Rainbow Street Pets – A Kid’s Book for Animal Lovers of All Ages

UnknownI know that this week I said I’d talk about how to work out which writer’s festivals to attend.  But being an animal lover from way back, I’m afraid I’ve been side tracked by Wendy Orr’s gorgeous Rainbow Street Pets.

Rainbow Street Pets is a collection of six stories for kids about all sorts of animals from a guinea pig to a lion cub.

The stories include Lost Dog Bear, Nelly and the Dream Guinea Pig, Mona and the Lion Cub, Buster the Hero Cat, Stolen: A Pony Called Pebbles, and Bella the Bored Beagle.

Each animal is special. Each story is full of action, great characters and a happy outcome.

At the Rainbow Street Shelter a cockatoo will greet you and a little round dog will make you welcome. All the animals there need children to be their friends. Meet Bear the border collie, Buster the marmalade cat, and Bessy the goat, as well as rabbits and guinea pigs and mice. There’s even a pony called Pebbles, but where does a lion cub fit in?

When I was a kid, I always dreamed of finding a runaway horse, and that’s exactly what happens in Stolen: A Pony Called Pebbles.

IMAG4165I think one of the things that resonates about these stories is their authenticity – the fact that author Wendy Orr clearly loves animals and that she knows what it feels like to be a kid who’s desperate for a pet.

The stories also trace the lives of the pet’s young owners and the very real issues they face. There are strong friendships between them and these link the stories together seamlessly. There are also Mona, Bert, Gulliver and the other characters from Rainbow Street Animal Shelter who appear throughout.

Apart from being a great read, one of the most important things about this book is that it teaches kids about pet ownership and the responsibilities of having a pet, but in a non-didactic way.

IMAG3188Showing the feelings, experiences and emotions of the animals allows the reader to see their points of view and understand that they have special needs that must be met.

Rainbow Street Pets is a book that the whole family can enjoy together. If you’re an animal lover like me, you’ll love these stories.

Rainbow Street Pets is written by Nim’s Island author, Wendy Orr and published by Allen & Unwin.

Next week, tune in for my promised post about Writer’s Festivals 🙂

Paris Hunting – Introducing Cara Jamieson – An Emerging New Character

There’s something really exciting about delving into the minds and lives of fictional characters.

My good author friend, Sheryl Gwyther was invited to participate in a Character Blog Hop by fabulous author, Wendy Orr whose post explores her famous character, Nim.

On Sheryl’s blog, she shares wonderful insights about her compelling character, Adversity McAlpine. I love Addie and her story set in NSW during the depression.

Now Sheryl has asked me to lift the lid on one of my characters so I’ve chosen to talk about a new character from my current work in progress, Paris Hunting.

Paris Hunting is a Young Adult adventure/suspense set in Paris in the present day.

IMG_0048My main character, Cara Jamieson is living in my head at the moment, but I’m looking forward to finding out more about her and her life when I spend time in Paris in April.

What is your character’s name?

Cara Jamieson

Is this character based on you?

Not consciously, but I guess parts of her are. She’s inquisitive like me. She’s quite headstrong and she’s adventurous.

I have never lived the kind of life Cara lives, but maybe a part of me always wanted to.

How old is the character?

Cara is 17 years-old.

What should we know about the character?

If you met Cara it wouldn’t take you long to get to know her. She’s an outgoing, honest kind of girl.

Cara is living in Paris because her father has a diplomatic posting there. She’s an only child so her friends are important to her.

She has just discovered that her Great grandfather, Phillipe Gautier was an important member of the French Resistance in World War 2. Her Great grandfather was a taxidermist (the research on this character has been interesting to say the least) and there’s a rumour that he concealed something important inside one of the animals he stuffed. Cara is determined to find out what it was and where it is now, but the only clue she has is a letter written by Phillipe just before he was murdered.

imagesCara has travelled a lot because of her parents’ work and her friends are the kids of other diplomats. She is someone who likes to learn about and immerse herself in other cultures and traditions.

Cara is a daredevil, and is always challenging her friends to something extreme. Her latest dare involves breaking into the Paris Museum of Hunting to take a selfie with a unicorn horn.

What she doesn’t know is that the Museum holds a clue to her family’s past, and finding out about it could put her life and the lives of her friends at risk.

Cara is very determined and single minded and is hard to talk out of a course of action, even if it’s dangerous

What are your character’s personal goals? 

