Saturday, November 22, 2014

Groaning Shelves

I have a lot of unread books on my shelf. Over and over I tell myself I won't buy another book until I've read what I already have. Then it hits me. I walk into the bookshop and I get hit by the smell of the paper and the colour of the cover and the voice of the demon on my left shoulder saying "ooh! this look good!" and before I know it I've done it again. Another one to add to the pile.

So, groaning shelf of unread books, what's to be done?

Recently I had a brainwave. What I've been doing is this. Starting at the top left of the shelf I read my way across to the right. Every unread book I get to *has* to be read, or at least attempted, before I can move on. This way I force myself to get stuck into books that I might otherwise have let gather dust for a while, because they're too big or I'm-not-really-into-that-author-anymore or I'm-not-in-the-mood-for-that-one or some such thing. When I get to it, it comes out and I give it a go. It's a deal with myself.

And it's already had some wonderful and unexpected results! I read the first Tales of the Otori book (which came into the "too big" category, but also put me off because I suspected it might be a bit too "literary" for my tastes). It turned out to be so good I bought the other five in the series and devoured them in a few months. Now I'm reading Raymond E Feist's Magician, which has been in no category other than I-just-haven't-gotten-around-to-reading-it. Too early to say how this will turn out, but at least I'll find out one way or another.

And yes, the books are still coming in, and I doubt very much I'll reach the bottom right of the bookshelf any time soon. But I'm certainly going to get my teeth into what's there, and I'm confident of discovering some more dusty gems in the pile.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Ground

I had the opportunity to give my first ever author talk a little while ago at Prince Alfred College. The audience was a group of about forty Year Twos plus teachers. I've been wanting to do school visits for a while now but holding down a full time "normal" job makes it a tad difficult. Fortunately this particular school is only fifteen minutes' walk from my work so I managed to squeeze the talk into the beginning of the day then power-walk to the office in time for morning tea.

Yep, I was pretty nervous preparing. I've always been in awe of people who can speak to kids that age and hold their attention, so having to step up to the plate and do it myself was something of a challenge. I tried to make it as visual as I could by projecting lots of pictures on a big screen to illustrate my points. I also brought in lots of props, namely a big box full of all my drafts for Ping-Ling plus some notebook and such. 

And I have to say it went great! The kids had been working on their own stories in class and discussing things like the editing process and how to plot, so what I had to say fitted in pretty well with what they'd already been looking at. They asked fabulous questions too, although a couple did ask me when I was going to organise to get their books published. Slightly awkward.

All in all it was great, and it reaffirmed how much I'd love to do that kind of thing more often. If only the day job didn't keep getting in the way.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Post For Which I Could Not Think Up a Title.

Still waiting to hear whether Shamblers is up for publication or not. These things take time, apparently. In the meantime I can happily say I've done no writing at all. That's mainly because we've just signed a contract for a new house, and now we're frantically busy getting the old one into a fit state to sell. Selling your home of 15 year is very unsettling, not to mention time consuming.

I've also been reading. Currently I'm well into Clariel by Garth Nix, and loving it to bits. And yesterday a parcel came courtesy of Amazon (which, I hasten to say, I never buy books from unless they're out of print and difficult to get, as this one is) containing this little beauty.


I read this series when I was about 13 years old, courtesy of the school book club. Absolutely loved it. It'll be interesting to see how my adult self finds it. What I did notice was how thin it is. Thin! When I was 13 it seems like a tome.