Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday # 5 In the Wake of the Mary Celeste

The Teaser Tuesdays meme is hosted by Should Be Reading. It's easy and fun. Open your current read at a random page and share two sentences from somewhere between lines 7 and 12. There's one important rule - no spoilers!

This weeks Teaser Tuesday tid-bit is 'In the Wake of the Mary Celeste' a picture book for older readers writen by Gary Crew (on of my all time favourite authors) and illustrated by Robert Ingpen.

This is an interesting picture book concept. It is written in the form of a letter to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from Arthur Briggs, the son of the Mary Celeste's captain.


It is too cruel.

I see you pause in your reading to shake your head,

thinking that I protest too much. If that is so, let me

remind you of why I cannot forget. Why I still feel

pain. Why, even as an adult, I still grieve for my loved

ones, daily ...

Happy reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesday #4 - Polar Boy


This weeks Teaser Tuesday offering (OK, I know it's Wednesday already, I'm running a little behind) is Sandy Fussell's Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Younger Reader Book of the Year 2009 shortlisted book, Polar Boy.

I'm reading Polar Boy for the second time and I'm enjoying it as much, if not more this time around. Sandy's writing is tight but rich with vivid imagery and the story is full of characters that touch the reader. The standard of books on this years shortlist is exceptional with some big name children's authors in the Younger Reader section: Morris Gleitzman, Glenda Millard and Emily Rodda to name a few. Although I'm a fan of all three, I think there is something special about Polar Boy that could see it take the honours.

Set in a 13th century polar community, a young boy's
destiny transforms him from a frightened child into a
courageous hero.

Iluak, a Too-lee boy, has been told by his grandmother
that it is his fate to save his people from a bear. But the
mere thought of a polar bear makes Iluak’s stomach
churn and he lives in fear of this destined encounter.
When Illuak summons the courage to rescue a Northman
(Viking) child from a polar bear he realises there is a far
greater challenge involved in the prophecy -- two very
different cultures are about to collide head-on.


My grandmother is a powerful shaman - village healer, priestess and prophet - the queen of the ice. At night, when the village sleeps, Nana walks among the stars and talks to the souls of our ancestors.

Sometimes when she wakes in the morning, she looks like she has travelled a thousand miles. Her eyes are tired and her lips are swolen with the cold. So I make Nana a cup of hot tea. I like the way she slurps it down and doesn't care if it dribbles from her chin to her coat.


Good luck Sandy. Being shortlisted is a wonderful achievement, I hope Polar Boy wins the award.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

JED's Author Insights # 1 Simon Haynes

As a relatively new blog, Words and Pictures has initially been a little random but I am slowly working out the kinks and details. Teaser Tuesday was a good start, now I have come up with a new, hopefully regular segment for the blog.

JED’s (That’s me) Author Insights.

Luckily, I have become acquainted with a number of published authors since my decision to become more professional with my writing and try to make a serious career as a children’s author. Part of this process is asking questions, learning to avoid the pitfalls established writers have already stumbled on. I have learned a lot thanks to the generosity these busy people have shown me.

Simon Haynes
Western Australian based author of the SF/Humour 'Hal Spacejock' novels, published by Fremantle Press and distributed by Penguin Australia.

I interviewed Simon some time ago and posted the full interview HERE.

Please take the time to look at the interview and I urge you to read Simon’s books. It is amazing how many strange looks you get after bursting out in spontaneous laughter from the antics of the hapless Hal Spacejock – probably the most clueless freighter pilot in the known universe – and Clunk, his battered but brilliant android sidekick.

Simon and Freemantle Arts Centre Press have graciously offered the first book in the Hal Spacejock series as a FREE downloadable E-Book

Simon's books:


Friday, April 17, 2009

Making It Good Enough To Publish


It is often said that writing books is hard. In a way it is. On top of the necessary technical skills required, a writer needs commitment, determination and persistence to write a book. Many, probably most, books never see completion. Quite a few of my own attempts, especially the earlier ones, have died a natural death and never reached maturity. Many more books though completed by their writers, will never see publication – BECAUSE – they are just not good enough.

Writing the book is realistically the easy part.

I could probably build you a table and it would be suitable enough to eat off but because I don’t have the carpentry skills to finish it off, to sand and polish it to a professional standard, I could never hope to sell it in a furniture store.

Books are the same. The hard part of writing, well for me at least, is turning the metaphorical diamond-in-the-rough into a polished gem of a book that will dazzle editors and readers alike.

