Well lately everything has changed, but once I've established a routine I can pick out the things that matter most to me and one of those 'things' is writing.
So my new verse novel 'Foot prints on the Moon' has been undergoing lots of re-writing, cuts with polish, until the main character Sharnie, is truly the focus. This novel has a multitude of themes but now with some wonderful suggestions from my publisher and editor the story line is tighter. A bit tricky with a verse novel as there is a fine balance between the poetry and the narrative.
But the subject matter and the time frame demand a poetic touch, an extra dimension as the story unfolds.
What else have I been doing? Going through very, very old journals- my first writing journals as a teenager and scanning or feeding to the compost bin.
A surprise is that some themes then are the themes I still embrace now. And look at the wonderful covers of my journals- I have saved them and will re-use maybe as junk journals which I am itching to try.
Writing still matters greatly to me and its the humming line, the breathing line, the joyous line through each day.
My grandson Louis has found a book connection with my dog Monti- "Look Monti a book about you!"
On the writing front I have a new book scheduled for publication this year but it still has lots of work ahead, but love the main character Sharnie- a longer verse novel for an older age group with lots of subplots and issues. This book began life many years ago and has been transforming- I think this is the way I tend to work- by the seat of my pants! So a new pin board (reclaimed from the recycle tip) and covered by a fabric hessian scrap, may help me to navigate the rollicking waters of plot, character arcs, character growth and sub plots!!!!!
Meanwhile my garden begins to take shape and these are the first blueberries we have ever grown.
And our sadness at the terrible tragedy of our bushfires often results in helplessness at the plight of so many needing help- what can we do? We can write, we can pray, we can donate and we can plant and carefully recycle and reuse. As a writer my words are often recycled, my ideas often recycled until they reach a satisfactory outcome. Little things, little works, little poems, little prayers all make a difference. What do you recycle?
It's August and book week looming has a special sweetness this year, but before that I am involved in my home ground production of the Bendigo Writers' festival- the schools session 'Text Marks the spot'.
I am talking with my friend Glenda Millard and hosted by a long time journalist friend Lauren Mitchell. We will be talking writing legends- mainly those created by our words and it will be fun.
I am also talking in a session about judging and entering competitions, with Sarah Mayor Cox and Susan Green. There are great opportunities out there for budding writers and we will look at universal suggestions when entering a competition.
But I was part of an interesting podcast by Tracey Grice for the shortlisted books in CBCA awards this year. I am enjoying listening to other authors also- what a great initiative Tracey!
The past two months have seen hyper activity with my book 'Leave Taking'.
The cover now sports two stickers, a shortlisted CBCA and a short listed NSWPLA.
I was able to go on the train to Melbourne for the announcement of the CBCA shortlisting. I had to use a crutch as my knee was still in recovery mode. But what a buzz to hear 'Leave Taking' read out as a shortlist in the junior fiction category and to be in such good company with other authors.
Then last Monday(29th 0f April) Kel drove us to Sydney for the announcement of the NSW Premier's literary awards- 'Leave Taking' was shortlisted in this. A fabulous night of meeting authors, judges, friends and learning more about the current writing scene.
Then the announcement that Claire Saxby with her book "Dingo' was a joint winner of the Patricia Wrightson award for children's fiction with my book 'Leave taking'. Of ouches I didn't have a speech prepared but delivered one of thanks to the team at UQP. And oops forgot my family!
What a difference an award makes to all those years of writing! And hopefully 'Leave Taking' will go on to help children and families riding the crest of grief.
It's always a tension filled time waiting to see if your book has made it to the Notables list of the CBCA awards. At 7 pm when the awards were announced on the website, the web page wouldn't load for awhile, then slowly it revealed 'Leave Taking' was nestled in the younger readers category.
So it has been exciting times and a boost to keep writing, keep writing. And reading. I am loving reading books listed in the same category as mine and have enjoyed Shine Mountain by Julie Hunt and Maya and Cat by Caroline Magerl and of course celebrated with my good friend Claire Saxby with Dingo. Exciting times in the world of Children's literature, I should say Australian children's literature.
And best of all there is a new verse novel in the wings for me!
What a well used phrase! Yes a new year with a very hot summer, a new knee replacement and new energy to write. I have been away from my blog for too long and want to share some of the writing events and other creative events that have happened in the interim.
I was a guest speaker at the Melbourne ALEA conference in November and spoke on empathy in books, namely 'Leave Taking'.
I had a poem published in the anthology 'To End All Wars' Puncher and Wattman.
Took workshops and edited a collection of memory stories at my old home town of Dingee. A book is the result for the participants and an exciting launch next week.
Beavered away in my craft room for a monumental bounty of Christmas gifts for my big family and 12 grandchildren- how I love craft!
Made toy bagpipes for an eager Grandson
Love hand sewing- made a toy set using Gingermelon pattern
Beautiful flowers waiting for me in my room after surgery- from my Church friends!
The World War one anthology!
So this is a little taste of the end of year activities and New Year ones! I hope to be more regular with posts! (No not a resolution, but a real hope!)
Yah! "leave Taking' was released on Monday 2nd of July, so Katrina Nannestad came and helped me celebrate with a mini afternoon tea.
Flowers, a gorgeous candle and heartfelt words on a card. Great chatter and laughter.
The same day my article which the brilliant Jean at UQP scouted down for me, appeared on the Guardian site. It was very difficult to write and share but provided a type of reason as to why I would chose the topic of grief for a children's book.
An emotional day, a happy day to see my book out in the wide world of bookshops and available to readers.
I love UQP's back blurb where leave taking is defined as a noun and is the act of saying goodbye.
My book! Yah!
What a journey to reach publication and beyond- I've already had a couple of reviews and the artwork by Peter Carnavas is delightful. I will get to actually meet Peter next month when I travel to Brisbane and then onto Voices on the Coast to present workshops and a talk.
Our farming background provides wonderful rich material for the setting of 'Leave Taking'.
Little incidents that my children created are also woven into the fabric of farm life for Toby.
UQP are providing wonderful publicity opportunities so this little book can shine.
Of course it comes at an emotional cost. The grief is palpable but then so is the hope and the celebration of moving on.
I sincerely hope it touches many hearts young and old.
I love that inspiration is like a beautiful cutting taking sometimes years to strike and flourish.
So here is to a little snatch of words with the right tone and emotion begun in 2003, then woven into a verse novel in 2016, doubled under the suggestions of wonderful Kristina and wonderful Vanessa of UQP to now begin the publication process out into bookshops on July 2nd this year! Yah!
Peter Carnavas has re-created Toby visually and his journey of 'Leave Taking'.
I am thrilled with the cover.
The novel was written with a May Gibbs Literature trust fellowship in Brisbane. Sometimes as writers, we need blocks of time to immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of the novel. Much soul searching, tears and a wonderful feeling of release all came together to propel Toby on his journey.
Recovering from cancer is huge and this is my recovering from breast cancer novel. I hope it inspires many children and families to journey from grief, from changes into a new season of growth and celebration.