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On Politicians And Deception


We have a State election this weekend. Recently I learned that, due to boundary changes, my whole suburb had been transferred from a marginal Labor electorate to a safe Tory one. It's slightly less safe as a result of the change, but at 14.5%, down from 16%, I doubt the incumbent, a friend of the Premier who made so many lives miserable back in the 1990s, including mine, will lose any sleep over it. This electorate has been conservative since the 1850s.

Being in any kind of safe electorate, of course, means you won't get anything out of whoever is in power. And it means your representative doesn't have to take much trouble. But in this case, the rep has taken some trouble - to remind her constituents that they should vote for her. If she was just sticking material in letter boxes, as the other parties have done, this would be understandable, though I would not be happy about the waste of trees.

But no, this woman has done more. She has not only sent us material in envelopes, she has ensured we open it and that the taxpayers, and not the party, will have to pay for her "vote for me" cards. Twice. The first time it had on the front, "Important information about postal voting". Inside, there was an envelope in which to send your postal vote, true, but also her "vote for me" leaflet. And no information, important or otherwise, about postal voting. The second time, yesterday, the envelope said,"Important information about early voting." This time, she didn't even pretend to offer information. All the envelope contained was a "vote for me" slip.

It may be that the party paid for this, though I doubt it. But the dishonesty of enclosing promotional material in an envelope labelled "important information about early/postal voting" disgusts me. I am not someone who has much faith in politicians, but I always kind of hope that at least one will turn out to be honest. So I'm always disappointed when I am proven right.

Okay, it's a bit past Halloween and I live in a part of the world where we are looking forward to summer, not winter, but it's still a good excuse to talk about the traditions and the books...


The other day, Halloween, I did a research sheet with my history class, concerning Halloween and the Mexican Day of the Dead, November 1-2. We're studying the Aztecs and the Spanish conquest of the New World and the Aztecs had a whole festival dedicated to the ancestors and beloved dead who, they believed, should be celebrated, not mourned. As other Christians had done before them in pagan Europe, the Spanish tried to talk them out of it, then incorporated it into their own feasts, in this case All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The students enjoyed this, I think - one of them, Brodie, told me all about the Celtic traditions, including dressing up your children as evil spirits to hide them from the real ones(that one I hadn't heard!) and young Joubert told me about the traditions in his homeland of Malaysia, where you know it's time to clean the graves when there are moths in the house(it tends to be August, though) - and I ended the period by giving them all some chocolate and wishing them an enjoyable long weekend and such.

As my own contribution to the festival, I'm thinking of books with themes related to this time of year and the mood it raises. First up is Ray Bradbury's wonderful Something Wicked This Way Comes, a novel set in a small town in which a sinister carnival has come to town. I read it in a single sitting and I loved that the town was saved by the boy's father, the local librarian. ;-) Apparently, it was vaguely autobiographical, except that he took a nice incident that inspired the young Bradbury to start writing and turned it into a wonderful, atmospheric piece of horror fiction. It's my favourite piece of Bradbury writing.

Another suitable-for-this-post Ray Bradbury novel is Death Is A Lonely Business, which starts on Halloween, at midnight, in a cemetery, and isn't horror fiction! It's a mystery novel set in Hollywood in the 1940s, with a character based on Bradbury's good friend, the SFX wizard Ray Harryhausen. I thought it great fun, though it wasn't what I was expecting. I picked it up remaindered and it was a good bargain.

While I'm on Ray Bradbury, he wrote a series of lighthearted stories about the Elliott family, who are sort of like the Addams Family(I think that was on purpose). Among them is Uncle Einar, who has green wings(his wife makes him fly carrying the laundry to get it dry), Cecy who travels with her mind, a mummy great grandmother and the "abnormal" thirteen year old boy who, like Marilyn in The Munsters, is frustrated because he's not like the rest of the family. There's a "fixup novel" From The Dust Returned, which connects the six Family stories.

