What do zombies and I have in common? Sounds like a start of a bad joke doesn’t it? Or maybe a good joke, depending on your point of view. I've recently been inspired by Adam Wallace's book, 'Zombie Inspiration.' Once I could get past the gross stuff (you know, the rotting skin, mushy brains, and the gross jokes), I understood what Adam learned going through a zombie apocalypse. Why did I read Zombie Inspiration?
I've had a major fatigue flare in recent months (along with two pain flares from the end of November 2016 to end of February 2017) to the point that I was so exhausted I was having blackouts. (Fibromyalgia is throwing me something new). My doctor advised me to cut my hours at work from 12.5 hours a week to 8 and to take it easy. Well it's worked. No more blackouts. I still feel like a zombie, well, more like how I would normally perceive them; groaning, moaning, not capable of much.
I read a review about Zombie Inspiration and it prompted me to pick up Zombie Inspiration and the book turned everything I knew about zombies on their head. Here is what I learnt about zombies.
Who'd have thought that you could learn so much from zombie's? According to Adam, ‘Zombies have a really bad reputation, but I knew that under the rotting skin, the mushy brain, and the desire to bite my face off, zombies are AWESOME! It's true! Zombies aren't just grunty-groany face-biters - I mean, they are that, but they're so much more as well! See, zombies do these amazing things we can learn from to make ourselves amazing too, like setting goals, focusing, working really, really hard and more.’
'See, zombies do these amazing things we can learn from to make ourselves amazing too, like setting goals, focusing,working really, really hard and more.’ Adam Wallace
At the moment, I feel like a zombie much of the time. My brain is often in a fog, dulled by pain, medication, and lack of sleep. However, I have a goal. I want to write. I want to share my stories. So, groaning, shuffling forward, my eyes ever fixed on my goal, I move forward. Nothing, not even utter exhaustion, or pain, will keep me from my goal. I sleep. I wake and keep going, one groaning step after the other. Instead of groaning 'brains,' mine is, 'Write story,' 'Write blog post,' 'Write!'
And that is what it comes down to. In order for you to keep going when life goes to crap, you need to know why you exist. What is your purpose? What is your why? What are you passionate about? What are you curious about? Set your eyes on your goal and go for it, no matter what. As Adam says, 'take charge of your life, and go after what you really want.'
Have a great day everyone.
What can you learn from zombies?
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Today I’d like to welcome Rhonda Brown to the blog to chat about her first children’s book, Hello Rainbow.
What inspired Hello Rainbow?
An empty-nested road trip to Cooktown.
You have worked in a lot of different jobs. What was the lightbulb moment for you when you realized you wanted to write for children?
I was about to turn fifty and it was a now or never moment.
What sorts of art do you like doing?
I don’t paint and I can’t draw very well. I’m dreadful even with stick figures and for that reason, I am also terrible at Pictionary. My strong point is definitely my writing.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I write wherever I am sitting and whenever inspiration takes hold. Hello Rainbow was written in the front seat of my husband’s ute and Pussilldoo was written on my verandah while enjoying a drink and watching the cows graze in the paddock.
Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
I’ve named all of the cows and calves on our farm. Every time a calf is born, it gets a special name. Some examples are:
Cola – she’s coloured black like Coca Cola and I have a good friend also called Cola.
Banana Pig – she just loves bananas and pushes all the other cows out of the way if bananas are on offer, and
Three Greyman cows all coloured various tints of grey who are called the Spice Girls – Pepper is the darkest one, Salt is the lightest in colour and Spice is a mixture.
What is next for you?
My second book, Pussilldoo is currently with the illustrator. I hope to release it later in 2017.
Three fun facts about yourself:
I’m a fun grandma. I have been known to get my groove on when watching ‘The Wiggles’ with my two-year-old grandson.
I’m partial to cattle fencing. There is something therapeutic about tying in barbed wire fences.
I muster our bull with a bunch of bananas. Have bananas, bull will follow!
Rhonda Brown grew up in Mackay, Queensland. She wrote her first book at the age of twelve for a school English assignment. Awarded an ‘A’ for her efforts, the story was about an eraser who rubbed out a town. The book is still in her possession forty-two years later.
After leaving school, Rhonda worked as a stenographer. During the next decade, Rhonda left Mackay, worked on an island, backpacked through Europe, worked on a remote construction camp then in the travel industry before returning to Mackay married with three children. Rhonda spent another ten years in administration roles while raising her family.
