One Word Wisdom with author Kaaron Warren

Sunday, 31 July 2016


1. What is the best thing about being an author? 
Creation

2. What’s the worst thing? 
Self-doubt

3. How did writing your novel The Grief Hole make you feel? 
Scared

4. What do you hope it brings its readers? 
Hope

5. What else do you like to do? 
Talk

6. Who has influenced your writing the most? 
Fremlin

7. What has been your biggest career reward?
Response

8. What is the most important contribution an author can make to the world?
Continue

9. What’s your biggest writing goal? 
Infinite

10. What’s next? 
More


Kaaron Warren has been publishing horror and science fiction for more than 20 years. She’s won awards close to home (the Canberra Critics Circle Award) and far away (the Shirley Jackson Award). Kaaron has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She’s sold more than 200 short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification) and six short story collections including the multi-award-winning Through Splintered Walls. Her latest novel is The Grief Hole (IFWG Publishing Australia) will launch at the Canberra Writers Festival in August 2016.

Pre-order The Grief Hole here, and learn more about 
Kaaron's fabulous books at her website.

Ask Tania:

Thursday, 28 July 2016


Dear Tania,
What's the best way to work towards becoming a full-time author?
Cathy


Hi Cathy,

I could write 1000 paragraphs on this! And even then, it would be part-way subjective and would fail to cover all the intricacies and variations and far-reaching tentacles.

Some of us need to work full-time jobs, some of us work part-time, and some of us have the luxury of all the time in the world. Some of us have small kids, older kids, grownup kids, no kids. Some of us are in marriages, some not, some in supportive relationships, some not. Some of us have self-belief and some of us don't. Each author's life situation and journey is unique, and so very many variables contribute to the acquisition (or not) of a full-time writing career.

I could also regale you with the myriad things you 'should' be doing, but honestly? ... other than the fact that each person has a unique life situation that must be navigated around, authorship is changing. Our online world is changing. The way we read books is changing. The way we write and publish is changing. And it's all changing so fast, I reckon by the time you read this, my 'advice' would be redundant.

So, I'm going to go back to brass tacks. I'm going to hand pluck the 'little things' that I've learned in almost 30 years in the writing industry (first magazines, then adult non-fiction, then children's). I reckon if you can resonate with the following stream of consciousness, you stand a good chance of securing full-time authorship.

Bolded entries are especially important. At the end of these points, I'm going to cover Self-Belief and The Flow--also especially important!

Here we go ...


