Thursday, October 14, 2010

Amazing Dogs

Today I received copies of my latest non-fiction book Guide Dogs. Here's the cover, together with a photo of Angel, who inspired the book. We puppy raised Angel and this photo is of her after her Graduation...proud parents we were!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Reviews and Interviews for Arnie Avery

"Arnie Avery is about birds, bullying, brothers and broken families. A memorable read of substance and purpose..." The Sun Herald, 22 August 2010

"Arnie Avery is an engaging story about growing up and making choices. The story is both humorous and moving, exploring themes of loyalty, friendship and coping with bullying and grief." Chosen as an outstanding book - Reading Time Magazine, July 2010

Arnie Avery "A moving story of growing up"
5 stars and PICK OF THE MONTH - Bookseller & Publisher, June 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Feast 2010

This week I went to Book Feast 2010 - a fantastic annual event organised by Librarian, Michael Fraser. Forty five authors and illustrators had the privilege of lunching with enthusiastic children from schools all over Sydney. I had the honour of sitting with students and librarians from Marayong Public School. Here I am with lovely Ann and Suzanne from Marayong.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Out and About

I have lots planned over the coming months...places to go, people to see... I hope to meet you when I'm out and about.

31 May 2010, Creative Writing Workshops at OLSH Primary School, Randwick

26 June 2010, 1:00-2:30 Book Signing for Arnie Avery at Angus & Robertson, Pagewood Eastgardens

3 July 2010, Official Book Launch for Arnie Avery at the Children's & Young Adult Literature Festival The Writer's Centre, Rozelle (All welcome!)

22 July 2010, Literature Live! Video Conferencing Literature Festival with various schools

27 July 2010, Author Talk at OLSH Primary School, Randwick

2 August 2010, Children's Book Council Afternoon Tea at Haberfield Public School

3 August 2010, Illawarra-South Coast CBCA children's literary lunch, Fraternity Club, Wollongong

18 August 2010, Author Talk at Coogee Public School

20 August 2010, Author Talk - Primary School Youth Reviews, Innaburra Christian School, Bangor

7 September 2010, CBC Book Week Lunch with the Stars, Manly

8 September 2010, Author Talk at Maroubra Public School

16 September 2010, Bookfeast 2010 at Burwood RSL

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arnie's First Review

I'm thrilled with the first review of "Arnie Avery." Bookseller & Publisher gave it a 5 starred rating and listed it as one of their 4 top picks for June. (Source Bookseller & Publisher).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Time Warp

When I was at school, I wasn't interested in history. But now it fascinates me. What were people like back then? How did they talk to each other? What did they do in their spare time? What were their families like? Lately, I'm writing a lot of non-fiction, and I'm enjoying the research aspect, delving into history. For a recent article in the School Magazine, entitled "Mary Wade - Convict Girl," I had to read the transcript from Mary Wade's trial in the online records from the Old Bailey. It was like being in a time warp - reading the words spoken by 11 year old Mary Wade, more than 200 years ago.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sneak Preview - Arnie Avery

I'm thrilled with the cover for my upcoming book "Arnie Avery." It's quirky and appealing, and it captures Arnie's character beautifully. The story is for kids 8-12 and it's due for realease in June 2010. Bet you can't tell I'm excited!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

To plot or not?

This is a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately. Whether it's better to plot a story or not before making the commitment to sit down for months, maybe years, and come up with a story.

My usual technique is to start with a character - one that's a little sketchy to begin with - one that interests me - and write. Slowly, their desires and fears and problems are revealed, and only then can I step back and let them take their own journey. I know where they're starting from and roughly where they'll end up, but the rest is up to them. Eeeek I hear some of you saying, and rightly so. This method of writing has its pitfalls. The 'not knowing' can make us question what we're doing, and when we do get to the end, will it be worthwhile? Will the story be one that others want to read?

