Thursday 23 December 2010

Book signings

In the lead up to Christmas I had a book signing in the local book shop.  It was very interesting in that I caught up with some people I hadn't seen for ages, met new fans and watched body language in a book shop.
I sat at a little table to the side of the shopping traffic- one lady even pretended I was in visible and stacked her Christmas purchase on top of my book and proceeded to mark off her shopping list.  Others simply looked the other way and others smiled or stopped to talk and best of all purchase a book.

Catching up with friends was the best part of the afternoon- thanks Tru for coming along!

I signed quite a few copies for the book shop to sell.  It was great to sign books locally.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Radio Interview- Bush Telegraph

Train to Melbourne
Southbank Boulevard
ABC studios
every second counts
Michael Cathcart
What emotion
for the game
of Star Jumps
Ruby, Keely, Connor.
Listen now to the Podcast
Thanks Bush Telegraph!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

'Star Jumps' and the Prime Minister's Literary awards

Monday 8th of November is a day to remember.  The short-listed authors for the four categories were invited along with a guest to Zinc restaurant in Federation Square, Melbourne.  There the Minister for the Arts Simon Crean made the announcements.  The Prime Minister Julia Gillard first spoke about the awards.

A topic of conversation from the sending out of the invitations a week before, to the 10.30 am commencement of the wards ceremony was:  did the short-listed authors know the winner, or did the relevant publishing houses know the winner?

Authors were advised that there was a 2 minute speech time.  But should all authors be prepared with a speech?  I wasn't- well I wrote a rough few lines in the train going down to Melbourne- I was intending to enjoy the function and not stress about not winning.  As as each successful author was announced (fiction, non fiction YA )and the winner was overcome with shock, elation, emotion, (and a real need to screech) it was clear to the audience that the winners were only being revealed as they watched and listened.

So when they came to the fourth and final category- children's fiction and the title 'Star jumps' was read out- I was seriously wondering how to make it to the platform- what to take( no glasses I'd left them home in my haste to catch that train) so I took the exercise book I'd scribbled my brief attempt at a speech in.  My husband Kelvin assures me that he kissed and cuddled me first...hmm don't remember that part.

But there was Julia Gillard smiling and waiting and holding a framed certificate, gold envelope and a white box.  All for me!!!
Once on stage I looked out to a sea of cameras and tripods.  My voice wavered.  What had I written in my notebook?  Even glasses borrowed from Sue couldn't help me to see.

But genuine emotion, elation, spilled out over the faces.  My 'Star Jumps' that book written with more tears than typeface had won a major awrad.  My 'Star Jumps' written in prose poetry, the book I wanted to write, had to write, that takes the reader into the time of crisis on a real to life dairy farm, had won a major award. 

So here now I say my thanks.  My daughter Natalie asked if I'd thanked God.  So here I thank God for that talent of writing; to my six children so readily glimpsed in the lives of Ruby, Connor and Keely; to my husband Kelvin with whom our farming life was pioneered; to my publisher Sarah Foster at Walker for her love of poetry; to Sue Whiting my editor who so brilliantly edited, to Mim the designer at Walker for the cover; to May Gibbs Literature trust Norwood, Adelaide for giving me that time to write and cry and write again.  Because this is a book that carries my heart, in a quiet, farming way.

And to all my writing friends- all is possible, keep writing, keep writing, and thanks for knowing how to encourage.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Books and sewing- challenges both

I went into my local Collins book store last week- I did have a voucher to spend but of course didn't take the names of the books I really wanted to buy- a mixture of craft and children's fiction.  But the staff were setting up a new display.  One book- well retro book caught my eye- hey I said I've got that book at home- I read it in my first year of high school- in fact a childhood friend recently discovered my name in the book and the book on her bookshelf and returned it to me- many, many years after she had borrowed it.

I was really surprised to see this book reprinted.  It poses the question- is this what readers want now- a mystery, a step up from Enid Blyton?  As writers are we providing this?

I also wanted to share a craft from scraps and recycled material( thanks Janeen for those cloth serviettes).  I belong to a craft group called Knotty Ladies and they are working towards a market for craft from recycled material for Christmas and charity.

The pattern can be found here.wrap around doll

Sunday 10 October 2010

creating in a different media

I confess.  I sew, I craft, I op shop, I think, I gather.
I believe that these facets of my personality get my writing going.  I think as I sew.  As I snip and sort through scraps and material, I'm planning, I'm sorting colours, scenes, character traits.
Some creations work beautifully, other times I follow patterns ( read: plot) and I'm dissatisfied with the result, or misread the directions and go my own way.

