Tuesday, 27 December 2016

2016 in a non-nutshell nutshell

Ahh here we are at the end of a year.

Another one.

This year has been incredibly challenging on a personal level (as it has been for many) but here's the thing about challenge - you grow. I am hyper reflective, typically with the need to improve the way that I approach things. This list is my effort to channel that need to reflect in a positive manner. It might have been a challenge but projects were secured, friendships made and sights seen.

What happened in 2016?
  • Launched a new project in the Unladylike Podcast with good friend, Kelly Gardiner. Throughout the past six months we've unleashed twelve conversations between writers who happen to be women. I have read fantastic writing, conversed with gifted wordsmiths and heard from listeners. It has been amazing.
  • My wisdom teeth were removed. This sounds small. They weren't.
  • I chaired my first session at Sydney Writers Festival which was enormously fun as I shared the stage with a former Inky Awards teen judge. I also interviewed Rainbow Rowell, Amie Kaufman, David Levithan and Meg Rosoff on stage at my sixth Melbourne Writers Festival.
  • Persnickety Snark, my former blog, crawled past the one million visitor mark. Mind blown!
  • In 2015 I found out I was the fortunate recipient of a Melbourne City of Literature travel grant. In April I travelled to the US to see public programming for YA readers in action at the Romantic Times Convention (hear more: podcast), Texas Library Conference and YALLWest. 
  • I was reunited with Libba Bray which resulted in this rad photo (below). She's cooler than I could ever imagine myself being.
  • I got much better at the aunt-from-a-distance thing. However this didn't result in a reduction of picture books purchased.
  • I visited NASA.
  • I spoke at the International Board for Books for Young People (IBBY) Congress in Auckland on the topic of teen readers online. It went pretty well and I have been invited to speak at the School Library Association of NZ conference next year (woot).
  • I am pretty sure I've nearly worked out Snapchat.
  • I got to guest on Radio National with one of the Inky Awards teen judges. Ben was incredibly impressive and we had a blast talking about the Awards and why teen perspective in reading choices is so important.
  • I went to Fiji for a week and fell in love with a hammock.
  • I am nearly at the six year mark at the Centre for Youth Literature and I have been working on heaps. Between Reading Matters 2017 (Australia's largest YA conference and program), 10th anniversary of the Inky Awards and the redevelopment of our teen reading website Inside a Dog, we're undertaking a lot. But it's all awesome :)
  • We found out we received an impressive grant to help outer-metro teens connect with creativity over the next two years. 
  • I just found out I was successful in getting into the 2017 Shared Leadership Program via the Public Libraries Victoria Network which is an incredible opportunity.
  • I crossed a visit to Alcatraz off my bucket list.
  • I was lucky enough to fly home on multiple occasions to see my family but more importantly to celebrate the important milestones my niece's 1st and my mum's 60th birthdays. Adelaide has never seen so much of me.
  • I have met inspiring people - from Rose Brock in Texas (and then Auckland), Stephanie in Portland, Claire in Las Vegas, Rob in Auckland and Kimbra in Sydney (via Shanghai).
  • I was able to advocate for myself more strongly. This was huge. 
  • I read over 220 books - young adult, junior fiction, poetry, literary fiction, commercial fiction, romance, new adult and picture books. This year was my greatest reading year in a long time, and the most varied.
  • I used a reading log all year long for the very first time.
This year though challenging, and sad, and fury inducing has had its positives. Dark cannot exist without the light and I've had some bright moments. And these moments all involved people - my family, friends, co-workers, interview subjects and the young people I work with completely made my year. Also, brunch.

I hope everyone is finishing the year surrounded with people they love and/or their passion. I look forward to hearing our community's achievements and our goals for the new year.

I am hoping to be kinder to myself, read more discriminately about politics and the world, give more, and journey to Iceland. (Also, be patient in waiting for season two of Sense8.)

Be well.

