I spy… The Bully!

Bully on the BusI’m so excited to share the gorgeous cover for ‘Bully on the Bus’ with you!

As if that’s not exciting enough… HOLDING that shiny-new book is even better! Who knew that an advance copy would hop into my letterbox this week? Not me!!

Leroy’s story always clutches at my heart. Reading it as a book squeezes every ounce of happy right up and bubbling out of me.
BullyCover

Pssst… Hop over to win your copy on Goodreads;
www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/87680-bully-on-the-bus.

Cover Art/Design: Jo Hunt
Publisher: UQP
Release Date: July 2014

Reasons to smile!

Tagged – Blog Tour

I’ve been tagged and today I’m ‘it’ in the Author Process blog tour. My friend Chris Bell caught me, and I confess to being a little surprised that she could drag herself away from her research long enough to answer the questions last week… and play tag too! (I think that’s how she caught me. Unawares. :P )

Chris BellChris Bell is a historical writer and she loves research – so much so that occasionally she forgets she’s supposed to be writing, as she journeys back to life a century or two ago. She’s currently working on a YA historical novel set in convict Tasmania. Chris has written over thirty published books for children, including picture story, chapter and YA. Her contemporary YA novel, Jumping Through Hoops, won the CYA Published Author Prize 2011 and was longlisted in the international 2012 Mslexia Writing for Children Competition. Next month, she’s excited to be heading to Katoomba to take up a Varuna Retreat Fellowship to work on her YA novel. That’s exciting, Chris! I’m sure you’ll enjoy being pampered and inspired.

You can read more about Chris as she takes you from Hook to Book at christinemareebell.wordpress.com - including her post last Monday, where she talked about her writing process.

But now I’m ‘it’, so today I get to answer four questions about my writing process. Here goes…

1. What am I working on?

I’m currently working with the lovely Michele from UQP, putting final finishing touches on Bully on the Bus, my verse novel for younger readers, which is coming out in July. This is my first verse novel, and it’s a story that carries a huge chunk of my heart, so it’s all very exciting!

During the Month of Poetry in January, I started a new verse novel (my third) – something completely different for me, as it’s YA. I’m equal parts inspired and nervous. The story drew an encouraging response from participants in the MoP, so I’m hoping I can sustain it! That’s where the nerves come in …

And of course, there’s always a couple of picture books in the mix, too. Though they have taken a bit of a back seat in the last 12months, as I’ve worked on three different verse novels…

2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Calves

The rural flavour that comes across in much of my writing would be one signature trait. It’s subtly there in a lot of my writing – a background to the story, not THE story.

In my rhyming work, I think it would be the integrity of rhythm and rhyme. That tenacious desire to get it right  - not compromise with near rhymes and forced rhythms. The tricky bit is to be true to good poetry, but not at the expense of story. Sometimes I get it right, and other times … Well, I’m still working on those stories!

3. Why do I write what I write?

Lots of my picture books are purely for fun – the enjoyment of playing with words and story in a lively reading experience.

Both bogged!

The rural-ness comes into my writing because that’s what I know. I was born and bred on a farm, and then married a grazier … which does not mean I’m a farmer by any stretch, because cattle and horses still scare me witless. BUT – I am surrounded by farming stories from my hubby and sons. So much inspiration. (So much that can go wrong!) And it’s good for Australian farm kids to see themselves in stories, too.

More recently, I’ve been exploring the verse novel format, and these have all been emotive heart-stories that leave me feeling vulnerable – but also filled with hope. These stories are really resonating with others, giving them words they might not otherwise have been able to share.

4.  How does my writing process work?

I am not a planned or methodical writer. I usually jump in and write and then when I’ve found my rhythm/voice, I step back and think about where that story could go, and start to jot down possible scenarios – adding to this as the story unfolds.

The writing process can be a little fraught with tension along the way – with doubts in both my ability and the story – but the euphoria when things click perfectly into place is unmatched. And no-one is ever more surprised than ME!

Because I’ve spent so long writing picture books, I tend to get speed wobbles when I’m working on longer projects. I usually hit my first bump at 600wrds. Last year I surprised myself with my Bully edits, writing 2000 words in less than two weeks. I never knew I could do that! It was very empowering when I started writing my YA verse novel – which will require so many more words than anything I’ve ever written.

When I’m on a writing roll, my tweets stream out – and you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m procrastinating or distracted – when in reality I’m actually writing HEAPS, and just letting off a little bit of creative steam. Crazy, I know. But it seems to be the way it is.

