What a fantastic workshop we had today with Juliet Rogers, Nerilee Weir, Kaye Wright and Benny Agius. Covering topics such as publishing choices, acquisitions and author contracts, self-publishing, how to sell a book and building a career as an author, it was a fascinating insight into behind the scenes - and why that winning manuscript of yours may not get through the final door!
The end of March saw the beginning of the inaugural Words on the Waves Writers Festival held in beautiful Darkinjung Country. A brainwave of Echo Publishing's Benny Agius, and Jacqui Barton, former education manager at Harper Collins, Words@Wagstaffe is the first of many Words on the Waves events. With a full line-up of authors, this event was catered to readers of literary fiction - and didn't we have the perfect day for it! I am beyond thrilled to be part of the founding committee, and can't wait for our Central Coast children to have doorstep access to so many fabulous children's authors!
Follow our kids program here for all the events and catch up on the podcasts here!
A beautiful Sunday morning - and several excited SCBWI members getting together for a Sketch and Scribble event on Cockatoo Island. Led by author Yvette Poshoglian, it was a fascinating combination of dark history and stunning scenery. Yvette spent three years researching the island's history, resulting in her novel Escape from Cockatoo Island . Published by Scholastic, it tells the story of eleven year old Olivia Markham, who is sent to the Biloela Girls Industrial School and Reformatory on Cockatoo Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour in 1878.
Here's an excerpt from one of my scribble stops. This was triggered from learning that girls were made to eat with their hands, and of course longed for freedom from dark working conditions and darker encounters with the older men building ships alongside their school...
Mercy eats like an animal.
Lukewarm, porridge spills from the corner of her mouth. 'Tomorrow we go home?' she says.
I reply as always. 'Yes, tomorrow we'll go home.'
The smell from the cookhouse turns my stomach. Everything turns my stomach these days, ever since...
I won't think of it. Not now. Not yet.
'Lizzie do ye' want the rest of your food?'
One blue eye sparkles with hope. The other flickers violently inward, seeing what only Mercy can know. I push my bowl, the metal meeting hers with a clang.
'You have it Mercy. A five year old needs all her strength. You'll grow up big and strong, you'll see.'
'Big and strong,' she repeats, before dipping her dripping fingers into her second helping. 'Tomorrow we go home?'
'Yes, Mercy tomorrow we go home.'
It is Sunday, a precious Sunday where God has heard my prayer and opened the gates for twenty whole minutes. The other girls shelter in the shade of a fig tree, its roots snaking out, one thick flowing embrace.
I find the sun as Captain Walker has instructed me, to soak up goodness against the damage of darkness. Mercy watches white caps riding on the harbour waters.
Captain Walker teaches me many things. He says it must be our secret.
'You are no ordinary girl, Lizzie,' he says. He instructs me to read letters one more time.
A B C
His calloused fingers drum impatiently on the desk.
D E F... He caresses my cheek.
These letters are my imprisonment.
Mercy laughs. 'Our boat there, Lizzy?' The wind lifts her grimy hair.
The stone beneath my fingers is cold despite the sun.
'Someday Mercy. Our boat will come.'
These letters will be our escape.
Crossing the river seems like the most likely ending here, but no. Happily in situ on one side of the stunning Hawkesbury river, I took a holiday time out to join the Creative Kids Tales zoom workshop with Australia's favourite, Jackie French. As a history lover and eternal workshopper this was just the thing to inspire, with thought-provoking content about bias, sources, censorship, creating fantasy history and of course the sounds, smells and all the fun stuff that colours in the characters world. The only problem I have now is deciphering my notes I was scribbling that hard!
Early this year, a commitee formed here on the Central Coast NSW, to create the inaugural Words on the Waves Writers Festival. In 2021 we bring you a feast of authors and illustrators for both children and adults. We will be holding fundraising events in advance of the main event in June.
Join our Facebook page to stay posted on events.
A lovely afternoon sketching and scribbling at the Gosford art gallery with @coastwrite.It was lovely weather for ducks but we were all very taken with some other birds!
The Creative Kids Tales Anthology will soon be hitting the shelves of Central Coast Libraries! Last week I presented a copy to my local library. Once catalogued, you will be able to borrow it from any of the council library venues. Compiled by Georgie Donaghey, this is a collection your kids are sure to love.
Our first meeting for 2020 @coastwrite coffee and chats. Things are brewing up here on the Central Coast!
I'd never used writing prompts until a year or so ago. I hadn't needed them. I had a million zillion ideas already. But then a chance encounter with a wooden box full of story prompts produced a short piece I never thought I had it in me to write, a comedic monologue about a girl getting her own way. Since then, I've dipped in occasionally, taking prompts from website generators or being inspired by something I've seen. Today at writing group, I drew a hilarious prompt - My brother does this weird thing with turtles. Well, that could have gone anywhere, but here's where I went in the twenty minutes we had. This is the unedited first splurge that came out.
Seth is different. Not the type of different that prompts people to take a second look, or the type of different that makes you want to be part of his gang. He’s - a different type of different. You see, my brother does this weird thing with turtles.
‘Seth,’ I call, ‘Are you ready?’
I look at my phone, checking the time again. The beach is empty but I know it won’t be long.
Seth finishes dressing, zipping up his black wet suit. ‘Yes, just need my bag.’
He fishes around in the dark searching for his bag amongst the rocks. The salt hangs thick in the air. I can taste it on my lips.
In the moonlight, I catch a glimpse of movement. It’s not just the ebb and flow of the waves wrestling against the shore.
‘Quick,’ I hiss, ‘they’re almost here.’
Seth retrieves the bag. ‘Okay, got it. Have you got the notebook?’
I check my pocket. ‘Yes.’
‘And the translator?’
I roll my eyes. ‘Yes.’
‘Good. Make sure you document exactly how many there are.’
Of course I will. It’s been twelve months exactly. Twelve months since Seth discovered he could speak to turtles.
Seth gives me an ear piece and a mike. I fit it snugly into my ear and wait while he clips his mike into place.
‘Go over there and test it.’ Seth points to the hollow of a large rock.
I head towards it picking my way over the shells and weed that are crusted onto the rocks.
‘Can you hear me? Testing, testing.’
Seth’s voice rings clearly in my ear. ‘Perfect. Can’t wait for this one, Bee. This is the best night of my life.’
The sentence ends in a squeal. ‘Quick Bee, they’re here. Come back.’
Scrambling, I grab my phone, flicking the camera on, swiping it onto night mode.
Seth is down at the water’s edge. One by one, the turtles emerge, surrounding him. He crouches down and I hear him murmur in the language that I have become accustomed to but can’t understand.
‘Be careful,’ I whisper, my stomach suddenly twisting with nerves.
Seth climbs onto the back of the largest turtle. ‘Bye Bee.’
He raises a hand in salute, then is gone, leaving me alone on the cold beach.
Crazy! I had no idea where I was going, but am quite happy with what came out. Of course there is cleaning up to do, but you can see how a sentence formed into the beginnings of something more.
Why not have a go yourself! Forget about grammar, plot, tense - just write! Google writing prompts, or stab your finger in the dictionary and pick three words that you must include somehow. Either way, you'll have something to shape, which is better than where you were twenty minutes ago.
Leave me a comment with where you think this turtle tale could go!
"You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself."