AWW 2017 roundup and 2018 launch!

AWW-2018-badge-rose.jpgWith all good 2018’s comes a #AWW2018 challenge!

Challenge accepted!!

I’ve signed up for more of the same, please – read at least 10 books by Australian Women Writers and review at least six of these.

Piece of awesomesauce cake!

Looking back on #AWW2017 I did pretty well considering I was undertaking the hardest year of post grad study in the known universe (or so I thought…).

Here are the links to my reviews from last year – some fabulous reads from excellent Aussie authors:

A sequel that lived up to my ultra-excited expectations – ‘Gemina’

A great read for younger fans of fantasy – ‘Eve and the Runaway Unicorn’

Answer the call – ‘The Shark Caller’

Ponies + Mermaids = Gold… ‘Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn’

Entertaining and heart-warming – ‘The Memory Shed’

A super start to a defo non-fairytale fairy series: ‘Valentine’

Recommended reading for all teen girls – ‘Risk’

Fun and daring make for an ideal combo – ‘To the Lighthouse’

Superb book-hug: ‘Take Three Girls’

And even though she’s technically a kiwi (heck, so am I sort of) I’ll add in the wonderful A total YA package – the clever and crisp ‘Spark’

 

Have you taken up the challenge? Join us!

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Janowrimo – the busy writer’s solution to a hectic November!

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I spent Christmas holidays on Rottnest Island – glorious!

There’s so much going on at the back end of a year. Study, end-of-school stuff, holiday prep… rush, pack, buy, wrap, plan…

Sometimes, November just doesn’t feel like the best month to decide to write 50,000 words (Even though I do love Nanowrimo!!)

So I’ll share a little thing I like to do. I call it Janowrimo.

I mean, wow, how inventive am I??

I sit down and write 50,000 words in January. It’s a marvelous month where Christmas is over, school hasn’t started yet, and that heavy headdress of end-of-year strain has been replaced by a marshmallow-and-rainbows sort of freedom from whence springs great writing.

Last year, I didn’t manage to do Nanowrimo at all because of study commitments, so my 2018 Janowrimo is twice as important. I’m breaking with tradition this Janowrimo, and NOT (shock! horror!) aiming to write a single MS over the entire month. The first thing I’m aiming for this month is a chapter book involving some splendid gardening and unlikely friendships.

Wish me luck! Maybe even join with me?

Back on board… the keyboard that is!

Uni is over. And I don’t just mean the semester. Or the year.

I mean The Whole Thing! 

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I’ve spent this year getting a Grad Dip in secondary teaching, and last Friday I finished my final prac! Done, over, ended, complete, passed it (aced it!). I’m so proud of myself.

And… I can be a writer again. Because, believe me, much as I love it… writing had to take a back seat this year. And when I say back seat, I mean eventually it got thrown off the bus and had to walk home.

Through a freak hail storm.

Without even a hat.

And then some dude drove past too fast through a puddle and my writing got oily grit all over it…

 

Anyways… I’ve got some fab storylines in the back of my brain, and a crisp and up-to-date idea of how high schools operate these days.

As well as TIME (so vital!).

So, keyboard, brace yourself…!

How to take critiques without crying – 5 steps to awesome

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Made by me using pablo…

Critiques and beta readers… they’re how our craft gets richer, our writing more fab-tabulous, and our manuscripts closer to published. But do we all know how to accept the feedback when it comes?

I didn’t.

I think I’m better now. I’ve taken a crash course in how to receive feedback. Here are my top five tips:

1. Take it and nod

Seriously people. Someone’s just taken the time to read your work and give you feedback. That’s huge. So maybe the feedback isn’t what you wanted to hear…? Continue reading

Totally, woefully lax… but I have an excuse!

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made by me, using pablo :o)

I know. I used to be posting every week and browsing through all your awesome posts. And then suddenly… nothing.

It’s like I walked off the edge of a cliff or sailed for Mars or something. Fear not… I’m still here, and I’m still sitting at the same desk. Just doing different stuff.

You see, I blog about books I’ve read

…and writing I’ve done.

And basically, the only books I’ve read this past month are textbooks (and you don’t want me to blog about those)…

…and apart from a few stolen moments, the only writing I’ve done is academic.

(And trust me, you don’t want that either!)

So this is me, checking in, giving you all a high five because you’re all fabulous, and then logging back out to finish my current uni assignment.

Because if I don’t, this blog will morph into procrastination, and we don’t want that, do we!

Take care awesome people!

I’m on! 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge accepted!

AWW2017-badge.jpg I’ve signed up for the 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge!

The challenge I’ve set myself for this year (apparently it’s called  the Franklin…) is:

  • Read ten books by Australian women
  • Review at least six of these and link the reviews back to the AWW2017 site.

Of course, I’ll be reviewing in the Children’s Books area, which should be a joy because we have so many awesome women writers making awesome books for kids and young adults.

In fact, I just read one today :o).

How times have changed…

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Made by me using pablo…

Back in 1910, this was how children’s books rolled. It’s one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite series as a child – the famous Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce.

I can just imagine turning up to my critique group with a sentence like this in a middle-grade manuscript… I don’t think they’d laugh me out of the house, but only because they have excellent self-control. And yet I spent hours dreaming of riding horses on a cattle farm in outback Australia because of these books!

The power of words, be they strange or familiar…

Recently someone was telling me how historical kidlit fiction should use modern language to avoid alienating the readership. I’m not so sure. There was something about Bruce’s writing that immersed me in her time.

However, I draw the line at anything like the quote above…!

Putting a little DORK on my FORK: ‘Dork Diaries #1’

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As an ex-librarian, when I found the first ‘Dork Diaries’ on the WRONG SHELF, no – <gasp> – make that the WRONG ENTIRE SIDE of the Junior Fiction section of my library, I knew I had to help it find its way home.

Except when I picked it up, I immediately recognised the title, and took it out instead.

Yes, I hear what you’re saying… ‘But, Heather… this book was published in 2009! How can you not have read it yet?!’

That’s cool – I believe in better late that never when it comes to books.

My first take-home from this book is it’s not entirely my thing. And that’s completely fine because gazillions of other people think it’s their thing. So it’s still valuable to review why it worked. I don’t need (or even want) to write a book just like it (no one should for any book), but I can incorporate some of the winning ingredients into my own writing.

My second thought was about how different this ‘girl’ book was from funny ‘boy’ books of a similar ilk. More focus on clothes and looks and the opposite sex. Hmmm…

But what worked in this book that I can take into my own writing?

  • Friend-making
  • Love interest (not hopeless)
  • Besting the nasty popular kid through personal skill
  • Fab illustrations.

My favourite thing is the way MC Nikki keeps on saying all these awesome and/or outrageous things, and then tells us it was only in her head. A clever trick. I would internally gasp, like ‘Did she really say that?’ and then find she didn’t. Sometimes I was relieved, sometimes I was disappointed!

‘But I just said it in my head, so no one else heard it but me.’

And you know what else I love? In the acknowledgments, author Rachel Renee Russell thanks her agent who saw ‘the potential of this book when it was merely fifty rambling pages about a quirky girl and her fairy godmother.’ This book no longer has a fairy godmother. (Quirky girl? Still a tick.)

From that, I figure that compelling character and great writing will win out. Maybe we don’t need to get that submission perfect. Maybe, even if it’s the wrong genre aimed at the wrong age group, if we write well enough someone will see the potential.

Write on, people!