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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Me Reading From Wolfborn

The other day I read on YouTube from my work-in-progress, The Sword And The Wolf (urk! Awful title, only working one) and today, on a day of 35 degree heat, three sleeps till I have to be back at work, I recorded myself reading a snippet from the book you CAN  buy. It's from Chapter 4, where the hero is lost in the forest during a storm and meets some beings he wasn't expecting to see out there...
You can check it out here.

Please do, even if you've seen it here, it's really good and the more hits I get out there, the more I'm likely to get. This promotion is important to those of us who are trying to earn some royalties and maybe even be asked to write another book. :-)

Meanwhile, what-the-heck, have a look here - I seem to get plenty of hits on this site when I put up a video.
video


Mythic Resonance anthology - the details

Here's a link to the Specusphere web site page with the info about the anthology. It has the blurb, information about how you can get it (it will be out on ebook as well as print) and a book trailer which feautres the cover blurb and some very nice music.

Go check it out here!

I'm starting to get excited. But I have to be patient. Patient! :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mythic Resonance - it's coming!

This is an anthology in which I have a story - coming soon! Honest! Great cover, isn't it? And especially nice because, having a name early in the alphabet, I'm near the top of the list.

Not sure when it will be out, because apparently the printer is giving us trouble, so I will have to be patient a little longer, but I'll let it be known when it's out and I have a copy in my hot little hand.

This anthology, being published by Specusphere, is on the theme of myths and legends. Mine is based on Snow White, seen through the eyes of the dwarfs - or, rather dwarves, who are more like something out of Tolkien than Disney. I wrote it long ago, put it aside after not selling it, then dusted it off and rewrote it for this one. I was keeping my fingers crossed and waiting with bated breath as it got on to the short list, and finally got the good news that it had been selected - yay!

It was edited by the wonderful Satima Flavell, who helped me make it look its best.

I must admit, I'd never realised how many versions of Snow White there were till I did this story. There's a web site called SurLaLune, recommended by Juliet Marillier at the Swancon fairy tale workshop last year, which really opened my eyes as to how many versions there are of all fairy and folk tales. I knew it in theory, but on this web site I got to see them. Terrific site, check it out if you like folklore and if you're into myths and legends and great spec fic writing, keep an eye out for this anthology when it's available.

The Optimism of Dystopian YA Fiction

There's a lot of dystopian YA out there these days, along with the paranormal romances.This morning there was a jokey discussion on Twitter about the differences between Jules Verne SF (optimistic) and current YA dystopias. It made me think about this.

I've read some YA dystopian, along with the paras, and I can see why it's not necessarily a bad thing to read/write about a horrible society in the future. My only objection is the building of a world that fails to convince me it could exist and most of them fall into that category.

But that's a topic for another post.

In some ways, dystopias are optimistic because in them, the heroine - and it's almost invariably a heroine (yeesh! Isn't anyone writing for boys any more, except the action thrillers?) - defies the establishment. We don't need to look any further than Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games series, which in my opinion is far and away the best of the genre written in recent years (I'm not counting John Wyndham's The Chrysalids, which was written a long time ago and is a classic). Without spoilers for those who haven't read it (and what's taking you so long?), she fights hard against the establishment and won't let herself be used even by those who are supposed to be on her side.

Mostly, the heroine of the dystopian novel wins and settles down with the cute boy who fought at her side, or with the one she met later, after the original cute boy died heroically.

There is, as  far as I can see in the ones I've read, not usually a last-page suicide, as there is in mainstream YA fiction. Well, it's kind of hard, given how many of them are written in first-person, but still...

So, I'd argue that dystopian YA fiction is generally quite optimistic. There may well be a YA book out there with a "He loved Big Brother" ending, but I haven't read it yet.

What do you guys think? Come on, lurkers, join in!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Post Up On Mary Victoria's Web Site

Mary Victoria, author of the Chronicles Of The Tree series, has been celebrating the release of a new anthology in which she has a story by a series of posts on the theme of Place As Character. Most of the guest bloggers have been people with stories in the anthology, but Mary, who has been very supportive of my writing since we met at Aussiecon 4, invited me to add my thoughts though I wasn't in the anthology.

So I've written a post, partly on other people's books - the character of the Citavita in Froi of the Exiles and of Mordor in Lord of The Rings - and partly on the forest as a character in Wolfborn.

Here's the link and while you're on the web site, check out the fabulous trailer for Mary's new book.

Go to Mary Victoria Net, here.

New Upload to Youtube - Me Reading!

Okay, it's up on Youtube, but hey, you can watch it here if you like. I thought it might be a good bit of promo to read a snippet from Wolfborn, which I will be doing soonish, but on an impulse, I read from the manuscript of my Wolfborn prequel, working title The Sword And The Wolf. I hope I'll come up with something better, but then, Wolfborn wasn't my idea either. :-)

So here I am, making a fool of myself on-line, reading a bit from Chapter 2.

Hope you like it.
video

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Forthcoming Interview - Mark Walden

I'm preparing some questions for Mark Walden, author of the H.I.V.E. series and am hoping to pop up his replies here, when he's answered. One of the most popular posts on this blog is one of my H.I.V.E reviews and I know he has a big audience out there.  It will be a very interesting post when it goes up, so stand by!

I'd also like, at some stage, to interview some young bloggers - teenagers or people who started a blog in their teens and are still going. If that works out, I may follow it up with an interview with people who started a blog later in life, not having been brought up in the Internet era.

For the time being, if you're a youthful blogger who would like either an interview or a guest post here, let me know, either in a comment or by email. I do have a few people in mind whom I might email anyway, as soon as I have done the questions for Mark Walden. I think it's quite wonderful that teenagers are doing something this creative. There are a lot of young book bloggers out there, but at least one I admire, who isn't a book blogger, has a career in journalism ahead of her.

A gem of a post to share with you

If you liked the post on "You Know You've Been Reading Too Much YA paranormal Romance When..." take a look at this one, which is "what would [insert YA heroine here] do?"

http://ht.ly/8CfuV

It's very funny! I found it posted by Stephanie from readinasinglesitting blog. Thanks, Stephanie!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Catching Up With Slush

Not sure how it happened, but my slush reading for Andromeda Spaceways has built up. So this morning I printed out a huge pile, because I just can't read long stories on the computer. At least there are no novellas this time around, but there is so much to read all the same.