Fast forward to today and Rhonda has finally found her niche as a self-published children’s author. Her first book is Hello Rainbow. Her second book, Pussilldoo is currently with the illustrator.
Title: Hello Rainbow
Author: Rhonda Brown
Illustrator: Trevor Salter
Publisher: Oombee Woombee Books
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Age Group: 3 – 8 years
An Australian author, multi-award winning singer/songwriter and musician, a mother, a wife, and a grandmother.
‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.’ Mark Twain
‘Like the bobo doll is weighted to enable it to bounce back up, understanding my ‘why’ is what weighted me and enabled me to rise after every fall. I’m not saying it was easy, but it gave me strength to keep going.’ Daniel Flynn (Co-founder, Thankyou TM – from his book, You Have the Power to Change Stuff – Chapter One
‘When you discover your Why? it opens the doors to also discover your Who? What? and How? Who am I? What am I meant to do in this world? And How am I going to go about it?’ Merelyn Carter
We wander around in life searching for our place – how do we fit in, what are we supposed to do with our lives, what is the point of our existence – ultimately, we ask ourselves, ‘Why are we here?’
Even when we get some sense of the bigger picture — why we are here, what life is all about, how some things work in the universe, we can falter on the day to day purpose. Finding our why to all facets of life, both big and small, propels us forward to really living. Living with purpose, having the courage to face the difficulties, seeing the sense in the circumstances of our lives, finding meaning in the darkest times, rising above the hopelessness and greed that permeate so many of the decisions being made in the world. Knowing what’s your why, is a key to living life in abundance.
‘The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.” Marianne Williamson
We need to lose our victim mentality.
Being a victim gives us an excuse to procrastinate and avoid finding our purpose.
Being a victim allows us to blame others for our misery and not take responsibility for our own happiness.
Being a victim stops us from finding our Why?
I can honestly say I have found true, deep, and lasting peace, joy, and love.
That’s a pretty big call, but it is true.
My life experiences and situations have shown me that knowing true peace, joy and love is utterly a matter of perspective. It’s about how you view the situations that you are in, owning your own decisions to get you to that place and seeing the bigger picture. Does this mean I never feel sad? Does it mean I haven’t known loneliness or never feel alone now? Does it mean that I am happy, ‘together’, sailing through life with ease – all the time? No.
Do I ever get frustrated, agitated, angry? Yes. Do I have to face my fears? Yes. Do I get tired of the stupidity that is so inherent in human nature? Yes.
Do I have a firm belief to bring me back to moving forward? Yes. It is knowing ‘What’s My Why?’
It is about having an inner belief system that supports the peace, joy, and love. It’s about knowing strategies to help us live through and rise above the hard times, gaining perspective as to the bigger purpose of our lives.
Megan's two cents...
Knowing your why is so important to gaining focus in your life, no matter what you are doing. If you are feeling lost and want to find out more, please check out my blog post on, How to Know Your Why, over on Just Write For Kids.
More about Merelyn:
Her love for the creative, and her desire to connect with others has led her to tell her story through her autobiography ‘The Deepest Part of Me’, encourage and motivate through her book ‘Inspire’ and tell her stories in song with her husband David through their music as ‘Carter & Carter’ (www.carterandcarter.com.au).
Writing stories for her children and grandchildren has led to the teaming up with IPPY award winning Illustrator Ester de Boer to create her latest gloriously illustrated children’s book ‘To the Moon and Back. Grandma’s Rocket Ship Adventure’. Merelyn and David live in Kinglake, Victoria, Australia on a small farm with 60 animals. Faith, family, and friendship are her life priorities, bringing together people and communities to share the journey of life.
To the Moon and Back
Grandma's Rocket Ship Adventure.
A gloriously illustrated children's book celebrating the relationship between a grandparent and child that explores imaginative storytelling and celebrates the extended family relationship. Be transported on an adventure to the moon on Grandma's Rocket Ship. It's a wild ride. Collect rainbow moon dust and search for the elusive man on the moon.
We can empower ourselves to live to our full potential simply by knowing who we really are…
The Deepest Part of Me
Every now and then someone takes the chance to reveal the deepest part of their soul to the world. Taking away the masks, barriers, and filters, removing the fear of not being liked. Opening their heart and allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Giving of themselves without regret, all with the hope of reaching out to other hearts and souls and making a difference. Merelyn Carter is one such person with her book, The Deepest Part of Me.
For all book and music go to http://carterandcarter.com.au/books.html or call 0416 075 638
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I'd like to welcome the lovely Lisa G. to my blog today.
Who is Lisa G.?
