Friday, July 31, 2015

The new novel

I have started a new novel and I'm in that it's-so-exciting-to-be-writing-a-new-story phase.

I have progressed past the heady first flush of inspiration, and now my characters are talking, ideas are colliding and the shape of the story is revealing itself to me.

There is so much work to be done.
So much to research.
So much to write and rewrite.
So many wrong turns to take.
So many mistakes to be made.
So much wretched self doubt to deal with.
But, oh, I must be mad, because I am so EXCITED by it all.
Bring it on! I say.

I want to tell you about an interesting book I read recently. WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron. It is basically a manual on how to write a novel - which usually sends alarm bells, as we know there is no magic formula to novel writing - but it is framed around research in neuroscience and cognitive theory, which makes it a little different to most, and intrigued the logical/scientific part of my brain.

More importantly, the timing was perfect for me, as it reminded me of all the things I need to sort out before starting a new book. It helped me to focus, and not to rush headlong into madly writing without first being clear on what the story is about, and what is driving my characters. I am not an outliner - but I work much better if I know what makes my characters tick and what the story is about in a nutshell. And by thinking deeply about these things, I have come to realise that the story I want to tell deals with some very complex emotions and, with a twelve-year-old protagonist, I need to tread carefully and be very clear in my own mind how she feels about the events that will unfold.

A couple of random thoughts from the book that were useful reminders for me:
  • Everything must be there on a needs-to-know basis. 
  • Plot is not story. Story is how your character is affected by the plot, and how he/she acts and reacts, grows and/or changes.
  • Be clear what your character's external goals and inner issues are.
Over and out from me!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Platypus play time

PLATYPUS hit the bookshop shelves this week. So it is Happy Dance time for me.

As with all new releases, I am now thinking of ways to present this book in the upcoming weeks of school visits and events that make up BOOK MONTH. (Book Week usually lasts for at least a month these days.)

So today I purchased online another wonderful FOLKMANIS puppet. Pretty cute, huh?

And I have wasted many hours watching numerous funny and informative platypus videos on YouTube. This one rates high on the cute stakes!

I have even found the most annoying platypus song ever! I dare you to listen to it.

So lots of valuable time wasting. And lots of platypus fun ahead, starting with the CBCA Illawarra-South Coast Sub Branch's Literary Luncheon on Wednesday. Food, kids, authors and books - a winning combination.

For the teachers who might stumble on this post, here is a link to some CLASSROOM IDEAS created by WALKER BOOKS.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Platypus sneak peek

PLATYPUS - my first ever trade nonfiction picture book - is due for release in a week or so.

Yes, I am happy dancing!

It is part of a gorgeous series, called Nature Storybooks, published by Walker Books, which combines lyrical narrative, facts and painterly art.

And I have been ever so lucky to have been paired with the the supremely talented illustrator MARK JACKSON. His work is divine!

Want a sneak peek? Feast your eyes on these.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

I love school holidays

I love school holidays. 

This may sound like a strange thing to say for someone who hasn’t been a teacher for ten years and whose kids are well past their school days.

But school holidays are wonderful.

Because school holidays mean delicious cocooning silence for the first half hour of my morning train commute.

Now please don’t think that this is a rant about the youth of today and their disrespect for others. It’s not. It’s just that the first half hour of my commute is the tiny bit of time that I have carved out for me to write. And for exactly sixteen minutes of that time the local high school kids surge into my carriage and command centre stage.

They don’t do anything wrong (mostly). They are just LOUD. Exuberant. As you should be when you are a teen. The carriage fills with their energy: sudden shots of laughter, high-pitched squeals, the click-clack of skateboards, the bouncing of soccer balls, shouted conversations about assignments, or exams or TV shows. Sometimes there is even singing. (I love the singing.) And dancing. And acrobatics. (True.) They are highly entertaining - and extremely distracting - but only once have I felt the need to say, Oh, come on, guys, keep it down. Please. Which they did immediately with red faces and swift apologies.

Funnily enough it wasn’t until midweek last week that I noticed their absence, that I snuggled into the silence of my empty carriage and immersed myself in the voices of my characters. It was nice, I have to admit.

And I have another whole week until the sixteen-minute daily circus returns.