Book Review – Catching Teller Crow by Ambelimn Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Catching Teller Crow

 

There is so much to love about this story, and if I may be a bit geeky, the title is one of those things. It’s so clever, because while the title as a whole makes sense, each word in the title is also the name of a character.

Beth Teller is the first character we meet. She’s a ghost. She was killed in a car accident, and is hanging around because she doesn’t want to leave her father alone (her mother died when she was a baby). Her father is the only person who can see and hear her.

Beth’s father is a police officer, and together they are visiting a small town. A children’s home has burnt down and while all the children escaped, there is a dead body inside the building. It seems like a case of faulty wiring and bad luck, but as they delve deeper they find there is far more to the case than first meets the eye.

Isobel Catching is the other main character in this story. She was found wandering the river after the fire, and is considered to be a witness. Beth and her father try talking to Isobel, who tells them a strange strange story, about almost dying, and crossing into another world and having all her colours stolen.

Crow is a girl who Isobel meets in this other world, and who helps Isobel escape back into this world.

But there is far more to this story than meets the eye, and when everything clicks into place you realise exactly all the awful things that have been happening to Isobel, and exactly how it fits in to the fire in the children’s home, and the dead body inside.

On the surface, this is a crime/mystery, but underneath it is so much more. This is a story about stories, and how telling those stories, how being heard, can strengthen a person, and help in the healing process.

 

 

 

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Book Review – Just One Word, Just One Smile by Tony Caplice

just-one-word-just-one-smile

 

This is a bit different to my usual read. I don’t usually read memoir, but I’ve heard Tony talk about his book a couple of times now, and he read a section of his book out at the Little Laneway Festival, in November last year, and I had to read more.

The story is heartbreaking. Tony and his wife Sue are travelling through South America when Sue suffers from a brain aneurysm while they’re in Bolivia. Bolivia is a poor country, and so of course it’s hospitals are not equipped as well as the hospitals Tony is used to, here in Australia.

Even when Tony manages to break through the language barriers and make it understood that his wife needs a hospital, it takes time to get her there, and as the weeks drag on it’s uncertain whether she will ever leave.

From the start, Tony’s writing propels the reader back to that terrifying moment when his wife has a seizure in the bed beside him, and carries the reader back and forward through his and Sue’s history, and the painfully long 14 weeks before Sue can finally come home, now suffering from a condition very much like dementia, putting Tony in a new role of carer.

Extremely well written, I highly recommend this story.

 

 

Tamar Valley Writers Festival 2018 -Schools Program

Welcome to my very belated post about the Tamar Valley Writers Festival! After a busy start to September with the opening of The People’s Library, and my reading from ‘What the Tides Bring’, followed a week later by the writers festival, I fell ill and spent the last two weeks of the month fighting off sickness so I could attend my children’s performances in the local Youth Drama Festival, and my own reading at the ‘Reading’s from the People’s Library’ event my writers group held locally (Unfortunately, by the time of my second reading I’d lost my voice, so my friend and fellow writer Isabel read for me).

Anyway – on to the Writers Festival!

The Tamar Valley Writers Festival is one of my favourite Writers Festivals. Not only is it so close to home, but previous year’s festivals have been held in Autumn, in marquees, and I loved the atmosphere of that. The festival was a little different this year – moved from Autumn to Spring, and down the road to the Aspect Tamar Valley Resort.

The first day of the Festival – the Friday – is Schools day – with a program aimed at School aged children. As someone who home schools her children, you would think that this would be up there on things-to-do-with-the-kids – especially as I’m a writer! But I’m ashamed to say this year was the first year I’ve taken my children along.

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Book haul – Schools Day! (I also later bought Old Hu-Hu by Kyle Mewburn, because she read it out during the session and I absolutely fell in love with it, but it wasn’t available in the festival bookstore.)
It was well worth it. They got to see a range of authors and illustrators speak about their craft: (for the Primary School Program) Jackie Kerin, Kyle Mewburn, Lian Tanner and Andrew Plant. It was a fantastic day of story-telling, with the authors not only sharing their own stories (both the ones they’ve written, and some amazing life experiences!) but also working with the kids to create a shared story – showing them the importance of obstacles and conflict in a story. We all discovered some wonderful new books (and I wished I’d saved a lot more money for the event).

Each presenter had some great advice for budding writers and artists:

Jackie Kerin spoke of writing ‘Pharlap’ in rhyme because one of the things about horses is that they have a rhythm (think of them galloping across the paddock!) and how hard it was to do that – there’s no repetition in Pharlap – every rhyme is different.

Kyle Mewburn said that she wrote her first book ‘The Hoppleplop’  in 3 hours, sent it off and it was published!! This incredible success was followed by two years of rejections before her next book was picked up by a publisher. Her Dinosaur Rescue books are around 5000 words each, and take about a month to write – depending on the editors thoughts on the book, there can be minor edits before a book is published, though in one case a book went through 14 rewrites before it was considered ready!

Kyle doesn’t see her characters in her mind as she writes – like me!

