Currently viewing:  September 2010

reading! signing! talking! come along!

September 22nd, 2010
Category: Events

For anyone in Melbourne in the next week or so, BORDERS MELBOURNE CENTRAL is hosting two YA events – so come along if you can.

Thursday September 30, 5pm
Simmone Howell (‘Everything Beautiful’), William Kostakis (‘Loathing Lola’) and Gabrielle Williams (‘Beatle Meets Destiny’) all listed on Get Reading’s 50 Books You Can’t Put Down – will be reading and signing.

And then,

Saturday October 2, 2pm
Cath Crowely, Simmone Howell and I will get together for a session we’re calling ‘Normal Romance’ - the absence of vampires in realistic teen fiction. We’ll read, sign and chat about each other’s books – ‘Graffiti Moon’, ‘Everything Beautiful’ and ‘Six Impossible Things’ – and would love to see you there.

write on!

September 16th, 2010
Category: writing

A student at the recent Brisbane Writers Festival asked me what he should do when he came to dead ends or flat spots in his writing.

The idea of ‘writer’s block’ is very common. But I don’t like the idea. I reject it. It sounds like a disease, or something you can’t avoid, something that can just land on your desk and bring everything to a screeching halt.

My writing background is in TV. There is no such thing as writer’s block there. There are just deadlines. And you’d better meet them, or no more scripts for you!

So I think there are times you don’t have great ideas, or times you don’t feel like writing, or times you don’t love what you write. But you can always write.

Here are my top four tips for avoiding the feeling that you’re stuck.

Sounds like a plan.
Write a rough plan for your writing project. This is equally helpful whether you are working on an essay, a short story, a script or a novel. Lots of people speak about planning as though it’s something very restrictive, or even uncreative. I love a plan. It holds my hand and reminds me where I think I should be heading. I give myself the freedom to change plans whenever I like, but the plan gives me the direction I need. A plan lets me write freely. I can choose to work on any part of it at any time. Projects that grind to a halt often do so because they are incomplete. A plan will show you the bits that might be missing.

Have a couple of projects on the go.
I think I read somewhere that Tim Winton used to do this. It’s a wonderful idea. When you feel stuck or stale on one project, move on and play with another one for a while. The fantastic thing about writing is that so much of it happens when you’re not thinking consciously about the work. So while you are busy focusing on one thing, your other projects are simmering along happily on the back burners.

Don’t be afraid of a totally crummy first draft.
Really, you could chew your way through a thousand pencils waiting for the first perfect line. Just start writing. (Straight after you’ve sketched out that plan.) Whatever you put on the page is better than nothing on the page. So much writing happens in the rewriting – the second or third drafts. So take it easy on yourself and don’t expect miracles immediately.

Be an observant reader.
There are so many ways to solve any problem. I can remember Helen Garner writing about writing years ago saying she would be working on something and wonder – how would Chekhov handle this? – and go away and do some reading. I’ve heard Paul Kelly say the same thing about song writing – choose a song you like and use it as a blueprint for writing your own song. If you feel a bit lost it’s often a good idea to take some time to read or reread something you think works really well, and ask why? how? and do any of these structures or strategies relate to my work?

So, I hope that’s helpful – and I’d love to hear about anyone else’s strategies to keep the ideas and words flowing.

girl saves boy saves girl

September 10th, 2010
Category: new releases

O Steph Bowe! Why do your fans love you so?

Is it because -

(a) you have written such a charming, touching and twinkle-toed book?
(b) you blog your socks off and share your ideas with such enthusiasm and generosity?
(c) you always have a kind word for everyone?
(d) all of the above…

Correct answer: (d)


dan’s muesli bar recipe

September 8th, 2010
Category: food

Here is the recipe Dan and his mother cook in Six Impossible Things, page 47. They cook a simpler version of this – with fewer ingredients – because they haven’t got much in the pantry.

3 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of plain flour
three quarters of a cup of castor sugar
150g butter
3 tablespoons of honey
one quarter teaspoon of baking powder
2 handfuls of milk chocolate chips
2 handfuls of chopped dried apricots
2 handfuls of dried cranberries
2 handfuls of chopped dried pineapple

It is fine to use golden syrup instead of honey. And it’s fine to use ANY combination of dried fruit, nuts, coconut. (For example, I’ve made this recipe using white chocolate, paw paw, almonds and coconut.)

Easy method:

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

2. Melt the butter and honey together.

3. Pour butter/honey onto the dry ingredients and mix well.

4. Put the mixture in a baking-paper-lined baking dish, and press down firmly and evenly.

5. Bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes. Check after ten minutes. It’s cooked when it turns a toasty brown colour.

6. Cut lightly into bar shapes while still hot in the pan. Leave in the pan to cool.

7. When cool, remove from pan and cut bars through.

This is a big batch. It makes 16 generous bars or 32 smaller squares.


muesli bar post update…

September 8th, 2010
Category: Uncategorized

Hi guys, I said I’d post on Dan’s muesli bars today, but I’m having all sorts of techno trouble with the photos uploading for some reason, they’re all shy and run away when they’re only 87% or 93% or 76% uploaded, and now I have to go out! So it won’t be up until tomorrow morning. Sorry about that! But rest assured, I haven’t forgotten…