27 Feb 2014
Writers groups around Queensland are invited to participate in Write Around Queensland, a new project that encourages emerging writers to share their writing and get edited in the process.
The organiser, writers’ web, is looking for one submission from each of the estimated 100 writers groups around the state.
It doesn’t matter where you live, your age, if you’ve self-published or what genre you write in, It’s Queensland’s raw writing talent, yet to be traditionally published that is sought.
Each 1,000-word submission from writers groups will be published in two e-Books, the first, In the Raw being the unedited collection. The second, The Final Draft incorporates edits and feedback from the Queensland Society of Editors, which writers may choose to integrate into their final submitted work.
Write Around Queensland has been given the thumbs up by beloved well-known Queensland writer Nick Earls who says:
”Write Around Queensland is a new way for emerging Queensland writers to let us all know they’re here, and to let their work find readers. But it offers more than that. It’s also a chance to be edited – perhaps to try out that part of the job for the first time. It’s a chance to develop as a writer and a valuable added line on a writing CV, as well as a new opportunity to do what all writers want to do: connect.”
Submissions are strictly limited to 100 in total and close 20 June 2014 with more information available at www.writersweb.com.au/home/write-around-queensland.
Write Around Queensland is funded by Arts Queensland.
Innovative writers’ web, connects emerging Australian writers with a panel of readers who read and review their work, helping them along in their writing journey.
For more information contact:
23 Feb 2014
Troy and Ruth join the fleet of pearling luggers with crews and divers from South East Asia in their quest for the elusive tears of the moon.
The notorious Black birding Captain, Frank Lee with unrelenting acts of piracy, barbarity and murder lurks over the horizon – a force to be contended with.
Through the generations, turbulent storms of human emotions reach from England to Northern Australia finally breaking on the shores of Bandyindi now known as Hinchinbrook Island.
Our reviews rejoiced in this rollicking story meticulously researched, which brings this work of historical fiction to life:
“Beginning with the story of pearl divers Troy and Ruth in the late 1800s, Blood on the Reef is an epic real-life adventure. The story is set at the top end of the Barrier Reef around Thursday Island. The main characters are Troy, an experienced diver with his own boat, and Ruth, his wife. Ruth also has a daughter, Rebecca, who is not Troy’s daughter but he is something of a father figure to her. The setting is volatile and beautiful, with rival pearl divers competing for their prize, corrupt authorities making life difficult for smaller operations like Troy’s, and the constant worry of not being sure who to trust. A lucky discovery coupled with some events in Ruth’s past make for a compelling story of survival and the struggle for justice. The story then jumps forward to the present-day descendent of Ruth, Joshua, an Aboriginal land rights lawyer living in Sydney, and the events of centuries earlier become painfully important.
The story is launched into fairly suddenly, and it felt like I didn’t get a chance to catch up early on with who is who and what they’re about but as I adjusted and got to know the characters I found this enjoyable reading. The story is so well told and the historical elements seem expertly researched. The best aspect of this book is the characters, the author’s ability to make the reader sympathise and root for them, and their many layers.
Some scenes in the first part of the story were thrilling, suspenseful and nail-biting and kept me spellbound. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone planning on reading the book but suffice it to say themes of betrayal, murder and injustice permeate and made me want to read more, despite being somewhat shocked and saddened by the harsh realities of life at this time and in this context. I found the main characters extremely relatable and well-drawn; I wanted them to succeed and I wanted to know their fate, which is a vitally important element of a successful novel.
The ending could be perceived by some as a little anti-climactic, however I didn’t feel this way. I think the elements of the book which matter most – the special link Indigenous people have with their place of belonging, their land, and the synchronicity of life events through the years – were extremely well honed and I felt fulfilled knowing that everything worked out as it should in the end, even if it wasn’t a fairy-tale ending.” Katharina Logan.
“As you read this story it becomes obvious that the Author had done his research and is familiar with the locations. This story spans three generations of one family of indigenous Australians and recalls the adventures, loves and dangers they had to face.
The characters are real and engrossing, and the dialogue very natural and flowed well. At times I was swept up in to the story as the author wove wonderful descriptive pictures. I think given a ‘good polish’ this story has all the makings of an extra good read and I would recommend it to anyone.” Coral Nichols
“Based on factual information, the story gives some insights into the early pearling industry and racism at that time.
