Drama in my backyard.

Posted by Nette on Oct 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Everybody’s life is busy and mine is no exception. A lot of my time is writing my new novel and sometimes I forget that this takes up as much time as if I had to get dressed, get in the car, drive to work and then kick start the day. I heard the other day how many kilojoules are burnt playing chess (a lot actually) so now I understand a little better about why I compare writing a book to a long distance race. You’re knackered when you’re finished.

But, this isn’t the backyard drama. It’s more a prelude to why I’m making my first step this note to all of you – I do hope there’s a few can make a difference. Tomorrow, in amongst the muddle on my desk which is the novel and the illos for Christmas cards, there’s the beginning of a letter about the native animals who are being forced out of their own backyards and…ooops… they don’t have another to go to. The only way for them to move is across a very, very fast road and … you know it. Road kill. And… guess what… more road kill.

Now, I suppose that I’ve learned one thing in my life and that is there is no stopping development. So, please…this isn’t about development. We all have our own feelings about that but I think a big, shared feeling is the concern for the planet and the creatures who inhabit it. Right now a part of the planet that was, until ten years ago, a densely populated seaside bushland is home to a lot of people and houses. Back then nobody went there much… bad vibes.  However, it was a koala,  wallaby, lizards and snakes and birds of every colour, sound and description hanging out place.

So, it is a beautiful place that has attracted a lot of interest. Gradually people moved in and built houses and then more houses and rec. parks and pubs and resorts and all good stuff like that… and gradually the native life-stock moved on or out or simply off the planet. Roads grew faster and wider and fences went up to protect the wild-life or whatever was left – and that was a good move.

Until now.

Because now the latest development is looking a bit more like a jail than a bush land. Mesh fences that run for kilometres, sheeted over with long, long banners saying the name of the developers involved – seem to have forgotten it which is probably a good thing – have animals neatly tucked away within.

I rang National Parks and Wildlife and they’ve sent a ranger down to check it out – a big, big thank-you to the Murwillumbah ranger who listened to me bleat on for ages. They have asked me to write a letter to the paper, which is on my desk waiting to be completed. My mates have written letters and my friend whose work involves snake removal and relocating wild-life is jumping on board because… you know what…this isn’t about development. This is about living with a changing world and making sure the stuff living in the changing world is given a fighting chance to change along with it.

So, if you’re reading this, thank-you. If you’re interested in helping out, or helping make sure the creatures of the Bushland Jailhouse have a good chance when they make a run for it – and that’s if they find the hole in the fence and then find the hole in the fence on the other side of Coast Road from Cabarita Beach to Cudgen and Kingsciff – slow down if you’re driving up this way, or contact the council and ask if there could be some signs to advise motorists that animals are making a jail break and need all the help they can get, or write to the paper to see if some organised re-location can be instigated so these creatures don’t finish up like their cousins across the way… dead and unsavoury on Coast Road, or eaten by dogs or just plain lost and forgotten.

Gosh, its a serious grizzle tonight. But good stuff is happening – like, last night I did hear a koala and, when I went out to look for the noise, I found a wallaby. So, maybe, maybe they’re finding their way down here. And wouldn’t that be a bonus. All those new houses and resorts and pubs and restaurants with fancy names and fences will only have memories of the mob who lived there because the mob, if they make it, will be living in my backyard.

Fingers crossed.


Moving on.

Posted by Nette on Oct 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

You’d think writing a book in your own house, with your own timetable would be easy but lately I seem to have a lot of interrupted beginnings. I’m not complaining. The interruptions are fun and worth leaving the computer for a few minutes….but…my novel is suffering. For the rest of this week I’m promising myself that I will dutifully write my new novel as soon as I get up….  a good way to make sure the work gets done.

My new work is for adults. I’m revisiting a time I spent in the bush a long time ago and using this as a setting. A good idea….okay…but then we think about technology and the difference this is making to outback living. When I was governessing, the mail arrived once a week with the week’s lessons – one set to go and one set marked with comments and whatever help you sought. Now, if you’re going to join school of the air, a satellite dish is installed on your property and viola…you’re on line and set to go. I do wonder though, as with all things, sometimes the way it sounds doesn’t work as easily or as readily as it might.

My lovely protagonist is in very deep trouble. It was, as they say, all going well until the home visit and the body in the bag….