Check out more of my year on instagram if you're keen.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

YA romance, NA and LoveOzYA on BookThingo podcast

Way back in April I was able to visit the 2016 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention to observe young adult programming alongside romance. Lucky for me there were a host of Australian romance readers that I knew in attendance who made the week indefinitely more fun. Two of these people, Kat  (hostess with the most-est)and Rudi (producer extraordinaire), are 2/3 of the BookThingo podcast.

After six days of skipping (and sometimes slogging) through RT, Kat kindly invited me to sit down and discuss two topics near and dear to my heart - young adult fiction and new adult fiction. Young adult is central to everything that I do in my day job, New Adult is something I needed to learn about and differentiate as it's become a market trend. It was recorded very late at night before I flew off to Houston for the Texas Library Association conference.

It was a fantastic opportunity to publicly discuss my thoughts on these two categories and what they mean in terms of the romance genre.

Warning - this isn't a polite conversation. NSFW.

You can listen here.

And here are my recommended New Adult authors - if you want more specific recommendations, hit me up on Twitter @snarkywench. (Titles in parenthesis are either my favourite or where to get started.)

* I don't love reading paranormal so my recommendations are very much contemporary-centric. I am also a huge sports-contemporary fan (particularly hockey - be warned).

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Introducing Unladylike, a podcast on women and writing

A little while back I posted about a new project I was working on - a podcast, Unladylike. This podcast would capture conversations with women on writing.

Today is launch day!

Unladylike is hitting the internet with five episodes and many more to come.

  1. On story: Vivian Gornick and Sian Prior, both journalists and memoir writers, in conversation about memory, imagination and language. 
  2.  On friendship: Australian YA writers Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell and Cath Crowley talk about portraying friendship in writing for young adults, and their own collaborations. 
  3. On editing:  Historian Clare Wright and editor Mandy Brett on the process of creating an award-winning bestseller. 
  4. On romance:  Tessa Dare on romance fiction as a feminist genre, and why readers are in love with love. 
  5. On swearing:  Novelist Toni Jordan and playwright Patricia Cornelius on the power of purple language.
You can find out more here, or listen on Audioboom and iTunes.

Monday, 21 March 2016

2016 Inky Awards & Resources (free)

We have had an incredible week at the Centre for Youth Literature. It's one of my favourite times of year, and this year was made more special by the way in which we shared some news.

Firstly, we launched the 2016 Inky Awards longlist. This youth literature award is selected, judged and voted on by teens for teens. Adults have no say. Why? Peer recommendations are the most common method for a teen to connect with and read a book.

We launched the longlist by putting teens to the front:

Applications for the teen judging positions are open until 28 March 2016.

Secondly, we shared a project we've been working on for months. Our Inky Awards Ambassador program. We've created four toolkits for different individuals in the youth literature sphere to learn more about the Inky Awards, how to engage authors (and pay them), devise activities and let the teens take the lead.

There are four toolkits, and they are absolutely free - check them out!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Unladylike; a podcast on women and writing

I can't seem to get the hang of this spare time thing.

Unladylike; a podcast on women and writing.

Yes, I have a new project and I am pretty excited about it.

We have a manifesto - some of which you can read here:
We talk about women and writing.
We talk with women about writing and reading, and particularly about process: the thinking, planning, plotting (or not), research, drafting and editing that writers do.
We talk about things that affect women as writers, illustrators, readers, publishers, editors, critics, academics, booksellers and literary programmers.
And we invite women to talk with one another about their work.
There's more...

It's terrifically exciting to work with the uber talented Kelly Gardiner on this podcast. We both feel strongly that women writers require a platform, and we're oh so happy to create one.

We'll launch in June with some fantastic content but in the meantime you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and at our website.

Hope you tune in!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

US Bound - Melbourne City of Literature Travel Fund

I am proud to say that I am one of the very fortunate people to receive the Melbourne City of Literature travel funds. Round two marks the end of this initiative (hopefully just for now) that supports writers, editors, publishers, librarians, booksellers...and even programmers the opportunity to seek professional development further afield that will benefit Melbourne.

