Friday, July 06, 2007

Useful Websites

PIO subscribers often trawl the web looking for useful websites or they stumble upon them accidentally. Either way I thought it might be helpful to list some of them here.

  • At you will find millions of images of original source documents, many of which have never been available online before.
  • A FREE monthly writers ezine can be had from the Australian website of Cheryl Wright,
  • Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews. This site provides children's book reviews and other resources for kidlit lovers and authors. An excellent way to discover what's in the market, and a good place to get your books reviewed (even self-published ones). I also like the 'Publisher Spotlight' feature.
It’s the best article about writing in rhyme I think I’ve come across. She explains about story elements, rhyme and rhythm patterns in detail, but in a way which is easy to understand.
It has a lot to say to anyone who writes in rhyme – whether you are a beginner or more experienced. I know I’ll be rereading it often.

  • Agent Query, voted as one of the best writers' sites by Writer's Digest 3 years running, has everything an author could possibly want to know about agents. There's an extremely handy search facility, which I've tried: all you need to do is check boxes listing aspects of your writing and a comprehensive list of agents who deal with your genre etc come up. This site is a must save:
  • This site although American often has a good tip or idea to think about-
subscribing to the tip of the week is free.
  • Need your manuscript critiqued by experts?
Eileen Robinson, former editor at Scholastic in the US, has started a new
critique service for aspiring children's authors. Other partners in the
venture include editors from Harcourt, Scholastic, innovativeKids, and more.

More info at:
  • Make sure you check out Simmone Howell’s blog on Simmone is the debut author of well received teenage fiction novel Notes from the Teenage Underground. Her blog is sassy and honest and fun to read. She’s the resident author for the month of May.
  • Editorial Anonymous - a blog of a children's book editor...
  • Anyone looking for an Australian agent can go to:

  • Children's Writing Update e-zine published since September '04 is now available in a public archive. It's completely free and requires no registration or signing in of any kind.
You'll find a boatload of Laura Backes articles, cool tips, and neat web links.
The link is
  • Aspiring young writers (and older ones) should check out for inspiration, suggestions, exercises and all manner of helpful tips.

This site is a place where fiction writers can learn, ask questions, and exchange ideas. If this is your first visit to The Lab rummage around and you’ll find some fun stuff. If you’ve visited before you’ll notice several changes. The most important is the creation of The Writers’ Forensic Community where writers and readers can ask questions, add comments, or simply scroll through the postings.

  • Critique Circle is a free on-line critique service. Hundreds of members give and receive critiques on each other's writing. It's easy to join and easy to participate. Members receive credits for giving critiques which they spend when they submit work to be critiqued by others. You are entitled to receive many more critiques than you're required to give. The critiques range from advice on plot, characterisation, etc, to detailed copy editing, and tend to be of high standard. There's an international flavour (I've received critsfrom USA, England and Europe). Critique Circle works with a huge range of genres, including a specific section on writing for children and young adults.

Libraries Australia lets you discover what's in Australian libraries. You can find it, borrow it, copy it or buy it. Published authors might, as a friend of mine did, find editions of their books that they didn't know existed!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Useful Books for Writers

Over the years PIO subscribers have recommended books of use to writers. Below is a list recommended to date. If you know of others please do add them in the comments area.

Title: Simply Storytelling
Author: Helen Evans
Publisher: Tertiary Press February 2007 ISBN 0 86458 810 0

Simply Storytelling, outlines different methods of storytelling to young children. Methods include the use of felt boards, puppets, toys and drama. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a student, a grandparent, or someone who just loves to be with children, you will find something to interest and inspire you in this book. Helen also has a website on storytelling and a writing site

Just starting out as a children's writer? Trying to get your head around the Australian marketplace and wondering where to seek help? "How to Become a Childr
en's Writer" has the answers. Packed with facts about the craft, submitting, as well as tips from writers and industry professionals and lists of contacts and local publishers.
"How to Become a Children's Writer" is available online at the ACQ boo
kshop: (click on the TopJob Guides tab).
Still have questions?
"How to Become a Children's Writer" has its own Blog where you can ask! There will also be links to other helpful sites and discussions, and a chance to learn more as the author elaborates on topics covered in the Guide. 'Becoming a Critical Reader' is the first topic. Please visit

Stories, Pictures and Reality: two children tell by Virginia Lowe (Routledge).
This is a record of my two children's responses to books, from
birth to age eight, emphasising especially their understanding of the reality-status of the words and pictures. For instance, when they begin to ask "Is this a real story?" or say "But animals don't talk" or "He's my favourite not-real person". Also when they understand the name, then the role of the author and illustrator, what they see as funny, and how they relate to characters - even take them on as alter egos. Shows the four-month-old's first fascination with pictures, the developing recognition of pictures and picture conventions, and ultimately differentiation of different authors' styles.
My aim is to ensure that young children are not underestimated - in vocabulary, in concepts, in length of story. It has a Foreword by Margaret Meek Spencer, and an Afterword by daughter Rebecca.
It can be ordered fro
m bookshops, or from my website

I once read a novel in which one of the characters obsessed about apostrophes. He went out under the cover of dark and changed signs where the offendi
ng punctuation mark was incorrect. Mmmm! A bit excessive, but then I probably get a bit over excited about full stops.
Luckily these matte
rs are easy to sort out if you read the Style manual and Australia Post on the subject. Essentially, mid last century we sprayed them around, and that economic with the ‘u’ nation the USA still does.
we don’t. For example, only if the word is an abbreviation with the last letter missing do we use a full stop. For example, Rev. takes a full stop, but Dr doesn’t, because the last letter in the abbreviated form is the last letter in the word.
s it matter?
Well, it does it you want to send off your m
anuscript and envelopes looking professional.
If you want to learn more about a wide range of matters relevant to manuscript presentation, you need a co
py of FIRST WITH OUR EYES, A guide to better manuscript presentation by Leone Peguero. RRP $25.95 from all good bookshops.
Topics covered include: choosing fonts, layout and paper, style consistency, cover sheets, business cards, SSAE, Author Profiles. A variety of manuscript templates are displayed. Leone's book is based on her 15 years experience as a Professional Writing teacher, many more years than that as an author, and now a small independent publisher receiving manuscripts.

