Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Out with the old...

One year ago I posted my writing resolutions for 2014. I freely declare I have not hit those goals.

Community cover, Alex Fairhill
I celebrated my NaNoWriMo win
by designing my own book cover.
Now all I need is to finish the manuscript
and get it published!

In October, after submitting my final university assignment for the year, I checked in, re-examined those goals and set new ones. I had completed some, was on track for others, and had yet to start a few.

Of those goals, I have not: Submitted two finished PB MS to two or more publishers by the end of the year; written three more PB first drafts; entered one more competition for the year; updated this blog weekly; and only submitted one story to a magazine for publication, not two. I also didn’t print my goals or refer to them as the printer ran out of ink. Then I forgot. I also signed up for PiBoIdMo but didn’t write down a single idea.

So I could make excuses about not reaching these goals, and they’d run along the lines of two months in a neck brace and constant physio after surgery, illness, full-time university study, parenting, etc, but I’d rather take a more positive approach.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Writing is work, not a whim

Has anyone else ever given you 'that' look when you say you're a writer?

It's the look that simultaneously questions your grasp on reality while accusing you of harbouring caffeine and daytime television addictions.

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.Now think of someone doing his or her job. What is he doing? Making a product? Working in a business? She works regular hours. He might be studying at night to boost his qualifications. She might be attending a breakfast meeting, or an industry conference on the weekend. Are they working hard?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Back to 'real' life and ready to keep writing

Today – 1 December – is an auspicious day.

It’s when hundreds of thousands of novelists around the world blink their eyes against the sky’s blue brilliance after they stagger outside for the first time in a month, as they have done for the past 16 years.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

NaNoWriMoer v Cat: The Showdown

“You have no power over me.” – Labyrinth, 1986


Monday, 17 November
NaNoWriMo badge
NaNoWriNo word counter
Still a way to go
to the 50,000-word mark.

9am: Child at school, with play date afterwards. I have until 5.30pm to push up my NaNoWriMo total. Today is the day. A jug of iced tea is in the fridge, I have no commitments, no excuses.
Limit time to check email, social media, and undertake research before writing to one hour. Set timer on phone accordingly.

Monday, 3 November 2014

NaNo No-No

My NaNoWriMo is not off to a good start.

Unlike 2013, this year I felt I was organised before 1 November. I had characters. I had a plan. I had been reading non-fiction books to fill out areas of information where I was lacking.

Then the trouble began.

Monday, 27 October 2014

On your marks... get set... write!

WeCoNaMo. It’s a thing.

It’s that time of year again, when strings of words are shortened to new conglomerations of letters that mean little to those not in the know. They are the Brangelina, Tomkat or Shamy of the writing and illustration business.

I came across these a year ago – I’d handed in my last university assignment for the year, and suddenly felt like I had a stack of free time. November is fast becoming known (to me at least, and hopefully the world if it catches on) as WeCoNaMo. And what, pray tell, is WeCoNaMo, I hear you ask? Weird Conglomeration Name Month. And here’s why:

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Mini-King: Wise beyond his years

The Mini-King gave me an order yesterday: “Mum, you just finish your work. Don’t worry about doing anything. You don’t even have to get out of your pyjamas.”

And who was I to argue? The Mini-King had decreed it to be so. I love that sweet, benevolent little dictator.

So I did what was ordered – stayed in my PJs and finished my last uni assignment for the year.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

REVIEW: Happy Pants: Why is Mummy so sad?

Happy Pants proves PND affects the entire family.

Words: Heather Gallagher

Pictures: Liz McGrath

Wombat Books, 2014

Perinatal, or post-natal, depression (PND) affects one in seven new mothers and one in 10 new fathers in Australia, according to the end notes of this book. Happy Pants, written from the perspective of a child, shows how the illness impacts an entire family; that support and understanding is needed; and that there is no quick-fix. But this is not a clinical examination of the illness - it's written from the perspective of a child, who knows Mum isn't her usual self but doesn't know why.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Destiny on and off the page

Melissa Wray's debut novel was released in 2012.
Melissa Wray's debut novel
was released in 2012.

Pivotal moments affect the lives of authors and characters, as Melissa Wray discovered.

A father saying ‘yes’ to his daughter proved a pivotal moment in the life of author Melissa Wray, and the protagonist, Jessica, in Melissa’s debut young adult novel Destiny Road. Two years after the book’s launch, the Geelong-based author looks back on her path to writing the novel, which she describes as “a story if choices, consequences, heartbreak and acceptance”.

Melissa has written a moving account on her blog about how pivotal moments, regret and death led to Destiny Road, saying “It came about because one night I was lying in bed and couldn’t sleep. There was an unspoken conversation going on in my mind.”

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Celia and Nonna's heart-warming connection

Celia and Nonna Celia and Nonna

Writer: Victoria Lane

Illus: Kayleen West

Ford Street Publishing

Like many books, Celia and Nonna began with a line of truth, says author Victoria Lane, with the narrative exploring the relationship between a granddaughter and grandmother, and how they reconnect following change.

