Posts tagged September Star Author

Meet our September Star Author – Susan Green

Our super September Star Author is Australian author, Susan Green.  Susan has written two books featuring the charismatic Verity Sparks, The Truth About Verity Sparks and Verity Sparks: Lost and Found.  She always wanted to write and illustrate books, but gave away her art studies and teaching to concentrate on writing when she won a short story competition. The Truth About Verity Sparks was short-listed in the Book of the Year for Younger Readers category of the 2012 CBCA Awards.

Thanks for joining us Susan!  We’re looking forward to hearing all about your books and writing.

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See ya!

Wow – has it been a month already?

It’s the last day of the month, so it must be – but gosh my time as Star Author has really flown by.

This just a quick post, really, to say thanks for having me here, and for reading whatI’ve had to say about me, my books, and reading and writing in general. Although my time here is finished, if you want to keep up with me, you are welcome to drop in to my brand new website Murphing Around. You can also send me questions or reviews to put up on the site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts. Stay well – and keep reading!


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Get Writing!

Oh dear. My month as Star Author is rapidly drawing to a close. I have really enjoyed spending time, if only virtually, in Christchurch.

As this is one of my last posts, I thought I might stop talking about myself and offer something to you.  If you are reading this, chances are you love reading and/or writing. So I thought you might enjoy some quick writing activities that you can do  to get yourself writing. Grab a pen and paper, and sit yourself down, then choose one of these exercise and just write.

  1. Write a sentence where every word starts with the next letter of the alphabet – a, b, c and so on. (for example A brown cat dropped everything…). Don’t worry if it is silly or even ungrammatical. Just see what comes out.
  2. Write for as long as you can without using the letter ‘e’. Again, don’t worry if it’s a little ungrammatical or silly.
  3. Same as 2, but this time see how long you can write without using the word ‘and’.
  4. Find five random words by opening a book or dictionary and picking the first word you see on five different pages. Or get someone else to give you five random words. Then write a sentence, paragraph or even a story which includes all five words.
  5. Open the book you’re currently reading (you are reading one, aren’t you) at any page, and copy out the first sentence of the second paragraph. Now, close the book and start writing, using that sentence as the first sentence of a completely new piece of writing.

Chances are, none of these exercises will produce an absolute masterpiece. But they will challenge you, might make you laugh, and will help get your creative juices flowing.

Have fun. If you’re brave enough, post one of your efforts here as a comment for the world to see.

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Books I Have Loved

So far in my month as Star Author I’ve talked a lot about myself and my books. So, for something different I thought today I might look at some other people’s books.  I was lucky growing up that I lived in a house where reading was valued and where there were always good books. I got lots of books for birthdays and Christmases, and no trip to Perth was complete without a visit to the multi-storeyed Angus & Robertson bookshop.  I still have some of the books I loved way back then, and others I have tracked down again in recent years.  Amazingly, most of my old favourites are still in print. Anyway, here (in no particular order) is a list of some of the books I loved when I was in primary school:

  1. The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. The idea of family of tiny people who lived, rather like mice, in the walls of a house, tickled my fancy. The borrowers ‘borrow’ things from humans to survive, but often live in peril of being caught by the humans, or their cats. It isn’t always easy being small.

2. The Wombles, by Elizabeth Beresford. Funnily, another favourite was also about collectors. The Wombles were funny furry animals, a bit like a cross between hedgehogs and mice who lived underneath Wimbledon Common in England, and collected anything humans left behind, from food to clothing, to umbrellas and even furniture. They all had wonderful names chosen from a world globe – names like Orinoco and Uncle Bulgaria. This was made into a television series which I was also pretty fond of.

3.     Mandy, by Julie Andrews. This one was the first book I remember reading that made me wish I had written it – and, in fact, I did write my own story which was very similar when I was about 7. Mandy was an orphan who nobody wanted to adopt and so she was stuck in an orphanage. But over the fence  of the orphanage she discovers an abandoned cottage in some woods, and sets about creating a home for herself  to escape to.

4.  The Secret Seven, by Enid Blyton. Not as famous as the Famous Five, this was a series of books about a group of kids who get together and solve mysteries. For some reason I preferred these to the Famous Five, even though I loved those too. Later, I also loved the Trixie Belden books and Nancy Drew too. The idea of kids getting out and solving mysteries really appealed to me. I still love mysteries.

5.    Shadrach, by Meindert Dejohng .  I am really excited about this one because I have been trying to remember the name of this book and track it down for years and only this morning I managed to locate it.  My memory of this is vague – I know it is about a boy who desperately wants a pet rabbit, which he gets and names Shadrach – and then it escapes. I also remember it being sad enough to make me cry, which books rarely did when I was a kid (though do all the tie now – I’ve turned into a softie). I can’t wait to reread it now that I’ve found and ordered a copy.

These are only a few of the many books I loved when I was a kid. Some I’ve forgotten the names of, others I remember loving but don’t remember what they were about.  I’d love to hear which books you love – and whether you’ve read any of these ones!

