Allison Tait https://allisontait.com writing, whimsy ... life Tue, 11 Jun 2019 01:44:25 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 Industry Insider: 10 steps for writing Teachers’ Notes https://allisontait.com/2019/05/10-steps-for-writing-teachers-notes/ Tue, 28 May 2019 04:36:31 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7831 Being  presented with the teachers’ notes for your novel is one of the great joys of being a children’s author. Teachers’ notes are a curriculum-linked resource for a novel, offering ...

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10 steps for writing teachers' notes for children's books | allisontait.comBeing  presented with the teachers’ notes for your novel is one of the great joys of being a children’s author.

Teachers’ notes are a curriculum-linked resource for a novel, offering teachers background information, insight into everything from themes to setting, with suggested related classroom activities, discussion topics, notes about the author and more.

They make it so much easier for teachers to choose YOUR book to read or study in class.

I confess that before I wrote RACE TO THE END OF THE WORLD (The Mapmaker Chronicles #1), I had no idea that teachers’ notes even existed. And then I read the notes that Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright had created for my book and they were a revelation.

Read the teachers’ notes for Race To The End Of The World here.

To have someone go through your work and encapsulate the themes, characterisation and more of your novel is an incredible honour.  I was so grateful that Dr Sheahan-Bright had not only ‘got’ what I was trying to do with The Mapmaker Chronicles – but so much more besides.

Fortunately, a few years later, I was lucky enough to have Dr Sheahan-Bright create the teachers’ notes for THE BOOK OF SECRETS (Ateban Cipher #1) as well.

Read the teachers’ notes for The Book Of Secrets here.

So when it came time to find out how exactly teachers’ notes are created, who better to ask…

HOW I WRITE TEACHERS’ NOTES

By Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright

What’s involved in writing teachers’ notes? I should know, given that I spend a good part of my time writing them, as a freelance writer/editor/publishing consultant – an occupation I’ve pursued since 1997, through my business, justified text.

In over 20 years I’ve written many sets of notes for a wide range of clients, including both large and smaller publishers. (I also write reading group and book club notes for adult lists.)

Some of the works I’ve written notes on in the last year, for example, have been:

Cicada (Hachette) and Tales from the Inner City (Allen & Unwin) both by Shaun Tan;

Mrs M (HarperCollins) by Luke Slattery;

The Happiness Box a Wartime Book of Hope (Walker Books) by Mark Greenwood and Andrew McLean;

Hive (Pan Macmillan) by A.J. Betts;

Leaving the Lyrebird Forest (Hachette) by Gary Crew and Julian Laffan;

Miss Franklin (Hachette) by Libby Hathorn and Phil Lesnie;

Nevermoor and Wundersmith (Hachette) by Jessica Townsend, and most recently

As Happy As Here (Hachette) by Jane Godwin (due for release in August).

This is the first time, though, that I’ve been asked to articulate how I write them. So here’s how I go about it:

10 STEPS FOR WRITING TEACHERS’ NOTES

1. Read for enjoyment just as you would any reading. Find the heart of the book and make that your guiding principle in how you begin to summarise its strengths.

2. A template is essential. Knowing what shape the notes should be in and the headings required by the publisher, means that I have a set of queries in my mind as I am reading a book, whether it be a picture book, or a work of junior or young adult fiction.

Sometimes I’ve designed that template myself; other times it’s been in use before.

3. There is a difference in how you read in order to write notes, though, because as I read I am marking quotes that relate to issues as they occur to me so that I can return to them later. I am noting themes, keeping a list of characters, particular aspects of writing or illustration style which are unique to this writer, and the genre (s) the work falls into.

In short, all the things an editor does when reading a manuscript for the first time.

4. I also take note of topics relating to key learning areas such as SOSE, English Language and Literacy and Creative Arts. But I don’t adhere too rigidly to curriculum details, as I feel that curriculum models may change and that teachers can be trusted to utilise my broad brush ideas in specific ways.

I am not a qualified teacher and write very much from an editor’s or writer’s perspective.

5. My first challenge is to write the introduction. This should encompass what the book is about, its key plot details, its themes and its genre. It should be suggestive of the atmosphere evoked by the writer. It should be an engaging summary like a blurb but somewhat longer. (Unlike a review, one can give away key details here as the reader has already read the book!)

6. Depending on the age of the readership some notes contain worksheets and activities. These often take a good deal of time to develop as they involve not only creating an activity (such as a quiz) but sometimes sourcing images (via Clipart) in order to create an engaging activity for younger readers.

7. Some notes contain a section on the author or illustrator’s inspiration in writing the text. I prefer to see that after I’ve written my first draft, so that my first reading is not coloured by pre-conceptions. Happily, I have generally guessed the author’s intentions in my responses. (In a recent set of notes I had referenced the same film as the author did in her inspiration!)

8. Did I mention research? Most notes contain a bibliography, including both books and articles and online resources such as websites. These can be as extensive as I feel is warranted by the text. Some works lend themselves to copious referencing. And sometimes the author actively contributes to that by forwarding a list of some of the texts they’ve used for their own research.

This part of the process is really important as, without such research, one can miss something which is essential to really understanding a text. I also really love this aspect of the work as it means that in any given week I am adding to my knowledge of topics as diverse as early Australian colonialism, prison camps in World War Two, the life of Miles Franklin, lyrebirds, and urban planning; or re-visiting my knowledge of the tropes on which a fantasy or a dystopian world is based.

9. My contact is with the editor who commissions the notes, not with the author. However, I always request feedback and corrections from both. Generally the author’s comments are conveyed to me by the editor. But sometimes a conversation with the author is initiated and the exchange can become detailed when the author has a lot of knowledge to share.

10. I always write several drafts, and editing is crucial. I’m a big believer in printing out rather than editing on screen as often a glaring gap in the notes seems to magically become apparent, when it’s in print, not to mention the typos.

My real satisfaction is to hear that an author has really enjoyed my interpretation in the notes, and/or that a teacher has found them valuable.

So, in ten easy steps, there you have it. Or at least, there you have my way of writing teachers’ notes.

Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright was the first Executive Director of the Queensland Writers Centre (1991-1997) and operates ‘justified text’ writing and publishing consultancy services. She is widely published in magazines, journals and online publishing sites, has chapters in several textbooks, has edited anthologies and also manages arts projects.

Robyn has written about children’s literature and the children’s book market and is currently President, IBBY Australia Inc and Deputy-Chair, Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation. She has been the recipient of several awards in honour of her services to writing and children’s literature in Australia, including the prestigious Dame Annabelle Rankin Award (2011), Nan Chauncy Award (2012) and Johnno Award (2014). 

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog!

I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

Find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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Meet ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ the BOOK https://allisontait.com/2019/05/meet-so-you-want-to-be-a-writer-the-book/ Wed, 15 May 2019 04:01:55 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7793 It’s been a big year for the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast team! Not only have we screamed past the ONE MILLION download mark (you’ll find my ...

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It’s been a big year for the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast team!