I will utilise this support to visit the US in April to witness how teen (and romance) programming intersect with public programming. Most YA related programming in Australia is part of a schools offer with teachers booking sessions but I am curious to observe what proves effective in drawing teens to public events outside of school influence.

But where will I be going?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Why Tamora Pierce's Alanna is influential

This article was originally posted on the Readings blog, 24 May 2011.

Books, especially those you come across in your formative years, have the capacity for an enormous impact in your life. In my case there are too many to count as many authors and their characters showed me something about the world and myself. Whether it be laughing uproariously at Anne thwacking Gilbert with a slate, admiring Lizzie and falling in love with Mr Darcy or following Josie as she discovered the truth of her family, I grew as a person. Not one of them changed my life but they all contributed to it greatly. Jane Austen feels like an old friend with a violently sharp tongue, LM Montgomery was a reassuring quilt to cloak myself in, and Melinda Marchetta allowed me to relate to a range of nuanced Aussie girls.

Monday, 17 August 2015

How to Get Your Dream Job in Ten (Easy?) Steps

HUGE Felicity geek - #TeamBen
Originally appeared as a guest post on the Books and Adventures blog, 9 September 2012.

1. Embrace your geek

That doesn’t mean heading to your nearest comic book store to cuddle an individual engrossed in a graphic novel. Geekery is passion without apology, usually with a singular focus. My geekiness has always been wrapped up in stories, whether in book or film form. While I went the traditional, employable route of teaching as a tertiary education choice, I sub-majored in children’s literature as a flight of fancy.

Keep a grip, whether loose or monkey tight, on the things that you love.

2. Surround yourself with imagination

There is no better way to tap into imagination than plonking yourself in a classroom of young impressionable minds. I taught in regional and disadvantaged schools for eight years immersed in their enthusiasm, pure unadulterated boredom, and sparky moments of brilliance. Even when I was unaware of my passion, they were informing it. Teaching wasn’t a step on the way to a goal – it was crystalline moments of influence on me as a person.

3. Curiosity may have killed the cat but it will keep the boredom at bay

Teaching in regional towns was taxing in terms of my professional responsibilities to the students, parents and the school, but I had a lot of downtime.

I read with the help of my trusty library card. And played SimCity. And bought many films and television series on DVD. Without realising it I was diving deeper into the creative process, criticism…and the joys of rebuilding an earthquake affected virtual city.

Once I had access to the web I discovered podcasting and immersed myself in discussion of film makers and graphic novelists, as well as fans’ exploration of process and pop culture. I became an active member of forum boards and read fan fiction.

I had married my geekery.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Something new, different and full of romance

I am super excited to share that Danielle Binks and I will be the Australian Romance Readers Convention (ARRC) co-coordinators for 2017. Needless to say we're really excited so a big thank you is directed to the Australian Romance Readers Association executive committee for this opportunity.

The convention is returning to Melbourne for the first time since the inaugural event and we will have the pleasure of wrangling it all together.

There are so many reasons I am unbelievably excited for this opportunity -

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Big Trips

I don't tend to take short breaks. Part of it is that I can't turn my work-brain off in a week and part is that if you're going to leave Australia then you better make it count. (And with the flight times, you really want to make it count. Twenty plus hours is a long time.)

In 2010 I went to live (and teach) in Japan. But in one of my breaks I went to the Big Apple for the first time. I met the lovely Gayle Forman for the first (but not last) time as well as the awesome Beth Fantasky, Michelle Zink, Elizabeth Scott, Melissa Walker and Lisa Sandell. It was a blogger's dream come true. And I got to meet Mitali and Steph in the flesh - awesome bloggers, smart ladies and generous hearts. More importantly, it was this trip (at the Penguin HQ) where I realised that I wanted to work in books instead of teaching.

And then this happened...