  • great work sells; time spent honing your craft is never, ever wasted
  • practice, practice, practice--invest in your skills endlessly
  • never stop learning
  • know your market inside out; live in bookstores whether in person or online; watch what's being published, get to know publisher lists and the work of other creators
  • read read read, especially in the genre you want to write in
  • write what you love and what calls to you, even if the market doesn't agree
  • always be curious, and always stretch yourself
  • think outside the square and try something new
  • learn the formula for storytelling and plot structure, then break all the rules 
  • avoid formulaic writing like the plague--surprise your reader
  • avoid prescriptive, expositional, predictable, over-written text; write intuitively and don't try to sound like a great writer; rather--BE one
  • use your own voice, not someone else's
  • avoid overly familiar, typical themes, especially in regard to picture books; if you simply must write about fairies and trucks, do it in an unexpected way
  • avoid didactic writing; if you must include messaging, make it barely perceptible, especially in picture books
  • never write for publishers or for perceived market gaps; YOU dictate what the market needs (with your fabulous new idea)
  • stop asking for critiques of your work; the more others dissect and opine, the faster your work loses authenticity, honesty and clarity; too many cooks DO spoil the broth
  • believe in yourself; have faith in your own intuition
  • if you do receive criticism, never take it personally, NEVER react badly to it, take what works (or doesn't), let go and move on
  • if you get a bad review or an assassination on your character, walk away, let it go, do not respond
  • a great idea is far more evocative to an editor or publisher than a perfectly-polished (over-worked) manuscript 
  • unique work, with a unique voice is highly sought after
  • luck does have a something to do with full-time authorship--but perhaps more than luck--rather being in the right place at the right time; put yourself in situations that increase this 'luck' (you'll find suggestions in this post!)
  • always, ALWAYS respond to people in a timely manner--by phone, email, in person; don't leave anyone waiting, even those you perceive 'unimportant'
  • always, ALWAYS treat people with respect
  • always, ALWAYS thank 
  • never look down on, dismiss or judge anyone regarding their work, presence or 'status' in the industry--not only is it mean, you never know who will be whom in five years' time
  • ergo, never burn bridges
  • excellence all the way--from your beautiful email signature to your carefully proofread manuscript submission
  • think twice before gossiping about or deriding colleagues; it's mean and our industry is small
  • kindness! generosity! maybe fairydust to some, but you better believe it works
  • the vast majority of authors (and illustrators) are smart, intuitive, generous and kind people--get to know them
  • give back
  • support and uplift your colleagues
  • don't look sideways at what anyone else is doing and what they're achieving--put your head down and focus on your own journey
  • don't be threatened by anyone else's success--feel genuine happiness for others, even if you don't particularly like their work--there is always enough room in this industry for everyone--Chelsea Handler said 'never blow out someone else's candle to make yours brighter!' 
  • real relationships are everything--get to know people--you may well develop working relationships and opportunities, sure, but you may also make dear lifelong friends and share in immensely rewarding connections and support
  • check in on your friends and colleagues--this is a lonely profession--even the high-fliers and those who appear supremely confident, falter sometimes
  • never shout about yourself; don't bombard people with sales pitches
  • for every promotional post you do, post three that are informative, educational, fun, personal or promoting someone else
  • have a solid web presence--a website at the very least; it doesn't have to be fancy, just have one
  • don't fret about social networking; have a Facebook page and/or Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest, etc, account and post when you want to!
  • be easy to work with and never be demanding
  • commit to a writing schedule
  • learn ways to streamline your life and kybosh procrastination
  • if you are working full-time elsewhere, write at night, on weekends and during holidays--ask yourself, how much do you want this?
  • enter competitions and apply for grants
  • attend festivals and conferences--they are life-changing and will shuttle your career trajectory into the stratosphere when compared with staying home; meeting publishers personally really does up your chances of becoming known/having work looked at faster/receiving contracts
  • get industry involved; this is my TOP TIP and it's huge (and totally underestimated by newbies); do something for your industry; judge awards, support fledglings, volunteer for organisations or festivals, review books for websites, involved yourself with CBCA or SCBWI or ACLA or other children's lit organisations; I frequently volunteer, and founded Kids' Book Review and the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, but you don't have to invest an enormous amount of time and energy--just do SOMETHING!
  • if you don't know something, ask others (or google it!)
  • try not to use too many exclamation points!!! 
  • expect nothing while you expect big things
  • BE PATIENT--gaining any kind of industry recognition can take at least three years (if you're active in the industry!)--and most authors wait at least 10 years before making a solid impact with their books
  • realise now that much of an author's income doesn't come from books--it comes from events, talks, presentations, school visits and other writing gigs; much of mine comes from ELR/PLR payments, copyright payments, presentations and events; also know that over time, your wage will increase as you have more books on the market and earn more ELR/PLR, copyright and reprint payments
  • support other creators--attend book launches and writerly/literary events
  • be self-effacing; be willing to look objectively at your work and see where you can do better (we are always improving!)
  • tenacity and hard work is as vital as talent, oftentimes more so (there are plenty of supremely talented creators who will never publish because they give up or expect things to be handed to them)
  • understand this: you simply must put in the hard yards; this career is HARD WORK ... thank goodness it's so much fun
  • a hole-in-one IS possible; but how many times are you willing to hit the ball?
  • believe in yourself
  • have I said 'believe in yourself'?

