Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Blogging & Reading Resolutions

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Yes, I am one of those people who get stupidly excited as it gets closer to New Year's and makes lots of grand plans and resolutions. Whether or not I actually achieve them is another story completely ...

Anyway, I thought I'd start with a quick look back at my 2011 Blogging and Reading Resolutions:

Read 100 books – Done! Whilst I didn’t beat my 133 total from 2010, I pulled a decent 115 this year. This was made up predominantly of YA fiction, but also included a number of biographies and personal fiction (Tori Spelling, Rob Lowe, Anthony Bourdain, Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey) and some adult fiction.

Post more consistently – eeeep, definitely not done! Despite good intentions, my posting schedule this year (especially over the last couple of months) was sporadic at best. The big difference in 2011 was that I was working full-time, which obviously gives me less blogging time.

Write higher-quality reviews – ehhh, whilst I think I improved slightly in quality from 2010, I still think my 2011 reviews could have been more polished.

Comment more – another area I did not do so well in. I think I was even worse in 2011 than in 2010 at commenting! I do feel like my Google Reader is a bit out of control and I don’t manage it as well as I should. I’d like to do a bit of a clean-up and really make the effort with leaving comments on posts I enjoy or that get me thinking – and also ensure that I leave well-thought comments instead of just ‘great review’.

Attend more literary events – yay, something I improved in! In 2011, I was fortunate enough to attend Reading Matters, the Emerging Writers Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival (school’s program) and a Booktalkers event at the State Library.

And now for 2012 (actually given my mixed success with the 2011 resolutions, they are somewhat similar)

Read 120 books - I want to step it up a bit and try and read more than I did in 2011. I'd also like to keep trying to move out of my reading comfort zone (contemporary YA) a little bit more - so feel free to recommend me books you think I'd like.

Making better use of my blogging time - I'm going to have less 'free' time in 2012, as not only am I working full-time, but I've also decided to take on further study (yay!). I'd still like to keep going with My Girl Friday and do to this, I want to work on making better use of my blogging time (as right now, about 80% of it involves faffing about on the internet and 20% involves actually writing ....). I think a blogging calendar and the scheduling assistant will become my new best friends.

Expand my blogging horizons - for those of you who are long-time readers (all five of you), you might remember I used to have baking and food posts. Well, I'm determined to bring this back in 2012 (hey, my tagline has always been fiction, film and food), as well as starting to write more about film (my other love), Melbourne and other things that interest me (and that I think you guys will like to).

Write better quality posts and invest time and effort into creating pieces I'm truly proud of - no explanation needed.

Lovely readers, I'd like to know what your 2012 resolutions are (blogging, reading, personal).
Feel free to share in the comments!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Festive Wishes

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Hi friends,

Just wanted to take a minute to wish you all the very best for the festive season. I hope you all have a lovely break, however you choose to spend or celebrate it. I'm about to sit down and watch my absolute favourite Christmas film, It's A Wonderful Life (which still makes me cry, even though I've watched it every Christmas Ever for the past ten years - seriously, once George Bailey runs through Bedford Falls, I am a mess).

I hope you've  all had a great 2011 and wish everyone the best for 2012! I'll be taking a little blogging break, but will be back in the New Year, with new reviews, new features and hopefully a fresh look.

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Directions in 2012

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Hello! I won't bore you all with apologies, but I'm sure you've noticed how quiet it's been on here lately. Basically I feel since I went to the US in September, I've never managed to get back on top of things, both here and at work. I think I've lost a little bit of my blogging mojo - partly because of time constraints, partly just being a bit burnt out. Anyway, I've decided to make some changes for this blog come 2012 and I'd like to share some of these with you.

Firstly (and most importantly) in 2012, I will only be reviewing Australian young adult titles in detail. I've been struggling with writing reviews this year, and so I've decided to concentrate on quality over quantity - I will committ to reviewing three Australian YA novels a month (and a mix of new releases and backlist titles).  That's not to say I won't occasionally write about other titles - because obviously I'm really excited about The Fault in Our Stars and Isla and the Happily Ever After, and I'll probably use my Snack Size feature to share my thoughts on these titles.

I've also started to create a 2012 Australian YA Calendar, to mark when new titles are publishing this year. At the moment, I'm only listing Aussie Contemporary YA, and will continue to add and update this thoughtout the year. If I've missed anything you think I should know about, please let me know.

I'm really looking forward to this new direction and some of my other plans, which I hope to reveal very soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Queen of the Night

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine to "spotlight upcoming releases".

I have been so excited for this book, since hearing whispers about it on Twitter earlier in the year. I adored This is Shyness (which I reviewed here).

Queen of the Night - Leanne Hall
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: February 27th, 2012

From Text: The dark is dangerous. So is the past. So are your dreams. For six months Nia—Wildgirl—has tried to forget Wolfboy, the mysterious boy she spent one night with in Shyness—the boy who said he’d call but didn’t.
Then Wolfboy calls. The things he tells her pull her back to the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and dreams and reality are difficult to separate. There, Doctor Gregory has seemingly disappeared, the Darkness is changing and Wolfboy’s friend is in trouble. And Nia decides to become Wildgirl once more.

I can't wait to revist Shyness and the characters I fell in love with in  This is Shyness. Also, isn't this cover just divine?  For more information about Queen of the Night, be sure to check out Text's website.

What upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favourite Christmas Specials

It's no secret that I'm kind of a Christmas freak, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I love a good Christmas special. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourites with you:

Community: Regional Holiday Music
My most recently viewed Christmas special, and I loved pretty much every minute of this Glee-spoof. By now, you all probably know that my love of Christmas is only surpassed by my love of musicals so it was win/win all round for me. Even Annie’s song Teach Me How to Understand Christmas, spoofing Santa Baby (one of my all-time most-intensely-disliked Christmas songs) made me laugh. Whilst season two’s Christmas special was great, I definitely enjoyed this one more.

