Thursday, 13 December 2012

Follow Your Dreams

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." Walt Disney.

As a child I was a prolific reader. I read everything I could get my hands on and more. It seemed only natural that eventually my dream would turn to writing books someday. 

For years I practised by sending family and friemds letters of my life story, whether they wanted to read about it or not. I wrote poems and stories for the children in my classes and for my own boys as they grew. 
Eventually I challenged myself to attend a few short story writing courses at the local Community College. With the confidence that came from that I extended my horizons to a Diploma in Professional Children's Writing through the Australian College of Journalism. It was a fantastic correspondence course that was very comprehensive and lasted over six months. The feedback I received once again was so positive and helpful I finally felt ready to put myself "out there" and send off those first manuscripts. Unfortunately my timing was all wrong. The inital chidren's book I sent away was an adventure set in Bali and while held for over twelve months by a very promising publisher who assured me they were certainly keen, the Bali bombings hit, and all things Balinese understanably were not so popular anymore. The manuscript was returned and all went quiet. I immersed myself in my teaching career, studying further, this time a Graduate Diploma in ESL/LOTE. Study, teaching full time and raising three boys kept my basket full, but I still yearned to write for children. So I once again began to write stories for the children in my classes, but it wasn't enough. I wanted to reach more children. I wanted to see the delight in their faces as they read my books.

Finally I decided to retire from teaching. I joined an online writing group. It didn't take long for the rave reviews to come flooding in. I even started to win the odd award and competition or two. My confidence in my writing grew once more and with the backing and wonderful support of my husband and family my journey to self publishing began.

Gingerbread Aliens is now available via my website for those interested in grabbing a great book for the kids for Christmas before it's too late! The second book in the series is with the illustrator now, I can't wait to see the final product myself! Books three, four and five are not far behind.

So follow your dreams, as Walt Disney said, it only takes a little bit of courage and faith in yourself and you can get their in the end. 

More on my journey to publication and beyond to follow.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Variety is the Spice of Life.

Photo: via @Sparta Books  
And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.
The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life  .

 The Anceint Greek Philosopher, Plato, was a very wise man, more than two thousand years ago even he recognised the importance of books being kept in the home. Books provide not only entertainment but a wealth of knowledge and learning that opens a world of possibilties to those who choose to indulge. Learning to read is the first step towards all future endeavours and providing a library in the home for your child is a wonderful building block to support the foundations of growth and understanding.

A library in a house doesn't have to be huge but provision for a wide variety of reading material allows the young emergent reader to decide what type of reading he/she might like.  That also may change from day to day, morning to night. We all feel like reading different things at different times often depending on our moods. So why do we expect our children to read the same things all the time?

Your library may consist of a bookshelf in the loungeroom or fill an entire study. It doesn't really matter as long as there are plenty of choices. Picture books, novels ranging for all ability levels and encompassing all genres, adventure, science fiction, comedy, romance, action, thriller, the list goes on. Also include non-fiction books, biographies, geographic, scientific, nature, astronomy etc. Don't forget comics and magazines for those days/moments when they want a rest with a little light reading.

A library on hand at home also allows a reader to put aside a book mid-way and come back to it later.  If they don't feel like finishing it now, don't stress, let them have a break and read something else, they'll be more ready to return and enjoy the other book another day. How often have you heard people talk about the pile of books they have on the night stand beside their bed? It's only natural to swap and change depending on how you feel or how tired you are. After a long day at work you may not be able to concentrate on anything too in depth, a bit of fluff may suit the moment. Another time that political drama might be just what you are looking for. Remember kids have some hard days too, and some not too draining. Their energy levels may determine what they feel like reading as well. Make sure you allow them the same courtesy to read a variety of books wherever the mood may take them.