The character of Joshua is introduced towards the end of the story when the time jumps to 1998 and that section is in written in the first person from his perspective. His character is developed well in such a short segment. We are given insights into his struggle with his identity as an indigenous lawyer with a firm in Sydney as well as a descendant of the people who ‘owned’ Hinchinbrook Island’ before white settlement. We are introduced to Joshua as he spends time with his dying grandmother as she tells him about his history.
Although the storyline is very good, I was confused at several points. The action sequences were very well written and easy to follow.
Anyone who is interested in early Australian history, especially concerning life around the Barrier Reef and likes a good storyline with a bit of action would enjoy reading this book – especially after editing!” Sharyn Macdonald.
Author, Ronald Butler (right) has been inspired to write by his time spent living with Aboriginal people and “hearing their stories of the treatment they experienced over several generations at the hands of many Europeans including those who thought they were doing good. Much of Australian recorded history is only told from a European perspective, little is known out-side of academia of the atrocities deliberately perpetrated against the first Australians by officialdom.”
19 Feb 2014
With creativity an absolute essential for writing, it’s sometime hard to always be in the creative mood. To boost flagging creativity, our guest blogger Ruth Dunn suggests seven tips to try (our favourite is number 1!!) to boost productivity and creativity to stay excited, focused and writing.
creative tip 1. Have a drink
Drink a beer or three, or five. Write a load of bonkers drivel and then come back to clean it up later.
creativetip 2. Listen to music
I find it always helps to listen to music. Something that matches the mood of how I expect to feel if I was on the receiving end of that content…excited, sad, inspired…
creativetip 3. Make a creative omelette
Embrace the autistic benefits of noticing EVERYTHING. Reference the photographic visual library of the visual cortex and combine all the things that look, feel, sound or taste banging. Once your creative omelette is in the pan, turn the heat up with an imposed deadline (real or not) and whittle it down until it’s undeniably tasty.
creativetip 4. Write, write and write
I have a book where I offload all the ideas buzzing around my head so I can think more clearly when I’m writing. I got the idea from the good ol’ Surrealists who played around with what they called ‘automatic writing’. If you feel a bout of writer’s block coming on get out a pen and paper and write down whatever comes to mind.This helps get the act of writing started and clears your mind so you have more room for creativity.
creativetip 5. Think of the end user
By putting my emotions in the position of the end user I can try and adapt what it is I’m doing appropriately.
creativetip 6. Take yourself out
Get out and about in the morning and at lunchtime. Mornings are pretty rough for me, I’m much more of a night owl, so getting out for a stroll in the morning helps get my mind into gear and ready to write. The act of walking helps thought processes and you might even see something inspiring along the way. Walk however you like, whether it’s strolling, power walking or Monty Python’s ‘silly walking’ – just get out.
creativetip 7. Mix things up a bit
Do something else. Walk. Scrub the bath. Alphabetise your bookshelf. It may feel like you’re procrastinating, but getting your body into some kind of action, especially the sort that is repetitive and easy to do on autopilot, is a great way to trick your brain into going other places. Then, in a way, your creativity becomes a way to take your mind off something else!
Wow, aren’t they great? What other boosts to creativity do you use?
Read the full original story from Ruth at Matter Solutions here.
14 Feb 2014
Zachary, a 10 year old boy adventures with his companion, a ginger tomcat, in the world of Cauchemar – a dimension very different from Earth where animals are larger, wear clothes and talk; witches and wizards weave magic spells; wicked robots and the Black Queen tries to capture them; dragons fight for survival and gnomes, elves and dwarfs try to outsmart mischievous goblins and fierce trolls. The boy and cat meet a myriad of interesting and colourful characters as they progress through the various lands in Cauchemar trying to find their way back home to Wattle Bay.
For independent readers aged ten to twelve, our reviewers universally enjoyed Zachary’s imaginative journey with cat Mactavish, recommending it to an older reading audience.
“I enjoyed reading this book as I like to read fantasy novels. I found the storyline suspenseful and loved all of the different characters. This book would appeal to early teenagers as the storyline is quite detailed.” Abbey English
“I enjoyed this book a lot. What I liked about this novel is how Antoinette Conolly used language features to detail how the characters behaved and reacted to certain situations (and) how Conolly described the characters and settings. And as every good fantasy novel should have a good ending… The two found themselves back in Wattle Bay. This novel is a novel anyone would enjoy especially a fantasy lover.” Caitlin Shore.