Sorry - I can't get the video to embed, but please watch this example of awesomeness that is Troy and Abed:

Misfits: Christmas Special
What a way to cap off an amazing second season! I love this episode (with the exception of the final five minutes - which I'm pretty sure everyone else who has seen this would agree with me). There's so many brilliant (and awkward moments) - and I adored the introduction of preggers teen Marnie (I totally ship her and Nathan). There's also creepy Jesus, some lovely Simon/Alisha bits,

Scrubs: My Own Personal Jesus
I used to be a really big Scrubs fan (though I stopped watching around season six I think), and this episode is back from the early days of season one. I love that is does touch upon the spiritual aspect of Christmas, without being preachy or schmaltzy - just the right amount of warm and fuzzies. The whole 're-finding your Christmas spirit' as a plot is an oldie, but a goodie (when done well).

I also really like:
That 70s Show: An Eric Foreman Christmas
Veronica Mars: An Echolls Family Christmas
Big Bang Theory: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis

What are your favourite Christmas specials?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hello December!

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Can you believe it's December already? Am I the hundreth person to bring this up to you in the last two days? (if so, I'm sorry). This year has flown by (which is scary) but I have to admit, I'm pretty excited now we've hit December as it's my hands-down my favourite time of year. I think I shared this tidbit last December, but for those of you who don't know, I am a heart-thumping, carol-whistling, gift-wrapping fanatical Christmas lover. So for me, the next month will be full of baking, present wrapping, and watching Christmas movies. I'll be sharing some of these with you on the blog this month (a warning to anyone with grinch-ish tendencies), and then some of my planned blog changes will be in effect in the new year.

I hope everyone else is enjoying the start of the holiday season! Here's one of my favourite videos, A Charlie Brown Christmas - performed by the cast of Scrubs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Publishers' Showcase at State Library of Victoria: Part 2

Sorry, I know I promised to posting Part 2 of the Publishers' Showcase on Wednesday, but I decided to bake whoopie pies for the first time and it turned into a far lengthier (and messier) project than I'd expected. Anyway, onto the recap of events:

Random House Australia: presented by Michael Pryor and Rhiannon Hart

Michael is the author of the Laws of Magic series (if you're interested in historical/fantasy/comedy/adenture books for young adults, definitely check them out as they are fantastic!) and the first book Extinction Gambit in his new series, The Extraordinaires is about to be released. This is Michael's 29th book (!!!) and it's about Kingsley Ward, an aspiring escapologist.

Michael's 30th book is also being published by Random House in April 2-12. It's called 10 Futures and it's a sci-fi novel for young adults comprising of ten linked stories (and I have to admit, as someone who does not read sci-fi, I was really intrigued by the sound of this book!).

Finally Michael shared another upcoming Random House title, Wonder by R.J Palacio. Michael suggested it as being well-suited to early teens and likened it to Holes and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Rhiannon Hart then got up and spoke a little about her debut novel, Blood Song, which was published in September this year. It's the first title in her trilogy (to be followed by Blood Storm in August next year and Blood Queen in 2013).

Penguin: presented by Erin Wamala
Legend - Marie Lu (publishing in December)
Crossed - Ally Condie (published November 2011)
Disharmony - Leah Giarratano
Part thriller, part dystopian and part fantasy, Leah is a published adult author and a clinical psychologist.
The Reluctant Hallelujah - Gabrielle Williams (February 2012) - I am already super excited for this.
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (publishing January 11, 2012) - no words, just !!!!!!!!!!

Text Publishing: presented by Alison Arnold

All I Ever Wanted - Vikki Wakefield (July 2011) - one of my favourites from this year and Vikki has a second novel coming out in mid 2012 so stay tuned.
The Bridge - Jane Higgons (August 2011) - the 2010 winner of the Text Prize.
Queen of the Night - Leanne Hall (February 2012) - another one I am very eagerly anticipating.
Shadows - Paula Weston (June 2012) - angels in a coastal town

Harper Collins: presented by Lisa Berryman

Act of Faith - Kelly Gardner (July 2011) - historical fiction with a sequel to come in 2012.
Silvermay - James Maloney (January 2011 and winner of the Golden Inky)
The Industry - Rose Foster (2012) a psychological thriller set in Melbourne (two big ticks from me), and Rose is a screenwriting student at RMIT.
Mountain Wolf - Roseanne Hawk (2012) looks at children trafficking in Pakistan.

Allen & Unwin: presented by Eva Mills

Ship Kings 1 - The Coming of the Whirlpool: Andrew McGahan (November 2011)
Only, Ever, Always: Penni Russon (August 2011)
Erebos: Ursula Poznarski (March 2012) - a thriller about "power, manipulation and revenge" translated from the original German publication. It sounded amazing and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy in 2012.
The Ink Bridge: Neil Grant (March 2012) - the story of a refugee boy on a journey from Afghanistan.

Whew! That's a lot of books to look forward to! I loved that there are so many brilliant Australian titles coming out next year, and it was great to see so many genres covered in the Showcase. Thanks again to Adele - not only for inviting me, but for organising such a fantastic event.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Publishers' Showcase at State Library of Victoria: Part 1

Tonight I was lucky enough to attend Publishers' Showcase at the State Library of Victoria, organised by the Centre for Youth Literature. It was the last of their Booktalker events for the year and a number of publishers (or authors on behalf of publishers) were invited to present on new and upcoming young adult releases. We were welcomed by the lovely Adele, program co-ordinator at the Centre for Youth Literature.

Here is a brief run-down and some photos from the event (I did take rather rough notes, so I am extremely for the lack of detail and if there are any minor errors!).

Bloomsbury: presented by Sonia Palmisano
A Beautiful Lie - Irfan Master (published January 2011)
Historical fiction set in 1940s India and the premise reminded me of the film Goodbye Lenin.
Irfan has a multiple book contract with Bloomsbury so we'll be seeing even more from him in the future.

Sektion 20 - Paul Dowswell (published September 2011)
A Cold-War thriller.

Coming in 2012:
The Hidden trilogy - Marianne Carley
Agripping Australian fantasy.

In Darkness - Nick Lake
Set in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. This will be released seperately for the YA and Adult market.

Pan Macmillan: presented by Fiona Wood and Cath Crowley

Fiona spoke about Six Impossible Things (published in August 2010). You can read my review here.
She described her debut novel as "optimistic, funny and comforting". Not only has Six Impossible Things alreayd been reprinted 6 times (!!), it's been set as an English text in two Australian schools.
Fiona then gave us some insight into her new novel (which is nearly finished!) and was known as Pulchritude and is now going by another working title. It's set in Melbourne (yay!) and is about a girl called Sybilla Quince.