I'm halfway through a story centred around a classic British novella. I just finished a humorous ghost story and one which had scary critters worked casually into it. There was a short humorous one with gods in it and a medium-length one in which not much happened at all. Oh, yes - I get a lot of those. And pieces of flash fiction which end on a joke you'd probably only understand if you live in the US, the kind where I go, "Huh?" and scratch my head. And the ones which are supposed to be funny "non-fiction" (I can't stand those, so usually ask for them to be re-assigned.)

There have been some quite good stories in the pile I've been reading - so far I've only said no to one of them - but it's been a while since I got a story to which I said, "Wow!" I think the last one may have been the one I've chosen to edit for the anniversary edition of ASIM, #56.

Well, never know, there may be another "Wow!" story in this pile. Back to it.

Review Policy Update

Hi guys.

I've updated my review policy to make it clearer, since I've had a review request I can't help with. (Check it out) At this stage I'm not planning to review anything I can't either buy in the shops or order and get in my letterbox. Sorry! Don't get me wrong - I absolutely adore my new e-reader facility!

But for a number of reasons, I don't want to use it for reviewing. Firstly, you can't curl up in bed with an e-book. Well, I can't, anyway. For bedtime, when I do much of my reading, I really prefer paper which I can then lay on my bedside table with a bookmark in it.

Secondly, and most important, there's my major reason for reviewing books, apart from knowing what's out there and my own love of reading: I like to donate my review copies to my hard-pressed school library (anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know that last year, my already tiny budget was slashed in half). I can't, alas, catalogue an e-book and put it on the shelves when I've finished reading it. My library software doesn't handle that.

Also, I'm asking anyone who would like me to review their book to please ask first, not send me the book itself.

If any of you bloggers out there would like to read and review a new indie title sent to me in PDF, email me and I'll forward it to you, along with the author's email address. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

H.I.V.E Aftershock by Mark Walden. Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2011




If you’ve been following the H.I.V.E series, you’ll know that it’s centred around a school for future super-villains, run by Max Nero, a member of the council of an organization called G.L.O.V.E – Global League Of Villainous Enterprises. At the end of the last volume, Zero Hour, Nero dismissed the entire council and started again, with a council made up of H.I.V.E graduates on whom he believes he can rely.

As you can imagine, the former members aren’t happy – some even less happy than others. And there’s the organization known as the Disciples, formerly working with the evil super-computer Overlord, which wanted to take over our hero Otto’s body. Overlord is dead and the Disciples scattered … or are they? Who is the mysterious woman known as Minerva who has offered the ex-council an alliance? Will they accept the offer?

Back at the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, Otto Malpense and his friends are about to sit their exams and go on a field exercise called the Hunt, where you really had better excel, or else. Laura, the computer hacker, suggests that they steal the exam papers, mainly to embarrass the unpleasant new security chief. Well, they are villains-in-training. What could go wrong, anyway?

Read this and find out. Be warned, it ends on a cliffhanger – and some characters will  do unexpected  things.

The cover blurb (and isn't it a snazzy new design?) features a comment from Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, that his hero would fit right in at H.I.V.E.  I can see his point, and not only because of the villain thing, but because the Fowl stories, like these, become darker as they go and because Artemis becomes nice. This is where the series is a little strange. You find yourself cheering for young villains, each of whom could be the hero or heroine of their own series. This is because the real baddies are so dreadful. They want to take over the world or even destroy it, while those behind H.I.V.E. just want to help themselves to the money, dress in style and enjoy a challenge.

There’s a lot of running around and blowing things up in this one, with characters hanging from gunship helicopters, driving tanks through an old Soviet  base, fighting duels with super-weapons and escaping the forces of evil – er,  the other forces of evil, seeing the good guys in this series are the forces of evil.

Despite the darker tone, there is still plenty of humour and excitement for those who have finished their Alex Rider and Young James Bond books. I finished this book in a day and a night and am now waiting anxiously for the next volume.

I’m also waiting to see if there will be a movie, as the first novel was optioned some time ago. A pity it wasn’t made when it was first optioned – Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, would have made a splendid Otto, but is too old now.


A Day At The Movies


Today I took the older children in my family, my nephew Max and his cousin Dezzy, to see Hugo, the new Martin Scorsese movie. I'm not a huge fan of 3D, because I HATE  having to fit the 3D glasses over my own, very uncomfortable, but I could see why this one was done the way it was - and the director made an excellent use of 3D,  which is an integral part of the film. Despite the fact that the DVD, when it's out, will be in 2D, though, I will be buying it, probably the first day it's available!

It's a film centred around cinema history, the story of Georges Melies, who did what is arguably the world's first science fiction film,


 except it's seen from the viewpoint of Hugo, a young boy who has a mysterious automaton figure which he was fixing with his clockmaker father before his Dad's death. He's now living by himself in the main train station in Paris, in the 1920s, still trying to fix the automaton, but he's missing a heart-shaped key that is needed to wind it up...

Thing is, quite apart from the cinema history here, it is so very steampunk! I watched all that clockwork and the era in which it was going on and that's the first word that came to me. Steampunk!

The cast is great too, with Ben Kingsley as Melies, Christopher Lee as a kindly bookshop owner and Jude Law as the boy's father. The music is composed by Howard Shore, of Lord Of The Rings fame. Sacha Baron Cohen is in it too, but if you haven't seen it I'll let you see what role he plays. He's funny, yes, but with a twist.

The station itself is a character in the film - and wouldn't we all love to be able to go to a station full of toyshops and bookshops and cafes where you can dance to a live band every day?

It's a very special movie and now I'm going to have to dig out the book.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Goodies For My Enjoyment

Today I came home from taking the kids out to see the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie to find some lovely stuff in my letterbox. There was my ordered DVD of Going Postal, the telemovie of Terry Pratchett's novel. I don't think it quite as good as the Hogfather movie, but I got sucked into a second viewing on TV and thought, what-the-heck and bought it through the ABC Shop. I'm looking forward to my third viewing. As per usual, Terry appears at the end, this time as a postman.

There's also a lovely package from Bloomsbury, in which I found a review copy of Mark Walden's latest H.I.V.E novel, Aftershock. It's been a while since I read the last one and I might have to do a skim-through to refresh my memory, but it's always worth a read. There was also a blurb from the publicity lady at Bloomsbury offering an interview or guest post from the author. That's something I'll think about while I read the book. I do have some questions to ask. If you haven't read the series, the theme is goings-on in the world of super-villains. H.I.V.E is a school for the training of future super-villains, as well as a henchman program aimed at the future sidekicks. The first novel was very funny, and the school a sort of Hogwarts for villains, as if seen from the viewpoint of Draco Malfoy. There is still humour, but the series becomes a lot darker as it goes, and the protagonists are - well, nice!