Self-Belief
Self-belief is a curious thing. It's like the tide--it ebbs and flows, and this affects all of us, no matter where we are in our writing career. Any writer's biggest hurdle is self-belief. It's not publishers or editors or the market. It's how we feel about our own work, and how much we believe in it. (And I'm talking truly madly deeply--in our heart. Our brains can tell us they believe in us all they want. It has to come from the heart.)

Having self-belief doesn't mean we stand on chairs and shout. We can be quiet and have self-belief. We can be shy and have self-belief. But the bottom line is--if we don't believe in ourselves and our voice and our stories, publishers won't, and readers won't.

If we want to make authorship a full-time career, we need to believe in ourselves enough to commit the considerable time and energy required to write full-time. We need to trust, despite the inherent solitude and rejection authors suffer, that our investment will pay off. And we have to MAKE that investment--in ourselves and in our work, always bettering ourselves and our words. Growing, moving, changing. Listening to what calls us ... and honouring that call.

We need to trust that we can still be standing after many years of 'getting nowhere', and that we will not (nay, CANnot) give up. Tenacity is as vital as talent in this industry, and although it's tempting (and normal!) to have moments of 'why am I doing this? will I ever get anywhere?!', we must move through them if writing is our true calling. And get back to writing.

Elizabeth Gilbert once spoke of a very talented writer friend who gave up on his authorship journey because he was tired of getting nowhere. She described him as supremely talented, and she remember being shocked and desperate that he would give up 'so easily', but the fact was this: it didn't mean enough to him. He actually told her that. Writing didn't mean enough to him to continue to suffer the slings and arrows of rejection, editing, and idle waiting. So he moved onto other things, and he did so happily.

Indeed, perhaps some of us think we want to write (it IS fun!) but maybe it's not our truest passion or calling. We get this idea in our heads that it will be a certain way and when it proves otherwise, we might become disillusioned and question our direction. And that's okay. We can move on.

But, if like me, writing is like oxygen to you--you can't live without it--then embrace it, claim it and give it every ounce of self-belief you have. This kind of courage and passion is like a magnet for your full-time authorship desire. It's powerful stuff.

The Flow
On a similar note to Self-Belief, above, I really do believe that we need to do what makes our heart sing, yes, but also what fully absorbs us. When we become lost in our work, that's when we know we're on the right path and have stepped into life's flow. Things come easily, things just sort of 'work out'--the obstacles slide on by, synchronicity is rife, and little miracles pop up with sign posts saying 'this way', 'enter this!' and 'meet such-and-such--she's looking for someone like you'.

When obstacles being flourishing, when things become fraught, difficult, agonising, unbalanced, or just feel 'off', you've stepped out of the flow, and are, mayhaps, not doing what's right for you. You're standing on the riverbank and the water is rushing past and you're feeling that desperate ache in your chest that you're getting nowhere and are somehow missing out/something is not right. It's like you're pining for something and don't even know what it is. (A friend recently made a big realisation in this vein and has made some huge decisions about her future career, which may lie completely outside the kids' market--so utterly inspirational! and brave!)

But when you step back into the river and relax and go with it, you notice the river is running more gently and more smoothly than it appeared on that riverbank. And you are floating along nicely and you are passing wonderful opportunities and people and they're jumping into the river to float alongside you and you just feel GOOD. You float around obstacles and don't even need to look sideways. Your eyes are on the river--the journey. And you're soaking wet, you're so absorbed.

That's being in the flow.

Finding yourself out of the flow doesn't have to mean your writing career is over. It can simply mean you need to change genre. I've lost count of the times a friend or someone I'm mentoring realises the book they've written is sitting in the wrong genre '... whaaaa? It's a picture book, not a chapter book!' or vice versa. A friend recently made an enormous realisation that her future didn't lie in children's picture books. She was meant to write adult romance. And voila--she's just signed a huge deal with a major publisher of women's romance novels!

