I'd never used writing prompts until a year or so ago. I hadn't needed them. I had a million zillion ideas already. But then a chance encounter with a wooden box full of story prompts produced a short piece I never thought I had it in me to write, a comedic monologue about a girl getting her own way. Since then, I've dipped in occasionally, taking prompts from website generators or being inspired by something I've seen. Today at writing group, I drew a hilarious prompt - My brother does this weird thing with turtles. Well, that could have gone anywhere, but here's where I went in the twenty minutes we had. This is the unedited first splurge that came out.
Seth is different. Not the type of different that prompts people to take a second look, or the type of different that makes you want to be part of his gang. He’s - a different type of different. You see, my brother does this weird thing with turtles.
‘Seth,’ I call, ‘Are you ready?’
I look at my phone, checking the time again. The beach is empty but I know it won’t be long.
Seth finishes dressing, zipping up his black wet suit. ‘Yes, just need my bag.’
He fishes around in the dark searching for his bag amongst the rocks. The salt hangs thick in the air. I can taste it on my lips.
In the moonlight, I catch a glimpse of movement. It’s not just the ebb and flow of the waves wrestling against the shore.
‘Quick,’ I hiss, ‘they’re almost here.’
Seth retrieves the bag. ‘Okay, got it. Have you got the notebook?’
I check my pocket. ‘Yes.’
‘And the translator?’
I roll my eyes. ‘Yes.’
‘Good. Make sure you document exactly how many there are.’
Of course I will. It’s been twelve months exactly. Twelve months since Seth discovered he could speak to turtles.
Seth gives me an ear piece and a mike. I fit it snugly into my ear and wait while he clips his mike into place.
‘Go over there and test it.’ Seth points to the hollow of a large rock.
I head towards it picking my way over the shells and weed that are crusted onto the rocks.
‘Can you hear me? Testing, testing.’
Seth’s voice rings clearly in my ear. ‘Perfect. Can’t wait for this one, Bee. This is the best night of my life.’
The sentence ends in a squeal. ‘Quick Bee, they’re here. Come back.’
Scrambling, I grab my phone, flicking the camera on, swiping it onto night mode.
Seth is down at the water’s edge. One by one, the turtles emerge, surrounding him. He crouches down and I hear him murmur in the language that I have become accustomed to but can’t understand.
‘Be careful,’ I whisper, my stomach suddenly twisting with nerves.
Seth climbs onto the back of the largest turtle. ‘Bye Bee.’
He raises a hand in salute, then is gone, leaving me alone on the cold beach.
Crazy! I had no idea where I was going, but am quite happy with what came out. Of course there is cleaning up to do, but you can see how a sentence formed into the beginnings of something more.
Why not have a go yourself! Forget about grammar, plot, tense - just write! Google writing prompts, or stab your finger in the dictionary and pick three words that you must include somehow. Either way, you'll have something to shape, which is better than where you were twenty minutes ago.
Leave me a comment with where you think this turtle tale could go!
Hooray, school is back! First things first - an excuse to chat with fellow writers. We were a small group celebrating not one, but two contracts around this table! Managed to squeeze in some editing in the beautiful state library earlier in the day. A lovely evening chatting all things kid-lit and kicking 2020 off to a great start.
So 2019 is over and 2020 is well underway leaving me waiting slightly impatiently for school to go back so I can plan my writing year! Where was I out and about for the last few months?
As well as attending the last Meetup group, a local creative writing group of all genres, our own group Coast Write started by a friend and I, had its last meeting for the year at a beautiful new café/wine bar in our local area.
Since starting the group a year ago we have discovered and connected with some amazing people here on the coast, including proof readers, editors, teacher-librarians, self-publishers, non-fiction writers, memoir writers, illustrators and others who are starting out in various areas, keen to network. If you are on the Central Coast NSW and want to come along, you can join the group via my facebook page here.
On an almost smoke free Sunday I headed to the city for the annual SCBWI Christmas get together at Woollahra library for the second year in a row. It was, yet again, a fun-filled afternoon celebrating the talent of the Australian industry with some moving and informative presentations by Margete Lamond and Oliver Phommavanh, and of course a good chat afterwards and a chance to meet more kid-liters! I think we can safely say Australia is lucky to have children’s literature in such very caring hands.
2019 of course was a highlight for me personally. With two short stories and a poem published in the Creative Kids Tales anthology, it was such a humbling experience to see my words in print. There were multiple launches around the country and the book spread far and wide, even overseas! Thanks to Georgie Donaghey for her incredible work compiling this edition, and to all the people who supported me through this process, and who bought the book! We received some lovely feedback from kids and also moved a couple of people to tears - let's hope they were good ones!
Motivated by the adrenalin of actually being in print, I attended a writing retreat with a group of amazing authors who really know their stuff when it comes to author business. We spent the weekend getting as many words as possible on the page, even when in our pyjamas!
2019 also saw me visiting schools for Books In Homes. Thanks to Julie Ditrich and Peter Large for allowing me the opportunity to interact with the children and see their faces light up as they investigate their book bags. My second assembly at Woodberry Public was a wonderful experience. What a great group of students and teachers. I particularly enjoyed reading one students work, a long piece he had been working on with great enjoyment and was excited to share with me!
In November I had a wonderful evening at the Australian Society of Authors seeing Tom Keneally receive the ASA medal. Benjamin Law gave a wonderful talk about the importance of stories in the margins and of course another great opportunity to meet more inspiring people!
Throughout the journey, Creative Kids Tales has been such a fantastic resource for my writing journey, as has the facebook group the Duck Pond. If you are an aspiring author don't hesitate to click on the links and check out these fantastic groups.
You can also check out my CKT year in review here:
I can't wait to see what 2020 has in store.
With courses delivered in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, the Australian Writers’ Centre offers over fifty courses to suit anyone with the writing bug. With the Creative Kids Tales festival theme of INVEST in mind, I took the plunge and attended a wonderful 'Plotting and Planning' course with renowned novelist Kate Forsyth at the Sydney Writer's Centre. I also completed an online course 'Writing Chapter Books for 6-9 year olds' delivered by children's author Lesley Gibbes. Both courses delivered such high quality content that has improved my skill level. I'm enjoying putting the lessons into action!
Join me and several of the story collection authors on Saturday 26th October for a fun-filled launch at Harry Hartog Miranda. There'll be arts and crafts, light refreshments and of course story time!
Thank you to Mrs McGann and all the wonderful students who attended a library time storytelling session during book week. We had great fun reading Clarrie's Pig Day Out, acting out a book poem and watching a video all about reading and writing. The year one students sat very patiently listening to my story, 'Lucy's Library' . It has no pictures yet, so in the five minutes we had left at the end, students became the illustrators, and decided what they would like to draw from all the stories we had heard. Given it was a very quick drawing session they did a wonderful job! Can you find yours?!
Congratulations to Cooper and Renna!
Their stories made them the lucky recipients of a copy the Bad Guys books!
There were so many lovely pieces of writing from students across K-6, it was a very hard decision!
Thanks to Mrs Rio for all her hard work before and after the assembly.
The Central Coast CBCA did a wonderful job with their student luncheon on Friday 16th August, when they hosted three authors and a room full of local students from various schools across the coast. Students clearly enjoyed the antics of Yvette Poshoglian, Tim Harris and Matt, (M.C.D) Etheridge and eagerly queued at the pop-up Bookface Erina stall to buy copies of the author's works ready for a signature! This event was part of the annual CBCA's book of the year announcements.
To see this year's winners, head to cbca.org.au/winners-2019
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Wyoming Public School as a role model on behalf of charity Books in Homes. With the aid of some wonderful K-6 helpers, we performed a poem about adventures in books, enjoyed the video that amazing authors Cate Whittle, Oliver Phommavanh and Deborah Abela had so kindly recorded footage for, and finished up with a well researched Q&A from each stage group. A wonderful bonus to the assembly was another donation - this time from author Aaron Blabey, who gifted me with two of his Bad Guys books to give away. The recipients will be decided during the school holidays when I will take time to read the letters and stories that I challenged the children to write if they want to be in it to win it! After the assembly, along with Julie Ditrich from Books in Homes and Murray Hawkins, our local Scholastic Head Rep, we met with the children to hand out their long-awaited book packs and chat to them about their choices. I was so impressed with the welcome from the school, and the knowledge and excitement of the children, and sadly had to turn down the requests to sign autographs in someone else's book. I did however get to sign a piece of paper for Riley borrowed in haste from the library, so keep reading Riley - one day I will sign my book for you for real :)
If you'd like to find out more about this wonderful charity, head to their website, or check out my write up on the Creative Kids Tales website here.
On Friday 7th June, prompted by friend, artist and author Selina Fenech, we organised a get together of local writers on the Central Coast. The Central Coast is often overlooked when it comes to organising 'writerly events', as we are right between Sydney and Newcastle where all the major workshops and festivals are held. So we put a call out on social media to see if there was anyone else local who was interested in writing. Several people turned up (more than pictured) and it was a lovely evening discovering each others areas of interest and enjoying a new local venue. I'm sure we will do it again. Who knows where this may lead!