I found Dracula much easier to read than I had expected. A lot of 19th century classics are bogged down in waffle, much as I love them, but Dracula is written in letters, diary entries and such, so even teens who are reluctant readers shouldn't have too much trouble with it. If you don't get it right away, at least the "chapters" are short and not too formal. I remember thinking as I was reading, "No, you idiot, don't open the window! Leave the garlic flowers in place! Dracula is out there!" Very exciting! It was almost a single-sitting read. When our students have read about a million YA vampire romances, I suggest they try this one. If they can wade through four thick as a brick Stephenie Meyer novels, they shouldn't have too much trouble with this slim volume in which the vampire is definitely not the good guy.

I must admit, I couldn't get past the first volume of the Twilight series. I thought it boring. So sue me! Stephenie Meyer is doing very nicely without my admiration. I bought the series anyway, for the library, two sets actually, because they kept going missing. The kids were passing them around among themselves, excited by a book, and as a good librarian I felt I had to make them available, though nothing would persuade me to read past the original book.

I personally think of Frankenstein as being science fiction as much as horror; the young author took the science known in her time - the guy who made a frog's leg jump with electricity - and extrapolated from there. "What if...?" That's the basis of good SF.

I only recently read Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin, though I've read some of his other books. It wasn't as scary as I had thought it might be, probably because after all these years and the movie, everyone KNOWS what it's about and how it is going to end. But, as the introduction to the ebook version says, it's the first time that a horror novel was set, not in far Transylvania or wherever, not even in a haunted house, but in the protagonist's own ordinary home in the big city. Now, THAT is scary!

Really, you can read anything by Ira Levin if you're in a mood to read scary stuff. The Boys From Brazil - someone is cloning Hitler. The Stepford Wives - someone is building robots to be perfect wives.

Come to think of it, read Margo Lanagan's Sea-Hearts(The Brides Of Rollrock Island outside Australia). It's not horror fiction, it's lovely, lyrical fantasy with selkies, but it asks some of the same questions as The Stepford Wives.

Most books by Stephen King will put you in the mood. Personally, I prefer his short fiction and his non fiction to the novels, but I will get around to reading more of them some time.

Susan Cooper's children's book The Dark Is Rising is set at Christmas, but has the right mood for this time of year, with a lot of atmospheric scenes, including one with the Wild Hunt. And while you're reading children's books you might like to try Alan Garner's The Owl Service (three children reliving the story of Llewelyn Llaw, Goronwy and Bloddeuedd) or Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

I can't finish without mentioning Dan Simmons. His novel Carrion Comfort featured mind vampires, who can manipulate people with their telepathic powers. It was scary! His book Children Of The Night was about Dracula -the historical Dracula aka Vlad Tepes -who actually IS a vampire but not undead, it's a genetic anomaly which allows the lucky person to live as long as he likes because he has an extra organ that regenerates his cells. But it needs blood to process - preferably someone else's blood. So Dracula is still alive, now a billionaire who has put all his energy that used to be for fighting into making money. He has read the Stoker novel, of course, and thinks it's crap. I won't say more lest you wish to read it, but it's very entertaining.

I loved Simmons' Hyperion, which was set in the 29th century and meant to be a sort of Canterbury Tales, but had the favour of dark fantasy anyway.

And I must end with a plug for my own novel Wolfborn, which climaxes in a scene on Samhain eve, with a massive storm, an evil werewolf fighting a good werewolf and the Wild Hunt riding. Get it in ebook from Amazon or iTunes and you could be reading it in five minutes. Go on, read it -you know you want to. :-)

Anyone got some more "Halloween" books to recommend?