Not only have we screamed past the ONE MILLION download mark (you’ll find my 15 favourite interviews here), with a LIVE event at VIVID Sydney (book now!) in the works, but we’re happy to announce that we’ve written a book!

So You Want To Be A Writer book by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo

So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job) by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo will be on sale from 8 June (be at our event to be the first to own it!)

Here’s the blurb

The ultimate guide to making your writing dreams come true!

Want to write a novel or earn an income as a freelance writer, but not sure how to go about it? Authors Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo – co-hosts of the popular So You Want To Be A Writer podcast – will give you the steps you need to make your dream a reality.

In this book, you’ll discover everything you need to be a successful writer, including how to connect with people who will help your career grow and productivity tips for fitting everything into your already busy life. You’ll also explore how to keep your creative juices flowing and where to find other writers just like you.

This book lays out a blueprint to help you get started and thrive in the world of words. With advice from over 120 writers, you’ll tap into proven wisdom and find the path that will lead YOU to success!

Here’s what five of Australia’s favourite authors have said about the book

‘Practical, grounded and inspiring. When a thousand voices tell you that you can’t, you need a voice to make you believe you can. This book is that voice.’
Candice Fox, #1 New York Times bestselling author

‘So many pro tips in here from working writers. This is like Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans but exclusively for writers. I loved it.’
Tristan Bancks, award-winning children’s author

‘Perfect for the person who wants to write but doesn’t have the confidence or the know-how to start.’
Pamela Hart, award-winning historical fiction author

‘Essential reading for any aspiring writer.’
Graeme Simsion, international bestselling author

‘Val and Al were a godsend to me before I was published, offering a guided tour to the world of publishing that was otherwise closed to me. Their advice is highly, highly recommended.’  
Dervla McTiernan, international bestselling author

And here’s a picture of the co-authors on the day (nearly a year ago) we decided to write a book

Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait So You Want To Be A Writer book.

We are thrilled to bring this book to our podcast audience, our writing community and to new and aspiring writers everywhere. It will be available through a range of online booksellers, here and overseas, so stay tuned for more details.

If you’d like to read more about So You Want To Be A Writer the book, or register your details to receive notice as soon as the book is on sale, you’ll find all the details here.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

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Writing tips for kids: 3 short videos https://allisontait.com/2019/04/writing-tips-for-kids-3-short-videos/ Mon, 29 Apr 2019 04:24:54 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7741 As part of my plan for be An Organised Writer this year, I’m working through all of the content I have across various platforms and making sure that I bring ...

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Writing tips for kids: three videos by author A.L. TaitAs part of my plan for be An Organised Writer this year, I’m working through all of the content I have across various platforms and making sure that I bring it back here, to my home on the internet.

As I’ve written before, one of the major benefits of having an author blog is the ability to invite readers home, to your space, to your website.

So I figure I should practise what I preach.

Below are three videos of some live broadcasts I’ve done on my Facebook page about kids and creative writing. I thought that, with the dreaded Naplan looming for many kids in Australia this term, now might be a good time to round the videos up and bring them home.

I hope you find them useful.

Three short videos full of writing tips for kids

This first one is about helping kids to embrace creative writing, including two of the things that I love most about writing and how kids can identify and embrace their writing superpowers (even the ones who think they don’t have one…)

 

In this second video, I look at the link for kids between reading and writing, and how they absorb so much about how to use story structure, narrative voice, tension and pacing from the books that they read.

 

And in the third video, I have an easy writing exercise for kids to help them get their creative juices flowing – it’s a simple writer’s journal, with practical suggestions of just what to put in it.

Some useful links mentioned in the videos

You can find out more about my Creative Writing Quest For Kids course here.

Read more about Raising Readers by Megan Daley here.

Meet Book Boy.

There’s more information about the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast here.

You’ll find more writing tips for kids on my blog here.

I present talks and workshops regularly in schools, libraries and at other events. You can find more details about my experience and the kinds of presentations I do here.

I’m planning to do more of these videos over the next few months, so like my Facebook page if you’d like to see them regularly.

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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Industry Insider: Pitching your manuscript overseas https://allisontait.com/2019/03/industry-insider-pitching-your-manuscript-overseas/ Thu, 28 Mar 2019 00:55:03 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7652 Kristyn M. Levis and I have been connected via blogging and social media for a very long time. Kristyn is based in Australia, where she is the co-owner of a ...

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Pitching your manuscript in the PhilippinesKristyn M. Levis and I have been connected via blogging and social media for a very long time. Kristyn is based in Australia, where she is the co-owner of a digital marketing agency, but her books are bestsellers in the Philippines.

So I invited her to write about how she came to publish her two YA novels – The Girl Between Two Worlds and The Girl Between Light And Dark (with a third on the way) overseas.

Take it away Kristyn!

Why I pitched my book overseas

Before we get into this, I want to let you know where I am right now to give you a snapshot of things:

·      I’ve traditionally published two urban fantasy YA books

·      The third one is set for release August 2019

·      I’ve self-published two children’s picture books through Createspace

·      There’s a fourth book in the works

·      I still don’t have an agent

Now that you have some context as to where I am now, I’ll tell you how I got here.

When I finished self-publishing my two children’s picture books, I decided to write my first-ever novel based on the mythology from my childhood.

The reason for all of it, all the writing and the publishing, is so my daughter will be able to read books that features half of her heritage – my half of it. I also wanted other kids outside of the Philippines to have their own culture reflected in my stories.

It took me a year to write the first book, The Girl Between Two Worlds, and another three years to edit it, with the help of editors and manuscript assessors. But when I started approaching publishers in Australia, I was getting the same reasons for the rejection:

·      They weren’t sure how to market my book

·      The monsters were too violent for YA

I realised very quickly that the only publishers who would ‘understand’ my books were the ones from the Philippines. I must admit that it disheartened me a bit. I wanted to add my stories to the increasing diversity of the YA book range in the country. But what can you do?

Choosing a publisher in the Philippines

Although I was familiar with the book publishers in the Philippines, I’ve been away for a long time – too long to know which ones were still around. So I Googled ‘book publishers Philippines’ and picked Anvil Publishing for several reasons:

·      They are the largest publisher in the Philippines,

·      they have a really good track record in the publishing world and

·      they are the publishing arm of the biggest chain of bookstores in the country.

When I pitched my book to Anvil Publishing, they embraced it with open arms. And luckily, so did the readers. So much so that the book was reprinted a year later.

The most common feedback I get from readers is that they were proud and excited that someone had taken Philippine mythology and spread it out into the world. They loved that the monsters that haunted our childhood were now haunting kids in America (the setting of the books).

The challenges

While I am happy with my publisher, there are challenges that come with having a publisher based overseas.

For one, my books can only be bought online. You can’t find them in bookstores in Australia, which means I have a hard time ‘selling’ myself here as a published author. I have donated my books in some libraries but that’s about all I can do.

Second, I miss out on a lot of events and opportunities to meet the readers. I’ve Skyped with them, emailed and interacted on social media but meet-and-greets are limited to when I am able to fly to the Philippines for festivals and holidays.