Cath then got up and talked about Graffiti Moon (swoon!), and what interested me was the way she spoke about the significance of the art featured in Graffiti Moon, and the way it reflects the emotions of some of the characters. Cath also gave us some details about her new book, The Howling Boy (which I believe it due late next year). It's the story of two seventeen year olds, Crow and Audrey and oh my goodness, it sounds completely amazing!

Ford Street Publishing: presented by Paul Collins
Mole Hunt - Paul Collins
Changing Yesterday - Sean McMullen
Historical sci-fi, an exciting set during the Australian federation.

Coming in 2012:
In the Beech Forrest - Illustrated by a sixteen year old girl
Trust Me Too! An anthology featuring an Isobel Carmody piece.

Walker/Blackdogbooks: presented by Maryann Ballantyne

Coming in 2012
Other Brother - Simon French
Suited to the late middle years.

The Wrong Boy - Suzy Zail
Zail is a debut author from Melbourne and the daughter of an Auschwitz survivor. Wrong Boy is about a young Jewish teen who plays piano in a contentration camp for the commander and falls in love with his teenage son.

Broken - Elizabeth Pulford
After a motorcycle accident, a young woman falls into a coma and during this time, delves into a comic-book world to find her brother (the book turns into a graphic novel).

Blood Brothers - Carole Wilkinson
The fourth book in the Dragonkeeper series.

That covers the first part of the evening. I'll cover the second half, with new and upcoming releases from Random House, Text, Allen & Unwin and Penguin tomorrow (sorry to leave you hanging!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quiet in the Blogosphere

Hello! I thought I'd begin with a picture of myself as it feels so long since I've properly blogged, you may have all forgotten about me!

Now I know it's definitely affected me, but has anyone else noticed what seems like a wave of silence has fallen over the YA blogosphere? I'm not sure if it's just a busy time of year, if people have other committments or if there's just a general sense of 'blah' at the moment, but things seem to be very chill.

You will have noticed my lack of regular posting since I got back from holiday last month. Guys, I have to admit I'm in a bit of a reading slump and am also having a minor blogging identity crisis. There are some pretty big changes I'd like to make around here, so hopefully you will be seeing/reading some shiny, new content soon.

Anyway, I hope you're all well - feel free to share any reading recommendations in the comments (because I could really use some good ones right about now).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guest Post at The Crooked Shelf

Hi there guys and gals,

If you haven't already been following Carla of The Crooked Shelf's Aussie YA Month, make sure you check it out! Today there is a guest post from me, in which I share ten of my favourite Australian YA debut novels.

Not only has Carla been reviewing some of my favourite books, she's had guest-posts from awesome people like Adele (Persnickety Snark and the Centre for Youth Literature) and Chachic, she's got interviews with Bill Condon and Melina Marchetta AND a huge giveaway of Aussie goodness.

Quick, get over there and share the Aussie-love!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Awesome and exciting news in Australian YA

image source: we♥ it

There has been some seriously exciting news in the realms of Australian YA fiction this week and I just wanted to share these with you:

♥ The sequel to one of my 2010 favourites, This is Shyness, is being published in February 2012. Queen of the Night picks up six months after the events of the first book, and I am so excited to revisit Wildgirl and Wolfboy. Also, isn't the cover stunning?

♥ Gabrielle Williams, author of another favourite Beatle Meets Destiny, has her second novel entitled The Reluctant Hallelujah publishing in early 2012.

♥ Super, super awesome news: Hardie Grant Egmont is developing a new YA fiction collection. Ampersand is going to be a collection of contemporary teen fiction by first-time novellists, and they are currently looking for manuscripts. Publishing in early 2013, I am already psyched for this project!

♥ I'm also really looking forward to attending the Publishers' Showcase at the Centre for Youth Literature in a few weeks.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mixed Bag #42

Good morning friends! Right now I'm writing this post at 4.30am(!!!) because I woke up with insane hayfever and can't get back to sleep due to constant sneezing. So I thought I'd take my mind of my nose by sharing links to some online things that have interested or excited me recently. Enjoy!

image source: we ♥ it

♥ I've just discovered Penguin Teen's tumblr and I love it! One of my favourite things is that they give you glimpses of the Penguin offices (like their amazing Halloween decorating and party).

♥ Check out Cubes: Scholastic for a video-tour of Scholastic's head office in NYC. It is an amazing space (it includes a bookshop and party space, auditiorium, meeting spaces and well, actual offices). You even get to stop by David Levithan's office (yay!).

♥ You can read the first chapter of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars over at USA today.

♥ An article from October that I forgot to post, Australian Children's Books Achieve Strong Sales and International Recognition.

♥ I'm really liking Kristi's series on Building a Better Blog. These posts are really useful, covering things from Book Blogger Dictionary to Blogger Etiquette. A really useful resource, especially for new bloggers.

♥ As always Forever Young Adult are out there teaching us important life lessons with How to Be A LadyNerd: How to Host a TV Party

♥ I know Halloween has been and gone, but I love this Sexy Essay on HelloGiggles.

♥ Is anyone else a Mindy Kaling fan? Her piece Flick Chicks is interesting and rather funny - I'm really looking forward to reading her book.

♥ Have you been to The Crooked Shelf recently? If not, go there right now! Carla is having an Aussie YA month, full of reviews, interviews and guest posts so make sure you stop by.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Snack Size #19 Simone Elkeles 'Ruined'

Just before I went on holidays last month, I finished reading Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry trilogy. I really enjoyed them and thought that Simone's Ruined series would be a fun holiday read. Here are my mini reviews of these titles (at a teeny 100 words each).

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
Published by FLUX, November 2006
240 pages

When Amy Nelson is forced to give up tennis camp for a summer in Israel with her distant father, she is not impressed. Even less so when she realises she’ll be living on a moshav, in the middle of ‘the desert” with her catty cousin and bunch of sheep. Farmboy Avi is a suitably charming love interest and overall it’s a fun read. Elkeles has written an interesting look at Israeli culture and Judaism from Western perspective, though I would, however, have liked Amy to get an attitude-check sooner (and to not mention the size of her buxom chest every ten minutes – seriously).