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Getting Published

Yesterday I drove up to Mundaring, a little community just outside of Perth, where my friend, artist Frane Lessac, and I spoke to a group of people about how to get published. It was a really fun session, with Frane and me each sharing our journey to publication and then talking about the dos and don’ts of getting published.

When I sat down to blog today I thought it might interest YOU to know just how a book gets published. So, here goes.

First, long before a book is something  I can hold in my hands or tell the whole world about or even read, it is just an idea. My ideas come from all over the place – from things I see, things that have happened to me, things I read about, or silly ideas which just come to me.

When I get an idea and decide to write about it, the next thing I do is plan my story. Usually the plan happens in my head – I spend a lot of time thinking about who my main character will be, and what will happen to him/her, and I work out what the main conflict or problem will be, and how it will be resolved at the end.

Once I have a pretty fair idea of what is going to happen in my new story, I write the first draft. This might take only minutes, if it is a picture book or short piece, or days and months if it is longer, but I do try to get the whole  first draft written as quickly as possible before I get distracted by the next big idea.

Once that first draft is written, I put it away. I don’t reread it it, or share it with anyone for as long as I can stand. This creates distance between me and the story, and means that  when I get it back out a month or more later, I am able to see what needs to be fixed – as well as what works, of course. Then I rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit and tinker until the story is as perfect as I can make it. Sometimes this takes many many months, or even years until I am happy with a story.

But, eventually  my story is ready to submit and I send it off to a publisher. Sometimes, the story comes back to me with a letter saying it won’t be published (there are lots of reasons for this) but other times, thankfully, I get a phonecall or email from the publisher to say they will publish my book.

That’s when the hard works starts, because no matter how good I thought the story was when I submitted it, now I have to work with an editor to make it even better.  And sometimes this can take a lot of phonecalls, emails and, of course, writing sessions. – which can take months.

When the text is finalised, the  publisher chooses an illustrator, who then works on the illustration in consultation with the editor. I don’t tell the illustrator what to draw or how to draw it, though I do get shown initial sketches and have the opportunity to provide feedback.

When the illustrations are finished (which can again take months and months or oven years) , the publisher puts words and pictures together and the book is finally ready to be printed.

Then, at least a year after I had that first idea – but usually two or more years – the postman brings me a parcel, with copies of the new book for me to enjoy, and copies of the book are then available in bookstores and libraries for people to read.

It’s a long process –  Head Hog took six years to finally be published – but when I hold a new book in my hands for the first time I always feel  really proud.

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My new book – Head Hog

I have been busy visiting lots of schools and libraries lately, celebrating Children’s Bookweek here in Australia, and talking about myself and my books.

One of the books I’ve really enjoyed reading is my newest book, Head Hog, illustrated by Ben Wood. This one is fun to read because it has lots of silly words and phrases like ‘Bumpetty bompetty, bomp’ and “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.  And it’s especially fun to read  because it is so brand new – meaning I’ve only read it aloud a few times. In fact this one’s so new that it hasn’t been released yet. I have my copies, and it’s for sale from the publisher’s website, but hasn’t been released to stores yet.

When I visit schools and read my books I often get asked which book is my favourite – and I always explain that I don’t have a favourite because it’s a bit like asking a Mum which child is her favourite. But, just like a mum is excited to show off her new baby, whenever I have a new book I love to show it off, because I know people haven’t seen it yet, and because I have often waited a long time to see the book published. In the case of Head Hog, I’ve had to wait a reaaaaally long time – because it’s been about six years since I started writing it.

So, while I don’t have a favourite book – here is my new baby for you to admire (the cover, anyway).


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Happy Father’s Day – and More

Hello Everyone

It’s Father’s Day today and I am sitting back relaxing with my kids – and of course my husband, who is a great Dad. In fact, he just spent three days in charge of everything here at home while I jetted off to the other side of Australia to present the Dorothea MacKellar Poetry Awards.

These awards are an amazing opportunity for young poets throughout Australia to not just write poetry but also to possibly win prizes.  I was lucky to meet the prizewinners and, even though I’d read the poems a while back when I judged the competition, to get reacquainted with their poems. It blows me away how talented some of these kids are. One winner told me she’d never written a poem before she wrote one for this contest. I bet she keeps writing them!

While I was in Gunnedah I was also lucky enough to visit three schools and conduct writing workshops with some of the students.  All of this mixing with young writers was exciting for me – it reminded me of when I was younger. When I was at school I was always making up stories and poems, and used to love daily writing. In my school holidays I would write novels and books, which I would give to my mum. Luckily, she kept some of them for me, so I still have some of those early stories.

What about you?  Do you love to write? If so, do you share your writing with anyone? Whether it’s entering a contest or just giving your story to someone as a gift, sharing your writing helps you get feedback and support for your writing habit. Don’t be shy. Maybe you could write a poem for your dad today on Father’s Day.

Speak to you again soon.


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