In a nutshell…
I was born in Melbourne, lived in Beaconsfield Victoria then moved to Tassie at 6 yrs old. 8 years on, my family returned to Melbourne, before relocating to Gippsland, Traralgon as I entered my last year of high school. I have been here since and have no plans to leave other than for lots of holidays. I quite like not moving.
Married for 27 years, there are three cheeky boys in our home – one is my husband, and we all dote over our adorable Cheweenie, Lilly.
I am always thinking, creating and, even if I have no idea how to do it, on to a new project – which sometimes drives my family crazy.
I guess, I’m a little gypsy like. Other than writing, I have trouble sticking to one career – there’s just so many choices and too little time. I want to do it all and usually, in my own stubborn way! Retail, hospitality, banking, finance, managerial, legal, medical and education (Literacy and integration) have my name on them. Though I enjoyed them all – and for different reasons, I can easily say, other than witnessing that light bulb moment when a child realises they can really do `it’, none have come remotely within coo-ee of the happiness, contentment and reward writing brings me.
How long have you been writing for? What did you first write? What genre?
Forever! It started with political poems based on my opinions of justice as a 12 year old. Inparticular, poverty and the lack of compassion in a world that has enough money that everyone can live well. At 14, I was writing lyrics and rhyme about heartbreak and love. For some time and after my first real boyfriend was killed in a car accident, poems of loss prevailed.
But my first serious foray into writing was with the emergence of rhyming children’s stories which turned everyday situations into magical adventures. That was at 16. The very first story is now the first in a series of five I have written, which I hope to one day publish.
Not until my early twenties did I attempt a novel. ‘Changing Faces’ was unfortunately corrupted by a virus and subsequently lost and I gave up on writing for a while. But being that writing is part of who I am, the moratorium wasn’t to be for long.
Writing took on a whole new meaning with the arrival of my first son. Composing during midnight feedings I fell totally in love with the beauty of night and the escapism of writing. And there spurned the pivotal moment my mind began the constant whirred of ideas, busy with creative projects, submitting editorials to papers (some published) and reigniting my desire and dreams, to not only write a “world class great read” novel but to be respected for my work.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Describe your light bulb moment?
Sitting under canopy of the large snowball tree at our Booran Road Caulfield home, a skip, hop and jump from ‘The Heath’ (Caulfield Racecourse), I dreamed of writing a novel. Emerging as I leaned back against the trunk admiring the blossoms, I was scribbling down prose for what was, unknown to me at the time, to be my first ever children’s book. I was 16. Every chance I had, it occurred to me that I was writing something, anything.
So, it wasn’t so much of a light bulb moment but a realisation that writing and I were synonymous – it felt very natural and words just seemed to come together for me. Writing was my home… where I felt totally at peace and free.
The fact that I didn’t think I was worthy or good enough to really pursue writing seriously when I was younger, I regret somewhat. Life would have certainly taken a different path if I had. Though RUMLA may have never happened – so the regret is not deep… RUMLA has given me great joy.
What are your core beliefs around reading and writing?
In short, I believe literacy is to life as air is to breath!
I am deeply entrenched that it is non-negotiable that everyone should be supported in developing the skills and literary comprehension to read, and of course, write. In addition to the daily challenges of living, a life without literacy robs our minds of idea’s, imagination and personal growth. Reading and writing are powerful tools. They take us places, actions will never achieve. They propel us forward, drive our ambition and open our eyes. They provide entertainment and fulfillment. At times, they even console us. Literacy elevates everyone’s ability to communicate, to articulate and enriches our wellbeing, gifting us amazing journeys to share and providing a life beyond what we see.
Now to your book, Rumla. Where did the idea come from for this book?
Tricky question! Short answer – there was nothing specific. The words just came. RUMLA evolved.
RUMLA’s is however, a culmination of childhood experiences that birthed adult fascinations for the history and mystic of ancient old worlds and an admiration of strong, self assured characters; more specifically, those who see beauty and freedom of embracing their ‘you-ness’. These ingredients came together after spontaneous literacy task during a professional development session and much to my surprise, a strange little tale that had both my PD trainer and myself wondering.
Where the idea came from initially, I have no idea other than that the gloomy sky overhead gave me a starting point. It was some 12 months later I actually decided I’d see where this unique little story would go. Continuing on from where I’d left off, the ideas started flowing, the plot developed and the reasons for my motivation, the messages to deliver, defined themselves. Research followed, building depth and RUMLA became a kaleidoscope of purpose.