Recently, I tried to make a comment on a blog I enjoy, the cheerful YA Yeah Yeah, published by Jim, a gentleman who likes YA mainstream fiction, though he does occasionally review genre fiction. (A blog I highly recommend, btw, check it out at www.yayeahyeah.com) I have always been able to comment on this blog, but I received a message saying that you could only comment if you were part of the "team". As Jim and I follow each other on Twitter I sent him a Direct Message, asking what was happening, and he explained that he had switched off comments because of a recent incident where an author upset over a bad review had actually stalked a reviewer! It's all over the Internet right now. You can still find the article at the Guardian online though there have been so many negative comments that when you follow the link to it, you get a warning.

Now, Jim doesn't do bad reviews; he only reviews books he likes, as "recommendations". But there are some scary people out there, who might take offence at the mildest criticism. I've had some strange folk submitting comments to my blog, though I don't publish them these days. My comments setting is on "moderation" so comments are published when I've had a look at them. I did this to avoid spam, though, not stalkers.

So far, though, it's only been weird, not abusive, and I certainly haven't been stalked. In some cases I even published the comments until they were just too much. There was one writer who complained and argued about some things I said in my review. It wasn't a bad review, because like Jim, I mostly stick to books I have enjoyed - life is too short to finish books I hate and I'd have to do that to review them fairly. I just said what I thought about certain aspects of the book that made no sense to me. This wasn't good enough for that author, who argued with me. I published the comments, but I won't be reviewing anything by that author again. As she's a well known writer, she probably doesn't need my publicity, but it all helps, doesn't it? So not a good idea on her part.

At least she didn't phone me up or turn up at my home, let alone write an article about it for the Guardian!

I'm a writer. I will admit to hating some of the reviews on Goodreads. My own books have been subject to extreme rudeness now and then from people who have read about eight pages. I've seen people giving five star ratings to books that haven't been published yet. Now, that is weird! So is giving a one star rating without reading a book. By all means, say you refuse to read something, but if you haven't read it, don't rate it.

I know at least one reviewer who said horrible things about a particular book, then read not one but both the sequels and was rude about those too - really, would you read a sequel to a book you hated? I know I wouldn't. I came to the conclusion that this particular reviewer enjoyed saying witty things about the books she hated and having around 1000 admiring comments from her followers.

But hey, you need a thick skin to survive in this occupation. As a slush reader, I have come across whinges and whines on author blogs and writer forums about those horrible people at ASIM who were rude about their babies when they rejected their works of genius. Get over it, guys! Grow a thicker skin and just submit somewhere else, or you might have an even harder time when you do have something published.

The thing is, when I was growing up, there was no Internet. Books were reviewed in newspapers and magazines by professionals. Now, anyone can be a reviewer, just as anyone can be a published writer. It's a different world. We just have to live with it and hopefully we can do that while remaining civil to each other.

Crime Time Is Now An Ebook - Yay!


Last night I had an email from my publisher, Paul Collins of Ford Street Publishing, to say that you can now buy Crime Time:Australians Behaving Badly from Amazon, both in paperback and for Kindle. Yay! About time!

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NHTM7AM


Apparently, if you buy it in paperback from Amazon, they'll sell you the ebook much cheaper. Not sure how many people would want to buy both but hey, you can always give the paperback as a gift to the child in your life and enjoy the ebook yourself. If you prefer ePub, iBooks already has it in this part of the world and I imagine the US page will be taking pre-orders already and selling in a few days - Paul assured me it would be up on iBooks -presumably the US iBooks page - soon.

I'm quite excited. This is one book that I worked my guts out on and for which I had such high hopes
and it made so few sales it never earned back its advance despite excellent reviews and the fact that
when kids saw it, they wanted it. Not sure how well it will do in the US, where it's likely to
get banned for violence(well, it IS a history of crime, what are you expecting, fairies and butterflies?).

But the thing is, neither bookshops nor the distributor website knew what to do with it or where to put it. The cover, which was designed by Grant Gittus, who did the beautiful poster for Aussiecon, is simply gorgeous, but it made the book end up in adult true crime. I remember asking in Borders for the section on crime and the young salesman saying,"What, in the CHILDREN'S section?" On the distributor's website it was under non fiction. Even my local library put it in the wrong section till I told them it was a children's book.