Here is a sample of what I'm working on... all gifts.
The pattern for the robot is here.
 And an op shop find for my granddaughter Hetty, complete with a prince and princess is for dreaming.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Where Inspiration comes from

Inspiration- yes well that initially strikes and away I go... but what if it flags, stales, stalls, the words begin to bore even the writer?

Ah, I have a solution.  Its part of my personality/research/hoarding? I am a collector of bits and pieces that matter to me, that contain that zing factor, that propel me into daydreaming, remembering, making connections.

I have folders that capture the essence of the creativity and personality of my six kids- well they are grown ups now, but if I trawl through my folders I find treasure:

 I re-enter that time of childhood- search for the details that matter, that resonate with possibility.

That's really important for me right now as I reach the end section of the novel that has taken me about 3 years to really steer in the right direction.

These folders become a visual snapshot of the busyness and fruitfulness of a lifestyle that was lived in the zoom, zoom zone.  Now I can slow it down and savour.  And reinvent!

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Workshops for Book week

Question:   "What do you do when people recognise you down the street?' asked a boy in Year Two.

Ha!  That made me laugh.  I don't think a children's poet will ever be that recognisable, but its wonderful to be asked that question and to enjoy a bit of celebrity status- well for a short time.

I took a week of workshops through from prep to year 4, covering two word poems on transport, to conversation poems and incident starters.

Its also wonderful to see the classes literally dive into poetry and perform poetic somersaults with such enthusiasm.

Thanks to Lisa for making me so welcome.

Friday 20 August 2010

Talking about a book

Yesterday I was invited to a local school to read 'Star Jumps', well a chapter and talk about characters and the writing of verse novels- loved talking to my target audience. 

The class were studying verse novels in their reading circle and afterwards the teacher was researching the topic encouraging boys to read and verse novels. So we chatted and I answered many questions.
I really believe poetry is underestimated in the power of drawing in readers.

And came away with these gifts as well as the renewed vigour to write more and more...

Monday 16 August 2010

What is it about poetry?

This week the last of the blog posts roll out.  I love the way my fellow authors have generously blogged about 'A Ute Picnic and other Australian poems'.

On Friday Sheryl Gwyther  interviewed me about my childhood- what was I like then???

Today Kat Apel has encouraged some children to write poems in response to several of mine in the collection- very exciting.

What's the best part of writing poetry for you?  I'd love to hear.

Thursday 5 August 2010

The blog tour continues

Today Sally Murphy asks questions about the poetic process- as I type in answers its amazing to reflect on the long journey that has been this collection.

So visit Sally to find out more about 'A Ute Picnic and other Poems'

Tomorrow 'A Ute picnic' revs over to Claire Saxby's site.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Blog tour for A Ute Picnic and other Australian poems

I haven't done a blog tour for any of my books before- so this is a first. 

   Today Janeen Brian hosts an interview with me about my book and about writing on her blog site

Tomorrow Wednsday 4th August- take a tour on a craft site to find out the connections bewteen creative craft and creative writing.Natalie's blog spot

Sunday 1 August 2010

A Ute Picnic and other Australian poems

Yipee!  My new book has arrived!  Walker is the publisher.

Over the next two weeks I will be celebrating with a blog tour- discovering the behind scenes narrative of writing, poetry and creativity.

Here is the first link: my website with a two word poetry strategy to download.

Tuesday we visit Janeen Brian's blog site.
Wednesday we visit Natalie Marwood's craft blog site.
Thursday we will visit Sally Murphy's blog site.

Its such an exciting way to celebrate!

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Coming soon

Actually the release date is Monday 1st August.  To celebrate I'll have a poetry strategy to download from my website.
Several of the poems in this collection have used this strategy.

Friday 16 July 2010

The Prime Minister's Literary awards

I went to Readings in Carlton yesterday to be part of the announcement of the shortlisting, especially in the new category children's fiction.

Yes 'Star Jumps' has been short listed.

I love this book.  Its one that begged to be written- combining a style that I enjoy- prose poetry and subject matter- rural life as it is- real sensory snapshots and real emotion.

I was fortunate to be awarded a May Gibbs literature trust residency  in 2007 and 'Star Jumps' was written and dare I say written with tears- it is that close to me.