Finally, among today's arrivals is Joanne Anderton's first novel, Debris, published by Angry Robot Books. I am very much looking forward to reading this. I had never met Joanne till last Swancon, but we'd worked together on the Andromeda Co-Op and I have read several of her stories, including one I was lucky enough to get in slush. We read blind, so all I knew was that I was reading this wonderful story that deserved to be published. I was in the staffroom at work when I read it, as I recall, and said, "Oh, my God, there's a story in which the Royal Flying Doctor Service fly out on dragons!" And the dragons were simply enlarged, winged Australian lizards. The story was duly published and as the art director,  I arranged for the cover art with an American artist, Anna Repp, who was a wonderful dragon-painter. Anna looked up the Flying Doctor Service and photos of the Australian desert and did a terrific cover for that issue. I will be reviewing this book as soon as I can, so stand by.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SECOND HAND TREASURES


In an earlier post, I talked about discount bookshops and the treasures to be found there. Today I'm going to talk about treasures to be found second-hand.

Some of the books that have been closest to my heart weren’t brand new from the publishers at all, they were second hand, sometimes very old.

When I was at school, I used to go to school fetes, where people would donate books they wanted to get rid of, a win-win situation. For 20 cents, I acquired a proof copy of Mary Renault’s Alexander novel Fire From Heaven and Leon Uris’s Exodus in hardcover. Diving right into the books on offer, I found a velvet-covered 1900s copy of Romeo and Juliet. I gave that to a friend returning to America and she, in her turn, gave me a book she’s discovered at the fete:  a very old copy of The Volsunga Saga – you know, the Icelandic version of the story Wagner used for the Ring operas? Sigurd instead of Siegfried, Brynhild, Gudrun… I was thrilled to bits.

I found Howard Fast’s autobiographical The Naked God at a church fete near my place. It told me a lot more about the background to his books than I could have found elsewhere in those pre-Internet days.

I have some nineteenth century books – Byron’s poems and an 1876 works of Shakespeare turned up at a second-hand bookshop high up on Flinders Lane in Melbourne, as did a 19th century copy of the Aeneid, which had been given as a school prize. The shop is long gone now and I haven’t seen anything like it since; there are second-hand shops, of course, and my favourites belong to David and Penny Syber, who sell second-hand SF books in their shops near my home. Well, they sell more than that, but it’s what they specialise in. But not only that. Once, a workmate told me she had lost her copy of the autobiography of Franco Zefirelli, a book I owned and loved. Would you believe David had a copy parked in his back room?

At another second-hand shop in the Melbourne CBD, I have found a pile of Celtic-themed books, so helpful when I was researching background to the Faerie stuff in Wolfborn. I still wander in now and then and pounce on the latest title about Scottish or Irish fairy tales. It was in one of the books I found at that shop that I read an Irish version of Bluebeard. I remembered it when doing Juliet Marillier’s fairy tale workshop at Swancon last year, because the ending was so different. In it, the young wife succeeds in scrubbing away the bloodstains before the husband returns, with the help of some animals she has befriended. When he returns, he says, basically, “Oh, you obeyed me! Well done!” and they live happily ever after. Or as happy as you can be with a wife-killer in the house, anyway.

My sister Mary found me some books I really got excited about. Once, she gave me a second-hand Charles De Lint chapbook, of the kind he writes for family Christmas presents, then prints in chapbook form for sale, then mass market, because she knows I’m fond of his work. What she hadn’t realised was that it was signed! (Later, I was lucky enough to be invited to do a panel with him at a Swancon … great guy!)

Another time, she borrowed a second-hand book catalogue from a friend and ordered me a copy of A Yankee At The Court Of King Arthur by Mark Twain (the British title) because she knows I’m into things Arthurian.

Dear Mary. It turned out to be a first British edition, published in 1889, at the same time as the US one. It wasn’t signed, but I was NOT complaining!

In recent months I’ve acquired copies of old books by Murray Leinster, Bob Shaw, Henry Kuttner and other SF writers of the golden age, usually at Penny Syber’s shop in Windsor, which is right next to the tram stop, so I can go there after work if I’m willing to get off the train a couple of stops early and go on the tram.

My friend Anne is an expert at finding things in op shops. When I complained that I didn’t have any money left to order a copy of  Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword At Sunset for my library, she posted me an early hardcover she’d unearthed somewhere. Ulp! It’s now only in print in the US! I’m keeping that one; I’m going to order a paperback through Of Science And Swords bookshop in town as soon as my new budget comes through.

John, another friend of unbelievable search skills, sent me a Robin Hood TV series annual from the 50s, while my friend Gaye found me another, with a different Robin. Bliss!

New is nice, but for me, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of discovering the old.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Okay, roll of drums! The time has come!

Thanks to a fabulous random number generator, I didn't have to cut up all those names and put them into a hat. So please believe me when I say the names were totally randomly chosen - two books and two sets of bookmarks. I'm also giving away a couple more sets of bookmarks on a whim - more of that later.

You've all been wonderful and it's been exciting to have had so many entries from around the world. I hope you'll check out the book anyway and maybe get it as an e-book (I've found it on the iTunes store as well as Amazon).

Now - stop rolling those drums, Etienne! I have to make the announcement!

Two copies of Wolfborn will be winging their way to:

RandomlyKait

and

Brenda Demko

I'm sending signed bookmarks to Christina Fiorelli and DindaSi. You'll get some for my children's non-fiction book Crime Time and some for Wolfborn (I thought I'd run out and found a stash my publishers sent me months ago and I'd forgotten)

Congratulations, ladies!

I'm also sending bookmarks to the following:

Helen, because you actually commented on a post other than the giveaway one; I really appreciated that.

Cayce: because you implied you might have taken a look at either the Wolfborn review or the sample chapter. You didn't have to, but I appreciated it.

I'm going off to have breakfast now and do my grocery shopping, but later on today my time I'll be emailing the winners for their mailing addresses and hopefully I will send off the books or bookmarks on Monday.

Of course, if you want to email me your addresses without hearing from me first, that's fine too. :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Me And My E-Reader

Okay, I've now had my wonderful new iPad for about a week. I thought it must be two at least because of all the fun I've had with it, but I've checked out the post in which I announced it and it was January 7. It's been great being able to check my email and read the Age newspaper in bed each morning. Once I'm back at work, I won't be able to do that except on the weekend, but I can take it on the train.