How to Ruin My Teenage Life
Published by FLUX, November 2007
240 pages

Amy is back in Chicago and unsurprisingly, the drama she attracted from Israel has followed her home. When she’s not signing her dad up for online dating (without his consent), pashing her weird/geeky neighbour in the elevator or accidently letting her new dog impregnate a pedigree prize winner, she’s contemplating her long-distance relationship with non-boyfriend, Avi. And then, of course, he shows up unannounced. Of the three books, I felt this was the weakest, as I feel like the strength of the series is the Israel setting and Amy’s connection to her newly discovered religion and this is a bit more light-hearted.

How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation
Published by FLUX, November 2009
257 pages

Amy Nelson-Barak is back again in the third (and final) instalment in the Ruined series. This time she’s spending her summer in an Israeli bootcamp, picturing a romantic reunion with boyfriend Avi and a week of fun with her friends. Of course, Amy is wrong! Once again Amy manages to get herself into some sticky situations as she navigates rope-courses and rifle training. I loved getting a glimpse of the realities of daily life for Israeli soldiers (where military training and service is mandatory).Upon finishing this, I felt like there was still a sense of things being unresolved and would have liked more closure.

Overall this series is a lot more light-hearted (and in my opinion, less-polished) than Elkele's better known Perfect Chemistry trilogy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fault in Our Stars

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine to "spotlight upcoming releases".

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Publisher - Dutton Junveile (imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date - January 10th, 2012

From Goodreads: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Ok, so this has pretty much been my most eagerly anticipated new book for the last couple of months (since the title was announced) and I wanted to wait until the cover was released before featuring it on here. Oh my goodness: a) does it not sound amazingly good and b) are you as excited as I am?!?! If you have read more blog for more than a month, you will probably have figured out I'm quite a John Green fangirl, so this new book will be heavily featured on here come January.

A few other nifty things:
♥ John Green is signing every single copy of the first print run, so go pre-order your copy already!
♥ Go watch John read the first chapter
♥ Read John's tumblr for a daily dose of all things awesome

What upcoming releases are you eagerly anticipating?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

John Waters in Melbourne

Tonight I will be sitting in the third row at the Melbourne Recital Hall and metres away from one of my heroes/favourite people, American filmmaker John Waters. I was lucky enough to see him speak last time he was in Melbourne (February 2010 - and that was the same night I decided to start my own blog, after a discussion with the lovely Jess of startnarrativehere).

Anyway, I just wanted to share my excitement - I hope you all have an enjoyable Saturday night!



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

The Facts
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Australian Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Date of Publication: October 3, 2011
Length: 348 pages

The Fiction
From Penguin Australia: Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit-more sparkly, more fun, more wild-the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood. When Cricket-a gifted inventor-steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I have been looking forward to reading this for quite a while – pretty much since the start of the year when the cover and blurb were released. A San Francisco setting, a girl obsessed with the costume aspect of fashion, and twins?! Count me in! Combined with Stephanie Perkins incredibly charming writing style, I knew October could not come fast enough for me.

I’ll start with our heroine, Lola Nolan. As an aspiring costume designer, Lola’s life revolves around fashion and for her each day is the chance to create a new ensemble and channel new inspiration into her apparel. When she’s not dreaming up Marie Antoinette inspired gowns for her school dance, she’s working at a cinema (with a few familiar faces) or hanging with her older rock muso boyfriend. She also gets along well with her parents and has a wannabe-detective best friend, and everything is going along relatively swimmingly until the Bell twins move back into the house next door. What I loved about Lola and about this story was the fact it has both a romantic aspect (love triangle), as well being introspective and encompassing a strong sense of self-discovery and family.

Now Cricket Bell!!! Firstly, is that not an amazing name? (I am rather fond of teenage characters in contemporary fiction with quirky-but-not-too-quirky names). I am now going to share something that may shock the pants off/anger/upset/confuse people and even though I hate to do the comparisons, I’m going to make one right now – I think liked Cricket more than Etienne. I felt Cricket was slightly more realistic and once again, Stephanie has done a great job at writing male characters who are engaging and likeable outside of their function as potential love interests. Cricket comes across as so awkward and genuine, that you can’t help but like him – especially combined with the little details she sprinkles throughout (the bracelets, the inventions and the tight pants!) certainly helps us understand why the return of Cricket Bell causes such a stir.

Besides the loveliness that is Cricket Bell, the other aspect that really appealed to me was how (surprisingly) family-centric the novel is.  The relationship between Lola and her two fathers was well-written and realistic, and I felt like Stephanie Perkins handled the topic of same-sex parenting with sensitivity and warmth. I hope to read more YA stories which encompass this in the near future. I also thought it was interesting the way in which Lola’s relationship with her birth mother was explored and strengthened the romantic plotlines.

My other favourite thing was the San Francisco setting – having just come back from visiting there (yes, I’m going to through it into random conversation for the next four weeks at least!), I was pretty excited to recognise places in the city that Lola and her friends and family visit. The Japanese Tea Garden, Amoeba Records and Lombard Street (to name a few) are all featured, and Stephanie does an excellent job at capturing the sights, sounds and spirit of San Francisco.

Once again, Stephanie Perkins has authored a swoon-worthy young adult novel. Lola and the Boy Next Door may appear to be light and fluffy on the outside and is certainly written with a funny and sweet touch, but still manages to touch upon a wide range of real teen issues with heart and honesty.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Polyvore Profile - Lola Nolan

I couldn't wait to create a Polyvore set inspired by the lovely Lola Nolan from Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door! As an aspiring costume designer, Lola's life is all about fashion and I loved the playful descriptions of her ensembles throughout the novel (did it remind anyone else of the Babysitters Club books when Ann M. Martin would describe Claudia's outfits?), so I hope you enjoy this set inspired by Lola.

Lola Nolan

If you liked this, be sure to check out my Polyvore Profile of Anna from Anna and the French Kiss. I'll be posting my review of Lola and the Boy Next Door tomorrow and am looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought of it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Snaps

I won't bore you all with a million photos from my travels but here are a few highlights:

The Strand Bookshop!!! I was ridiculously excited to visit The Strand (to the extent that I made my best friend & travel buddy mark it on our NYC map four months ago). Not only was it one of the most amazing bookshops ever, a book by two of my favourite authors, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is set there, which added an extra layer of excitement for me. I limited myself to an hour there (maybe the hardest moment of the whole trip), but oh my goodness - the books!!! I was seriously roaming around the store, practically hugging the walls.

