Posts Tagged ‘This Writing Life’

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Inaugural St Finbarr’s LitFest with Authors Michael Gerard Bauer, Josie Montano, Sheryl Gwyther, Librarian Dominique Gardiner, Children’s Laureate Morris Gleitzman and me!

Call me biased, but little schools are a constant source of inspiration in my book.

My old alma mater, tiny Jambin State School, located in the parched heart of 1970s Queensland, was the setting for my first novel Dust.

St Ambrose’s, the little neighbourhood school at the end of the street I moved into twenty years ago, inspired Perpetual Suckers, the school setting for my second novel Henry Hoey Hobson.

St Finbarr's 2And today, it was St Finbarr’s at Ashgrove, a small community with a big heart, inspiring me all over again with its inaugural Literature Festival.

Hats off to uber-librarian Dominique Gardiner, Principal Anne Hall and St Finbarr’s P&F, for pulling off a literature festival that punches above its weight.

The all-star lineup included Australian Children’s Laureate Morris Gleitzman, and four local authors: St Finbarr’s old-boy and Book-of-the-Year-Winner Michael Gerard Bauer; Josie MontanoSheryl Gwyther and moi.

’twas a great way to cap off this year’s Book Week celebrations – and if you don’t believe me, tune into Channel 9 News on 4 September for their take on this little school with a big love of all things literary. 🙂

 

We learnt about the Finnish concept of Sisu – a mental toughness that kicks in when all else is exhausted – on a walking tour of Helsinki, with icy winds and snow whipping around my hubby’s unprotected ears.

(He wasn’t listening when I told him to pack a beanie and gloves, so the blizzard on arrival was a shock to his system. He’d joked on the plane ride over that it would be a balmy 24 degrees. And it was – on the Fahrenheit scale.)

While I was doing a fair impression of the Michelin Man in puffer, gortex jacket and four layers of clothes, hardy locals were showing we Aussies just how soft we really are – by stripping down to their budgie smugglers for a quick dip in the ice-trapped local pool.  

Respect, my Finnish friends. Man, you are tough. But I guess that comes with the territory when you live in a country where the mercury rarely pushes above 15 degrees. Where only five million people became legendary throughout the world for standing alone in the Winter War against overwhelming Russian forces – and surviving. That’s sisu.

 

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Now that I’m home again, home again, jiggety jig, I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned and experienced while away.

 


Time with loved ones is more precious when travelling, the juxtaposition of familiar and unfamiliar giving each day a special edge.

No wonder the Dalai Lama exhorts us to step away from the everyday: ‘Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.’

This year, it was Helsinki. Where I am glad to have discovered a new word to live by.

For when the going gets tough. Sisu.

Find Your Treasure 2018 CBCA Shortlist Announcement

Find Your Treasure: CBCA 2018

Lovers of children’s literature, don’t miss this star-studded event: the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s short list announcement for the 2018 Book of the Year Awards.

I’ll be there, along with a treasure chest of local authors and illustrators who’ve featured on CBCA Book of the Year Award short lists over the years.

Qld treasures CBCA Shortlist announcement.jpgAlong with Michael Gerard Bauer and Lucia Masciullo, I’ll be sharing what being short listed has meant to my life and career.

And I’ll hanging out to hear the official announcement of the 2018 CBCA Book of the Year Short List by local literary luminaries Nick Earls, Isobelle Carmody, Gary Crew, Tania Cox, Jill Morris and Caroline Magerl.

To register, please click the following link and I’ll see you there!

Official CBCA Book of the Year Awards Short List Announcement 2018 Registration, Tue, 27/03/2018 at 10:00 am | Eventbrite

 

 

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Please join me @ Redlands, if only for an hour – would love to see you there!

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!

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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 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…

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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!

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. 🙂

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.

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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

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This Thursday, I’ll be scooping up all the gold coins from Hubba Hubby’s desktop, grabbing an armful of books my kids have grown out of, and heading into the State Library of Queensland to help raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

For the price of a gold coin, you can join me (and please do – I’d love to see you there!)

Festivities kick off at SLQ from 10.30am, Thursday 17 December, with a welcome to country by songwoman Maroochy Barambah.

sidenav_promo-19112015152932-321-width-great-book-swap-fbThe Honourable  Leeanne Enoch, will read No Way Yirrikipayi!, a story of a hungry crocodile which was written and illustrated by the children of Milikapiti School on Melville Island in the Northern Territory with author Alison Lester, an ILF Ambassador.  Sam Wagan Watson will read some of his poetry for children.

Bring as many books as you’d like to swap. Dedicate it to the next reader if you like. Or even buy new books donated by the Queensland Literary Awards, Queensland Writers Centre and the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

The funds raised will be used by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to buy books for children in remote Indigenous communities.

The Foundation, a not-for-profit initiative of the Australian Book Industry, has raised nearly $3 million since its inception in 2004 and in the past three years has gifted over 85,000 books to more than 200 communities across Australia.

It’s a wonderful initiative that deserves our support. Hope to see you there on Thursday. 🙂