Tuesday, 29 September 2009

More Juicy Writing

On Sunday Madi and I tackled the second chapter of Juicy Writing. This chapter was about ideas, and how to get them. I like the bit where Brigid Lowry says,
Your job as a writer is to stay alive to all of it, to collect the world and turn it into stories.
Madi's story starter this time was It started with bananas on toast...and heres her spin on it.
Bananas on Toast, By Madi Morris
It was that morning I realised I wanted to be a chef. It was my thirteenth birthday. It started with my favourite breakfast, bananas on toast. Cassie was not feeling well, and since mother cannot cook without it turning into a disaster, I had to.
As I was cutting the bananas, I felt the chef's urge. If you're not a chef, you probably don't understand the urge. I suddenly felt like cutting faster and more skillfully. Mother was involved in her work, so she didn't see how much of a pleasure it was to be making bananas on toast in our kitchen. But Cassie, or Cassandra as I call her, saw my talent. Even though she was only eleven, she saw it, because she had the urge as well. We chatted as I turned bananas on toast into a more delicious meal using various sugars and other secret stuff. Cassandra called it amazing, but she sneezed a few times near the food, so I made her go and sit on the couch.
I felt good as I put the food on mothers desk in her office.
"Mother, do you think I have the talent to become a chef?" I said, as she bit into it. She shut down her laptop and put the toast back on its plate.
"Got to go," she said as she walked out into the kitchen.
Cassandra had finished both bits of her toast and was eating mine.
"Cassie, I can't drop you off, so take the bus. Emma, you need to tell the nanny to get here early, you can't cook at all. Cassie, get well tomorrow." And with her sharp words she walked out. Cassie looked like she was about to puke.
"God Em, my senses are coming back.....uh......uh.....never cook again!" She grabbed her bag and ran out the door.
I ran over to the phone and called the nanny. "Hi, Miss K, we won't need you today. My auntie has made a surprise visit and she's going to help me become a chef. Thanks." I put down the phone. Yeah, right. Auntie Indiah was just as busy as her mum. She was a chef and taught at a chef school. I just wanted to be home alone.
The microwave let me know it was twelve o' clock. I decided to make pancakes, (your home alone, just turned thirteen, of course you're going to eat what you want, you're a teenager).
The phone rang.
"Hey Emma, it's Miss K, can I speak to your auntie about when I should come over to clean?"
"Sorry Miss K, she's just gone to the bathroom..."
"That's okay, I can wait a few minutes."
"To take a bath. I gotta go, I'm cooking special pancakes for lunch. See you tomorrow."
I hung up and wrote on the notepad by the fridge,
If Miss K comes to the door, recite this: Auntie fell asleep on the couch
then went back to cooking.
***For a limited time only, order a pizza and win a trip to America to go to cooking school. 092-***
I picked up the phone and dialed the number, it clicked over.
"Hello, Downunder Pizzas."
"Hello, I'd like to order a pizza please."
"What kind miss?"
"Yes, please."
"Your pizza miss."
"Thank you"
"Excuse me, are you home alone?"
"No, my auntie is in the study"
"Okay. Here is the form to sign for the competition."
"I won!" I said to my mother the next day. But I was interrupted by Miss K coming through the door.
"Hi Brittany, has your sister gone home?" Oh no!
"Yes.....uh..... she has, I think you need to pick up Cassandra from school" I said quickly, knowing my mother would agree.
"Yes," She said, not bothered, then, "what did you win?"
I told her I'd had to fake that auntie was here so that I could sign the form.
Guess what, auntie Indiah teaches there! I'm going to be a chef!

I had my eye on a couple of other sentences, but Madi said I should do a story about Op shops (one of the topics). I'm guessing other countries have opportunity shops, but if not, these are basically secondhand clothing stores.
The Op Shop By Hayley Morris
It was comically Harry Potteresque, tucked down at the end of a labyrinth of cobbled alleyways, unmarked, yet not unremarkable.
At first look, and for most, one look was all they took, Opportunity Knocks was an op shop like any other. Row upon row of mismatched colours, patterns and styles, smelling of old people, moth balls and incense.
But it wasn't old clothes or smells that brought people through the faded wooden doorway of the little shop. People came for two things, Saskia and her virtues.
Saskia was from Russia, and, though she seldom wasted words, her accent was thick and heavy and sweet, pouring over you like maple syrup. Many of Saskia's customers had been visiting her for a decade or two, and she never seemed to change from first meeting to last. A small, sprightly woman, whose age varied depending on who you asked and at what time of the day, her blond hair shone like silk and her opal flecked eyes seemed to stare into your soul and bathe it in understanding.
If Saskia was captivating, it was her virtues that were compelling. People came from all over the world to seek them out. Saskia knew of course, without word or glance being exchanged, who was innocently combing the racks for a vintage treasure, and who was seeking a little something more. And without really knowing how, you'd find yourself in the back room, staring in disbelief at thousands of tiny blue bottles glowing back at you.
Harried mothers came and went, armed with bottles of patience, gentleness and determination. Suspicious spouses happily opened their wallets wide for some truthfulness, commitment, faithfulness and loyalty. Addicts of all vices scooped up self-discipline, courage and sacrifice. Lonely hearts sought out the little shop for love, idle bodies for orderliness and cleanliness and dreamers dosed up on wonder and beauty and creativity.
One day, without warning, Saskia and her virtues were gone. The little shop stood quiet and empty. Everyone seemed to have a theory. Some said she had died, and having no children, had taken the secrets of her virtues to the grave. Others argued that she did have children, and it was to Russia, and them that she had returned, to pass on her virtues before it was too late. Some claimed her virtues had just been water and she was in jail for fraud. Others swore that she had retired to the seaside, in a pretty little cottage, where she sat on the porch, watched the ocean and smiled all day long, remembering the people she'd helped.
Of course, no one could really know for sure. And whilst her customers could still recall the mesmerising eyes and musical clinks of the tiny blue bottles in vivid detail, most wondered if she had ever been anything more that a wonderful, beautiful dream.
That's us guys, thanks for reading!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sinking Our Teeth Into Some Juicy Writing