Third, it’s hard to pitch my situation to a literary agent. I still don’t have one now and I’m not sure I will end up with one in the future. But I’ve kinda accepted that already, anyway.

What now?

While my publisher and I are working on getting my third book out this year, I’m also polishing two other manuscripts.

In short, I am just going to keep doing the thing I love most – writing. There is no point obsessing about things I have no or little control over. What I can do, aside from writing more books, is nurture my relationship with my publisher and my readers, because I know I’m lucky. I’m lucky to have found a publisher who wants to work with me long term, and to find readers who are eagerly waiting for my next book.

It’s hard not to be happy with that.

You can find out more about K.M. Levis and her books, which are available via online bookshops in Australia, at her website here. Or connect with her, like I did, on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

 Subscribe to So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for more amazing writing tips.

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Small island voices: 10+ books for kids by Tasmanian authors https://allisontait.com/2019/03/10-books-for-kids-by-tasmanian-authors/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 01:42:37 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7633 Kate Gordon grew up in a small town by the sea in Tasmania. The author of six books for children, from picture books to YA, with a slew of others ...

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Your Kid's Next Read: 10 books for kids by Tasmanian authors | allisontait.comKate Gordon grew up in a small town by the sea in Tasmania. The author of six books for children, from picture books to YA, with a slew of others to come over 2019 and 2020, she is a proud supporter of ‘small island voices’. Kate’s latest novel, Girl Running, Boy Falling (Rhiza Edge), was longlisted for the 2019 CBCA Awards (Older Readers). Visit Kate’s website.

Here, Kate writes about growing up in Tasmania, and living there today. Of the local stories and authors that shaped her and turned her into a writer, and of the many wonderful authors writing from that small island today. She also recommends 10+ books for kids by Tasmanian authors for you to try.

Growing up in Tasmania

What do you think of, when you think of Tasmania?

When I was a teenager, I often caught a Redline bus, between our hometown on the North-West coast, and the ‘big smoke’ of Launceston.

Launceston had Myer. And Sportsgirl. And Target.

It was very exotic.

On the bus home, after one of our day trips, as we gossiped and ate our enormous cups of Target pick-n-mix (why don’t they still do those???), we slowly realised that the man in front of us was a tourist from Texas. We quietened, as we began to eavesdrop on his conversation with his (local) seat-neighbour.

And, as we listened, it soon became clear that this traveller had had some very strange thoughts about our home state, before he’d embarked upon this trip.

The most notable misinformation he’d been living with was that there were no people in Tasmania.

I’ll let that one sit with you.

He literally thought that our entire state was rainforest and wombats.

That moment, on that bus, has always stayed with me. And yes, I realise that times have probably changed. The advent of widespread internet access (the above memory took place in around 1998, so the internet was definitely already a “thing”, but it definitely wasn’t in common use in every household) has made it much more possible to know what life is like in faraway places.

Still, I have always lived with, in the back of my mind, that what overseas – and even interstate – people think of my island is very different from the reality.

One of the most notable areas where this is true is when it comes to our arts scene.

When I was a kid, I never considered that being a writer might be a possibility. Writers didn’t come from little towns like Wynyard. Writers came from the mythical place called ‘The Mainland’, and probably from the Magic Kingdom of Sydney.

I didn’t meet another writer until I was in high school – the magical unicorn, Steven Herrick came to speak at our school and changed my life.

But even he was from the big island.

He was a ‘mainlander’. He wasn’t like me.

It took moving to Hobart, in my early twenties, to pursue a career in librarianship, for me to discover that there were other writers in Tasmania. But again, all the ones I met seemed to be memoirists or poets.

I was only 23. I wasn’t old enough to be a memoirist. So, I tried to be a poet. I soon realised that I was probably too young to be a good poet, too.

What I really wanted to do was write children’s books.

But there were no other children’s writers in Tasmania, of course.

Well, that’s what I thought, then.

Becoming a writer in Tasmania

I didn’t know, then, that some of my favourite childhood books were written by a Tasmanian – Sally Odgers.

I didn’t know that the funny Warts ‘n’ All book I’d seen in the library of the school where I worked was also by a Tasmanian writer – Anne Morgan.

I didn’t know that Undine was written by Hobart girl, Penni Russon. I didn’t know that, living very near to where I grew up, there was an amazingly talented YA author called Kathryn Lomer, who would, in time, become one of my favourite authors, and a friend.

Most importantly of all, for my own writing journey, I didn’t know that there was an amazing picture book writer called Christina Booth, living in the city where I went to university, who would come to be one of my best writing friends and – accidentally – be responsible for me getting my start as a children’s writer.

All of this is to say, I was stunned listening to the tourist who thought that Tasmania was one enormous, heart-shaped forest, devoid of all civilisation. But I had some pretty big misconceptions of my own. Over the years, I have learned that Tasmania has a thriving, AMAZING, tight-knit and immensely welcoming children’s writing scene, and I feel so lucky to be able to now count myself as one of its members.

I also make it a priority to set all my stories in Tasmania. This is especially prominent in my latest novel, Girl Running, Boy Falling, which is set in my hometown on the North West Coast.

Because there might be other kids out there who don’t know that Tasmanian authors exist.

Because there might be other kids out there who never see themselves in stories.

Because there might be kids on the other side of the world who think that Tasmania is a Forest Land, and don’t know that our people have an incredible history, and incredible stories to tell.

And that we are not elves or woodland sprites. We are just like them.

10+ children’s books by Tasmanian authors

Below is a list of some of my very favourite Tasmanian stories. I encourage you to get a hold of them, and to seek out others. Help me spread the word about my beautiful island and the people who live here. We may be small, but our voices are still worth listening to.

1)     Talk Underwater by Kathryn Lomer

2)     Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt

3)     One Careless Night by Christina Booth

4)     Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks

5)     The Monsters of Tasmania by Rachel Tribout

6)     101 Collective Nouns by Jennifer Cossins

7)     The Moonlight Bird and the Grolken by Anne Morgan (ill, Lois Bury)

8)     The Freedom Finders (series) by Emily Conolan

9)     Outback Lullaby by Sally Odgers (ill, Lisa Stewart)

10)  The Keepers (series) – Lian Tanner

10+ books for kids by Tasmanian authors | allisontait.comHonourable mention for an “ex-pat” – The Endsister by Penni Russon

I also want to give one final shout-out to teenage artist and writer, Kiara Honeychurch, whose first picture book – In the Bush I See – has just been published by Magabala Books.

I think the future of our children’s writing industry is in good hands.

Find out more about Kate Gordon and her books at her website, or say hello on Twitter.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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[news] So You Want To Be A Writer: The EVENT https://allisontait.com/2019/03/news-so-you-want-to-be-a-writer-the-event/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 03:32:19 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7623 So here’s a thing… Valerie Khoo and I are taking the So You Want To Be A Writer show to Vivid Sydney! I know! An EVENT! We would LOVE for you ...

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So You Want To Be A Writer at Vivid Sydney 2019 | allisontait.comSo here’s a thing… Valerie Khoo and I are taking the So You Want To Be A Writer show to Vivid Sydney!

I know! An EVENT!