What I've been most thrilled with, though, is the e-reader facility. looking at my virtual book shelves, I now have the following:

A Connecticut Yankee At King Arthur's Court, What Katy Did, What Katy Did At School, Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, Keith Laumer's Legions of Space, Andre Norton's The Time Traders, Fritz Leiber's short story "No Great Magic", which I've read and liked before, a 1930 copy of Astounding Stories, The Lost World and a Professor Challenger short story, "The Disintegration Machine, Wells' The Time Machine, both Jungle Books and a volume of Kipling's horror fiction, The Berserker Throne, The Code of Hammurabi (did you know you could be executed for receiving stolen goods in ancient Mesopotamia?), Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, A Princess of Mars, Grimm's Fairytales, Agent of Vega and A Logic Named Joe, a collection of Murray Leinster stories. The title story, published in 1946, predicted the Internet!

I do, of course, have the iPad manual for emergencies. It's several hundred pages long, so I'll use it when I need it.

And, just because I could, I bought a copy of my own novel, Wolfborn, so I could carry it around, maybe show it off a little, use it for reading from in public (when, one of these days, I get invited to speak in public about my writing... :-D). So far, it's the only book for which I was required to pay; the rest were from Project Gutenberg or the Baen free book page.

I don't mind paying, but most of these are classics I either haven't read or haven't read in years. And I can carry them all in my bag and open up whichever of them I want, when I want. I've been like a kid in a lolly shop! When I calm down I will start shopping, and buy some current books.

Today, while I was waiting for my mother to join me at Macca's, I opened my e-reader to Mark Twain's gorgeous time-travel novel, which I've loved since I first read it in primary school. (I have a battered old paperback and a first British edition my sister bought me from a catalogue). There was a table nearby with another mother and daughter and the daughter asked me lots of questions. Her elderly mother's ears pricked up when I said that if your eyesight isn't too good you can enlarge the letters on an e-reader.

Now, if my local library would make e-borrowing possible I'd buy my mother an e-reader so she could read her crime novels in large print...

Once I get a word-processing program I will be able to use it to check my students' homework, read slush and prepare stuff for the library.

Read A Book!

Found this link on Twitter, which is proving to be very handy, pity it's blocked at school. Go check it out, come back here and comment - go on:

http://yfrog.com/g0vwk3j

I'd add to this picture one of a computer/mobile phone/ games console. Although now I think of it you can read a book on your computer and mobile.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

SHAKE A LEG By Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2011


It’s a hot night in far North Queensland. Three boys are on a quest for pizza, as you do on a hot summer night. They find a highly unusual pizzeria whose owner not only makes – very unusual! - pizza and speaks Italian but tells indigenous stories, using song and dance in which the listeners are invited to take part. The boys are about to get a lot more than something to eat…

I’ve read Boori Monty Pryor’s novels, but this is, as far as I know, his first picture book/graphic novel, created with award-winning artist Jan Ormerod.

This book itself won a Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2011 and it’s very clear why. It’s a joyous, stunningly-illustrated journey through traditional stories and it tells you that indigenous and non-indigenous Australians can celebrate their own traditions and each other’s together. You can almost hear the music and the storyteller. Perhaps an audio-book read by the author with accompanying book would be a good way to go?

It’s an interesting combination of graphic novel and picture-book and the pizza-maker looks just a little like a younger version of the author. That’s not surprising; Boori Monty Pryor does tend to write himself into his novels, so why shouldn’t the artist draw him in?

Mr Pryor has recently been appointed one of Australia’s first two Children’s Laureates, something that has been done in the UK for years. His job will be to encourage children to love reading and frankly, I can’t think of anyone better.



HIT LIST By Jack Heath. Sydney: Pan Macmillan, 2010



 Ash and Benjamin are teenage thieves working for a mysterious figure called Hammond Buckland. Actually, Ash is the one who does most of the running around; Benjamin is her admiring helper, who does the technical stuff.

Ash had started off as a straight thief, trying to get money to solve the family financial problems, but has started to feel guilty about it and is now only stealing things that have been stolen by others, to return them to their rightful owners…for a price.

Now, she and Benjamin will travel to the heart of the world’s top technology facility in response to an SOS from someone called Alice. Rescuing a kidnapped girl sounds good. The only trouble is, there are others who have the same goal and are prepared to kill to achieve it – and send in hit men and hit teams. And who is the Ghost even the hit team are terrified of?

It’s a nice, easy-to-read thriller for teenagers and I like that the author has written it from the girl’s viewpoint, meaning both girls and boys can enjoy it. I liked that Ash is not confident about her own attractions and doesn’t have friends apart from Benjamin. I liked that Benjamin was a nerdy type, not the usual athletic hunk. And wouldn’t we all like to imagine ourselves running around major places in the world, kicking ass?

You can really enjoy it if you’re prepared to suspend some disbelief. Like - telling your dad that you’re going for a sleepover at a friend’s place and to please pick you up from school next day and then travelling – without any paperwork whatsoever, it seems! – from Australia to the US and spending the next however many hours having adventures and being followed overseas by various other characters who are after you, who arrive in plenty of time to threaten you. (Time zones, anyone?) One of whom, by the way, has just been badly injured and really shouldn’t be out of bed?

But this probably says more about me and my attitude to thrillers than it does about the author or his editor. I have read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code which has sold millions of copies and was non-stop adventure and all I could think of, when I’d finished it, was that no one ever slept, ate or went to the bathroom in the 24 hours in which the book is set and no one seemed even remotely tired at the end. Thrillers are like that. Nobody would read them if they had people stop for a rest. Get over it, Sue.

So I’m just going to make one nitpick: the author has done a lot of research about the big things, but there are some small things that could have done with checking. As far as I know, alimony is very rare in Australia, can be paid to either partner depending on the circumstances, if they can’t support themselves, and child support is paid to the parent who has the child. Admittedly this is usually the mother, but in this case Ash lives with her father and at one point they discuss the alimony and child support he’s paying to her mother, who had left them and has a well-paid job. He’s clearly being ripped off here! Someone has not told Ash’s father the law, it seems.

Just a nitpick on my part. And of course, Ash’s home location is kept vague, but it’s not in the US and the terms used are mostly Australian.

This is the second of two novels (there’s also a short story), but I haven’t read the first. It pretty much stands alone, though I suspect it might be better to read the first one before this.