So this new thing gives me some hope that there will be a new lot of reviews, including some overseas. And maybe some sales.

There's a sample chapter on my Greatraven blog(check out the side of the page) both in HTML and in ePub, in case you want to see what you're getting - well, you can do that on iBooks anyway, and Amazon gives you a peek inside too. But this is a favourite chapter of mine, about the April Fool's Day blunder by two dimwitted robbers.

I will probably do a Goodreads giveaway to celebrate even though I have had little luck with giveaways in the past. You'd think people don't WANT freebies - the best I ever did, apart from one through the I Am A Reader blog, which does themed giveaways and I got 94 entries, had six entries, including both Goodreads and The Great Raven, for a Peggy Bright Books giveaway, and I had one with a few entries in which I gave away an international and a local copy which got me a lovely review from the Belgian blog and a gorgeous huge mug with an orca on it which I use every day, from the lovely Leecetheartist who had borrowed Wolfborn and wanted her own copy.

I also have some great bookmarks, both Crime Time and Wolfborn, I could use for consolation prizes.

What do you think? Should I do another giveaway?

8A Podcasts Rocket And Sparky!


Yesterday morning, 8A completed podcasts. They weren't brilliant, but they worked. Thing is, I never have more than fifteen anyway, because the rest are in ESL class. Yesterday, four were absent, two were on yard duty, one was on in-house suspension, two had to be sent off to sub school for sheer rudeness(but only till they had finished reading and rehearsing the play), one had to accompany them there. At one point, I looked around the library and saw SIX KIDS! But the two badly behaved boys returned and actually got some recording done.One of them was actually quite a good Eddie, the hero/heroine of Rocket And Sparky, a play based on Edwina Harvey's short story of the same name... Except his group ruined their otherwise not-bad podcast by inserting swear words. I don't know why they did it except it seemed a good idea at the time, because as soon as they had finished, they admitted to me that they had added swear words and I probably wouldn't like it. I listened and they were right, I didn't like it. I didn't yell. I simply looked reproachfully at the ringleader and told him how an otherwise good podcast had been ruined and what a shame, because I had written the role of Eddie especially for him(well, I did hear his voice in my head while I wrote, anyway - "Eddie" was originally a girl, but I have a mostly male class)He looked shamed, deleted the podcast and called out, "Okay, everyone, let's have another crack at it." There wasn't time, unfortunately.

Two other boys did a good job, except they had to take on all the roles and one of them in particular sounded the same whatever part he played. At one point, the other boy was reading a dialogue between two characters without changing either voice. But he had the nous to begin with an introduction explaining who was playing what.

The three girls did quite a good job and when I showed them a YouTube video of a camel bleating they kept it to play on a second iPad when Rocket was on. How clever! The others just read the script.

So it worked, sort of. I got even the difficult kids to record - I suspect the swearing was a last-minute idea. That group actually came up with a silly but amusing bit of music with a camel theme to play at the beginning - Rocket is a camel and the setting is a desert. Their podcast would have been the best of the three if it weren't for the swearing. They used the script, they just stuck in extra - and I think they were already sorry when they told me.
This was in response to being ordered to "teach a play". And finding nothing of interest in our few battered class sets. And writing my own, using a friend's story.

Who would have thought, when I started teaching, that you could do this sort of thing? High technology was showing slides. Maybe we could have recorded a play but there would have been one old, battered school tape recorder.

Amazing!

Oh, and Edwina Harvey wants us to see if we can sell the playlet to the NSW School Magazine. I'm pursuing it. If it could entertain a difficult Year 8, why not a Grade 6?

ANOTHER breakthrough! Yay!