Dreams really do come true at Disneyland, where I got to meet Ariel (and my five-year-old self was dancing with happiness).

And then my fifteen-year-old self's dream came true by finally getting to see Rent (with an incredible and extremely talented cast).

Me and some dude, I think he was in that vampire movie?

(In all seriousness, I had to be coaxed by my friend to pose in any photos at Madame Tussauds - hence the cheesy smile. I found the wax sculptures to be uber-creepy and the whole concept of the museum a bit odd).

And with the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.

I promise regular posting will return here soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Return to Oz

image source: we ♥ it

Hello friends! I’m back from a lovely break and am feeling refreshed and excited to get back on here and writing again. I had three amazing weeks in the United States (which I hadn’t been to before) and then I gave myself an extra few days off from blogging while I caught up on other things. Even though the trip was a fun-filled holiday, it also allowed me to stop and think about this blog, and the direction I’d like it to go in the future.
I’m hoping to share some of my photos from the trip in the next few days and I’ve got lots of reviews coming up (not to mention over 1200 posts in my blog reader to get through). Here’s a glimpse at what I’ve been reading and what I’m looking forward to read soon:

What I've been reading:
Gingerbread, Shrimp and Cupcake by Rachel Cohn
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
How to Ruin A Summer Vacation, How to Ruin My Teenage Life and How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation by Simone Elkeles

What I'm looking forward to reading:
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (I am so ridiculously excited about this!)

What you should be reading:
♥ Megan’s posts on the A Thousand Words festival, The Illusion of Intimacy and Being Lucky
♥ Nomes covering a number of awards in Aussie YA
♥ Erin at Forever YA’s review of Shut Out by Kody Keplinger and Meghan’s Secrets of Discovering the Best Worst Books

Monday, September 12, 2011

City in Pages - LA (Hollywood Ending edition)

Welcome to my first international post in my City in Pages series! I have loved taking you around Melbourne and Sydney through some of my favourite books and am now thrilled to bring you to LA with me and one of my all-time favourite reads, Kathy Charles' Hollywood Ending.

One of the things I love most about this is the fact that alongside Hilda, Benji, Jake and Hank, the city of Los Angeles is really another character in the book. The novel is full of Hollywood landmarks and ventures into the dark history of the city, as Benji and Hilda seek out locations which fuel their obsession with celebrity deaths. What makes this post more special is the fact that by the time you're reading this, I will actually be in LA (for the first time!), so I hope you enjoy it:

image source: we ♥ it

Hollywood Ending
Published by Text Publishing, 2009
264 pages

Ambassador Hotel
Before being demolished in 2005, the Ambassador Hotel was a Los Angeles landmark. It was the site of the 2nd and 12th Academy Awards, and also (most notably) where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. It also housed the renowned Cocoanut Grove nightclub, where stars such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole performed. The hotel closed it’s doors to guests in 1989 and was demolished in 2005 after extensive legal battles. The site now houses the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools.

Barney’s Beanery
A West Hollywood restaurant and bar, known as watering hole for icons such as Errol Flynn, Judy Garland, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin (who even had her final drinks at Barney’s, before becoming a member of the Forever 27 Club).

Mann’s Chinese Theatre
Opened in 1927, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre has hosted numerous movie premieres, Hollywood parties and three Academy Award ceremonies. It was declared a cultural and historical landmark in 1968, and since then, extensive restoration and maintenance has taken placed (despite the ownership of the theatre changing hands many times), in order to keep the theatre as it was in the golden age of Hollywood. It’s most distinctive feature is the 200 celebrity hand and footprints in the concrete forecourt, including Marilyn Monroe, Groucho Marx, Betty Grable and Steve McQueen.

Chateau Marmont
A famed hotel on Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood and noted for its celebrity clientele. It has been a temporary home for the likes of Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison and Lindsay Lohan (to name just a few). John Belushi died of a drug overdose in one of the hotel’s garden bungalows (which Benji and Hilda revisit during a wild party in the novel). To learn more about the Chateau Marmont, read Raymond R. Sarlot’s Life at the Marmont.

Leimert Park
An LA neighbourhood, now often considered home to the African-American arts scene. However, it was originally known for being where the body of Elizabeth Smart (the Black Dahlia) was found, after she had been brutally murdered. Her mutilated corpse was dumped in a vacant lot (the location has now been cemented over and is part of a well-populated, middle class neighbourhood). The murder has never been solved.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Previously known as Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, this location was saved from financial ruin in 1998 and was christened the Hollywood Forever cemetery. You can take a guided tour through the cemetery and if you do visit, make sure you look out for the Lady in Black (the mysterious woman clad in black who leaves roses on Valentino’s grave). Douglas Fairbanks, Jayne Mansfield, Vampira, Victor Fleming. You can also go see bands play and watch outdoors there during the summer. If you want to know who else is buried here, check out the interactive map on the website (creepy but fascinating!)

9860 Easton Drive
The address of a house with a sad history in Benedict Canyon. In 1932 MGM producer Paul Bern was found dead in the house, from a gunshot wound to the head. At the time, he was a newlywed (having been married to starlet Jean Harlow for only two months). His death was ruled a suicide, though this has been somewhat disputed in the press numerous times. Thirty years later, Hollywood hairstylist Jay Sebring purchased the house, and his life was also cut short - a victim of the Manson murders at Cielo Drive.

Cielo Drive
The name of this street is most often remembered in relation to the horrific Manson murders – when actress Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski were brutally murdered by members of the Manson family on August 9, 1969. Prior to this, the house at 10050 Cielo Drive was home to Lillian Gish, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda and finally Trent Reznor. In 1994, the house was demolished by its new owner and no part of the original property remains except for a telephone pole.

LA County Coroner
Responsible for investigating and determining the cause of death in violent and unusual cases in the LA County. It also has a gift shop, Skeletons in the Closet (Benji and Hilda go shopping in Hollywood Ending), where you can buy everything from toe-tag keyrings, to welcome mats, to crime scene party tape.