Recently I came across a book by Brigid Lowry, a kiwi author who writes young adult fiction like Guitar Highway Rose, follow the blue and things you either hate or love. I think most of her novels are set in Australia, but she IS a kiwi :).

Anyway, the book is called Juicy Writing : Inspiration and Techniques for Young Writers. juicy writing
I'd been on the lookout for a while for something like this for Madi, who loves to write almost as much as read. I was especially pleased to find something local. I promised that I'd work through it alongside her, and today we both tackled our first exercise.

The first chapter explains how writers are like gardeners. Lowry writes, You begin by making compost. Gardeners collect leaves, food scraps, lawn clippings and seaweed, but your raw material is words and ideas.

Like gardening, writing is a hit and miss process. Certain seeds will germinate, others won't.

So our first exercise was garden themed, we had a topic and sentence starter chosen from a list at the end of the chapter. Madi chose;

*Two unlikely characters meet in a garden. A girl in a wheelchair? A waitress? A wizard? Something happens during their meeting that changes them both. Tell their story in five hundred words. Make use of sensory detail, because gardens are alive with sounds, smells, textures. Give your piece a fabulous title.

And her starter;

*Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back it seems obvious my mother shouldn't have made my sixth birthday celebration a garden party.

She couldn't stick to the 500 limit, and I'm not a fan of limit's, so I'll just post what she wrote. I've edited out some things, and fixed spelling, but this is entirely her own story.

I can't explain the feeling

Creepy By Madison Morris (Aged 11)

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back it seems obvious that my mother shouldn't have made my sixth birthday celebration a garden party. Yeah, our garden was pretty amazing, like you see in those Home and Garden magazines, but those creepy crawling bugs that crawled on my legs were the reason I never went into the garden again, well, not until last year anyway.

I remember, that as I opened the door to peer out the garden, the summer air hit me. I can't explain the exact feeling, it was like I was not a thirteen year old, but a six year old again. I had to run, the rush pushed at my instincts and I ran. I probably squashed so many poor, helpless bugs, but at that time, I couldn't care less. It was then that I knocked into the ghost that looked like me. The ghost didn't fall, but I did, which was weird because I am top of the class in gym.

The cicadas croaked from the bush, the bees buzzed around draining nectar from the flowers and Maya and June-June barked like they were getting shocked by electric. The ghost's dress ruffled in the wind. I knew she was me, but I doubted I'd ever wear a label dress with high heels. What startled me the most about her was not the pink dress, but the blonde locks she had. My hair is naturally red....but hers was pure blonde. The ghost opened her mouth and out came a gentle whisper, 'She's ours sir.....she's captured....take us to bug form, God.'

God? It's not like I don't believe in him, but I don't not believe he exists either.

I could say that shrinking down to bug form hurts, but it's actually painless. The only problem is that when I went down I saw loads of memories, like that garden party, and the itchiness dug into my leg.

I fell on the ground. So much for good balance. In the ghost's place was an ugly creature. There was green all around me. The ghosts voice sounded like me this time. 'Come, you don't want to miss your fourteenth birthday because you are here so long.' I still had eleven months and twenty days until my birthday, but I saw a shoe through the grass and hurried ahead.

The ghost was either not scared that the shoes were about to squash her, or had slow reflexes, because the shoes nearly stepped on her. I wasn't about to rescue her, because I'm not the most heroic person....bug....whatever. I was suddenly lost. But then I crashed into another ghost bug and it's follower. I realized that all the bugs in America were probably around me. 'Matilda, you have to help us......turn off the pollution.'

And that is when I woke up. Turn off the pollution??? I went outside and mother was putting bug spray through the garden.

'No!' I said to her, 'There's bugs...'

'I know Mattie, now they have been crawling all over the house. And I don't want a bug infested house.'

'But Mom, they don't mean to. Look, I'll spray the garden, okay?' She handed me the can. When she went inside, I threw the bug spray in the shed. I touched my hair, it was blonde. I was wearing the dress and the shoes, it was my fourteenth birthday! Gosh! I was having a garden party and I was dressed like a marshmallow. I ran inside, careful not to squash any bugs...

A good first effort, wouldn't you agree?

As for me, I picked the topic;

*What would your dream garden be like?

And the starter,

*My Grandfather did not believe in flowers...

My Time By Hayley Morris (Aged 30 :) )

My Grandfather did not believe in flowers. He used to compare them to people.

'The bright and beautiful ones are a nightmare to maintain, and the simple ones are as dull as dishwater,' he'd say, 'give me a plain Jane evergreen any day.'

My grandmother would laugh and exclaim, 'Well thank you sweetheart, you sure know how to flatter a girl.'

Looking around my own garden now, many decades later, it was clear that I had inherited my grandfathers aversion to all things floral.

It was only a small area, commonplace with the Victorian styled villas in this part of the city, but plenty big enough for one old woman to enjoy some peace and sunshine. I picked up the pebble comb and absentmindedly made patterns in the small white pebbles beneath my feet.

The girls had been horrified when I had led them out to the zen styled Japanese garden, with moss covered rocks, lush green vegetation and the adorable wooden walkway that bordered the garden, set in the softly flowing stream. Various Buddha statues peeked out of the bushes, and the perfect lines of the pebble garden had gleamed in the sunshine.

'Mum! This isn't practical! What happens when you babysit the kids? Gemma could choke on a pebble.'

'And you know what Daniel is like, he'll drown in the stream!'

'Not to mention the constant trickling noise, you'll live in the toilet. And where are all the flowers, I thought elderly people liked flowers?'

I'd tried not to smile as I had ushered them back into the house, uttering reassurances that I would keep it locked least any tragedy befall their precious offspring.

My mind flipped back to the present, I put down the pebble comb and stepped onto the walkway, enjoying the feel of the cool timber beneath my bare feet. I strolled along, stopping to stroke the star shaped leaves of the Japanese Maple, chosen especially for my grandfather. It's simple beauty reminded me of both my grandparents. I loved my children dearly, adored my grandchildren, but those years of devoted maintenance were behind me.

This was my time, and I wanted to spend it in my garden.


That was harder than I expected. I had inadvertently chosen a first person starter, and I HATE writing in first person. But oh well.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed that little peep at what we are up to. Any inspiring young (or not so young) writers out there that want to join in let us know and we will give you the full list of topics and starters.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Lost Egg, by Kyla Morris

If you have been wondering where the inspiration for my latest project came from, look no further. Recently Kyla and I got out a beautiful little book by Stephen Michael King, called Leaf.

The inspiration

Kyla, who has always struggled with the written word, fell in love with this simple, wordless book, and was inspired to make her own. She always felt like books had to be full of words, and this discovery was very exciting.

So I brought some good materials, and she got to work. She spent four days, just doing page after page, then hit the wall, and didn't do anything further for a couple of weeks. When I picked up the paints and started mucking around it seemed to rekindle her imagination and desire, and she got back to work. Inspiration went full circle.

She had researched what the birds looked like, and their eggs.


@ work

Page 2

@ work

This weekend she finished it, and it looked amazing. I was really pround of her. I went and got some heavy duty card and bookbinding tape, and fixed it all together.


You can see better pics of each page over at Flickr

The Week that Was

Last week managed to disappear before I realised it had started. Here's a few highlights.

Pish Posh Paint

We replenished our facepaint supply at the $2 shop, and had some fun.

PainteeDoggySpringtime Tummyx-eyedNo one escapes the brushWatch out Mummy!Kind of like Braveheart, but more colourful.

Then the girls had been begging to go to the beach for a paddle, and although the wind was a tad cool, there was no stopping them, so on Friday we headed out to Clarkes Beach.

We drove home late afternoon, licking ice creams and blissed out from some beach time...expect some more sandy moments now that spring has dawned!

The Word Party

Loving words clutch crimson roses,
Rude words sniff and pick their noses,
Sly words come dressed as foxes,
Short words stand on cardboard boxes,
Common words tell jokes and gabble,
Complicated words play Scrabble,
Swear words stamp around and shout,
Hard words stare eachother out,
Foreign words look lost and shrug,
Careless words trip on the rug,
Long words slouch with stooping shoulders,
Code words carry secret folders,
Silly words flick rubber bands,
Hyphenated words hold hands,
Strong words show off, bending metal,
Sweet words call each other 'petal',
Small words yawn and suck their thumbs,
Till at last the morning comes,
Kind words give out farewell posies....
Snap! The dictionary closes.