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Catching Fire vs The Desolation of Smaug

Published January 29, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

When it comes to film adaptations there is often a chicken/egg debate over which is superior, but in Catching Fire, the second instalment of the Hunger Games Trilogy,  we see the perfect example of where the book is complimented by the beautifully envisioned film. While there were a couple of scenes that were far more effective on the page (“it begins at 12” and Peeta’s demonstration to the game makers for example) there were others that were made for the big screen (Finnick, Katniss’s demonstration and wedding dress twirl).
Obviously the emphasis on the fashion,  style and glamour of The Capitol in contrast to the dreary drudgery of the outer districts lends itself to an imaginative costume and sets design team but as in the first film and book this aspect cannot be overrated.  It is to Suzanne Collins’ credit that she has created The Hunger Games this way.  I just can’t wait to pour over a photo book of the film.  Either that or repeatedly pressing pause on the DVD to admire as many of the costumes as I can.  In the meantime, I can drool my eyes over this article: http://www.graziadaily.co.uk/fashion/news/katniss-everdeen-wedding-dress-hunger-games–catching-fire-tex-saverio

Particularly if you have read Mocking Jay you will realise that there are flaws in Suzanne Collins’ storytelling (a convenient coma, me thinks) but Panam itself is a very solidly imagined world and in many ways this is the foundation of the entire series.  I am waiting with heightened anticipation for the film of Mocking Jay (perhaps an opportunity to take artistic licence and tidy up the Prim issue), and best of all a Hunger Games marathon.  But wait, the final film is to be one of those 2 part dealies.  Oh well.  The first two have been brilliantly paced so let’s hope the next two live up to this standard.

The Hobbit films (An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug) on the other hand are an example of where more is just too much.  To be honest I was pretty much over Middle Earth about 20 minutes before the end of The Return of the King, or 20 minutes into it even.  I know Peter Jackson thinks he’s a hobbit having a human experience but talk about a different interpretation – I totally did not agree with comical relationship between Legolas and Gimli in The Two Towers, and to me the interpretation of Faramir was all wrong.  I have read The Hobbit, and to the chagrin of my Tolkien loving family I pretty much dismissed it as a “boy-book” and went back to trying to be as awesome as Claudia in the Babysitter books.  I was glad that I read The Hobbit because I knew  what the hippy kids were talking about when they referred to their spot in the play ground as “Mirkwood”, and there was something very exciting about having a grand adventure thrust upon one.  But is that any excuse for making the first two Hobbit movies we have seen?  I haven’t read The Silmarillion which is apparently where some of the additional characters, storylines and general backstory comes from, but I totally agree with my now 16 year old cousin who described The Desolation of Smaug as “padded”.  It would have been fine to adapt The Hobbit into one or even 2 films, but three seems a bit excessive (two of the three cousins who saw the movie over Christmas had a power-nap while it was on).  Rather than likening The Desolation of Smaug to Catching Fire, I could have easily compared it to Spielberg’s 2005 War of the Worlds, which I came across on a JAL flight and watched for about 45 minutes before realising I was on the Japanese language channel:  not a lot of dialogue, just a lot of CGI and long sweeping shots of explosions and stuff.

I have to agree with Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien, who made the following statement about the LoTR adaptations in July 2012:

“They gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25 year olds. And it seems that The Hobbit will be of the same ilk. Tolkien became…devoured by his popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of the time. The gap widened between the beauty, the seriousness of the work, and what it has become is beyond me. This level of marketing reduces to nothing the aesthetic and philosophical significance of this work.”