Perhaps you just need to change your direction or style or skillset. A couple of years ago, I made the realisation that I really wanted (needed!) to illustrate as well as write. I hadn't picked up a paint brush since my early 20s (I was a prolific illustrator back then) and had no idea where to restart. But restart, I did (via the 52-Week Illustration Challenge) and my first self-illustrated book, Australia Illustrated, is out November 2016. I've also just signed a contract to illustrate a major children's compilation.

If you had told me I'd be doing this even two years ago, I would never have believed you. But I couldn't be happier, more excited or more absorbed by this new, unexpected (deliciously pined-for) turn of events--and all because I just went with the flow. I went with what called me at the time.

Who knows, in six months I might be embarking on another direction--so long as I sit in that river and follow the flow. Who wants to sit on the river bank and watch it all go by? Not me.

So, Cathy, jump in that river. Your full-time authorship awaits.

Tania

ALSO... see my other Ask Tania topics...

See all the questions so far

And check out my Fantastical Flying Creator for priceless tips and exercises on flying high in this jam-packed creative world. Click the poster below for more.

http://taniamccartney.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/the-fantastic-flying-creator-e-workshop.html

Ask Tania: What's the best way to work towards becoming a full-time author?


Dear Tania,
What's the best way to work towards becoming a full-time author?
Cathy


Hi Cathy,

I could write 1000 paragraphs on this! And even then, it would be part-way subjective and would fail to cover all the intricacies and variations and far-reaching tentacles.

Some of us need to work full-time jobs, some of us work part-time, and some of us have the luxury of all the time in the world. Some of us have small kids, older kids, grownup kids, no kids. Some of us are in marriages, some not, some in supportive relationships, some not. Some of us have self-belief and some of us don't. Each author's life situation and journey is unique, and so very many variables contribute to the acquisition (or not) of a full-time writing career.

I could also regale you with the myriad things you 'should' be doing, but honestly? ... other than the fact that each person has a unique life situation that must be navigated around, authorship is changing. Our online world is changing. The way we read books is changing. The way we write and publish is changing. And it's all changing so fast, I reckon by the time you read this, my 'advice' would be redundant.

So, I'm going to go back to brass tacks. I'm going to hand pluck the 'little things' that I've learned in almost 30 years in the writing industry (first magazines, then adult non-fiction, then children's). I reckon if you can resonate with the following stream of consciousness, you stand a good chance of securing full-time authorship.

Bolded entries are especially important. At the end of these points, I'm going to cover Self-Belief and The Flow--also especially important!

Here we go ...

Ask Tania: I'm media-terrified. How do I promote my work without putting my foot in it?

Sunday, 24 July 2016



Dear Tania, 

I'll get straight to the point. I'm media-terrified. Interviews unnerve me, as I never know what question is coming, if my responses will sound dumb, if I'm saying the wrong thing, or--worst of all--if I don't even know what to say. This is also a worry when I need to do presentations. How do I promote my work without putting my foot in it?

J


Hi, J,

You are not alone! Even the most seasoned creators experience angst and nerves before an interview or speaking engagement. I don't think I'll ever get used to it, personally, and there's been times where I've literally not slept the night before, I've been so angst-ridden. 


I think the first thing to remember is that feeling nervous is absolutely normal, and is a human  reaction that almost everyone experiences, no matter how confident or seasoned they are. When we really absorb this knowledge and really embrace it, we feel a lot better about ourselves.

Beijing Tai Tai turns Chinese

Thursday, 21 July 2016


I loved living in China (2005 - 2009). Absolutely loved it. It changed my life--and the life of my family--in ways too numerous to mention. I think the world would be a very different and far more peaceful place if we, each and every one, had the chance to live in a country that's hugely different from our own. One that stretches and opens our hearts and minds. One that takes us out of our comfort zone and teaches are that we are all, indeed, one race. The human race.

Could you imagine? Yes, the world would be a very different place.

