I am very proud to announce that I am now an official sponsor of a Story Dogsteam here on the Sunshine Coast, sponsoring Ella and Charlie (pictured). Story Dogs is a registered charity that supports literacy programs in schools by sending in a volunteer human-canine partnership to help students on their paths to becoming confident, enthusiastic readers.
I first came across the concept several years ago via an American website and then looked for a similar program in Australia. I looked into volunteering with my Golden Retriever Daisy, but quickly realised Daisy was too much of a clown and I didn’t think we’d pass the behaviour test! Now, with my son starting Prep this year, I came across the program again and was truly excited to discover that I could add my name to the list of enthusiastic sponsors who help to keep this program running around the nation.
While the sponsorship money is pooled across the country to ensure that no child misses out, the beautiful faces of my personal sponsorship are Ella and Charlie, who volunteer at St Thomas Moore primary school here on the Sunshine Coast, and I have committed to sponsoring a Story Dogs team each year that my son is in primary school.
As a former English teacher and now author, I know that reading is the keystone skill to a life of opportunity.
You don’t have to be an official sponsor to help out too. You can donate or volunteer your time. Just visit the Story Dogs website at www.storydogs.org.au.
Did you know I’m still an aspiring writer? Four books published and another scheduled for 2018 and I’m still in the same place as so many other writers out there: the beginning.
My heart still burns with the passion, frustration and disappointment of the unpublished writer. Why? Because I want to be a children’s author.
Right now, I have half a dozen picture book manuscripts ‘marinating’ in my hard drive, and one young readers’ (7-10 year old) 30,000-word chapter book bursting with promise to get out into the world.
(Me with my pony Sparky, who stars as a character in my children’s writing.)
The reality of publishing is that is is difficult to cross that magic line and become “published”; and this is even more true for those of us who aspire to be children’s authors. Like so many of you out there, I too am writing, editing, sending out for review, submitting, following competitions and so on. It still doesn’t feel that long ago that I was in this position as a totally unpublished writer. The feelings are all too familiar!
It might be tempting for me to think, oh well, I already achieved the dream of being a published author and making a living from my writing, why bother chasing another one? Here’s why I am so passionate about making this dream come true.
Because reading as a child changed me fundamentally as a human being and made me the writer I am today.
Because I am a mother, and therefore I read hundreds of books to my son and I SEE him changing with every one we read.
And because I am a mother, it would be my greatest joy and honour to be able to cuddle up with him in bed and read to him a book that I wrote myself.
Because I want my son to be able to read Australian stories written by Australian authors.
Because in my heart I am an educator (and former English teacher), and being able to read and write is the number one skill a human being can have to empower her to change her life. And literacy begins in the laps of the parents who read to their children.
And finally, and probably most pressingly, because I have scores of stories and characters bumbling around in my head who are desperate to get out there into the world!
So here I am, an aspiring author, working away invisibly alongside so many other aspiring authors, wanting to write the best books I can possibly create to bring the greatest gifts to the world.
This is precisely why I write books: to make people feel good.
I love this story. From May this year, ‘Books on Prescription’ will begin in the UK, with doctors able to ‘prescribe’ a book to assist a patient and improve their mood. The books include both non-fiction and fiction, as well as poetry. It’s also hoped the scheme could help the struggling libraries. Win-win. How wonderful!
In the first couple of months after my baby was born, life was pretty insane in our house. Something I missed the most was reading and it was only when I began to learn how to get the reading time back into my life that I started to feel normal again. I always read before going to sleep, something that’s a very powerful mood producing activity for me. I literally feel stressed if I don’t have a good book nearby to delve into.
But it has to be the right kind of book. For me, there’s no point in reading something angst-ridden, violent, negative, sarcastic or miserable in order to feel better. Uplifting, comforting, engaging and fun–that’s what I want to read and that’s what I want to write.
My contemporary fiction novel, The Tea Chest, about three Australian women thrust together in a bid to sell tea to the English, will be out in 2014. And if you’re looking for something to make you feel good (a book that reads like a chocolate brownie tastes) then it might just be the book for you.