The blog has been quiet, as I’ve had lots of time travelling, firstly to Brisbane, for school and bookshop visits, followed by an unexpected (short notice) trip to Singapore to catch up with our son (briefly!) and experience the richly diverse country that he is calling ‘home’.
One morning in Singapore I was delighted to discover a long-tailed macaque monkey in the bushes by our motel pool. Seeing animals in zoos (like the luscious Singapore Zoo, which we did enjoy later in the week – with monkeys!) is always lovely – but when they pop up, in the wild… that is super-something-special! I snapped lots of pics of our furry friend.
A little later, a comment on an Instagram post reminded me that this was Notables Day – when the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) announced the longlist of books for the 2018 Book of the Year Awards. I had been monkeying around, completely unawares… Curious, I checked Twitter to see who had made the list… My Notifications had gone a little crazy, (And so did I!) because ‘Too Many Friends’ was named as a Younger Readers Notable Book – the first time, I’ve had a book on the longlist!
I think the surprise factor will always be my favourite part of this memory – and the monkey! I love that I was hanging out with a monkey, blissfully unaware of this auspicious news!
(I hope there are many more monkeys in my future! 😉 )
It was so lovely to catch up with fellow UQP author, Pip Harry for a celebration at Sarnies the next day. Pip is an Aussie author living in Singapore, and her YA novel, ‘Because of You’ made the Older Readers Notables list, so there were smiles all round! And such fun to share the joy, so far from home!
There are so many great books on the list – from friends and writers I have long admired. I am still mighty chuffed to be sharing space with them!
This post is a part of the Poetry Friday link-up around the blogosphere.
You’ll find more poetry posts, including Tips for Teachers, at Today’s Little Ditty.
I am always getting caught out with Carol Varsalona’s Seasonal Poetry Collections – because I’m not ‘living’ in the season at the time poems are being collated. Last week I went trawling past photos taken during Winter in Australia (June/July/August). Here are a couple of poetry bites I’m happy with, for the current collection. You’ll note there is no snow in my winter poems. 🙂 (There is no snow, in my winter! 😦 )
This week, of course… The Moon.
I’ve never actually set out to photograph the moon before – and will always see it differently, now.
Last week Irene Latham shared some poems inspired by a prompt in the book, POEMCRAZY: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan G. Wooldridge. Irene’s words, heart and wisdom were inspiring, and worthy of reading, here. The task was to 1) name an object, 2) describe it, likening it to something else, then, 3) ask it to bring you a quality it has. Whilst my poem was inspired by an evening with the super blue blood moon, it kept reverting back to the purity of the full moon, before it was cast into shadow… (And truth be told, my blood moon photos are not very good.)
I’m curious to know if you recognise my moon from your part of the world. 🙂
This week I’ve been super-productive with my picture books. I put the final polish on a picture book manuscript inspired by this little bird on our trip to Antarctica, then shared it with the lovely, talented and passionate children’s librarian, Kim Yeomans, who delighted me when she described it as, ‘a ‘quiet’ story with depth and light and shade. It ebbs and flows with tension and emotion.’
For a complete contrast, I then worked on a rhyming picture book I’ve had in my head for some time – well, I’ve had a four-lined repeating stanza, but that was all. I was thrilled when the rest of it romped out midweek, pure silliness and fun, and exactly the riot I was hoping it would be.
Alas, this then happened …
Which still makes me giggle … and blush! Whatever does the courier guy think???!? (The hazards of living in a rural location, where you can be loud and proud and not worry about the neighbours, when you ROAR! 😳)
On that cheerful note, as promised last week, I leave you with two more lai poems, these written over the New Year weekend. What is a lai? You can read more here. (I conformed with syllables but broke some rules with line breaks, in ‘Go Fly’.) They are definitely a form I will delight in revisiting in future.
Today is Australia Day, so I’m off with friends climbing Mount Larcom — hoping for clear skies and a cool breeze, so we can enjoy a view over Gladstone Harbour and scattered islands; a little portion of this beautiful country that we are fortunate enough to call home. Who knows what poetry that will inspire?
Afternote: I am now exhausted but triumphant after a 3am start to conquer the mountain. Alas, the peak was shrouded in mist for the duration, so perhaps we were the losers after all … although it was cool! #win (More pics on my Insta-story, if you’re quick; @Kat.Apel)
I will be in Brisbane during February – doing the author thing; school and bookshop visits, catching up with writing peeps and publishers, writing … and all sorts of good things!