Source: http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Here-Why-Peter-Jackson-Can-t-Make-More-Tolkien-Adaptations-Even-He-Wanted-40760.html

So in conclusion I reflect on the style and pace of the YA novel that I #amwriting.  It is neither post apocalyptic dystopian or high fantasy, or even a film, so what does this comparison have to do with my semi-autobiographical social realist artfully arranged words?  After languishing in the bottom draw of my writing desk I have pulled out and dusted off the manuscript and am now pondering the pace and the padding.  Fantasy is my genre of choice and series such as Harry Potter, The Ranger’s Apprentice and the Witches of Eilenan highlight how effective a strong back story can be.  However, the balancing act is to consider which darlings will live and which will be reincarnated as eggs in future baskets.  I shall have to nut it out over coffee and just hope that if anyone ever adapts my book to film they’ll do it justice, and maybe even prove that a good book is complimented by turning it into a good film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HqYfI5l1u0&list=PLoBEvt3kNj9KrKO5wrrRBCgL-XC5wrNwW

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The Doo-Doo’s in the Details

Published December 12, 2011 by electricbluegaloo

This week when I heard a ten-year old passionate writer tell her friend “I’ve written 16 pages and I’m not even up to the complication yet!” I thought it was deja vous.  This type of writing is only interesting to the writer, not to the reader.  They don’t know what’s going to happen after all this introduction. Why should they stick with it?

It sounded exactly the way I used to write.  That was until I met Mark MacLeod, editor and children’s author.

I met Mark at a publishing consultation at the NSW Writers’ Centre about a week after my first child was born.  I thought at the time that was why he was so gentle with my other baby – Isa Ines and the Monkey Man.  He was gentle, but I went home and murdered all my darlings.

In my first drafts of Isa Ines and the Monkey Man I lovingly laboured over every languid lexicon.  And then I forced my friends to read it.  I even made the pretence of leaving the room, but listened at the door as they ooh-ed and aaah-ed over my poetic potential.  I also made my students read it and they loved me so they said they loved my story.

And then Mark basically told me my writing was crap!

Well, not in so few words but I could tell from the pained expression on his face that I was going about it all wrong.  Actually, I’ll revise that.  I was going about it all old fashioned, and also a bit . . . well, crap.

Mark gave me two pieces of advice which have vastly improved my writing (I invite you to look at “My Writing” posts and decide for yourself).

1. Verbs increase the pace of the story and make it more interesting.  Adjectives slow it down.  I was drowning in adjectives.  I now know that you have to think about the effect you want to create.  Basically, I do the modern thing and only add adjectives if they serve a purpose. 

A great example of this is in John Flanagan’s The Burning Bridge in which he described a character as having blonde hair.  Ok, no biggie, lots of people have blonde hair.  But till that point his physical descriptions of characters had always been so purposeful – Will is little, Horace is big, Halt is shaggy and unkempt, and these all add to the plot in some way.  I will not spoil the story if you’re mad enough not to have read it yet, but let me say the blonde bit was perfectly positioned.

Sadly, I don’t think primary school teachers really understand this point.  When I teach creative writing the first thing I do is point to all the details and ask “Why?”.  Why have you told me this?  Why is this important?  Why can’t it be in the evening instead of the morning? If you can’t justify it, don’t waste my time with it.  Also, Stephen King makes a good point in On Writing when he says if you give too many details about whatever character you’re describing, you can actually destroy the mental image the reader was creating.  By the way, you must, must, must read On Writing no matter which genre you write, or teach other people to write.

2. The second jewel of advice from Mr MacLeod that day was dialogue.  This will help if you’re trying to use ” show me the glint of moonlight on broken glass” to argue against the first point.  Dialogue is fast, it is interesting and it shows moonlight in a much more interactive way than a string of adjectives any day of the week.  For a first class example of how this is done read the conversation between Harry and Dudly at the start of The Order of the Phenix and just about every other section of dialogue published in any book in the series.  I personally think this is why I was able to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

So in conclusion, don’t let the details make doo-doo of your darlings.

And please, if you teach passionate writers, ask them why?

Born to Wiiiiiiiild

Published November 23, 2011 by electricbluegaloo

 

“Born to be wiiiiiiild!”

