Thursday, December 30, 2010

Workshops at the NSW Writers' Centre

Someone once told me that many people don’t realise that people actually live west of the Blue Mountains. He was mainly talking about the publishing industry at the time. Granted, he was a little jaded and being flippant but he isn’t entirely wrong. It is harder for writers living outside the capitol cities. Not because of publishers but mainly that we don’t have regular access to all the facilities of our city cousins.

Take the NSW Writers’ Centre.

If I didn’t live three hours away, I’d be at the Centre every week. I’d join one of their numerous writers’ groups and I would go to a lot more of their wonderful workshops. As it is, I try to attend two workshops each year, plus the annual Festival of Children’s Literature.

Early this month, I attended the “Advanced Picture Book Workshop” with Libby Gleeson. I had high expectations and happily, I wasn’t disappointed. Libby is such a lovely person. She made everyone feel at ease and filled our hungry little minds with insightful and practical information. She also left us with some useful questions to ask ourselves when writing.

Some of these include;

.....• What is it that sets your character apart from other picture book characters?

.....• Why did you explain what the story is about?

.....• Is the orientation too long and complicated?

.....• Is there enough dramatic tension in the middle? (Rule of three)

These questions are just as valid for chapter books and novels.

Libby also left us with some interesting quotes.

.....• “Try and find that perfect – beautiful image.”

.....• “If you are going to do a rhyming text, it MUST be VERY, VERY good.”

.....• “If it doesn’t ADD, it SUBTRACTS.” (My personal favourite).

The best thing I took away from the day was the realisation that I’m actually on the right track with my picture book texts. And I’m confident that with persistence and a little luck, I am going to crack this publishing thing.

What a lovely setting for a workshop.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Literary Christmas

It is now late on Christmas day and the house is finally quiet. It has been a busy day - if you don't count the short nana-nap this afternoon - so I haven't had much of an opportunity to enjoy my gifts yet.


It is going to be a very literary Christmas.

Santa has been good to my this year, not only did she leave me a new camera, there was a whole swathe of new books as well. Lara Morgan’s first Rosie Black Chronicles – ‘Genesis’, Suzanne Collins – ‘Hunger Games’, Simon Green’s - ‘The Man With the Golden Torc’, two of Joseph Delaney’s - ‘Spooks’ books, Bernard Cornwell’s - ‘The Burning Land’, Cornelia Funke’s newest book – ‘Reckless’, a gift voucher from my local book shop and last but certainly not least, ‘Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot’ by Anna Branford with brilliantly delightful illustrations by Sara Davis.

Although, like I said earlier, it has been a busy day. The first thing I did after the exchange of gifts – and a nice coffee – was to sit down in the quietest corner of the house I could find and devour ‘Violet Mackerel’ Not only is it a lovely story with enchanting characters, nearly every page has a little of Sarah’s magic. She never ceases to amaze me with her illustrative talents. One day I hope to be as good.

I walked around today and kept finding myself looking for my own small things.

I’m going to buy a second copy of ‘Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot’ to donate to my school library. I’m working in just the right class next year (Year 4). I know some kids who are going to love this book as much as I do.

Congratulations Anna and Sarah. You made my Christmas special. And thank you to the team at Walker Books – you know your job.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Accidental Art

How do you have accidental art?

A couple of years ago while holidaying on Moreton Island in Queensland, I found some lovely large flat leaves in the garden. I painted some scenes on them and eventually consigned them to my art folder.

Last year, I was working with a student during lunch time and a few of the Year 5 girls were looking through my art folder and came across the leaf paintings. I was busy and distracted at the time and subsequently wasn’t really listening when one of the girls asked me a question.

My answer was “Yes, I’m sure that would be fine.” And I waved them away. About five minutes later, I had leaves landing in front of me on the table and instructions for what the children wanted painted on their leaves.

Their question had been, “If we find some leaves, would you paint a picture on them for us.” I ended up painting about a dozen leaves for the children.

The moral of this story could be – Always listen to children before answering them!

But my moral for this has turned out to be – Sometimes happy accidents happen!

I enjoyed painting on the leaves and I improved my technique with each one I did. Now that I have my studio set up, I have continued to paint on gum leaves and liquid amber leaves.

Now here is where the second part of the happy accident happened.