Mel’s Drive In
A homage to the 50s style American drive-in. The original Mel’s was located in San Francisco and is now a franchise, with restaurants in Sherman Oaks and West Hollywood (where Hilda goes with her aunt Lynette). From a quick look at the menu, the burgers sound delicious and they boast the “thickest shakes in town” mmmmm.

Westwood Cemetery
The final resting place of Marilyn Monroe and a wealth of other stars (Fanny Brice, Truman Capote, Gene Kelly, Janet Leigh, Bettie Page. It’s less ‘showy’ than Hollywood Forever, it's considered more private and doesn’t actively promote itself as a celebrity cemetery (apparently cemetery employees are reluctant to point out famous burial sites).

A note for my American friends, Hollywood Ending was published in the US as John Belushi is Dead by MTV Books in 2010.

Like the sound of this book? I've also written:

Friday, September 9, 2011

On Holiday

image source: we ♥ it

Hi friends,
By the time you're reading this, I'll be almost off on a holiday I've been dreaming about for about three years! I'll ]be in the US (for the first time!) until the start of October. I ha I may check in a little bit on twitter, but otherwise I look forward originally planned to schedule a series of posts, but then ran out of time (sorry!) I look forward to filling you in on my adventures and catching up on my reading when I get back. I'm also planning some changes around here, which I'll share next month.

Steph xo 

Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Cure (Book) Blogger's Block

image source: we♥ it

I often notice tweets in my friends stream from fellow bloggers who are struggling from 'blogger's block' - a syndrome I also am inflicted with at least once a month. So I've decided to share some of my ideas for posts designed to help combat this. Some of these are prompts which will hopefully get your blogging juices flowing, some are more creative ideas which could be useful if you want to try something out of your blogging comfort zone. In compiling this list, I thought carefully about a) what kind of content my favourite bloggers post and b) what I (as a reader) would like to see more of in the blogosphere. Whilst most of these ideas were created with book-bloggers in mind, many will translate to other kind of personal blogging and writing.

♥ Play casting director and pick out your fantasy cast for one of your favourite novels or series. Be sure to include pictures and tell us why you’ve chosen them. For film buffs, go one step further and pick which director you’d like to see guide the screen adaptation and why.

♥ Create a playlist inspired by a recent read or one of your favourite books.

♥ Bake or cook something that’s eaten by the characters in a recent read or favourite book and share the results with your readers! (if I was a better cook, I’d love to create a Mexican feast based on the dishes mentioned in Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series).

♥ Use Polyvore to put together an outfit for a character, or create a mood-board for a book.

♥ Read a book set in your city (or that mentions a nearby landmark or tourist attraction), go take photos and share them with us!

♥ Write a list! I absolutely love list posts and they can be great to put your thoughts and opinions into a quick, readable format. Write lists of your favourite books (by genre, by author, by date, by nostalgia, by series), lists of your favourite characters (heroes, villains, awesome best friends who don’t get the love and appreciate they deserve, teachers, parents, pets, characters you wish were real so you could be BBFs with them), and lists of things you love (why you love that genre, that author, that character, that book, that series). There is pretty much an endless possibility of lists you could write – and encourage your readers to share their own lists!

♥ Write an opinion piece on an issue you feel passionate about. Do you have an issue with how books are priced? Talk about it! How do you feel about supporting local authors? Tell us! Do you wish there was more or less of something in a particular genre? Share your thoughts and encourage your readers to share their opinions in the comments (and please remember to be respectful of others opinions).

♥ Write an essay. It was sound a bit school-ish, but I love reading personal essays from bloggers – like when they developed their love of reading, or how a particular book changed their life, or a book that just made things click for them.

♥ Blog to a theme – review a whole series, or collection of books with a common thread (for example, an author’s backlist, books all set in one city, books all about a particular sport, issue or topic).

♥ Tell us about another aspect of your life. If you’re a book blogger, why not tell us about your favourite TV shows (is there a correlation between what you read and what you watch?) or try reviewing movies for a week.

♥ Hold an interview with someone and ask interesting questions. Try interviewing a lesser-known author, or request an interview with someone in the publishing industry (I always love reading these). It’s always interesting to hear about how other people are involved in the production of a book on its road to publication (agents, editors, publicists and marketing team).

♥ Have a call-out for guest-posts on your blog or swap guest-blogging duties with another blogger. You could give your guest-blogger a theme, or let them pick their own and see what the reader response is. Sometimes it’s just fun just to hear a fresh voice and perspective.

♥ Share some of your favourite YouTube videos – they can be directly related to your blog, to a theme (like your favourite book trailers or author interviews) or just things you find amusing or interesting.

♥ Do you have an ereader? Tell me about it! Show me how it works! What’s good/not-so-good about it? What kind of books do you read on it? Especially in book-blogging, fellow readers are often debating if reading devices are worth their time and hard earned money – contribute your experiences to help someone else make a decision.

♥ Go local! I love hearing about bookish events in other cities. Tell me about your bookshops, libraries, reading centres and local authors.
Share photos that tell us something about your life (you could do a 'A Day in My Life' feature or even just show us pictures of your bookshelves, what’s in your handbag, what’s on your bedside table, your pet, your favourite outfit, your favourite place to read, your favourite place to drink coffee) - I personally love reading snippets about bloggers real lives and helps me feel more of a connection to their writing.

♥ Ask your readers what kind of posts they would like to read and take their opinion into account!

Happy Writing!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mixed Bag #41

Good morning friends! Can you believe it's September already? Seriously, it freaks me out and you know that when it gets to the months ending in 'er', the year will just fly! Anyway, here are some things that have interested or amused me recently:

image source: we ♥ it

♥ The Inkys Shortlist has been announced - and what an amazing list! Unfortunately I'm too old to vote, so I encourage anyone under 20 to go here and vote for the winner. The Gold Inky list is particularly awesome (two of my favourites books are on there).

♥ Who's going to the Castlemaine Children's Festival in October? The program sounds fantastic!

♥ I am loving Melina Marchetta's blog, especially this post where she shares 15 facts that her readers may not know about her books.

♥ Have you seen the greatest Hunger Games parody ever? No - go watch it!!!

♥ Not at all book-related, but oh my goodness, Arrested Development in Lego.