I wasn’t exactly rocking down the highway, but I certainly was looking for adventure, or whatever came my way.

The year was 2000 and something and the sun was shining. My flatmate, Lisa, aka The Dreadlock Princess, and I were riding our bikes back from the hardware store with tins of paint balanced in our baskets. What a great day to be alive.

Lisa had the idea to paint a sun, a rising sun no less, on the peak of our garage roof and when Lisa had an idea it changed the world.

Our little terrace house in Acton may not have been “inner city” but it certainly was a long way from Armidale, NSW. Lisa was the one who had the idea of setting up the sharehouse in the first place, and I was just lucky enough to stumble across it and Lisa a couple of days after I arrived in London.

It was pitch black outside when I arrived on the doorstep that winter evening. I was staying in a hostel in Earl’s Court and just knew I had to get out of there.

 TBC

Isa Ines and the Monkey Man

Published November 23, 2011 by electricbluegaloo

 

Isa Ines and the Monkey Man is an other world fantasy for ages 6-10.

 

Isa Ines and the Monkey Man are brother and sister who live alone in a beautiful valley and their life was tranquil.

The Mokey Man begins to have dreams about the Insect Princess who tells him they must leave the valley and search for the most precious thing otherwise winter will never come.

Isa Ines resists until one day a swarm of enormous bees descends on the valley. The Monkey Man says this is the sign from the Insect Princess that they must leave the valley.

 

“AAAARGH!” Isa Ines screamed as she held on for dear life, but all she got was a mouthful of bee bristles.

“Aye, aye, ayiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie,” she screamed again and held on tighter, but this just made the giant bee fly faster.

Above the roar of the wind she could hear her brother laughing. She fought against the icy wind to look around and to her horror she saw he was sitting bolt upright on a bee so close that she could almost reach him. Her heart leapt into her throat as she watched him throw his head back with laughter and wave his tiny arms around, holding on with just his knees.

“Hold on!” she screamed, “Hold on, you crazy monkey!”

He must have heard her against the wind, for he looked over his shoulder and grinned.

She knew he was enjoying this, but she just wanted to be back home in the valley. Isa-Ines liked the peaceful life they lived in their quiet valley, on their island, far away from the world.

‘What am I doing here?’ she asked herself for the thousandth time. ‘Who in their right mind would follow a little boy and his dreams about a giant grasshopper?’

She looked up to check on Monkey Man again but he was gone.

‘Monkey Man!!!!!!!!! Monkey MAAAAAAAN!!’ She cried. ‘Where are you?’

Just as she was wondering how she would ever be able to steer a giant bee to turn down and land she was nearly knocked off.

Whump! Monkey Man squealed with delight as he leaped from his bee and landed right behind his big sister.

‘I thought you might be feeling frightened’ he shouted against the wind.

Though she didn’t like to admit that this highly dangerous mid-air stunt was a good idea, she did feel a lot safer with his little arms squeezing round her tummy.

‘Where did you really come from?’ she often wondered about her little brother. Though they looked so alike, and so like their mother, two peas from the same pod could never have been so different. Isa Ines, the older, sensible, and yes, sometimes boring one and Monkey Man, who’d chosen his own name and it had stuck because he was so much more adventurous.

Somehow, with the Monkey Man’s arms around her the flight of these giant bees was less frightening. Nestled in behind the bee’s thorax and feeling Monkey Man’s warm breath on her back she began to relax, as best she could, and enjoy the scenery. The blue sky was fading to pink and orange over the forest, and in the distance she could see the castle.

‘This must be Pokolo-Tubbalee’ she thought contentedly to herself. ‘Soon we’ll reach the castle and ask the Queen of Cats about Monkey Man’s puzzle. We’ll be home lickety-spilt.’

She could feel Monkey Man drifting off to sleep behind her. He’d fallen asleep in trees so many times at home that she was not worried about him letting go and slipping off. She smiled and patted his soft round hands.