I’ve seen Lian Tanner speak a couple of times now, and she’s always fantastic to listen to. My favourite snippet of hers is: ‘Writing is like reading only better’ – the reason being that as a writer you get to live in the world of your book for a year or more, while as a reader it’s only for as long as it takes to read the book (a few hours, in my son’s case).

Andrew Plant is an illustrator. He talked about getting away from the story to help with ideas – his generally come when he’s walking the dog, or in the shower. He talked about the process of illustrating ‘Spark’ by Adam Wallace, and the difficulties of drawing characters which essentially don’t really have a shape or size (fire and wind).

Some of the common themes that came up throughout the day:

– it’s not the job of an author/illustrator to provide answers; just to ask questions, and perhaps show a few possible alternative answers for readers to consider;

– arts and science do not need to be two distinct paths – it is possible to be both scientific and creative!

and

– when writing, you need to make a story interesting – don’t let the main character get their goal straight up, their needs to be obstacles for them to overcome. Both Lian and Andrew did an amazing job of showing this, by setting up a situation and getting the kids to suggest problems, and then solutions, which somehow led on to more problems.

Overall it was a fantastic day – each author had a signing session after their presentation and so the kids all had a chance to have a quick chat. My son was especially impressed with Lian Tanner – he has an unusual name, and often people mishear his name, and then misspell it! But Lian caught it straight up and knew how to spell it, too!

Keep an eye out for my next post – covering the weekend days of the Festival itself. I have pages of notes from these two days, so keeping it brief and short might be difficult!

In the news!

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September is over all ready, and so is The People’s Library, which closed it’s doors yesterday after a packed month of readings and performances and digesting 113 books by Tasmanian authors.

I spent the last two weeks of the month feeling ill and sorry for myself, and almost a week of that unable to talk above a whisper, meaning I wasn’t actually able to read at the “Readings from The People’s Library” event my local writers group organised for authors from the North of the state (Thanks to Isabel who read for me).

However, we still had a wonderful time, and it was fantastic to hear from the works of the other authors who came along. Plus – we were in the newspaper!

 

Publication!

Chronos

‘Undoing Life’s Choices’ is my first published sci-fi story, published in Chronos: An Anthology of Time Drabbles, available now through Amazon. 

Chronos is an anthology of drabbles (a story told in exactly one-hundred words) themed around time. Seventy-five talented authors from around the world come together to present ninety-eight stories of time, time travel, time zones, time manipulation, flash-forwards, space-time, time freezes, and so many other variations on the theme.

The stories are many and varied – ranging from dark and scary through to light and funny.

Most of my favourites are time travel stories – too many to mention really, but there is Future Tweak by R Daniel Lester, The Benefit of Hindsight by Douglas Prince, The Red-Nosed Man by I E Kneverday, Beyond the Known Future by Madison McSweeney, and Last Attempt by Jack Wolfe Frost. But there was also Surviving Seaglass by Sara Codair, in which the main character gets a glimpse of the past in every object she touches, Trying to Make a Living by Patrick Stahl, in which people are paid in time, not money, and Ten Minutes by Max Shepherd in which a clock’s flat battery saves his life.

 

An Event!

 

People's LIbrary event

Exciting news! If you are in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, on the 8 September (next Saturday!) You could come along to the Salamanca Arts Centre and hear a snippet from my novella ‘What the Tide Brings’, alongside a wonderful tale from Isabel Shapcott’s collection of re-woven fairytales, and one of Pearl Maya’s short stories, many revolving around life in Outback Australia.

I’ve been busy…

I have two lots of exciting news to share this week.

Chronos

First, I had a 100 word story ‘Undoing Life’s Choices’ accepted for publication in ‘Chronos: An Anthology of Time Drabbles’, which is already available for pre-order here, and will be published on 10 September 2018.

I’m especially excited for this because two wonderful writers from my online writers group, Kelly Matsuura and Aislinn Batstone,  also have pieces in this anthology. So nice to be published alongside such wonderful writers! 🙂

 

AND!

 

People's Library - my book

I’ve been sitting on my other exciting news for a few months now: my novella ‘What the Tide Brings’ is being printed as part of The People’s Library project – in their words:

The People’s Library is a contemporary artwork with a uniquely Tasmanian library at its core. Over 150 authors bring this performance library to life through readings, discussions and live events. Join us throughout September where a groundswell of public telling awaits.

And what’s very exciting, and somehow synchronistic with my first piece of news, is that two of the terrific writers from my local writing group are also having their books printed as part of this great project; Pearl Maya, and Isabel Shapcott. And as this project is Tasmania wide, it includes other wonderful writers and friends of mine, Freya Su and Lee Morgan.

I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone’s work in print.

The website is now up (click here to check it out) so you can see all the authors involved, and if you’re going to be in Hobart at all during September, there’s a calendar on the page choc-full of events, so make sure you call into the Salamanca Arts Centre to see all the amazing stories by Tasmanian authors.

I’ll have more news about this in the upcoming weeks, so keep your eye out for more details. 😊

 

 

(And if you’d like to keep up with some extra behind-the-scenes information, please visit my Patreon page. For just $3 a month you’ll receive one story and some background details that accompany that story, as well as hearing my news before anyone else!)