I really miss China and would love to go back and see how much it's changed since 2009. I miss the people, the food, the quirks, the smells, the ceremony. I miss the sweetest and tiniest things, like the call of the nut and seed sellers as they peddle their 3-wheeler carts through the streets. The eye-boggling beauty of the flower and fruit markets. The ceremony of tea.

So, it's a real honour to have Beijing Tai Tai translated for the Chinese market (thank you, Exisle Publishing and Shanghai Joint Publishing Company and Big Apple Agency, Malaysia!


It's quite surreal to see my text in Simplified Chinese, not to mention the interesting (but very Chinese-market-savvy) cover and the even more interesting occasional internal images!




I'm not too sure what this mixture of reto line-drawings have to do with Tai Tai, but I love them all the same--they're so kitsch!

And now to see what the Chinese market thinks of the book...

a dent in my reading stash

Sunday, 17 July 2016



Hello!

I've had a truly lovely school holiday break. I had every intention of consistently pausing, reclining somewhere soft, and reading until my eyes crossed ... and I'm pleased to report this actually happened! I know! Of course, reading never happens as much I'd like--but then, is it ever possible to read as much as we'd like? The answer to that question is [Pokemon] No.

I even let the house go (so, today--a massive cleaning spree; even the windows) and just did things that made me smile. I went to galleries and sipped great coffee with my husband, shopped with my girl, cooked and pottered with my boy, caught up with friends, walked in nature, watched period drama and Disney movies, caught up on documentaries and some comedy, and clocked up three or four certificates on Lynda.com (currently studying graphic design and upping my Adobe Illustrator skills).

However. As is always the way, 'work' crept in (even as I dashed and skipped and curled under a blanket to avoid it), so I also worked with my publisher and graphic designer to send Australia Illustrated to print (another sneak peek image at the bottom of this post), signed my very first illustration contract for an exciting National Library book (will reveal more eventually, but all hush hush for now), heard exciting news about some of my books, including an overseas translation for Smile Cry!) and worked on some internal images for one of my junior fiction WIPs.

Of course, none of these things proved at all pesky! But they did get in the way of my reading marathon. Ahem. Nevertheless, here is what I managed to pass my eyes over these past three weeks. I got through a hefty chunk of these two--amazing to the power of a billion times 40!


I also got some old and new classic works though my eyeballs and into my heart:


I also made a larger dent in these (have been struggling a little with both for some time--not sure why, just am; these things happen sometimes ... but they're both worth persisting with):


And I also managed (it's really not a stretch, trust me) to devour some sensational children's books--about three times this amount, in truth, but these are my faves:







I hope you and the kids had a sunshiny, book-ridden winter holiday period and have a productive and fulfilling catch-up time ahead. To set myself firmly back in work mode, here is another illustration peek at Australia Illustrated (out November). Have a fabulous week!

Tx

when you know it's time to take a holiday

Friday, 24 June 2016


The thing about being an author, is that you never really have a break.

Even when you're in a low- (or no-) production period, there's more than enough to do--catching up on maintenance, accounts, tax, filing, acquittals, blog posts (like this one), mentoring, events, promo, marketing, social media, planning, committees, volunteering, applying for grants, reviewing, emailing, promoting others and their books and events, updating or upgrading your website, writing workshops, creating presentations, speaking, visiting schools, doing interviews, writing guest posts, writing articles, planning book launches, studying, honing skills, sketching, learning new digital art techniques, scratching the back of or liaising with beloved friends and colleagues--and, heaven forbid, perhaps writing new, un-contracted material.

Oh, and maybe washing your hair occasionally.

illustration styles for different types of books + dot eyes!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016



So, I've been a bit 'elsewhere' of late.

Had a few Life issues to deal with including the second brand new PC to blow up on me in two months (the first one lasted 3 hours, the second one 2 months and 3 hours--such quality!).

