Monday, February 28, 2011

Angel Creek book launch

Well, the big day has come and gone and hopefully my little books are flying out there carried by the warm strong winds of the most wonderful book launch I have been a part of - thanks to the marvellous people at The Little Bookroom and my fabulous cheer squad at Text. So many lovely faces and heartfelt, tear-inducing speeches - and cupcakes! With gold sprinkles! I have never made a cupcake in my life but I figured if I could write a book how hard could baking a cupcake be? For goodness sakes!
For any of you as daunted by baking as I am, the trick is: follow the recipe! It's amazing how well it works!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today's Anatomy Of A Novel guest... is me!

Angel Creek will be in bookstores as of next Monday and just to add to the excitement, the very lovely Simmone Howell has added me to her brilliant Anatomy of a Novel series. Check it out here.
Text have added some great teacher's notes to their website, too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home-made birthday presents are always the best

It's my birthday today and look what my lovely son made me. It's a vast improvement on those pasta necklaces. I never could find a dress that went with macaroni!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Oh those troublesome books again!

Always nice to see YA books making the news. Less so when would be book banners start raising their fists again. Compared to some countries, Australia seems to have a very healthy attitude towards diverse and challenging YA and children's books. It's very rare to hear stories of Australian parents or teachers gluing the pages of sticky sex scenes together or burning Harry Potter books at the stake. (Although admittedly local YA author, Robyn Bavati, recently found herself defending her YA novel, Dancing in the Dark, against a group of outraged adults in the Jewish community.)
So, it was surprising to see this article appear in yesterday's Age (17/2). Fortunately, there was an excellent response swiftly published in today's Age (18/2). Let the debate begin, I say! Your thoughts?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pretty in Pink or How I Wished I Was John Hughes' Love Child

I am going through a big 80s phase at the moment. It might have something to do with watching my own son hurtle through his teenage years (can he really be turning 18 in a couple of months?), but recently I have been having terrible cravings for John Hughes movies. As a teenager, I adored these films. John Hughes seemed to understand teenagers in a way that no parent or teacher ever could.
I was almost too afraid to go back and watch all my teenage favourites: Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, in case with my cynical adult eyes I would be disappointed; they hold such a dear place in my heart. But I have to say I have loved revisiting every minute of them. The clothes! (as a teenager I modelled myself on Molly Ringwald - pictured), the music! (Simple Minds, Spandau Ballet, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), but most importantly the characters. John Hughes knew how to create a guy you couldn't help but fall in love with. Whether it was the wounded bad boy (Judd Nelson) in The Breakfast Club, the sensitive rich boy in Pretty in Pink (Andrew McCarthy) or the heart-breakingly obsessive nerd (Jon Cryer - pictured) or Sixteen Candles (Anthony Michael Hall). Even though you knew Molly was better off without any of them, every one of his characters had me aching, then and now.
It's hard to believe with such an overwhelming plethora of Young Adult books available today, that this genre was still cutting its teeth when I was a teenager. You could almost count the YA authors on one hand, but there was some great stuff being produced in film as well as literature. Like many teenagers, my parents quickly became obsolete once I realised they didn't know half of what they claimed to and a lot less about teenagers than they thought they did. As far as I'm concerned, it was John Hughes and Judy Blume who got through my teenage years. Even if the stories they told were a world away from my own reality.
Don't worry, I'm sure my own teenage son feels the same way about me. I only wish I could know who his substitute parents are.
But that's his story.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Internet-free Sundays: Day One

Well, we survived our first Full Family Internet-Free Sunday (or FFIFS, as I might begin to fondly call it.) The Sunday after I set the challenge didn't really count because my two older boys were away for the weekend so last Sunday was officially 'Day One' with all my boys in tow. After the first few 'What are we doing today?' and 'I'm bored' conversations and a few irritable retorts from me, here are three unexpectedly lovely things that happened:
1) We went to a Chinese New Year garden party and my 17 year old son decided to join us. Normally, he'd stay at home and just sit on the internet all day, but as that option was out of the equation, I guess he figured even a garden party full of uninteresting adults would be better than staying at home on his own. Outcome: I got a full three hours out of them before the 'when are we going' chants started up. Gosh, teenagers! They can be rattier than two-year-olds!
2) I had some leftover Chinese dumpling mix and wonton skins that didn't get used up at the party so when I got home I started making dumplings for our dinner. With nothing else to do my three sons sat around the table and helped me. Voluntarily. And we CHATTED. Yep, nothing short of a miracle. But the best is yet to come.
3) Not having two hundred and fifty-three friends waiting for them to hurry up and finish their dinner and get back online meant that my sons sat at the table until even I had finished eating! And then - yes, this is the part you've been waiting for - we played a board game. No, not Twister - I just put that image up there to make you laugh. Scattegories. It was almost fun. Except I noticed that my oldest son was particularly aggressive and competitive and sometimes seemed a little out to get me. But - hey - it's only day one. They're bound to be a bit jittery the first few days. Baby steps.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chinese painting workshops for kids

Happy New Year of the Rabbit!
If you haven't yet been to the Look! exhibition and you are interested in kids' books, particularly the illustrations, I suggest you get yourselves down to the State Library and wander through this inspiring exhibition. I'm sure you'll find plenty of your favourite picture books and illustrators on display. I even have a couple of illustrations in the show - from my very first picture book, 'Fang Fang's Chinese New Year'.
While you are there, don't forget to watch the video presentation towards the back of the exhibition, where several picture book artists talk about the techniques they use in their work. Here's a shortcut. (Scroll down to the bottom of the screen to see the three minute videos.)
In conjunction with the exhibition, the State Library are running free workshops for kids over several weekends. I am teaching two Sundays of Chinese brush and ink workshops later this month. If you have kids who think might like to try something new, book them in!
The details are below:

Painting with Sally Rippin

Sunday 13 February 2011, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Sunday 13 February 2011, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Sunday 20 February 2011, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Sunday 20 February 2011, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Cost: Free
Tel: 03 8664 7099
Venue: Queen's Hall, Level 3

Join Sally Rippin to explore the art of Chinese brush-and-ink painting. Make your own pictures using ancient techniques that are fun to do, and learn about Chinese art and culture.

Recommended for children aged five to 12 years.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And here it is!

Just received my preview copies Angel Creek in the post today. SO exciting! I love the cover with its shiny gold bits. The gold doesn't show up well on a scanner, so here is a very ordinary iphone snap of it on my bedspread, nevertheless capturing it in all its shiny glory.
Only twenty-eight sleeps til it's out in the world! Yay!