BlueCatBooks PO Box 3006 Eltham VIC 3095 (03) 9439 3070

Here's a wonderful book for yourself or for a gift: Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration For Young Poets, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko,
(Candlewick Press, USA). It was reviewed in the latest Reading Time journal (CBCA) and, luckily, when I phoned Readers' Feast, they had it on the shelf - $16.95.
This ins
piring volume includes letters of advice and support, as well as a sampling of poems from thirty-two renowned poets (including our Michael Dugan and Stephen Herrick). As the blurb says, 'These poets have spent a lifetime experiencing the challenges of writing - and the thrill of seeing the world with a poet's eye. Now they're sharing their experiences with you.'

s Roy recently recommended this book to me. My trusty local booksellers, Moirs at Lane Cove, tracked it down and ordered it in and I love it.
Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers
by Susan Shaughnessy
HarperSan Francisco, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers
It’s a book to dip into and savour the wisdom of each page. I think others might enjoy it too.
Warm Regards,


“Writing for Children & Teenagers”
by Lee Wyndham and Arnold Madison (3rd ed)

This was one of the first books on writing for children that I bought, and it’s still a mainstay in my library. It was first published in 1968 (written by Lee Wyndham) and revised for the 3rd edition in 1988 by Arnold Madison, so some aspects are a little dated. However, not many, because this is a book that focuses clearly on the basics.
Its tone is authoritative, as if it expects you to listen and take note, but also considerate, as if assuming you are serious about writing for children and teens and ready to get on with it.
There are 22 chapters, and most focus on various aspects of writing character, hero/villain, dialogue, motivation and plot. But there are also chapters on how to make the reader feel emotion, conflict, opposition and suspense, sensory details, beginnings, middles and ends. The two pages of the Twelve Point Recipe for Plotting contain a simple series of questions that I’ve come back to many times (and always give to my classes).
There are also c
hapters on getting started and getting ideas (the ideas section is great if you feel stuck), sending out manuscripts and what happens if you sell a book. The chapters on markets covers non-fiction, plays, readers and Hi/Los, which not many books do.
No doubt there are bigger and flashier books around now, promising more, but I’d recommend this as a great starter text. I like its tone, and how it covers an enormous amount clearly and concisely.

Price: $29.95 plus post
age from Writers’ Bookcase (online Aust site)
Probably similar price in local bookshops. If they quote you more than 3 weeks to order it in, go online.
For next to nothing secondhand on Amazon if you can find a dealer who will post to Australia (postage is usually around US$10).

Note: Every writing book will speak to you differently. My best advice is, if possible, to go to a good bookshop that stocks writing books, sit there for a while and read - choose what appeals to you in approach and tone. There are lots out there. If you can afford it, add to your library gradually. Some people think how-to writing bo
oks are a waste of money but I find I can always find something useful in my library when I need it.

8-) Sherryl's website is at
Her verse novel Farm Kid won the 2005 NSW Premier's Award for Younger Readers (Patricia Wrightson Prize)

Another Word A Day : An All-New Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English by Anu Garg
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0471718459

Friday, December 15, 2006

Journals - Reviewed by Edel Wignell

Edel Wignell is a very generous author who often shares her words of wisdom with PASS IT ON. Over this last year she has reviewed the journals that she subscribes to. Some details such as subscription fees may change over time but I thought you'd still find the topic a useful one.

Please remember though that this work is copyright Edel Wignell and may not be reprinted without permission.

Edel Wignell is a freelance writer, compiler and journalist. Her latest titles are 'Tying the Knot: Folk Tales of Love and Marriage from Around the World' and an accompanying 'Tying the Knot: Teacher Resource Book'.

Edel Wignell's website is

  • Author Edel Wignell writes: Every year I say I have too many subscriptions, and I ought to drop some. But which ones? Over the next few weeks, I'll make notes on some of them.


When the bi-monthly Bulletin of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators arrives, I open first to Connie Epstein's 'Publisher's Corner', a double-page spread listing the latest news in regard to publishing requirements and changes in personnel.

The 36-page journal begins with 'News and Notes' on awards, conferences and events. The January/February issue's special item was the 'SCBWI Katrina Relief Wrap-up', describing the sending of 2,500 comfort kits to the victims of Cyclone Katrina – the result of generous donations and gifts by SCBWI members. Enough books were given to 'jump start' two libraries at schools that had lost every book, as well as gifts for individuals.

Connie Epstein's 'Events of Interest' describes the 25th Annual Exhibition of Original Art, showcasing children's book illustration of the previous year, at the Manhattan gallery of the Society of Illustrators. As well, there is an outline of the 49th Anne Carroll Moore Lecture, presented by the New York Public Library.

A column is devoted to 'What's New at the SCBWI Online?' by Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmaster. By the way, it's possible to read the SCBWI 'Bulletin' online, but I choose to have it sent by post.

Illustrator Anne Sibley O'Brien, writes 'The Illustrator's Perspective' - a regular column. Her 25th book is due soon. She spoke to several art buyers in attendance at the Maine Illustrators' Collection 'Fall Folio Feast' and asked for their advice to illustrators showing portfolios. They represented a commercial magazine, a children's book publisher, and a design firm.

In 'A modest Proposal', writer Tim Myers gives his opinion on the subject of recognition to editors. He suggests that their names should be credited on the title page below the authors' and illustrator's names. He says it's the professional thing to do.

Nathalie Ryan, who writes for both adults and children, advises writers: 'Bring Your Character to Life with Quirks,' and suggests practical ways of doing this. Next, attorney Sara Rutenberg answers questions and gives advice on legal aspects of publishing in her regular column, 'Legally Speaking'.