Go on, read it. It’s not too long for even a reluctant reader and it’s fun.

Giveaway Nearly Over

It's been a fascinating week, seeing all those entries come in from around the world, everyone saying thank you nicely and some showing they might be interested in this particular book. One even hinted she may have checked out the sample chapter! For me, living in Australia, this is the last day, but you guys keep entering till midnight your time. I'll take it into account. I won't be drawing the winner till afternoon Jan.13 my time. Winners, that is. Two books and two lots of bookmarks. I had planned to cut out the names and put them into a hat,but thanks to my friend Lan Chan of The Write Obsession I have learned about a web site that generates random numbers. So you will each be given a number and I'll then go to the web site with a set of numbers between...whatever the final number is and 1. It will generate the required set of numbers and those will be my winners. Good luck!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

O joy! New toy!

I've acquired three new toys over the last couple of weeks. Well, I needed the phone. The old one was playing up on me. I don't care if it does more than make calls, though I admit the camera is nice. And my little mp3 player was a gift from my sister and handy for podcasts, but not an iPod. But my iPad! I'm carrying a mobile computer. And, because I'm a book lover, I've been hankering after an ereader. I found a free app that links with a number of free book sites - not only Project Gutenberg, but the Baen web site. I've already downloaded three books by classicSF writers. My very first ebooks! The iPad is something I have wanted to get, but I finally got it when I knew our Year 7 students were to be issued with them. Won't it be fun learning it before I go back? Excuse me while I go play with my new toys.

YOU KNOW YOU’VE BEEN READING TOO MUCH YA PARANORMAL ROMANCE WHEN…




  1. You go grocery shopping in a long formal gown. 
  1. You’re disappointed when you turn sixteen and all that happens is a party.
  1. You’re being stalked, but it’s okay, because he is so hot!
  1. You check out new boys in your class for evidence of wings.
  1. You’re invited to go flying and assume it’s going to be in his arms, not a plane.
  1. You go to a new town and hope there’s a mysterious bunch of gorgeous guys to fight over you.
  1. Your parents tell you there’s something they need to discuss with you and you hope they’re going to tell you that you’re a long-lost Faerie/vampire/demon princess.
  1. You get frustrated because the school 's head cheerleader is actually NICE and isn't accusing you of stealing her boyfriend.

And you really know you’ve read too much of this stuff when you get a copy of Dracula and cheer for the vampire!

I came across a list of five signs of reading too much YA fiction on Book Riot blog and thought it such a good idea I couldn’t resist doing my own list. Thanks, Book Riot!

SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR THE NATIONAL YEAR OF READING?



This is the National Year of Reading in Australia. There are discussions going on all over the web and ideas thrown around for how to do stuff to encourage reading. I don’t think I can add to these discussions, but I can talk about what I’m hoping to do and make suggestions for things that can be done in a school library with a tiny budget and limited staffing.

A library like mine.

I’ve experimented with most of these suggestions and am planning to have a go at the others. My book club had better watch out, because I am going to ask them to give a hand – okay, Dylan and Thando? J (Students following this blog, and Thando has been a guest blogger)

There are the obvious ones, which any school can do if they have time and/or money. The Premier’s Reading Challenge, for example. Reader’s Cup. MS Readathon. But all those are team efforts. They need to be a school effort, not just that of the teacher-librarian. If you can arrange that, fine.

However, I’m going to make a few suggestions that you can do with limited staff help and funding, though they do rather rely on students co-operating. But hey, the students are what it’s about and who it’s for and if you can’t get student co-operation you might as well not bother!

These things all need effort. There’s no way you can get around that. But they work, as long as you’re prepared to be obnoxious and make a fuss till you get some support, however little. Here they are, in no special order – if you have some more you’ve tried out, why not add them here?

  1. Offer to do book launches for new writers. In this era of internet contact, it’s not hard to track down a new writer who might be willing and able to have a go. It’s win-win. It gives the author promotion and practice in speaking to young readers and they can bring books to sell. Students get to meet a writer at the start of their career You have to have some copies in the library and promote like mad for days before the visitor arrives for the launch. Call the local press. That’s good for everyone. When my book Starwalkers was being launched in a school library, I persuaded my publisher to give us some goodies and a few dollars towards the lollies and cordial. The TL called the local press and did a space-themed trivia quiz before I arrived and held the final round during the launch. I signed copies of the book for all four students. It was very successful. Since then, I’ve had a number of launches myself.

  1. Start a book or library blog, if you don’t have one already. You can review new books, which can then go to your library, and you can invite students to review books on it. If you’re planning on doing something for IYR, you probably have a blog of one kind or another anyway.


  1. Start a lunchtime book club. Yes, it can be exhausting and you need to work out what it will involve, with your students, but believe me when I say it’s well worth the effort. And these students can become “reading ambassadors” and help with activities you might plan and choose books for the library.

  1. Join YABBA (Young Australians Best Books Award). This is CHEAP! Even I was able to afford it last year. You get posters and stuff and the students can nominate and vote for Australian books they like. It helps to have the support of English staff for this one, but you can also get your reading ambassadors to encourage their fellow students to nominate and vote.

  1. Why not check out Banned Books Week? It’s amazing how many books in your library have been banned at one time or another. Last year I experimented, doing it myself and putting it up on Youtube, but how about encouraging students to do this? Even if it doesn’t go on Youtube, why not film it anyway and have a festival of readings in the library? Have a prize – it doesn’t have to be big and you’ll probably have some review books put aside anyway. There’s also Teachertube, which is less likely to be blocked!

  1. How about a book trailer competition? I haven’t had the opportunity to do it in the library yet, but last year I did it with my English class. I got the idea when Random House, my publishers, ran their annual teenage book trailer comp. Teachertube has a very good book trailer presentation that gives you information about Creative Commons web sites that will let you use the images, music, etc, free. Check it out. My English students were given the chance to prepare a book trailer as a creative response to their Literature Circles books. These were so very good that I put them together on DVD and will be showing them to other staff. I gave all my class members a copy to take away as a souvenir. Teenagers are better at this sort of thing than we are, being familiar with the software. The trailers can be shown in the library during Book Week, perhaps, or Banned Books Week. You do have to model this, though, and I prepared my own trailer for Wolfborn, which I expected them to laugh at, and go do a better job, but they liked it. You can also go on-line and find trailers made by students to show them. I used Teachertube. We had everything from Morris Gleitzman’s Once as a sort of PowerPoint with music to a performance of a scene from Wuthering Heights done as a modern American soap opera!

