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...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Every Word Launch, Melbourne

This evening I was privileged to launch a book for the very first time. (And it's both amazing and terrifying to still have firsts....)

I've known Ellie Marney since before her Every series kicked off with Every Breath but we've never actually spoken about her books. We've spoken about writing, reading recommendations, festivals and a whole host of things but never about a book. So there's nothing like diving in the deep end and speaking about a writer's book to them in front of an audience.

And so this is what I said...

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Australian Romance Readers Convention 2015

This weekend I am doing something new and different - I'll be moderating two sessions at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra.

Which sessions might you ask - these ones!

Beyond firsts: why we need NA

The New Adult writing all stars of this panel include; 

Rockin’ My World

I have the pleasure of probing the minds of these rockin' ladies:

From an audience member perspective, I am really excited to hear Victoria Dahl speak and all my historical romance writers (way too many to name.)

Also, the lovely ladies of this community who have been so welcoming to me. I am now lucky enough to call them my friends.

If that's not enough romance...I am also a Romance Writers Of Australia R*BY (Romance Book of the Year) judge again this year. So many books, so little time!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Reading Matters 2015 - Look what I have been working on!

Last month marked the end of my fourth year as Program Coordinator at the Centre for Youth Literature. Amongst the many elements of this role, coordinating Reading Matters is quite possible the largest. For those of you who aren't familiar, Reading Matters is Australia's largest and longest running celebration of youth literature.  And it's also my baby.

Our team has been working on it for a long time and yesterday we were finally able to release the program.

In summary, we are presenting a YA focused program over 7 days;

  • student program (28 May)
  • professional program (29-20 May - conference)
  • public program (31 May)
  • national tour (2-3 June - locations tba)
This is the first time that there is a dedicated public program for YA enthusiasts. It will also have a writing focus with sessions around writing realist, fantasy, sci fi and pop culture for young adults. We're also taking eight writers to four different Australian locations (3 interstate, 1 regional Victoria) simultaneously.

What I am most proud of is the diversity we have on our program. We have emerging and established writers. We have writers who work in poetry, prose, graphic novels, animation, illustration, theatre, and non-fiction. We have writers that represent a myriad of different careers, cultures and backgrounds because representation, storytelling and art matter. 

Who is coming?
  • Laurie Halse Anderson (USA)
  • Clare Atkins
  • Sara Farizan (USA)
  • Sally Gardner (UK)
  • Erin Gough
  • Kyle Hughes-Odgers
  • Amie Kaufman
  • Will Kostakis
  • Priya Kuriyan (India)
  • Jaclyn Moriarty
  • Abe Nouk
  • Tom Taylor
  • Jared Thomas
  • Sean Williams
  • Clare Wright
  • Stig Wemyss (audiobook narrator)
  • the Nowhere Boys team (producer, cast member & game developer)
  • teens representing Creative Rebellion Youth (poetry), AYTP Fresh Ink (theatre) and a panel of readers
If you're a YA professional in libraries, schools or within the publishing industry - there is definitely something for you. 

If you are an aspiring YA writer, or passionate YA reader - there is something for you. 

If you're simply curious - there is something for you.

As for me? I am relieved I no longer have to keep all our work secret.  And my hope is to see many familiar, and new faces, at Reading Matters this May. 

Reading Matters is a celebration of the breadth and strength of Australia's youth literature publishing and services. It is a celebration of great writers, booming trends, and the teens that love reading young adult fiction. It's about the fantastic people that work in libraries and schools across Australia, that put that right book in the right hands.

Hope to see you there!

Where to find more information:

Monday, 18 August 2014

A Tale of Two Outlanders*
My friend has been excited over the television adaptation of Outlander for what seems to be forever. It came up in conversation, her Twitter feed was swamped with mentions, she was trying to speak Gaelic from the Starz videos, and I learnt that she’d named her dog after a minor character in a later book. She's WAY into it. When it was announced that this well-known romantic, time traveling tale was being re-imagined, I failed to understand the reference. I had never heard of the series. Not once. And I read considerable quantities of historic romance. I seem to have fallen in the Outlander void.

Now my friend, Danielle, has been asking me to read it. I considered it. And then I discovered it was eight hundred pages long and really who has time to read a book that is that long? Seriously, that’s 3-4 YA books, or a really, really long saga that I actually want to read. But for an obligation read….no.

And then I folded like a cheap suit.

You’ll notice she favourited it. I believe she’s collecting evidence so that when I fall in love with the series she can hold it before me and yell ‘told you so’. I am not entirely sure this is going to happen. Danielle is very sure.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

ATX Festival: my ramblin' recap

ATX Festival is a three day festival celebrating television in Austin, Texas.  While young adult fiction is my passion and my career, television has its own slice of my heart. The festival was a beautiful combination of popular and critical darlings, a laid back feel and an intimate approach.

I fell in love with this festival.

Attendees were unbelievably friendly (I have new FB friends a-plenty) and the embracing of heightened TV enjoyment was a joy to behold.  Attendees asked thoughtful questions, industry people meshed with viewers, and everyone was relaxed. Not simply a fandom event, this festival has committed itself to exploring the creatives behind the stories we watch and some of the actors that help bring it to life. It does feel as though it's on the cusp of being bigger, the presence of some autograph hounds and vulture-like fans, alluded to a more fan-ish future.

But what panels did I see?:

Orange is the New Black
The crowd was treated to the first episode of season 2 a few hours after the entire season had been accessible on Netflix.  It was such an incredible feeling being seated in the State Theater surrounded by so many people being moved, and laughing at a show we all felt passionate about.  Soon after the moderator (Todd van der Wolf - AV Club) introduced Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes), Danielle Brooks (Taystee) and Lea DeLaria (Big Boo). The panel was sustained by the amazing charisma and chemistry of the actresses as the moderation was (to be kind) underwhelming.

Beyond Bullying: What's Next for TV's LGBT teens?
A late addition to the program, this GLAAD supported event featured Wilson Cruz (MSCL's Ricky) as its chair alongside Faking It's Carter Covington (creator) and Michael Willett (Shane). I was enormously excited to this panel because the representation of LGBT teens, and any diverse teens, is a rare feat in TV.  Cruz began the panel with a list of openly gay characters on television and then lead a discussion about the representation, characterisation and expectation of gay teens on our screens. OINTB's Lea DeLaria attended the session as an audience member but was included in the discussion as well.  It was a thought provoking panel and I'll refer those interested to this post by a fellow attendee. The generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness of each of these panel members was inspiring.