‘What would I do without you?’ she sighed, ‘You and your crazy adventures.’

CHAPTER 2

 

‘Uh oh! Monkey Man, wake up. Wake up!’

She patted and shook his arms to wake him. He was still asleep nuzzled into her back so he hadn’t noticed the bee was descending.

‘What is it? What’s happening?’ he yawned. ‘Are we there yet?’

‘No! No! No!’ Isa-Ines was pulling on the bee’s bristles and pleading with it. ‘Don’t land here! The Insect Princess said we mustn’t land in Grimwood Forest. Please, Mrs Bumble, just a little further.’

‘Look, the other bees are flying on,’ Monkey Man added. He too feared the Insect Princess’ warning about the dangers of Grimwood Forest.

‘Please, please, please don’t stop here. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!’

But their pleas were in vain for the weary bee continued her slow descent. By the weak flapping of her wings Isa-Ines and Monkey Man knew she was just too tired to keep up with the others.

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have jumped on with you’, Monkey Man reasoned as they hopped off Mrs Bumble’s back.

Isa Ines stroked the exhausted bee and tried to reassure her little brother that it was not his fault.

‘The Insect Princess warned us that it could happen, remember. She said that she wished she could have sent us with stronger bees but only the old ones know the way to Pokolo-Tubbalee.’

‘So what do we do now? We could just follow the path and keep going.’

‘The castle didn’t seem to be too far from here, but I think we could get lost if we tried walking in the dark. I can barely see you even now, and the Insect Princess warned us that if we did somehow find ourselves in the forest we must not leave the path. Let’s snuggle up with Mrs Bumble and perhaps in the morning she’ll be strong enough to fly us the rest of the way.’

‘Why?’ Monkey Man asked ‘Why can’t we leave the path? We always sleep right in the forest at home. I love the forest and I’m not afraid. I can . . . ‘

‘Sweetie, listen,’ Isa Ines whispered softly. ‘Can you hear Mrs Bumble? She’s asleep already. We don’t want her to wake up and find that we’ve gone, do we?’

‘No, you’re right’, he huffed.

They curled up next to the quietly buzzing bee and before long Isa Ines was asleep.

Monkey Man lay awake in her arms for a while thinking about the strange dreams he’d had and how the riddle in it had brought them here, so far from home.

The hardest thing on Earth

Can be the hardest thing to give

Unequalled for its worth

Without it can we live?

He repeated the words and liked how they sounded. ‘I’ll find the hardest thing, and then Mama will see that I’m not such a little boy anymore.’

 

CHAPTER 3

 

Monkey Man lay awake looking up at the stars when he heard it.

‘Who’s there?’ he whispered ‘What are you laughing at?’

Isa Ines was snoring (though she never admitted it) and Mrs Bumble was still buzzing away quietly in her sleep.

‘Ah, maybe I was asleep and dreamed it,’ he said as he tried to close his eyes.

But there it was again, closer this time.

‘What are you laughing at?’

Monkey Man jumped up to see who was there, but the laughter was fading into the distance.

‘Wait! Don’t go,’ he called as chased the sound deep into the thick of the forest.

* * *

Isa-Ines was still asleep in the chill of dawn as Mrs Bumble wriggle out from under her head. She woke with a thump and wondered at first where she was. So used to waking up in their tree-house to the smell of Mama’s hot cinnamon porridge she was disorientated at first.

‘Monkey Man’s riddle,’ she muttered rubbing the sleep from her eyes. ‘You want to know what the hardest thing is? I’ll tell you what the hardest thing is: it’s this road we’re sleeping on’. She rolled slowly over looking for her little brother.

‘Monkey Man! Where are you?’

She struggled to her feet and chased after Mrs Bumble.

‘Have you seen him?’ she cried desperately but Mrs Bumble was already in the air, bouncing off to catch up with the rest of the hive.

