’m having a cry tomorrow. Just so you know.’

He didn’t know why, of course, until I told him. About the CBCA Book of the Year – Notable Books and Short List announcement.

About how all we writers for young people wait with roiling guts for the announcement at midday. Distracting ourselves with keep-busy work, while all our hopes and fears dash up against the ever-present thought:  So many great books … such a strong year 

So yes, I did burst into tears when I saw Intruder short-listed for the 2015 CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers.

Because until I saw it there in such fine company, I didn’t believe that it would be, that it could be …  Because there were so many great books. It was such a strong year

So, I’d just like to say thank you to the CBCA and offer my congratulations – not only to the 2015 Notable and Shortlisted authors, but to all the writers and illustrators of the 400-odd titles that the CBCA judges deliberated over this past year – here’s to the rich diversity of Aussie books for kids and teens, long may it rule! *clinks glass*

256x256_fit_one_bestfit (10)Oh you can book me in anytime, Somerset – fifteen thousand school kids, 120 parent volunteers, thirty-three authors and thirty-plus temperatures over a jam-packed four days at the Gold Coast – another sizzlingly superlative Celebration of Literature!

The kids were all inspired and inspiring, but a special shout-out to the Macintyre Young Writers for their enthusiasm despite the seven-hour bus trip via Goondawindi  to be part of the festival; and to the Somerset College kids for their brilliant hosting of the event.Macintyre Young Writers

After 22 years, Somerset has a fair idea just how disoriented authors can get when taken out of their native habitat. That’s why they allocate two hardworking elves to each of us, to guide and assist, fetch coffee, steer us into our sessions, and make sure we don’t get lost in between times.

I had the finest elves any author could ask for – Rosalie and Nick, Year 10 members of the Wordsmiths club, seen here behaving themselves beautifully while I ham it up with Clare Atkins, author of the brilliant debut novel, Nona and Me. With my brilliant Wordsmith elves and debut author sensation Clare Atkins

Clearly, literature festivals are hard work. Hanging out with old friends Michael Gerard Bauer,and James Moloney. Dining out with our wonderful Scholastic publisher Dyan Blacklock. Breakfasting with my brilliant Random House publicist Zoe Bechara and fellow Authors Belinda Murrell, Keith AustinR.A. Spratt and George Ivanoff.RHA authors

And don’t get me started on my fan girl moments, sharing the Green Room with so many talented authors including Ellie Marney (Author of Every Breath), and Melissa Keil (The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl).

What can I say? It’s a tough gig . . . but I did miss my dog, my kids, and my husband (possibly in that order). It’s good to be home. 🙂

 

luggage full and ready to travelPacking. Ack. I’m hopeless at it. I throw in too much of everything, can’t cope for four days with less than three pairs of Birkis plus something sparkly to wear out at night, and then I forget essentials – like the address of where I am staying . . .

And no wonder, I mean, look at me – I’m supposed to be packing, I’m leaving at 8.30 in the am and here I am jabbering away at my keyboard, having the loveliest of times instead of googling weather on the Gold Coast for the next four days or whatever it is that organised people do when they pack . . .

Dang, I really wish I were a list person, then I could tick off the following:

Washing (check – everything is clean, so that’s a start)

Dog (check – he has food and has been walked this morning – sorry Huggy, that’s the best I can do. If they forget to feed you, just hoover the kitchen floor, that should be enough to survive on till Saturday)

Children (check – the pantry is stocked, school forms have been filled in and signed, promises to look after the youngest have been extracted from the eldest . . . but Lordy, best not to dwell on this topic, so moving on…)

Laptop (check – loaded with tomorrow’s talk to a packed auditorium at Helensvale Cultural Centre AND the latest draft of my work-in-progress – an optimistic thought, but perhaps after each thrill-packed day at Somerset Celebration of Literature all we authors will be inspired to work poolside at the Royal Pines Resort – Surfers Paradise

Wait – I’ll need togs! And a cover-up. Sandals. And clothes – day-wear, and for going out at night and to bed. Oh dear, you better excuse me, I need to get cracking with that packing . . .

Do you think three pairs of Birkis are enough?

Jambin floods

My brother’s home isolated by flood waters

The older I get, the more I suspect happiness is linked to low expectations.

I expected nothing from yesterday’s birthday, had planned nothing in the aftermath of floods and other dramas, and yet 24 hours later I’m still aglow from the unexpected pleasures it brought.

A romantic dinner with hubby the night before… Great Italian with the kids last night. A call from an old pal – celebrating a 43 year friendship that’s still going strong. Another from my brother – hearing his voice on the phone after a tracheotomy tube had prevented him from speaking for a week was the most joyful of birthday presents.

All six of my brothers remembered, even the one on night shift in cyclone-torn Central Queensland. Such great blokes, and lord knows, they all had more important things on their minds.