Also, I am pleased to announce that the winner of my Clara in Washington giveaway is Alice! Thanks to everyone for entering and check back soon for more giveaways.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

MWF 2011: Clara in Washington

From the MWF Program: In Penny Tangey's new book, Year 12 student Clara goes to America and finds the world of politics opening up for her in a way she never thought possible. Suddenly she might have a lot more impact on the future than she thought.

Penny Tangey and the back of Adele Walsh

Ok, so I probably don't need to tell you again how much I love Penny Tangey's writing, so I was very excited to attend this session. I was in the front row and got to have a quick chat to Adele before the session - and I must say a huge thank you to Adele for introducing me to Penny (seriously guys, I was trying so hard to keep my cool when on the inside I was massively fan-girling!). And now onto the session:
  • Did you know that Penny is also a stand-up comedian, and won the Triple J Raw Comedy Competition in 2006? She warned the audience that she wasn't going to be funny (but of course, she was hilarious!)
  • Clara in Washington is partially based on Penny's own time living in Washington DC - while her partner was there to work, Penny volunteered and had the time to visit most of the city's tourist attractions. Penny showed us some slides from some of her favourite attractions including Ford's Theatre (where Lincoln was shot), the National Museum of National History, Scottish Rite Masonic Temple (where she got a private tour, just like Clara), the National Archives and the National Postal Museum.
  • Penny talked about her time in Washington - where she wrote her first novel, Loving Richard Feynman and read us an excerpt from her DC journal. She also spoke about meeting politically minded people in DC, and her experiences with meeting anarchists as she volunteered with DC Books to Prisons: "the anarchists I met were a bit standoffish and they didn't want to be friends with me".
  • Penny then discussed perceptions of anarchism, what it actually is and some of the varieties of anarchists (aided by a handy slideshow presentation). Penny also shared an exchange from a DC Anarchists email list (which I also saw in the session yesterday). What was then really fun, was Penny started a game of 'Spot the Modern Anarchist' - this was the first session I went to that encouraged audience engagement (other than question time), which was fun. Adele also mentioned one of my favourite tumblrs, Amish or Hipster (seriously, check it out).
  • Did you know that Noam Chomsky, Germaine Greer & Alicia Keys identify themselves as anarchists (and the Queen and the Pope are not due to their authorative head gear).
  • Adele and Penny discussed the lack of politics in Australian young adult fiction, and Penny mentioned that when studying in the US, she found that American history is presented in a 'fun' and engaging way. She also spoke about the way that in DC, she was interacting with people who were very "politically aware".
  • What I thought was interesting is that Penny didn't keep a log/record of all the places she went in Washington!
  • It took Penny nine months to write Loving Richard Feynman (as she had a lot of free time), whilst Clara in Washington took about a year. Penny spoke about her experiences of trying to get published (she sent her manuscript to four publishers and was rejected by all four within a year. She then found an agent, who sent it out to publishers and she received an offer within six weeks).
  • The session finished with some fantastic advice from Penny for aspiring writers: being bored is a good thing - some great things can come from it!
And that was my last session at MWF 2011 - and what an awesome one to finish with. As I was leaving (surrounded by hordes of teenagers), it was great to hear them talking so positively about the festival and how much fun they were having (and they were saying it in a genuine, not-sarcastic way).

Fellow attendees, what sessions have you enjoyed this year at MWF?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MWF 2011: Politics in YA

From the MWF Program: Characters in Lili and Penny's books have their eyes truly opened to the power of politics for the first time, be it in Washington DC on the eve of Obama's inauguration, or via some difficult choices much closer to home. Come and hear these two leading authors discuss the explosive combination of fiction and politics.

Tony Thompson, Penny Tangey & Lili Wilkinson

So after a quick break, I was off to another session - this time to hear Penny Tangey and Lili Wilkinson talk about politics in young adult fiction. I was really looking forward to this session (possibly more so than any other during the festival). Once again, the even was chaired by Tony Thompson. To begin, Tony likened Clara in Washington to Alice in Wonderland, which I thought was a really interesting and insightful comparison.
  • Penny began by speaking about her interest in politics and political movements (starting with an assignment in primary school about the sufragettes). Though Penny said she doesn't necessarily like speaking about politics, she does enjoy writing about it and like most of us, is interested in standing up for what you believe in.
  • Penny also spoke about her research for Clara in Washington, including joining the DC Anarchists mailing group and shared a rather amusing exchange that occured online.
  • I loved something Penny said in discussing anarchism - that anarchists "see the world as flawed and don't accept that" and that they want to do better, which I think (in theory) is really admirable.
  • Lili then spoke about writing Pink and about the perceptions of political books/books with political issues as being something very serious. She made the excellent point that there are books out there that are pink, sparkly and funny and very political, like Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries.
  • "I am passionate about writing books that are pink ... and have something to say"
  • Lili wrote Pink following some discussion David Levithan about writing about adolescent sexuality, and Lili spoke about having not read books where the teen protagonists weren't sure of their sexual preference and who didn't necessarily 'tick a box'.
  • What I thought was the most interesting strand of discussion was about the lack of political books written for a teen audience, and there are few contemporary YA titles with teen characters who are political (please note the emphasis on contemporary, as dystopian YA like the Hunger Games trilogy is incredibly political) - even less so in Australian YA, with Clara in Washington being the first/only Australian YA title to reference the 2008 presidental election. What's also noteworthy is that both Clara and a story that Lili is currently working on, both centre around Australian characters and politics, but are set in the US.
  • Lili also spoke about her PhD, which examines fandom and political activism in teens (which I found to be hugely interesting - partly because, and I think I mentioned it here before that my own major undergraduate essay was about television fandom, activism and social media). She talked about groups like the Harry Potter Alliance (who are extremely awesome and I urge you to check this out if you don't know about it) and YA for Obama.
  • Both Penny and Lili spoke about the possible dangers in writing about politics (such as sounding preachy to a teen reader) but through using humour, a variety of voices to highlight differing opinions and writing in an interesting way, were able to avoid this.
Another really great session - actually, I tweeted afterwards that it was my favourite so far. Again, Tony Thompson did a fantastic job chairing, and it was great to have the opportunity to hear two authors I adore speak about such a relevant and engaging issue.