If you’re a principal/teacher/librarian interested in a school visit, I still have spaces available. More information here; Bookings Open 2018.
I will be conducting a workshop and Q&A session for teachers and teacher-librarians at Riverbend Books on Friday evening, 16th February, with specific activities to engage students across ages and curriculum areas. For more information, phone: 07 3899 8555, or email: email@example.com.
If you’re a budding young poet, you can join me for a poetry workshop at Where The Wild Things Are Bookshop on Saturday, 17th February. Make a plane that is powered by words. Use scissors and glue to create poetry, then hunt for treasure in the Avid Reader’s garden. Tickets are $15, which includes your own copy of Too Many Friends, and all workshop materials. For more information, or to make a Booking, click the link; Kids’ Poetry Workshop Event, or phone: (07) 3255 3987.
Looking forward to finding myself in yet another instalment of the Country Girl Meets City adventure series. Mayhaps you’ll join me. 😉
2017 was a huge year for our family. So many milestones and achievements for our two lads. We never could have imagined what an exciting year it would be! These last few months I have put writing on hold to immerse myself in the mum-moments. To relive and create new memories. 2018 will bring time in abundance to write … 2018 is our year of Change.
To be honest, I struggle with change. I miss special things that will never be the same – even when it’s change for the best of reasons. Though I have been soooo excited for both our lads and the opportunities that await them this year, eight days before the eldest’s departure, it hit me. Things were never going to be the same again. Life was entering an exciting and different stage. There would be … change!
I may have cried … for days … (And that was before he left.) There may have been times I thought I would choke on my sadness. Squeezing tight then letting go may have been one of the hardest things I’ve done. He may have flown over the oceans; so far away – for so long. And I may have survived! I may even be smiling again. Change may not have been as bad as I had imagined … (I should have learnt this by now.)
Which is just as well, because that is only the first of the changes in store for our family this year!
This post is a part of the Poetry Friday link-up. The poetry form I’ve played with is the lai – a French style following an AAB rhyme scheme over three 3-lined stanzas. The first two lines have 5 syllables, and the third has 2 – and there are only the two rhymes used throughout. You can read my first lai, about willie wagtails, here. I’ve enjoyed writing lais for different photos taken over the new year period – so expect to see more, in coming weeks. 🙂
For their November text, the Younger Sun Bookshop Kids’ Book Club, in Melbourne, read ‘Too Many Friends’. After the reading and discussion, they sent me some questions – not just about ‘Too Many Friends’, but about some of my other verse novels, as well. I thought I’d include them in a blog post, in case other kids have similar questions.
Ella (right) wrote; We have just finished our Kids’ Book Club where we were discussing ‘Too Many Friends’ and the kids all LOVED it! They thought the poems looked a bit scary at first, but once they started reading they really loved the story and found it was just as easy to read as a regular novel.
I thought it was important to include this, because it’s something I hear often. The verse novel format looks intimidating… but isn’t! It’s not until you pick up the book and start reading that you discover this for yourself. That’s why wonderful booksellers like Ella are so important! I’m so grateful you supported these kids with such a rich introduction to verse novels, Ella!
Now – the questions…
Tori – Was ‘Bully on the Bus’ based on your life or someone who you knew?
(They are very excited to read your other two verse novels)
‘Bully on the Bus’ was inspired by some things that happened to my boys on their school bus when they were very little. I realised that what is scary for a small child sometimes isn’t seen as scary by adults. I wanted to write about a situation that makes kids feel sad or unsafe – and write it in such a way that the adults could understand their fear. Writing Leroy’s story sparked a whole lot of memories of things that happened on my school bus as a child – the words spoken and the tone of voice, the looks on the bullies’ faces, and the way they made me feel. I’d forgotten them for many years – but they were still tucked away deep inside.
Eliza – Why do you write about young people and not about adults?
(Eliza thought it was pretty incredible that you could write a young person so well when you’re not one yourself anymore! You must have a really good memory, she says.)
This is pretty special to hear, Eliza. Great observation! For the record, I remember feelings and atmosphere. But I’m not so good on precise details!
