events, Festivals, Uncategorized, Writing
Adventures on Australia Day
February 28, 2017 at 8:18 am 0
This year I was the guest of my good friend, the author Susanne Gervay in her role as an Australia Day Ambassador. We headed to Deniliquin and Conargo shires and had a wonderful road trip exploring the local communities. I can't thank the locals enough for their warm custom and Susanne for being the Thelma to my Louise (there was no cliff, folks!). Susanne is also an ambassador for the Premier's Reading Challenge - we even bumped into some keen readers on the road who we met in Sydney last year! Hope your reading year is off to a stellar start! IMG_8946 IMG_9068      
Ella and Olivia, Writing
The Big Book of Ella and Olivia!
July 19, 2016 at 8:22 am 0
Folks, I've been busy...behind the scenes I'm working on some very exciting projects with wonderful authors and illustrators with the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge (are YOU participating?). So I was thrilled to find these beauties waiting for me in the post - it's the BIG BOOK OF ELLA AND OLIVIA - 8 favourites in one! I love this collection, and I love the yellow cover. Just like Kathleen Kelly says in 'You've Got Mail' ....'Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?'...I too think...'Don't you think yellow covers are the friendliest covers?' Happy reading, friends! xx FullSizeRender-1
Ella and Olivia, Uncategorized, Writing
A YABBA-DABBA shortlisting!
May 1, 2016 at 7:46 am 0
I'm super thrilled and very proud to announce that ELLA AND OLIVIA: SPORTS CARNIVAL has been shortlisted for the 2016 Yabba Award, by the children of Victoria. I'm in totally amazing company - Michael Gerard Bauer, Emily Rodda (EMILY RODDA!), Anh Do, Aaron Blabey and Nick Bland. Cannot believe it. This story is genuinely one of my favourites. Anyone who knows me knows I love SPORT! I wasn't great at sports carnivals, and what I lacked in any form of skill I made up with in sheer aggression. Indeed, as I write this, I'm listening to the A-League grand final on ABC Grandstand and watching the AFL highlights from the weekend. Bliss. Ella and Olivia also love sports...and so do Mum, Dad and Max. What's your favourite carnival event? sports    
Ella and Olivia, Uncategorized, Writing
Living with your characters
November 21, 2015 at 2:08 am 0
I've been writing the series Ella and Olivia for a while now - for over three years. It's been a fantastic experience - and even though I've written longer novels, the challenge of storytelling in five short chapters of five hundred words per chapter is something I've really learned from. As an English teacher, I am always at pains to explain to students the following: something HAS to happen (complication) and something HAS to be resolved (resolution) in any story you write. Ella and Olivia is a fantastic test: the girls must find a solution to a problem by the end of the story! And the characters of Ella and Olivia are writ large in my mind. There is only 18 months between them, yet they exist in my every day life - every young person I see or meet, they are my sister and brother embodied, they are memories that I have or perhaps people in my future. There are elements of my parents (and myself) in Mum and Dad of the story, and Uncle Stu the sparkie is a close relation to my brother-in-law. I have just spent an inordinate amount of time working on more stories for the canny little sisters, and with each adventure, their personality becomes more clear. They are the embodiment of life, people, myself and indeed my own siblings, just on the page. Characters of my favourite books have ALWAYS been real to me - even if it's Alex Cooper in the Linda Fairstein crime books (what would Alex do, I often think), or Jane Eyre or even the bumbling Stephanie Plum. I live my life intensely through the lens of a beloved character, and so many (young) readers do too. Whether or not you know it, if you're a writer, the characters will live within you, their voices finding a way out when you least expect it! And once they're drawn (in this case by the expert hand of illustrator Danielle McDonald), they have a life of their own! Ella and Olivia Bind-Up #4: Merry Christmas Stories (4 books with a surprise inside!) is out now! merry-christmas-stories
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!
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.
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?
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.
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
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!)