The little one teacher school at Rockley, where my children started their schooling had their 150th Anniversary on the 6th of November. One of my friends from Rockley was organising the event and asked me if I would like to set up a market stall.
I framed up the leaves I had on hand and made some postcard prints and bookmarks of the artwork. I only sold one painting on the day but received two commissions for specific subjects. (A frog similar to the one I sold earlier in the day – frogs are in, I could have sold that leaf three times on the day – and a scene from the Tarana Valley, as a gift for a Canadian teacher who has been on a work exchange.)
Since that weekend, I have sold two more of the leaf paintings and have commissions for six more at $55.00 each.
I think I may have set the price too low!

3-E Poetry

I have been working, for the second half of the year, helping out in one of the Year 3 classes. There are some wonderful kids in "3-E", some real characters. The kids have been learning poetry in term four, much to the distress of the boys.

"But poetry is gay, Mr. Doherty"

I've heard that statement more than once this term.

Week one was Limericks. One of the boys insisted that if he was writing a poem it would be about something cool! Theropods. Finding rhyming words for that is not an easy task. I thought I would set a good example and write a limerick of my own. It is about young Nicholas and his theropods.

....Young Nicholas loves dinosaurs
.....Even though they have very sharp claws
....He can name them all for us
.....Like the Tyrannosaurus
....With short arms but terrible jaws.

This week's style of poetry was Diamond Poems. Seven lined poems shaped like a diamond about a linked subject. The poem switches between the subjects in the middle of the 4th line. The 2nd and 6th line have 2 descriptive words. The 3rd and 5th line have three verbs, ending in -ing

.............Oval, white
..Moving, cracking, hatching,
Helpless, hungry, high nest
..Growing, learning, flying
..........Black, feathers
...................Bird Oden.

All the words were his, with only a little prompting.

I love working with the Year 3 students. I'm definitely going to miss them over the Christmas holiday break.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Painting #2

Kookaburra Sits In The Silver Birch. Oils on slate

It's half past midnight and I have just come inside from my studio. I have installed the gallery hanging system, hung some of my paintings and emerged with another finished painting under my belt.
This one, I'm really happy with - my first ever oil painting. In the past I have shied away from oils. They take too long to dry, you need turpentine or thinners to clean up, it is smelly and just seemed like too much of a hassle.
Now, I have discovered that I love oils!
I like trying different things with my paintings. Rectangular canvases can get a little monotonous. That is one of the reasons I have experimented with painting on leaves in the past. I found a nice, oddly shaped piece of slate half buried in the backyard. After digging it up and brushing the dirt away, there seemed to be an image trying to break out of the stone. I sketched about on the surface for a while and found the kookaburra hiding inside.
What do kookaburra's usually sit in? Old Gum Trees. That's why I sat this kookaburra in a silver birch. What can I say, I like being different.


Monday, August 23, 2010

A Space to Write - A Space to Paint

My Studio.

After years of being stuck in a corner, I finally have some space of my own. No longer do I have to listen to what my son assures me IS actually music, while I try to concentrate on writing. Music is a mood setter and I have discovered heavy metal doesn’t enhance the mood in a book about a sensitive young girl trying to bring a
little magic to her world.
No longer do I have to take half an hour to set up my easel and all my paints only to have to pack them away again half way through the painting so there is room in my
corner to do the other things I need to do. That is the fastest way to lose inspiration.
Now, I can write to my own soundtrack and leave my current painting works out and still have
room to move. It’s like heaven!
The studio still has a few touches to go before it is completely finished;

· I have to install the gallery hanging system to display my paintings.

· I still need to add book shelves on the wall above the work bench for my resource texts and favourite books.

· I also need to rebuild and update my old desktop computer for writing.

· And I have to find a bigger rug for the floor and curtains.
But it is workable already and I opened my studio for business over the weekend. It has most of what I need. A wet area to paint, working bench space to sketch and paint watercolours, a desk to write, a light box to help transfer sketches onto canvas or watercolour paper, storage cupboards, a heater, a stereo, a coffee machine and privacy.

What more could you ask for?

I have even been productive over the last three days. I have finished the first painting from the studio and have two more partially completed.

My first painting is titled;

Opals, a watercolour on watercolour canvas.

My two partially finished works are seen below.

