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. 🙂

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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.