We would LOVE for you to join us for a (possibly slightly chaotic) live recording of the podcast, with a mix of practical tips and advice about writing and the publishing industry.

We’ll have expert (and amazing) insight from our special guests Candice Fox and Pamela Freeman, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet LOTS of other writers.

As always, our aim is to inspire you to follow your dream to be a writer – and to help you out by providing useful, tangible steps you can follow to get there.

It’s on Saturday, June 8, 11am-1pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

Tickets are $38.54 each (inc fees and GST), and numbers are strictly limited, so get in quick!

Please come. We’d love to see you.

You can find out more and buy tickets here.

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My 15 favourite podcast interviews from one million downloads https://allisontait.com/2019/03/my-15-favourite-podcast-interviews-from-one-million-downloads/ https://allisontait.com/2019/03/my-15-favourite-podcast-interviews-from-one-million-downloads/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2019 01:24:34 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7564 Last week, So You Want To Be A Writer, the podcast that I co-host with the wonderful Valerie Khoo from the Australian Writers’ Centre, ticked over a new milestone: one ...

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Last week, So You Want To Be15 favourite interviews from 1,000,000 downloads | allisontait.com A Writer, the podcast that I co-host with the wonderful Valerie Khoo from the Australian Writers’ Centre, ticked over a new milestone: one million downloads.

One. Million.

To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share my favourite author interviews since we began recording the podcast.

To be clear, I’ve enjoyed every single interview that I’ve recorded for the podcast. I have learnt something from every one, and have been astounded by the generosity of the authors to whom I’ve spoken.

But these are the ones that I remember the most, for a whole range of reasons. They’ve given me ‘aha’ moments. They’ve made me laugh. They’ve stayed with me.

If you haven’t discovered So You Want To Be A Writer, I hope you’ll begin your journey with these interviews.

If you’re a longtime fan, thank you so much for listening and helping us to reach such an extraordinary milestone. And I hope that perhaps you’ll have a second listen to these episodes, to see why I love them so much.

Click the author name and episode to listen/read the interview transcript.

Adrian McKinty, episode 97

I confess that I dragged Adrian on to the podcast simply because I am such a fan of his Sean Duffy crime novels, and I laughed so much during this engaging, rambling interview that I ended up an even bigger fan.

Andrew Faulkner, episode 101

This was a classic example of an interview ending up WAY more interesting than I ever expected. Andrew is a journalist and biographer and our discussion about his military biography ‘Stone Cold’ ranged far and wide.

Andy Griffiths, episode 67

How could I not include the most serious conversation about ‘bums’ I’ve ever had? Children’s author Andy Griffiths gave a masterclass on writing craft.

Anna Spargo-Ryan, episode 110

Anna is a dear friend and our discussion was part interview, part catch up. She continues to write some of the most beautiful sentences I’ve ever read.

Dervla McTiernan, episode 271

Our most recent episode and a thoughtful and incredibly engaging interview about crime novels and the double-sided nature of fortune.

Fiona Mcintosh, episode 264

“Nobody cares about your book,” says this bestselling author and that, along with some other blunt advice about the writing industry, is why this interview is a favourite.

Garry Disher, episode 196

Considered and articulate writing tips delivered in a very, very soothing voice.

Jackie French, episode 214

I think what I loved most about all the writing tips and advice in this interview was how unexpected they were. Jackie takes ‘read lots, write lots’ to a whole different level.

Karen Foxlee, episode 257

This children’s author and her ‘puddle of words’ writing process (so very different to my own) will stay with me for a long time. One of the episodes that reminded me to always stay open to other ways.

Marisa Pintado, episode 182

A really insightful look at the publishing process and the role of a publisher and editor in children’s and YA fiction.

Michael Robotham, episode 26

I’m not sure what it is about crime authors, but they really are the most personable and generous people. Michael says he looks like, and I quote, ‘a kitten killer’, but he takes us inside the daily routine and writing process of an international-bestselling author.

Nick Earls, episode 28

My overwhelming memory of this interview is that it could have gone on for days. Looking at the transcription, it was definitely one of the longer ones, but that’s because I was finding it all so damn interesting!

R.A Spratt, episode 268

Again, honesty is at the heart of this interview with bestselling children’s author Rachel (R.A) Spratt. She gives a very straight-forward insight into the business of writing for children.

Sarah Keenihan, episode 125

Science writer Sarah gave us great insight into the art and craft of blending scientific knowledge and words.

Sophie Green, episode 194

In a former life, Sophie was my literary agent, and nobody was more thrilled than I was when her debut novel went gangbusters. Our interview ranged across many topics, from the writing process to how to get published.

 

Enjoy!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

 Subscribe to So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for more amazing writing tips.

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Meet me at the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival https://allisontait.com/2019/02/meet-me-at-the-whitsunday-voices-youth-literature-festival/ Thu, 21 Feb 2019 00:49:02 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7537 The presenters for the 2019 Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival have been announced, and I’m thrilled to be one of them. Taking place this year from 17-19 July, the festival ...

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Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival | allisontait.comThe presenters for the 2019 Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival have been announced, and I’m thrilled to be one of them.

Taking place this year from 17-19 July, the festival bills itself as a celebration of reading, writing and creative thinking – three of my favourite things! – for students, teachers and residents around Mackay, Qld.

I’ll be taking part in panels, presenting an author talk on Where Ideas Come From, and sharing my workshop on Finding Your Writing Superpower.

You’ll find details of the presenter line-up, which also includes amazing authors such as Tim Harris, Michael Gerard Bauer, Samantha Wheeler, Steven Herrick, Aleesah Darlison, and more, here.

Can’t wait!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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Industry Insider: Exploring dark themes in YA fiction https://allisontait.com/2019/02/industry-insider-exploring-dark-themes-in-ya-fiction/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 00:25:18 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7493 Regular readers of this blog will know that I run an irregular series called Industry Insider, in which professionals offer their insights into some of the big questions about writing, ...

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Exploring dark themes in YA fictionRegular readers of this blog will know that I run an irregular series called Industry Insider, in which professionals offer their insights into some of the big questions about writing, editing, reading and publishing.

This week, Matt Davies, Australian author of debut YA novel This Thing Of Darkness, has popped in to talk about how to manage dark themes in YA fiction. It’s a delicate balance between exploring a difficult theme in a realistic way – and keeping the teen reading.

Here, Matt explains why he believes that challenging books should be part of every teen’s reading life. 

Take it away, Matt Davies…

Exploring dark themes in YA fiction

A big part of becoming an adult is discovering that the world can be a really dark place. Bad things happen.

Men kill women who they’re supposed to love, children die at random from terminal diseases, and young people self-harm and take their own lives.

These are harsh realities, and one of the strengths of young adult fiction is that it gives teenagers a way in to these issues in a safe place where they can explore and think about them at arm’s length.

There’s no shortage of difficult themes in modern-day YA. In fact, unashamedly feel-good new releases are in short supply.

Mental illness is being explored more and more (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini; Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Adib Khorram), and trauma, particularly the death of a loved one (The Protected, Claire Zorn; Words in Deep Blue, Cath Crowley), is well covered.