Cara wants to find this thing that was so important to her Great Grandfather that it probably got him killed. Cara also wants to fulfil her need for adventure.

Where can we find out more about the book?

Paris Hunting is still a work in progress but I’ll be sharing more news about it on this blog as the story develops.

My good writer friends, Alison Reynolds and Sally Murphy have some great new books coming out this year so I’m tagging them to share their character’s stories.

Be watching their blogs at Alison Reynolds and Sally Murphy to find out more.

 

HOW DOES READING HELP YOU WRITE BETTER? – TUESDAY WRITING TIP

Some time ago, I wrote a post about editing and mentioned how reading Steph Bowe‘s, Girl Saves Boy helped me find my ‘character’s voice’. Just reading someone else’s words can spark great ideas and can help you identify the weaknesses in your own work.

I know some writers who refuse to read books in the same genre they are writing because they don’t want to be influenced by them or seen to be copying, but as well as showing you better techniques, reading someone else’s work can spark gems of creative brilliance and give you something great to aspire to.

I’m currently writing a survival story about a tween and a teen stranded in the Australian outback. I travelled Australia for almost two years in tents with my husband, the family dog and two toddlers, so the outback setting  for TEXT ME WHEN YOU GET THERE is very familiar to me.

But I wanted this book to be more than just an action packed read – I wanted it to leave the reader with a strong sense of setting, the strength of the human spirit and a connection to the characters. Even though I had the plot figured out, I knew there were still many layers to be added.

So I went back to read other survival stories for kids/YA. I pored again through Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (an old favourite) and Wendy Orr‘s wonderful new survival story, Raven’s Mountain. Both novels are set in an area that I’m totally unfamiliar with yet they still managed to make me feel as if I was actually there fighting for my life against the obstacles the characters were facing.

Reading both these great books again and thinking about how they were crafted, helped me identify the following weaknesses in my own manuscript:

  1. Main character doesn’t make enough observations about himself – this would help reader see how he grows throughout the story.
  2. Compare the outback setting more to his home – this will help reader connect with how out of his depth the character is in his new surroundings. Make observations about the things that aren’t there as well as the things that are.
  3. Use road signs to identify where the MC is for the reader.
  4. The MC is stuck in life-threatening situations without any adults present. Give him permission to do risky things that parents wouldn’t want him doing because that’s how they are going to survive – perhaps he keeps hearing Mum’s voice in his head. Jack and his sister are on their own so they would be more introspective – nobody to talk to except each other and when they fight, they would have nobody left to talk to.
  5. Apart from fear of outback hazards like dingos, snakes etc, there would also be phobias that kids might experience in a normal environment like fear of the dark.
  6. Need more sensory detail in terms of smells and taste.
  7. More description needed about physical state and injuries.
  8. Need more lighter scenes where kids are mucking around like they would at home – this will help add tension to the darker moments.

This is just a hint of the improvements to my manuscript that were inspired by reading Gary and Wendy’s books. I haven’t included specifics because I didn’t want to give away too much of the story.

But hopefully this will help you see that reading other books isn’t copying what other writers do. It can generate ideas and teach you things about your work in progress and the way you write.

I’d love to hear about books you have read that inspired you to write better. Feel free to leave your comments at the end of this post.

Next week at Tuesday Writing Tips we’re looking at how Critiquing Can Help You Write Better. Hope you can join us then.

Happy Writing:)

Dee

P.S. the pics for this post are from our “Around Australia trip” Hope you enjoy them.

Here are another couple I just had to include for the ‘cute’ factor even though they have no relevance to the story. Pic 1 is camping at Hogwash Bend. Pic 2 is with a baby kangaroo at Oodnadatta.

Here’s one last one I had to include of a Goanna who used to drop in every afternoon to play with the boy’s Lego.

MORE TIPS ON HOW TO COPE WITH REJECTION – TUESDAY WRITING TIP

Last Tuesday’s blog post, How To Cope With Rejection obviously hit a chord with many people.

I’ve been contacted by authors and even publishers who have offered their tips on how the ‘process’ works and how to cope with rejection.  I wanted to share these with you and the best way seemed to be through another blog post.

Rejection is so much a part of every artist’s life; no matter what medium they work in. It’s something we all suffer from at some point in our career – generally on many occasions.

It’s something that can set us back, but also make us stronger – it’s something that can make us more determined than ever to succeed.