She paced madly up and down, too afraid to step off the path and into the forrest.

‘I promised I wouldn’t go into the forest’ she repeated, over and over. ‘But I also promised I would keep Monkey Man safe, I promised Mama I would look after him! What should I do? What should I do?’

Isa-Ines knew what she must do, and soon she too was swallowed by the silent darkness of Grimwood Forest.

 

CHAPTER 4

 

Isa-Ines cut a winding path through the thick trees. This forest was black as midnight and the floor covered in sharp rocks and thorny vines that tangled round her ankles.

After some time she paused to catch her breath.

‘Monkey Man wouldn’t have stopped’ she told herself, ‘But look at my feet. How can I go on? What would he do now?’

She looked up hoping for some inspiration.

‘That’s it!’ she cried.

The rough bark of the tree would scratch her feet but it would be a lot better than continuing to scramble over the rocks. She climbed swiftly up the tree and onto the next and the next.

Soon she was making such quick progress that she had forgotten any pain at all. She could almost imagine that they were playing hide and seek in their own forest in the valley. Almost.

And then she heard the sound of laughter. She stopped still. Yes, definitely laughter. And she could sense that her brother was not far off now. She crept carefully along the branches and came to a clearing. Though it was still daylight there was a gloomy feeling that hung about and made the clearing seem unnaturally dark.

She peered through the leaves and saw her brother asleep on a high wooden platform while a strange assortment of creatures danced about on the ground, shrieking and laughing. Isa Ines watched them, horrified.

What could she do? There was so many of them, more than the stars, it seemed.

Would they notice if there was just one more in the group. She dropped silently down from the tree and tried to imitate their dance.

One, two, three, jerk. One, two, three, jerk.

They seemed to be moving as if they were being jiggled about by an invisible puppet master. Isa-Ines danced her way through the crowd towards the platform. She had no idea how she would get her sleeping brother away without anyone noticing, but she had to try.

She reached out her hand to climb the platform and as she did she heard a screech. ‘EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!’ She covered her ears and turned to see what was making the sound. Just as she did the crowd of dancing creatures froze then dropped to the ground. As they dropped it seemed a spell was broken and they were transformed back into ordinary creatures of the forest. Mice, rabbits, frogs and badgers scattered leaving Isa-Ines and Monkey Man alone in the clearing.

She looked around to see what was making this sound that pierced her eardrums. Then, just as suddenly as it began the sound stopped.

In the eerie silence Isa Ines scrambled to the top of the platform. Suddenly – whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop – a giant shadow swept up and landed on the platform beside the sleeping figure of Monkey Man.

She watched in horror as the beast shuffle towards her little brother.

 

CHAPTER 5

 

‘Get away from him!’

Isa felt a surge of power rush through her body. She fairly flew up the ladder and dove between her brother and the hairy beast. The beasts rank smell washed over her. Is this why the Monkey Man was laying unconscious? Had the smell overpowered him? Isa Ines was determined that it would not get the better of her.

Her fists rained down on it and her every kick found its mark. So frenzied was she that she couldn’t even hear the beast’s yelps of pain.

‘Yeip! Yeip! Yeip! Yeip!’ he wailed as he cowered by the edge of the platform. He was about to fall when Isa-Ines felt a gentle hand on her arm.

‘Stop,’ Monkey Man’s voice was calm but commanding.

‘While I slept I dreamed again. The words told to me this time were ‘when everything is not right, it is better to love than to fight’.’

Now Isa Ines could hear the beast’s sobbing ‘why did you hurt me? I was only trying to be friends.

Forty, Shorty, Morty and Mike

Published November 23, 2011 by electricbluegaloo

Hi, I’m Mike and these are my friends, Shorty, Forty and Morty. Shorty’s called Shorty ’cause he’s really short. In class he has to sit on three telephone books just to see over the table. When he was little, I mean younger, the year 6 kids used to throw him around like a football, but now he knows jujitsu so they leave him alone.

