My Writing Process (never a dull moment) Blog Tour

Thank you to talented and all-round lovely person, author, Julie Fison who has invited me to be part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Julie, along with several other well-known children’s authors lives in my suburb in Brisbane, Queensland. Must be something in the water! I write children’s novels, short stories, chapter books, school plays and flash fiction for adults. Okay, so here goes…. my Writing Process

What am I working on?
I usually have several things on the go – like just completing the final edit for new chapter book, The Magic Globe (due out mid-2014), working on my 52,000 word novel, Sweet Adversity, seeing my children’s play, Rosie, hero of Eggstown get published in the Irish kids’ publication, Through the Looking Glass Magazine. I’m also writing an adult flash fiction story a week for my 52-Week Flash Fiction Challenge blog this year. It’s been totally manic, but I love creating these short/short stories around a word theme. This week’s word was ATONE. Tricky, but I’m happy with the result.

52 week flash fiction imageMy main focus in the first half of 2014 is to complete the final polish of Sweet Adversity – an historical adventure set in the Great Depression in Australia. It’s for 10-13 year olds (and adults who like reading kids’ novels, haha. Yeah, that’s all of us, isn’t it?)

In 2013, this manuscript won a SCBWI International RA/ARA Work of Outstanding Promise award – a generous grant that’s helped me travel to Canberra’s National Library to research the affect of the Great Depression on Australian children.

Sweet Adversity means so much to me – its real-time history flavour; its protagonist, Addie McAlpine, a feisty and talented runaway from an orphanage; her pet galah, Macbeth, a bird with a repertoire of Shakespearean quotes; two twisted adults who’ll do anything in their power to get what they want from Addie, and a quest to the death.

I’ve always loved the language and drama of Shakespeare’s plays – from right back when, as a student, and a troop of Shakespearean actors arrived on a train in my tiny, Queensland outback town. They played The Merchant of Venice. One of them (apparently) was a young Geoffrey Rush. Of course, there are other influences surrounding this work-in-progress. Hope you get to read it in the real one day!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write with a slight literary style (I do love the magic and rhythm of words), but I keep in mind the reader’s enjoyment of the story is what matters in the end. Some say I have a great feel of writing the landscape of my stories – you’ll have to read them to see what that means. I’m also an artist, so landscapes have been significant in my life – sensory observation is second nature now, especially of some places that have left indelible impressions on my mind.

Earthquake country, California.

Earthquake country, California. Oil on board

I also like to make my stories a little different – like in Secrets of Eromanga, a junior fiction contemporary novel set on a fossil dig near Winton, Queensland. Every alternate chapter jumps back 350 million years to document the life story of a courageous, young female ornithopod called Wintonopus latomorum.

As I wrote, I became as attached to that gentle dinosaur as I did to Ellie, my human character. And like the kids who read the book, deeply felt Wintonopus’s ultimate demise.

An adventure set on a western Queensland fossil dig. Suitable for upper-primary readers.

An adventure set on a western Queensland fossil dig. Suitable for upper-primary readers.

How does your writing process work?
It depends on what I’m writing. I get ideas all the time – sometimes they cellar like a good wine until formed into a story. Other times, those impulses grow silver wings and off they go. Still, I do edit and rewrite MANY times. I’ve submitted manuscripts before they’re ready. But I’m learning to be patient nowadays. I like to start with a plot plan/outline (so I know the ending, sort of), then let my imagination free reign to think laterally.

I love the editing process – that’s when my brain really fires up. Sometimes I end up with a plotline that is nothing like I thought it would be. Very exciting!

I also enjoy being part of the wider world of children’s books – with a two-year stint as a Board Director of The Australian Society of Authors, and as an Assistant Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in the Australia East/New Zealand region (SCBWI).

Playing a leadership role in our children’s writing world is like adding grease to the squeaky wheel of authorship.

I’ve met people – other authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and librarians – they’ve helped increase my desire to write the best I can, they give me encouragement in those ‘down times’, they help feed my quest for knowledge, and they’re fun to be with – what more could an author ask for?

Coming up soon … an author and an illustrator I know you’ll love to know more about. Names revealed soon!!

Sign on to support Writers for Refugees!

sherylgwyther:

Are you a writer concerned about the Australian government’s cruel and inhumane stance on asylum seekers? Click to read this blog and add your name to the growing list of authors.