Three and a half pages are devoted to good news sent in by members for the 'People' pages compiled by Reva Solomon: awards, short stories, poems, articles, illustrations, picture-stories, novels, non-fiction... the latest releases by authors and illustrators. Following is half a page of 'Art Tips' compiled by Alison Davis Lyne from 'Insider Tips' sent by SCBWI members.

This month, 'International News' is written by Pamela Rushby who tells of her adventures with Ana , a life-size replica of a bog body, on Author Talks in Australia. Author of 80 books for children and young adults, she says that the main value of props is their attention-grabbing quality.

In 'Your Book is at the Bookstore: How to Make Sure it Sells', Maureen Webster gives six tips on professional ways to help with the marketing of books. Then six pages are devoted to the 'SCBWI Calendar of Events – 2006': seminars, workshops, conferences in every state of the USA and overseasl, with contact details and locations.

Writer and teacher, Jeannine Atkins, suggests 'Make a Marketing Plan: Why Not?', urging members to be businesslike. Then writer, K. J. McWilliams reviews 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why it Just Might (Penguin Books, 2005), written by Pat Walsh – a sparky review of a tantalizing book.

Six pages of Regional News provides a listing of all regional events, workshops and meetings – including the Australian Conference 17-19 February. An up-to-date listing can be found on the SCBWI website:

'Publisher's Corner', mentioned at the beginning of this article, follows. Then writer, Thomas S. Owens, in ' Makes (Almost) Every Word Count', says that is beginning to take the mysteries out of the riddlesome questions of manuscript length and reading level by adding 'concordance' and 'text state' to its 'Search Inside the Book' (SITB) program. Next is a poem, 'A Closed Book', by Cynthia Linn.

Susan Salzman Raab, marketing adviser to SCBWI, and author of An Author's Guide to Children's Book Promotion, has the final column, in Question/Answer format, answering members' queries.

The cover art of the latest 'Bulletin' is by the much-loved Tomie de Paola, and the sixteen line illustrations by SCBWI members, scattered through the pages, exhibit variety and a wealth of talent.

When I joined the SCBWI in 1991, there were only four Australian members, including Hazel Edwards and Allan Baillie. Membership took off when Elaine York came from the US and started an Australian chapter with regular meetings and a seminar. When she left, she requested that someone take over. Jen McVeity, who had served for several years on the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Victorian Branch) Committee, volunteered, and now she is President Worldwide.

Some people ask, 'Will I join the SCBWI? Is it worthwhile?' It is for me: I have gained fifteen years' of accumulated knowledge about the children's book scene and have had nine articles published in 'The Bulletin'. Payment for each article is one year's subscription plus US$50.

All you need to know can be found on the SCBWI website:

  • Reading Time

This year the 48-page quarterly journal of the Children's Book Council of Australia is celebrating its 50th birthday. In his editorial, Dr John Cohen gives a potted summary of its history. It began in NSW as New Books for Boys and Girls – twelve half-foolscap pages with brief typed reviews. Its name was changed in 1966, and in 1972 it was taken over by the national body. The reviewing panel is drawn from around Australia and New Zealand – all contributing voluntarily. It now reviews up to 600 books every year, giving priority to Australian books.

The journal opens with a short editorial and several interviews with authors and illustrators – national and international. In Vol. 50, No. 1, February 2006, interviewees are John Boyne, Irish author whose first children's novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (David Fickling Books, 2005), has taken off, is being published in 14 languages and has been optioned for a film. Gillian Cross, one of Britain's favourite authors and well-known in Australia, speaks about the inspiration for The Dark Ground Trilogy.

Several small columns follow, including a list of recent Awards, both Australian and international; Applications Needed for the Nan Chauncy Award; reviews of the latest amazing Pop-up and Moveable Books; a description of an exhibition, The Waterhole Opens at the National Museum of Australia, featuring Graeme Base's fabulous book and the 'exploded view' given to it; RIP honours illustrator Tony Oliver (1940-2005); The Fiction Judges is a double-page spread of bio-notes in regard to the CBCA Awards; Audio Plus describes the latest books offered in CD form; and finally, RIP Jan Mark – January 2006 – winner of the Kestrel/Guardian Competition and the Carnegie Medal (twice).

Reviews begin on page eleven, with Picture Books, then Religious Studies, Early Childhood, Younger Readers, Older Readers and Information Books. Interspersed are half and full-page advertisements by publishers publicising their forthcoming releases; another list of Awards, mostly Australian; Seconds, Thirds and More – a page listing of the latest releases of sequels, with photographs of ten brilliant covers; a list of the names of the Reviewers; reviews of three books of Professional Interest to librarians and teachers; bio-notes of the Eve Pownall Judges; Extra! Extra! lists old favourites in new format – with photographs of eleven splendid covers.

I started subscribing to Reading Time in my teaching days (early 60s) and the editor, Anne Bower Ingram, said that I was the first teacher to subscribe (or did she say, one of the first? - can't remember!), the others being librarians. Will I ever stop subscribing? No!

For subscriptions contact:

The Secretary, Reading Time, PO Box 4062, Ashmont, NSW 2650.

Tel. (02) 6925 4907


You may subscribe to the quarterly journal without becoming a member of the CBCA.

Children's Book Council of Australia website:

  • The Victorian Writer

This is the 22-page monthly journal of the Victorian Writers' Centre in Melbourne, sent to all members. Inside the front cover is a mass of details concerning the Centre, Member Benefits and a huge list of bookshops, cinemas and other businesses that give discounts to VWC members.

The Editorial Page, written by Joel Becker, is lively and informative in regard to the latest news on the writing scene and plans for the future. This is followed by news of the International Conference on the Book, the emerging writers' festival and details of Support for Creator Professional Development under a fund introduced by CAL. Milestones is a listing of members' most recent publishing achievements. Photographs and brief bionotes accompany photos of Three authors nominated for Order of Australia.

