X

Uncategorized

Writing
Your creative mojo – recommended writing guides
October 14, 2015 at 8:58 am 0
I've been reading BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert (also a fantastic podcast!). If you've ever wanted to write, or be creative - this is THE guide for you. I've found it great inspiration for reflecting on projects that I'm mid-stream with, and books that I have for the future. There is a book I've been planning to write for years, and somehow all my other books got in the way. Thanks to Liz (that's what I call her in my mind), I'm back on the trail of pursuing the story. She's also great about getting rid of ideas that are going nowhere. Reading her book (I'm not so much a fan of her book Eat, Pray, Love, but more of her fiction such as The Signature of All Things and Stern Men) has made me appreciate my writing time and getting back to the basic pleasure of writing - whether for yourself or a living.

Like anyone else who enjoy's Oprah's wisdom, Ellen's humour, and who has a strange fascination with Tony Robbins, I've often turned to writing guides as pseudo-mentors over the years. Here's my take on a few: 1. STORY by Robert McKee Everyone, and I mean - everyone - swears by this book. Loads of friends have been to see him in the flesh. Yes, it's a bible - it's a real doorstopper but it's a goodie. Forget about the obscure movie references...but enjoy his dissection of plot through the eyes of a filmmaker. You can also watch Brian Cox play the film version of Robert McKee in one of my favourite movies, Adaptation. To be honest, I actually enjoyed that more.

Brian Cox playing Robert McKee giving a seminar in Adaptation. A long story.

2. BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE by Anne Lamott I remember tracking this one down through Amazon and thrilling in its flimsy US cover. It's a meditative gem - all about how you just need tackle your writing word by word, or 'bird by bird'. It's a gorgeous read. 3. THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL by Walter Moseley I won't lie to you. This title scared the daylights out of me and it totally motivated me to write my first novel (as yet unpublished, but definitely written). My sister gave it to me just before I packed up and embarked on my writing sabbatical to Honolulu. A slim volume but it gets to the heart of the matter - you just need to start somewhere. 4. THE MAEVE BINCHY WRITERS' CLUB Another given to me by my beautiful sister, I'd never been a big fan of Maeve's work but reading this changed everything. It's written as a letter to her writers' 'club' with wonderful advice about how to start writing. Essentially, it's a collection of her columns. Her talk of 'bum glue' - the fine art of gluing yourself to the chair until the thing is written is utterly memorable and something I recommend to all writers. 5. HOW I WRITE by Janet Evanovich Ranger or Morelli? Need I say more? If you're a fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum character, you'll love her recommendations in this writing guide. My favourite part is when she describes how she eats Cheetos while walking on the treadmill, just to keep her life in balance. A really honest guide to the (un)glamorous writing life, with a focus on snappy dialogue and memorable characters. GOLD.