Forty’s called Forty because he reckons one day he and his Uncle Duke ate forty boiled eggs. Nobody believes he really did it, but I sort of do. Maybe it was chocolate Easter eggs. I’d like to try that one day.

Morty’s called Morty ’cause his dad’s a mortician, that’s just a fancy word for undertaker. I’d be pretty creeped out about that but Morty’s not. In fact his family even lives in the middle of the cemetery.

Every year Morty’s dad has a huge Halloween party and invites everyone in town. My dad says this just shows Morty’s dad has a great sense of humour. My mum says it shows Morty’s dad has a sick sense of humour and says parties in the cemetery should be banned, but she goes every year anyway because they’re so much fun.

. . .

Totally True Tale

Published November 23, 2011 by electricbluegaloo

This was an interesting experiment: The “story”, or should I say THE story I have been working on for the past goodness knows how many years.  Please have a look and comment on readability and voice (and anything else that comes to mind).

 

 

“It’s true. It’s totally, totally true. I swear it”

Before this all happened my cheeks would have burning as I heard the quiet snickers of my classmates turning to outright howls of laughter.

Miss Atherton-Norton rose like a menacing, anorexic sea monster, quivering with rage, and the sounds of “oooooo” swelled throughout the room like a brewing storm.

“Victoria Penrose! You are a willful child. You . . . . . You . . . . “

I just knew what was coming next.

“Your mother would never have told such dreadful lies. You are a disgrace to the Penrose name.”

“Look, shweetheart” I said staring straight into those moist little rat eyes of hers, and silencing the class. “I know a heck of a lot more about my mother than you do, than any of you do, and I can tell you one thing for sure – she would be so proud of me. You might not believe what I’m about to tell you but it’s true, and it’s a story worth telling so just sit back and enjoy the ride.”

I looked out over the sea of stunned faces.

“Girls, I am late today, and my dress is torn and my hair a mess, because as I was was coming to school a giant vortex opened up in front of me and a swarm of giant bees wooshed out and swept me away with them”

A solitary laugh echoed through the room.

“I don’t know how it happened either, but after what I’ve been through and what I’ve seen, that is the least surprising thing.

“Pinned between the great bristly bodies of two bees I was half blinded by the roaring wind and could barely breath with all the fuzz in my mouth and up my nose. I could feel myself being thrown up and down, this way and that way in a mad dance which brought us through the fields, over the shops and cafes, under the bridge in the centre of town, up the hill and right through the corridors of this very school – you must have seen us!”

The open-mouthed, wide-eyed girls shook their heads.

“I thought they’d drop me here and I’d be early for a change, but no. They turned round and flew back the way we came and zipped back inside the vortex just as it shut.”

I looked over at Miss Atherton-Norton, still flapping her gums about “disgrace” and “how . . . how. . . how very dare you . . .”

“Miss Atherton-Norton, you’re lucky I’m here at all after what happened next. Those bees are fast, man, fast. And strong. In barely an hour we flew over mountains, jungles, deserts, cities and villages, and all the while I could hear this whooping sound over the wind pounding my ears. I looked around, but like I said, I was half blind already.

“All of a sudden there was this bump. I nearly wet my pants cause I was just holding on for dear life, hoping not to slip down from between these two bees. But, y’know, I kind of got the feeling that they’d caught me up on purpose cause they had me squeezed real tight and they seemed to know where they were going. I stretched up to find out what caused the bump when I felt this hand on my shoulder – little, but strong. My arms were dead weights from hanging on to the two round bodies of the bees and being frozen by the blasting air for so long, but I could feel his little fingers grip my arm and he was trying to pull me up to sit in front of him on the bee.

“I thought ‘This kid’s crazy’, he couldn’t have been more than four or five years old but here he was, sitting on the back of a giant frigging flying bee tryna haul me up next to him as if it’s no big thing. Well, now I know you think I’m crazy but something in his smile made me trust him, so I clambered up there and, actually it was much more comfortable this way.