  1. How about a Book Week lunchtime trivia quiz? Prizes can be small. You can buy bags of fun-sized chocolate bars for $3 to $5 at the supermarket. I’ve done this many times and it always works, though last year I gave up on Book Week altogether when my book club helpers all went off to camp. Oh, well. The beauty of this is that you can create a quiz that can be varied a bit each year, but doesn’t have to be completely new each time. Sometimes, I grab students in the library and invite them to think up a question for the quiz. Only one each. That way they only know the answer to one in advance. ;-) You will need a barrel girl/boy to mark and record the scores of each group on the whiteboard, but there’s bound to be a staff member who is happy to give a hand.

  1. How about an on-line interview with a favourite writer?  Check out the ones I’ve published on The Great Raven. All but the interview with Miffy were done by my students. They have been among the most popular posts on the blog. I sat down with them and had a chat about their questions. I gave these questions a light edit before submitting them to the author, but otherwise the questions belong to the students who wrote them. Not all authors will be willing or able to help. Sometimes they’re just too busy writing and we do want them to get on with producing more for us to read. Sometimes they don’t include a contact email on their web sites. Sometimes you get a response from an agent who sees your request, not as an opportunity for promotion, but as a nuisance.

But most of the writers we queried were simply wonderful. Every one of the interviews we received was better than we could possibly have expected.

Some publishers will actually offer an interview. This is where I got the idea; Juliet Marillier’s publisher said she was doing interviews that month and as I’d only read one of her books at the time and I had a student who was a passionate Marillier fan, I asked if she could do it. “Sure!” said the publisher. The rest is history.

If you have any ideas of your own, do respond here. Library folk have to look after each other and why reinvent the wheel?



Thursday, January 05, 2012

SEIZURE By Kathy Reichs. Sydney: Random House 2011




Tory and her friends live on an island near the city of Charleston. Their parents work as researchers for the university’s veterinary facility. What they haven’t told their families is that they have all been infected with a mutated virus that gave them wolf abilities – better sight, hearing, smell, though each is better than the others in one thing. They have been testing out their new abilities when disaster strikes: the facility is being closed down, the animal reserve will probably be sold to developers and the friends will be split. What to do? Well…there’s always buried pirate treasure to seek. And the Charleston area is overflowing with pirate history, including that of notorious woman pirate Anne Bonny. And Anne left a treasure map…

This is the second book in the series, but apart from the appearance, late in the book, of a character from the first novel, it can pretty much stand alone. I haven’t read the first book and I had no trouble with it at all.

Kathy Reichs is best known for her series about forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, on which the TV series Bones is loosely based. I’ve read several of them and I have to say I never expected the author to have a go at YA fiction. Tory is Tempe’s grandniece, which made for an odd feeling when I first picked up this book; you don’t expect a straight crime series to have a companion series with fantastical elements. In fact, there were a number of Reichs fans at the Sisters In Crime convention I attended last year who were complaining bitterly about it.

I have to wonder, now, if they had actually read either this book or the first one. Odd as the idea is, the book itself is a hoot. Think The Goonies with superpowers. The author definitely had a nod to that movie in mind, as she has a character mention it at one point. There’s also a scene in which Tory and her Dad watch Bones on TV, without telling us if it’s a documentary series, since Tempe Brennan is a real person in this universe.

But it’s huge fun. The characters have superpowers all right, but they can’t be sure when they will “flare” and it takes different things to get them flaring. Shelton has to be scared. Ben has to be angry to get it going, which means the others have to upset him. Tory is the only one who can join them as a “pack” and communicate telepathically.

The kids are desperate to find the treasure, but they aren’t the only ones after it and spend most of the novel being chased, shot at and otherwise threatened by other treasure-seekers. I found myself grinning, chortling and laughing out loud.

And it’s lucky it was written by this particular author, who is herself a forensic anthropologist, because otherwise I would have wondered how well a three-hundred-year-old document would survive being carried around in a girl’s backpack while she’s nearly killed in several violent ways. But Kathy Reichs is both a forensic scientist and a former archaeologist and if she says it’s possible I’ll accept that.

I’m looking forward to trying out this one on the students who have been reading Justin Richards, Anthony Horowitz and Charlie Higson’s adventure novels.


This 'n That! :-)

I've just finished reading Kathy Reichs's YA novel Seizure, which will be reviewed on this site soon. What a hoot! It took me a while to get started, then i read the lot in a day.

The book giveaway hop has started and for the next few days, folks will be wandering through in hopes of getting a copy of Wolfborn. I'll look forward to meeting them, and some will also receive some bookmarks. I've just unearthed a stash of Wolfborn bookmarks to add to the Crime Times.

Yesterday I had the good fortune to meet Lan Chan of The Write Obsession. a blog I read daily. We took a stroll through the State Library, one of my favourite places in Melbourne, and Lan joined. If anyone reading this lives here and isn't a member I do recommend it - there are so many wonderful on-line resources you can use, even if you never step in the door again (and you can join on-line if you can't get in). We did try to join the Victorian Writers' Centre, but it's closed for holidays till next week.

Then we went for lunch and sat down in the Melbourne Central food court to talk writer shop - agents and the difficulty of getting them, markets, problems of focusing on writing, researching... (As a matter of fact, I'm supposed to be doing my copyedit of "Call Him Ringo" for Trust Me Too! and will be doing that as soon as I log off here)

Any Melbourne YA writers who'd like to get together over coffee to critique each other's work? Lan would like to have a face-to-face writing group, so if you're interested, stroll over to The Write Obsession and make contact.

I don't blame her. I know a lot of groups these days are on-line and that's fine, but it's just not the same as meeting in person, having a good group bitch about publishers and sharing the excitement of a sale when it happens. I was in one of those groups, years before the Internet, and it was exhausting but exhilarating. Some of us did end up selling and going professional. Besides, it was one of those group members, Carole Green, who let me know I was a children's writer. If I'd been in on-line groups I'm quite sure I would never have discovered this. Carole passed away long ago, but I owe her one for that.

So if anybody reading this is always at their computer and all their writing friends are on-line, do consider getting out from the house and meeting others like you at a cafe somewhere in Melbourne.

The Hobbit Movie Goes On Location

Here's a link to the latest movie-blog for The Hobbit movie. Go check it out. They've been doing months in the studio and now have gone on the road, because they know what brought so many people to New Zealand after the LOTR movies ;-) . (I was one of them and what a wonderful trip it was!)