Stories about psychological disorders (Everything Everything, Nicola Yoon; Highly Illogical Behaviour, John Corey Whaley) and psychological trauma (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky) are relatively easy to find.

But many of these stories deal with situations that are out of the protagonist’s control or, to look at it another way, not their fault. They delve into plotlines that the characters have been forced into in some way, and the books end up focusing on how the characters learn to deal with their newfound reality.

But what about books that explore dark situations of the character’s own making? Books that ask us to empathise with someone who has done something incomprehensible? There’s not so many of those.

Responsibility and consent

Chris Lynch writes a lot about boys behaving badly. His 2005 YA novel Inexcusable is told from the perspective of a twelfth-grader called Keir. Keir is a loyal friend and a devoted son and brother. He sees himself as a good guy. He loves his girlfriend and would never hurt her.

But then she accuses him of rape.

As the reader, we can clearly see that the image Keir has of himself is skewed. He lives with his lonely, widowed dad, who treats him more like a mate than a son. His dad is an enabler and part of the reason why Keir constantly justifies his own bad behaviour. His family wouldn’t love and support him if he was a monster, right?

It’s a provocative book that raises important issues about intent, responsibility and consent. Ultimately, though, it’s about the lies we tell ourselves and owning up to the choices we make. All choices have consequences – that’s a very adult concept but one that can’t be dodged.

Rage and redemption

Gail Giles’ Right Behind You (2007) is another YA novel that tackles a tough moral issue for teens. It tells the story of Kip, a 14-year-old boy living with an agonising secret – when he was nine, he set a kid on fire in a jealous rage and the kid died.

Now Kip is starting high school with a new identity after spending four years in juvenile detention. Just as he begins to form friendships, he makes a huge mistake – he talks about his past. The town turns on him and we get the sense that Kip’s life is destined to be a revolving door of secrecy and guilt.

What makes this story so thought-provoking is that Kip is not a psychopath or a faceless serial killer that society can lock up and write off. He’s a kid. In fact, he’s a likeable kid, with a good sense of humour and a huge capacity for love. But he did a horrible thing, and now he has to live with the consequences.

Right Behind You is a powerful story about rage and redemption, guilt and forgiveness. It’s about owning up to your actions and then learning how to move forward.

Balance and consequences

The idea that there are certain issues that teens can’t handle in their fiction is ridiculous. There’s no restriction on what they can access online or in films or in books marketed at adults. In fact, YA fiction is the perfect place to explore darker themes in a considered way.

But there has to be a balance and there has to be consequences. By balance, I mean exploring issues from all sides. And by consequences, I mean that the bad behaviour can’t go unchecked.

My YA novel, This Thing of Darkness, takes on a similar subject to Right Behind You. Dean is 18 and living with a secret past involving years in a youth justice facility for committing a violent crime. Now he’s out and hiding who he really is and what he did. But he soon learns that he will never truly escape his past. He can only learn to live with it, even if those around him can’t.

I work as a freelance editor, and in 2017 I edited a government report into the state of Victoria’s youth justice system. It was dire – harsher than the adult system and not enough focus on rehabilitation. This Thing of Darkness encourages readers to consider the story behind the story.

What drives a child to commit an aggravated crime? What can we do to help them before they do, while they’re incarcerated and after they get out? Without support, in too many cases the cycle of crime continues. And that’s bad for everyone.

Books that ask us to sympathise with teen rapists and child killers are not easy reads. But YA shouldn’t be easy. It should be challenging and it should spark conversations. It should provoke.

Some novels empower; others enlighten. Some do both. I love a great story that follows the hero’s journey – one that sees the protagonist achieve a massive victory against their nemesis at the end.

But the reality is that sometimes we will never be able to achieve the victory we envisage. So we have to settle for a different kind of victory – a lesser one, but something we can accept – and then carry on.

And that’s all part of growing up.

This Thing Of Darkness by Matt DaviesMatt Davies’s novel, This Thing of Darkness, was published by Scholastic Australia in November 2018. The manuscript was highly commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for an Unpublished Manuscript.Find out more about Matt and his writing on his website or follow him on Twitter.

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Want to write for children or YA? Don’t miss this pop-up podcast https://allisontait.com/2019/02/want-to-write-for-children-or-ya-dont-miss-this-pop-up-podcast/ Thu, 07 Feb 2019 02:46:05 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7481 As the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast nears its 270th episode (and it’s one millionth download – stand by!), it has become an incredibly deep and rich ...

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New: Magic & Mayhem podcast series, all about writing for children and YA | allisontait.comAs the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast nears its 270th episode (and it’s one millionth download – stand by!), it has become an incredibly deep and rich resource of interviews, stories, anecdotes and information from published authors of all kinds from Australia and around the world.

Which gives us a LOT of great advice to play with.

Today, the amazing team at the Australian Writers’ Centre released a wonderful curated ‘pop up’ podcast series called Magic & Mayhem.

Featuring 40 incredible interviews with authors such as Andy Griffiths, Jacqueline Harvey, Tristan Bancks, Lauren Child, Wendy Orr and more, it’s a fantastic exploration of the world of children’s and YA fiction, from picture books through chapter books and middle-grade and right up to teens.

But wait, there’s more.

The AWC team has also created a fantastic FREE companion ebook that brings together the very best of the advice that each episode offers.

Oh. My.

You’ll find all the details about the podcast and how to claim your free book here.

Or you can just start listening right now here, or on iTunes here.

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Industry Insider: Writing crime thrillers for adults and teens https://allisontait.com/2019/02/industry-insider-writing-crime-thrillers-for-adults-and-teens/ Mon, 04 Feb 2019 01:48:18 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7447 Two of the best things about Twitter are the people you get to know on the platform and the things you get to learn on the platform. Those two things ...

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Industry Insider: writing crime thrillers for adults and teens | allisontait.comTwo of the best things about Twitter are the people you get to know on the platform and the things you get to learn on the platform.

Those two things came together for me perfectly recently when the fabulous Australian YA author Ellie Marney put together a Twitter thread about writing crime thrillers for teens.

You might remember Ellie from this post [6 top #LoveOzYA authors talk about writing], where I flagged the excellent podcast interview we did together, or this post [How to tell when your writing is good enough], where she shared her thoughts on this subject.

Or you might remember this review from Book Boy of the first book in her award-winning ‘Every’ series.

Anyway, the thread on Twitter was so fabulous that I reached out and asked Ellie to put it together into a blog post.

Take it away, Ellie Marney!

How to write crime thrillers for adults and teens

Crime thrillers are a lot of fun to write, but you have to know how to piece them together. It’s easy to get lost amongst the plot twists, dark alleyways and red herrings – so here are some tips to keep you on the straight and narrow…

•Before you get started, check out some of the key elements of the thriller. Make sure you read books in the genre – focus on books you’ve enjoyed, or that you think are good examples. And read this great article by Hunter Emkay.

•Begin with the threat in the story (the crime) from your very first chapter – or introduce your protagonist with some dark foreshadowing – to grab your reader from the start.