“I loved this story, it has a lot of imagination in it. This book is about: A boy and a cat going to another world in another time and the adventures they have trying to get back home – dragons, gnomes, live chess pieces and colour pencils, trolls, robots, pixies, animals living like humans, witches, huge animals, live cabbage patch dolls, wizards, unicorns, and lots of adventure. It was quite fun!
Some of the words used I have never heard before, and it was funny hearing mum trying to figure out how to say them. I liked how the chapters were long. I wished the book would never end.” Ella Neil
“I chose this book for my ten year old to read and ended up reviewing it myself. Zachary’s Odyssey is an interesting book about a young boy and his talking cat who travel to a land of fantasy and visit many wondrous lands. The various lands are well described and at one stage reminded me of the magical land of Oz. There are lots of magical creatures in the different lands and the little bits of magic were fun. My favourite character in the story was the talking cat.
The action certainly increases throughout the book and I really enjoyed the Dragonshire chapter. I found the language more suited to older readers with terms such as ‘legal traumas’ and ‘diminished somewhat’ being a bit advanced for ten year olds.” Kasper Beaumont
Author Antoinette Conolly (right) is a writer of science fiction/fantasy novels for children. She lives in Sydney and spends a lot of time visiting primary schools and libraries to speak to students about reading/writing and her books. A former high school teacher, Antoinette taught foreign languages (French, German, Italian) and was also a consultant in Training and Development for the Education Department of New South Wales. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Newcastle University and a Master of Educational Administration from New South Wales University. Her novels are suitable for 7 – 13 year old readers.
Antoinette’s writing is inspired by a love of reading (she still reads three books a week.). She wrote as a child and teenager when at Uni and had some poems published when in high school. Antoinette always wanted to write fantasy for children, but did not have time until she retired from high school teaching.
11 Feb 2014
Now given this is absolutely my weak point AND I know you will see through any attempt at ‘fake it until you make it’… So I am going to draw heavily on the indefatigable, the invincible, the very well read Christopher Booker. He has created a book from reading books, espousing a theory that there are indeed only 7 plots available to the story-teller.
My rudimentary summary of his book was always for my own consumption. To help explain where a plot was muddled, or in the case of helping children to write, why it didn’t work as they had three plots colliding like cars on a dodgem stage and really, we all had whip-lash just attempting to get through the story!
- Overcoming the Monster A terrifying, all-powerful, life-threatening monster whom the hero must confront in a fight to the death. An example of this plot is seen in Beowulf, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Dracula.
- Rags to Riches Someone who has seemed to the world quite commonplace is shown to have been hiding a second, more exceptional self within. Think the ugly duckling, Jane Eyre and Clark Kent.
- The Quest From the moment the hero learns of the priceless goal, he sets out on a hazardous journey to reach it. Examples are seen in The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Voyage and Return The hero or heroine and a few companions travel out of the familiar surroundings into another world completely cut off from the first. While it is at first marvellous, there is a sense of increasing peril. After a dramatic escape, they return to the familiar world where they began. Alice in Wonderland and The Time Machine are obvious examples; but Brideshead Revisited and Gone with the Wind also embody this basic plotline.
- Comedy Following a general chaos of misunderstanding, the characters tie themselves and each other into a knot that seems almost unbearable; however, to universal relief, everyone and everything gets sorted out, bringing about the happy ending. Shakespeare’s comedies come to mind, as do Jane Austen’s perfect novels.
- Tragedy A character through some flaw or lack of self-understanding is increasingly drawn into a fatal course of action which leads inexorably to disaster. King Lear, Madame Bovary, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bonnie and Clyde—all flagrantly tragic.
- Rebirth There is a mounting sense of threat as a dark force approaches the hero until it emerges completely, holding the hero in its deadly grip. Only after a time, when it seems that the dark force has triumphed, does the reversal take place. The hero is redeemed, usually through the life-giving power of love. Many fairy tales take this shape; also, works like Silas Marner and It’s a Wonderful Life.
As an example, this is the outline of the Rebirth plot.
1. A young hero or heroine falls under the shadow of the dark power (whatever that is).
2. For a while, all may seem to go reasonably well, the threat may even seem to have receded;
3. Eventually, it approaches again in full force, until the hero or heroine is seen imprisoned in the state of living death; (this may be internal or external)
4. This continues for a long time, when it seems that the dark power has completely triumphed;
5. But finally comes the miraculous redemption: either, where the imprisoned figure is a heroine, by the hero; or, where it is the hero, by a Young Woman or a Child.
