A joint celebration of World Poetry Day and The School Magazine

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School Magazine mascot

WP_20160229_14_40_48_Pro Jackie Hosking of Pass It On had a brilliant idea for today: jointly mark World Poetry Day and the 100-year celebrations of the world’s oldest continuously-running literary magazine for children. Australia’s very own wonderful School Magazine, by a blog tour highlighting children’s poetry published in the Magazine. And I’m delighted to be part of that fabulous blog tour!

First of all, I want to say that not only do I love The School Magazine, but I owe a lot to it. As a young reader of non-English speaking background who came to Australia as a school-age child, The School Magazine was one of the most important factors for me in discovering a world of English-language literature, both Australian and international. And later it nurtured me as an emerging writer, with my first story for children, Platypus Daybreak, published in the Magazine in 1988–and excitingly, it was illustrated by Noela Young, whose pictures I’d so loved as a child in Ruth Park’s The Muddle-Headed Wombat! (That is is one of the great pleasures of being published in the magazine–your pieces are illustrated by some of Australia’s most wonderful illustrators!) Over the years I’ve had lots of things published in the Magazine–short stories, articles, plays, and lately, poetry too. My recent success with poetry in The School Magazine has in fact also played an important part in not only encouraging me to write a great deal more of it–but also successfully submitting it for publication in anthologies both here and overseas, and for that I’m grateful once again to the Magazine.WP_20160229_14_41_27_Pro

I’ve had three poems published so far in The School Magazine in very recent times–Wings in ‘Touchdown’ May 2014 (illustrated by the great Bronwyn Bancroft); Building Site Zoo in ‘Countdown’, WP_20160229_14_41_14_ProApril 2015; Bushland rainbow in ‘Blast Off’ , June 2015 (both illustrated by the wonderful Matt Ottley) and coming up in April in ‘Orbit’ this year, Dance of the autumn trees, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft.WP_20160319_07_08_27_Pro

 

So today I’m republishing here, below, the full text of ‘Building Site Zoo’ , with a pic of that page in the Magazine, for your enjoyment! Happy World Poetry Day to everyone–and a very happy 100th birthday to that great literary treasure, The School Magazine! And below the poem are links to other blogs on the tour.

(Please Note: The poem text is copyright to me, illustration reproduced from The School Magazine, copyright to Matt Ottley, design copyright The School Magazine. )

Building Site Zoo

by Sophie Masson

Morning has started and with it too

The day of the beasts from the building site zoo.

 

The mighty bulldozer wakes with a roar,

Lumbers to work, always wants more,

Paws at the dirt, churns up the ground,

Bellowing challenge to all that’s around.

 

Jack hammer, jack hammer,

Hops like a roo,

Jump jumping jack hammer,

Show off, that’s you!

Jack hammer, jack hammer,

Stop, that will do!

 

Concrete mixer’s hungry jaws

Chewing and mashing with never a pause,

Turning sand and gravel so coarse

Into the finest, silkiest sauce.

 

The cranes are fishing up in the sky,

Patiently dropping their lines from on high.

They never get bored, they never get tired,

They never get angry, they never get fired.

Their long arms don’t shake

As slowly they take

Their prey from the ground to the air to the ground.

 

Look! Listen! Every day they start up anew

Those amazing beasts from the building site zoo.

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Other blogs on the tour:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest post: Claire Boston on creating characters

AllthatSparklesBTRomance novelist Claire Boston is a guest on my blog today as part of her blog tour, and she’s going to talk about creating fantastic characters with particular reference to her new novel, All that Sparkles, part of The Texan Quartet.

Claire was a voracious reader as a child, devouring anything by Enid Blyton as well as series such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, The Baby-sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. Then one school holidays when she’d run out of books to read, her mum handed her ‘Hot Ice’ by Nora Roberts and she instantly fell in love with romance novels.
The love of reading soon turned to a love of writing and Claire struggled to keep within the 1500 word limit set by her teachers for any creative writing assignments. When she finally decided to become serious about her stories, she joined Romance Writers of Australia, found her wonderful critique group and hasn’t looked back.
When Claire’s not reading or writing she can be found in the garden attempting to grow vegetables, or racing around a vintage motocross track. If she can convince anyone to play with her, she also enjoys cards and board games.
Claire lives in Western Australia, just south of Perth, with her husband, who loves even her most annoying quirks, and her grubby, but adorable Australian bulldog.