It seems the Universe has been trying to tell me something about the crappy Lenovo All-in-One I bought (highly do NOT recommend this machine), and instead wants me to have the custom-made, multi-screen Starship Enterprise flightdeck I really, truly need on this illustration journey (but cannot afford--I shall be planting a money tree in the morning).

Ask Tania: The work/life balance ... how do I write AND manage a household?

Thursday, 2 June 2016


Dear Tania, 

My question is about making time to write amongst a day filled with jobs, family commitments and household tasks that just don't do themselves (sad face). How do I write AND manage a household? How do you do it?

Cate


Hi, Cate,

I would have to say this is one of the questions I'm most often asked! So it's clearly something a lot of people struggle with ... including me.

It's a convoluted topic, so let's break it down:


kids.
They say there's nothing like mother (or dad) guilt. Although I'm not a guilt-tripper by nature, as my writing has grown into full-time work, the seemingly endless hours I need to put into it has seen that sordid guilt trickle in. Ach--it's SUCH a pain.

The way I deal with it? I remind myself that mothers (and dads) need to be people, too. We also need to do what we love--and invest the time in doing it--and, REALLY importantly, to model passion and drive and commitment and hard work for our kids.

Neither of my kids go without food, clean clothes, a warm house, a great education and oodles of love. Sure, I may not spend endless hours playing Monopoly or watching blockbuster superhero movies with them, but they get my full attention when they need it or ask for it.

Admittedly, both are teens now, and pretty much do their own thing/are out a lot of the time. So, I know this is harder for women (or men) with littlies. When mine were little, I would write early in the morning or late at night or when Dad took them to the park--and I would actually write, not stack the dishwasher. I know this, too, can be hard, especially if you're exhausted. But, as I'll discuss shortly... it really comes down to How Much You Want It.

house.
When my kids were smaller, my house was perennially prepped for a Vogue photo shoot. Now, anyone I know is forbidden from doing the pop-in, lest they catch the six inches of dust under my dining table, the opaque glow of a long-unwashed window, and me looking like an old bag lady with limp hair, ugg boots and a stain on my top.

Favourite Author Illustrator Websites

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Books and illustrations are not the only delight we can enjoy when it comes to children's book creators. If you're anything like me, you'll love perusing their gorgeous websites, too. I love them for their design, simplicity, whimsy and sheer cleverness. Ever-aspiring to create a 'better' website, these serve as enormous inspiration for me ... and if you're just starting out, these will make a wonderful reference point for your own site.

I know there are many, many I've left out and I'll potentially add to this as I find more. Let me know if you know of a spectacular website--leave a comment below.

In no particular order ...

OLIVER JEFFERS
a u t h o r / i l l u s t r a t o r
http://www.oliverjeffers.com

OLIVER JEFFERS WORLD
http://oliverjeffersworld.com/

AMY KROUSE ROSENTHAL
a u t h o r
http://www.whoisamy.com/

Ask Tania: Who pays for what if we get a publishing deal?

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


Dear Tania, 

A friend and I are writing a book that includes lots of styling and photography. Who pays for photography and props, if we get a publishing deal? Do we pay or does the publisher cover those costs?

Mark


Hi, Mark,

Your question depends on a few factors.

With the type of book you're planning, you have a lot of work ahead in terms of time and money investment. It's kind of scary to work on a book with no guarantee of publication--this is what creators the world over face, and no matter how much financial investment you need to outlay (if any), you still have to put in the time, heart and effort, with no guarantee of publication, let alone financial success.

So, I guess the first thing to say is this: welcome to the world of publishing! It's a place where relying on income doesn't really exist--at least, not at the beginning. With recent reports saying most authors earn as little as $13,000 p.a. from their writing (and that's often active, full- or near-full- time writers!), it can be rather discouraging. But the good news is, income does increase over time, and with dedication.

But back to your question.

Introducing A New York Year and A Texas Year!

Monday, 23 May 2016


Yeeha - advance copies have arrived!

Tina and I have gone stateside with the latest in our A Kids' Year series for EK Books ... introducing Texas and New York!