You will understand my infatuation currently with rebirth, as it is the plot for Felt! A talented young American artist falls under the shadow of her manager. He seems to be managing her career but she can’t shake the sense of unease as some of the things he asks her to do. Eventually, the complicity of his actions comes to the fore, as his actions cause the art world to question her honesty and integrity. She can’t extricate herself from this furore of being accused of copying a great master. Her grandfather dies and she flees New York to bury him and reignites her relationship with her grandmother. It is here in Tasmania she finds peace, a new outlet for her skills and love!
Well, at least, I think it may shape up like this… But it could easily morph. Time will tell.
I have to admit, that taking your story and making it fit these different plots is an incredible way to check the validity of your story and to see if it really is the story you were wanting, heart of hearts, to share!
You can see I can’t recommend his book enough.
Christopher Booker’s ‘The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories’. It was a revelation for me as a writer knowing that really, no-one is completely original, as the story has been told before, but rather, the story has credence as it is told through a unique set of eyes!
06 Feb 2014
Little Thought Monsters provides a thoughtful and sensitive look at family separations in a positive way.
Author Doreen Slinkard has written a heartfelt book about a little boy dealing with his parents’ separation. As Donny and Lulu from Wicky Wacky Farm return to school after their fun summer holiday, Donny is looking forward to seeing his best friend, Tommy. But Tommy is extremely sad and angry, and Donny can’t understand why. When he learns about the separation of Tommy’s parents, and that Tommy had to spend his summer holiday with his elderly grandmother, Donny asks his mother for help.
Donny’s mum, Dora, comes up with an idea on how to make Tommy understand what is happening, and to make him feel better. Her plan works, as she shows him that children can still feel whole, even when there is a family separation.
What did our emerging readers aged 5-7 think about Little Thought Monsters?
“Oliver enjoyed the concept of this book and understood what the ‘Little Thought Monsters’ were as there is a similar book they read at his school regarding ‘Red Monster’ which is when you are getting angry etc. The illustrations were very colourful and plentiful. It was a good book for trying to explain negative thoughts & feelings.” Oliver Murphy.
“This a great concept for a children’s novel. The author creates a safe and friendly setting and then discusses serious concepts like marriage separation and the impacts this can have on young children. I read this book with my almost 6-year-old and 10-year-old. They were quite taken with the colourful pictures and enjoyed the horses and beach scenes.
The youngest did not understand the concepts, but the elder did appreciate that negative thoughts can impact on happiness. Luckily our children have not experienced the pain of their parents’ separating, but it’s great to know that there are educational books like this one around. I like the way the author encourages youngsters in developing friendships, resilience and coping strategies.” Kasper Beaumont.
“Tommy (5) was very interested in the illustrations of the thought monsters. Reading this book naturally prompted a discussion about what thought monsters Tommy has. Putting negative thoughts in a bubble and blowing them away is a practical way for children to understand how to deal with negative feelings, rather than dwelling on them. The next time he feels angry, he is going to try it. Tommy used the detailed illustrations to guess the feelings of troubled Tommy (“that’s my name”) and of the worry felt by his friend Donny.
We also discussed there are “good” thought monsters and you wouldn’t want to blow them away. A delightfully written and illustrated book that deals with the tricky subject of parental sensitively and practically.” Tommy Edwards.
Author, Doreen Slinkard (right) has written poetry and short stories for her own pleasure ever since she could write a sentence.
Living on a farm inspired Doreen to write stories for her children to keep as a journal for their children. She dusted off these stories some thirty years later, reading them to her five-year old twin granddaughters, and has since published them.
Doreen describes her children’s books: “My children’s books are based on truth, living life on the farm, including many wonderful animal characters and the day-to-day adventures plus learning curves life can throw at all of us”. When not writing, Doreen trains racehorses in the Hawkesbury area of NSW Australia.
03 Feb 2014
It is the smell of a location, the rotting vines in a jungle, the encrusting salt from the winds off the ocean that all contributes to making a setting or a location for your book realistic. Better still, aim for honest and truthful. The setting is not simply the bricks and mortar or the straight physical environment. It is not just the sheering cliff face of the glacier, but rather the cry of the albatross which circles above your head as the waves flick salt at you like a siblings flicking the bathwater.