Really, it was the integration aide who had the breakthrough, but I helped a little bit.(And why do they pay her and her colleagues peanuts for the vital, specialised job they do, and keep them on annual contracts?)

We have a severely autistic student who is in my literacy class. I don't see him in history because my timetable is in the afternoon and he leaves at lunchtime.

Thing is,one of the symptoms of his condition is that we absolutely can't persuade him to read or even listen to fiction, which he calls "lies". And this is going to be a big problem when the classes get together for Literature Circles in a week and a half. It's not that I'm unwilling to adapt some non fiction to the program for him, but he's picky even about that. And he has to be able to work with a team. The wonderful aide has been working on him a bit at a time and on Friday we persuaded him to try a Dr Seuss book with his aide working with him. I told him it was just poetry and poetry is okay, isn't it? If he didn't like it, he could go back to the Lighthouse room where the integration students hang out.

Wonderful woman! She not only got him reading it, he was LAUGHING!

We both rushed downstairs after the class to tell his English teacher - she got there first, but we both did a little dance of joy.

I asked the aide if it might be possible to get him to read the young reader version of Mao's Last Dancer, which is, after all, an autobiography, not too difficult, and which we have in the sets of LC books. She thought it might work. Fingers crossed!

Experiments In Year 8 History


First published on my general blog, Sue Bursztynski's Page

I have a number of students who just can't cope with Year 8 work but aren't listed as integration students or funded as such. Even where they are, we have a limited number of aides to help. I wish I knew why we're receiving funding for more students and there are fewer aides, but there you are. I have to make the best of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I do sometimes corner one or another of our aides, who are all kind people who know their jobs very well, and ask for an opinion of a piece of work I've prepared for a particular student.

In this case, the student was a very difficult young man who has a way of running around the classroom doing nothing except socialise and claim that he "helped" another student who has done a decent job of his own assignment. Occasionally he has found a picture, but that was it.

Something had to be done. I prepared a simplified version of one topic, breaking it down into instructions, but even that was too hard for him and the running around the classroom continued.

Last week, desperate, I did it again, even simpler. The topic was The Black Death. I supplied the questions, eg "Another name for the Black Death was..." There were about six questions. I told him that I'd like him to answer the questions, looking them up on line, then use the answers to produce a poster or PowerPoint with illustrations he could also find online. I had showed them to an aide, who said that yes, it was a good simple piece that he should be able to do.

Breakthrough! He set up his table among the shelves in the library, where we were, to prevent his friends from distracting him - I kept shooing them away for him, telling them he was there because he wanted to be - and got to work. I did have to help him with a couple of the questions, but he was more than willing. Well before the session was over, he'd managed to produce about three quarters of a decent PowerPoint! I suggested a couple of illustrations to go with it. He completed it next lesson.

You see, everyone wants to succeed. He's naughty because it distracts his teachers from noticing that he just can't do the work. Given a chance to succeed, he did.

And it could never have been done in the tiny classroom that class calls homeroom. The library is big enough that he could hide from those who would stop him from succeeding. That's something else I've learned.

I don't know if I can do it again - this is trial and error, mostly error - but I do know that I was
blissfully happy afterwards.

Musings from the chalkface


Tonight is parent teacher night. Invariably the parents/guardians you most need to see don't turn up. It would be nice if those who really can't make it would call and try to make other arrangements, even if they end up talking by phone. Last year I met one Dad who had to work and still came - he asked me to write a note for his employer.

You never know, though, who is going to be there.

It has been a bit bizarre the first week back. I came back to find that my entire literacy class had been promoted. Which is great for the kids and sort of nice to know that my teaching might have helped, but meant I have to get used to a new group and learn what they need. And they have to get used to me. And I miss the old ones! It was the nicest literacy class I'd ever had and I was hoping they'd be ith me till the end of the year. I was about three quarters finished reading them The Invention Of Hugo Cabret!

Oh, well. I am going tomorrow to Vctoria University with some lovely students to do a writing enrichment day in which, all going well, my lovey kids will do workshops in writing film scripts or fiction. I did it once, years ago, with a group from my campus and others.

Because it's happening, though, and I thought it was next week, I had to spend time preparing instructions for whoever is looking after my history class tomorrow and making up an assignment for a student who missed a large chunk of time last term and hasn't started.

We were going to do some presentations tomorrow but I won't be there. I can't do it on Tuesday because the library and interactive whiteboard room will be taken over for an information evening.

So, I have a short time to work out how to make the best use of that time.

I have a YABBA Ambassador coming to my school in a couple of weeks, a lovely freebie, and am still running around organising. I have been processing her books which I bought for the library because we didn't have any.

A whole lot more and it's only first week back. It feels like a lot longer!

Getting It Right In Fiction


From The Great Raven blog.

I'm reading a lot this week and have already unearthed a glitch in one of the books I'm reading. I tend to do this, even in mainstream fiction by writers whose books have won awards and so are selling a lot better than mine. But a mistake is a mistake. And it seemed like a good subject for a post.

I won't name any of the books or authors, some of whom are personal friends or at least acquaintances, and I will mention that at least one of them took my advice and rewrote for the next edition. (If you think you know the books and authors concerned, please don't mention them in a comment!Not even if you ARE one of the authors!)

There are some genres where it seems obvious you need to get it right. Hard science fiction, for example. Get your physics wrong and there will be people to let you know about it. What they can get away with in a TV series won't be tolerated in a book or short story. Well, mostly it won't, anyway.

Even fantasy needs to be right. Yes, I've read a Twitter conversation between fantasy writers in which one of them declared it was her universe and she could do what she wanted within it. Not so, since fantasy is usually based on real world societies and if you're going to write about horses and swords and mediaeval ships and such, you need to understand what they can and can't do. I've posted about that some time ago, so won't go into detail here, but I do recommend Poul Anderson's essay "Of Thud And Blunder", which is available online. But most people understand this and take the trouble to get it right. Heck, I've been careful in my own writing, creating a world with three moons and, not wanting to go against the laws of physics even in my own magic- dominated world, I checked it out.

If you get crime fiction wrong - say, a gun that does what a real gun of that type can't, or make mistakes in the medical treatment of a victim, there are going to be people jeering at you for it. So, mostly, crime writers make sure they get it right. I've read earnest, worried questions on the fabulous Jordyn Redwood's medical blog and a forensics blog I discovered on a search. "Can I do this or that to my victim?"

So why is there not the same degree of care with mainstream fiction, I wonder? Is it because it's the world you live in and you know how it runs, or think you do?

I remember a novel by a well-known Australian writer who is living off his writing, more than can be said for me, in which the children of the story are living with an aunt who has been cashing the Family Allowance cheques of their mother, who has disappeared, and she doesn't want to lose this income, so is keeping it secret. As it happened, I'd been working for what was then the Department of Social Security (a later Liberal Government changed the name to Centrelink). I knew about Family Allowance. In fact, the aunt was entitled to the payment as the children were in her care. I can remember times when a relative who had the kids overnight rang us, demanding the approximately $2.00 given for one night - and got it, despite the time it took us to process it and even their phone call cost about 50c. It wouldn't have taken much rewriting to get that right and might even have made the story more interesting. You might say, "Oh, well, you're a person who worked there, most people wouldn't have noticed," but anyone who was in the situation of a broken relationship with children would have noticed, though clearly the author and his editor weren't in that situation, so didn't know and didn't check.