'A life without literacy robs our minds of idea’s, imagination and personal growth.' Lisa G.
Why did you write Rumla?
Originally, RUMLA was just for me.
I believed for the first time, I could maybe write that novel. The desire to make my teenage dreams a reality was strong. I literally thought, it wouldn’t hurt to try. Letting my imagination take me on a journey, there was never originally a higher moral purpose nor a deeper message.
In saying that however, I do love the simplicity of ancient wisdoms and it just happened that while researching Ashanti Twi culture, I literally stumbled across Andinka; proverbial symbols which set were the original moral compass of ancient life for the Twi people. The ethics of Andinka perfectly encapsulated the tone I wanted to covey. Incorporating the African symbolism as chapter headings (and an English translation of the Ashanti Twi name/proverb), Andinka defines each chapter’s underlying message.
So there are many beautiful subtleties trailing throughout RUMLA and they are very much what makes RUMLA uniquely special and individual to each reader. Being that the messages are a part of the mystery, I will let you unravel them for yourself.
You have a lot of African mythology woven it throughout the story. How long did Rumla take to research and write?
From initial pen on paper to published – 8 years. Never did I have a self-imposed time line to realise my dream. A working wife and mum with quite a few commitments, writing fitted in very nicely around the goings on of family life. But really, RUMLA was my little escape and I enjoyed so much that part of me dreaded finishing.
With no direction and initially just writing to see where RUMLA would go, researching the historical, mythological and cultural kicked in about 18 months into writing. Investigations from then on never really stopped. This was predominantly because I was intrigued, but also because the ending wasn’t clear until it was almost upon me. So I was always searching, looking to add more depth and credibility to RUMLA– all be it on the pages of google!
What do you hope that people will take away from Rumla?
As they turn the last page of RUMLA, I hope readers have been intrigued, entertained and have felt a part of the adventure as if they were written into the story.
I hope that somewhere along the way, a little something is discovered that resonates, making it personal in a way that is unique to them.
In the end, my deepest wish is they get as lost in my imagination and in the world of RUMLA as I.
You love to encourage people and inspire people. What is your favourite life motto?
In my usual style, I am bucking the trend. I have two!
It always seems impossible until it’s done; a dreamer is a winner who never gives up!
In a world where you can be anything, choose to be kind.
3 fun facts about yourself:
1. I dance in the shower - every day, every time
2. I always, always, mix up aphorisms i.e. His room is like a pig’s breakfast. Dogs might fly!
3. I can NEVER be trusted with your chocolate - ever!
Thanks heaps, Lisa, for coming on my blog today. It has been entertaining and enlightening.
For more information on Lisa and her book, visit her website: www.lisagbooks.com
Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LisaGbooks and join the conversation.
You can also find her on:
What could she have to do with African tales of myth and legend, serpents and curses, of royal lines, the armies of rulers past, and a trail of clues hiding secrets of a
predestined prophecy? Absolutely everything!
Though she does not know, there are others that do. A sequence of exceptional events, see her desire to escape the boring grind of Rumlalian life granted with the adventure of her dreams. Though fearing where it may lead, an insatiable appetite to know all propels her deeper into the mystery in search of the secrets.
Before long, she comes to realise there was never a choice for her and that Rumla, protected by a complicated series of connections, was far from ordinary.
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by guest blogger Jacqui Johnson
Primary school teacher and author.
Can't see the forest for the trees? Are you lost in your story and don't know what is going wrong? Maybe it has something to do with your character's motivation. If so, read on.
As always, writer’s workshop this month was excellent! It’s such an encouragement getting together with fellow writers to support and inspire one another. I was pleased when we started the first meeting for the New Year by going over the groups official guidelines which were negotiated to ensure we get the best out of our meetings. This was inspired by Megan’s blog post on Creative Kids Tales about Writer’s Groups. Why be in One? How do You Start One?
We come together to share and critique each other’s work. Each month we choose an area of our writing which we would like to improve to focus on. As I was leading this month, I chose 'character motivation.'
There are times when writing that you are not sure if a character is doing all they should, or some of your minor characters can seem less or more realistic, these are perfect times to pause your text to ensure you fully understand their motivations.
Ahead are the three phases we worked through to find and improve our character's motivation.
"Do you understand what motivates your characters?"
In order to better understand this vast topic, initially we went through an article on the Writers Helping Writers website titled, ‘Character Motivation Thesaurus’. This article focuses on character goals (outer motivation), the human need driving the goal (inner motivation), methods for achieving the goal, how the character may prepare for this goal, possible sacrifices or costs associated with the goal, roadblocks which could prevent the goal being achieved, talents and skills to help the character, possible fallout if the goal is not met, and clichés to avoid.
