Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marvelous Magazines

The first thing I ever had published was a non-fiction piece in a magazine. I still remember when the editor phoned me - I was cooking sausages on the barbeque and was so stunned I could barely utter a sensible word. Now, as well as writing books, I still contribute regularly to several children's magazines. You can find some of my recent stories and articles in Comet, Blast Off, and Touchdown Magazines, and also The School Journal (New Zealand).
  • Camels in the Outback, The School Magazine, Blast Off, Australia (Issue 2/11)
  • You Light Up My Life, Comet Magazine, Pearson Education, Australia (Issue 1/11)
  • Earth Hour, Comet Magazine, Pearson Education, Australia (Issue 1/11)
  • Nora (short story) The School Magazine, Touchdown, Australia, Issue 1/1
  • Old Sandshoe (short story) School Journal, New Zealand, Part 1/1

I was honoured to have my short story Nora illustrated by the very talented Kim Gamble - illustrator of the Tashi series.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writing Tip # 3 - How to Hook Your Readers

One of the tricks writers use to hook their readers, is to write a fantastic first paragraph. The challenge is to make the paragraph so good, the reader can’t put the book down. Sometimes the author does this by introducing one or more characters and a mystery. Take a look at these great first paragraphs.

1. “Angela Throgmorton lived alone and liked it that way. One day while doing some light dusting, she heard a knock at the door.
There, on her front step, was a baby monster.”
Old Tom, by Leigh Hobbs

2. “Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
“Out to the hoghouse,” replied Mrs Arable. “Some pigs were born last night.”
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

3. “Once I was living in an orphanage in the mountains and I shouldn’t have been and I almost caused a riot.
It was because of the carrot.”
Once, by Morris Gleitzman

4. “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters.”
A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket

In each of the above paragraphs we meet some characters and we’re forced to wonder – What will happen next?

1. Who is the baby monster and where did it come from?
2. What is Papa going to do with that axe?
3. Why was the character in the orphanage and how did they cause a riot with a carrot?
4. Who are the Baudelaire youngsters and why were their lives so unhappy

I know I'd want to read more to find out the answers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

NSW Premier's Reading Challenge

This year, I'm thrilled to have three of my books listed on the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge.