Archive of ‘Poetry’ category

Percolating the Pig – Developing Picture Book Idea 2

I’ve had 11 picture books and 3 picture-poetry books published, including the popular and best selling Where does Thursday go? Columbia Sneezes, Silly Galah! and I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, which has just been shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA awards in the Early Childhood category. I have 4 further picture books due for release.

You might remember I wrote a blog on March 3, called When to let go – developing Picture Book Idea 1.

In it, I spoke about one way of writing; of letting go and allowing words have the rein while you followed to see where they led. In a way, the second blog has similarities; only this time I used an INCIDENT which captured a lingering image. That then triggered questions in need of answers.

Here’s Picture Book Idea 2.

I’ll call it. Percolating on a Pig! You’ll see why when you read on.

It all started when I saw a pig trotting down the footpath. It was scooting along, merry as you like, near my suburban home in Adelaide.
Clearly it was off on an adventure!
Next came a harried cry.

From a nearby driveway, a man rushed onto the scene, his brow furrowed, eyes darting this way and that. My husband and I, out on a morning walk, were somewhat speechless but pointed helpfully.

With a quick nod of thanks, the man shouted. ‘Dora!’ Then while my husband and I remained as rigid as signposts, he added before bounding after the pig, ‘She doesn’t know the area around here.’

‘Oh,’ I nodded. As if that clarified everything. Only it didn’t.

Want to know what happened?

Well, it turned out that Dora the pig was a pet, not only on the farm where the man and his family lived, but also as a travel companion when the family holidayed in their large campervan. That time they were visiting relatives in our area. Dora had simply escaped from the backyard.

See, makes sense, doesn’t it?

Okay. So, here comes the percolating bit. The image of Dora the pig stayed with me as an idea in my notebook for years, long after her family had tootled back to Broken Hill.

I kept thinking about this pig off on an adventure. And then, one day recently, on a scrap of paper, I wrote sixteen words.


There, I thought. There. Now what, I thought. Now what?

Well, then Dora meets Dog. What Dog lacked in imagination, he made up for in companionship. But Dora still pined for a circus so she could star as a high-diving, swimming star. Dora and Dog set off to look for a circus. Do they find one? How did this story that began with no notion of a story, end up?

Well, that would be telling, now, wouldn’t it? Needless to say the picture book story is now written and I’m waiting to see if any publisher is interested.

I hope so. Because I’d so LOVE Dora to have another adventure!

When to let go – developing Picture Book Idea 1

thursdayI’ve had 11 picture books and 3 picture-poetry books published, including the popular and best-selling Where does Thursday go? I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, Columbia Sneezes and Silly Galah! I have 3 further picture books due for release.

dirty-dinosaurDo you sit down with your pen or keyboard and ‘let the whisper’ take you with your writing? In other words do you ‘follow the leader’ for some time to see where your words will go?

Or do you plan meticulously, only feeling comfortable to begin when there’s a tangible shape or a possible outcome in mind?

columbia-sneezesOr perhaps you do both? Perhaps what works one way for one book might not be right for another piece of work. Or perhaps you begin one way, and find yourself needing the alternative method during the writing.

Recently I wrote two picture books, about a week apart. There’s something about picture books that grabs me and if I haven’t written one for a while, I get the itches.

silly-galahI didn’t have a particular story in mind, but I was at the library and grabbed a dozen picture books. Later I read them all in one go. Call it drinking at the oasis.

A day later, I went through each book again; this time more studiously, taking note of the set up, the problem, the rhythm, the denouement and so on. I was feeding myself in a very pleasant way.

I still didn’t have a strong idea of what I wanted to write. Only that I wanted to write. This often happens to me.

And yet, when I asked myself what had been ‘bugging’ me for a long time, I came up with a phrase. It was to do with bones. It was like a jingle that’d lodged in my mind. I’d once written this phrase down, not knowing what had produced it:

first-notes-for-bones-storythere were bones about, 
in boxes and boots.

Although it was only a few words, it had, I thought, a nice sense of rhythm, alliteration and the potential to go anywhere; a trigger for many different stories. But which one?

You’ve probably also been in this situation where you think, but there are too many ideas! Which one do I go with?

In bed that night, I let ‘the whisper go’. Without stating it aloud, I said, whatever comes off my pen, I will allow it.

I wrote about fifty words and then put the pen down. I didn’t want to start analysing what I’d written! It was nowhere near a picture book, but it had spearheaded itself in a certain direction. It was something I hadn’t orchestrated or expected, yet I had an uncanny trust that it would take me somewhere – eventually.

Over the next few drafts, I deleted one original thought, added other ideas, shaped and re-shaped, wrote and re-wrote.

Eventually I had a picture book. I called it ‘The Bones of Jamieson Jones’.

Will it get published? I don’t know. But I had so much enjoyment writing it and allowing ideas to arrive without my head or pen driving them, it’s got to be worth something!

What about you?
Do you find it fascinating to stand back occasionally and wonder about that thing called creativity? What comes from those recesses of your mind that makes connections, sometimes in serendipitous ways, or surprises you, as if you’ve mined hidden treasure?

How do you write?

(watch out for my next blog where I’ll talk about When to let go; Picture book idea 2.)

Hi and welcome to my brand new site!

The new website looks great and I’m very excited to launch it. I hope you’ll check it out from time to time as I’ll be adding new books, news and blog posts often.

Now, what better way to kick off than with a revelation?

Guess what?


‘Who likes poetry?’ I asked in schools during Book Week. Battalions of hands shot up every time.

Poetry GIVES so much.

It involves language, senses, emotions, humour, subtlety, twists and playfulness.

tbn-tadpoles-in-the-torrensPoems are just like stories; some you like better than others. But let’s give kids more poems to enjoy. And how about this new anthology from Wakefield Press; Tadpoles in the Torrens.

It’s full of funny, wry, moving poems. Get yourself a copy and enjoy.

Chat again soon!


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