Of course a great publisher Sarah Foster and  a great editor Sue Whiting at Walker  make publication possible and immensely satisfying.

To the farm life that was- to a husband with whom I pioneered our own dairy farm and to six kids who loved to invent the game of Star Jumps.

The awards announcements are here:

Monday 28 June 2010

End of three months overseas

Little alleyways called closes, cobblestones, warm to hot days, history, hardships- the streets of Edinburgh show all this.

Thanks Rochelle, Simon and Madeleine for spurring us on, for showing us the ropes, especially tube travel and giving us a room and gourmet meals! 
Back to Australia this week.

Saturday 26 June 2010


The train trip continued from York to Edinburgh.  Another warm day and it was hot in the motel room of a night- so much so that we found a fan and put that on!

We were just around the corner from the Royal Mile, so shops, cobblestoned streets little leadways to streets behind the main streets called 'closes' were all there.

Our first visit was of course the Edinburgh castle- Kel even captured a photo of the canon going off- it goes off at 1pm every day.  A bagpipe heralded the momentous occasion.

The views from the castle walls were fantastic.
The Bagpipes are so fitting for the atmosphere.

Here's where the Edinburgh tattoo is held- before you enter the castle- apparently it's filmed in August.
Would you believe that as we left the castle and got back on the bus- who should we meet but a couple from the farming community where we used to live!!!

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Meeting a writing friend

I've been writing to Sylvia Waugh for a long time now- she is a faboulous children's author and when I first read her books- over ten years ago- I wrote to her and we've been writing ever since. 
York was a half way point to meet.  We chatted and walked and saw the Jorvik viking centre together- Kel and Derek made sure we took the right pathways.

Keep that writing going Sylvia and we loved York!


Again a train trip.
Wish we'd joined the National trust before we began our trip- so many fabulous places to see.
We stayed at a bed and breakfast by the Ouse river- lovely museum gardens nearby.  And the ruins of a church- destroyed in Henry VIII's time- but the walls of the city can be walked around and the York Minster- that Gothic cathedral is fabulous.

And the weather was hot!  We stayed in the second storey room of the bed and breakfast- windows open and still hottish!  So I couldn't believe the photos in tourist shops of the Minster surrounded by snow.
A 16th century memorial inside the Minster.

It was staggering to think that in the 14th century such colossal building could be done!  And the stained glass windows!
Kel has been reading while away and read a series of fiction books but with historical settings and he was anxious to see all the buildings mentioned in the latest book about King Henry VIII's progress in from London to York in 1541- 1000 staff and 1000 soldiers!

St.Mary's Abbey- torn down.  People sit amongst the ruins on the lush lawns eating lunch, visitors click away.
Part of the roman, then Norman wall.
We also visited the Treasuer's house and the jorvik viking centre as well as looking at the marvellous streets and Tudor shops- the Shambles.
York tourist information

Like to come back again- a great stay!

Monday 21 June 2010

More Lakes district

We visited the grammar school William Wordsworth attended.  Apparently the students were issued with pocket knives to sharpen their ink pens, so carved their initials into the wooden desks.

We stayed in the house Beatrix Potter bought for her mother.  Lovley lawns and very quiet.
Tea in the sun was an indulgence and it was glorious weather.

We walked to the nearby town of Bowness and then returned via a lakeside walk.  everyone comes to walk!

Friday 18 June 2010

Beatrix Potter country

We trained from London to Oxenholme station- picked up by a small local tour company and driven around noteworthy Potter sites.  Wow!  All those stone fences.

 Then to Beatrix Potter's Hilltop house- which she later used as a workroom when she married- everything was as she left it- this was specified in her will- unfortunately we couldn't take photos- but buying a souvenir book always helps.

This was her garden in the lead up to the house- groups of 20 allowed in in five minute intervals- to preserve the house and it is small- not much room.
The entrance!
Hill Top national Trust
a couple of photos of her Hill Top treasures

I loved her doll's house- objects in this featured in some of her books.
Then onto Coniston Water and Tarn Hows- where we saw some of her famous breed of lakesland sheep Herdwick
Then  a cruise on the Coniston Water- with a siting of the gondolier steam boat and views of the water edge.

  Arthur Ransom's 'Swallows and Amazons' gained its inspiration from this spot.

Last a sighting of the homestead used in the Miss Potter film: