My November Notebook

For lots of authors November is National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo where they aim to write 1,667 words a day to achieve 50,000 words for the month. Not for me. I run away very fast every time I hear someone suggest that! Here’s what I did instead:


Wollongong Writers Festival

Now in its sixth year, the Wollongong Writers Festival keeps getting bigger and better. For me, it’s part work and part play. Even if I’m not there as an author (and I wasn’t this year), the South Coast Writers Centre runs three workshops and I’m there to help out with that.

This year I had to choose carefully as most of the things I wanted to attend were on at the same time or overlapping. I decided to attend Powering Your Passion with Grant Writing presented by Dr Friederike Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis. It was time well spent – hands on and practical with loads of insider grant writing tips.


“The ultimate freedom machine is literature, of course”

– Matt Ottley


The second session I chose was Crafting the Incredible Freedom Machines with Kirli Saunders and Matt Ottley. I heard Kirli speak at the Writing NSW Kids and YA Festival and was keen to hear more. I was particularly interested in Matt’s synesthesia where he sees art as music as I have a WIP in progress where the main character has synesthesia although not manifesting in the same way as Matt’s does. I’m fascinated by the link between synesthesia and creativity and looking forward to the new book he spoke about that’s being published by Dirt Lane Press in 2019 – The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness. Who wouldn’t want to buy a book with that title?

Kirli Saunders and Matt Ottley in conversation with Lorin Reid – Wollongong Writers Festival 2018


Books, books, books

I’m a long term fan of the Macca the Alpaca series of picture books by Matt Cosgrove. The Macca books have everything – truly great rhyme, humour and bright wonderful illustrations. Matt knows how to pitch an important life lesson  to young (and older) readers without a whiff of preaching. Plus there are loads of resources and activities on Matt’s website, including Macca’s Christmas Crackers Wishlist Activity one which encourages kids to think about gifts for others in a meaningful manner.


The other book that snagged my attention was Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarsky (illustrated by Andrew Joyner). The story is told through two viewpoints – Pender (a young boy) and Brindabella (a joey). Is Brindabella grateful to be rescued? To know her life was saved? No. She’s self-centred, always looking to escape and irritated by Pender’s affection for her. I loved this, looking through the eyes of a wild animal, unchanged by what humans would feel was something to be eternally thankful for. So different. So believable. Even though Brindabella does have an awakening of sorts at the end, she is never a pet. Her viewpoint always remains that of a wild animal.


I also found that elusive window of unfettered tim in which to read Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee. Loved it and a on-the-blog review is in the works.


Work in progress



I’m passionate about the Students Need School Libraries campaign and it’s time consuming work rustling up blog content but worth it. Other than knowing I’m helping with something important I get to have fun. Tim Harris stepped up big time and produced a brand new short story in response to my request for a blog post (thanks, Tim). Paul MacDonald of the Children’s Bookshop Beecroft and I caught up for a coffee in the leafy grounds of the University of Wollongong while I scribed his words, inspired by his enthusiasm and experience with children’s literature and school libraries (thanks, Paul). No matter how busy everyone I approach is, they always make time to help. I appreciate that.


Zero Inboxing

My aim for November was to keep my Inbox empty. No mean feat when I have five inboxes and emails spawn there faster than Pokemon on a Pokemon Go community day. But I’ve managed to zero my inbox every single day in November, so the next step is to share. Stay tuned.


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