We discussed how each element would help to better understand your character and drive elements of the plot. I discussed how the research into character motivation had help with editing a secondary text (that I am working on) ensuring motivations of the main character were being explored.
All too often, I just assume the audience will love my main characters as much as I do, so I don't always spend enough time explaining their drives, passions and motivations. Instead I feel the need to invest in secondary characters explaining who they are, and how they think in order for the audience to understand them and connect.
This can result in a main character the audience doesn't relate to, and a secondary character who the reader is more invested in and would prefer to read more about. A solution to this issue might be to ensure I’ve taken enough time to fully investigate each of the main characters and their motivations, factoring in how best to convey these and the way it will affect the plot.
We went on to summarize Kristen Kieffer’s article, How to Create Character Motivations that will Rivet Your Readers. In this article, Kristen looks at hooks and breaks it down to what it means. The article examines the craft of weaving good character motivations into a text. We discussed what is meant by a hook in detail.
Megan's two cents: Check it out. It helped me gain a better understanding of the all important hook. I knew that I needed one, but I never knew what having a 'hook' meant. Kristen explains it clearly. I no longer wonder what it means.
"Motivations work to grip the reader." Kristen Kieffer
We then completed a ‘character motivation activity’ based on selected randomly generated character motivations. We each selected one of the samples and built a character by following the guidelines of the ‘Character Motivation Thesaurus’ prompts. Below is my character based on the motivation prompt, ‘your character’s fondest wish is to take a new direction':
Goal: move/ re-create who he is
Need: safety, love and belonging
Method: quit job, search (seek & find) new direction
Proposed Character: Daniel Cooper, mid 30’s working off shore on an oil rig is questioning if the isolated routine he has is all there is in life. He wants to pursue photography, which he has always secretly loved to do and travel around Australia to key tourist destinations and find things that people often don’t notice and focus on them. He is in contact with his sister and her husband who are living in Melbourne, using this as a home base as he travels.
Preparation: quit his job, move in with sister, buys cameras, does TAFE course (meets possible love interest here), travels. The book he makes based on this will be called “What I found at the end of the road to no-where” (possible text title as well).
Sacrifices: initial and short term loss of income (he will need to eat thought a significant amount of savings) mates form job lost as they don’t understand him, arguments/strain on relationships with sister and new love interest as he travels.
Roadblocks: insecurities as he doubts his choices and abilities, car issues.
Talents & skills: handy (will be able to do seasonal farming to supplement income – staying for short burst in some places), ‘natural artists eye’ for photography, educated in a trade (electrician which is an employment he will return to).
What’s at stake: financial stability and relationships?
Cliché’s to avoid: that he creates a best seller (he creates a book but only published a few copies, publishers aren’t interested sending rejection letters, returns to electrical work - on shore developing relationships with love interest, sister. Sister gives a copy of book to good friend, a friend of theirs sees it and wants as they have links to publisher who becomes interested. Begins to take working holidays to do photography and does photography on demand whilst still doing electrical work. Art show).
Not only was this activity really entertaining, but as a group each of us found a whole new story unfolding simply by understanding a main characters motivation. This is an excellent activity to do when you are stuck for an idea of what next to write when between books or simply to challenge yourself creatively to get inside the mind and motivations of a character.
For further information please check out these great resources:
Character Motivation Thesaurus Example: Escape a killer
15 interesting motivations for heroes and villains
7 Tips for Character motivation
How to create believable characters
Let me know how you go with the activity in the comments.
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The writing life can be confusing, hard work, amazing, exciting, and not for everyone. How can a writer live a genuine writing life? Is it possible to keep up with the quickly changing publishing scene, as well as learn new technology? Who better to ask then someone who has been around the publishing scene for a long time, Hazel Edwards.
I met Hazel in Gippsland in 2015, when she re-visited the area where she had lived as a teenager and talked with a few of the people mentioned in her just released memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake’ Being an Author’. I wasn’t in the memoir, but I read and reviewed it, and blogged about my meeting with Hazel. We’ve kept in touch since.
Hi Hazel, and welcome to my blog. The first post for 2017. Yay! What a way to start an exciting new year.
Q. What are your writing projects for 2017?
A. Those writers, whom I’ve helped to finish their books, call themselves my ‘Hazelnuts’. I enjoy helping aspiring writers, so I’m offering a Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office. First Friday of each month 10-1pm and the aim is to FINISH each participant’s book by the December class.