We had a blast working on these titles and it was fascinating learning more about the incredible and varied cultures and traditions in both states. We hope our adorable characters warm the hearts of people everywhere, no matter where you live.

Order your advance copies right here - A New York Year, A Texas Year. And you can see all A Kids' Year in the series so far (Australia, England, Scotland) right here.

Out August!




Ask Tania: How much do I present to a publisher in order to be taken seriously?

Sunday, 22 May 2016


Dear Tania, 

How much do I present to a publisher in order to be taken seriously? Do I need to have the whole book written to go to a publisher, or just a few pages or the concept?

Lisa


Hi, Lisa,

Every book, every creator, every publisher, every 'route' to publication is different, and oftentimes as uniquely individual as each and every book.

Some people submit to a slush pile and are picked up (rare!). Some people submit after entering a competition. Some submit through an agent. Some submit an idea to a publisher they may have met at a conference (HIGHLY recommend attending conferences!) and that idea is interesting to the publisher, so they ask them to flesh it out and submit. Some might win the chance to submit directly.

Some might receive a manuscript critique and be picked up that way. Some are already published or know publishers well and can submit directly, or hash the idea out with their publisher first. Some are also commissioned to write something the publisher is looking for, and some are just famous and so will be published straight-up, whether or not they can actually write.

National Simultaneous Storytime 2016

Saturday, 21 May 2016

https://www.alia.org.au/nss

It's on again! National Simultaneous Storytime 2016 goes live at 11am on Wednesday 25 May 2016. Readers all over the country will be reading the same book at the same time--how cool is that?

I will be at Dickson Library in Canberra for this fabulous event, which aims to encourage kids to fall in love with reading. I'll be reading Jol and Kate Temple's sensationally funny book I Got This Hat. I'll also be reading two of my own books--Smile Cry and Tottie and Dot.

Hope to see you there! It's FREE but do register here.




Ask Tania: Being a writer is physically tough--how can I keep fit??

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


Dear Tania,

Being a writer is physically tough. I'm spending so much time sitting, sitting, sitting, especially when I get passionate about what I'm working on (which is often!). Not only am I putting on a little weight, I can feel my bones rusting. How can I keep fit?? How do you keep active? Do you have a routine? Any tips appreciated!

Mallory

Hi, Mallory,

Oh, I love this question, and it's very timely for me right now, having come off 10 months of illustrating for my first self-illustrated book. Let's just say I'm feeling a bit rusted and pudgy! I find longer projects (like Australia Illustrated) and deadlines are the worst times of all--and not only is this period of inertia physically challenging, it absolutely takes a mental and emotional toll, too.

It took me many years to learn how to create a finer work/health balance. I would easily commit to 12 - 18 hours a day in front of my computer, most days of the week, and I never understood the concept of 'sharpening your axe', until I heard the actual 'sharpening your axe' story--and it finally made sense. That, and back pain and jeans that wouldn't zip up and a brain that had turned to mush.

Here is the story ...

Chief Minister's Reading Challenge - school visit

Sunday, 15 May 2016


One of the great joys of being a children's author, is chatting with kids about story--and hopefully, just hopefully, having them fall in love with books.

In my role as an ambassador for the Chief Minister's Reading Challenge for 2016, I get to have that chance even more than I regularly do. I also get to visit brand new schools, like Charles Weston school in the far west of Canberra--a brand new, state-of-the-art school, with fabulous kids eager to learn and grow.

I talked to them about books--about writing books, illustrating books, reading books, loving books. I talked about how much fun books can be, and how important story is. The kids were so receptive and so curious. They giggled and commented and asked questions and threw themselves straight into the pages of the books I'd brought along, the very moment they could. Now--that's what we want.


One of my favourite moments was showing them a 3D story called Jim Curious. These three little poppets (below) donned their 3D glasses, only to be met with a rather ferocious shark! They loved it--and they were so brave! (Note the little one biting her nail!)
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