Some writers argue it's better to formulate a plot. Why waste time meandering along without purpose? Better to know that first the character does this, followed by that, and so it goes. My intuition tells me that following a 'step by step recipe' like this constrains not only the writer, but the character too. Because only once the story gets rolling and we've begun to explore who the character is, can we know how he or she will behave when they're thrown into the action. Our plotting might be telling us that Conrad will fight the shark when it grabs his arm in the surf - when we've come to realise that actually, Conrad is a wimp, and he'd never beat a shark with his bare fists. He'd swim like hell! I've read books where characters weren't quite believable, and it's rare that I stuck around to see how it all ended.

When it comes down to it, we're all different. Some of us a are planners and some of us aren't. The best holidays I've ever had weren't planned out minute by minute. Just like the way I write, I knew where the holiday would begin and I knew where it would for the rest...I went where the wind blew me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Coming Soon! "Arnie Avery"... A Boy, A Brother, A Bully, and a Whole Bunch of Birds

I'm very excited about my latest book for 8-12 year olds. It's called "Arnie Avery" and it's due out mid 2010. Here's a run-down on how I came to write it.

I was at the local pool with my children. They were busy swimming and I was busy watching - not just them, but everyone else in the pool that day. I spotted four teenagers mucking around, chasing each other in the water, having fun. One boy seemed to be the leader. He spent most of his time splashing one of the girls, while the other boy and girl tagged along. They barely looked at each other and didn’t say a word. These four kids intrigued me. How did they come to be at the pool? What were their names? What were they like? I started thinking they'd make great characters for a story, when someone else caught my attention. An old lady walked her way up and down the pool past them. She wore a rubber swimming cap and she was very large. I couldn’t stop staring at the way her arms wobbled when she waded through the water, yet the four teenagers barely noticed her.

I knew right then, that I wanted to write a story about them. I had my characters and I had a setting – the pool. But something exciting needed to happen with them before I had a story. Maybe someone could drown? No...too obvious. Maybe one of the kids could become a champion swimmer? No...not interesting. What if the boys got into a fight? I liked that idea, and I thought kids might like it too.

Those thoughts stayed with me, and I couldn’t get the characters out of my head. I knew if I didn’t start writing, they’d never go away. So I wrote. I had no idea of where the story would take me, but the more I wrote, the more I got to know the characters. They became real to me – especially Arnie. I knew exactly what he’d say and how he’d say it. I knew what he was feeling because I felt it too.

It took a few years before I finished writing about Arnie Avery (he was actually called Arnold Pigeon back then). I’d write a little, then I’d move onto another project. But I always came back to Arnie because I knew he had more to tell. It wasn’t until about the fifth draft that I realised Arnie had a brother. The story grew and grew – kind of like the way a plant grows. At first it was a seed. Then it grew shoots, and then branches. Each little branch was a new part of the story about Arnie. Who knows? Maybe Arnie still has more to tell. One day his story might grow to be the size of a Moreton Bay Fig!

Books I'm reading 2010

Butterfly, Sonya Hartnett (Adult)
There was an Old Sailor, Claire Saxby (Picture Book)
Motormouth, Sherryl Clark
Heart Beat, Sharon Creech
Pearl Verses the World, Sally Murphy
Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan
Waiting for Mummy, Tae-Jun Lee (Picture Book)
Noah's Garden, M Johnson (Picture Book)
The Terrible Plop, Ursula Dubosarsky (Picture Book)
Beware of the Frog, William Bee (Picture Book)
Running with the Horses, Alison Lester (Picture Book)
Totally Twins, Aleesah Darlison
Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks (Adult)
Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
Grimsdon, Deb Abela
Thai-riffic!, Oliver Phommavanh
Bear and Chook by the Sea, Lisa Shanahan (Picture Book)
Tensy Farlow, Jen Storer
The Unfinished Angel, Sharon Creech
Queen of Cool, Cecil Castellucci (Young Adult)
Solo, Alyssa Brugman (Young Adult)
Looking for Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta (Young Adult)