More news includes a notice of a conference, Community Development in a Global Risk Society, at Deakin University, a report on A deadly year for journalists and, from the literary journal, Eureka Street, an explanation of the decision to take up the on-line challenge.

There are several pages of detailed information on Workshops, Seminars and Events for March and April, and the VWC AGM, featuring a talk by Hannie Rayson. Lee Kofman's essay, Hamlet in the Classroom, an edited extract of an essay that appeared in 'Griffith Review', is the literary feature of the journal this month (March 2006).

I always open first to the double-page spread of Competitions, set out under two headings: 'Major awards and prizes' and 'Competitions'. I often find a competition (either poetry or short story) that suits me. Opportunities is another double, featuring notices useful to writers: Australian Writer's Marketplace call for Listings, National Library Week – State Coordinators sought, Next Wave – volunteer opportunity, Children's Literature Fund, Volunteer Writer Wanted, Salvos Seek Writers, Fantasy Callout, Darebin Theatre Project, Positive Words seeks submissions, Romance Writers of Australia, goes live, Tongue in Cheek (cabaret seeking artists).

The final page is the Calendar, notifying what's on, where and how to get involved: a weekend of literary and arts activities, a writers' salon, panels of readings, conferences, a writers' group birthday party, poetry readings in pubs and other venues, radio shows galore, including book reviews and news. Thursdays are the busiest with a choice of six events.

Several advertisements are interspersed throughout, including the International Women's Day fundraiser, Greater Dandenong-AMES Writing Awards, Fast Track Writing Tutorials, Melbourne Prize for Literature, 2006, Penfolk Publishing and BePublished, Manuscript Assessment Serivce; small classified ads include: Computer Services, Your quiet writing retreat, and Create a Kids' Book. Inside the back cover is a list of thirteen books on writing that can be ordered in the VWC Books by Mail offer. On the back cover is a Membership Application and a Workshop Booking Form.

Being a member of the VWC is worthwhile because there are discounts on all Centre activities, courses and publications, a monthly newsletter, free advertising, discounts available from businesses, photocopying at low rates, use of the Centre's reference and lending library and concession membership rates for people living in regional areas.

Victorian Writers' Centre, First Floor, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000

Tel. (03) 9654 4751

Office Administrator: Mary Napier

  • Australian Book Review

Although my main interest is writing for children, I like to know what is being published in other areas, so I began subscribing about 25 years ago. Until recently ABR (11 times a year) was mainly a review journal including Editorial, Letters to the Editor, a six-to-eight page essay, advertising, and reviews in the categories of art, politics, society, reference, history, journals, anthologies, business, memoir, science, natural history, literary criticism, philosophy, cultural studies, Aboriginal studies, fiction, poetry and children's books. Reviews took up at least seven-eights of the 64 pages, with six-to-eight pages devoted to reviews of children's books.

I was shocked and disappointed in August 2002 when reviews of children's books were dropped. Several changes had been made to the journal in the previous year: fewer reviews and the addition of poetry and columns, such as Commentaries, Author Author!, National News, Diaries, Letters from (various locations) – taking up to one third of the available space. Also, space for reviews of children's books had shrunk to two double spreads.

A writer friend and I wrote protest letters, and my friend's, which was more diplomatic than mine, was published. No editorial comment was made. Since then, reviews of children's books have appeared three or four times a year – usually six pages. Children's titles are important in the book publishing economy and are rarely accorded their worth in terms of reviewing space in newspapers so the reduction in space in ABR was keenly felt. I can understand the public's ignorance of children's books and the importance of learning to read for both entertainment and information, but I thought the members of the ABR Board and Editorial Advisers would know better. Where is the next generation of adult readers coming from?

More changes have been made to ABR since 2002(now 10 issues per year, including two double-issues), with more columns and an extra essay being added, and reviews take only half of the available space. It's a literary rather than a dedicated review journal. The latest, March 2006, is 'The Art Issue', which includes 17 pages of fascinating reviews of art books and six pages of poetry. No children's books.

I am a journal junkie, and want to give more time to reading books, so I will have to drop some of my subscriptions. For the last four years I've been threatening to drop this one. Perhaps this is my last year.

Australian Book Review, PO Box 2320, Richmond South, Victoria 3121

Tel. (03) 9429 6700

  • Bookseller+Publisher

A change of name (from Australian Bookseller & Publisher) accompanies the March 2006 issue. This is THE monthly journal for publishers and retailers, and canny writers wouldn't miss it. From this month it will be sold to the general public, as well as by subscription, through a small number of bookselling outlets. Interest is wide and growing, with many people wanting to 'get inside books and the book industry'.

Every month the journal carries the latest news on publishing – books soon to be released and those that are taking off internationally; the comings and goings of publishers and retailing personnel; the acquisitions and amalgamations of publishing houses; which publishers are agents for particular presses; new imprints; news of campaigns, such as 'Books Alive'; the location and content of conferences; which authors are on tour; 'wheeling and dealing' – rights sold internationally; a Bookseller's Diary; an interview with a publisher; lists of bestsellers…

Each month has a focus, such as books for Mothers' Day (March), and themes, such as gardening, cooking, sports, travel, leisure, Fathers' Day, Christmas… At appropriate times, financial figures for national and international publishing are listed.

The central segment for March is Junior Bookseller+Publisher, with news on both trade and education publishing for children – of great interest to librarians, teachers, writers and illustrators. It features pre-publication reviews, an article by Hazel Edwards on the theme of the Children's Book Council of Australia Book Week, 'Book Now'; two interviews by Di Bates: one with Mark Macleod, President of the National CBCA which is celebrating its 60th birthday, and the other with Terri Cornish who is experienced in the business of book-buying – both trade and educational – 'and knows a thing or two about what sells'. In 'New Kid on the Block', Scott Whitmont explains his decision to open a second Sydney store devoted entirely to children's titles. Faith Sands examines censorship and the problems inherent in deciding what is 'appropriate' for children. Jo Case describes the latest developments in teaching and literacy, and in the 'learning at home' movement.