Knowing what to cut and how to polish, I am learning, is a complete skill set in itself. And one I am not entirely confident I possess – YET.

I have a number of completed manuscripts at present; several picture book texts, a couple of chapter books, a mid grade and a young adult novel. During the editing process of these, I am often overcome with the worry my rewriting is actually detracting from, rather than improving the work. As my confidence wains, so does my effectiveness as an editor.

So, this weekend I have enrolled in the “Making It Good Enough To Publish” workshop at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre with YA novelist Melaina Faranda. (Author of The Circle series and a further six books coming out this year).

The spiel about the workshop states;

Often it comes down to a few simple mistakes that mark out the amateur from the pro. Race through a dynamic, non-stop self-editing workout that gets results! Learn how to keep up pace and hurdle common literary pitfalls, as well as push-up pointers for creating three dimensional characters and enriching stories with sensory writing to achieve a personal best. Train yourself to recognise flaws in your writing and troubleshoot in order to win the trifecta – an addictive story with a great plot, pacing and characterisation. Strenuous self-editing exercises will enable you to dig beyond stereotypical story slush to find true gold.

Hopefully, the workshop will point me in the right direction and give me the confidence to finish editing the manuscripts I have mounting up beside me.

I’ll let you know after the workshop.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday


This weeks Teaser Tuesday excerpt is from the book Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Warning: Small spoiler.

Coraline and her parents move into a new apartment. Coraline's parents are always busy with their work and pay her little attention. Isolated, Coraline goes off to explore. She meets the other inhabitants of the house, Miss Miriam Forcible and Miss April Spink, two elderly women retired from the stage and an even older man named Mister Bobo, who trains mice to play music. She finds a locked door in the drawing room, though the entrance beyond is bricked up. The next day she takes the key to the door, opens it, and finds a dark corridor leading to an apartment identical to her own. This alternate world is inhabited by her Other Mother and Other Father, who are near-replicas of her real parents, except they have buttons for eyes. These Other parents at first seem more interesting, fun and caring than her real parents.


Coraline also explored for animals. She found a hedgehog and a snake skin, but no snake and a rock that looked just like frog and a toad that looked just like a rock. There was also a haughty black cat who would sit on walls and tree stumps and watch her, but would slip away if ever she went over to try and play with it.

That was how she spent the first two weeks in the house, exploring the garden and the grounds.

A wonderful book, soon to be a movie.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Australian's For Australian Books

Tara Moss, author of bestselling crime noves Fetish, Split, Covet and Hit, has made her feeling clear on the topic of territorial copyright by encouraging Australians involved in the writing and publishing industry to add their voice to the 270 + submissions to the Productivity Commission into Australian territorial copyright for books.

Tara Tweeted the details of a petition being compiled to let the Productivity Commission know how important this issue is. The details of the petition are located at

Apparently the Productivity Commission "has recommended that territorial copyright for books only last 12 months. And at the same time it admits there is no evidence territorial copyright makes books more expensive!

Limiting territorial copyright to 12 months would be very destructive. Again, it would destroy the investment security that allows Australian publishers to invest in and develop Australian authors, illustrators and editors, and it would export jobs – just what we need in a recession!"

This is not good enough. If you support territorial copyright - Please visit the site and spend the one minute it take to complete the petition.

The wording of the petition is displayed here

I support Australians for Australian Books. I want to
keep a strong Australian book industry developing
and supporting Australian authors, illustrators and
editors, providing a wide range of books at competitive
prices through a wide network of big and small book-
sellers. I strongly support retaining full Australian
territorial copyright for books.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Going Potty


I'm going potty but not in the head this time - thankfully.

Potting actually. My wife and I have signed up for a two day pottery course over the Easter weekend. I have to say that we have both been looking forward to it. I've even been tempted to run off the video shop to grab a copy of Ghost.

I hope our pottery weekend is that much fun.
My wife tells everyone she has no creative talent at all and is fully expecting to create a Picaso-esk bowl (with both its eyes on one side of its nose). I'm confident it will turn out better than that.
I've dabbled with sculpting clay; the cast of 'The Animals of Farthing Wood' and half the Star Trek Federation fleet to top birthday cakes for my children. But this should be a different experience. Relaxing...
# Note to parents - plain birthday cakes with icing and candles are what you want to stick to. I did a fancy decoration for one birthday cake. Each one from then on needed to be bigger and better. The boys kept raising the bar of acceptability.

