YA Day 2019 – insider info & advice from 15 wonderful YA authors

Saturday the 9th of February was The YA Room’s spectacular YA Day at The Wheeler Centre (thanks also to Writers Victoria), where fifteen authors across five different panels shared their expertise and anecdotes about the YA industry. It was the first time I’d been to the event and I came away with so much inspiration, admiration & a significant chunk of money missing from my bank account because of course I had to buy ALL the amazing books.

YAD 00

Every author had a lot of great things to say so I’ve consulted my scribbly notes & put together some writing gems that I found interesting and helpful.

*Willy Wonka singing voice* “Come with meeee, and you’ll beeee in a world of writer informaaaation…”

Continue reading “YA Day 2019 – insider info & advice from 15 wonderful YA authors”

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3 reasons why you should read ‘The Legend of Podkin One-Ear’ by Kieran Larwood

As soon as I finished this captivating tale I wanted to run out and join a clan of brave warrior rabbits to go on adventures with. Horses were never my thing as a kid – I was hopping mad for bunnies, Bugs, Buster, Babs or otherwise – so this book spoke right to my I-once-unwittingly-hired-Watership-Down-from-the-video-store-as-a-child-and-still-maintained-my-unabiding-love-for-rabbits soul.

Podkin One-Ear is the son of a warrior chieftain. Podkin’s life is thrown into chaos when his home is attacked by The Gorm (a group of mutated, iron-clad rabbits who have messed with dark magic). He escapes with his siblings – older sister, Paz, and baby brother, Pook – but the young trio are in for a dangerous journey as they try and find a way to rescue their family and defeat the evil creatures that have descended upon them.

podkin 01

The novel is interesting in that it alternates between a rabbit bard, narrating the story of Podkin to a group of wide-eyed bunnies on Bramblemas Eve, and then delving into Podkin’s adventures as they played out.

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What’s your inspirational word for 2019?

To be honest, I’m about as good at keeping New Year’s resolutions as I am at going into Kmart and only buying one thing, which is to say I am CRAP at it. But choosing a word or two as my theme for the year? That I can do!

I’ve seen this idea around a lot of awesome places, most notably in Jen Storer’s writing group on Facebook, The Duck Pond, and the Australian Writers’ Centre blog. Of course I got the ‘bird is the word’ song stuck in my head first (you are welcome for the earworm). But then I decided on two words for the year: Continue reading “What’s your inspirational word for 2019?”

My top 20 books of 2018

Originally this was going to be a top 10 but I read way too many awesome books this year and didn’t want to have a knockout round a la The Voice. Some books were published prior to 2018, but they were new to me this year (mainly because my book buying habit can’t be tamed, so I end up stockpiling novels to swim through a la Scrooge McDuck and his money vault).

Favourite children’s books I read in 2018

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The A-Z highlights of why you should read ‘Lenny’s Book of Everything’ by Karen Foxlee

Volumes A to H

Author appreciation – This is the first book I’ve read by Aussie author Karen Foxlee and I’m equal parts kicking myself for not being aware of her brilliance sooner, but also quite excited to realise that along with Lenny’s Book of Everything, Karen has published four other novels. (Dear Santa, I know what I want for Christmas…)

Lenny 01

Beautiful story – Lenny’s brother, Davey, has a rare form of gigantism. At age seven he’s already the size of an adult and his growth shows no signs of stopping. Lenny loves her younger brother, but it’s sometimes hard to grapple with the emotional gravity of their lives.

One thing Lenny and Davey look forward to arriving each week is the latest intriguing instalment of Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia, which allows them to become experts on topics such as beetles and eagles, and dream about the places they can visit one day. But the window for adventure becomes smaller as Davey becomes bigger and his health deteriorates, much to his family’s distress.

Family dynamics – Even though Lenny knows Davey is going through a lot, she still has her realistic moments where she gets utterly fed up with him (and vice versa).

Continue reading “The A-Z highlights of why you should read ‘Lenny’s Book of Everything’ by Karen Foxlee”

3 reasons why ‘The Elephant’ by Peter Carnavas is such a beautiful book

There were definitely tears shed when I read this story, but they weren’t just tears of sadness. They were tears of hope, nostalgia and understanding. And don’t even get me started on the wonderful kapow! to the heart the second-last chapter provided (#NoSpoilers). But above all, ‘The Elephant‘ is a great insight into how a young girl deals with issues of depression and grief that have impacted her family.