It’s aimed at procrastinators doing family histories but can apply to anyone who benefits from having an opportunity to share book-length W.I.P. (work in progress), each month. (The PRO in North Melbourne also has free parking which is great for regional writers).
I’ve also switched to writing an adult murder series with a celebrant sleuth. So, I’m currently researching weddings, funerals and cross cultural celebrations. Interviewing florists, celebrants, retirement home staff and caterers. Plus, working on my plotting. Nothing quite like saying ‘My real son is getting married this year to a lovely girl and I’m working out how a murder might occur, in fiction, at a wedding’.
Our co-written ‘Hijabi Girl’ has been optioned for other media, so I will be involved in further stories for our feisty Melek in a hijab who may become Australia’s ‘Pippi Longstocking’ just like Astrid Lindgren’s Scandinavian girl, except our 8 year old Melek starts a girls’ footy team in a mainstream Australian school.
It is important for authors to ‘speak up’ about the ideas world they inhabit, as they are potential problem-solvers via their books suggesting more tolerant approaches to diversity. A book can take a reader into a different culture for the length of that story and maybe beyond. Compassionate humour is more effective than propaganda. And young readers become adults who think, then act. But they need the literacy skills to start.
Recently I was filmed in my study workplace by Channel 9 News and the Copyright Agency. A film clip which spreads around social media is a more strategic way of commenting on literacy or copyright issues for authors. But you do have to tidy up a bit and wear some makeup and a colourful ‘book’ jacket which looks ok on camera, even if you are NOT the glamorous type. Luckily, I have a wonderful author friend Krista Bell who picks out appropriate ‘camera’ jackets, as I have no dress sense and think in abstract.
Wow! That is a lot of exciting news. From mentoring aspiring writers, to starting to write adult murder mysteries, having Hijabi Girl’ be optioned for other media as well as working on further stories for Melek. You have a busy year ahead.
Q. What are your best hints for aspiring writers?
Try collaboration. Co-writing a project gives you an opportunity to learn new skills, a deadline and having fun together too. With technology, such as Skype, your co-writer can live anywhere. You can share the frustrations, rejections and the small triumphs as well as learn technology and new ways of sharing those stories.
Secondly, be businesslike. ‘Author’ is a brand. What are the words you’d like readers to associate with your name as an author, even if you write in different genres and formats? I’d like my author brand to be: Quirky humour, Issues based and Authorpreneurial.
Thirdly. Write. Don’t just talk about writing.
Great advice, Hazel.
"Write. Don’t just talk about writing."
Q. Could you share ‘behind the pages’ of your work?
My memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author’ was my candid sharing of the real life of a longterm author who also has a family and community involvement. One of my aims in 2017 is for the memoir to be audio recorded, as many readers now listen on various devices in transit.
But sometimes books take on ‘another life’.
In 2017 & 2018, my ‘Sir Edward ‘Weary ‘ Dunlop” Aussie Heroes series book is included in the ANZAC ‘Behind the Pages’ exhibition touring Brisbane and other libraries. Instigated by New Zealander Maria Gill, these war -themed collections of children’s books focus on Australian and New Zealand problem-solvers. Lots of educational resources provided. Stories can have long term lives in new formats, once they are written.
And a themed touring libraries and galleries exhibition could be relevant for other book subjects.
So back to the computer to write.
Thank you so much for coming onto my blog today, Hazel, and sharing your experiences with us.
Check out Hazel's website. It's jam packed with wisdom and insights, and you can keep up to date on where she is at and her books that are available.
e-books such as ‘Authorpreneurship; The Business of Creativity’ or 'Writing a Non Boring Family History’ are available here.
‘Hijabi Girl’ is available from BookPOD
Memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author’ is available from Booktopia who carry most of Hazel’s print titles.
Check out: 'Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages'
And if you want to know more about Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office, check out: Finish Writing Your Book with Hazel Edwards
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Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2016.
This year has been an amazing year of highs and lows, of incredible personal challenges, yet it had many exciting plans that I have seen come to fruition.
I have a chronic illness, Fibromyalgia. One of the ways that I deal with a chronic illness is to keep a gratitude box. This list was not a surprise but it was nice to see it all in one place. And this is just the beginning…
Day 3: Successes
I love reflecting on the past year as I eagerly focus ahead for the coming year. It is a time that I take stock of the great experiences that I've had, as well as having a good hard look at the lessons that I have learned from the tough and challenging times as well.