Welcome, Claire! HeadShot

Creating characters that talk back to you

by Claire Boston
It’s my belief that characters are at the very centre of any story. Without good characters, the reader won’t care enough to read on, no matter how good the plot might be. So when it comes to crafting characters my process has grown over time.
When I first began writing I started with the obvious – name and physical appearance:
– Hair length, colour
– Eye colour
– Height
– Weight
– Age
I added in their occupation, maybe a little about the family background and got to work. Needless to say my characters didn’t leap off the page for my early stories.
Then someone recommended Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. It’s a really easy read and I have gone on to recommend it to many others. I learnt my characters had to want something, there had to be a reason why they wanted it and there had to be something stopping them getting it. So the character’s goal, motivation and conflict were added to my character profile.
This helped me immensely and my characters definitely came to life, but last year I discovered Cherry Adair’s Writers Bible. This is a 59 page document that she uses to plot all her stories and is available from her website. She has ten pages dedicated to character development, which absolutely fascinated me. The questions she asks about her characters are in depth and comprehensive. Now, not all of it is relevant to my writing, but I’ve taken the bits I like and I’ve added it to my character profiles. I won’t go into detail about the questions because it’s copyrighted information, but I believe it has helped me shape my characters. (Oh and if you’re a plotter, you might love her 16 pages of plotting that’s also in the Writers Bible)
I really love to get involved with my characters and find out what makes them tick. Imogen and Christian in All that Sparkles were so much fun as was Imogen’s father, Remy. I know my characters have come to life when I’m writing dialogue and one of them says something and I think, “I didn’t know that about you.” Or they talk back to you and tell you they’re not going to do what you want them to do. (I don’t think I’m mad, as I’ve had other authors say that their characters talk to them as well!)
One of the reasons that All that Sparkles is part of The Texan Quartet is because I couldn’t bear to leave my characters behind and I had to find out what happened next with them. I hope you enjoy meeting Imogen and Christian as much as I did. You can let me know what you thought by contacting me:
www.claireboston.com
Twitter @clairebauthor
www.facebook.com/clairebostonauthor

You can buy All that Sparkles http://bit.ly/1EkAGL5

More about All that Sparkles:AllThatSparklesCover

Imogen Fontaine is living every girl’s dream.

She is a fashion designer for her family’s haute couture label, lives in a mansion, has a great circle of friends and is the apple of her father’s eye. Everything is perfect.

Until the day that Christian, the boy at the center of her childhood heartbreak, walks back into her life.

From there her life starts to unravel, as long-kept secrets are revealed. Imogen learns that her past was built on lies and betrayal, shattering the illusion of her perfect existence. She must seek out the truth if she has any hope of forging a new path for herself and discovering true freedom.

But can she convince Christian that there is a place for him in her new life?

Guest post: Charlotte McConaghy on educating writers

Celebrity_photographers_sydney_glamour_nudes_art_photography_SeductiveToday, I’m delighted to be hosting the fabulous young author Charlotte McConaghy to my blog, as the last stop on her blog tour for her new novel with Momentum, Melancholy, book 2 of the Cure, released today!

I’ve known Charlotte for quite a while, ever since she was in high school in fact–we come from the same town and she’s a school friend of my middle child, Xavier (they are still good friends, incidentally!)

From her early teenage years, Charlotte was a keen and dedicated writer, and her first novel was published when she was only 17! I’m proud to reveal that when she was in Year 12, she came to me for some advice on a piece of writing–fantasy fiction–which she was creating for an Extension English major work. I was really impressed with her work and felt it also showed great promise–which was clearly the case, as though she’s still only in her twenties, Charlotte has since gone on to publish several more books, including Descent, The Shadows, Avery(first in the Chronicles of Kaya)and now The Cure series. It’s been such a joy to watch the progress of her career. And what’s more, as well as being a novelist, Charlotte also holds a Masters in Screenwriting, so maybe one day she can even be 9781760082567_Melancholy_coverinvolved in bringing one of those great novels of hers to the screen!

