Monday, 16 July 2018

Leave Taking

Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood (UQP) PB   RRP $14.95 ISBN: 978 0 7022 6011 7

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is a new verse novel for younger readers from the celebrated author of Star Jumps, the 2010 winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Fiction. The theme of Leave Taking had its genesis in the author’s own (successful) battle with cancer and her move away from the farm where she raised her children. Basically, this book is a journey through grief and a celebration of hope, with Toby, his mum and dad, leaving their family farm after the death of Toby’s younger sister, Leah. Together, they sort through all their belongings and put things aside to sell or throw out. It’s a big task, and naturally Toby doesn’t want to leave the only place he’s called home.

As his last day on the farm approaches, Toby has a plan -- to say goodbye to all the things and places that mean something special to him and Leah, from the machinery shed and Pa’s old truck to the chook house. With the help of his best friend, Trigger the dog, he learns what it means to take your leave.

As Toby says good-bye in this final week, he experiences camping, a clearing sale and a bonfire night, meanwhile undertaking chores such as milking cows, tidying up and packing.

This is a gentle story with no dramatic moments; the story action rolling smoothly through the course of the last week on the farm.

Written in easy-to-read free verse, the book will appeal to readers aged 7 to 10 years who prefer short sentences and stanzas with plenty of white space and pared-back descriptions. Simple black and white line illustrations scattered through the book with drawings on the fly pages add to the book’s appeal.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Buzz Words Achievers

Augustus Brown by Margaret Pearce is a rhyming picture book illustrated by 13-year-old Xanthe Turner and published by Turner Books. It is a poem about a pet spider. As most mothers have a bias against spiders Augustus had to settle to only being a fantasy pet. This is not a disappointment as interesting things happen and keep on happening with a fantasy spider that is the cutest pet around. The book is available on Amazon, Booktopia, Fishpond, Angus & Robertson, Barnes and Noble. It is official released in August 2019.

Julie Thorndyke’s
 first children’s picture book Waiting for the Night, with illustrations by Anna Seed, has been published by Interactive Press. A review of it by Dannielle Viera will appear in on 25 July.

Kate Simpson's debut picture book, Finding Granny was released this month through EK Books. Finding Granny is beautifully illustrated by Gwynneth Jones and tells the story of a special relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter that is turned on its head when Granny has a stroke.

Congratulations to Jo Mularczyk who entered the recent Short short short story competition (21 words) run by the Australian Writers’ Centre. They received almost 1000 entries, so naturally Jo was thrilled to have two of her entries placed in the list of finalists and one named among the five winners included in their newsletter.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

To the Moon and Back

To the Moon and Back by Dianne Bates (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-0-925520-29-3

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

Dianne Bates’ To the Moon and Back was not what I was expecting - in all the right ways. In the first few chapters I was captivated and very much a part of the story.

To the Moon and Back is aimed at readers aged eight to 12 years that deals with a sensitive subject - parental divorce and its impact on children. In the first two chapters alone I was taken on a ride of emotions and went from thinking how powerful the story was, putting myself in the shoes of young Claire, whose mum is having an affair and ultimately moving in with her lover.

Claire is taken on a roller-coaster ride, moving from her family home to a lodging in Sydney, and just when she is feeling comfortable, another upheaval and she's forced to move into Mum’s boyfriend Mac's house in the country.

Before long Claire begins to make friends, but she longs to be with her Dad who has gone missing. Can she begin to see Mac as a father figure, or will she resent him for taking her Mum away?

I adored the book. Its topic, which I think has been dealt with sensitively, makes it a unique niche read, and certainly something many young readers will understand. The story line is well written, and I could certainly emphasise with Claire which are some hallmarks of a beautiful story.

I think the target market will be enchanted with this heart-warming story, with a number of key themes really standing strong including change, forming new friendships, relationships and parenting struggles.

A beautiful and well-rounded story!

Friday, 13 July 2018

Ori’s Clean-Up

Ori’s Clean-Up by Anne Helen Donnelly (self-published) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-0-646984131

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

Ori’s Clean-Up gives young readers an introduction of the importance of recycling. Set under the sea, Ori the octopus asks his friends to help him clean up his home. Before long however the sea bed is a mess again, this time, Ori and his friends decide instead of just tidying the rubbish, they would find ways of recycling the items, including papers, bottles and containers.