In the past couple of weeks I have read over past blog posts and have picked out the most popular blog posts of 2016, counting down to the most popular.
10. At a writer’s workshop in my local writer’s group, find out what we learnt about using similes and metaphors to make your writing sing. Interesting stories are included.
9. Ester de Boer’s illustrator school visit is a success. Find out what she got up to at a local primary school that had them giggling.
8. Ever wondered if you should attend a Creative Weekend? Find out what happened when I took the plunge at a Creative Workshop Weekend in Bright, Victoria. The same might happen for you.
7. Check out my interview with Karen Tyrell and her latest book, Song Bird: Superhero, and find out why it should be on your kids 'to be read list'.
6. Have you ever wondered what it is like to live on the Autism Spectrum. Get some insight from my son, Brandon, as he chats candidly about living with Asperger’s in a Neurotypical world and not giving up.
5. Have you ever wondered what it is like to pursue a writing career and be a single parent? Is it even possible? Find out from someone who knows. Meet Robert Vescio, a children’s author and single parent.
4. The life is tough. The writing life can be tough. Have you ever wanted to give up? I have. Find out why, and how I fought back. I hope these tips will encourage you on your life journey.
3. Author school visits are all part of an author’s life. Find out about how I prepared for my first school visit, and how it went.
2. Wondering whether you should go to the KidLitVic2017 Meet the Publishers Conference in Melbourne next year? Don’t know what to expect? Find out about my take on the conference, as well as links to other authors' blog posts who went too.
And the top post for 2016…
1. The exciting announcement that Ester and I have our book, Raymund and the Fear Monster, coming out late 2017. It is a book about overcoming fear.
2016 has been an amazing year. I thank you all for being such wonderful supporters of my blog. I appreciate the time it takes to click and share; to post a comment either here, Facebook, or Twitter; or to send me an email.
If you want me to tackle something in particular, please email me, or pm me on Facebook or Twitter.
I have some new topics lined up, and some authors are coming for a visit. So stay tuned. Look out 2017, here we come.
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Recently, I experienced the worst flare up of Fibromyalgia symptoms that I’d had for years. In the end I had to take a break from everything to look after myself and not burn out. Been there. Done that. It is not fun.
Looking back over the past year has been an incredible time. It was while I was looking back over blog posts from the past year or so that I discovered this one.
On the weekend I had an amazing dining experience at Café 3875 & Co. in Rosedale, Victoria. My friends and I gathered to celebrate another friend’s birthday. Admittedly, my daughter and I approached the experience with some trepidation due to our various food allergies and intolerances.
Entering the establishment we were stunned by the eclectic decor. The hours that we were there, we were still discovering something new to point out. There was a lovely and varied menu to suit even gluten free and vegetarians. All the staff were warm and friendly.
I have to say that the Chef, Lucus, bent over backwards to cater to my daughter’s and mine dietary requirements. The chef personally came out, introduced himself, and even checked to make sure that the food was to our specifications. It was delicious by the way. It was so nice to eat out and not pay for it later, i.e. curled up in bed for a few hours with stomach cramps etc.
The plates and the quantities placed on them were HUGE, and the food was scrumdiddliumptious.
Then there were the little touches. A birthday card from the café that was for my friend, was on the table when we arrived. There was the coffee art, the little tiny biscuits on the teeny teaspoons, and every spoon unique. There was the little flower art on the plates with pancakes, the cute little milk jugs only one cm high, the little bitty honey pot just for me for my Spiced Chai Tea, the lovely little teapots, the perfume for use in the bathroom... well you get the picture.
We will certainly be returning and recommending the cafe to everyone.
Which brings me writing. How, you may be asking, does this relate?
I have a friend who illustrates children’s picture books. I love watching her work. She loves placing little things throughout her detailed pictures that you have to hunt for. I always end up spotting something that I hadn’t seen before, even months down the track. It’s those little details that add to the overall enjoyable experience of a picture book.
I write for children. The experience at the cafe had me asking the question, ‘How can I, a children’s writer, add the little things in my stories, that will make a child fall in love with my characters?’
Choosing a character that a child will identify with, adding little things about the child, likes, dislikes, setting, writing a story that child can relate to--all these can add to a story. But, it can be the tone of voice, an action, just one little word, that can change the overall feel of a story.
I will keep this experience in mind as I write from now on. I will also try to remember it in my day to day dealings with people. How about this as a challenge: Ring and say thanks for the nice day out. Send a card or note just to say, 'Hi!' Have special cups for guests. Maybe little chocolates or biscuits to go with their tea. A flower from the garden as they head home.