Pickets by the Lake - Oils on canvas & Kookaburra Sits in the Silver Birch - Oils on slate

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tuesday Chooseday

Choose-day is where I choose what book I am going to read next. At the moment, I’m reading Derek Landy’s ‘Skulduggery Pleasant – Playing With Fire’ It is the second book in the set and so far, just as good as the first. Skulduggery is such a brilliant concept for a character. I’m jealous.
But, the next book on my to read list is Mo Johnson’s, ‘Boofheads’
‘Boofheads is a story about three seventeen year-old mates who have been friends since pre-school but whose friendship begins to change when they go into Year Eleven. Eventually they have to make a decision whether to accept the changes and reassess the nature of friendship, or cut their losses and run.’
Excerpt from the author’s website:-

Walker Books Australia Pty. Ltd
First Ed. 2008
ISBN: 978 1 921150 67 8 (pbk.).
Now I have looked at this book a few times in the bookshop and thought ‘I’ll have to buy that next time to read.’ I finally did buy a copy of the book last weekend at the Children’s and Young Adult Literary Festival in Sydney. It was a wonderful day and ‘Boofheads’ came out on the top of my new To-Read list.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mo Johnson and hearing her speak about her books. Mo is the type of person who makes you smile. She is a very funny lady and if that humour shines through in her book, then I’m in for a real treat.

Mo at the launch of Boofheads

It was clear from hearing Mo speak that she – like me – has a soft spot for the kids who are a little bit naughty. Tommo, Casey and Ed seem like my kind of kids. I can point out the new generations of ‘Boofheads’ coming through the school system. And I think that’s a good thing.
What would the world be like without a few ’Boofheads’?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How I Illustrate

I call this blog Words and Pictures, so I thought it was time to let you into the artistic part of my brain.

When I sketch and paint traditionally (pencils and paints), I usually start with plain white paper but this is a digital painting and I usually do those a little differently. I usually start with a coloured background, chosen depending on the mood I want to express.

Subject: Groat.

Groat is a character I have been developing for a possible graphic novel project.

(I have always liked the classic TV show 'Land of the Giants' and thought it would be pretty cool to on day write a story with tiny people living unknown along-side us).

But, I didn't want to write about fairies or pixies. I wanted something different. I created the Scarrow. The scarrow are about 6cm tall and basically humanoid, tribal and have no knowledge of metal or humans.

Back to Groat. He is a very large, scarred and often aggressive lizard that wanders the countryside near the Scarrow's Territory.

Preliminary sketch.

I wanted to highlight Groat's massive size compared to the Scarrow so I decided not to sketch him completely. I thought if he crept up on one of the Scarrow and they turned in surprise, what would they see?

A big mouth and a big eye.

Detailed Sketch

After I have sketched in the basic shape, I add some detail to the sketch to give Groat some character. I wanted him to look old and gnarly so I added lots of bumpy scales, especially around the eye.

Basic Colour Block

Next I blocked in the basic colour scheme as a guide and to sort out the tonal values of the picture. (Ratio of dark to light)

A lot of people tell me they cant draw to save themselves. I believe they just stop before they add the detail.

Adding the Detail

The focal point of the picture is the eye, so that's where I started to add the detail. I sketched over the scales to darken and texture them. Added in some hot red and yellow tones to draw the viewer's eye to meet Groat's.

More Detail

Basically, I continued to fiddle in the detail out toward the nose and mouth, adding some highlights to the darker scales.

This is the most time consuming part of the painting.

The more detail you want to add, the longer it takes.

Final Painting

I continued to darken and texture the picture to give it a solidity. Finally, I added in a dark background with just a hint of stems and foliage

This digital painting was created on my A3 size Wacom graphics tablet and stylus and took about five hours of sketching and painting tme to complete.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A little embarrassing - But Definitely Flattering

Following on from my last post...

One of my Year 6 test readers, read part of my book 'Paper Magic' out loud to his little sister in Year 2. Then he gave it back before she found out how it ended.

Over the last week or so, Mr Peter's Year 2 class has been doing writing. He reads sections from classic children's literature then as a class have disected the writing to help the children improve their own writing and comprehension skills.

While Mr. Peter's was reading from the Hobbit, the above mentioned student commented, "You should read Mr. Doherty's book. It's better than this!" She then continued to bother him enough that he finally asked me if I would read my book to his class.

So I spent the afternoon talking about writing, and rewriting and how when you finally have a book you are happy with, how you go about trying to get it published. That's when the fun started. I read the first half of the book, did some magic along the way and helped the kids make paper frogs.

I have been booked for a return engagement tomorrow afternoon to finish the story. The first part of the story went down really well. Even some of the wriggly boys sat listening for a good forty-five minutes. I was impressed. I have a little bit of magic tucked up my sleeve for tomorrows reading. (When I finally get published, school visits are going to be my favourite part of the job).

I was a little embarrassed about being held up above Tolkien (certainly not my claim - but it made my day all the same).