•In a thriller, your villain drives the story. Your protagonist is always chasing one step behind…until the moment they catch up in the finale.

•Different sub-genres have different types of conflict:
–In an action thriller, there’s always a physical battle, and your protagonist should be in physical danger.
–In a psychological thriller, there might still be action, but the main conflict is the mental clash between protagonist and villain. The danger is to the protagonist’s mind or intrinsic identity and your protagonist needs to outwit the villain.

A thriller isn’t like a procedural: motives and intentions can be more important than the technical aspects of the crime. Think long and hard about why your villain is so villainous.

•Always complicate things emotionally and mentally for your protagonist. Your supporting cast, for instance, should all carry some personal baggage that increases conflict.

A great way to maintain momentum is to include scenes when decisions and plans have to be made by your hero and their allies in the middle of a crisis, or while in transit.

Conflict should continually escalate (like in any good novel) and the ticking-clock element is vital.

•The story engine for a crime thriller isn’t quite like a conventional Hero’s Journey arc – you have to factor in twist endings, for instance. A great primer on crime thriller story engines comes from Matt Rees in this post.

Keep these important differences between a suspense story and a thriller in mind:
–In a Suspense Story – your reader knows something your protagonist doesn’t, and tension builds;
–In a Thriller – your reader doesn’t see the threat coming (cue jump scare!)
–In a Suspense-thriller (combination) – the reader is waiting for something to happen. Your protagonist’s job is to stop it from happening. The reader identifies with the protagonist and becomes are participant in the race against time.

Extra tips for YA thriller authors

•Remember to give your teen protagonist agency. Don’t let adults drive the narrative action!

•The best way to give teen protagonists narrative agency is to give them a connection to the crime (as a witness, suspect, trainee investigator, high school journalist…Veronica Mars, anyone?). Alternatively they could have a connection to the victim of the crime, or to the villain.

•Creating that connection is doubly important because when an adult protagonist investigates, it’s usually their job – they have external motivation, regardless of their internal motivation. But when a teen investigates, they need a major internal push to keep going when things get dangerous. And you want things to get dangerous.

Externally, teen protagonists will have adults telling them to stay out of it, parents who are worried for their safety etc. Not all teens can drive, or have a car. Juveniles don’t usually have credit cards or ready cash. They’re supposed to be in school, and keeping up with their friends and homework. They have a lot of external restrictions and pressures. You can use all that to create additional conflict.

Three additional top tips

1.Whether you’re writing for teens or adults, make sure your villain is an equal match with your protagonist. They should be as intelligent and driven and multi-dimensional as your hero. Don’t let your story down with a weak antagonist. Is your protagonist the villain themselves? Bonus points!

2.Ask yourself, ‘what would the reader expect to happen?‘ – then discard those ideas. You want to write the unexpected.

3.Above all remember what a crime story is – it’s a story of the human puzzle, the primal conflict between the good and evil in peoples’ hearts. What makes a normal person do evil things? Crime narratives are a form of morality play, in which the reader is made aware of a lesson to be learned about human nature. So think carefully: What is the reader learning in your story?

And happy writing!

Ellie Marney is an Australian teacher and author of nine YA crime titles, including the Every series, White Night and the Circus Hearts series. She is the winner of a Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto Award and a Davitt Award, and been shortlisted for the ACWA Ned Kelly Award. Find out more at Ellie’s website.

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! You can find out more about me here, and more about The Mapmaker Chronicles and the Ateban Cipher, my epic adventure series for middle-grade readers here. Thanks for visiting!

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Celebrating my 10th anniversary: 10 favourite posts from 10 years of blogging https://allisontait.com/2019/01/celebrating-my-10th-anniversary-10-favourite-posts-from-10-years-of-blogging/ Thu, 31 Jan 2019 07:11:58 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7426 Ten years ago I started a blog. In the decade that followed my first terrible post (which disappeared in a blog clean-up some years ago), I have written hundreds and ...

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Celebrating 10 years of blogging: 10 favourite posts | allisontait.comTen years ago I started a blog.

In the decade that followed my first terrible post (which disappeared in a blog clean-up some years ago), I have written hundreds and hundreds of blog posts as this blog morphed from being a daily blog about Life In A Pink Fibro into an author blog as I shared my (then) career as a freelance writer and my journey into becoming a published author of children’s fiction.

I’ve really struggled with writing this post. In the past, I’ve celebrated my blogging anniversary with posts about things I’ve learned about blogging in that year. I’ve listed them all at the end of this post so you can follow the whole journey.

I dallied with crowdsourcing the post by posting a Facebook callout, where regular readers shared their most memorable posts with me. Here are a few:

And so I opened the suitcase

6 tips for getting back into the swing with your writing

You will never find time to write your novel

But at the end of the day, I’ve decided that I’m going to do two things to celebrate this milestone.

  1. Share the biggest thing I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years.
  2. Share MY favourite posts from 10 years of blogging.

Brace yourselves.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years

So, the biggest lesson I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years is that blogging is about connections. The thing is, it didn’t really take me 10 years to grasp this. In fact, I blogged about it in my FIRST year. It’s called Why Blogging Is Not Writing and it also came up on the list of reader favourites.

This lesson was reinforced for me in the most painful of circumstances in January when a dear friend of mine – who I met through blogging and with whom I would never have made friends were it not for blogging – lost her beloved husband very suddenly. I think about her every day, and I make contact with her every few days, just to let her know I’m thinking of her. To connect.

If you’re not blogging to connect with people, you’re not doing it right.

Which brings me to…

My favourite posts from 10 years of blogging

These are not the most popular posts. They’re not necessarily the ones that bring the most traffic. They’re the posts that make me smile, the ones that remind me of how blogging really helped me to bring my writing voice down from ‘broadcast’ (think magazines, newspapers, writing for others) to ‘intimate’.

The ones that helped me to develop my inside voice.

Some of them are (gasp) posts I’ve written for other people’s blogs.

And here they are, in no particular order.

Growing up

Getting ready for Big School is for the birds

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Are you ignoring your best ideas?

Why I love reluctant heroes

In writing, as in life, ride your own race

Where angels fear to tread

Words no parent wants to hear: “This could be highly dangerous.”

10 things to do while you’re waiting on your writing (I still hate waiting so I go back to this one often)

The big questions: birds and bees and … whales

So there you have it.

And here are some of those other posts about blogging I mentioned:

My top 3 tips from nine years of author blogging 

The one thing I’ve learnt in my fifth year of blogging

My #1 tip for bloggers

Blogging: inviting readers home

12 things I learned in my 2nd year of blogging

Four things I learned in my fourth year of blogging

Three things I’ve learned in my third year of blogging

To those members of my community who have been with me since the Life In A Pink Fibro days, I say thank you for your comments, your encouragement and your support. 

To those who’ve discovered the blog more recently, to visit regularly or just to pop in occasionally, I say thank you for jumping on board and sharing my journey.

If you’re new here, welcome! You can find out more about me and the various things I do here and more about my middle-grade books here. 

Here’s to another 10 years!