“The kid just leaned against me and gave me the tightest hug like he’d really missed me or something then he yelled against the wind.

I think he said ‘I’m so glad we finally found you’.

“There wasn’t much I could say to that and I was so exhausted by the pounding wind and holding on so tight that I kinda fell into a half sleep-daze for a while.

“When I woke up, the wind had died down and the swarm of bees were almost gliding down to this clearing in the middle of a jungle covered island. As we got closer I could make out huts and tree houses throughout the giant leaves and vines, and a clear blue stream flowing though the clearing. We landed gently on the grass and unpeeled ourselves from our ride.

“‘Where are we?’ I asked the kid but he just smiled at me like I was being deliberately thick.

“‘Come on’, he said, ‘we have to let the Insect Princess know you’re here’ and he ran off. I was going to follow him, but you know running’s never been my thing. The bees wandered off to graze on the flowers dotted throughout the field and looked like a heard of black and orange striped cows.

“I lay on the grass, shaking my my legs and arms for the circulation to return. I was sure I was about to wake up from this crazy dream any moment when I heard the kid calling out to me. I looked up to see him bounding across the field and she was flying, following him. It was her, Zara . It was the Insect Princess.”

The whole class turned to look at Zara, my best friend.

“It was her, the one I was dreaming about”

Zara shook her head in denial.

“Zara, tell them,” I frowned.

Her eyes pleaded: “Keep me out of this”

Ok, so maybe my best friend had sold me out, in front of the whole class, but I’d started and I wasn’t going to stop now.

“She was beautiful, Zar . . . She was beautiful, just like in my dreams.”

“I sat up and just stared as she glided over to me on gossamer wings. The air hummed and glistened around her shimmering vibrant green body as she hovered just a couple of feet from me. I wanted to reach out and touch her just to see if she was real but I was sure my hand would pass through her like a puff of smoke. She seemed so delicate and strong at the same time, barely as tall as I am, but with obvious power pulsing within her, and a tiny silver crown on her beautiful bald head.

“‘Rise, Victoria’ she said and my mind was filled with the music of her voice”

I glanced over at Zara – nothing.

“I got up and she draped one of those long slender, creepy but cool exoskeleton arms over my shoulder.

“‘Victoria’ she said, ‘you must find the three jewels.’ And, Zara, you know I didn’t need to ask her to repeat it cause she’s told me that so many times in my dreams over the past couple of months.”

But Zara still wouldn’t look at me.

“‘Yoo-hoo, bees’, she called, ‘bee-ees, I have another important job for you’.

“The bees beat their wings furiously but only a couple managed to even get off the ground.

“‘Oh, no. No, no, no, my dears you mustn’t strain yourselves. I didn’t realise what the flight had cost you.’ Her big, bug eyes filled with tears as she rushed over to the bees. The kid grabbed my hand and I jumped ’cause I’d forgotten about him.

“‘The bees are tired.’ His big brown eyes were sad

“I felt a lump in my throat too, though I wasn’t sure why.

“‘They flew for weeks looking for you, Victoria, and now they’re too tired to take us any further'”

“The dreams were always so unclear. It was just the Insect Princess and her words, “Victoria, you must find the three jewels”

This time I didn’t even look at Zara.

“We walked amongst the bees and stroked their backs trying to reassure them that they’d done their best and there was nothing to be ashamed of. I whispered in their ears that it would be alright, but I got the feeling I was the only one who thought it could be.

“‘I know, Temperance, I of all know how important this is. But without the bees there is no way off this island.’ I could hear the Insect Princess discussing our situation with the kid, and I hovered in the background trying to make myself less useless.

“That night the stars looked down with pity upon us and I fed twigs to the fire just for something to do. The largest hut in the clearing was filled with the comforts of home including soft beds that called to us, but with the worried Insect Princess up all night reassuring her beloved bees we could not bring ourselves to go inside.