Junior Bookseller+Publisher will be published three times a year. The May issue will include the official news of the CBCA 'Book Now!' Conference.

My subscription to Bookseller+ Publisher is an absolute must. I devour the journal as soon as it arrives. If you need to see publishing and retailing news more often, subscribe to the Weekly Book Newsletter.

Bookseller+Publisher, PO Box 101 (Building C3, 85 Turner Street), Port Melbourne 3207.

Tel. (03) 8645 0300


Magpies Magazine is a high quality, 46-page, independent children's literature review journal in its 21st year of publication – five issues per year. Half of the space is devoted to articles and interviews and the remainder to reviews.

Every issue begins with 'Editor's Comments' – Rayma Turton's timely, interesting, perceptive, challenging remarks on the children's literature scene. The March 2006 issue includes interviews with David Fickling, English publisher at David Fickling Books, whose latest outstanding release is John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. When David Fickling was at Oxford University Press, he discovered Philip Pullman, now famous for the His Dark Materials trilogy. Major reviews follow: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Guus Kuijer (trans. John Nieuwenhuizen) The Book of Everything (Allen & Unwin) – both books currently 'infringing comfort zones' worldwide. The 'Know the Author & Illustrator' column features forty years' of creativity by the Kate Greenaway Medalist, Helen Oxenbury, written by Robin Morrow.

Kerry White's 'Writing Reading Teaching Poetry' is a series of reviews of the latest poetry collections releases, including Lorraine Marwood's That Downhill Yelling, (Five Islands Press) -a description of its launch being described recently in PIO. The full page cover book review, written by Nola Allen, captures the magic of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Candlewick Press). Suzanne Eggins evaluates the work of German author, magical realist Cornelia Funke, whose highly regarded works are, at last, available in English.

The review pages are presented under headings: 'Older Picture Books' (enjoyed by a wide age range of readers, or for ages 7+); 'Before School' (up to 5 years); 'Beginning Readers' (children gaining confidence in reading: 5-8 years); 'Independent Readers' (longer, more complex stories for competent readers); 'Extending Readers' (mature themes for children and young adults with extended reading skills); and 'Information Books'. The March issue also has columns on 'Illustrated Classics' and 'Series Briefs'.

The journal concludes with 'The Magpies Collection': 'Vale' - brief notes on the death of three creators - Bill Scott, Jan Mark and Stan Berenstain; Roland Harvey receiving the coveted award, the Dromkeen Medal; American Children's and Young Adult Book Awards – including two Australians, Margot Lanagan and Markus Zusak; 'Reprints of Note'; and the finalists in the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2006. The journal is lavishly illustrated throughout and includes advertisements for the latest releases by Australian publishers.

Some people say that, as there is some overlap in reviews of books, they subscribe to either Magpies or Reading Time. Reading Time has more reviews; Magpies is more literary. I subscribe to both, and couldn't abandon either.

Subscriptions: Australia

Magpies Magazine, c/- Subscriptions, PO Box 98, Grange, Qld, 4051

Tel. (07) 3356 4503 Fax. (07) 3356 4649

Subscriptions: New Zealand

Magpies Magazine, c/- Jabberwocky Children's Bookshop, 202 Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland

Tel. (9) 630 6827 Fax. (9) 630 6809

  • the australian writer

The official newsletter (16 pages) of The Fellowship of Australian Writers (Vic), mailed to members five times per year, is an elegant publication.

It begins with an Editorial column by Jacinta Cleary, followed by FAW News. April/May 2006 announces the sad news of the death of Madeleine Brunato-Arthur OAM, the founder of the FAW (SA), and the close of the SA branch; a National FAW convention as part of the Melbourne Writers' Festival in late August; the updating of the FAW (Vic) database and opportunities for members to offer services; the forthcoming program of Writers@ Gasworks; Minutes of FAW committee meetings available on; a list of new and upgraded members.

Regional branch news follows, with addresses and personnel included for easy contact. Included in a page of Events are the St Kilda Writers' Festival; the Art of Difference Festival; workshops; a book launch; the Conflux 2 Speculative Fiction Convention; Flat Chat Press Children's Writing Camp, Annual Writers Camp and Readings at Volumes Restaurant, Eltham; Sydney Writers' Festival.

Opportunities lists competitions, opportunities for Young Writers and a Survey of Publishers. Goldie Alexander is the writer of the FAW Feature in which she describes her visit to Romania for a writers' cultural exchange program. In Want to hit the road to write or research?, two opportunities are outlined: Asialink literature residencies (non-academic department of the University of Melbourne) and Res Artis (based in the Netherlands), also offering overseas residencies.

The 2005 FAW National Literary Awards Results are listed: Book Awards (3), Manuscript Awards (8), Young Writers' Awards (6), the FAW Christopher Brennan Award, and a notice in regard to the 2006 National Literary Awards.

A Book Review is followed by two listings: Members' Books recently published, and Member Achievements.

Member Page is devoted to poet, novelist, writer of short stories, articles and scripts, Michael Dugan (1947-2006). Phil Ilton's 'Vale Michael Dugan' describes him as a 'consummate writer, exemplar humanitarian, FAW stalwart'. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the FAW for 35 years, Vice-President 1994-2006, Minutes Secretary for a lengthy period, and provided his expertise freely to members who queried in regard to publishing contracts. His writing career started at the age of 17 years and the State Library of Victoria holds 218 of his titles. The tribute concludes: 'An erudite (his knowledge of literature and publishing was encyclopaedic) and gentle soul, Michael is deeply missed by his family, friends and the FAW. His death is a great loss to readers, writers and the community.'

The newsletter concludes with an annotated list of Writing groups, with contact details, and Information about FAW (Vic): membership, names of Life Members and the Committee, FAW links and requirements in regard to advertising. The back cover displays splendid colour photographs from the FAW National Literary Awards presentation at Stonnington (Toorak) on 31 March 2006.

