Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Life & Other Massive Mistakes

Here's the cover for My Life & Other Massive Mistakes, my third book of semi-autobiographical, weird-funny-gross adventures starring Tom Weekly and illustrated by the one and only Gusto Gordon.

Have you ever helped your pop escape from a nursing home? Does your teacher have a problem with his bowels? Is your sister an evil genius and criminal mastermind? Have you ever mined your teeth for cash? Is there a girl or boy at school who will stop at nothing to kiss you? And do you know someone with the worst case of nits in world history?

The stories were written during my six-month European / SE Asian family travel adventure late last year and early this year.

Mad Cat by Gus Gordon

My Life 3 hits shelves 1 March 2014. I'll be spending March visiting schools, bookstores, festivals and libraries in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Details on my Events page soon. Hope I catch you on my travels.

In the meantime, you can get hold of the first two books in the series (I hear they make particularly good Crimbo prizes for children ;)

My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up

My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong

Thanks for the enormous support of My Life and Two Wolves this year. I'm super-blessed to be part of an extraordinary network of people who care about reading, storytelling and creativity. And HUGE thanks to reader Ruby Barker who came up with a name for the book in blog comments in my Search for a Title. Ruby will receive a signed set of all three My Life books.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Winner of My Search For a Young Writer


Good news! I have chosen a winner in my 2014 Search for a Young Writer.

It is Otis Mayocchi with his story, 'Champions', about two ultra-competitive brothers who stage a Weet-Bix eating competition that is doomed from the beginning. The story feels personal, authentic, funny and very 'My Life'. It was developed during Brisbane's Bardon Young Writer's Week, a five-day writer's camp that has been running for almost twenty years under the guidance of teacher-librarian Jane-Marie Butler.

Otis wins $100 worth of Random House books and I will be working with him to edit and polish the story over the next couple of months.

Thank you so much to all entrants in the competition. It was a tough decision. Quite a few of the strongest stories were drama rather than comedy so, unfortunately, I couldn't consider them for this search but I loved reading those stories.

The runner-up stories this year were 'Kyle's Style' by Joel Hawkins from TAS, a story with great narrative drive and a very strong central idea, and 'Jess the Barfing Beagle' by Hayley Nankivell from QLD, a disgustingly true story about her own dog.

I am unable to give feedback on every story entered into the competition but I hope that all entrants will continue to develop their stories and writing. I only ever find that my stories start to come together around the fifth or sixth draft and I will often write twenty drafts of a short story, so keep going! You are welcome to re-enter your stories next year if they have been re-written.

Here are some general points that will help to supercharge your stories for 2015:
* The best stories submitted were about one idea. They didn't try to stuff a novel into 1000 words. Short stories should be very simple. The strongest stories had very few locations and very few jumps in time (e.g. 'Three months later...').

* The best stories felt as though they had been rewritten lots of times. The writer knew what the story was about and what it wasn't about. They knew the main character's WANT, they had strong CONFLICT to that want and the character stood to lose something valuable to them (STAKES), even if that stake was as seemingly silly as a loss to a brother in a Weet-Bix eating competition. What matters is that the reader believes it's something valuable to the character. The writers who knew these things were able to strip away paragraphs and ideas that didn't move the story forward. In a short story every word should move the story forward.

* Endings are often very difficult. The ending is easier to write if you know what the character Wants from the very beginning. The ending then becomes a matter of having the character achieve or miss out on their goal. For me, the best short stories do this in a surprising way but the solution to the story still comes from within the story, not from outside.

The 2015 Search For a Young Writer is going to be HUGE with much bigger prizes for writers and schools and major support from Random House Australia. I'll be announcing the search in March when the new book, My Life & Other Massive Mistakes is released. I'll also be putting up lots of tips and checklists that will help with the writing process. And, again, I'll be looking for a short story to publish in an upcoming My Life book. Meantime, try to read a lot, write a lot and live a lot.

Happy writing. I hope to catch you at a talk or workshop in 2015.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Best Books For 11 Year-Olds

Here are the best books for 11 year-olds as voted by my son and semi-regular guest-blogger, Hux.

1. 'Caesar the War Dog' series by Stephen Dando-Collins (See Hux's review of the first 'Caesar' book here.)

2. 'Harry Potter' series by J.K. Rowling

3. 'H.I.V.E' series (Higher Institute of Villainous Education) by Mark Walden

4. 'Alex Rider' series by Anthony Horowitz

5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

6. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

7. Red Samurai by Tiffiny Hall

8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

9. Mort by Martin Chatterton

10. Two Wolves by Me (I didn't even pay him [much] to say this. What a guy.)

Here's Hux's list of Best Books for 9-10 year-olds.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Caesar the War Dog Operation Blue Dragon Review

Here's my son Hux's review of the second book in Stephen Dando-Collins' much-loved 'Caesar the War Dog' series, Operation Blue Dragon...

When Charlie Grover, an injured SAS operative, gets a new set of prosthetic legs he is able to re-take the SAS selection training course. Charlie no longer needs Caesar as his care dog, so Caesar can go back to doing what he does best – sniffing out explosives with Ben Fulton, his owner.

Meanwhile Josh, Ben’s son, is having trouble at school with a bully.

On their first mission back together Caesar & Ben help rescue the Secretary-General of the United Nations, whose helicopter went down in an area where there is known Taliban

activity. The Taliban force the Secretary-General to make a video asking a ransom for his release. It’s up to Ben, Caesar and a bunch of special operatives from around the world to save him.

I give it 100 out of 10. There are two other books in the series with another on the way. Enjoy.

P.S. Here's Hux's review of the first book in the 'Caesar' series.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Instagram Book Tour

I'm taking the week off after spending most of this year travelling around, talking about the new books to anyone who'd listen. (Thanks to all the kids and colleagues who made it happen). I've been documenting my adventures on Instagram. Feel free to wander over and have a look. Would be good to connect with you there. I'm @tristanbancks

Looking forward to diving down into writing the new book in coming months before hitting' the road again in March with My Life & Other Massive Mistakes (my third book of weird-funny-gross short stories).

Have a great week.

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