Congratulations on the release of the new book, Charlotte, and welcome to my blog!

 

The Importance of Education in Perfecting Your Craft
Whether it be advanced degrees, continuing education, or workshops, how important is it to continue to learn and grow in your writing?
By Charlotte McConaghy

Thanks for having me on the blog today! To celebrate the release of my new novel Melancholy – Book Two of The Cure series, I thought I’d talk about something I get asked about a lot by aspiring writers: the importance of education in perfecting your craft.

A lot of new writers are keen to get opinions and perspectives on the education of writing – and whether or not you really need it. This is a tricky subject because many people will tell you not to go anywhere near creative writing courses, and I sort of agree with this. The reason people say it is because these sorts of courses can really mess with your voice, and as we all know, this is arguably the most important aspect of writing. Voice is essentially the personality in your writing, the style and tone and the way it feels for someone to read your work. When you start to play with the finer details of prose – grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, syntax etc – sometimes a writer will lose confidence in their original, natural style, and their voice can be lost.

There’s also a culture of negativity imbued in a lot of degrees, because in essence, education is about teaching people to critique works in order to learn frameworks for distinguishing quality versus non-quality. It’s an aesthetic at the end of the day. What often isn’t taken into account is the fact that there are other frameworks, including emotional connection and engagement, which are difficult to formulate or identify – these are instinctive, and they tie back in with voice.

furySO, we understand that voice is hard to quantify – we can’t learn this, except through practicing getting to the heart of ourselves in our work, and allowing the essence of who we are to infuse our writing. Being true to what we love is the most important thing in any creative field.

HOWEVER, I do believe that in order to elevate our work from something that is more private – a piece of ourselves, in our voice, written for ourselves – we have to understand craft principles. After all, a novel is designed to be read, so you must take into account your audience, and using tried and tested tools will help you to engage your audience on an emotional level.

Early in my career (I say that like I’m a seasoned and wise old expert at 26 – ha!) I avoided creative avery-the-chronicles-of-kaya-1-by-charlotte-mcconaghywriting courses, but I did do a Masters degree in screenwriting, which improved my writing enormously. It taught me the tools for understanding things like character development and transformation, story structure, genre, setting, world-building and POV.

So in summary, I guess what I’m trying to say here is I believe that in terms of the larger- scale aspects of writing, education is absolutely necessary to improve your work. Certain degrees, as well as workshops and courses, will keep you in touch with these tools, and remind you to be mindful of craft principles when you write. Keep learning – you can never learn too much, or hear too many personal opinions that might trigger an epiphany of your own. Go to workshops, readings, festivals etc. Connect in with your people. But I also believe that in terms of your prose, the best thing you can do is to read daily and write daily. Reading will develop your taste and teach you what inspires you, and writing will develop your own personal style. Practice, practice, practice – and you will never stop improving.  arrival

 

More about Melancholy and buy links here.

Visit Charlotte’s website here.

Follow Charlotte on Twitter.

Charlotte’s Facebook author page here.

Firebird way station on Amanda Bridgeman’s Aurora: Centralis blog tour!

AuroraCentralis BTFBDelighted to announce that today my blog’s a way station on bestselling science-fiction author Amanda Bridgeman’s  official blog tour celebrating the release of Aurora: Centralis, fourth instalment in the Aurora series, published by Momentum. Aurora_centralis_FA

Born and raised in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, Amanda hails from fishing and farming stock. The youngest of four children, her three brothers raised her on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC. Naturally, she grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring to watch action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard. But that said, she can swoon with the best of them and is really not a fan of bugs! 

The three earlier books in the Aurora series: Darwin, Pegasus, Meridian have been bestsellers and received rave reviews, and just recently, the third book in the series, Aurora: Meridian, was shortlisted in  the science fiction category of the prestigious Aurealis Awards.

Congratulations, and welcome, Amanda!