Then there are school stories. Anyone who lives in Victoria, anyway, and has had children at school, might know the rules. Kids certainly do. "You can't touch me! I'll sue!" Only recently a student I hadn't touched was loudly claiming I'd slapped him, and I remember a nasty little Year 8 girl in my first year of teaching who rubbed her neck trying to produce a bruise so she could claim I'd hit her(she was caught doing it
in the toilets by the vice principal) and, when that didn't work, told her father I'd threatened her with a chair. Fortunately, he knew me and asked what was going on rather than accepting her lie, or I could have been suspended till the story was checked out and my reputation would have been gone while she might, at worst, have been given a couple of days' suspension and a grounding at home. They don't want to discourage genuine cases from coming forward, so the teacher is treated as guilty till proven innocent and the child isn't punished even if their story is proven to be a lie. And this was many years ago, in the 1970s. Oh, yes, they know their rights and if they do, why don't the authors of so many YA novels?

I can tell you about a short story in which the victim and the class bully get detention and the teacher walks out of the room to attend a meeting, leaving a potential for tragedy. Sorry, I told the author, a friend of mine. It wouldn't happen today. Duty of care. Schools can have the pants sued off them for neglecting it. If you must have the teacher leave the room, make it an emergency. The school would still be sued - and I've heard of a primary school being sued for not having a teacher in a particular part of the yard when a branch fell from a tree and injured a child - but at least it would be a situation over which the teacher had no control. "But it happened at my school!" he protested, meaning the teacher leaving the room for a meeting, not the tragedy. I pointed out that it was a very long time ago and that expensive private schools like the one he attended might have had different rules from the State system back then. Not now, and he was trying to sell a new edition. He took it on board and rewrote.

Here are the rules, in Victoria at least(and the main offending novels I've read have been by Victorian writers) : you must have a teacher to supervise students, so no allowing students to run their own event at school outside school hours with no teachers there, as happened in one CBCA shortlisted book I read. You can't have a detention after school on the same day it's earned(in a book I'm reading right now); parents must be given notice. You certainly can't publicly humiliate students, even as a punishment. Not without facing the legal wrath of parents. What you can and can't do for punishment is strictly limited.

Yet I've come across CBCA shortlisted books by Melbourne writers that have done most of these things and some that weren't shortlisted but were by well-known local writers that did the last-mentioned. And somehow they made even otherwise-wonderful novels just that much less wonderful for me.

I've read a novel written in the era of the Internet that had two kids exchanging emails and one of them doing physical research for something that was easily available on Google, even then. (I know, I googled it).

It's not so hard to check before submitting your manuscript. The Internet is a wonderful resource, or you can call someone who knows.

Writers, you must do your research, even for mainstream fiction, even if you think you remember what things were like when you were in your teens.

And guess what? Things probably weren't quite as you remember them.

The new Aurealis Awards judge!


First posted on The Great Raven yesterday, where it's inexplicably had several thousand hits already. Wish someone had commented!

C'est moi! :-)

Just got my confirmation. I will be one of those on the children's section panel. Now I will see what all the CBCA judges go through, except they have to do all types of children's books, while I'm only going to be reading and judging children's spec fic. The books are likely to be shorter than adult or even YA, so it won't take as long to read all the entries. We did get the gig on the understanding that we are willing to read ebooks. I agreed, with the rider that if something is available in print I'd prefer it, because it can can go on my library shelves afterwards. I probably won't be reviewing anything from the AAs here, because while it's not against the rules you have to be careful not to make authors or publishers think they're out of the running. For the same reason I won't be giving star ratings on Goodreads, though I rarely do that anyway.

But it will be nice to see what's out and see how close we get to the CBCA shortlist or the YABBAs.

Speaking of YABBA I have been told that my school has won a visit from a writer or artist sponsored by CAL and YABBA, under the YABBA Ambassador program. I don't know who it will be yet - that's part of the deal, they choose - but whoever it is will be made very welcome and given lunch and publicity and maybe even a small gift. It's very exciting!

For any Melbourne teachers or librarians reading this I hear they have just opened a second round of offers, up to 25 schools in total will win it. The only condition for entry is that you must be a member of YABBA. At $42 a year, even I can afford it! And there are a lot of incentives to join.

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