Do you have any other writing guides to recommend? Good luck and happy writing!
CONTINUE READING ...
events, Festivals, Writing
A moveable feast…of readers
September 13, 2015 at 10:45 am 0
Since I landed back from San Francisco, I've hit the ground running. Work has been keeping me busy - my day job sees me in unis and schools talking to students about the teaching profession, all over the place. But the best part of being back has been meeting so many terrific readers at various events: the fabulous Lunch with the Stars - an annual event put on by wonderful comrades and writers Belinda Murrell and Kate Forsyth (who are also sisters!); returning to my old bookselling stomping ground at Dymocks Lane Cove - helping my old bosses celebrate 20 wonderful years in business; and the CBCA's wonderful Big Book Day Out at the NSW Writers' Centre. It has been fantastic meeting so many readers and fans; thank you for coming out to chat with and meet me - and a big, special thanks to the awesome crew at St Mary's school in Manly! Happy reading, everyone.My cool crew at Lunch with the Stars. Also joined by my great friend, author Susanne Gervay. A legend. My place at the table. Thanks Eva for creating this for me. With the little darlings Brooke and Ryan at Dymocks Lane Cove 20th birthday celebrations. Love your reading work, guys. With big Ella and Olivia reader Rebecca, and her big sis, Rachel - at the Big Book Day Out! Two lovely writer friends at the Big Book Day Out - Jess Black (who is launching her new series) and Nadia Polak - whose second book is out soon.
CONTINUE READING ...
san francisco, Writing
On leaving your heart in San Francisco
August 26, 2015 at 10:07 am 0
10 days in San Francisco is good for the soul. I had forgotten how wonderful travel is; and travelling solo has its many virtues. A wonderful literary city, I experienced it all - from staying in a Victorian apartment in Nob Hill with cable cars rumbling up the hill outside my window; to waking to an earthquake; doing the touristy thing at Fisherman's Wharf; food trucks by the Marina at sunset; chowing down on dan-dan noodles in Chinatown; walking the Embarcadero; sampling gourmet delights at the Ferry Building; trampling down Haight St with flowers in my hair; journeying to Berkeley; gourmanding at Chez Panisse; swilling martinis at the Top of the Mark; crashing an Indian wedding at the Fairmont; walking the Castro and the Mission; scanning the shelves at City Lights; baseballing at AT&T Stadium; arty-fartying at the de Young in Golden Gate Park; inspecting ruins at Sutro Baths...and shopping. So...do you think I got any writing done?
CONTINUE READING ...
Uncategorized
Love your bookshop!
August 5, 2015 at 11:52 am 0
Bookshops have always been the love of my life. For as long as I can recall, I've spent hours upon hours in bookshops across my home suburbs and far-flung cities across the globe. My sister and I have compiled lists of faves over the years - from Daunts in London, to Strand Book Store in New York and City Lights in San Francisco. I worked as a bookseller before being drawn headlong into the book publishing industry; my Sunday mornings spent managing the small suburban store with one of my best friends to this day are some of the best memories I cherish. My sister is also book-mad, and calls the book industry home. Now I live vicariously through her and her book-filled world of work to get my 'fix'. Bookshops have taken on new meaning since becoming an author. I haunt them all - wherever I happen to be. This year I've been lucky enough to visit bookshops in almost all of Australia's capital cities. It's been exciting to see my beautiful books on the shelf (and where possible, give them a face-out) and even more thrilling to see customers actually buy them. Handselling - the skill of hand-to-hand recommendations from knowledgeable booksellers is a fine art. Spend any time in a great bookshop and you'll overhear the most interesting discussions (from 'it had a blue cover') not to mention suggestions ('it's like '50 shades', but classier'). National Bookshop Day is a day when Australian authors and bookshops align as one major force: to celebrate the incredible tradition of bookselling and local storytelling. I'll be appearing at one of my fave bookshops in Sydney - Better Read than Dead - in Newtown. I first discovered as a Sydney Uni student, and it's a real Sydney institution. The staff are brilliant, and the selection is top-notch. The kid's section is run by people I trust with all my heart - they're always recommending great reads to me. I hope to see you there on Saturday, August 8, from 11am - 12 pm. Come and say hello! And buy a book (or three)! Here I am haunting a book section of a department store in Canberra recently!!!
CONTINUE READING ...
Writing
Writing in the real world
July 18, 2015 at 1:20 am 0