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Living with The Afterlife

by Amanda Bridgeman
The afterlife, or what happens to us once we die, plays a part in the Aurora series. A hint of it appears in Aurora: Darwin and as the series progresses, more and more light is shed upon it, until finally it comes to the forefront in Aurora: Centralis. This particular plot thread weaves is way through Harris’ story. He dreams of his deceased grandmother and great-grandmother, and feels their ‘presence’ during his waking hours. This particular part of Harris’ story was inspired by tales and experiences relating to my own grandmother and great-grandmother.
My first true experience of the death of a loved one came at the age of 15 when my grandmother, my mother’s mother, passed away in her sleep in the early hours of the morning. My grandfather was up early that day, readying for a planned trip to the Abrolhos Islands with his son. He went to shake my grandmother awake to tell her he was leaving, but alas she never awoke. Upon receiving the news, my parents had stolen away to their house to see my grandmother, and then they came back to the house to wake me and tell me the news. I remember being in shock and jumping out of bed to make my mother a coffee. I had spent much time with my grandmother and her passing was a loss to all.
Strangely enough, that night when I went to sleep I had a dream. It was a strange dream, but a nice one none-the-less. I stood in a car park and some distance away I saw my grandmother standing with my pop. They were about to get into a car and drive away somewhere. I called out to her but my voice didn’t carry. Somehow she heard me though. She looked over to me, smiled, and raised her hand to wave at me. It was very much a goodbye wave. I smiled and waved back, and then they drove away. And I remember thinking at the time that that wasn’t just a dream. I truly believed it was my grandmother making contact from ‘the other side’ to say goodbye to me.
But wait, there’s more. There’s a lot more.
When my father was young he contracted polio. He was living on a farm in the small country town of Northampton and had to be transferred to a hospital in Perth, some 5-6 hours away by car. His father had to manage their farm and his mother had to take care of his 4 siblings, so they couldn’t visit with my father all the time. My father’s grandmother (his mother’s mother) however, lived in what was then an outer suburb of Perth and she made it her business to catch the train in every Sunday to visit him in hospital. He was only 6 years old at the time, and the two become close. Years later, when I was about 9 years old, his grandmother passed away, but it would seem she did not leave him.
One night my father was in the local pub in Geraldton, and the man – let’s call him Ron – who had recently bought and moved into our old house called him over to his table to speak with him. Ron said to my father that he was probably going to think him crazy, but he asked if our house had been haunted. My father told him no, that we had never experienced anything. Ron said that his wife – let’s call her Kelly – kept telling him she had seen the ghost of an old woman, standing by the fridge as though looking inside. Whenever Kelly entered the room, she would see this old lady look up and smile, then just fade away. Kelly said she never felt threatened by this apparition – it was just an old woman with gentle smile. Ron thought her crazy until one night, in the middle of the night, he awoke to see an image of an old woman standing beside the bed and leaning over Kelly who lay beside him. Ron said he wasn’t afraid, just shocked, as this old woman seemed to checking on them, looking for someone. And the way Ron described the woman to my father, it was the spitting image of his grandmother: she wore a quaker style of dress, round glasses, her hair was pulled into a bun, and she had a shawl pulled across her shoulders. And the funny thing is, my father’s grandmother was known for her appetite – even in her 90’s – so visions of her standing by the fridge are rather hilariously on the mark!
So, although she had passed, my great-grandmother was still checking on my father. But alas he had moved house, and she was obviously wondering where he’d gone.
Now my mother eventually told me this story years later when I was an early-mid teen. My brother, Ross, had been there at the time as well and I remember us looking at each other wide-eyed and, to be honest, a little freaked out. I distinctly remember my brother saying ‘I wish you hadn’t told us that!’. Of course for the next little while we found ourselves scouring every room we entered for her presence – you know, just in case she found our new address…
Now, however, I look back on that story with warmth. The fact that a love, a family bond could be so strong as to hold through different worlds, different realms, is really quite phenomenal. If I hadn’t dreamed that dream of my own grandmother, or heard this story of my father’s grandmother, I probably wouldn’t have believed in ghosts or the afterlife. But now I have, I find it hard to ignore.
Are ghosts real? Does the afterlife exist? Or is it simply that they live on in our hearts and minds and that is how we see them – that is what becomes the true place of the afterlife: within us. Based on my real life experiences, this is what I explore in the Aurora series with the character of Captain Saul Harris – whether or not that doorway exists.

Amanda’s website: http://amandabridgeman.com.au/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AmandaBridgemanAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bridgeman_books

 

Book Character Blog Tour from Felicity Pulman: win a book!

