Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Research and writing

Spring is here at last- hooray! The weather is warming, albeit with a few cold snaps to keep us on our toes, and cast a little doubt the weather report of a sunny 22 degrees the next day will be just that. 

Today it is 22 degrees and sunny, no wind and beautiful. However a few weeks ago we had giant flakes of snow spiralling from black clouds with gale force winds to boot. I was at the National Library and took some photos of the Parliamentary Foreshore and Lake Burley Griffin.

The Foreshore

Captain Cook Memorial Jet

The High Court and Embassy flag display

Spring in Canberra heralds strange unpredictable weather patterns and with the warm still days we are prone to sudden, wild storms and hail. The confusion for what to wear each day is understandable. One minute it is glorious and the next ingloriously freezing!

The birds in my back garden have decided it is springtime regardless of the weather and spend the day fighting, mating and singing.  It is beautiful to hear them sing and the constant hum of bees. On days like today, I can smell the grass growing.


No longer able to stay locked indoors, I have felt a buzz with the onset of warm days and have began to spend more hours outside once more. With a coffee in hand, armed with pens, writing pads, and my Ipad I love nothing more than to sit at my little Parisian cafe style table and chairs and enjoy.

After a long cold winter and having been locked away in my study for months, the freedom of choice for a work environment is refreshing. No longer tied to a room warmed by a heater, the heat of the sun on my back is divine.  A change of scenery is welcome as for the past 6 weeks I have been ever so busy with a new non-fiction book. The excitement of starting new work is pure bliss. Although it has involved hours and hours of research, all those scrawled sheet of ideas and notes to myself are slowly but surely leading closer to a new section of finished work. I am proud to admit I am a walking treasure trove of all sorts of odd and funny information, and very happy to share my wealth of knowledge with my grown up children. We chat over dinner and think on unusual snippets of history as a lead in to each new section of the book.

For me the best part of the writing process is the journey, not that the completed/published book isn't a joy to hold in my hand, it's just that whole start- to finish process that drives me each day whereby I can't wait to get started. From that blank page to a page full of scribbled ideas, sketches, and arrows, to plot points,and hastily written sentences that beg to be written. The pages fill with the strange coded thoughts of what looks like rot and rubbish, but it all makes sense to me. It is a written journal of my thoughts and vision. This jumbled script paves the way for longer paragraphs, crossed out sentences and lines that quickly fill with inserted words and suggestions. Oh what bliss it would be if I could take a snapshot of my thoughts like I can a page on the IPad and print them up. 
Thinking, sorting and gathering are just a part stage of the process. I love that all this can be done while hanging out washing or grocery shopping. My brain hardly ever stops and even asleep I have many dreams.

For the past few days I have been editing, drafting, editing and drafting.  Finally I have settled on the work I am happy with and so today I start another section of the book and can't wait. Bye for now, it's time to go sit in the late afternoon sun and work the magic of the pen on paper.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Chief Minister's Reading Challenge 2012

Exciting news:
 Nancy Bentley, The First Australian Female Sailor  has been selected for the ACT Chief Minister's Reading Challenge 2012.
Below is a lovely book review from the Kid's Book Review.
Book Review: Nancy Bentley
When I picked up Nancy Bentley, I expected to learn about a grown woman sailing around the world in the style of Amelia Earhart. Nothing could have prepared me for the tale of little girl who was bitten by a deadly whip snake in 1920.

Medical help was too far away. The poison was racing through Nancy’s veins. What would you do to save your daughter? Row out to a naval ship anchored in the harbour? Who would have guessed that females were prohibited from even boarding naval vessels in those days?

Lucky for Nancy, the captain was quick to render assistance. He even had a solution for Nancy’s unusual predicament. Can you guess how Nancy was saved? How did she manage to become Australia’s first female sailor?

I won’t spoil the suspense. Go on. Read Nancy Bentley and find out for yourself.

Nancy Bentley is simply written with illustrations tinged with an old world charm. Grounded in fact and condensed for pre-schoolers to enjoy, Nancy Bentley is a keeper.

Title: Nancy Bentley: The First Australian Female Sailor
Author: Tracey Hawkins
Illustrator: Jacqui Grantford
Publisher: New Frontier Publishers, $24.95 RRP
Publication Date: January 2012
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9781921042768
For ages: 4 +
Type: Picture Book

Storybook Challenge 2012 winners Announced

During June of this year, as you know I took part in a whirlwind tour of regional country schools in NSW and the ACT to launch the new literary competition, The Storybook Challenge.

That's me surrounded by the lovely students of Sacred Heart Central School in Cootamundra

Congratulations to the regional schools I went out to visit, and a huge congratulations to the students who did such a brilliant job with their winning entries.

Cootamundra- Zara English from Sacred Heart Central School

Young- Alex Newell from Bribbaree Public School

Tamworth- Grace Maloney from St Edwards primary School

Armidale- Ruby Straker from The Armidale School

Canberra- Lachlan Ogden from St Benedict's Primary School

Bateman's Bay- Bella Coetzee from St Bernard's Primary School

Ulludulla- Emily Stein from Milton Public School

 I'm sure the students will be delighted with their $250 book prize and the schools very much delighted with the $1000 worth of books and colourful reading mat  they receive for their classroom or library.

To view a complete list of all the students and winning schools in NSW follow the link to the Carpet Court site.