The Elephant 01

Olive’s dad has been feeling sad for so long that she has begun to imagine his sorrow is in the shape of an elephant. The big, foreboding creature lumbers behind her father and shows no sign of moving on. One day Olive decides she needs to get rid of her dad’s elephant and enlists the help of her Grandad and her best friend, Arthur. But igniting happiness in her dad again and chasing away the elephant may be harder than Olive thought.

From the premise it’s clear that Olive has a special connection with her father, but the story that captured my heart just as much was the connection between Olive and her Grandad.

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The Writing Alphabet – D

Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn! And now for the Top 10 writing-related words that begin with D.

01. DARLINGS (KILL YOUR)
No, this isn’t a vicious murder plot whispered into Peter Pan’s ear by Tinker Bell. It’s where you agonise about deleting things from your manuscript that you love (but then go on to save everything in a file titled ‘USE THIS SOMEWHERE ELSE MAYBE???’).

02. DEADLINE
No, this isn’t a vicious murder plot where the movie A Chorus Line becomes a horror film. It’s something to sweat over when you tell yourself you love having a time limit to work towards and then panic-write up until the due date.

03. DEDICATION
No, this isn’t a vicious… Okay, that’s enough dedication to that joke. But this can also be a nice note where you dedicate your book to someone special, or you just give your readers some really solid inspiration:

Letter D 01

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3 reasons why you should read Adam Cece’s MG novel ‘The Extremely Weird Thing That Happened in Huggabie Falls’

I mean, that book title alone is a pretty good reason to have a read – unless you’re already neighbours with The Addams Family and you’re like, ‘Nope, got enough weirdness for my lifetime, thanks.’ It also won the Text Prize in 2017, which is pretty cool. But let me set the scene for you…

Huggabie 01

School friends Kipp Kindle, Cymphany Chan and Tobias Treachery live in Huggabie Falls, the weirdest town on Earth. There you can find witches, vampire bats, trolls and a house built onto a roller coaster, but all of these weird things pale in comparison to the extremely weird thing that’s happening in town. The kids don’t know what it is yet, but they’re determined to find out.

What’s really fun about this book is that the narrator has such a big presence throughout.

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My 3 favourite things about Mat Larkin’s MG novel ‘The Orchard Underground’

Do you ever finish reading a book and get the urge to hold it aloft, presenting it to the world Lion King style for everyone to enjoy because you loved it that much? Well that was me with Mat Larkin‘s quirky and engaging middle grade novel The Orchard Underground.

Orchard 01

Pri Kohli has lived in Dunn’s Orchard all his life, he’s even ‘the face’ of the town. But when newcomer Attica Stone arrives on the scene and starts asking questions – mainly ‘Why is there a distinct lack of orchards in a place called Dunn’s Orchard?’ – Pri realises his town holds more mysteries than he thought, and thus a reluctant detective was born.

Firstly, this book is incredibly funny. I legitimately snorted out loud like an over-excited seal more than once (#glamour).

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The Writing Alphabet – C

If you’re to believe a certain blue monster Muppet, “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me”, but I say, no sir. That is not good enough for me. I need at least ten words associated with writing that begin with ‘C’ otherwise this is just going to be a super short blog post sending subliminal messages about desserts.

Cookie 01
“ME NO CARE ABOUT YOUR BLOG. ME HAVE HIT COOKIE JACKPOT.”

Tough crowd. Anyway, ‘C’ is also for…

01. CAFE
A place where you can purchase delicious cookies… wait, no. It’s a place where you go to do your writing so you’re not distracted by things at home, instead you’re distracted by the thumping in your veins from your 8th cup of coffee while you guard your table located next to the only power outlet.

02. CENTRIFUGAL MOTION
When you’re worried about including random analogies in your writing but then you remember Faith Hill compared smooching to centrifugal motion in her 90s classic ‘This Kiss’ and you realise you’re fine.

Continue reading “The Writing Alphabet – C”