As to your question … I write about young people because they’re the stories that touched my heart with a need to be told. Being surrounded by kids has probably helped to give me the voice of varied child-characters. Many of the characters in ‘Too Many Friends’ were a blend of kids who have come through my classes over the years – with a little bit of me-as-a-kid in some of them, too. Maybe I never grew up. 🙂
Ruby – What got you into writing?
I fell down the writing hole when I was at home with my two young boys. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mum, but I needed something for myself, too. (Otherwise, I might have gone a little bit crazy!) We’d been reading heaps of kids’ books – but very few of them were FUN reads that accurately reflected our rural Australian way of life … so I started writing them. As my boys grew, so did my writing.
Rory – Why do you write verse novels and not regular novels?
I started writing picture books, and poetry. (What was I thinking?! They’re both very hard to sell!) Picture books are usually 600 words, maximum, though many of my PB manuscripts are 250wrds. Any time I thought about writing a novel, I’d panic. So many words!! How would I fill a book, without listing everything they ate for breakfast, lunch and tea?
Then I discovered verse novels. And loved them. And started writing them … and loved them even more! They’re not as overwhelming as a novel. Each poem is complete within itself. I can do that!
The first verse novel I started to write was ‘On Track’ – but I only wrote 139 words before I got overwhelmed and put it away … for 9 months! Then over the course of a month, it grew to 653 words … and was put away again for another long stint. It took 6 years to write ‘On Track’. I’m very relieved to say I have got much more confident and productive with my writing, since then! But I don’t know that I’ll be writing novels any time soon. Certainly not for adults! (I’ve still got too many verse novels in the works.)
Sebastian – Why are you scared of cows?
I think that saying, ‘Once bitten, twice shy’ was written just for me. I learn from my mistakes. And never forget …
Thank-you Ella, for co-ordinating the Kids’ Book Club, and introducing young readers to a new genre, then helping them unlock the treasure of a verse novel. I’m delighted you included ‘Too Many Friends’ – loved hearing the feedback and answering the questions.
I’m so glad you bookclub kids are keen to read my other verse novels, too. Sally Murphy, Lorraine Marwood and Sherryl Clark also write beautiful Australian verse novels, that I’m sure you’d enjoy!
For the full Poetry Friday round-up for the week, head over to Carol’s Corner. Thanks, Carol!
Poetry and lyrical language can help to take a nonfiction topic that might not be inherently interesting to certain kids (or adults) and offer them new ways to understand and appreciate it.
I recommend you skip across for a read, because it’s in-depth, insightful and inspiring. Thank-you so much to Michelle and Carol for sharing.
The challenge for the month on Today’s Little Ditty (as a result of that post) is; write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.
After the rain the summer night rings with a cacophonous chorus of courting creatures – but it was only recently that I learnt that the particularly mellow/melodic burble that both delights and drives me a little crazy (keeping me wired when I’m trying to relax into sleep…) is … the invasive cane toad! And who knew, until peeping at this pic, that toads have such a jewel of an eye? An eye for beauty? In the eye of the beholder?
I also didn’t know, until recently, that America shares Australia’s problem with the cane toad, following it’s introduction (there too) for control of cane beetles. And here I thought we were alone in that silly mistake.
Jane the Raincity Librarian will be singing her own sweet songs this week, hosting the Poetry Friday round-up and celebrating the recent release of her picture book, ‘Wild One’.
After being inundated with rain (we had 18 1/2 inches – almost 500mm – in 3 days) and being unexpectedly flood-bound (but not flooded!) – my week disappeared in a gush!
But I’m singing in the rain today (err… it’s actually fine and sunny…) because – what a shock! – my name and my words are currently up on billboards around Brisbane, with thanks to @qldwriters. I never ever dreamt of that happening! (For my overseas #PoetryFriday peeps, Brisbane is the capital of my home state, Queensland.)
I’m a long way from Brisbane, so can’t see any in real life, but (YaY!) they have goacam – so I can see it, in real time! (You can too, at; http://www.goacam.com.) Below are some screenshots I’ve snapped. I’d LOVE to see any pics that folks living in Brisbane might happen to catch!
Proof that no writing is ever wasted – my #8wordstory is a reworked haiku from my first ever Month of Poetry – which was in fact a Month of Haiku.