When we are making a determination about a setting, a location for a story, we need to consider all of the senses. We are immersed in the setting and often not discerning a smell, but rather a triggered memory because of the association with the smell. It is not something we touch, but the feel of the cold air on our skin raising the hair on our arms. It may not just a taste of acrid polluted air, but the taste of adrenalin just as you are reefed back to the curve away from an oncoming bus! It is the sight of our breath in cold winter air not just our reaction to the snow on the ground.
So of course, the best way to strengthen your depiction of the setting is to:
1. Go there!
And if you can’t;
2. Phone a friend
Starting a conversation with ‘tell me more about your Guatemalan adventure’ is sure to bring gold to your writing! Nothing a person likes talking about more than their own travels, so buckle up, have a sip of water, and ask ‘do you have any photos?’
3. No luck? Then try the small screen and Google Earth.
I used Google Earth when writing for an opening chapter of a book, Felt. I needed to be in New York for the opening scene, walking furiously from a theatre to a restaurant in order to meet a very aggressive and domineering partner / manager! (She gets away from him by escaping to stay with her grandmother in Tasmania, but I can’t tell you more, I haven’t finished the book!) Originally, she only had ten minutes – but when I used Google Earth, I discovered it was actually ten big New York blocks. I just had to give her longer OR get in yellow cab (which was a much better option, as she needed to brood!)
4. Video / Visual References
I watched a fantastic movie trailer the other day, for Red Obsession, a documentary focusing on Bordeaux’s attempts to satiate the booming wine market in China. It is so beautiful visually and a cliché (but a useful one!) to say it feels as though, at times, you are actually there in the vineyards or on the Bund in Shanghai. I had, in my head, presupposed all of China in a rural setting as per a television series of Kylie Kwong’s! Team this movie with a book on the Bund in Shanghai and you can imagine the lights, the traffic, the pace at which the city moves…
5. And my favourite for undiscovered ‘treasures’ – the travel blog!
There are all kinds of subtle ‘truths’ to be found in travel blogs – descriptions first hand from others who have physically been there. Usually the rant is particularly useful if they are unhappy, because boy o boy, will you get a great insight into the affliction on the skin of bedbugs, how outrageously rude the manager truly was, or how impervious your pleas for help were when begging for help with gastro! I am talking about searching using that natty additional search thingy on your tool bar which helps refine your search. It is found under ‘more’ on the home screen and the time saver in this instance – Blogger!
Whatever your ‘tool of choice’ I can see why grants are given to authors to write in situ! Whilst all these things are great if you are simply unable to leave your world, sometimes it might be better for the story to wait. At the end of the day, no amount of other people’s journeys, regardless of the medium with which they share their view of the locations they have visited, is going to cut it for Felt. I know that 80% of the book needs to be set in Tasmania. I have always wanted to go there and with a draft manuscript in hand, I just may make my own commentary as to the validity of the setting, before even attempting to show you!
So wish me ‘Bon Voyage’. In the meantime, as I finish the manuscript, I am just heading to the Internet!
29 Jan 2014
Questions and Answers is a collection of contemporary short stories about how men feel about women: the love, sex, longing, betrayal, euphoria, pain, pleasure, comprehension and incomprehension.
They are love stories but, unusually perhaps, they are written from a male perspective: Dan in ‘Highlands’ runs away from a cycle of failed love-affairs to the mountains of Ethiopia; Robbie in ‘Bleed’ struggles with the complexity of a indistinct relationship; Finn in ‘Favourites’ blurs the line between friends and lovers; Sam in ‘Cracks in the wall’ experiences the fragility of love; the protagonist in ‘The menu’ considers the consequences of infidelity.
In all relationships there are questions and answers but – like people in relationships and those in these short stories – they are not necessarily connected to each other.
Each of writers’ web reviewers related to different short stories in the book.