The writing style uses repetition such as “The food scraps can feed the plants,” said Cathy Clownfish. "Pick, pick, pick up food scraps for the compost,” which will appeal tohe target audience of three to six year-olds. The story is easy to read, and imagery - also created by Anne Helen Donnelly -- is bright and colourful and stands out.

I like the message of finding new uses for rubbish which is very in-trend right now, and I think it’s a good message to send home to children to clean up and recycle to make “their home a healthier place, now and for later”.

This is an enjoyable read, with an important message and a good tool to use with young readers.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

See Monkey Review

See Monkey by Sophie Masson, Illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dogs) PB RRP: $24.95 ISBN: 9780994626981

Review by Anne Helen Donnelly

Toddler and Monkey are awake and immediately the fun begins. First Monkey jumps, then he dives but can’t stop in time. Monkey likes to go outside and hop, all over the flowers. Then he plays ball and dances, and more mischief ensues. Monkey’s quiet time results in a creative and colourful mess for Mum to clean up, but his energy is limitless! Monkey then sits, then reads. After bath time Monkey swings before bedtime.

What a day! Follow Toddler and his favourite toy through their busy day and all the fun adventures and mischief they get up to. Parents with toddlers will relate to some of these amusing situations of these energetic adventures and after-fun clean-ups.

See Monkey is a children’s picture book for children of ages 3 – 7 years. The themes are universal, and it is a good read for families with babies and young children. The lively and colourful illustrations will capture the minds of a young audience.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Being Business-Like as a Writer

Taxation Departments regard writers and illustrators as 'Small Business'. Even if you are a new writer and don't earn enough money to pay tax, it's a smart idea to work in a business-like way. Then, when the time comes, the transition is easy.

This advice was given in a session called 'Taxation for Writers' at an Australian Society of Authors (ASA) seminar that I attended in the early eighties before I was earning enough to pay tax. A tax consultant advised on procedures that would simplify the drudgery of 'getting the figures together' at the end of the financial quarter or year. Here is my procedure, based initially on his advice and changed from time to time to suit different circumstances.

I write short stories, verse, scripts and articles for magazines (for adults and children), as well as junior novels, non-fiction books and picture-stories. I keep track of them by means of Card files and a Day Book. (If yours are major works, such as writing one novel or illustrating one picture-story a year, then you will always know where your work is placed.) Available now is software which does this job, but I like the portability of cards and a Day Book.

A. CARD FILES (Note that this can be computerised)
1. Each item of work has its own card, filed in its category: short stories, picture stories, articles, verse, scripts, novels, collections - in sections for adults and children. A quick glance tells the history of the work.
When I send a piece of work out, I write the date and the market; later, the date of acceptance followed by the payment, written in green felt pen, or the date of rejection followed by the next market.
Some items have a long history. If an item is out longer than four or five months, I send a reminder. If payment is slow, I send an account. If the item is returned, I send it out again, and make a notation, 'revised', if I re-write. I offer second rights and send items overseas.
I have retained copyright to most of my work and have been able to offer some for inclusion in story and poetry anthologies. I offer non-exclusive rights so that I am free to market my work again.
On the back of the cards, I note expenses, such as: postages, short story entry fees, photocopying costs...
2. Each market has a card: newspapers and magazines (adults and children), trade publishers, education publishers, radio programs. Five columns show date sent, title, category (short story, verse...), date of acceptance, date of return.
B. DAY BOOK (Note this can be spread-sheet on your computer)
I use a spiral notebook, page-numbered and divided into sections. Categories are listed on a Contents page under Expenses and Income. Three columns show date, details and fees. Whenever I pay by cheque, I include its number.