She accidentally finds herself responsible for a very dark secret and must, at all costs, protect it from the people who want it. I’m loving working out the plot lines and all the events that have to happen. She has to protect herself, and the secret and there’s also someone who is very, very appealing who might, or might not, be her protector. He could belong to the wrong side….who knows? (Answer, I do – hey, if you’re writing the book you have to know….otherwise you’re reading it.)

My lovely old bus, my writing travelling bus, was sold today. I’m sorry to see her go but she’s going to be reshaped, redefined and renamed…she’ll be fabulous and her new owner is thrilled with her. I hope he has a much fun as I’ve had.

Another end… I’ve finished working as mentor for my dearest Zoya – she’s going to be Australia’s newest talent. She certainly has a great tale to tell…all about spirits and lost children. Good luck, Zoya. I’m waiting to see how the cover looks!

So, back to work. Already we’re gearing up for next year with lots of school visits planned and a visit to McKay….can’t wait.


Hello New England

Posted by Nette on Jul 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

What an amazing week. I’ve been in Armidale and Inverell working with the most incredible schools. Mostly we’ve been trying to work out what makes books work and how to best go about writing them. Everyone from Kindergarten in Gum Flat to Year 7 & 8 in Inverell and Armidale have done some pretty inspiring stuff. I was really impressed by the way we managed to take a boy running to so many different types of stories.

I started out last Saturday and drove through trees which are just hanging out waiting for spring. It is so different from being down on the coast. Up here winter really does happen – no leaves, lovely, lovely white grass, and skies that light up with great flashes of lightning and sudden, unexpected rushes of thunder.

I have been reading ‘Sprite Downberry’ all over again. You know, its a good feeling when you read something you’re written and everyone listening is moved to come along with you. I could feel my audience easing into the story and then being carried along by it. Its always a bit scary reading your own work but Sprite works. I’d love to read ‘The Innocents’ but I’m always a little concerned that a book about a child who knows her world better than the adults around her might be a bit tricky in schools.

I’ve been frantically photographing everything. Since my work with my own illustrations I’m starting to want to capture all sorts of things. There is a dog here, Frank, who is just such a good model for dog movement – he is very kind and doesn’t make quick turnabouts so I have plenty of time to capture him. The same with the lovely cats, two beautiful Burmese, who pose around the place and sometimes come and share the dear little cottage that is my home.

I was accepted into an Arts course at TAFE in Murwillumbah but, sadly, had to pass. I really do need a course that works into illlustration more specifically. I’d love to do printing and sculpture and all the other delicious parts of the TAFE course but I feel I have to learn such a lot and I need to really choose what will suit me best. I’d love to say I’m growing younger but…. only in my head.

Thanks all you dear ol’ New Englanders – I’ve had a great week….. hope you want to invite me back.



Nette Hilton School of Righting The Words!

Posted by Nette on Mar 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve done it! At long last I’ve booked the venues and written the program (almost) and am starting to feel a wee bit nervous (and excited) because I’m starting my own writing classes – with some illustration tucked in. It is going to be soooooooo good. So many people tell me how they’re going to write a book – mostly a children’s book – and how did I get started. Its a matter of doing it so I’ve set it up so we can all make a new book together and have our own book awards and launches and displays and the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

I’m going to run two classes a week in two locations. I want it to be so beaut that I can eventually run my own writer’s school – a little nook upstairs with a view and some lovely notepads and pens and pencils and computers and printers and whatever else you want to use for writing. For me, the feel of paper and pens and ink and the smell of writing is bliss and I have to remind myself that most of my writing now is in the sanitized air of computers and clean, white screens with no messy crossouts. There is a place, though, for the weighty pens and the dawdled words of good writing. There is a lovely connection to a poet or an artist or a writer when you can see the messy bits they’ve made on their journey.

So, my loves! If you want to come a-righting the words with me – contact me through this website or on nette.hilton1@bigpond.com or on 0438877324 and I’ll book a place for you in our classrooms at Cudgen Leagues Club on Mondays 10am – 12noon, $30 per session or the Art Gallery at Murwillumbah Tuesdays 10am-12noon, $30 per session. The course will run over ten weeks with each week including new strategies, scaffolds and writing times and experiences. We will journey into illustration (either black and white for chapter books) or picture book illustration in your choice of medium (and we can all do this with photos or whatever).  