“James Holden has created a collection of short stories, the common threads being love and relationships seen from the male perspective. As a female reviewer, I found the stories both interesting and often touching. The writing style is descriptive and shows knowledge of many countries and cultures. Subject matter covers infidelity, death and a spouse in a coma as well as a relationship played out through a “text” conversation. The situations described are believable and would be appreciated through a wide range of age groups by both men and women readers.” Debi Benstead
“This is a novel of short stories all written in an entirely different format. At one stage I wasn’t sure the author really was the one and only writer. I am also questioning the title ‘Questions and Answers’ as most of the stories left a lot of questions unanswered. My favorite stories were Severed, Cracks in the Wall (great analogies) and Memory. I judge a short story by wanting to read more and these stories did that for me. ‘Severed’ was very, very funny especially for someone in the medical industry. Overall a good read although I am not sure who I would buy it for dad, brother , female friends etc. It would be interesting to find out who Mr Holden has aimed it at.” Belinda Starkey
“This is a book of short stories about love and the consequences. It is obvious that the author knows his craft and that a lot of research has gone into the writing of these stories. There are some clever ideas such as Q&A written in the form of two people talking to one another via SMS text. The dialogue flowed well and depicted the times and location, and the characters were interesting and believable. In this day and age with everyone busy short stories are a boon, and I wish you well with your book.” Coral Nichols
“A collection of whimsical yet sensitive short stories set in exotic locations. Most have a male protagonist with endearing flaws who fall into unexpected love affairs. Some of my favourites are Dan the male nurse who found himself in great demand as a medico in the highlands of Ethiopia and Robbie the teacher who agreed to attend a tribal burial ceremony in Indonesia. Ben is an industrial draftsman who has a vasectomy to please his wife. Will died unexpectedly and his wife had to uncover a secret he’d left behind. James Holden has a great skill in creating suspense and mystique and putting the reader right into the protagonist’s world.” Lyndall Holmes
The author, James Holden (right) loves to create, whether it’s writing, cooking for friends and family, or home renovations. He has been writing non-fiction articles since 1999 and fictional short stories since 2003. He shares insights about his writing with writers’ web:
What has inspired your writing? My love of writing has developed over many years, starting with a love of reading, largely thanks to my mother who reads widely (and very quickly!) I started writing fiction as part of a Masters degree in professional communications, which I completed in 2006. People seemed to enjoy my work and I loved the process of starting with an idea and finishing with a complete story, so I continued until I had a collection, which is my first book, Questions and Answers.
Tell us about your writing process: My stories generally come from a conversation or something I have read or seen that sparks my interest. Sometimes I just make a few notes and sometimes I write the first couple of paragraphs of a story that may or may not be continued!
25 Jan 2014
I can feel myself slipping into a deliciously relaxed state as the hot weather continues, so much so, that raising my hands above the keyboard, extracting any communicable thoughts from my head has become quite a task!
This doesn’t bode well, as this year I PROMISED myself I would write and read and write and read… So far, I have only read, read and read!
So this morning, I had to shake off the holiday malaise – and it has worked. I didn’t get lost driving number three to a friend’s house this morning (I did yesterday – completely forgot where I was going!) nor did I forget to take number one to her holiday job (It gets worse! After forgetting to pick up the afore mentioned child to take her to work, two days ago, I completely forgot to turn on my phone, let alone check the beseeching plea of my hairdresser to see if I indeed did want the appointment I had initially begged for!)
You can see things were not off to a very good start in this household! Things had to change….
1. Wake up early
And I mean really early! I set my alarm for 4.30am, proceeded to toss and turn all night as I went through my ‘I will achieve this… list’ again and again, and then couldn’t believe it when I actually did get up so early! The upside was that it was particularly cool and as I threw open the windows; I felt the breeze of inspiration!
2. Go and exercise
It is so important when you are sitting all day, either reading or writing, in a single fixed pose as you are completely engrossed in words, that you move at some point! No, not from your favourite chair to the bookcase, nor the coffee machine to the desk, but really move, getting your heart rate up and muscles pumping. Okay, so I actually had a trainer at the gym this morning and was dumb enough to say ‘I would love to work with some really heavy weights’ so now typing is really killing me… but I did feel invigorated. If this is all too much, simply opt for a fast paced walk. Pretend you are having dialogue with a character from your book and spend a little time together. The results will astound you!
3. Eat a great breakfast
No, definitely not eggs benedict. I did that yesterday and ended up asleep on the sofa having slumped into is gentle embrace, having postured earlier about ‘reading this entire book in one sitting’… All I ended up doing was dribbling on the book as my head fell to one side and my mouth hung open, wide enough to be used for target practice by number two! She had grapes! The day before, I had missed breakfast completely and found myself in a mild state of hysteria where all I achieved was moving one pile of paper quickly from one side of my desk to the other and then back again. Couldn’t think at all!
Breakfast, and I can’t believe I am actually saying this, really, really does need to be a low GI fix – like a poached egg on grainy bread with slices of avocado, tomato and a handful of English spinach, lightly seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Yum! How good does that sound! It will definitely keep you functioning for hours.