Whatever it is, be true to yourself, be creative and keep in mind, it is in the little things that others are made to feel special.
For me, this post was a reminder that, during this time of big spending (for many but not all), lots of eating and indulgences of various kinds that many regret later, that it is a time to reflect on what I have to be thankful for. And it is for the many seemingly many small experiences that I have had this year that have made it one of the most amazing of my life so far.
It was a year of much personal growth, as well as experiencing one of the longest periods of decreased mobility that I’ve had (many months of cold weather did not help). It is because of those times, the days I could barely walk and lived on painkillers, I stopped to be grateful for the many wonderful people in my life, meeting many more, as well as the amazing experiences that I have had this year.
I keep a gratitude box that I started this year. Every time I have something to be grateful for, I write it down and pop it in. I am looking forward to opening up this now overflowing box on New Years Eve and reminding myself of all the wonderful things that have happened in 2016.
What can you do for someone this Christmas? And, like I said last year in the above post, whatever it is, be true to yourself, be creative and keep in mind, it is in the little things that others are made to feel special. And for some, they will not feel so lost, forgotten, or overlooked, but rather remembered and valued.
Merry Christmas everyone.
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Writers' Group Announcement by Ester de Boer
Only two of us for writer’s group this month! Megs and I met up at the Redbook Café in Traralgon. Why? Because the coffee is great and, well, it’s a book café- so it doesn’t get better than that. My favourite seats were occupied by a couple of latte-sipping yuppies, whom I eyeballed to discomfort while circling like a shark, waiting for that split second when their designer bums released contact with the upholstery and – BAM! In I Leapt!
While they minced indignantly out the front door, I claimed my territory, spreading out my belongings- bike helmet, notebooks, laptop etc. onto every free surface of table and pouffe within a square metre of my seat, before strutting to the counter and saying airily “I feel like something different… surprise me”. (Yes, I am one of those people, but I promise it’s my one pretentious tendency). Megan had her own complex, allergen-free caffeinated concoction, and we both settled back smugly, occupying the only two lounge chairs in the shop.
It’s been a fascinating evolution of an original idea of Megan’s story, Raymund and the Fear Monster, from the first story and sketches, to editing, reediting… while I’ve sketched and put my own two-bob’s-worth into every version of the text. I’ve felt like the nervous dad, pacing helplessly back and forth outside the maternity ward for our “baby” to emerge.
Megan and I are polar opposites in way of approaching things. She’s an organiser and is great at making connections, using social media for promotion, etc. My brain is a creative idea factory badly in need of a floor manager. While I usually make it my policy not to do projects with friends, somehow this combination seems to work. By December, I’ll finally be able to plan the illustrations. I’m working in just black and white, so I can lean on my strongest skill- drawing.
Raymund is more than just a funky picture book idea. It’s designed to introduce kids to some simple strategies for managing stress and anxiety. They’re methods which I have used effectively with children for close to twenty years working kids with special needs, so you could say that it’s a “social story” in the guise of a super-fun, cool picture book. So keep watching this space!
My two cents by Megan Higginson
Yes! Finally! After much talk and discussion, Raymund and the Fear Monster is getting published.
I tried for an Art Grant last year to obtain the funds to self-publish my story, Raymund and the Fear Monster, and did not get it (I was up against published authors). I looked into crowdfunding (it is a lot of work and I was not sure that I had the energy to put into it to make it work). By mid this year I was not sure if I would ever get Raymund published.
However, each perceived setback I looked at as an opportunity to hone and refine Raymund. I took him to school, teacher friends have read them to their respective classes, and I have read Raymund to various people that I have meet around the creative writing field. Everyone loves Raymund. I’ve taken various suggestions on board to make Raymund as good as it possibly can be. And now, Ester and I are taking the plunge together into the world of self-publishing.
I love Ester's work and I know that the illustrations for Raymund and the Fear Monster are in fantabulous hands.
I am thrilled that it is finally happening and I know that Ester can’t wait to make a start on the illustrations. So, this week, I will be sending Raymund off to my editor for a final look over, before sending the manuscript on to Ester to get started. I am so excited.
So, people, watch this space. Raymund will be arriving (barring any unforeseen circumstances) late next year. Yay!
A monster that eats fear, is terrorising Raymund’s village. Raymund is small and not very brave. Will Raymund be able to overcome his fear, defeat the monster and save his village?
This book has proven strategies to overcome fear.
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You can find more about me, and read my children's stories at Creative Kids Tales
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