I’m also a very polished draft-writer, which I think comes from writing so much in rhyme – when you need to get it right, before you progress, or the whole direction of the story could unexpectedly change. I can’t write a sloppy first draft, no matter what I write – and some days I may only write 100 words a day – but they’re generally GOOD words. I know you’re supposed to switch the internal editor off and just write … but I haven’t found that switch, yet!

Now it’s time for me to get snappy on my toes, and tag some authors to be ‘it’ next week…

Lorraine MarwoodLorraine Marwood is an author I have enormous respect for, but we’ve never met – though we’ve corresponded for 5 years. Lorraine writes poetry but also writes stories too. She has just written her sixth book for Walker – which will come out in 2015. Her verse novel ‘Star Jumps’ won the inaugural children’s literature section of the Prime Minister’s awards in 2010 – and I (Kat) remember the excitement of that day well! Lorraine takes lots of writing workshops using her own poetry techniques. She loves polishing the ordinary into something extraordinary. Lorraine lives in Bendigo with her husband and new puppy and often babysits one (or more) of her seven grandchildren.
.

Kaylene WestKayleen West is an online buddy who I met  more recently, via twitter. Kayleen’s childhood dream was to write and illustrate for children. But first she ventured into a career of an exhibiting fine artist, where her work won many awards and now hangs in private and corporate collections, in the Australian Embassy in Ireland, and in Australian government collections. Kayleen returned to her original passion in 2009. She is now the author/illustrator of the picture books, ‘Without Me?’ and ‘Adoptive Father’, and has illustrated the soon-to-be-released ‘Better than a Superhero’, written by Belinda Francis.  Kayleen is working on two more picture books for 2014 publication. She also writes content and illustrates for editorials. See more of Kayleen’s work at;  http://kayleenwest.com.au

Sandra PeutSandra Peut is one of the lovely writers I meet up with on an irregular regular basis, sharing writing sessions and chit-chat at the Bundaberg Library. Sandra began writing stories for her school friends when she was a young girl. Growing up she was a voracious reader, with friends and family describing her as always having her face buried in a book. Her first novel, ‘Blue Freedom’, received third place in the 2009 Rose & Crown New Novels competition, and was subsequently published by Sunpenny Publishing in 2010. It was also shortlisted for the 2011 Caleb Awards. Her second novel, ‘The Guardian’ (a YA paranormal romance) is in the final stages of editing. Watch her website for more details; www.sandrapeut.com 

And now, it’s over to you, girls. You’re ‘it’!

Month of Poetry 2014 Wrap-Up

Month of Poetry is over for another year – and on the blog was another awesome bunch of poets who connected, encouraged, extended and amazed, sharing their words so exquisitely honestly.  It’s always awesome to be a part of it, and to know that in creating this family-friendly space, I’m nurturing other writers, and giving back to a community that has given so much to me. January is the busiest and chattiest time of my writing year, and I love it!

I wrote a lot of varied poems this year, some that I’ll be polishing and sending out on submission soon, but I also made a solid start on my new WIP – another verse novel, but this one waaay out of my comfort zone, because it’s written for the YA audience… which is a totally new age group for me… and also going to ask for more words than I’ve ever written before.

I was very hesitant to post a lot of the poems related to the verse novel. I felt so raw… so vulnerable… each time I posted. Then was moved to tears (and excited yelps) many times with the wonderful, honest, and touching feedback I received. I had not expected the story to immediately resonate with others. Feel priveliged – entrusted with a precious gift – to have shared the experience of writing these initial stages with such a beautiful bunch of writers… of friends. My heart is full of gratitude.

To make a busy/productive month even BUSIER… I was also caught up in the task of checking first page proofs, and proofreaders copy, for my younger reader’s verse novel, Bully on the Bus, coming out in July this year with UQP. So exciting! And I’m so very thrilled with how it’s looking. It’s been an absolute pleasure working the UQP team.

And to top off a busy month, there was also an interview with Jodi vande Wetering on Rebecca McClaren’s ABC Qld Afternoon Show, where I got to talk about Month of Poetry AND  Bully on the Bus… I’ll let you know if the link is posted online. I’ve tried to put it up on the blog, but WordPress doesn’t seem to like MPEG files…

A climbing poem to finish, with thanks to Mary Lee Hahn who shared her own on Day 30, with a link to the instructions. Who could resist? This was my last poem for the Month of Poetry.

Climbing #MoP14

First of the first;
New Year burst through.
A thirst for words
versed (of birds, dogs
school, nerds* and more)
girds rapport. We
adored; immersed.