My newest book, The Smallest Bilby and The Easter Tale is out and we’re celebrating at Boardwalk Booksin Kingscliff on Easter Saturday, 7th April (and all the invitations are out and, you guessed it, the date is wrong). I could say it was done on purpose so that everyone would contact me and then I could convince them they should come but…. the sad truth…it was a genuine mistake between printers and designers and the world didn’t need a whole lot of lovely cards scrapped just for the sake of one little number (albeit a pretty important one). So…come and say hello on Saturday 7th April, between 11-12.00.

My newest work is in the computer and is about a boy who was scared out of his skin….mmmmm. A lot of fun so far.

Till next time…and think about joining the Righting Class.


2012 – Up and running

Posted by Nette on Feb 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


I don’t suppose there is any doubt about it – author visits and workshops are great fun, an excellent way to earn the bread-and-butter money, and they’re also hard-going. Having had a foot in both camps, both teacher and author, I can see the subtle differences that mean three sessions a day (with quick dashes from school to school in between) are equal to a hard days work. I mean, four sessions (without travel) is the max – and if you’re working four sessions a day for a week, trust me, ga-ga doesn’t say it by the end of that time. The difference, of course, is the performance. When teaching there is an ebb and flow to the day – I know, it might a full tide run out and continual turbulence but it is possible to direct the current. A performance is max-revs the whole time – and, as one group troops out the door and the next group enters, that performance has to be just as revved as the previous one. The stories that you just told one set of Year Ones, or Threes and Nines, has to be just as exciting and interesting and mind-blowing for next Year Ones or Threes or Nines. It helps if you’re a show-off – I am, I love making it up and bouncing around and foxing and trying to win everyone’s admiration and delight – but it comes at a cost. By the end of the day I do feel like something the cat sicked up – and I don’t really want to talk to anyone for a few hours. I just want to sit in my stunned state without disturbance.  How Madonna does it – dear old thing – I can’t even begin to imagine…she has my utmost respect.

So, the highlights are when it all works and last week, nine schools in three days, worked. In the first place it was exciting because the lovely teachers were ready for us and kids were primed and excited and dying to know all about books and what-the-hell you did to make them. Love it – love the questions about ‘how did you make the cover with that cardboard?’ and ‘how do you colour all the pictures’ (I’m the author doesn’t always gel). Schools in Armidale were delightful – Emmaville kids hopped in and were keen to make up stories all over the place. Newling kindies, bless them, only at school a week were entranced and so happy to join in with story making. Glen Innes, you lovelies – a whole glorious old hall full to brim with children – and didn’t we make it rain! Each school had such beautiful children – happy and so willing to have a go. Congrats to all who work with them – you really do deserve a great big hug! And more money!

Another great aspect of this week’s work was the inclusion of other authors. Writing is a solitary work, a quiet place or a shambling around place where you think and plan and make notes of bits of paper. When the opportunity exists to meet up with and share your work and worries and paranoia with other authors it’s a true treat. Nobody knows the horror of discovering that your latest idea has already been done by the latest JKRowling like another writer or illustrator. They know – and they can wallow down there with you in the misery because they’ve been there. It’s such an enlightening time as well, sharing stories and finding out how others work – messy desks and strange rituals make great dining out stories – and help enormously to let you feel that you’re not quite so odd after all – perhaps?

For me one of the greatest bonuses is being acknowledged as an author. By the time I get home I’m recharged and ready to take on new books, ideas, tasks that I might have been ready to dismiss as unworthy. It does that – working with children, young adults and adults who want to journey into the wonderful unknown of stories and imagination. And it’s humbling when you are recognized as someone who can open the doors for them and invite them in.

So, to Armidale, Glen Innes, Emmaville, Stephen and Sophie, thanks for a great week.


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.



I’m Going To AMERICA…..

Posted by Nette on Jan 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Still can’t believe it but I’m going to America in March. I’m off to visit publishers and agents and libraries and I’m taking my newest character with me….her name is D’lila Wichita Brigitta LaRue and she’s just about the best travelling companion you could have. She’s pretty good at  GETTING THINGS DONE…sometimes not exactly as they ought to be. I’ve managed to draw her as well and she’s looking pretty delicious. I’ve drawn her helping her Nanny to update her fashion look…you’ll love it.