They've actually built a Hobbiton which is going to stay up for the benefit of future tourists, as a gift to the people of New Zealand.

Follow this link and open the full screen.

http://the-hobbit-movie.com/2011/12/24/the-hobbit-production-video-5/

Fantasy and Fairies Book Giveaway

Just a reminder to anyone who intends to enter that the Giveaway starts midnight tonight, Australian time. Tomorrow morning I will start checking out the page labelled Giveaway for comments, which should be your name and, if you wouldn't mind, your country. You should also be following this blog. Why not join, then put in your entry? :-)

The pretty logo with a fairy on it will lead you to the I'm A Reader Not A Writer web site, where you'll find all the other participating blogs if you want to get more books.

There are two copies of Wolfborn for the lucky winners and I will throw in some Crime Time bookmarks for early birds - not YA fantasy, but I'm running low on Wolfborn bookmarks (my publishers have none left at all!) and the Crime Time ones are VERY nice!

If I get more than two entries I'll pull names out of a hat. If you win, I'll announce it on this blog and invite the winners to email me with their mailing addresses.

Good luck!

Hal Junior: The Secret Signal By Simon Haynes. Bowman, 2011



Cover Blurb:


Hal Junior lives aboard a futuristic space station. His mum is chief scientist, his dad cleans air filters and his best mate is Stephen 'Stinky' Binn. As for Hal ... he's a bit of a trouble magnet. He means well, but his wild schemes and crazy plans never turn out as expected!

Hal Junior: The Secret Signal features mayhem and laughs, daring and intrigue ... plus a home-made space cannon!



I've read the adult Hal Spacejock series, which were published by Fremantle Press. They're basically Bill, The Galactic Hero meets Red Dwarf. Hal Spacejock, the hero, is a klutzy interplanetary truck driver with a robot sidekick, and the adventures have this unlucky pair caught up in much bigger events than they are prepared for.


This children's book takes us back to a time when Hal was still living at home on the space station with his parents. The book began like a typical Hal Spacejock adventure, with Hal involved in a couple of near-catastrophes, one of them to do with reversing gravity to get back a paper plane that was part of his homework. But the events at the beginning turned out to have significance later in the novel, when Hal is called on to save the day.


Between chapters are silly drawings and comments reminiscent of some of the Terry Denton illustrations in Andy Griffiths books. There's even a page of Morse code dots and dashes that children should have fun with.


If you've read the adult books, it's almost poignant thinking that this little boy who manages to use his wits and save the day will become an adult klutz, stumbling from one misadventure to another. But if you're a child just discovering this universe, it's a great giggle. I read the book from cover to cover on the beach one hot afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. We can only hope that there will be an entire series.



Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Hunger Games movie is coming!

If, like me, you've read and loved the Hunger Games trilogy, wander over to the Book Hounds web site, where Mary has put up the trailer for the new movie, which is coming out in March (oh, please, let it be here at the same time!). The trailer looks quite faithful to the book.

It was this time last year when I first read the books - I got through the whole trilogy in as many days. I think this is one of those YA series that will become a classic. Think Tomorrow When The War Began meets The Running Man (book, not film!).

The books haven't been borrowed from my library for a while, after a lot of borrowing some time ago, but with the movie coming I might just be able to persuade the students to give it a try.

Monday, January 02, 2012

FROI OF THE EXILES By Melina Marchetta. Melbourne: Penguin, 2011




 In Finnikin Of The Rock, we met the exiles of the kingdom of Lumatere, locked out of their homes – literally! – by a curse, while a usurper king ruled with the help of  invaders from Charyn, another kingdom. The book was more about the refugee experience than about typical fantasy issues. The story was seen from the viewpoint of Finnikin, a young exile who had lost nearly everything. When he found the lost heir to the throne, Isaboe, they returned to the kingdom to rebuild after the tragedy of the invasion.

In this book, three years later, we see things from the viewpoint of the enemy, who have had tragedies of their own and some of whom are now refugees themselves. We meet ordinary Charynites who lost sons drafted into that invading army.

 Finnikin has married Isaboe and they have their first child. The kingdom is gradually returning to health and prosperity under their competent rule.

But bad things are happening in Charyn.  To stop them, an assassin will have to go to Charyn to kill the king whose soldiers invaded Lumatere in the previous story. That assassin is Froi, a former street kid who, despite what he had attempted to do to Isaboe, has been brought back to Lumatere, where he has learned pride in himself and has come to worship Isaboe.

Froi has found a home in Lumatere, but something is missing. Will he find it in Charyn? What else will he find in Charyn?

This book took me a long time to read. Apart from being thick-as-a-brick, it’s not easy reading – you have to work at it. I had to stop and read something, anything else, every so often, to give myself a break.

Was it worth the effort? Yes. The beauty of the writing and the way you can feel for the characters made it well worth persisting. The tragedy of Charyn unfolded gradually, layer by layer.  You didn’t feel the same about any of the characters at the end as you had at the start, once you found out the truth of what had happened over the last eighteen years. The descriptions of the landscapes of Charyn were breathtaking. The author says in an afterword that it was inspired by Matera in Italy
Matera


, Cappadocia in Turkey 
Cappadocia

and the castle of Conwy in Wales.

If you don't have  good head for heights, all that description of Froi jumping across scary heights and climbing up to the next storey with the gravina (ravine) below will make you dizzy! Looking at the pictures I've inserted above should give you some idea of the scariness of the scenes.


The chapters about Froi in Charyn are alternated with what is happening back home, on the border of Lumatere, where some Charynite refugees have taken up residence, waiting and hoping to be allowed in. Loose ends from Finnikin Of The Rock are tied.

Finnikin was a perfectly good standalone book, despite the few loose ends; this one ends on a cliffhanger, so be warned.

I will be very surprised if it doesn’t go on this year’s CBCA short list, but it's not for the kind of teenager who likes the average YA fantasy.

I will be recommending it to those of our students who read and enjoyed Finnikin of The Rock. There were quite a few of those and they’re all very good readers, so we’ll see what they have to say – stand by for student comments!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

YA Book Judging: An Interview with Miffy Farquharson


Since I became a teacher-librarian and a writer for young people, I have always taken a keen interest in writing competitions. Judging, as you will see in the interview below, is not easy. It's a huge task and not everyone will agree with your choices. I thought it about time that a CBCA judge had a chance to explain the process to those of us who only see it from the other side ;-) 

.Some of it is up on the CBCA web site, but there's nothing like asking someone who has been at the coalface. I asked Miffy Farquharson because she is a veteran not only of the CBCA Awards but of a number of others - and still, somehow, manages to keep her library running like clockwork. AND she blogged about it! Thank you, Miffy, for answering these questions! I hope my readers enjoy reading your answers as much as I did.