You can read my review of Clara in Washington here (and enter my giveaway, which I'm extending until September 2nd), and I've also reviewed Lili Wilkinson's Pink.

MWF 2011: Emerging Writers

From the MWF Program: Hear from key people in Melbourne's best loved organisations supporting new voices in writing, and from freelancers making their way in publishing. In this session we discuss ideas on finding a community as a writer, routes to getting published and building your profile on your way to success.

Tony Thompson, Steph Bowe, Johannes Jakob and Lisa Dempster

Day 3 already - guys, this week is flying by! My first session today was Emerging Writers, chaired by Tony Thompson. It was a really strong panel and judging from the questions at the end of the session, split between students and aspiring writers. Here's a glimpse at what was talked about:
  • Lisa Dempster spoke about her role as director of the Emerging Writers Festival, and about the aims of the festival (writers talking to writers about writing!). Lisa is a vocal supporter of DIY, indie presses and self-publishing.
  • Johannes Jakob is the current editor of Voiceworks (which I subscribe to and urge you all to go and buy copies!), and is designed to bring attention to new writers. Johannes also has a podcast with Madeline
  • Steph Bowe is a seventeen-year-old blogger and published author (and I had the pleasure of seeing Steph speak at last year's MWF).
  • I'd like to take a moment to say what an awesome chair Tony Thompson was - I know the focus is on the panel during these things, but lately it's really struck me how important it is to have a good chair manning the session. Tony did a fantastic job introducing the guests and leading the discussion. Most of my notes below are responses to specific questions or topics bought up.
What should you do with a finished piece of writing?
  • Johannes: Leave it for a month (as hard as it might be) before doing anything with it, then you'll see it with fresh eyes and be more open to making changes and edits. Johannes also recommended sending your work to places you like reading.
  • Steph: Had other people look over her work (having built up some online writing contacts through her blog) to get an impartial opinion and generate useful feedback.
  • Lisa: Advocated getting your work online and spoke passionately about blogging - about the way a blog gives you regular writing practice, gives you feedback, encourages interaction and helps develop your writing skills.
How important is it to be a part of a writing community?
  • Lisa: Encouraged the audience to attend festivals and stressed the importance of "getting out of your bedroom and meeting other writers".
  • Johnannes: Spoke about the way that the internet and social media has helped eradicate some of the barriers that have previously existed - as writers can now approach and connect with other writers and publishing personnel online.
  • Steph: Talked about perceptions of writers, about her own shyness and and encouraged aspiring writers to put themselves out there. Interestingly, she also reminded the audience to not think of other writers as their rivals.
How can you stand out from the dreaded slush pile?
  • Steph: Research! Send your work to the right people (before submitting your work to an agent, published or journal - find out what they like and what they are looking for).
  • Johannes: Good writing! Write what you are interested in, are passionate about and send it
  • Lisa: Contacts! Whilst a good contact doesn't guarantee a publishing contact, interacting with the community can have huge benefits.
What are you reading?
  • Lisa: Wake in Fright (Kenneth Cook)
  • Johannes: 2666 (Roberto Bolano)
  • Steph: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)
Once again I sat next to the amazing Megan Burke, so be sure to check out her live-blog from the session. Also, if you are an aspiring writer interested in sending your work to an agent, you can check out some of my tips in the series I wrote for Ricochet.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

MWF 2011: All in the Family

From the MWF Program: Dynamic duo Carole and Lili Wilkinson describe their books for children and young adults, and what it's like to be part of a whole family of writers.

Chris (chair), Lili and Carole - taken on my phone

I only went to one session today, because unlike last year, I'm now working full-time and am fitting in events where I can. I was really excited for this session because I'm a bit of a Lili fangirl and was bummed to miss out on tickets to her session on A Pocketful of Eyes. Talky

  • Before the session started, they ran a slideshow with photos of Lili and Carole (nawww).
  • The session was chaired by Chris (sorry, I didn't write down his surname) and he began by introducing both of the Wilkinson women.
  • Carole spoke about her first career as a lab technican and coming into writing a bit later in life - Carole wasn't published until she was 40.
  • Lili, on the other hand, was first published in Voiceworks at age 12, worked for the Centre for Youth Literature and had her first novel published at 24 by blackdog books (where she also did work experience in high school).
  • Lili spoke about the similarities between Carole's first book (Stage Fright) and Lili's own high school experiences in the stage crew (which she herself would go on to write about in Pink) and the way in which Carole "borrowed" bits and pieces.
  • Both women spoke about their writing processes, and the way they read each others work and give feedback, as well as using each other for procrastination and sharing writerly successes.
  • I thought it was funny that Lili and Carole skype with each other almost daily, despite living only minutea away from each other (mostly enjoyed this because there are times when I will speak to my siblings via Facebook chat when we are in the same house....)
  • Carole talked about the idea of the "zero draft" which was really interesting to hear about. This is the draft where you just get everything out and it allows you to sort out your structure and plotting, before going back and fine-tuning details or spending time perfecting your language.
  • Both Carole and Lili have studied screenwriting (which Lili said contributed to their writing style and practice, as screenwriting is very plot driven and emphasises the structural).
  • Lili talked briefly about Carole's meticulous research habits (filling lever-arch folders with notes about everything), and her own research in  A Pocketful of Eyes which included a behind-the-scenes tour at the Melbourne Museum.
  • Lili spoke about writing a "rom-crime" and gave us some insight into her upcoming novel, Love Shy (which I had already heard a bit about because I'm nerdy like that and it sounds really great and of course, will spend the next six months bouncing with anticipation for it's release). Lili spoke about not writing sequel books or part of a series, but that all her novels are somewhat similar - "nerdy chick lit" with an element of mystery.
  • Carole and Lili were asked about their writing to publication timelines - Lili takes an average of 18 months (and often works on things in between), and Carole works from a year to 18 months (it takes her around a year for each of the Dragonkeeper books).
It was a fun session - I was it had gone for longer and a bit more in-depth (the format of the session was slightly odd and kind of based around a Skype convo) but of course, it was a pleasure to hear Lili speak at the MWF again and I'm now looking forward to also start reading some of Carole's writing.

I caught up with Megan before the session and we sat together for this panel, so be sure to check out her post as she live-blogged from the festival.

Fellow attendees, what events have you enjoyed the most so far?