I thought, to make my book just a little bit more like a 'proper' book, I'd throw together a sample book cover. It definitely needs work - doesn't capture the tone of the story yet - but here it is.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

PAPER MAGIC - Test Readers

It has been a long process writing Paper Magic.

That might seem strange for an 8000 word children’s chapter book, but Paper Magic started life as a picture book text called Marina Mack and the Magic Paper. Granted, it was a commercially unviable-long picture book text. After fourteen drafts I could only hone it down to 1600 words. That is where it sat, filed away for a couple of years while I worked on other projects.
Last year, I redrafted Marina from a picture book text into a short story version for the Charlotte Duncan Award. Surprisingly to me - as some of my favourite children’s authors had also entered - the story was shortlisted.
When Sandy Fussell suggested turning Paper Magic into a chapter book and offered to help with the editing process I couldn’t believe it. She is such a brilliant writer and generous person. Her help with the rewriting process has been invaluable. Each chapter of Paper Magic has gone through at least four new drafts. The last few chapters still have some minor polishing to complete them but I thought it was time to find some test readers to get a little audience feedback.
Most of the children from the Year Six class I work with knew I was almost finished writing a children’s book. Five of them asked me almost every day, ‘Have you finished your book yet?’ or ‘Can I read your book when it’s finished?’ So I printed off a copy each for them to read.
Thank you Hannah, Bethany, Jess, Lucas and Kyle from 6J. The verbal feedback so far has been very positive. Lucas’ mother told me he got home from school, sat down and didn’t move or speak until he had finished reading the book. It has now been read by her and her younger son Noah.
The surprising thing has been a number of other children from the class, ones I wouldn’t have expected, have asked for copies to read. Again, thanks to Tom H. Maree, Mekaela and Kaitlin. One of the girls complained today that she had only read two chapters because her mum had stolen the book and won’t give it back until she has finished reading it herself.
I know you can’t really judge a manuscript from the feedback of children that know you personally. Their comments are skewed in your favour because they do know you. Still, I’m more than happy with the test reader results. All the readers are all going to give me their –hopefully - honest opinions of Paper Magic after the holidays.
I can't wait.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Colour For A Cure!

I'm taking part in the Leukaemia Foundations Worlds Greatest Shave 2010. Please sponsor me!
The funds we raise will help the Leukaemia Foundation to provide practical care and support to patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders.
On Tuesday, a couple of year six girls from Eglinton Public School where I work, asked me (as a joke) if I would ever get my hair dyed. It was their little commentary on my grey hair.
I told them if they raise at least $500 for the Leukaemia Foundations Worlds Greatest Shave 2010 I would shave or colour my hair - their choice which. They thought 'Hot Pink' would be just my colour. I think they were a little shocked when I agreed.
The picture above is my photoshopped version of what I expect to look like by the end of the month.
I'm going to do it properly too! Not spray colouring or a wash - I'm going to get it bright, pink and permanent colour so it will stay with me for at least a few weeks.
So here is the challenge to all the kids and staff at Eglinton Public School.
What is it worth to see me with Hot Candy Pink hair?
My sons thought this was too good an opportunity to pass up so they have already thrown in some money for the cause.
I really have to learn to keep my mouth shut!
So, if any of my on-line friends wan't to help out and donate. You can do so through my profile page at the Worlds Greatest Shave site.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Getting Back To Basics

I’m currently in the middle of rewriting and editing a chapter book. The editing process has always been a daunting task for me. I never knew if I was making things better or worse. That has changed recently. I’ve been getting some invaluable advice and feedback from Sandy Fussell, a children’s author I greatly respect.
Now I find that I actually enjoy the editing process. And the editing has been going well until I reached a hurdle I couldn’t work out how to get over. In the story, the main character, Marina makes origami creations with magic paper. These creations become real if she wishes hard enough. There is a distinct pattern in the story which sees Marina make one of her paper creations in each chapter. That is until chapter six.
When I started editing chapter six, I realised Marina had made a boat, then immediately made a captain’s hat for one of her new friends to wear. When one of the other children falls into the water and they discover she can’t swim, Marina turns the captain’s hat into a life jacket to rescue the girl. That is technically three origami creations in one chapter. It ruined the pattern of the book.
I’ve spent a week now trying to figure out a way to fix the flow of the story without detracting from the story itself. Finally, I decided to get back to basics.
First, I listed everything that happened in the chapter in point form.