Miffy


SB: You’ve been a judge in the Aurealis, the CBCA and the WA Premier’s Literary Awards. How did you come to be involved in each of these?

MF: a. The first award that I was involved in was the CBCA awards as the Victorian Branch representative. I was chosen to be the judge after answering a request for ‘Expressions of Interest’ that was published in the branch newsletter. I was invited to an interview and had to present to the Vic committee as to why I would be a good choice to be the next judge. And I got the gig. So that was two years (2007 and 2008 for the 2008 and 2009 awards) that I lived, ate and breathed CBCA awards. You can only be the CBCA judge for two years (which is a good thing, as there are so many books to read across the three age-related categories) and cannot apply for another four years after your last year.

b. After the reading finished for my second year, I was still doing talks for CBCA in 2009 and was still in contact with the judges from ACT and NSW. The NSW judge sent me an email that had the contact details to apply to be an Aurealis judge. We were all going to apply, but in the end I was the only one who got the gig. I was a panellist for Young Adult in my first year, and then convenor of YA in my second year. I am now the convenor of the Children’s Panel. You can keep working for Aurealis indefinitely, but you can only do two years in any one category. So I did two years in YA, and have done one year (so far) in Children’s.

c. And finally. As a result of being involved in the Aurealis Awards I met Tehani Wessely, who contacted me early in 2011 to see if I wanted to be involved in the WA Lit awards on the Children’s panel, as they hadn’t had enough people apply for the panels. WAPBA is a three-year gig.
(SB: Tehani Wessely is a super-teacher-librarian who also publishes through her press, Fablecroft, was a major member of the Andromeda Spaceways Co-operative, reviews books for various SF and education publications, blogs, judges various book competitions, walks on water...)

SB: How are judges usually chosen for these awards? I notice there seem to be more women than men. :-)

MF: See above. Something I forgot to say is that the panel changes every single year, as four judges retire and four new ones start their two year stint. So WA, Vic, NSW and ACT are one 'bloc' and SA, NT, Tas and QLD are the other 'bloc'. In my first year, the SA, NT, etc. judges were in their second year, and in my second year, SA NT, etc. were the newbies. This is part of the reason why the lists can change from year to year, as the range of judges can be so disparate. And you are right, the majority of judges are women. The ACT judge during my time, Michael Janssen-Gibson, was a lone male on the panel, and I don't think that there has been a bloke on the panel since then. Very sad.


SB: How many entries did you have to read for each set of awards – and how did you manage to do this and still have a life outside of reading?

MF: 400 plus for the CBCA per year.
Less than 150 for each of the Aurealis and WABLA.
You need to have very understanding family/ husband/ employer. My husband is also a teacher-librarian, so that really helps. My kids love me getting the books – they get to read them too! And both places I’ve worked while judging (both independent schools) have been very supportive of me taking time off to do talks and attend judging panels and awards ceremonies.

And the key to reading for awards is to read for excellence – as a t-lib I read lots of books that aren’t great, but I read them so that I know what’s out there so that I can recommend them to my students. As a judge, excellence is what you are looking for.

SB: As a children’s writer and a teacher-librarian, my particular interest is in the CBCA Awards, so here are some questions about this award in particular:

What is the process you and your fellow judges go through in the judging? For example, do you each prepare a short list you discuss with the others?

MF: Each of the judges receives boxes of books from the co-ordinators – about 25 titles per box, and across the age-related categories. You have about 3 weeks to read the titles, and each judge writes a confidential report on each of the books which indicates its potential as a notable or shortlist book. The reports are sent back to the coordinators, who compile the reports for each box and return them to the judges so that all the judges can see each other’s opinions.

Once all the books are read, each of the judges compiles a ‘long list’ of their favourite titles – which is in no way set in concrete!

The eight judges all meet in the coordinating state (SA at the moment – it cycles) to decide the shortlists and the winner and honour books in each category. A category is decided each day, with the Picture Book category decided on the last day. Each and every book is put up for inclusion for discussion as a shortlisted book, and these books form the basis of the notable list, the shortlist and the winners and honour books. The actual number of votes needed for either notable or shortlist is on the CBCA website (I can’t remember the numbers right now).

SB:     Do you meet at any stage or is it all done by email/chatroom?

A bit of both. Most discussion is through the reports and the judge’s conference, but some discussions are held outside that via email and teleconference.

SB:      What are some of the criteria you have to address when judging the entries?
MF: All the criteria are on the CBCA website, but in short, they are: is the title age-appropriate (for the EC, YR and OR categories), and is the writing excellent? For PB category, do the text and illustrations complement and extend each other?

SB:     Do you, as is done in other awards, concentrate on one area, say older readers?

CBCA is ALL submitted titles

SB:    As you’re a teacher-librarian, do you invite any of your students to read some of     the books and give their opinions?

This year we will be doing that across the school. To combat the secondary school ‘reading is uncool so I’m not going to put my hand up’, we are nominating Reading Ambassadors and they will be reading the titles this year.


SB: If it’s not too personal a question – what did you DO with all those books you read? :-)

MF: I kept all the shortlisted books, the notable books that I loved, and anything else that I really enjoyed but which didn’t make the cut. The rest of the CBCA books went to church charities in Bendigo. We took up about 12 green bags full of books. The minister almost died! 
:-)

Since we’ve moved to Melbourne I donate all the books I don’t want to keep to a disadvantaged school that is supported by my sister’s partner. They are very grateful, and I wish that I had time to donate to them to get their library up to scratch. Maybe if I win Tatts!

SB:      Would you do it again?

MF: In a flash! It is a HUGE task, but so enjoyable. I made some lifelong friends in the other judges over the two years, and had an insight into the process behind Australia’s most prestigious award for books for young people.

SB: Thanks again for your fascinating insight into this process!

Coming Soon - Interview With A Book Judge!

Keep an eye out for a new post in which I interview Miffy Farquharson, teacher-librarian and judge of several book competitions including the Children's Book Council of Australia, the Aurealis and the WA Premier's Literary Awards. Miffy takes us behind the scenes of the judging process.

I'm just going to make it look pretty for the web site and find an image or two and you'll get to read it.