I morganaFellow author Felicity Pulman, who I tagged to take part in the Book Character Blog Tour that I participated in last week, now has her post up on her own blog. It’s about Morgana, the central character of her evocative Arthurian fantasy novel, I Morgana, published by Momentum. And three lucky readers can win a copy of the e-book of the novel, if you’re quick!

 

Meet My Character–it’s a blog tour!

Wendy JamesMy friend and fellow author, the wonderful writer Wendy James, has invited me on the Meet My Character blog tour.

Wendy is the author of six books, including The Lost Girls (2013) The Mistake (2012) and Out of the Silence, which won the 2006 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime fiction and was shortlisted for the Nita May Dobbie Award for women’s writing. She currently lives in Newcastle, New South Wales with her husband and two of their four children.

I’ve known Wendy for many years, ever since our youngest and her eldest child bonded at school! We met each other first as our sons’ mothers but soon became good friends, and when we were living in the same town, used to meet once a week for a pub lunch, family and literary gossip and much book talk! (I miss those lunches, Wendy!) We also read each other’s first drafts on occasion, and I certainly felt greatly encouraged by Wendy’s wise and thoughtful advice, and her passion for our craft.

And I enjoyed reading about her character Beth Mahoney, aka Dizzy Lizzy, from her forthcoming novel, The Golden Child.

Now it’s my turn to tag about the next two authors on the blog tour, as well as to write about my own character here. So I’ve invited Felicity Pulman and Michael Pryor to take the blog baton after me.

felicity-pulman-2011Felicity Pulman writes fiction for adults, young adults, and children. Her love of history and legend infuses her books, such as I, Morgana, based on Arthurian legend, and the Janna Mysteries, set in the tumultuous Middle Ages at the time of the fierce dynastic struggles of Stephen and Matilda. Felicity, who has won several awards, also writes crime short stories, and her time-slip novel for children, Ghost Boy, is currently being made into a film.

 

 

 

michael-pryor-colour-portrait-150x225Michael Pryor is the author of over twenty novels and many short stories, or adults, young adults and children. His books have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Aurealis Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy and the Ditmar Awards, and several of his titles have also been CBC Notable Books. His love of speculative fiction, the steampunk genre and alternative history led to him creating the extraordinary world of his very popular series, The Laws of Magic, set in the Edwardian period.

 

 

 

Now to my book character!

What is the name of your character?

Maxim Serebrov. He’s one of the main characters in Trinity: The Koldun Code.  I’ve decided to write about him because I’ve already written about the other two main characters, Helen Clement and Alexey Makarov. Maxim is an important character and some of the action is seen from his point of view.

Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Fictional.

When and where is the story set?

Today, in Russia.

What should we know about him/her?

Maxim is a homicide detective in the Moscow police. He is in his late thirties, has been married but now divorced, has no children. He’s a big, powerful-looking man–some people describe him as ‘bear-like’, he’s very intelligent but has something of a temper. He was brought up in a tough part of Moscow, saw military service in Chechnya, and lives in a rather crummy flat. Honest yet disillusioned, he battles daily to do his job honestly in the midst of danger and corruption.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his or her life?

Maxim’s life has been messed up by his job and the demands it places on him, but in the book, he’s also messed up by the fact his boss has taken him off the Trinity case, which he’s been struggling to try and solve. But Maxim is not a man to back down and so behind his boss’ back, he decides he’s going to try and crack it on his own.

What is the personal goal of the character?

To solve the mystery of the deaths of the three Trinity founders and later also to find out what lies behind the strange events that are happening.

Is there a working title for the novel, and can we read more about it?

It’s called Trinity: The Koldun Case, and it’s the first in the Trinity series. You can read more about it here. It’s available in print and ebook formats.

When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

It’s been published–in e book format on November 13, and print book format on December 4. And if you’re quick you might also be able to win a copy at the Goodreads giveaway, which lasts till December 17!

Below is a pic of book cover. And a pic of the actor I’d love to have playing Maxim in a film of the book–Alexander Iskakevich, who on screen has the same combination of strength, intelligence and stoicism.

Trinity Koldun Code coverMaxim serebrov alexander ivaskevich