· Children looking at their basketball floating in the middle of the pond.
· Amelia saying ‘If only we had a boat.’
· The hardest wish, Marina makes a boat.
· All aboard.
· Sam wants to be captain.
· Marina makes a captain’s hat.
· Sail to the ball.
· Amelia slips and falls in trying to save the ball.
· Boat is sailing away and Amelia can’t swim.
· Marina turns the Captain’s hat into a life jacket and throws it to Amelia.
· Amelia dries off, back on the boat.
· Home time.

Then I put myself into the heads of the kids to work out exactly what I know about them and how they would react to the events. The first three points stayed the same but I realised their reaction in the story to seeing a sailing boat materialise before their eyes was under done.


Shocked expressions, a ‘No way!’ And a ‘How did you do that?’ weren’t sufficient. I also wondered if an 11 year old boy, two ten year old girls and a 7 year old boy would actually know how to sail.


This was the point that opened up storyline to change. The changes have also led to greater character development of the secondary characters. Toby has shown himself to be a little bossy and dismissive of his younger cousin, Sam. When Sam wants to be captain, Toby tells him he’s too small. But Sam proves himself when they get into trouble.
This is how the plotting developed.
· Children looking at their basketball floating in the middle of the pond.
· Amelia saying ‘If only we had a boat.’
· The hardest wish, Marina makes a boat.
· Reaction to the magic.
· All aboard.
· Sam wants to be Captain. Toby says he too small.
· Casting off, but no one knows how to sail.
· Wrong way Toby – chasing ducks.
· Working out how to steer.
· Against the wind - Stuck on the wrong side of the pond.
Chapter six ends with the boat drifting closer to a strand of tangled reeds, with razor sharp leaves.
Chapter seven starts as Sam takes over the steering and sails the boat to safety. That is when Marina makes his captain’s hat for him. The rest of the chapter stays close to the original plan and the pattern of the book is back on track.
So the moral of this is. When you are stuck;
· Break it down. Not just into scenes – Go smaller, to the individual plot points of each scene.
· Look inside the minds of your characters. If you know them the answers will come.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What I'm Reading Now! - #1

Jaguar Warrior – Sandy Fussell

Walker Books Australia
ISBN: 978 1 921529 29 0 (pbk)

I find myself very lucky this week to be reading an advance copy of Sandy Fussell’s newest book ‘Jaguar Warrior’. I am a big fan of Sandy’s writing. She writes historical fiction for children and her books have taken her readers on journeys through 13th Century Alaska (Polar Boy), 15th Century Japan and China (Samurai Kids Series) and now to the height of the Aztec world. .
To date, Sandy’s CBCA 2009 shortlisted book Polar Boy has been my favourite of her books but Jaguar Warrior is shaping up to take the top position.
The story is set during the clash of the Aztec civilization and their Spanish conquerors. These huge events are seen through the eyes of Atl, a young temple slave boy who is set free on the eve of being sacrificed to the Serpent-Sun God to spread warning of the betrayal of the pale lords. To make things a little more interesting, the Captain of the Temple guard believes the only way to defeat the Spanish is to complete Atl’s sacrifice. He has sworn an oath to capture Atl and complete the ritual. Atl has to decide to run to freedom or throw himself into the path of danger and complete the task given him by the man who was about to cut out his heart. And only help he has is from Lali, the most annoying girl in all Mexica.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Speculative Fiction Workshop

With Margo Lanagan - at the NSW Writers' Centre.
I find myself looking forward to Margo Lanagan’s speculative fiction workshop in March. Plenty of hands on exercises.
As a reader, I have always been a fan of fantasy. (I do use always in a relatively loose fashion. I was a late starter as a reader finishing my first ever novel in Year 11 at school). Tolkien, Steven Donaldson, David Eddings, Susan Cooper, Anne McCaffrey and Raymond E Feist were all favourites once I caught the bug.
I am also a huge fan of Science Fiction and horror movies but couldn’t really find as much passion for Sci-fi and horror books back then. I have since discovered some brilliant science fiction authors, particularly Elizabeth Moon. And Simon Haynes is great for sci-fi humour.
I find that I still don’t like horror stories that rely on gratuitous violence and gore to be scary. (Scott Sigler could be the exception to that rule). That goes for books and movies. It just isn’t scary. The stories that give me delicious shivers are the subtle ones that sneak up on you. The ones that could almost be possible. Dean Koontz is the standout there.
Now as a writer, I find myself drawn to the speculative end of the scale. I’m not really happy unless there is at least a hint of magic in my stories.
Fantasy and Horror are huge in publishing at present, particularly in young adult and children’s fiction. This is thanks to the Harry Potter and Twilight phenomena. It’s hard to keep up with the new vampire titles. (Thank goodness they are on the way out). On the other hand, Science fiction seems to be dead in the water.

