Tag Archives: Booktalkers

Rust free

I’m embarrassed by how neglected this blog has been lately. Apologies to anyone who has tuned in and failed to find anything new.

The truth is that my work status has changed and, with new responsibilities and deadlines, I’ve had to cut back on non-essential tasks. Blogging and tweeting are among those. As for writing, sigh, let’s just say you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Book 3. I have the ingredients, characters and a good chunk of the plot – but no time to knead and bake.

Indeed, this post is being tapped out in a lull between cooking dinner, doing dishes and wrangling the kids towards their beds. Storytime beckons and I’ll soon be plunged into fictional worlds of noisy new babies and lusty vampire ninjas.

So, please find below a bulleted list of things that have consumed the first quarter of 2011:

  • I’ve had a week’s residence at a secondary school where the Yr 10 English students studied Five Parts Dead. That was impressive on several levels. 5PD is a novel that’s less than a year old but the staff found it somehow and felt it would connect with their students, including reluctant readers. The feedback has been incredibly positive and the college is looking at studying the book in 2012 with a fresh batch of Yr 10s. I’m indebted to a group of teachers and teacher-librarians who were willing to think outside the usual bunch of school texts. As for the students, they certainly came up with probing questions about character and plot. I reckon I understand my own work better, thanks to their dissection.
  • I have sold three short stories, two of which will be used in literacy tests. The third will feature in a school textbook for Grade 5 to Year 8 students. I haven’t had any junior fiction published before so I’m quietly chuffed about this.
  • I attended my first interstate speaking engagement, joining the smorgasbord of storytellers at the Newington College Literature Festival in Sydney. I applaud Newington for generating so much enthusiasm and interest in words and writing from their students and staff. And it really was fun to meet and spend time with other speakers.
  • My family booked tickets for Japan – and then watched in horror at the devastation wrought by the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear contamination. Our holiday plans are on ice but this is inconsequential. My heart goes out to the generous people of Japan as they grapple with a social, environmental and economic toll we Australians can’t possibly comprehend. I heard a father interviewed last week who lost two children to the tsunami. Every day after work he returns to the wreckage to search for even the smallest sign of their bodies. There must be thousands of other heart-breaking stories like this.
  • I spoke to a group of 250 Yr 12 students just off the buses at their first day of study camp, in Week 1 of term. Chances of them remembering my words? Slim if not nil. Apologies to the student that asked for tips on writing short stories that I haven’t posted yet. (I haven’t forgotten though – and will do so ASAP.)
  • I’ve spoken to Yr 7 and Yr 8 students about finding and reading great books – and launched the Premiers’ Reading Challenge at two schools.
  • I spoke to a large group of fathers and their Yr 7 sons about Books for Boys and how to get their sons reading.
  • At my editing job, which is basically full time now, I’ve hired four new staff and begun an intense six-month project.
  • I’m now booked to speak at (in chronological order) the Emerging Writers’ Festival, an exciting Booktalkers event, the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, the Ballarat Writers’ Festival and the 1000 Words Festival. There’s also a guest lecture at RMIT, another at NMIT and sundry other luncheons and chats. Please come along to one or several of the public events and say g’day.
  • While work on Book 3 has been rare or non-existant, I started a short story that seems to be begging to be something bigger. That’s kind of exciting.
  • I’ve cycled in excess of 850 km and have actually come to appreciate the beauty of dawn, dammit.
  • And I’m slowly rebuilding our front fence in my “spare” time.

As my grandmother used to say, it’s better to wear out than rust out.

Mad March update

Hello again, as indicated in the previous post, I expect my progress down the Thunder Road to be spasmodic at best this month.

That said, I can provide a quick update on some of the activities keeping me busy.

– The 90km Benalla bike ride had a real chatty, community feel for the first hour. One cyclist described it to me as “speed dating on wheels”. Once we hit the main hill climb the superstars took off and the bunch splintered. I rode the final 40km solo into a head wind. By the end I felt like I hadn’t ridden at all – just had my buttocks smashed by a meat tenderizer for three hours. Turns out the bitumen is a bit bumpier in the bush compared to the city.

Booktalkers was a thoroughly fun night. It’s always interesting hearing how other authors come up with their ideas. The only bummer was that John Marsden got stuck behind a fallen tree and couldn’t join us on stage. You can read my report on the night, here.

– And yes, as is evident from that last link, I’m now blogging at insideadog and really enjoying it.

– The Coldplay concert was brilliant. All the hits and almost every song from the Viva La Vida album. Acoustic numbers, piano solos, electronica remixes, singalongs and bona fide stadium rock. All without the usual posturing. Superstars without super-egos. Fantastic.

– No news on my manuscript at present.

Will post other updates here as time permits.

The seat-belt sign is on

Please resume your seats, fasten your seat-belts and switch off any electrical appliances that may interfere with the on-board navigation.

After a week of turbulence and unexpected requests, I’m pausing to review the diary for the month ahead. On top of the usual toils I am adding the following (with more likely to come):

By the end of the month I may well be as mad as the proverbial March Hare. I may also need to detour from the Thunder Road while these extra duties call. If this site seems idle, you know where to find me.