Postages: Daily, as I post items, I enter them. My Post Office Box fee is also included once a year.
Telephone: Local and interstate charges are entered on separate pages. Half telephone rental is included.
Fares and Travel: This includes local travel by public transport and travel by car for speaking engagements. (Charges are based on kilometres and the cc capacity of the car.) Fares and travel costs paid by hosts for interstate travel for talks, research, appointments... are recorded.
Printing and Stationery: The usual office items, plus computer software and photocopying - coin-in-the-slot and copy card costs.
Subscriptions and Memberships: Add the cost of daily newspapers, for these are essential research tools for all kinds of writing.
Books: A collection of books may be depreciated annually, or new books related to the earning of income may be listed.
Workshops, conferences and seminars: Registration payments.
Fees: Include fees paid to enter competitions. If you are a compiler, fees paid to authors for permission to include items in an anthology. Fees paid for professional computer maintenance and advice.
Accountancy: Eventually you may decide to engage a tax consultant. This was my decision in 1986 when I had bought a computer, software and printer, and wasn't sure which of three ways was best when claiming depreciation.
Publicity and Advertising: Fliers, bookmarks, photographs and the purchase of your own books to give away.
Home Office: see Special Notes
Donations: List gifts to charitable organisations.
Hardware: Record details of the purchase of computer hardware, office desk, chair and filing cabinet. (Note that computer hardware can be depreciated and software cannot.)
Depreciation: see Special Notes.
Input Tax Credit: see Income: Copyright Agency Limited

I list under the following headings:
Features and articles
Short Stories
Lectures, Workshops, School Visits
Public Lending Rights and Educational Lending Rights
Copyright Agency Limited - payments made when individuals or organisations photocopy works or segments of works. There is a commission involved in this, which is an Input Tax Credit. Multiply the amount by 11 and list it as a tax deduction.
Sale of books - if you buy new or remainders for re-sale, record purchase price and sales

* File all royalty statements, receipts, etc, in two large envelopes - income and earnings.
* Originally, I had to discover how to depreciate office items, such as typewriter, tape-recorder, computer and printer. Now I leave it to my taxation consultant.
* Claim Home Office or Home Studio expenses on a room used exclusively for this purpose. The area of my study is about one-seventh of the total house area, so I list expenses (lighting, heating, water rates, council rates, insurance, body corporate fee) and divide by seven.
* Other items that may be tax-deductible: depreciation on office furnishings and fittings, repairs to office equipment, furniture and fittings, office cleaning, proportion of home loan interest, proportion of rent for a flat or a house, wages paid to assistants, legal fees in respect to contracts, proportion of overseas travel expenses...

When I engaged a taxation consultant, I explained my organisation and asked whether she had any suggestions. 'That's fine,' she said. 'All I need is your Day Book and totals of extra income from investments and bank interest.'

The system works for me. I hope it works for you!

© Edel Wignell
Edel Wignell is a freelance writer, compiler and journalist. Her latest titles are Tying the Knot: Folk Tales of Love and Marriage from around the World and Tying the Knot: Teacher Resource Book for Years 6-9 (Phoenix Education).
This article was first published in Writers' Forum (USA).

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Goldie Alexander: An extract from Changing History?

The extract above is from Changing History? (published by one of Goldie Alexander’s Shakespeare Now trilogies-  a time-warp set in the present and in Berlin 1928, and loosely based on Romeo and Juliet.

Berlin, 1928.
She wakes to smell! An overpowering reek of wet wool, stale perfume, old sweat, beer, tobacco, and spicy sausage.
            She recalls tripping… bumping against a wall… something falling … a red-hot explosion of pain… 
             The back of her head is about to fall off.
             She reaches up to feel a lump the size of a pigeon egg.
              Someone has glued her eyelids together. It takes a huge effort, but she finally manages to prise them apart.
             For a long moment, the world stands still.
             All that come out of her mouth is a soundless ‘Aghh…’
             She can’t believe what her eyes are showing her.
             Strangers! Total strangers are looking down at her: a white-faced clown with huge red lips; an old woman, her wrinkles covered in thick makeup; a coarse, featured man with flyaway wisps of hair; a boy… no, that face is too old to be a child…
             She closes her eyes. This is just a dream. She’s had bad dreams before, woken with a shout loud enough to bring her mother rushing into her room. But nothing, nothing ever like this.
              A man pushes his way through the crowd. He kneels over her, frowns, and asks in German, ‘Wie f├╝hlen sie sich?’
             She finally realises that he is asking how she feels?  But how do you answer a nightmare? ‘Okay,’ she murmurs through cracked lips, though this is far from the truth.
             The man’s face clears. ‘Ah, American… Yankee.’
             Taylor shakes her head and discovers that any movement, no matter how slight, worsens the pain. ‘No…Australian.’