Christmas and the lovely holidays are over. I guess they finished for me last week when D’lila took hold and I spent days madly rewriting her and then trying to capture the way she is (in my mind) in illustration. Of course, one thing led to another and I’ve finished with a ton of artworks – and, the way it goes, most of them will never be used. They’re the pebbles along the way – the ones you walk over to get to the end of the road.

I’ve also been busy doing the stuff that isn’t so exciting for writers – its working out the ‘business’ of writing. Doing all the letters to introduce yourself to people (like the people I’ll be meeting in … oh, its so exiting…and I’ll say it again….AMERICA), and then working out which workshops I’ll be taking and how I can add exciting bits here and there. The other business of writing is collecting all the bits and pieces (I think they might be called ‘morgue’ files) that I’ve stacked around the place. These are pictures, or notes, or cut-outs from papers and magazines and photocopies of books and articles that I can use in any of the books that I’m planning. So, at the minute, eventhough I’m working hardest with D’lila there is also Lilly Popple (who has a different look and a lot of different stories), Oliver Briskett (and he needs reference material about guide dogs… more about that next paragraph), and songs – hey, now I’m writing songs and I’m loving it. ‘Lilly Popple’ has her own song and I’m working on getting one together for D’lila.

So…Oliver Briskett. I took myself off the a Guide Dog day where I learned all about how puppies are chosen and trained to become Guide dogs. I met one of the dogs who is just about to leave his trainer. He’d been with her for eleven months and was going onto his next stage of training. His trainer was very sad to be letting him go on but she reminds herself that this puppy isn’t her dog at all – and she’s had a job to do that is almost over. Still made her very sad, though. Wow, I was so impressed with her and all the others in that team. The thing that is most important that we can all do to help with the training is to remember that the dogs need all the concentration they have to learn how to be the best they can be when they’re in a harness. That’s when you see them out and about with a yellow vest that says Guide Dog – so, if you see one and want to pat it – and I always do – remember not to. Just put her hands behind you back, send it a thought message about how brilliantly its doing – BUT DON’T PAT IT. Its very hard for the trainers to have to stop to remind you (and about the forty thousand others) who want to stop to say hello the their dog-in-training. It’s hard, I know, not to want to slobber all over it and give it a big kiss on its shiny head but….you know it….DON’T. And, if you want to share it at Newstime at school, please do. Of course the other thing you can do is have a bit of a money raiser to help train a dog….

Now, I’m off to walk my own dogs along the beach. Boy, they could use a bit of training let me tell you. They lead me wherever they want to go and I’m pretty sure that there’s something not quite right about that. Sometimes I finish up in places I don’t want to be.

I’m going to add a photo (if I can remember how to do it) of me in a snake moment. I’m doing this because it makes me look a bit Crocodile Dundee-ish for my American trip. I hope, hope, hope you’re all impressed…

Till next month when I’ll be rounding up my warm clothes ready to go to the other side of the planet,

Love Nette H.


Out Of The Doldrums.

Posted by Nette on Nov 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

Nothing like a whole day to do your own thing. This morning I promised myself that I would finish a painting that I started called ‘Playing The Dog’ which is a painting of moi (ahem) sitting in bed with my chiuahua (I can never remember how to spell that word – go with small, small dog and a movie about Hollywood ones and you’ll get it). Now, as it happened some great music was playing and I just started playing the tom-tom on my dog’s belly. He didn’t mind a jot and I was having such a good time that I figured it would be great subject matter for a painting. Which it is – only I have to finish it.

My life has been busy busy busy and that’s all fine and I’m not complaining but it has been with ordinary things – like bus rego and having to take it to ninety-four different locations, and an electricy problem with another few locations and my navman is being obstinate and won’t take me past the Brisbane airport which is a bit of a worry when I need to go up to schools to work.  Consequently I was running hither and yon like a chook without a head and was becoming very wild eyed indeed. So I promised myself the day off…

The painting is still sitting there but….I have had a few great emails. First, an American publisher wants some of my books – yay. And an Australian publisher is very happy about another manuscript. Yay again… and I was invited to be a guest on Kids Book Reading site – lots of questions to answer and lots to tell. I have to say its been a brilliant day. My questionnaire will be up on their site on Monday and Tuesday if you want to have a look – it reveals ten least known facts as well.

