She’s back…

June 1, 2011

Categories: Burke and Wills, Hoosh, Immanuel College Novar Gardens, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011, My Dad Thinks He's Funny, Prince Alfred College Norwood, Six



May Gibbs Fellowship 1st June

In the last week of my fellowship, I had an issue with the blogger template which would not allow me to log on. I decided to stop playing with technology and concentrate on the writing. Good plan. When I logged on tonight, it was working again – oh bliss. My last ten days was crammed full of things I had to do, things I wanted to do, and things that surprised me.

My biggest surprise was that the Year 9 group of boys at Prince Alfred College that I presented to in Norwood were great. I decided to talk about Six and was ready for a range of reactions — these were Year 9 boys — but the boys were incredibly polite and if they were bored they hid it very well. Alle was my minder for the session and she gave me a lively intro, and then the boys asked some interesting questions at the end, so all in all, a fun session.

I met up with Katrina Germain, author of My Dad Thinks He’s Funny — if you haven’t seen this book yet, grab it, it’s loads of fun — and we had some quality author chat time, which was great after a long time of just knowing each other via email.

The last day I spent at Immanuel College in Novar Gardens and gave a presentation on writing non-fiction (using my Burke & Wills book from the Our Stories series from black dog books) with the Year 6 kids, who were again great fun and had loads of questions, the best one being, ‘So, how big is your laptop?’ Special mention to Oscar — sorry I missed out on reading to your class, buddy. Definitely next time.

Had a lovely dinner with the May Gibbs crew on my last night in Norwood. I could have spent hours more hanging out with them and chatting about the industry. Lovely to meet Nan Halliday finally and to get a chance to really talk to Janeen Brian— author of the fabulous award-winning Hoosh — who I had met online only in my previous life as an editor.

I finally took a photo of the Lord of the Rings art installation near the Burrow — a set of gigantic rings which lit up at night in different colours and helped me find my way home every day. The toll of the chimes rang out into the Norwood darkness with a satisfying dong, dong, dong (x 12) and heralded midnight one last time for me as I packed up my little house and turned it back into The Burrow. Then I got up early on my last day and wrote my minimum number of words required for the day, before closing the door one last time.

If you have the chance to apply for this Fellowship, I would urge you to do it. It is available to published authors. Hop on the May Gibbs Website and check it out. To sum it up, I have always fitted my writing in around my life. For the past month, I have fitted my life in around my writing. What an amazing experience.

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Maggie Beer – champagne taste!

May 23, 2011

Categories: Bernadette Kelly, Maggie Beer, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011, The Cook and the Chef




May Gibbs Fellowship
Sunday 22nd May

Bernadette Kelly came by for a visit to the Burrow on the weekend and after an intensive writing day we took time out to visit the gorgeous Barossa Valley. Unfortunately, BK suffered a bout of car sickness through the windy roads (nothing to do with my driving, she assured me) but luckily recovered at the sight of the Maggie Beer Farm sign.

We walked in to see Maggie behind the counter, and the magic continued from there. Lunch was delectable and the pantry gave us too many choices to take home, but the cooking class was the highlight as we learned what to do with verjuice. I had to take the class at one stage (okay, yes that is a staged photo), and we left to the screech of the peacock at the front door.

Top pic: Creme Caramel. Did we want dessert? Ummm, what do you think?
Middle pic: On the set of The Cook and The Chef, one of my favourite shows ever.
Bottom pic: BK just before she bought all the verjuice and oiive oil bagged up behind her.

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Taj and the Great Camel Trek Book Launch

May 19, 2011

Categories: Hoosh, Janeen Brian, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011, rosanne Hawke, Taj and the Great Camel Trek book launch




May Gibbs Fellowship Thursday 19th May

Last night I attended the launch of Rosanne Hawke’s latest book Taj and the Great Camel Trek. This book took Rosanne four years to write, as it changed focus over that time to become the story that it is today. Aimed at ages 9+ readers, the story tells the story of explorer Ernest Giles on his second attempt to cross the Australian desert where ‘wild dogs, scorpions, poisonous snakes and a constant shortage of water mean they are never far from disaster’. The narrator of the story is Taj, a 12 year old cameleer. The book was launched by Janeen Brian, whose own story, Hoosh, was a CBCA Honour Book, Eve Pownell section.

Top Pic: Taj was launched at Tabor College – an amazing looking college in South Plympton
Middle Pic: Janeen Brian launched the book in great style
Bottom Pic: Rosanne Hawke, author of Taj and the Great Camel Trek

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SCBWI Adelaide Style

May 18, 2011

Categories: Alle Goldsworthy, Fran Knight, Katrina Germain, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011, Nikki Wakefield, SCBWI Adelaide

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Wednesday 18th



Top Two Pics: Last night I attended a meeting of the Adelaide SCBWI group. The session was chaired by Barbara James and our guest speaker was Val Van Patten who has been involved with the CBCA for the past 20 years. Val presented a talk on how the books submitted to the CBCA are judged each year. It was a fascinating insight into what goes on in the judging of these prestigious awards, and if there is one thing I came away with is that publishers should be urged not to save up their books and send them en masse in the last two months of judging. Was nice to catch up with Katrina Germain, My Dad Thinks He’s Funny author and meet Nikki Wakefield of All I Ever Wanted.

Third Pic: Had a lovely lunch at Mary Martin’s Bookshop in Norwood today with kid’s lit guru, Fran Knight, and May Gibbs contact (among many other things) Alle Goldsworthy and talked all things books. Hey, what is that product placement in the background… Burke and Wills? Nice one Fran.