©  Kathryn Apel 2014

* Not as nasty as you may think. One of MoPpettes was a self-confessed word-nerd – and she versed it. :)

Clockwork Holidays – a poem

Clockwork Holidays

The clock has stopped. The bus has run.
School bags lie in wait, lunchboxes packed,
while uniforms hang about in dishevelment
and kids run free!

School bags lie in wait, lunchboxes packed
and stacked
away at the back of the cupboard.

While uniforms hang about in dishevelment,
waiting to be pressed into shape,
rumpled, crumpled comfy clothes are donned,

and kids run free!
No HW. No bedtimes. No alarms.
Unwinding as the clock… ticks… down… to… school.

 

My trimeric, for Day 23 Month of Poetry. We love the freedom of school holidays, and always feel a large slice of regret when the school year starts again.

A poem about a verse novel

Untitled reflections on writing Bully on the Bus – my Day 10 poem for Month of Poetry.

Seven years from inspiration
to  publication, and a zillion
edits in between.

How it grew
from chapter book
to verse novel,
from 1700wrds
to 7100wrds,
still amazes me;
that I could breathe life
into bare bones
so they pulsed with the heart
of story …

*breathless*

My computer tells the story
of every written and deleted
thought, word and phrase;
a draft of files as story developed,
each word tasted … weighted
before being placed
………………………………just
……………………………………….so.

Even now –
as we prink and primp
the layout of print
on page,
I twitch and tweak –
exclaiming over exclamation marks,
aligning line breaks
and pausing to ponder a comma.

Six years –
almost seven…

Soon to be
printed in ink
and e-

July!

Page proofs now perused
……………..…….polished
…       ..   ……parcelled up
……………..…and posted.

#BundyNYE

Phone Photo of Fireworks

Phone Photo of Fireworks

#BundyNYE

New Year’s Eve
and we wash down
the river bank;
colourful flotsam
bobbing along at the water’s edge,
laughter swirling
and caution whispered on the
cooled evening breeze.

Floodlights shine
on scarred remains
of ravaging floods;
concrete bones exposed in
cavernous shadows of earth;
bare slabs silent witness
to what
once
was.

Swept along in the ebb and flow of
a river of revellers; family,
friends, strangers and neighbours;
we flood the banks of the Burnett
as the heavens burst and
stars rain down like
fireworks.

Once again I’m co-ordinating a Month of Poetry, so you may see some snippets of my poems here throughout January. This was inspired by the Wide Bay Australia Bundy NYE Fireworks Spectacular – and the year that was.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Christmas Gifts

Our lads were very industrious between end-of-school-year and Christmas Day, with countless trips back and forth to the work shed, and a few consultations in between, as they worked to produce these amazing gifts!

Made by busy boys for Christmas.

Made by busy boys for Christmas.

1.  A lightweight guinea pig hutch for me to bring little visitors inside. Younger lad’s idea. Elder lad’s design and mostly the eldest’s manufacturing, with the youngest doing the paintwork. (Dad cut the base board.) I was blown away!

2.  Wooden box with inset knife sharpening stone made by eldest for Dad.

3.  ‘Tech-Box’ named lanyard by youngest for his big brother.

4.  Boot tops by youngest for Dad and Big Brother.

5.  Chain mail belt by eldest for Dad. (Eldest is in the process of making a full chain mail suit, as his school holiday project, but that’s another blog post.)

6.  A medieval dagger/sword made by eldest lad for little brother – and given somewhat sheepishly, as neither hubby nor I knew anything about this one!

7.  (Not pictured) A CD compilation for the grandparents, with 40 minutes of strings music from the various performances throughout the year.

There was heaps of joy in the giving – and receiving – of these wonderfully personal gifts. How blessed we all were!
All the cute!

All the cute!

Our gifts to the lads was a little tricky to wrap, so I gave them cryptic clues for them to solve first…
Can YOU guess what their gift was?

Can YOU guess what their gift was?

Any guesses?

Guest Author – Michelle D Evans

MichelleEvansI first met Michelle Dennis Evans through #pblitchat – a twitter-based chat I co-convened at the time, for those who loved or created picture books. Michelle has also been a participant in January Month of Poetry, which I co-ordinate each year – and we continue to interact on Twitter. Michelle has recently indie-published her YA Contemporary novel, Spiralling Out of Control – her first published work. Exciting times!

Given our connection through both poetry and picture books (and the fact that they’re the focus of my blog), I thought I’d ask some questions that stem from these commonalities.

But firstly, welcome Michelle, and congratulations on the release of Spiralling Out of Control. I imagine it has been a busy and exciting week for you, launching Stephanie’s story into the world.

Hello!!! I’m so excited to be here and not just chatting on Twitter or frantically punching out another poem in MoP! And, oh boy, yes! This week has been crazy, daunting, exciting and fun.