My last schools were brilliant. I went to Currumbin and then up to Craigslea – another wonderful school with such great storytellers all growing lovely stories. I’ll be up in Belmont in two weeks working at a literary festival up there – I’m looking forward to three days of really busy story writing.

The painting is still sitting there – still waiting for a quick lick of paint but there’s more news. Next year, hold your breath, I’m going to America! I’m going to land on one side and then leave from the other and I’ll tell you all about it as I go. My newest character, D’lilah LaRue will be having some adventures written about her which will make for some fun reading when I get back.

So, onward….I have to do some more work to D’lilah and then present it again. She already has a few stories that are working but they need to be tried in a different way. This is what it is to be an author. You know, I’ve written D’Lilah three times now and she’s been great each time but they have all needed to be changed to suit the needs of the publishing house – and the readers who will buy them. Back to the writing desk I’ll be going – tomorrow I think.

Right now, I’m off to walk some dogs and have a think about my little D’Lilah and just exactly how I’m going to make her work into seven little books instead of one big one. She’s going to be pretty important ….

Have a good  ‘un. I’ll be back to tell you more news about D’Lilah and my American connection and the painting that is waiting to be done….

Have fun..

Nette.   (Oh, and thank you to that lovely, dedicated reader who let me know they enjoy my page. Sometimes I think it must just circle around out there in the cosmos all by itself and lonely as…..bless you for taking the time)


My life as an artist.

Posted by Nette on Oct 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Do you know how much mess there is when you have to paint? Honest to goodness, I have brushes – thousands – and papers – all sizes and shapes and different thicknesses – and reference books and paints, paints and then more paints. And in the middle of it all, on the table, is my mate Bonsai who can’t see what’s going on from his position on the floor. He’s only once managed to walk across Delicious-the-goose’s fat, goose feet once….so far. And that’s another thing – I wrote (because this time I’m trying to illustrate my own text) that Delicious has an orange beak and legs and feet as red as the sunset and do you know how many times I’ve messed that up! I painted orange legs and red beak and then had to do it all again about a HUNDRED times!!!! I wrote it – you’d reckon I’d remember it.

And then there’s Lilly Popple. She’s my newest little person who is about to set off on a huge lot of adventures. I’m having so much trouble finding the way I want her to look. I can write her…but I just can’t seem to capture her in an illo. But I won’t give up. She’s there in my head somewhere just waiting to get out.

I’m thinking about learning to twitter. It bothers me that I don’t have enough time to do all the things that I’d like to do but I just read on a website that I can follow JKRowling on twitter. Thank goodness she’s written not to expect too much because she’s busy with pen and paper right now. Well, do you know what? That’s what I’m about, too. My first love is writing and, now, mastering some illustrating. This takes so long – and then when I get to the other end of the day, I like to walk the dogs and look at the ocean and count the black cockatoos (apparently this tells me how many more days till the next rain – I’m hoping I don’t see any for a few days as its done a lot of raining and the garden is more like a swamp) and fiddle around and make things for my friends for Christmas (or birthdays or whatever). And I like watching movies and mysteries on tele and …. when do I do the twittering? I like talking to my mates as well – do you think people will stop talking eventually? Be a bit sad really – don’t you think?

I’m always buying a new book or two and my newest ‘old’ book is from an op shop and its called The Macquarie Bedtime Story book. It’s briliant. Ron Brooks has done lovely illustrations and there some great old poetry in there. There’s The Tale of a Despicable Puddin’ Thief by Norman Lindsay – boy, you should read that. And a story called Carpet Snake by Kath Walker (who has an aboriginal name – see if you can find it). Its such a treasure of a book – it’ll keep me happy for hours.

I’ve been busy last term and visited lots of schools. I went to Murwillumbah and had a great ol’ time at St Pat’s. Boy, do they have a yummy librarian – she’s so neat and introduced me to a great book call The Black Book of Colour – its also written in braille. Try it – it’ll be in the library somewhere near you. I’ve been all over Toowoomba – it was brilliant. And Glen Innes – wow! It was soooooo cold and wet – how do you guys do it? We were the only ones with little blue noses and toeses!

Now, time to go. A new ‘old’ book to explore, some painting to do before the goose feet finish up all over the house (thanks to a small but determined Bonsai), and a cup of soup waiting to warm me on this strange hot/cold spring day on the north coast.

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