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NEWS: That time I received an Australia Day Award https://allisontait.com/2019/01/news-that-time-i-received-an-australia-day-award/ https://allisontait.com/2019/01/news-that-time-i-received-an-australia-day-award/#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2019 03:50:58 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7411 Last night, I was honoured (also, astonished) to receive an Australia Day Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Culture at the 2019 Shoalhaven City Council ceremony. Thank you to ...

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Allison Tait Australia Day AwardsLast night, I was honoured (also, astonished) to receive an Australia Day Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Culture at the 2019 Shoalhaven City Council ceremony.

Thank you to Jane Sim who nominated me for the Award and to the community panel who chose me for this honour. Huge congratulations to all of the new citizens and other award winners.

Also, Procrastipup, my constant writing companion, would like it known that he was there in spirit…

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How to choose (or write) a story for beginner readers https://allisontait.com/2019/01/how-to-choose-or-write-a-story-for-beginner-readers/ Tue, 22 Jan 2019 06:55:06 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7387 It’s that time of year in Australia, as the last days of the school holidays wind down and our thoughts turn to A4-sized exercise books, glue sticks and shiny new ...

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How to find (and write) stories for early readers | allisontait.comIt’s that time of year in Australia, as the last days of the school holidays wind down and our thoughts turn to A4-sized exercise books, glue sticks and shiny new school shoes.

For parents with kids in the early years of school, or even at preschool, thoughts might also turn to the best ways to help kids nail the basics of reading and become independent readers.

Writers might be thinking about how best to write stories for those kids.

The Your Kids’ Next Read Facebook group is a great source of advice when it comes to finding books for early readers. And, as it turns out, for those who might be wanting to try their hand at writing for those who are just grasping the basics.

Graeme Wilkinson is one such resource. As a parent supporting his own daughter who is taking her first steps into reading, and as a kindergarten teacher in Japan who has been teaching preschool children how to read more for than six years, he offers the following advice on what to look for in a book for early readers – and how to tailor stories to help first-time readers begin to read independently.

So, let’s turn the YKNR Author Spotlight on Graeme Wilkinson, with his five top tips for creating stories for early readers (and what to look for when you’re searching for books suitable for your new reader).

1. Try to use basic three-letter words as much as possible (words like cat, mat, rat, dog, fox, box, hop, nap, etc). Keep an open mind that there are three-letter words that don’t follow the fundamentals of basic phonics (words like ice, eat, eye, toe, day, fly, etc). Words that contain four or more letters are a challenge for first-time readers.

2. Keep your sentences short. Young children have short attention spans. For a first-time reader trying to read independently, it can take a long time to read a single word. Meaning comes only after reading a complete sentence, so keeping a sentence short allows them to combine all the words they can read and gain its meaning. This usually brings a great smile to their faces as they have conquered their first sentences as an independent reader.

3. A big text size is important. First-time readers learn best by physically touching each letter in a word on the page. If the text is too small, their fingers will touch one or two letters at the same time, letters may blend into a single-shaped word from their perspective and the result is more of a challenge for them. We should aim to set them up for reading success. So make it as easy as possible for them to succeed.

4. Try using word families in a story. Word families are words that share the same sound. If you are writing a story about a “hen” try and include words like pen, ten, den, men, Ben (perhaps the hen’s name) to emphasis the “en” sound. Once they become familiar enough with this sound, their reading speed (and enjoyment) will increase.

5. Try to avoid using too many sight words in a story. Sight words are generally regarded as high-frequency words that don’t follow the rules of phonics. Words like a, the, to, they, said, etc are words that cannot be read phonetically. These words are incredibly important for children to learn to read by sight alone. However, don’t overwhelm first-time readers with too many in a sentence or a story. This will result in a child’s frustration and their desire to have their parent read to them again.

“The aim for a book for first-time readers should be building a child’s confidence to read independently,” says Graeme. “There are a lot of good books out there for children to learn how to read, but few are basic enough for first-time readers to read without a parent’s support.”

Graeme set about creating his own stories. “Based on my experience teaching children to read, studying the research, discussing with colleagues and experts in this field, and the importance of decodable books for children who have dsylexia, I have developed my own stories pinpointing the most fundamental start to learning how to read for first-time readers,” he says.

The aim of a book for first-time readers should be building a child’s confidence and enjoyment to read.

Writing stories for early readers | allisontait.comYou can try Graeme’s story Dex, a short story about a greedy dog, here for free as a mobi and PDF file. It’s designed to help first-time readers who know their basic phonics sounds to read independently. There is also a reading guide at the back for parents who check in on their child’s comprehension.

If your kid loves Dex, please leave a review on Goodreads here.

And please join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group here.

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The Book Of Secrets + The Book Of Answers out now in the US! https://allisontait.com/2019/01/the-book-of-secrets-the-book-of-answers-out-now-in-the-us/ https://allisontait.com/2019/01/the-book-of-secrets-the-book-of-answers-out-now-in-the-us/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2019 03:30:02 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7355 Welcome to 2019! I hope you’ve had a fantastic and very restful holiday break. I’ve spent a few weeks away from my blog and everything that goes with it, and ...

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Out now in the USA: The Ateban Cipher series by A.L. TaitWelcome to 2019! I hope you’ve had a fantastic and very restful holiday break.

I’ve spent a few weeks away from my blog and everything that goes with it, and I confess to feeling much refreshed by the virtual vacation.

But I’m back at my desk today and ready to do some serious editing (or, let’s face it, as ready as I ever am to face editing…)

While I was off at the beach, however, some exciting things have been happening.

My two Ateban Cipher novels, The Book Of Secrets and The Book of Answers, are now both available in the United States through Kane Miller, the fab people who have already brought The Mapmaker Chronicles series to US and Canadian readers.

The Book Of Secrets (Ateban Cipher 1) by A.L. Tait out now in the USA

The covers may be different  but the epic adventure story, about the secrets of the mysterious coded manuscript known as The Ateban Cipher, remains the same.

As does the dedication in The Book Of Secrets.

Dedication from The Book Of Secrets by A.L. Tait

You can find out more about the books and purchase them directly here on the publisher’s website

I hope that US readers will take Gabe, Merry, Gwyn and the rest of the gang to their hearts in the way that Australian readers have done (you can read the Goodreads reviews here and here)! Thanks for all your support.

Looking for the Australian editions of The Ateban Cipher? You’ll find them here.

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My top 10 posts for writers (2018 edition) https://allisontait.com/2018/12/my-top-10-posts-for-writers-2018-edition/ https://allisontait.com/2018/12/my-top-10-posts-for-writers-2018-edition/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2018 00:22:33 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7299 I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again! I’m taking a break from the online world for a few weeks at the end of this week, so I ...

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top 10 posts for writers (2018) | allisontait.comI can’t believe it’s that time of the year again! I’m taking a break from the online world for a few weeks at the end of this week, so I thought I’d start sharing some of my ‘new year’ posts early, starting with this one.

I’m always fascinated to see which of my ‘writing’ posts resonate the most each year, and this year is no different. So here they are, in descending order from 10-1, the 10 most popular posts about writing on this site in 2018. (Click the title to see the full post)

The one superpower that all published writers have

Industry Insider: How do you know when a story is finished?

