Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fromages Francais

Ooh la la! They say there is a different French cheese for every day of the year and I would have to say I think I am coming pretty close to having eaten every one of them - even the ones that smell like feet. Is there nothing more sublime than a glass of red with a blob of camembert on a piece of crusty baguette? Throw in a seventeenth century Parisian apartment with the morning sun streaming in and I am in heaven. This week is flying by and we are already dreaming up ways of how we can possibly come back (or never leave?) There are still two whole wings of the Louvre I didn't get to see! (Though they say  it would take nine months to see every single thing in the Louvre. I could handle that. Nine months here would suit me fine.) 
You'll be happy to know I can now go sockless, which means we almost fit in here now, could almost pass as Parisians, except that my seven year old insists on hanging all his Eiffel Tower keyrings off his jumper. But that's OK. It could be just a statement ironique - in a kind of Andy Warhol/Marcel Duchamp kind of way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brrr...Summer in Paris!

Hmmm... Summer in Paris? Yesterday it was freezing! Am I glad I threw in a jumper at the last minute! Just in case you're even slightly interested, today should be a little bit warmer, then by Wednesday it should be 25 and sunny. 
I've noticed that one of the differences between Melburnians and Parisians (I'm sure there are thousands but this is one I discovered yesterday) is that Parisians don't obsess about the weather the way we do (we do? I do?). I asked three people what the weather was going to be like this week and not one of them had any idea or showed any interest whatsoever! Cheez, in Melbourne I even know how many millimeters of rain there is going to be! 
How can I possibly know what to wear if I don't know what the weather is going to be like? It's hard enough looking 'Parisian chic' when I have to wear all my summer clothes on top of each other and socks with my thongs!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Travel reading

In two more sleeps we head off for Paris! Two weeks in France and two weeks in Italy. It goes without saying that I am BESIDE myself with excitement. So, on my bed I have a suitcase crammed with clothes, a printout of my novel-in-progress and a stack of kid's books to keep my youngest entertained. Now the biggest dilemma is which books to take for me? It is so hard to whittle down that towering pile by my bedside table, and then there are all those tempting bookstores at the airport!
Do I take light and breezy or earnest? Travel stories or short stories? Award-winners or money-spinners? Research or fun? Already the two Lonely Planet guides take up almost half the suitcase and weigh a ton! Help! Suggestions anyone? What's something fabulous I can take that I will gaze at fondly on my bookshelf for years to come, dust it off, remove the Metro ticket bookmark and remember that this was 'the book I read in Paris'?

Friday, June 11, 2010


OK, any Billie fans out there, here's a competition for you!
It's a little hard to read the poster, so here are the details:
Do you know what the B in Billie B Brown stands for?
-Lots of different things!
Billie can be BRAVE sometimes, other times she wants to be a BALLERINA. Some days she wants to do something BIG and sometimes she can be a little bit BOSSY!
Want to win a full set of the first four Billie B Brown books?
Just tell us what you think the B in Billie B Brown could stand for.
You can draw, collage or write your entry - the more BOLD and BEAUTIFUL the BETTER!
There are TEN sets to be won!
Send your entries to:
The B in Billie B Brown Competition
Private Bag 1600, South Yarra, VIC 3141
Don't forget to include your name, age and address so we can send you a prize!
Entries close 30/06/2010
The winner will be contacted by mail before 12/07/2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Premier's Reading Challenge blog

Next week (June 7 - 11) I am The Age newspaper's Premier's Reading Challenge blogger. Below is the introduction that will run in this Sunday's Age to encourage kids to go online and chat with me as a Premier's Reading Challenge ambassador about reading, writing, or anything really. If you don't get The Age you can you can access the blog by going to and selecting 'ERC blog' from the top navigation bar or via this link:
Hope to see some of you there!
Story ideas.
Often when I am running writing workshops with students the first thing I will be asked is how to come up with an idea for a story.
Here is an exercise I get them to try.
Think of a character. Then think of your character’s ‘every day’ or ‘normality’. Then think of an interruption to your character’s normality. This is called an ‘inciting incident’.
It can be a big, fantastical interruption to your character’s every day life:
Every day Gus took the tram to work. But one day the tram braked suddenly. Gus looked out the window, and there on the tram tracks was a spaceship!
Or, it can be a small, more realistic interruption:
Every day Samantha checked the letterbox, but it was always empty. One day, when she opened the box, there was a letter waiting for her.
Whatever your interruption, it should spark questions in your mind that help you progress with the story.
Who is in the spaceship? How did they get there? What is going to happen next?
Who is the letter from? Why has Samantha been waiting for it? What will be in the letter?
Asking, then answering, these kind of questions can be a good way to come up with ideas for a story.