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Magic Long Weekend in Melbourne

May 16, 2011

Categories: Alice in Wonderland, Dr Zhivago, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011, mushrooms



I spent a magic long weekend in Melbourne which was noticeably colder than the town I left behind. Saturday night was Dr Zhivago – a birthday present from friend Bernie and an incredible tour de force from the cast, including the amazing Anthony Warlow.
Sunday was A Year of Writing for Children at the Wheeler Centre for the Victorian Writers Centre. We welcomed Ashley, the only male in a class of females, a moot point as in the end it was a class of writers and a lot was achieved – albeit to the sometimes rebel sounds of the gathering on the State Library steps.
At some point over the weekend I wanted to turn our homegrown tomatoes into chutney, so whipped something up on Monday morning before the plane back, but it was more like a sauce than a chutney.
Melbourne is magic in Autumn and the splash of colour from autumnal leaves reminded me of the cards painting the white roses red in the Queen’s garden in Alice in Wonderland. I also spied a couple of mushrooms fit for a fluttering of fairies.
Back to May Gibbs for more writing today feeling refreshed and invigorated.

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Ow hanow yv Karen

May 11, 2011

Categories: Copper Coast, Kernewek Lowender, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011, Moonta



May Gibbs Fellowship
May 2011

Today I found myself in a time warp as I visited the Cornish Festival, Kernewek Lowender, at Moonta, on the Copper Coast in South Australia. I took a two hour crash course in the Cornish language (ie My name is Karen) with the wonderful Lilian James, attended the Moonta Dressing of the Graves and listened to some costumed kids sing some olde worlde music. Shop assistants in the town were dressed in garb from the 1800s and there was even a front yard showing off a line of washing.

This festival lasts a whole week, and there was the feeling that things were only just revving up.

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The Little Red Book

May 10, 2011

Categories: iPhone, Little Red Book, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Day 10

This is my little red book. It’s a Filofax and it was superseded when I got my iPhone two years ago. Not sure what made me dust it off and bring it along for the ride to Adelaide, but I’ve started using it again. I’ve ditched the idea of nicely divided up spaces for days and dates and just using blank pages in the order in the respective months.

There’s something to be said for old technology. (Is a book old technology?)

My iPhone died last night. In the middle of a call it ran out of battery life. I plugged it in for a recharge and came back to a white screen. Spent the next hour trying to get it to work. Talk about bad timing. Still, was very happy I’d set up my appointments and contacts in my Little Red Book.

Luckily a lovely man in the Apple Store in Norwood got it working for me again, though he couldn’t guarantee it would last. Am thinking of investing in some carrier pigeons…

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To the Starman Waiting in the Sky

May 8, 2011

Categories: AFL footy, Aliens, David Bowie, Junior Football, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011


May Gibbs Fellowship
1st Weekend

Dear Alien from a distant planet.

Saturday’s fun began at 8.30am.
I watched a lot of twiggy-legged boys running about and trying their hardest to grab a piece of leather and kick it between two of the tallest sticks in a group of four sticks at the top end of an oval. When this happened there was a lot of cheering. When it didn’t come off there were many groans and excitement from those who didn’t want the ball to go in between the two tallest sticks at that end. They wanted it go in at the other end of the ground. When the ball went between any sticks, a crazy guy grabbed a flag, or two, and waved them around. I think he was trying to show them where the ball was supposed to go.

A group of adults hung around the edges of the oval. You could tell that they wanted to join in, but they must have been too scared to get dirty. This didn’t stop them from yelling instructions to the boys on the ground, which was most helpful. There was also a man in a colourful shirt who ran around after them, which was a caring thing for him to do. Every now and then he’d blow a whistle he had hanging around his neck and the running would stop and everyone would listen to what he had to say. A bit of a show off, really. Sometimes he would take the ball and throw it up in the air. I guess he got sick of not having the ball and he was the biggest on the ground so he could do this. After this went on for a while, a loud noise sounded and the boys stopped running after the leather. Then one group of boys, all dressed in the same colours, got together in a huddle and had a talk. The others did the same. Then the noise sounded and it was on again. This happened three times and then, on the fourth horn, they all gave up and left the ground. I guess they figured they’d rather be doing something else.

Here on Earth, we call this AFL football.
I know it sounds silly, but it can be quite fun.

My nephew’s team won by 1 point.

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Dulwich and the Cave of No Return

May 6, 2011

Categories: Antique Shops, Dulwich, May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Day 6

It was the sign that stopped me.
A promise of hidden treasures.
There were two entrances, but one was blocked.
I stood undecided.
There were chores to run.
This was not my quest for today.
But something was drawing me inside.
And even as I decided to move on,
my feet stepped into the cave
and my senses were overloaded
with the tumbling cacophony before me.

Inside the cave the light was low.
From ceiling to floor
from corner to corner
the past brought together in a jumble of nonsensical priorities.
The air was foetid, my breath shallowed
as I moved forward.
Then a voice rose out of the chaos
‘Yes?’
As the door slammed shut.
Behind me.

Pic: One of the beautiful streets in Dulwich, Adelaide.

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Dough!

May 5, 2011

Categories: May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011, Parallel Universe, The Simpsons



May Gibbs Fellowship
Day 5

Had to leave The Burrow today to go to the Post Office. Along the way I saw this awesome display of cupcakes and heard a mother say ‘Come away from those cupcakes’ to her toddler, as if they were poison.

The other thing I noticed was that living in a different city in the same country is like living in a parallel universe. The TV Channels are the same but the local news is presented by newsreaders who kind of look the same but kind of don’t. Their jokes seem a little fake, because they aren’t the real newsreaders that I’m used to. The radio announcers suffer from the same wrongness. The local weather also just a little off. Australia is skewed to highight the state I’m in and suddenly Melbourne’s dot looks wrong on the map. The ads highlight roads or suburbs that aren’t familiar.

It’s kind of like that episode of the Simpsons where the parallel world Bart and Lisa save the day. Unsettling.

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