Chapter 2

“As the cool crisp dawn crept over us I could see the Insect Princess deep in conversation with the bees and her soft voice drifted across the clearning.

“‘Mrs Bumble,’ she said, ‘you are the oldest of all. How can you have the strength to carry Victoria and Temperance all that way? I cannot allow it. I can’t let you put yourself under the strain.’

“If she’d had soft skin the Insect Princess would have had a furrowed brow as she walked over to us. ‘Temperance, Victoria, it seems as if all is not lost. Mrs Bumble has begged me to let her take you on your journey’

‘Mrs Bumble?’ Temperance looked puzzled. He looked over to the bees and then back to the Insect Princess. ‘Are you sure?’

“‘No, I’m not sure, but what else can we do? We have no other choice, and we have no time to waste. You must leave immediately.

“And so onto the back of the bee we climbed and away we were, up into the clouds and high above the sea in no time. Before long we were over land again and I could see a thick dark road cut through the patchwork fields and scattered villages.

“‘The Friendship Highway,’ Temperance shouted in my ear. “‘It joined the three major cities of the land, though it’s not much used in these times.

“I held him a little closer, feeling him shudder as he thought about “these times”.

“‘Don’t worry, kid, we can handle it’ I shouted back, but the wind whipped my words away.

“‘And that’s Grimwood forest. We’re lucky to be flying right over that’

But as if his words were an omen, no sooner had he said this than the strength in Mrs Bumble’s wings began to fail and we started falling. Twisting and turning in turbulent spirals we hurtled towards the slither of road that peeked through the tall trees.

“Down, down, down we plummeted into the heart of an ancient pine forest thick with must and moss. The last thing I heard was “JUUUMP!” before I slammed into the ground with a bone shuddering thud.

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

The blood beat through my pounding brain as I lay where I landed and watched the sky and trees spin around me.

“‘Aaaargh’ I moaned and rolled myself into sitting. The whole left side of my body ached from the impact”.

I turned my face so the class could see the yellow bruises and purple scars where the side of my head had ricocheted off the overgrown Friendship Highway. A sharp gasp showed that my face had had the intended reaction.

“What happened to Temperance?” Zara covered her mouth, pretending she hadn’t shown interest.

“He was fine. I couldn’t believe it. The little bugger’d had years of practise jumping from the backs of giant bees, so he managed to leap off just before we crashed. Might have been nice if he’d told me this could happen, but I guess I never would have come along if I’d known.

I Got The Moves Like Kate Forsyth

Published November 23, 2011 by electricbluegaloo

 

I got the moves like Kate Forsyth, I got the moves like Kate Forsyth, I got the mooooo-oooves like . . . well you get the rest of it.

If you have read my previous post you will realise that I hold Australian fantasy childrens (and sometimes adult) novelist Kate Forsyth in very high regard. I first met Kate when Kennisha was just three months old. I attened a writer’s festival at the NSW Writer’s Centre and was blown away by Kate’s poise, grace and thourough grasp of her chosen genre, I wanted to be her (still do). Over the next couple of weeks (or maybe months, it was a very sleep deprived time) I managed to go along to a few more of Kate’s public talks and read some of her books. I discovered that she is not only a very talented writer, but also a mum to three kids, I wanted to be her kids.

Three and a half years later I am still in great awe of Kate and her ability to accomplish so much within the same 24 hour time period we all have.

I have come to accept that while I will never be her, or her kids, I can make use of the advice she shares at her public talks

Primarily for me, this inspiration takes the form of two points she made: Aim for the moon. Even if you don’t reach it you will fall among the stars. And more practically to write every day, even if you don’t feel like it. Actually, I’m not sure that last one is exactly how she put it, but it’s my own interpretation, and I managed to write something today.

Thanks for taking the time to read my little offering for the day.

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