Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(Not so secret) Agent!

so I guess that if I'm going to maintain my spectacular 2-posts-per-month average, then I better get something done here this afternoon…

As you may have gathered from the ongoing drought of blog posts here, I'm keeping as busy as ever of late. Tomorrow, for example, I'm heading up to Sydney for the day to run an all-day masterclass with the students at Sydney Girls High School, concentrating on tips and tricks for writing character (make them real, put a piece of yourself into every character, find the ‘truth’ in every character, make sure they have a relationship with the environment of the story… and so on)

I've also, of course, been buried in a veritable pile of marking for the last couple of weeks.

Oh, and (unbelievably) Toby turned 3 last week. This event was heralded by several parties, a trip up Black Mountain tower, a really quite ludicrous number of presents, more sugar than a 3-year-old's system can reasonably handle, one incredibly over-catered barbecue lunch, and two exhausted and somewhat confused parents asking themselves; “where on earth did the last 3 years of our lives disappear to?"

And, in the midst of all that, I do actually have a bit of writing related news.

You might remember me mentioning a while ago that I finally finished my most recent book. (Of course you remember, the damn thing has taken close to 2 years, and during that time I've been constantly banging on about it being ‘almost finished’.)

You might also remember me mentioning that this time, instead of pitching it to publishers myself, I had decided to submit it to a literary agent in New York to see if they were interested in representing it (and me).

Well I'm pleased to be able to announce that they liked it. So much so in fact that I'm now happily represented by Cheryl Pientka, of Jill Grinberg Literary Management! I don't mind admitting how thrilled, and completely surprised, I was to get such a positive response from Cheryl and Jill, as during the nerve-wracking wait for a response from them I managed, pretty effectively, to convince myself that the book had no merit whatsoever. I'm also excited because my new managers handle a lot of Australian writers, including several of my friends. (Actually, I owe a huge thanks to Melina Marchetta, who did the introducing here…)

And that's where I'm at. Early in the new year I expect to be launching myself back into The Hunter, and among the other things keeping me busy at the moment is the detailed planning and mapping out of the next 3 books in the series, which I should start writing in January.

In the meantime, I have a keynote speech to write, my teaching and grading for this semester to finalise, and then in a couple of weeks the family and I are off to Perth for holidays and weddings (not ours, obviously, we did that a while ago, now.)

So that's my news, and my litany of excuses for not keeping you all up-to-date. Hope everything is good with everyone who reads this (that is, of course, assuming I have any readers left), and that you are managing to ease your way into the festive season with a minimum of stress.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Going 'Live'...

You may have noticed something of a drop-off in the number of posts I've managed to put up here in the last couple of months. There are many, various, and largely uninteresting reasons for this, most of which don't bear discussion.

One of the contributing factors, though, is the fact that the special edition of the British Journal Write4Children which I have been putting together for the last 12 months (and which I believe I've mentioned here just once or twice) was due for publication at the start of November.

This, of course, meant that the last few weeks have been an ungodly world of proofreading, editing, chasing up small details, and compiling the finished journal. Hence, in part, by prolonged absence here at Musings…

But, I'm glad to say, it's all done now and the special edition went live in the middle of the night earlier this week. (For those of you who are about to click the link, it's volume 3, number 1)

I also have to say that (despite swearing several times during the process that I would never do this again) it's definitely all been worth it. I'm really thrilled at the end result, and everyone who contributed to the edition worked so hard to get it up and running (and, to everyone's surprise - especially mine - published on time!)

There are, I think (though as editor, I would) some fantastic papers in the edition. I was particularly thrilled to receive abstracts from a number of really fantastic Australian writers, as well as practising academics in the field of children's writing, and the topics explored in the edition are as diverse and wide ranging as Australian children's writing itself. Among the offerings you will find in the edition are a fantastic paper by Lucy Christopher on Stolen, one by Lili Wilkinson on her novel Pink, Rosanne Hawke discussing the role of faith in several of her books, but most notably Marrying Amira, Mark Carthew talking about Australian poetry – and paying particular attention to the state of publishing poetry for children, Kate Deller-Evans on the rising prominence of junior verse novels in Australia , and a really interesting piece by Anna Kurian from the University of Hyderabad, which takes you into the booming world of writing and publishing young adult fiction in India. For the foodies amongst you there is also a really fascinating paper by Donna Lee Brien and Adele Wessell documenting the history and impact of cookbooks written for children in Australia from the earliest colonial days through the junior Masterchef.

All in all, putting this together has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my academic career (such as it is) to date. One of the things I didn't expect was the buzz that I would get from gathering together such an interesting and diverse range of writing, having it all peer-reviewed, and in putting out into the public are. It was also a really interesting experience for me to sit on the editorial side of the desk, and experience life on the other side. I've also made a number of really interesting new friends in the process, including Andy* and Vanessa, the journal founders and editors who were brave enough (or, depending on your perspective, silly enough) to hand their baby over to my care for a while.

In any case, now that's out of the way I'm hoping to get back to a little bit of writing and, of course, in a week marking season begins!

*who also has a very cool blog somewhere on blogger, which for some bizarre reason I can't seem to find at the moment, but will update this link when I do...

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