Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: November 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Room to Read World Change Challenge Gives 20,000+ Books to Kids in Developing World

The 2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge has reached it's fundraising goal! Room to Read Writer-Ambassadors have teamed with school students all over the country to raise more than $20,000 to buy over 20,000 local-language books for children in the world’s poorest countries.

Australian authors have spent the past four months visiting schools across Australia and inspiring kids to help reach our $20,000 goal. (Room to Read’s writer-ambassador team includes some of Australia’s bestselling children’s authors: Deborah Abela, Jesse Blackadder, Sarah Davis, Kate Forsyth, Gus Gordon, Susanne Gervay, Libby Hathorn, Jacquie Harvey, John Larkin, Melina Marchetta, Sophie Masson, Belinda Murrell, Oliver Phommavanh and Alice Pung.)

There have been BookSwaps, Guessing Competitions, Market Stalls, Drop Everything and Read hours, Embarrass Your Teacher days and dozens of other inventive challenges dreamed up and executed by kids everywhere.

Deborah Abela and Stephen Axelson auctioning artwork at the 2014 SCBWI Conference.
The 2014 Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference held an art auction of illustrations by Bruce Whatley and Stephen Axelson, the challenge was hosted by Room to Read ambassadors Deborah Abela and Susanne Gervay, raising $1400. Author Jesse Blackadder and her partner Andi completed a 350km bike ride in New Zealand, raising $1650. Star of the Sea Catholic School in Gladstone Queensland raised $2154.50.

Josh Lorschy with Room to Read founder, John Wood.
And 14 year-old Sydney schoolboy, filmmaker and activist Josh Lorschy rallied his school, Barker College, to raise a stellar $3160.90. Star of the Sea wins a book prize package from Random House Australia and I will visit Barker College to give a talk on reading, writing and creativity.

Room to Read is one of the most dynamic non-profits on the planet, establishing more than 16,000 school libraries in the developing world, educating more than 28,000 girls and benefiting more than 8.8 million children with their programs over the past fourteen years. Their Destination Literacy goal is to reach 10 million children by December 2015.

HUGE thanks to Room-to-Readers Jennie Orchard, Wendy Rapee, Mihiri Udabage and Janelle Prescott who have supported this year’s World Change Challenge all the way as well as to our writer-ambassadors, sponsor Random House Australia, and all the teachers and students who dug in and made this happen.


The 2015 Challenge promises to be better than ever, with a bigger, hairier goal, wilder challenges, even greater student engagement across Australia and more books in the hands of children who, otherwise, would have none. Well done to all!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Life & Other Massive Mistakes

'This book is 100% gluten free, 100% fat free, 100% organic and 35% fact free. It has no added sugar and contains absolutely NO NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS AT ALL! May contain traces of NUTS!' 
- Raph Atkins, kid author, llama enthusiast

'This book of funny, ridiculous and really pretty disgusting short stories 
is sure to make you laugh out loud.' 

My Life & Other Massive Mistakes (March 2015, Random House Australia) is my third book of semi-autobiographical, weird-funny-gross adventures starring Tom Weekly and illustrated by the one and only Gusto Gordon.


  Buy a copy of My Life & Other Massive Mistakes, signed by the author Tristan Bancks

Have you ever helped your pop escape from a nursing home? Does your teacher have a problem with his bowels? 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?
I do. I'm Tom Weekly and this is the third book in my life story.
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

Thanks for the enormous support of My Life and Two Wolves over the past 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 has received a signed set of all three My Life books.

Nit Plague by Gus Gordon.

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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.
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