Making Marina

The Life Cycle of ‘Marina Mack and the Magic Paper’

I came home from work one day to find my son Josua skidding around the floor on his elbows, dragging his legs behind him. Odd, I thought to myself but all three of my boys have a bit of me in them so odd wasn’t unexpected. I didn’t even ask.

Some time later while I was visiting Josua’s school, I met the most amazing young girl. I won’t name her here but my first encounter with her went like this. She scooted across the classroom floor and pulled herself up into a wheelchair with incredible dexterity and shot off out of the room and down the steep path toward the canteen at break-neck speed. At the very last moment, she gripped the left wheel of the chair and skidded around the corner, leaning into the turn like Valentino Rossi on his Yamaha, and then off again.

At the school sports carnival, held at the local football oval, this young dynamo entered every event she possible could. Negotiating a wheelchair across a scruffy country town football oval is not an easy thing but it didn’t matter to her.

I needed to write a story capturing the indomitable spirit of this young girl with Spina Bifida and to so many other children who live with similar challenges in their lives.

There is another young girl named Abigail Branson – who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting because she lives on the other side of the globe. But Abigail has posted a video of her accomplishments on youtube. I implore you to take a look.

I made several attempts to write a story worthy of my muse but couldn’t even come close. A long time later, I was watching an episode of Play School (A long running Australian children’s television show) Don’t tell anyone but at the time I was watching it, all my children were at school. During story time, the host told a story using origami as a storytelling aid. He folded a paper captain’s hat and told of a ship captain going out to sea. He turned the hat over and it had become a sailing boat. In the tale, a storm brewed up and the boat struck a reef breaking off the prow and stern. He tore the front and back of the paper boat away then continued the story. The boat was sinking when a big gust of wind snapped the sail. He tore away the sail and opened the paper out. It had changed shape into a vest. “But it was alright,” he said. “They were all wearing their lifejackets.”

That origami story stayed in my head and one day I had a epiphany. I could combine the two stories. I started writing a picture book version of “Marina Mack and the Magic Paper” that very day. When I was finished, I had a magical picture book text that was only 1200 words too long. I tried cutting it back, paring it down to its essence but the result had lost its magic. I put it away until I had another brainstorm.

Recently I worked on the original version, planning to render it into a chapter book format. At the moment it is hovering somewhere in the middle but I have been given some wonderful advice (Thanks Sandy and Graham) and it is slowly taking shape as a bona fide chapter book with loads of potential. Even in its limbo format, the judges at the Charlotte Duncan Award saw something in it to add it to the shortlist.

So I hope through this story, I can do justice to amazing people like my young muse and Abigail.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I'm two hours early, but here goes.

The book I'm reading at present is written by one of my all time favourite authors. "Angel's Gate" by Gary Crew. It was the 1994 winner of The Children's Book Council of Australia - Book of the Year: For Older Readers. This is not a book I have just discovered. It is one I keep going back to.


I heard another story one Sunday afternoon when Bobby and Julia stopped in at the Paradise for a malted. Bobby and Julia always had chocolate; my choice was lime, which I didn't especially like, since it was green and sickly, but it sounded adult when I ordered it.

Queenie took no notice of me and never once said 'Glory be to Peter,' which was a bad sign.


The book, like a lot of Gary's work has a dark edge to it but it also leaves you with the feeling something magical is about to happen.



It seems like the buzz word on the net is “Twitter” Everyone is talking about Twitter.

Up until today I wasn’t exactly sure what Twitter was. I knew it was a networking site on the net and that a lot of authors were singing its praises. People sing the praises of Face Book too, and many employers were banning the site because so many workers were spending their whole day on the site instead of working. I do have a Face Book account I rarely check and personally I can’t see the appeal. I also have a My Space presence that I visit now and then but I’ve never even looked at Twitter.

So here I go. I have just set up my account.

And I have to say it was fairly user friendly. The site checked my email contacts and listed all of my contacts on Twitter giving me nearly twenty people to follow, basically before I had even started. In the time it has taken me to finish setting up my profile and type this, I have already collected four followers of my very own.

Correct me if I’m wrong but the site displays general messages of anyone I am currently following (like a friends list – even though it sounds a little stalkerish). I’m just wondering how many friends it takes to get really confusing. I’m sure it won’t take me too long to find out.

One thing I have found that is a little annoying. My profile seems to keep resetting back to the generic background and losing my picture. It’s probably just me. I’m sure I’ll work it out.