Describe your book: Celia and Nonna is a significant and heart-warming picture book about the special bond between children and grandparents – and what happens when life changes.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Book Week boosts imagination

The words “wash your face properly or your moustache won't stay on at school” were not something I thought I'd say to my seven-year-old.

But, as I secured the fake mo to his upper lip and adjusted his beard so he could talk and breathe, I have to admit the kid looked pretty cool.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

An enforced holiday from writing

School holidays are not conducive to writing.

In the past two weeks I’ve managed to squeeze in a full half-hour of dedicated writing time – and that was only because there was a conveniently placed cafe near a playground and I managed to convince hubby that I could do with some time to myself. It was just enough time to read back over what I’d written and add about three lines.

Friday, 4 July 2014

REVIEW: STOP the Bully

Author Karen Tyrrell with her junior novel, STOP the Bully.
Author Karen Tyrrell with her junior novel, STOP the Bully.
STOP the Bully
Karen Tyrrell

I, like many people, was bullied as a child. Like the protagonist Brian in Karen Tyrrell’s STOP the Bully, I was the shy, unconfident, head-down new kid, and an easy target to those ‘testing’ me out. The advice I was given to ‘ignore them – they’ll go away if they don’t get a reaction’ was not only incorrect, but in fact spurred the bullies on to step up their attacks in order to get a response – they do it until they get a reaction when you don’t stand up for yourself.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Victims and bullies: the mystery revealed

Junior fiction novel STOP the Bully.
Junior fiction novel STOP the Bully.

STOP the Bully

Author: Karen Tyrrell

Bullying is an ongoing problem in schools, and the reasons why some kids are victims and others bullies is often a mystery. In STOP the Bully, Queensland author Karen Tyrrell has revealed the mystery of the bullying dilemma from all perspectives, including the victim and the bully.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Brainwave is caffeine-fuelled

I have a problem. I’m addicted to caffeine.

Coffee - I can't think without it. Photo: Alex Fairhill
Coffee - I can't think without it. Photo: Alex Fairhill.
My family has a running gag – if I do something forgetful or silly, it’s because my coffee hasn’t kicked in. I realised today how true that was. 
I’m not an addict in the sense that I must have six cups a day or I’ll turn into a monster – in fact, if I have too much I get jittery. I’ve had one energy drink in my life, while working a double shift; and I couldn’t concentrate, didn’t sleep that night, and vowed never again to touch the stuff.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Group works

A writers’ group or professional organisation can help develop confidence

Food, drink and sleep are no longer required. You're alone but not lonely, as you live in the world you create.

Writing can be an isolating endeavour. It’s rarely collaborative – at least in the early stages, when you’re drawing out ideas into coherent stories. Time dissolves as you struggle over phrases, finding the right words. Characters sometimes behave, sometimes they don’t; and manuscripts can be put to one side, at least for a while, until you figure out what to do with that collection of letters on the page. But when you’re in the midst of it – when the story flows, the characters work and the setting is engaging to create – you can disappear into the pages. Nothing outside the room matters, time is irrelevant. Food, drink and sleep are no longer required. You’re alone but not lonely, as you live in the world you create.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Personal struggle inspires PND story

Happy Pants shows post-natal depression
affects the entire family, and it's no-one's fault.

Happy Pants

Writer: Heather Gallagher

Illustrator: Liz McGrath

Publisher: Wombat Books

A personal battle with post-natal, or perinatal, depression drove Heather Gallagher to write Happy Pants out of a desire to help families understand the illness together.

“During my own battle with PND, one of my greatest concerns was the possible impact I was having on my children,” Heather said. “It’s no-one’s fault.”

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

I'm still here...

I admit it – I have been a slack blogger.

A slogger? Or a slagger? Okay – not a slagger.

At my writers' group meeting last night the topic of updating blogs came up – and it reminded me I’ve been just slightly remiss. The fact that one of my unofficial writing goals for this year was to update my blog weekly and I haven’t done it for – 10 weeks! How did that happen?! – was the cause of much amusement.

Eurovision weekend had nothing to do with it, I swear.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Insights into the care system

First and foremost, I love my son. I couldn’t imagine life without him.

He’s bright, funny, loving, has a killer sense of humour and is extremely caring and kind. He’s also traumatised, confused, has a quick and violent temper, ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder. He’s made us a family, but he still worries about going to live with someone else – that was his life before us, and it’s a tough thought to shake. No matter how many times we tell him we’re a ‘forever family’ he doesn’t quite believe it.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Frankenstein's monster meets Bridget Jones

That's what I feel like at the moment, as I type, arms outstretched, neck stiff, eyes staring forward.

The neck brace I'll be wearing for the next five weeks has robbed me of peripheral vision, and also the ability to look down easily. I eat with the plate pushed halfway across the table, as my laptop is now, so I can see what I'm doing.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Reindeer read review

Roger the Reindeer (The Diaries of Robins Toys)Roger the Reindeer by Ken Lake
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Roger the Reindeer, in Ken and Angie Lake’s series The Diaries of Robin’s Toys, centres around illiteracy. Roger leaves home not knowing how to read or write, and this gets him into all sorts of trouble. He eventually learns to read and write, then is offered a job with Santa.