Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: July 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Name the Next My Life Book and WIN a Signed Copy!

It's that time of year again. I've written ten new short stories for the next book in the My Life series starring Tom Weekly and I need a title. If you come up with the title, you'll win a signed copy when the new book hits shelves in March 2018 and you'll be the first person I thank in the acknowledgements at the back of the book!

My Life Series Book Titles

The series began with My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up and the titles have become weirder as they've gone along. The last two books were My Life & Other Exploding Chickens and My Life & Other Weaponised Muffins.

Visual inspiration for Hostage, a psychological guinea pig thriller in the next My Life book.

Sneak Peek of My Life Book 6

To get you thinking, here's a sneak peek of some of the stories in the new book...

There’s a very tense guinea pig hostage situation and a story about a disastrous author visit to Tom Weekly’s school (no bearing on reality, of course). There's a story where Nan enlists Tom’s help to steal a fruitcake so she can win the Kings Bay Show Fruitcake Bake for the ninth year in a row. There's another where Tom decides to make his mark on the world by eating a car. Oh, and Tom's terrifying encounter with a very angry goose.

Book Title Suggestions

Kids have so far suggested:

My Life & Other Unicorn Apocalypses

My Life & Other Radioactive Pickles

And I liked these from previous title brainstorms:

My Life – Disaster Zone

My Life & Other Catastrophes

Suggest Your Own Title

So, go to it. I need something funny that makes you want to pick up the book and starts with My Life & Other... 

Click 'Post a Comment' below and leave your name and your title idea. I'll be asking on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, too. The winner will be posted on this here post on 1 December at the latest. So check back in to see if you're the winner!


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Work on Your Story, Not Just in Your Story

In business they tell you to work on your business, not just in your business. In other words, don’t get stuck working the cash register when there’s planning and analysis to be done and systems to be put in place. There's something to be learnt here for writers and other creative people.

Sometimes, when you’re writing a draft, you get so lost in the story and characters, you can’t work out what’s wrong with it. But you know that something stinks. An outline is one way out but I prefer to dive in and write a few messy drafts before I become beholden to plot and outline.

Writing morning pages outdoors seems to provide even clearer insight on story problems.

Writing Morning Pages

I deal with this by writing daily morning pages (inspired by the work of writing gurus Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg) – three free-written pages early in the morning when I tell myself the story and poke around in the crevices that I might ignore when I'm in full-flight, writing a chapter. 

I wake up and put the date at the top of a page and complain for a bit about how cold it is and I describe where I'm sitting and the smells and sights and sounds and tastes, then I’ll write, ‘My story is about…’ and I’ll tell myself the story, even though I might’ve been working on it for three years. In that random, free-associating headspace I start to find solutions for some of my gnarliest challenges and by the end of three pages I have untangled one of those annoying story knots.

I started writing morning pages almost twenty years ago. Reviewing old notebooks can give fresh insights.

The Cost of Bypassing the Unconscious

Sometimes I try to skip my morning pages because I feel I should get down to the 'real' business of writing sooner. My writing days are always more troubled when I miss this vital step of letting my unconscious mind do its work.

Morning pages are a bridge between my life and the life of my characters. Detouring around that bridge can result in scenes and chapters that lack authenticity and emotional charge. I learnt most of this while writing my book Two Wolves and developed it further on The Fall. On these projects, morning pages would get me out of bed at 6am, or make me roll over, grab my notebook and begin.

Writing morning pages on the run.

Work on Your Story, Not Just in Your Story

So, creating an outline is one way of ironing out story (or life) challenges, but if you want to feel your way through the story and be led by instinct in early drafts, this free-written, daily, unconscious exploration can be your best friend.

Photography by Amber Melody.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Best Slime Recipe

Every kid (and adult) loves slime. I've been slimed a few times in recent years and I've experimented with different homemade recipes and this one is the best. We used it in the My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong book trailer (both of this post).

Slime TV

That time I was slimed by Grace on ABC3 / ABC Me.
This recipe is featured in the follow-up book My Life & Other Massive Mistakes. I hope it works for you. I'd love you to point me to your pics on Insta / FB etc if you happen to make a batch. ;))

Slime Recipe

Slime Video


Byron Writers Festival 2017

It's almost time for the amazing Byron Bay Writers Festival. I have been attending the festival for the past seventeen years, at first as a visitor and, in more recent years, as a participant.

It is one of my favourite events on the bookish calendar. I have amazing memories of wandering around the beachside festival site in the sunshine with coffee, dropping into marquees to hear extraordinary writers tell their stories and share their craft.

More recently, in Sunday's Kids Big Day Out tent I have been slimed, had my head covered in chocolate sauce and cream, been attached by exploding rubber chickens and, this year, is the year of the Weaponised Muffins!

I'll be joined at Kids Big Day Out by Morris Gleitzman, Sally Rippin, Hilary Badger (H.I. Larry), Lucas Proudfoot, Richard Roxburgh and Peter Helliar.

I believe that there are still some tickets available here.

Here's my schedule for the fest. I hope you can make it along. The full program is here.

Primary School Days

Tues 1 August: Murwillumbah Civic Centre, 10-12pm with Zac Power author Hilary Badger.

Wed 2 August:  Byron Bay Sports Complex, 9:30-11:30am with Zac Power author Hilary Badger.

Thurs 3 August: Ballina RSL, 10am-12pm, with Zac Power author Hilary Badger.

Literacy Session

Fri 4 August, Byron Writers Festival site, 4-5pm: Reach for the Stars: Literacy in Children, a panel discussion with Jesse Blackadder, Cosentino and Sally Rippin.

Kids Big Day Out

Sun 6 August, Byron Writers Festival site: 12:10-12:40pm with lots of other authors speaking before and after me.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Fall Interview in Books+Publishing Magazine

A recent interview about my new crime-mystery novel The Fall in Junior Books+Publishing (B+P) magazine.

Just click on the image to read a sharper, high-resolution version.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Fall on Radio National Books & Arts

I was lucky enough to speak about my new thriller novel The Fall with Sarah Lestrange on ABC Radio National Books and Arts program. Here's the interview if you'd like to have a listen.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Book TV

I would love to see Australian children's and young adult books gain a higher profile in TV and the media, encouraging reading and bringing the books to life for a wide audience. I think it's really important for kids to see books brought to life in fun and exciting ways.

I've just been on a month-long tour with my new book The Fall and I thought I'd share two of the TV interviews, one with the hosts of Channel Seven's The Daily Edition and one with Shane Crawford on Saturday morning show Kids' WB (involving a fall from a very high diving tower).

Just click on the images to watch the clips.

Kids' WB Interview

Click above to watch the world's first ever interview between an AFL footy player and an author on a floating swan.

Kids' WB High-Dive Challenge with Shane Crawford

Click above to find out if it's Shane Crawford or me who has to leap from the 10-metre diving board at Melbourne Aquatic Centre on Kids' WB.

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