The 42 people evacuated by helicopter from flood-devastated Jambin included one brother, his wife, their daughter and granddaughter, and another nephew and niece.

Water surrounded my family’s homes in Biloela and Jambin, but didn’t make it inside, thank the high heavens. Chooks and dogs survived, but not the four black snakes my brother killed while clearing debris from around his front steps.

A neighbour across from my Mum admitted panicking as the rising waters turned the surrounding streets into canals. ‘Oh, I wasn’t worried,’ said my 84 year old mother. ‘I’ve been through this before.’ And she has. More times than most. Despite power failures and unreliable telephone coverage, she somehow managed to send me a beautiful bunch of flowers, bless her.

The floods of the 1970s made an enormous impression on me as a teenager and decades later featured in my first novel Dust‘Silently, like a thief, the flood had crept up on us, stealing our land, our paddocks, the path to our back door, our bottom step.’ This year, the flood waters made it two steps higher.

pool

Me during my Suzi Q phase

Back in the 70s, I was a Suzi Quatro-obsessed teen.

And in a strange twist of fate, as the flood waters recede yet again in Central Queensland and the indomitable folk begin yet another clean up, I’ll be reliving that teenaged obsession.

A good friend has surprised me with tickets to Suzi Quatro for my birthday – and try as I might to keep my expectations low, they keep bubbling up.

Can the Can, baby, we’ll be Devil Gate Driving tonight!Quatro, Suzi

funny-pictures-cyoot-kittehs-of-teh-day-geronimooooooThis is the blog post I had to have before the year launches itself onto my unsuspecting back and goes crazy.

Not bad-crazy, or Spock-when-you-insult-his-mother-crazy, but GOOD-CRAZY

It’s chockablock with writing workshops, mentorships, school visits and Festivals – and even my first-ever trip to the Big Apple, yay! (Please feel free to let your NYC agent and publisher know that I’ll be in town; I’m sure Intruder would go down a treat with a bagel and lox.) 🙂

For those who love to know such things, click here for a complete run-down of what 2015 has in store for me.  For the rest of you, here are the highlights to date:

somersetsomerset-celebration-of-literature-800x60017-20 March  Somerset Celebration of Literature | Gold Coast

15-30 May: Washington and New York, New York (so excited, I had to say it twice!)

15-18 July: Whitsunday Voices Literature Festival

29 July-2 August: Townsville Writer-in-Residency

22-28 August: Book Week

2-6 September: Brisbane Writers Festival

14 September: StoryArts Festival Ipswich

I’m also pleased to be taking on the role of Mentor for the Qld Literary Awards Emerging Author Manuscript Awards in 2015. In recent years, I’ve provided short mentoring sessions as part of QWC’s Writer’s Surgery so it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to work with a single author over the course of the year on the development of her manuscript.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to my work-in-progress before the madness begins!

rock climbing1You know that feeling when you’re about to step backwards off the edge of a cliff?

The terrifying thrill of adrenalin? The not-knowing what’s going to happen next?

That’s how I feel whenever I walk into the spotlight, when I start writing a new scene, or send off a story that hasn’t been seen by any eyes but my own.

And it’s how I feel right now, packing for Melbourne and the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English State Conference.

I’m giving my final workshop of the year – Making Reading and Writing Dangerous for Kids – and I’m equal parts excited (because I love talking to teachers) and nervous (because hey, they’re teachers, what if they give me a bad grade?)

And as soon as that thought popped into my head, I heard the ghost of Mr Rainie, my Grade Eight English teacher repeating the words he said to me when I was twelve: ‘Why don’t you just try being the best that you can be, Christine, and see where that takes you?’

Well Mr Rainie, I am trying, but you didn’t warn me how dangerous that journey would be. Or how brave I’d need to be. Reporting from plane crashes, reading the ABC TV News in a borrowed shirt and half-slip, and walking naked (with all my talents and limits clearly on display), every time I publish a new book.

But I want you to know that I am still trying, Mr Rainie. And I’ll keep a special place for you at tomorrow’s workshop, just in case you’d like to come along and check on my progress. 🙂

 

 

 

Chris & Andrew 076Collective nouns aren’t normally associated with brides, what with only one usually in a room at a time (South Korean mass weddings notwithstanding).

But oh my lordy, we needed a compendium of collective nouns to describe the bevy of bridal treats that turned up for our 20th wedding anniversary party on the weekend.

Dozens of my nearest and dearest slipped, shoe-horned and shimmied their way back into their wedding finery to celebrate with hubba hubby and me.

A train of brides chugalugging on champers. A bouquet of bridesmaids blessing us with their fragrant presence. A gabble of groomsmen that could be heard a suburb away.1383718_10152579227633725_4419480155957365272_n

Oh, and for some unexplained reason, hubba hubby chose to wear a safari suit, but each to his own.

I love him dearly and when it comes to wedding parties, no-one cares what the blokes wear, do they?

Chris & Andrew 070

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?