Membership of the FAW (Vic) is important to me – the basis of early encouragement as a writer and a constant fund of useful information – and I would not relinquish it. (I think that non-Victorian writers may be able to subscribe to the australian writer without being members of the FAW (Vic). I'll verify in the next PIO.)

Philip Rainford, President, FAW (Vic), PO Box 973, Eltham, Victoria 3095.

Tel (03) 9431 5573; Fax 9431 5244

Jacinta Cleary, Editor, the australian writer, 38A Murphy Street, Richmond, Vic. 3121

  • Children's Book Insider

A highly practical monthly eight-page newsletter from the US. Under the heading Presstime, the first two pages list detailed requests for submissions from book publishers and magazines; updates on publishers' needs and the movements of personnel; contests, workshops and conferences; information about the latest Children's Authors' Bootcamp; and a monthly brief 'Career Tip'.

Pages 3, 7 and 8 are headed: Writing Workshop, The Basics and Your Publishing Career: down-to-earth, useful pages. In the last four months, some of the titles have been: 'Writing Tight', 'How to Make an Editor Fall in Love with your Manuscript', 'Words to Snip', 'Dialogue Tells the Story', 'Energize Plot and Characters with Setting' and 'Illustration Workshop'.

The centre of the Newsletter is a Special Report - a double-page authoritative article enlivened with examples from children's books followed by a useful Side Bar listing. In March, Ellen Javernick's' 'A Baker's Dozen for Beginning Writers' presents useful tips for new writers, followed by a list of recommended books that teach the basics. In February, 'An Award-Winning Author's Secrets of Crafting a Plot,' by Nancy Sondel.

From the Editor, page 6, contains a message of wit and wisdom from Laura Backes. She reads widely and is familiar with all aspects of children's writing, illustrating and publishing. As well, she and author Linda Arms White run regular Boot Camps in many states, so she is well aware of the needs of creators.

(If you happen to be travelling to the US, it could be worthwhile checking the whereabouts of the next Boot Camps. Attendance can be claimed as a tax expense. See or e-mail Linda White at

Children's Book Insider, LLC, 901 Columbia Road, Ft Collins, CO 80525-1838, USA.

Editor: Jon Bard; Publisher: Laura Backes



Subscription price: 12 issues US$34 in the US (Canada: US$38; other countries: US$43).

For a free catalogue, send a message to:

I have been reading CBI for four years and, during that time it has provided an opening for my journalism strand: eight articles published. Payment is US$25 plus half subscription, so, after the initial payment, it has been a freebie!

  • The Literature Base

This 31-page quarterly journal, edited by Rayma Turton, is from the same stable as the review journal, Magpies. A must for classroom teachers, it links books with their potential for use in classrooms, providing a range of language activities and enrichment by means of literature links.

Every issue includes two main topics or themes presented by professionals working in library and children's literature fields - treated in depth. In May 2006 the topics are Book Week Ideas for Display and Activities, written by Lyn Linning and Rayma Turton, and Part 2 of Kevin Steinberger's Desertification Around the World (Part 1 having been published in the previous issue). The journal is highly-practical, some suggestions being accompanied by pages that may be copied for classroom use.

Inside the front or back cover is Book Ends – the latest children's literature news and short reviews of recently released books. This month, the short listing for the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards is included.

For the last three years Lorraine Marwood's Tips for Writing Poetry have graced the last pages. These must be a goldmine for classroom teachers who like to encourage children to write free poetry. So many kids believe that poetry must rhyme, and they always produce doggerel! This month, the topic is 'Funny Poems', with Lorraine suggesting two strategies and explaining them enticingly.

Subscriptions: The Literature Base, PO Box 98 Grange, Qld 4051

Tel. (07) 3356 4503; Fax: (07) 3356 4649


Annual subscription: within Australia $35; New Zealand NZ$45.95.

Send NZ subscriptions to: Jabberwocky Children's Bookshop, 202 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland

Tel: (9) 630 6809

All other countries: AUD$50.

Why do I subscribe? Having been a teacher, I'm interested in what happens in classrooms and links with children's literature. Also, as my second writing strand is journalism, occasionally I find opportunities for publication of articles.

New writers, anxious about visits to classrooms, will find a multitude of ideas and activities that can be transposed to other texts.


I have been subscribing to this 80-page, practical, monthly US journal since 1980, and find it extremely useful. It's like attending several writing classes each month. While writing for children is mentioned only occasionally, much of the advice is useful for all writers.

The Contributing Editors are successful in different fields - journalism, fiction, poetry – and their articles are always helpful. Children's writers can learn something and apply it to their field. For example, a series of articles by Nancy Cress, a highly successful science fiction writer for adults, focussed on the basics: plot, characterization, style, dialogue… Whether we write for children or for adults, most of us need constant reminders.

The journal opens with Inkwell: pages of fresh ideas, tips, news and inspiration for living the writing life. 'You can't patent an idea, can you?', 'The Highly Successful Habits of Debut Authors', 'E-learning at NewsU', 'A (Really) Young Author Hits the Scene' – are some of the titles. Keep up-to-date with the latest in hardware and software.

Book Buzz introduces a new book, discusses it and prints an excerpt. This month (I'm reading the April issue as I pay the surface mail subscription) it's Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. It shows that the line between memoir and fiction is a 'moving target'.

Among the Fiction Essentials this month is 'Putting dialogue to Work', by James Scott Bell and The Perfect Pause - when it's time to give sentences a little breathing space with semicolons, colons and the dash.

The Writing Clinic includes a short story, poem, article or first chapter of a novel, analyses its strengths and weaknesses, and gives suggestions on how it could be improved. This month it's 'Poetry with a Kick': 'give poems a shot in the arm by eliminating clichés and including specifics'.

The journal always includes interviews with successful writers, both new and established, young and old – all inspirational – and, this month, advice on getting an agent and a large list of agents and their requirements.