4. Warm up!
You are in this for the marathon event – a full manuscript this year will fill your own personal literary landscape, clogging up the waterways and spoiling the view! Piles and piles of paper will be ready for the red pen, spelling death to your darlings, annihilating characters and ditching seemingly useless scenes.
You have no choice, you have to be writing fit and the only way to do the distance is to warm-up. Think back over all those lovely Christmas and New Year events you have just attended. Sharpen your pencil and your wit and write some amazing ‘thank you’ letters. Then, gather your strength and choose one relative to write to, bringing them completely up-to-date with your planned writing adventures and aspirations. (See, if you wrote to a friend, they would kindly let you off the hook when it came to explaining your successes or failures… Relatives NEVER forget!)
5. Simply remember now ‘words beget words’
Janet has blogged about this in the past (or did I? I knew I should have had two eggs!) A sentence merely consists of a string of words, systematically one following another, until you finish with a dot, a full stop. Reading some sentences written by incredibly talented writers is like drifting your fingertips over a bolt of silk fabric – it feels seamless, extremely pleasurable and an incredible honour! Other sentences may be like wading through treacle whilst harnessed to a pack of marauding dogs, whilst having to juggle a screaming baby! It doesn’t matter what form your sentence takes, it is a matter of reaching that first dot! Then you will be able to create another and then another…
My most favourite of children’s picture books is by the extraordinarily talented Peter Reynolds, called ‘The Dot’. (No, I didn’t plan to share this with you – I was distracted at the end of the last paragraph and desperately wished I could actually draw the second sentence scenario! The book caught my eye as it sits at on the edge of my desk all the time. It is so powerful and inspiring. I digress…)
The main character, Vashti is unsure about creating a painting and stares at a blank piece of paper. Her teacher says ‘Just make a mark and see where it takes you.’ Vashti grabs a marker and gives the paper a good, strong jab. ‘There’. Vashti’s teacher asks her to sign it.
What is so beautiful is next week, Vashti finds her dot hanging in a lovely frame above her teachers desk. She is determined to make a better dot… and she does, lots of them, indeed, enough for her own exhibition!
See, step-by-step, you are now at your desk being productive. You now will be able to write. Think of it, not only will you be terrified of the consequences if you don’t, you certainly will be fully satiated physically, emotionally and mentally and you will produce your best work ever… and if you are stuck still after doing all five things, just think of Vashti!
21 Jan 2014
Our 7-9 year old reviewers got a real kick and a tangible message from The Terrible Red Racer.
“I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it entertaining, suspenseful and funny. It reminded me very much of the stories my father tells me now. I really enjoyed how the father would drag out each suspenseful moment of his story. The illustrations were beautiful and detailed.” Abbey English.
“This book is about a Father telling a story about when he was a boy to his wife and two daughters. How he broke his arm on his best friends new Red Racer because of a new invention that locks the wheels so that they can’t turn in any direction. And how he got the bike to the school and tried to phone his mum but because it was a student free day he was not allowed inside the school. And that the doctors tried to pull his bones back in place, because a bone in one arm was sticking out at right angles, but they didn’t realise that the pain killer injection which lasts half an hour had been given to him two hours earlier.
It is funny and realistic. It has a sense of humour. The pictures are good. I think it has good explanation. The pictures, to me, explain a lot too. Its long which I really like. I also like it that it sounds like someone just made it up but at the same time knowing that its actually real.” Ella Neil.
“I liked how this story even though entertaining it still has a moral and a lesson to be learnt. The vocabulary helped to picture how I would react if i was faced with a dilemma like that. But like all children do, I loved the images even though I’m used to reading books that don’t have pictures.” Caitlin Shore
Author, Matthew Burgess (right) uses the pseudonym of Lily Burgess for his series of children’s books. These books evolved from a conversation he had with his daughter Lily when she was about four years old: “Daddy, please tell me another story from your mouth”.
A lawyer, after giving away the family television in 2006, Matthew found time to write law books and children’s books (talk about contrasts!).
Matthew says: “There was always a strong undertone in my stories to deliver life lessons, while keeping the children engaged with humour and expression. From that day on, my stories became known as “Words from Daddy’s mouth”. I had so many stories that I had to create a list to remember them all (at last count the list was over 400). So over time a game developed where the children would choose a number from this list. Whatever story related to the number chosen would be the story I would tell. Stories were usually told as the last part of the wind down of an evening, sitting together in a bedroom or on a lounge chair.”
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