Originally posted on Writers for Refugees:

writers4refugees

Writers for refugees is a small grass-roots organisation committed to protesting the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in the current political climate; we want prominent writers, academics and journalists to join us in speaking out against policies of mandatory detention, offshore processing and the elimination of the prospect of permanent resettlement in Australian for people who arrive here by boat. The group was founded in December 2013 by fiction writer Kalinda Ashton and poet and spoken word artist Benjamin Solah. We welcome new members and ask writers to use their public profiles to draw attention to this issue and to foreground their dissent to these policies.

You can help by signing on to our online statement and committing to reading this statement at your public events, book signings, launches and author talks. We also have a forum forthcoming to launch writers for refugees. Stay tuned for more details.

Click…

View original 2,066 more words

Pixels made flesh

sherylgwyther:

march16

I don’t usually re-blog someone else’s blog post on my own, but this one from political commentator, David Horton is worth sharing, for the sake of our beloved country and for all of us. Read and share if you care.  

Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.  Winston Churchill.

Originally posted on The Watermelon Blog:

“What do we want?”
“A slogan.”
“When do we want it?”
“Now.”

Went to the Canberra “March in March” protest today, so need to write about it. Everyone else has written about their own experiences among the 100,000 plus people who marched in cities and towns all over Australia in last three days, so I should too. 100,000 people, by the way, virtually ignored by the media (except to complain about one or two signs, out of thousands, with a rude word or two, in order to discredit the event), but whose actions, just 6 months into the term of a new government, are unprecedented.

The Canberra event was much like the other events everywhere. It all had a pleasantly amateurish feel – no professional protesters or rent-a-crowd here. Ordinary people with no second names (“I’m Jim” “I’m Lisa” and so on) standing in front of an “open mic”, most…

View original 1,132 more words

To do or not to do … a.k.a. submitting a story

It feels strange to finally send off a story to publishers – especially a story that links to Australian actor, Geoffrey Rush (in an odd way).

I’ve worked on this manuscript for many years – it’s got a new name, and been changed in so many ways since I blogged about it in 2010. Part of me fears for its future, part of me rejoices in the fact it’s out there under the glare of lights. And the eyes of editors. It’s now called Sweet Adversity. (If you’re into Shakespeare, you’ll get that reference).

FEBRUARY 10 2010 Several weeks ago, I finished my mentorship novel, McAlpine & Macbeth with the Australian Society of Authors Mentorship . It was a fantastic experience – from learning more on the craft of writing from my mentor, Sally Rippin, to researching the Great Depression in Australia, to putting the final polish to a story that inched its way into my life like a stray child.

Mostly, it has been a labour of love over seven years. But there have also been times when the manuscript annoyed the hell out of me. Then it sat in the naughty chair in the corner, out of sight, out of mind. When the plotting got too difficult, I let other stories slip into its place as the ‘Work-in-Progress’. It sat there on the shelf, glaring at me for months, but then offering possibilities of plot-solving and pushing the characters further than I had before.

It tantalised me every time I saw an article about Shakespeare, or recognised a quote from one of his plays (you may have guessed from the title, it owes more than a little allegiance to The Bard). Like Macbeth, a pet galah in my story, Shakespeare’s magical mixture of spoken aloud words in his Plays captivate me.

My subversion to William Shakespeare happened when I was a student at a country school in regional Queensland in the late 1960s. One day, a troupe of travelling Shakespearean actors arrived in town on the train. We students sat on hard seats under the tin roof of the town hall – pesky and smelly and ready to dismiss it as a waste of time. But then the actors began The Merchant of Venice.

By the end of Act 1 you could’ve heard a pin drop on the splintery floor. I found out years later that one of those actors was the young Geoffrey Rush.

There is another reason I was determined to complete this story with its runaway girl, Shakespearean-quoting galah and a perfect pair of villains.

I have a close family link to that mostly unknown part of Australian history – the travelling actors who brought live drama to outback towns in the late 1880s.

Three generations ago, 18 year-old Lavinia Margaret McAlpine, and her father, Daniel travelled through northern New South Wales, part of an acting troupe. They didn’t confine themselves to Shakespeare – they also put on plays by demand. Like Ten Nights on a Bar-Room Floor. Paid for no doubt by the local chapter of the Anti-Alcohol Society.