Mind Your Business explains 'Tax Relief' and The Markets has six pages of guidelines and requirements for magazines, book publishers and agents.

Writer's Digest sponsors annual Short Story Awards in various categories, with prizes worth up to US$3000, and the Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards – with more than US$15,000 in prizes.

Writer's Digest Editorial Offices, 4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati OH 45236, USA

Editor: Kristen D. Godsey

Writer's Digest Subscription Service, PO Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142, USA

Annual subscription: US$36. Foreign subscriptions: add US$10 surface mail and US$39 airmail.


PS:- Each month, Writer's Digest features a site under the heading, 'Worthy on the Web'. E-learning at NewsU (as in News University, features e-learning programs. In April it celebrated the anniversary of its official launch in 2005. A project of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, NewsU provides training for both beginners and experienced writers.

For some of the e-courses, fees are charged – especially those that are designed for groups. But there are many free, self-directed lessons on the site, and you can sign for them and return when it suits you to complete them.

For example, a journalist may take a self-study course titled, 'The Lead Lab' that is designed to help the writer strengthen article openings. 'Lousy Listeners – How to Avoid Being One' assists with interviewing skills. 'Cleaning Your Copy" – how to avoid common style, grammar and punctuation errors. 'Get Me Rewrite' – review and improve your writing through the craft of revision. The last two are useful whether you are writing for adults or for children

Many of the courses, such as the interactive quizzes and exercises, are designed to be completed in one to two hours. However, some require Flash plug-in to operate.

As a break from lessons, the site offers other learning resources, including a series of 'Cool Links'. Try them!

  • Edel Wignell continues her series of descriptions of the journals to which she subscribes – this time, a freebie!

The eight-page Ozwords (Oxford University Press in partnership with The Australian National Dictionary Centre, Australian National University, Canberra) published twice a year, examines Aussie English. The content always includes one or two serious, detailed studies of some aspect of the language. Sometimes there are several shorter items.

In the Editorial of the latest issue, April 2006, Frederick Ludowyk outlines, in humorous vein, the recent controversy over Tourism Australia's international television advertisement, and remarks on taboos on words in various countries.

The first article is Advance Australia, Frederick Ludowyk's lively study of the origins and use of the term which has a long and interesting history, independent of its place in the Australian National Anthem. It began as a patriotic catchphrase, eventually achieved the status of a national slogan and, by 1904, was our 'national motto'.

Mailbag includes readers' responses to articles in the last Ozwords and requests for enlightenment on particular word origins and definitions, with replies.

From the Centre, written by Bruce Moore, Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, describes the work in finalizing choices of entries for a new edition of the Australian National Dictionary (which has quotations from newspapers, magazines, books, etc) that illustrate how the word has been used – a quotation from each decade. He requests help from readers, with printed evidence for certain dates, and lists the words. For example, among the idioms, 'a stubby short of a six-pack: before 1996'.

The second major article, Using the Web to Decide What's Dinkum, is by Alan Walker, an innovative Melbourne software developer who has recently started creating word games for computers and mobile phones.

The back page is always Ozwords Competition – entertaining submissions by subscribers. The last competition was to choose any Australian animal (fish, flesh or fowl) and create a simile that provides a needed and/or witty addition to the Australian lexicon. Some of these are:

As garrulous as a galah (M. Manoy)

As brazen as a butcher bird (B. Yell)

Second prize is books to the value of $50, and First Prize – books to the value of $100, from the OUP catalogue. The next competition is in two parts: What is your favourite Australian word? Or, what Australian word best sums up Australian values? (reasons to be written in no more than 25 words).

Ozwords is available twice-yearly, free of charge, from The Subscription Manager, Ozwords, GPO Box 2784Y, Melbourne, Victoria 3001.

If you are interested in language and would like to write an article for Ozwords, note that you don't have to present a detailed study; these are contributed by academics and the editor. I have had two short articles published (see one of these below). Instead of receiving a fee as payment, the writer chooses from the splendid Oxford Reference Books Catalogue – a mouthwatering selection – to the value of $100.

I find the evolution of the English language a fascinating study. For example, nearly every day on radio and television I hear new additions to verbs. Once we said, 'I remember the Darwin cyclone.' Now I hear, 'I remember back to the Darwin cyclone.' My article, Get to Go and other Verbal Atrocities, was a response to this observation.

  • Edel Wignell concludes her series of descriptions of the journals to which she subscribes.

Newspapers. I don't actually subscribe, but I buy and read 'The Age' six days per week, and I include it under the subscriptions heading in the expenses section of my Day Book. I read 'The Australian' on Saturdays, as well.

Newspapers are allowable as taxation deductions for writers. At present, I'm finalizing the Income and Expenses columns in my Day Book in preparation for a visit to my Taxation Consultant. If you read a newspaper daily and don't include it as an expense, you will be surprised at the amount of the deduction you can claim. For me in the financial year 2005-06, it is $532.80.

Many people don't read newspapers. They're 'time poor', and radio and television provide enough news. Someone said, 'If you don't read the newspaper in the morning, you might as well not read it.' Mornings are my best working time, so I don't read it then. I hear early morning and midday news on radio, and watch television news in the evening.

I don't actually buy the newspaper for the news. After dinner is my reading time - a quick glance at the newspaper, and then I read fiction. The glance provides detail on some aspect of news if I need to know more than has been provided by radio and television. Then I look more closely at the magazine sections, for this is where I often find inspiration for writing.

Every day I see information that could be starting points for fiction, non-fiction, play scripts and poetry for children. For example, an article about cicadas inspired the award-winning poem, 'Insect Drummers' in a Yellow Moon Nature Poetry Competition. A snippet in the 'Odd Spot' about a cat's death-defying antics was perfect for a segment in a short story of 5000 words which won the Mary Grant Bruce Short Story Award. A junior novel, Hands Up!, was sparked by reports of true crime – two prison escapees hiding in a National Forest. What if a blind girl and her father are on a fishing trip, the father becomes a hostage and the girl has to find her way to their van to phone the police?