So knowing that, why did I pick a science fiction story to write during last years NaNoWriMo. Seriously, I’m asking – I have no idea. Now I have the story in the form of a very rough first draft. But what do I do with it now? Are publishers even looking at science fiction? They don’t seem to be. Is it even worth the effort in re-writing and polishing my draft? Or do I write something more commercially viable?
I’m hoping Margo’s workshop will answer some of my questions.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tissue Duty

Monday is the big day for all the new kindergarten kids - Their first day of school.
This can be a very traumatic time for children and I have been given tissue duty for when the parents go home and leave their babies behind. This is a pretty serious task because first impressions are important. A bad first day at school can taint their schooling experience for a long, long time.
Most of the kids will probably be fine but I’m sure there will be some tears. I thought the best thing I could do was enlist the help of one of my friends, Fergus. He has a wonderful way with children and best of all, he works cheep.
In my former life as a specialist police youth officer, Fergus used to help me out when I was visiting infants and pre-school kids. He was good at breaking the ice and made the scary uniform a bit less daunting. I’m sure the kids feeling upset, will be just a little bit better after meeting him.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day

Last year, 2009 - I spent a relatively un-Australian Day of celebration. Just like the adverts, I spent the day on the lounge, but we were watching a Project Runway marathon. No barbeque, no flag waving and nothing really patriotic. This probably had a lot to do with my state of mind at that time. It wasn’t a particularly good time of my life.
This year however, I was determined to be a little more productive.
2010 Australia Day for me.
First thing this morning, I took a trip to the local hardware store and bought a trailer load of concrete, brackets and bolts then spent most of the day in the sweltering heat mixing concrete with a shovel and pouring piers for a deck. Not the most patriotic thing either, - (that part came later in the evening) - but next year we will have somewhere to hold a decent barbecue.
It has become a Bathurst tradition for families to gather in Peace Park, on the lush green bank of the Macquarie River, to celebrate Australia Day. This was our first time and it turned out to be great evening. Awards were presented to deserving individuals; for sporting, charitable and environmental achievements. There were fire jugglers, young musical talent, fireworks followed by the outdoor screening of a family movie (Night at the Museum 2) on a huge inflatable movie screen.
All in all it was a productive and very enjoyable day. Flags were waved and I’m proud to be Australian!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Place Of My Own

For the last few years, my own little place in the house has been the back corner of our sun-room. It is four metres long but less than two metres wide, separated from the rest of the room by a couple of bookcases. My “office” is actually a step up from what I used to have so I can’t really complain.
Sometimes it is hard to concentrate on my writing because the other three quarters of the room is taken up with my wife’s sewing table and the kid’s electronic corner. This techno-marvel contains the stereo, the latest in games machines including Rock Band for the Play Station - complete with guitars and drums and the kid’ computer. It is a rare occasion when I am in the room by myself. I’ve also come to the conclusion that there isn’t a single activity my boys enjoy that does not involve lots of noise.
The other problem with my current work space is that there is not enough room to set up my painting equipment and leave it out until the project is completed. Packing every thing up at the end of a session is a pain in the creative process.
Now for the good news. The council have approved the development application for my new studio. We ordered it today and it should be ready in four to five weeks. I can hide up the back yard in my studio to write in peace and set up my paints with a table to cut matt-boards and for my light-box. I’ll even have enough room to run some small art workshops and to set up an evening writer’s group.
Life is good. A place of my own!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


It amazes me sometimes how generous people can be. I was searching Youtube the other night and stumbled across an amazing band from Orangeburg South Carolina in the US, called I Nine. I listened to a few of their songs on Youtube.
The band has a delightful acoustic sound. The lead singer Carmen Keigans, looks and sounds a little like Jewel with a hint of Avril Lavigne every now and then but her sound is haunting and unique.
The following day, I went to my local music store and was disappointed that they were unable to locate the bands album to order in for me. I started a search on the web for somewhere to buy the album and found Carmen’s web site.
Not only does Carmen have a beautiful voice, she is a wonderfully generous person as well. When she found out I couldn’t get the album here in Australia, she e-mailed all the songs and a couple of bonus tracks to me.
I was blown away by Carmen’s generosity.
If you haven’t heard I Nine perform check out this link to the Youtube video of their song ‘Change Nothing’
Another of their songs you should look out for is ‘Seven Days of Lonely’
Thank you Carmen, you are brilliant.