Real life has a habit of getting in the way of a writer's path. Most writers I know have a day job - and given the recent stats that 'successful' Australian writers earn only around $11,000 a year, most of you will already know that writers need a day job to support them. Many of them are teachers. I am also a teacher, but I now work for the NSW Department of Education in a busy day job promoting the profession. I can be on the road, at events, and talking until I can't talk anymore...but somehow I have to wedge the writing in. Not because I have to, but because I want to. I'm lucky in that I have a writing residence that I can head to for complete solitude. But the struggle of any creative artist I know lies in striking that balance - working during the day and writing around the small hours of the evening, night and early morning. There is an inner thirst that drives us to write, or create, or just lose ourselves in something that feeds our soul. If bestseller lists are anything to go by at the moment, most people are getting their fix by colouring in. But I also know that I probably couldn't write full-time. I'm a social being. I'd go stir-crazy if I didn't have people to bounce off, or purpose in my day job. What I have to do is reign myself in, and get lost in the fantasy world. It's a nice counterbalance to the real one.
CONTINUE READING ...
Frankie Fox, Writing
Writing comps, writers’ residencies and where to begin
June 12, 2015 at 9:21 am 0
Where to begin? How does writing happen? Sometimes all it takes is a nudge, a wink, or even the breath of an idea and you're away. For me, it was a seminal moment in childhood - I was highly commended in a young writers' prize (possibly the only one I ever entered, and mind you - I didn't even win) but it was enough of a spark to know that I could keep it going if I tried. It gave me great pleasure last week to judge a category at the Nan Manefield's Young Writer's Prize through the Stanton Library in North Sydney. After all, it was this very prize that I had been highly commended in, at the very same location! It was quite thrilling to be in a room with so many terrific young writers and poets; they will go far if they can hold on to the dream. Libraries are important communities; none more so than the Stanton Library in North Sydney and its dedicated team. If you find it tough to get writing, set yourself some goals such as entering a short story competition, or even a poetry competition. Commit yourself to getting something of this length down, and get the entry in. Writers agonise over their work and self-edit relentlessly, but there comes a time when you just have to get the thing in. It doesn't matter what stage of you're writing your at - deadlines CAN be your friend. I'm working on a few projects at the moment, including continuing with my series' Frankie Fox, Girl Spy and Ella and Olivia, but I have many other projects on hand at any given time. I also work full-time, so I know all about juggling priorities. Ideas run willy-nilly through my head - the hardest thing is shaping them and making them happen. I created a little video for my publisher Hachette Australia this week called #whereIwrite. While it was meant to only be a few minutes long, it ended up clocking in at 12 minutes! I'd love for you to check it out - you can also have a little peek into the world of my writing residence! Possibly also the madness in my own head. Enjoy. Pre-filming at my writer's residence
CONTINUE READING ...
Writing
#whereIwrite
May 31, 2015 at 2:19 am 0
Writing is about being a voyeur, an eavesdropper, an observer of life and people. My voyeuristic tendencies rise to the max when it comes to other writers. How do they write? Where do they write? What do their offices look like? Do they clear a space on the dining room table, swiping away the day's detritus and sit down at the laptop keyboard? I do my best writing on the lounge, at library desks, in my home office, in bed and at my writer's residence (everyone should be so lucky). In other words, I write wherever and whenever I can. If you can't, you need to rethink how important it is to get your work done. When I'm stuck on a plot point or losing my writing mojo, I often look to other writers for inspiration. While it's a great distraction when you're running from the hard work of a manuscript, ultimately it's a real insight into how other writers live, work and combine their inner writing life with the outer life in the real world which governs us all. I'm going to be involved in a campaign called #whereIwrite, through the fab new app, periscope and in conjunction with my publisher, Hachette Australia. Many authors including one of my faves, Ian Rankin, have already videocast short films of where they write. I'll be filing a report from where I write, live on Monday June 8! So get your voyeurism on, jump online and watch!