Another 'Odd Spot' described a marvellous birthday cake prepared for an African leader. It inspired a picture-story, King Beast's Birthday, about a lion (called King Boast behind his back) that has to have the biggest and best of everything, including a cake so tall he climbs a step-ladder to light the candles. He falls into the icing while the animals sing, 'Happy Birthday, King Boast!'

Once, when I was invited to teach an 'Inspiration for Writing' class at the Melbourne CAE, I asked the participants to bring a newspaper to the 2nd session. They turned the pages and brainstormed in pairs, then shared their ideas with the class. The wealth and variety was amazing.

So don't scorn newspapers. People who read them are never short of inspiration. If you're stuck right now, go and browse – even the local freebie rag yields ideas.

  • Edel Wignell writes: Not long ago, I wrote about the journals to which I subscribe. There are other splendid ones that I didn't describe as I have too many subscriptions already. Authors who are interested in writing for teens and young adults will find the following journal fascinating. (If I wrote for this market, I would certainly subscribe to it.)

Viewpoint: On Books for Young Adults

The Spring issue (Vol. 14, No. 3) opens with a splendid, well-researched, four-page article, 'Teenage Chick Lit', by Diana Hodge, then words by Maurice Saxby, who launched The Loved and the Lost, a biography of Ivan Southall, by Stephany Evans Steggall, at Books Illustrated in June, and a review of the book by John Foster.

The 48-page journal continues with reviews, articles and interviews – all of the highest quality. Most fascinating are side-by-side reviews and a descriptive pieces: for example, Anna Ryan Punch's review of Bye, Beautiful, written by Julia Lawrinson, followed by Julia Lawrinson's 'The Particular Kinds of Silence' in which she describes her family and outlines the events that led to the writing of the book. The journal ends with seven pages of short reviews of books and audio notes.

(In a recent PIO someone asked whether there are any guidelines or rules in regard to writing reviews. There certainly are, and I thought someone working in the library field would reply, suggesting titles of books that include this information. Read Viewpoint for examples of outstanding reviewing.

A review should be as enticing as a book. For example, Sam Gill's review of Ads R Us, written by Claire Carmichael, begins: 'What would the world be like if it were completely controlled and overrun by advertising?' Much so-called reviewing is just a synopsis of a storyline, followed by a couple of sentences of praise – merely publicity. Being time-poor, I skip these when I encounter them, usually in e-newsletters.)

Subscriptions to Viewpoint (four issues per year) Australia $46.20 (includes $4.20 GST and postage in Australia); $AUD50 (NZ and PNG); Other overseas destinations $AUD58.

Rosemary Nairn

Subscriptions Officer

Pam Macintyre


Viewpoint: On Books for Young Adults

PO Box 4286

The University of Melbourne

Parkville 3052

Tel. (03) 8344 8616 Fax (03) 8344 0025


website: http//

  • Edel Wignell writes:

Not long ago, I described the journals to which I subscribe. I forgot about a freebie.

Play and Folklore, a six-monthly journal, is celebrating 25 years of publication with the same editors: Dr June Factor and Dr Gwenda Beed Davey. Launched in 1981 as Australian Children's Folklore Newsletter, it was produced in association with the Australian Children's Folklore Collection at the Institute of Early Childhood Development in Melbourne. The collection is now housed at Museum Victoria, and the journal is published by the Museum.

Anyone who is interested in children's playlore may contribute. Many people have sent articles describing memories of games played in school grounds, skipping and other play rhymes, chants, taunts and insults, war cries, charms…, as well as serious studies.

The October 2006 issue includes '"Blown Away" by Folklore' - an article by Jill Watson who was 12-years-old when she produced a collection of games and accompanying rhymes. Several pages have been reproduced with Jill's description of her project (1996-97).

Bruno Werner Weinmann, whose family and friends were interned as enemy aliens during World War II, contributes 'Play in an Internment Camp', and Karryn Argus describes 'Rust Hopscotch' – an installation which, she writes, 'connects me to family, my grandparents, and to a sense of my history and my "place".'

View it at:

The major article describes Dr Michael M. Patte's study, 'What's Happened to Recess? Examining Time Devoted to Recess in Pennsylvania's Elementary Schools'. Dr Patte is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education at Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania, USA. The results are alarming. Many school districts in the United States are reducing or eliminating time devoted to recess, due to increasing school and teacher accountability for student performance on US state-mandated standardised tests and the belief that time is more wisely spent on academic subjects. Recesses are greatly needed for children's emotional, physical and mental well-being, and deprivation is disastrous. Read this article and don't let it happen in Australia!

The final contribution, by Dave de Hugard - one of Australia's best-known performers and folklorists - is a poem which he learnt in Bundaberg in 1950. He asks: 'Anyone Remember This?' It begins:

A kid in our house this morning

Drove his parents nearly mad:

In 2004, the Australian Children's Folklore Collection was honoured by UNESCO and listed on its Australia Memory of the World Register as an outstanding, nationally and internationally significant archive of children's playlore.

The latest news is that, in July 2006, the Australian Research Council announced the award of a four-year grant for a project titled 'Childhood, Tradition and Change: a national study of the historical and contemporary practices and significance of Australian children's folklore'. The research team will produce the first comprehensive national analysis of the continuity and variation of Australian children's playlore from the 1950s to the present. It is expected to make a major contribution to international playlore and cultural heritage studies, and to Australian histories of childhood. (Reference: Editorial, Play and Folklore No. 48, October 2006).

Play and Folklore – two issues per year - is published by the History & Technology Department, Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666, Victoria, Australia 3001.

Tel. (+61 3) 8341 7378.


Editorial address: Dr June Factor, Australian Centre, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3010

Tel. (+61 3) 8344 7235; Fax. (+61 3) 93477731