Looking back, looking forward
I love reading the newsy round up posts of other authors and illustrators – like this one from Debra Tidball or this one from Tania McCartney. I thought I’d have a go at writing my own and that I’d cheat by starting with a look back over the last three months.
Books and kids
Is there any better combination than this? I love being out and about in schools. Most recently I was at Good Samaritan Primary School in Fairy Meadow where Year 5 managed to find half an hour of questions after my session was over. Questions are my favourite part! A highlight of the last three months was a presentation and workshop at Lake Illawarra High School, working with the students in the Eloura autism stream. A Minecraft workshop hit the spot and pages were filled with writing – much to their teacher’s amazement. I’m looking forward to a return visit. August provided another favourite on my calendar – the South Coast and Illawarra CBCA Children’s Literary lunch where I shared lunch and stories with the students from Bulli Public School. A more unusual request was a speech Is Creative Writing a Career? for a Book Week assembly at St Joseph’s High School Albion Park. I’ve never seen so many teachers in book-related costumes.
I attended two festivals, enjoying sitting in the audience for a change. While I love being a speaker, I always spend so much time chatting, that I miss just about everything else on the program. I went to the Writing NSW Kids and YA festival with my friend, Freddy Iryss, who is just beginning her journey as a children’s writer. It’s inspiring to be able to share that journey and the Kids and YA Festival proved an inspiring early step.
I also headed down the highway to Nowra for the very first Shoalhaven Readers and Writers Festival and nailed a task on my bucket list – to tweet an entire event. I enjoy it when others do the same thing for events I can’t attend, so wanted to return the favour into the ether. The program included Cath McKinnon (shortisted for the 2018 Miles Franklin – read my review of Storyland here), Jackie French, Alan Baxter, Eleanor Limprecht, Diane Blacklock, Merlina Marchetta, Allison Tait and Tim Harris. I took the opportunity to acquire a signed set of Jackie’s Hitler’s Daughter trilogy. After that, a winery trip and dinner with friends. Pretty much a perfect day!
As I often tell kids when I’m talking about how Pokemon was one of the ideas behind Samurai Kids, I’m one of the oldest Pokemon Go players in the world. Although there’s quite a few players in the Oz children’s literature industry. No surprises there given the adage ‘you write the age you are inside’. It’s also a family affair for me and it’s bonded us together, even across state lines. The extra exercise – chasing down Chikorita’s on Community Day and racing to walk off as many special regional purple and yellow 7km eggs as possible – has been a big bonus for this “spend too much time sitting on her butt at the computer” person.
Books I read
I’m a constant reader and my reviewing gig with the Funday section of the Sunday Telegraph provides me with the most wonderful selection of Australian children’s books. Highlights have been Finch by Penny Matthews (a rare 5 star review – such a delicious twist at the end), The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent (protagonist Cassie has such a unique voice) and Yours Truly, Alice Toolie by Kate and Jol Temple. So good to see Alice stepping out from my 2016 favourite Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers the Third Grade and getting the opportunity to star. I’m a little biased, because being truthful, she’s a bit like me. We share some of the same faults.
My bookshelves are busting at the seams – true!
Books I Bought
My bookshelves being over-loaded doesn’t stop me buying more books. In August, my OH and I went to Blackheath to stay at Jemby-rinjah eco cabins – we’ve been escaping there for many winter weekends.
Any visit anywhere always involves bookstores and this year I found a treasure trove in Gleebooks, Mr Pickwick’s Fine Old Books and Read On Books. My haul was made up of The Aboriginal People of the Burragorang Valley (Jim Smith) and Life in the Burragorang (Jim Smith) – two titles I’ve long wanted for family history research, Cicada (Shaun Tan)- as an ex public servant I love this one! and Freshwater Fishes (I live in a house of aquariums).
Mr Pickwick’s Fine Old Books also had old toys. It was a trip down parenting memory lane – Ninja Turtles, Thomas the Tank Engine, Street Sharks and Biker Mice From Mars (always a personal favourite – I kept the videos!) I purchased a 1947 reprint of Seven Little Australians and a 1972 reprint of the The Muddle-headed Wombat at School (which may or may not still be on The National Centre for Children’s Literature Noela Young wishlist – if it is I’ll be passing it on).
I’ve been helping out at Buzz Words where September was particularly exciting with the announcement of the inaugural Buzz Words Short Story Prize.
I made two blankets – one for my sister and one for a friend inspired by this glorious one another friend made me. I’m finding crocheting super relaxing and filled with friendship
Students Need School Libraries
I’ve been helping out with the Students Need School Libraries campaign website. It’s an important advocacy. If you believe in the value of school libraries, please follow on Facebook (@StudentNeedSchoolLibraries) and Twitter (@NeedSchoolLibs) to show your support. Launch date is 16 October.
I have four cats and three of them take an interest in literature (the other is more interested in music). Frost continues to chew up anything I write that he deems too embarrassing for anyone to see – which I mostly appreciate.
And Seven happily assumes the role of beta reader – although prefers no-one to watch her doing it.
My report card
I’m giving myself two ticks for this blog post (it’s been on my To Do List for three months), a tick for Pokemon Go related exercise, half a tick for writing nearly every day (that’s an improvement, as family health and carer commitments decrease). My newsletter is a massive fail – but I have plans to make that more manageable. My October task is to manage my email more efficiently and I’ll be posting about anything I find that works ( I desperately need to find something!).
What I’m looking forward to
This month I’m off to visit schools in Western Sydney on the Sydney Writer’s Festival’s Russ the Bus and in February I’m booked for my favourite conference – the biannual SCBWI conference. I’m on a panel for the Professional Development Program for Teachers and Teacher-Librarians, Creating Creative Writers, with Deb Abela, Yvette Poshoglian and Tim Harris.