Another night in America.

Posted by Nette on Apr 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

One of the nice things that is happening is the opportunity to sit down and have a think about the information that I’ve been collecting. I have notes all over the place about things that I want to use in my D’Lila stories but its not enough to just keep on adding more and more notes. At some time you have to find a place and start to really make sense of what you have. Today I’ve been re-reading notes from the places I’ve visited and the books here that I’ve seen and I thought I could share them as we go…. especially since they will become D’lila books sometime soon.

So…one of the things that I’ve been thinking about – while I am busy wandering around in a park or doing the washing like I’m doing today – is how to bring D’lila, who is an Australian girl to have adventures here. It’ll be fine so long as I can write D’lila from the way I’m finding things. Like squirrels – now they’re not that special here. You know, there’s squirrels hopping up and across the grass and up trees and doing little freezy things on the bark so you don’t see them – and I just love them. My camera is full of photos of squirrels in different positions but…and this is the bit that I’ll probably start to work with… I don’t think Nanny-Anny, D’lila’s guardian, will love them too much. In fact, I think she might actually get very scared by the way the skittle around…a bit like being afraid of mice (if you’re me). So…I have a beginning in a sort-of way…the other thing will be to make sure I am able to paint the picture of what the surrounding are like here. The trees are really, really huge so I think they’ll need to be in the story as well….and then I’ll have to decide what this story is about….it might be about being brave enough to admit that you’re scared right now. It might be about giving something up because of somebody else’s fear…not sure yet but these are the things that are keeping me on track while I’m here….at the moment its’ the squirrel outline.

The other thing that is keeping me busy are the library visits so I can sit down and read and read and read to see how American books differ from Australian ones. One of the things that it is important to be able to do, if you’re an Australian author, is write books that are strong enough and fun enough to sell into other countries. So I need to be sure that what I’m writing is going to be fun for kids here as well as in Australia. I like to look and see what topics are important to children here, and what issues kids are facing (and, a bit like all of us, bullying is still a big look in). Fun’s high of the list as well and I found a wonderful book written by  Shel Silverstein called Runny Babbit, a billy sook by Shel Silverstein! At the end of this blog I’ll add one of the verses…and, let me tell you, I would never have found it if I had gone looking around in the library. Then, of course,  I had to find the book shop to be able to buy it. I know there’s a lot of people who say that you only have to look on one of the book sites but…hey….I didn’t even know this book was there until I was able to browse around and choose colours and covers that I liked…and titles that appealed to me.

I’ve also been finding games and magazines that will work for story starters. I’ll be working up the games into lessons when I come back home and the magazines will be cut up and sorted and, again, some new lessons and ideas posted up for you to use. We went to a Science museum today that had all sorts of good ideas for playing science at home (like how to mix up fake blood and make a huge, make-up fake scab!). I thought I could do this too – make a list of some great ways to get involved with story making that are a bit different from the ones that we have in Australia – and not necessarily scabby.

So, my first offering for some fun at home is from Shel Silverstein…if you look carefully and say the title out loud you’ll see it is a play around with the words…’Bunny Rabbit’ (Runny Babbit). You can do this too….’Bad Cat = Cad Bat – excuse me, what is a Cad Bat…it might be a cheeky fruit bat that is always saying it will do one thing and then not do it at all! How about ‘Fluffy Cat – Cluffy Fat…I like cluffy – this is a good word but I’m not sure about Fat…it could be someone’s name, it could be oinky stuff that grows in mounds and moulds along the sides of old puddles….I don’t know…have a play – see what you come up with.  Look for simple words that can easily switch around, use the dictionary and a pin and eyes-closed to find a word, find a farm dictionary, find some describing words….have a bash.

And to get you going….here’s one of my favourites from my new American book.


When Ramma Mabbit started teachin’

Runny how to eat,

He ficked his pood up with his ears,

He wasn’t nery veat.

The sood all flipped, the drilk all mipped,

“That’s pot nolite,” Said Maw.

“Never use your ears, my dear –

That’s why Pod gave us gaws.”    by Shel Silverstein.


I’m Here!

Posted by Nette on Apr 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have so much to tell you – can’t believe its been so long since I shared. I’m in America – so far I’ve trekked across from San Francisco to Orlando where I’m sitting at this moment in the warm sunshine. Highlights – wow, you should try and mule ride…in the snow!!! I never imagined that it would snow in the Grand Canyon but it did. We just thought Arizona was a desert and deserts equal hot, hot hot…but we were wrong.

I’ve been visiting schools here to share writing and the most amazing thing is how much we all share the same writing  problems. Kids in Columbus have trouble with the good ol’ ‘Can’t-Get-A-Story’ idea, and the ‘Im-stuck-in-the-middle’ and ‘now-I-don’t-know-how-to end-this’   but we solved it all and had some great fun. And the kids in San Jose…you got it…same thing…lots of ideas and loads and loads of story maps left behind me.

I went to Margaret Mitchell’s house in Atlanta. She wrote a very famous book called ‘Gone With The Wind’ – and, the most amazing thing….when I was walking around Atlanta I kept feeling that I knew bits of it…and it was all from that book. I read it when I was thirteen in high school (we had to read it behind the cover of “The Mayor of Castlebridge) and there I was in this same lovely, gentle county that Scarlett O’Hara had lived. The city is beautiful and the whole time I was there I kept remembering how it had been burnt down…all of it…such a lovely place.

And, other stuff….well..what can I tell you. I’ve met heaps and heaps of very interesting dogs. They live in the poshest hotels (I don’t but I see them go in) and, from the 18th floor of our last hotel we could see dog runs, and kennels and cat jungles all set up high, high above the city. Wow….who wouldn’t be a dog in the cities here?

I’m working on my new character, D’lila LaRue. She’s a neat little organiser and is happily having adventures along with  me – the mule ride in the snow, getting lost in San Francisco, solving the science experiements in San Fran, having adventures in the desert with a prairie dog…and in Georgia – well I think she might just be a little bit Scarlett…its going to be fun.

I’m hoping I can upload a photo for you to see. Please respond to me so I know somebody out there sometimes looks to see what I’m doing…even if it is just sitting in the sun, drinking water and listening to the rattle of loud machinery (boy,  I hope they stop when its bed time).

Till next time…keep safe and smiling.


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