So what do you do when you have created something with painstaking care, when you have shared a very personal part of you and it has been rejected? How do you pick up the pieces and keep going?

Hazel Edwards (Author of There’s a Hippopotamus On My Roof Eating Cake) offers these tips:

Writers in for the permanent work style of self employed freelancer have to develop ways of sustaining themselves such as:

  • Diversifying, and have emotional investment in other projects at different stages.
  • Re-cycling that rejected project in another format or to another prospective market.
  • Re-read and maybe re-write to higher quality or different audience.
  • Share with small group of peers.
  • Reassure self that the project is high quality but maybe political, timely or economic reasons stopped it.
  • Detour to a new project to feel enthused.
  • Rationalise that one in ten projects gets up.

Sheryl Gwyther (Author of Secrets of Eromanga) says,

1. I’ve never forgotten what another author said once, ‘Regard your rejections as part of your apprenticeship of writing and learn from them.’ Remember, even established writers get rejection letters at times.

2. I keep every rejection letter in a plastic-sleeve folder – it is proof that my work is ‘out-there’, not sitting uncompleted in my computer. And more, importantly, they are concrete proof that the letters have changed over the years.

A PUBLISHING PERSPECTIVE

Dr Tom Bibey (physician, blue grass musician and writer) says:

The main reason for rejection is they can’t figure out how they will make money with it.

Publisher, Andrew confirms that rejection is NOT personal.

Publishers are making their best guess in the circumstances with the resources available. Publishing is gambling and we’re making the best bet we can. But it doesn’t mean a publisher is right, anymore than any other gambler. So much is about the mood of the moment rather than the quality of the work, and it is a myth that the good will always succeed (or the bad fail).

MORE AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS

As Wendy Orr (Author of Nim’s Island) says, “It’s important NOT TO GIVE UP!”

I used to use rejection letters as scrap paper for printing out the next ms! But I also always try to honour that grief, because it is a real grief, before letting it go.

(And anyone coping with rejection might like to know that Ark in the Park was rejected by 7 publishers before HarperCollins took it. It went on to win the CBC book of the year, has been published in 6 other countries and is still in print 17 years later. So… don’t give up!)

Carmela Martino (author, writing teacher and blogger at http://www.teachingauthors.com/) advises:

One of my strategies for coping with rejection is to have a “backup plan”–a list of other places I’ll send the manuscript if it gets rejected. After a brief mourning period, I pull out the plan and get to work.

I also recently read a great interview with YA author Kathi Baron on how she copes with rejection. See http://tinyurl.com/2wzr5nd

Samantha Clark (writer and blogger at http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/) has these tips on how to stop rejections from getting you down:

I remind myself of a couple things:

1) many, many, many now best-selling authors went through heaps of rejections before getting their first book published. In his On Writing book, Stephen King talks about filling a three-inch nail with stacked rejection letters — a lot of paper — before getting his first piece published. Persistence is key, in writing to get the best work and in submitting to find the ‘right’ agent.

2) everybody’s journey is different. A good life lesson for anything, and one my husband is constantly trying to drill into my head. :) Like the butterfly gaining strength through breaking through its cocoon, struggles help us grow and get stronger. Every rejection is an opportunity to either take it personally and give up — never — or evaluate for useful information then move on. We can’t judge our own path by that of other writers. Each path is different. The important part is only that we continue down the path and along the way, pick up whatever helps make us better writers and stronger people.

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner had a great post recently on her Rants & Ramblings blog. it was called You Have to Believe http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2010/06/you-have-to-believe.html and it was all about believing in the dream of publication.

It’s what keeps all creators creating. You have to have a dream and you have to believe in it.

As Rachelle points out, “We live in an information hungry society” so “our options are expanding, not diminishing”.

Maybe we need to adopt the Hazel Edward’s approach – diversify – look at our writing as a talent that can work across a range of mediums and not restrict ourselves to what we are familiar with.

We need to explore our talent and see where it takes us – there might be writing opportunities out there that we haven’t even considered.

As Samantha mentions, “everyone’s journey is different”. I have found this really works for me – I achieve so much more when I focus on what I’m doing and avoid comparing myself to anyone else’s experiences/successes.

For some people, their lucky break comes early – for others, it can take much longer.

But If we are committed and passionate about our craft, persistent and open-minded, I believe we can start to tip the scales in favour of the acceptances and pave our way to success.

I hope it works for you.

Dee:-)

KXFQECRRPVVP