Has your experience in writing poetry and picture books influenced how you approach your novel writing?

Absolutely. The discipline needed to write concisely in picture books is also needed in novels. And when I found I just couldn’t get the beginning of my novel to work – I wrote a poem… and that poem is now the intro to Spiralling Out of Control. In fact, I have included several poems throughout this novel. Poems help me get my head around how the characters are really feeling.

Poetry and picture books are both genres that are very often read aloud. Do you read your YA writing aloud during the writing or editing process? How is this beneficial?

Yeah, I would probably read my manuscript out aloud at least three times -once while I’m making sure the story works, then a couple of times when proofreading. I pick up so much more when I read word for word out loud, and I also listen for some kind of natural rhythm to my sentences and paragraphs.

Picture books are very visual – the epitome of show, don’t tell – with illustrations to bring a character to life. While writing Spiralling Out of Control, how did you bring your characters to life and keep them real in your mind – so this could then be portrayed through your words?

I do keep a notepad in front of me with a page of notes and a very messy mind map to help me remember the basic details. I guess I keep the characters alive because I know their personality and their actions and reactions flow from my knowledge who they are.  When I first drafted Spiralling Out of Control, I distanced myself from the main character Stephanie, because what she goes through is quite painful, but with each revision I understood her more, loved her more and found myself wanting to rescue her.

Given our shared Month of Poetry history, I think it’s only fitting to ask you to write a poem (any form, any length) in some way inspired by Stephanie’s story.  It may be one you’ve included in the book, it may be something completely new…  but it has to be a poem.  (The taskmaster is here. :P)

So, I wrote this when I was in Stephanie’s head…

 

Get Me Out Of Here

 

The music pounding in my head

This place too wretched to find a friend

I’ll never ever find my place

I’ll never ever show my face

I’ll let this music blow my mind

It’s loud and fierce to steal the time

I know and want too much now

I won’t find it in this town

Spiralling-Out-of-Control

Just let me head south

Words stuck in my mouth

I want to scream

I scream in my dreams

I want to yell at you

Don’t tell me what to do

How could you misplace me?

I tell you and you don’t see

I’ll show you that I can

I’ll go and live with my friend

I’ll rule my own life

I’ll keep out of strife

Play this music

To hide my emotion

I don’t want your attention

Get me out of here

Never leaving is my fear

To you I have nothing to give

I want out, I want to live

 

There’s a lot of anger and angst in Stephanie’s voice there, Michelle. A real cry for help…

Where can people buy Spiralling out of Control and read more of Stephanie’s story? Is it only available electronically, or is it also available in book form – or is that something that is coming soon?

At this point in time Spiralling Out of Control is only available as an ebook.

At only $1.99 you can buy one for yourself and a couple for your friends… hehehe

Purchase via my website MichelleDennisEvans.com or through Amazon.

Thank you so much for having me here on your blog, allowing me to share a poem and promote my novel today Kat. I can’t wait to hang out with you again in January with MoP … I have another verse novel idea bouncing around in my mind…

Thanks for visiting, Michelle – and for reminding me how fast January is approaching. ;) All the very best with your writing endeavours, and new book promotions. Enjoy!

A New Book Contract

ContractI’m delighted-excited to announce that my verse novel ‘Bully on the Bus’ has been contracted by UQP.

‘Bully on the Bus’ is one of those stories that takes a piece of your heart in the writing. It’s also been ‘a number of years’ in progress (a long time!) and benefitted from many in the supportive kidlit community, for which I say a huge and heartfelt thank-you.

I confess, I shed a tear when I heard that it had been accepted; such immensely satisfying news. I may also have whooped and hollered, some… but since you weren’t there, you’ll never know. ;)

I’m in awe that my little story has found such a wonderful home. Mayhaps one day soon it will find a home with you, too.

Related Posts:

http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/on-verse-novels-bullies-wonderful-winshttp://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/laying-the-words-down-on-the-page

Belated Book Week Post

Last week I had a skype visit with the Reception class at St John’s Grammar School in Belair, South Australia.  They had only started school four weeks earlier, and I was very impressed with their beautiful listening and excellent questions!

I usually have props that kids can use when I read ‘This is the Mud!’, but South Australia is a long way away, so I had to be a little bit silly and get into the act myself this time. Which is why I’m wearing cow horns/ears in that photo.

Kat - the cow

Thank-you Ms Germein for inviting me to visit your class, and for having your group so beautifully prepared in advance. It’s always lovely to talk to a class that has already read and enjoyed your book!

Cover Colour