My Sunday morning office (NB - not even styled!)

CONTINUE READING ...
Festivals, Frankie Fox, Writing
The things we do for (book) love
May 24, 2015 at 11:33 am 0

This year is passing by in a blur of book events, book releases, library functions and writers' residency shindigs. Writing is such a solitary pursuit - and everyone who knows me knows I love a yarn face-to-face as well as on paper - that it's often hard to picture such things as book launches and reading actually happening and the light being there at the end of the tunnel. For three years I have juggled writing with full-time work, mostly as a busy high school teacher. The motivating factor for every writer is getting your story down, getting it told in the best way possible (great editors are crucial) and getting it out there. So the fruits of the labour in these last few months have really been the culmination of many nights at home, a super amount of focus, and time spent hunched over a desk.

Getting out and about, promoting Frankie Fox, has been brilliant. Meeting readers, and talking to young people about what they love to read is a great privilege - and is inspiring, heartbreaking and just plain hilarious. This week I had a lovely event (in my PJs!) at Crown St Public School for their Lights On, Torches Off Readathon campaign, and today I was down at the Wharf as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival. For many years I attended the SWF in many guises - through my work in book publishing, as a total fangirl, and also to support other friends in their writing endeavours. The thing that I am really coming to realise though is that it is such a lovely industry - full of terrific publishers such as Lothian Books at Hachette Australia (publishers of Frankie Fox), wonderful colleagues at other publishing houses, and fellow children's authors who continue to support each other in the nicest way possible. To my beautiful friends and fans: love you lots.To my fellow writers: see you in the green room! To the red-tshirt brigade of volunteers at the Sydney Writers' Fest: you are AMAZING!In the Enid Blyton Storytime Clubhouse at the Sydney Writers' Festival 

Next time I'm arriving by water taxi

With the gorgeous Cheryl Orsini (l) and lovely Ashleigh (m) - publicist extraordinaire!

Caught reading in my PJs at Crown St PS!

Kids reading by torchlight - much to the joy of optometrists everywhere

CONTINUE READING ...
Frankie Fox, Writing
On the road for the national Campaign for Copyright!
May 17, 2015 at 6:01 am 0
Last week I had the honour and pleasure of talking to creative artists in Hobart about the need for artists to have their copyright protected, respected and remunerated. It was brilliant to meet writers and other artists from Tassie. My thanks to the Copyright Agency for all that they are doing to support artists in their endeavours and to ensure that fair payments are received where their works are studied or reproduced. You can find out more about the national campaign for copyright here. In the words of John Birmingham, it's a 'codification of respect' - I love this sentiment. Also, teachers should check out the fab repository of materials on Reading Australia. Here you can find a huge range of resources that can be used in the classroom. Hobart was once again wonderful - I have done so much travelling this year, but Hobart is just one of my favourite places. I finally got to the Cascades Female Prison - a place close to my heart after having done so much research on girls' industrial schools for my novel Escape from Cockatoo Island. I also sailed the Derwent on the Lady Nelson replica tall ship (highly recommended), ate my way through Salamanca Markets and caught up with plenty of friends. I managed to stop in at one of my fave bookshops, The Hobart Book Shop and also Spacebar Gallery for lots of gorgeous gifts. My favourite hobby in Hobart though seems to be meandering through Battery Point and imagining which residence I would most like to claim as my own.
CONTINUE READING ...
Uncategorized
Creative women in conversation…at Don Bank
April 26, 2015 at 7:49 am 0
A few weeks ago I was privileged to host a panel discussion with other women artists from the North Sydney area. The night was a lively and fascinating event, featuring a panel of creative women. The event was organised for International Womens' Day by the Stanton Library and the night was a huge success. In conversation were crime writer, P.M. Newton - whose crime novels I adore; the indomitable Sandra Bates, artistic director of the Ensemble theatre and all-round dynamo, and visual artist Karen Atkins, a renowned artist working in acrylics. As host, I was fascinated to hear how these women work; their muses; their work patterns; their past projects and future passions. The big 'reveal' of the night was this: all artists felt driven to do what they do; regardless of remuneration or prestige. Being an artist ain't about the money; it's about a need to create, produce and live as an artist, regardless of what others think - critics included. It was incredible to be in such good company. I'd like to thank the librarians at the Stanton for making the night so thrilling. I'd also like to thank the guests in attendance - so great to meet lovely locals and to see Don Bank Museum come to life. Also, a big-shout to my mum and my beautiful friends for their support on the night. We're hoping to do more of these sessions, so keep your eyes peeled.

The gorgeous Don Bank in the evening

In full flight introducing Sandra, Karen and P.M. and the keen crowd watching on

I was so excited to meet P.M. Newton - here we are together placed in front of a curio cabinet

CONTINUE READING ...