There are other hand-me-down stories of Lavinia’s life – and a couple of them have inspired events in my story. I could tell you more, but it will have to wait for the day my story finally meets a publisher who will fall in love with it.

FEBRUARY 26 2014  Sweet Adversity work-in-progress was awarded a SCBWI International Work-of-Outstanding-Promise grant in September 2013. I’m using the money to travel to the National Library in Canberra to continue research in the best place in Australia to find out more of the Great Depression’s affect upon children.

I’ll never give up on this story. I owe it to the indomitable spirit of Lavinia Margaret McAlpine and Geoffrey Rush not to.

Stirring the pot…and the plot – Goldie Alexander tells all. PART 2

Continuing PART 2 of my interview with Goldie Alexander, award-winning Australian author and mentor. In this part, Goldie airs her views on small publishers, literary prizes, eBooks and the future of hard-copy children’s books. images2

Q. You mentioned that you felt creators who use small publishers have little chance of winning literary prizes. How does an author continue a creative flow with this knowledge hovering in the background?

Yes, it’s discouraging as so much emphasis is also placed on the quality of the actual hard copy, the editing, paper, illustrations, the typeface, the thickness of the cover and whether the author and the company are well known. 

Small companies have to invest a lot of cash and mostly this doesn’t come off. For example, a book may cost a small company anything up to $10 for each copy. To enter the CBCA awards, they must post 10 copies and a cheque for $99.00 – a further four copies and another $99.00 to enter the information award.

images1 Let’s say a company has put out half a dozen books. The costs become astronomical and the gamble akin to playing the pokies. Also, as committees must agree it is always easier to pick a company and a name no one will disagree with, so the same people tend to pick up the same prizes. This is not meant as sour grapes, merely an observation.

The invention of the eBook has set the cat amongst the pigeons. Few awards so far permit eBooks to enter apart from perhaps the Aurealis Science Fiction. Their argument is that not every school has computers, but I think this is no longer valid. Perhaps judges find it hard to read on line. Many adults do. Then how do you judge the presentation of a book when there’s nothing to hold apart from your iPad or Kindle? 

 Q. How do you see the future of children’s books, and your own adaptability, in light of the current publishing climate?

If I haven’t already created an army of enemies by my above comments, I think all books will gradually ease into eBooks as young readers continue to use computers. I come across toddlers reading and playing on their mothers’ iPads. Imagine what this generation will do when they are old enough? imagesHopefully, there will still be a place for beautifully presented literary and coffee table hard-copies. However, there is surely room for both, certainly in the story picture book area which is undergoing a splendid revival.

Q. Goldie, you’ve written many genres. What other areas of writing have you covered in your career?

I’ve tried everything apart from film scripts, adult plays and graphic novels.  I co-wrote with Hazel Edwards numerous plays and non fictions including ‘The Business of Writing for Young People.’ Lots of my adult short stories and non-fiction pieces have won prizes and appeared in print and on the web. Some of my adult work has been heard on radio and some recorded on CD’s. My monologues have been performed on stage. 4

Q. You write a weekly Blog for Emerging Creators, taking in many levels of readership and genre. (www.goldiealexander.com/blog What major points do you cover in your advice? What sort of feedback do you get?

Thankfully I have lots of feedback, or I wouldn’t bother keeping up. I also enjoy interviewing other creators. Some weeks that turn into fortnights because I run out of time.

I have taught creative writing in one form or other for 18 years and have mentored through the ASA, some excellent emerging authors. I love teaching almost as much as I adore writing and am happy to continue doing this until everyone gets tired of me. I also add comments on my blog about books I have recently read.

Sometimes feedback comes in Chinese, or another language, and is badly computer translated. I do enjoy reading these. My blogs try to cover all the rules a writer should know before they throw them out the window. Right now I am running some fascinating interviews with other authors.

Q. Goldie, is there anything more you would like to add that we haven’t touched upon?

Only in that I would love readers to look up my website and blog, both newly created by Jin Wang. And please write to me via my blog or email address which you will find on my website www.goldiealexander.com

If you are a teacher I would love to be invited to talk to your students. There are lots of potential topics and workshops on my website. If you know an adult club that might be interested, please do the same. 

         www.goldiealexander.com/blog