Ask the writer: How to build your author platform

Starting Out #3: Do you need to do a course to be a writer?

6 skills you need to make it as a copywriter

Writing for kids: How to create remarkable characters

Writing for kids: 10 top writing tips from bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey

My top 3 tips from nine years of author blogging

Industry Insider: How to tell when your writing is ‘good enough’

10 things I’ve learnt from writing my debut novel 

Want more? You’ll find all of my posts about writing here.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m the author of two epic adventure series for kids 9+, and you can find out more about me here. Click the images below to discover more about my books.

The Ateban Cipher adventure series for kids 9-12 is out now!

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100+ gift book ideas for kids of all ages https://allisontait.com/2018/12/100-gift-book-ideas-for-kids-of-all-ages/ Tue, 11 Dec 2018 23:41:11 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7281 Today the very last of my 2018 book lists was published by Vanessa over at Style & Shenanigans, so it seems a very good time to collate them all in ...

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100+ book gift ideas for kids of all ages | allisontait.comToday the very last of my 2018 book lists was published by Vanessa over at Style & Shenanigans, so it seems a very good time to collate them all in one place for easy reference (as much for me, as for you…)

So, here it is, the ultimate list of my recent book lists. Hundreds of books for readers aged from babies to teens.

If you’re looking for a new read for your kids for Christmas, for the holidays, or at any time of year, bookmark this page for easy reference. Click the post title to visit the full list.

Your Kid’s Next Read: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition)

15 more tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys (+ 13 expert choices)

5 picture book picks for Christmas

10 spooky (or scary) middle-grade books for Halloween

40 YA books for tweens (+ 25 middle-grade books that feel like YA)

23 newish books for tweens by Australian women

21 book gifts for reluctant readers they won’t be able to resist

30 books by Australian authors to give to kids this Christmas

30 (more) brilliant books for girls this Christmas

The best kids’ books for Christmas

I’m sure you’ll find the perfect book for your young reader on one of these lists!

Need more? You’ll find another 100+ book ideas for your young reader here, in my round-up on last year’s book lists (great books remain great books, no matter what year they’re published, after all…)

If you’re after specific recommendations for a very particular kind of reader, why not join my Facebook community Your Kid’s Next Read, where you’ll find 5000+ parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians, bloggers and other interested parties all ready to help with recommendations? We’d love to see you there.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m the author of two epic adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and you can find out more about me here.

Both The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher are great for kids aged 9+ and you can find out more about them here

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Event: Kids’ Day Out 2019 https://allisontait.com/2018/12/event-kids-day-out-2019/ Tue, 04 Dec 2018 23:24:50 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7260 Even as the year winds down, it’s time to look ahead to 2019! I’m pleased to announce that I’ll once again be taking part in the Kids’ Day Out at ...

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Kids Day Out Dapto January 2019 | allisontait.comEven as the year winds down, it’s time to look ahead to 2019!

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll once again be taking part in the Kids’ Day Out at Dapto Ribbonwood Centre and Library on 17th January, 2019. It’s a free event put on by the Illawarra-South Coast branch of the NSW Children’s Book Council Of Australia (my local chapter) and features a full program of fabulous local authors from 10am-2pm.

Here’s an overview of the authors involved, each presenting a fabulous workshop aimed at getting kids reading, writing and illustrating.

Program Kids Day Out Dapto January 2019 | allisontait.com

And here’s the full program, with something for all ages from 3-13 years.

Program Kids Day Out Dapto January 2019 | allisontait.com

As you can see, I’ll be presenting my ‘Find Your Writing Superpower’ workshop, and I’m really looking forward to helping a bunch of kids identify their writing strengths. There will also be copies of The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher series for sale, and I look forward to signing them for readers.

Hope to see you there. Tickets are free but space in some workshops is limited. Book tickets here to secure your spot in the sessions that interest you!

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Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition) https://allisontait.com/2018/11/your-kids-next-read-recommended-reading-lists-for-kids-10-12-14-2018-edition/ https://allisontait.com/2018/11/your-kids-next-read-recommended-reading-lists-for-kids-10-12-14-2018-edition/#comments Tue, 13 Nov 2018 03:53:30 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7203 In 2016, I started a Facebook group called Your Kid’s Next Read with everyone’s favourite teacher-librarian/blogger Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily. Our idea was to bring together a community ...

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Your Kid's Next Read: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition) | allisontait.comIn 2016, I started a Facebook group called Your Kid’s Next Read with everyone’s favourite teacher-librarian/blogger Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily.

Our idea was to bring together a community of parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians and other interested parties to recommend great children’s books to each other, ensuring that every kid – be they a reluctant reader or an advanced reader – would have a ‘perfect next book’ for their reading journey.

Not long after we started, we created a recommended reading list, which was an overview of books that were recommended over and over in the group. There are two parts to that list:

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 3-9+

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, YA for tweens

Both of these lists are terrific and the books and authors on these lists are STILL recommended over and over within our group.

BUT, time passes, new members join and amazing new books come out all the time.

Your Kid’s Next Read (2018)

Today, our YKNR community has 5000+ members and it’s a thriving, busy place (you should join us here). So, Megan and I, and our excellent moderator Allison Rushby, decided it was time for an update of our list. So we threw it open to our membership once again.

These are the books that YKNR members thought were missing from our reading lists, along with some stellar reads that the YKNR Admin Team wouldn’t want you to miss. Click the book title* to find out more about each book to help you decide if it’s right for your kid.

Between the new list and our earlier one, we just know you’ll find an amazing next read for your kid right here!

Books for kids 10+

Storm Boy by Colin Thiele

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

The Turnkey by Allison Rushby

The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby

Nevermoor (series) by Jessica Townsend

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (I highly recommend the audio book for this one – Heather, YKNR member)

The Penderwicks (series) by Jeanne Birdsall

His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda

City of Orphans (series) by Catherine Jinks

Tarin Of The Mammoths by Jo Sandhu

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

The Ateban Cipher (series) by A.L. Tait

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Pamela Rushby

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The YKNR Admin team would add:

Figgy In The World (series) by Tamsin Janu

Woo’s Wonderful World Of Maths by Eddie Woo

The Shop at Hooper’s Bend by Emily Rodda

Missing by Sue Whiting

Kensy and Max by Jacqueline Harvey

Lenny’s Book Of Everything by Karen Foxlee

The Boy and The Spy by Felice Arena

The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser

The Endsister by Penni Russon

Lockwood & Co (series) by Jonathon Stroud

A Ghost in my Suitcase (series) by Gabrielle Wang

Greenglass House (series) by Kate Milford

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Snow Pony by Alison Lester

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr

Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim

Whimsy and Woe by Rebecca McRitchie

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh

Books for kids 12+

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird series) by Claudia Gray

Frogkisser by Garth Nix

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song Of The Lioness series) by Tamora Pierce

The YKNR Admin team would add:

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Arkanae (The Medoran Chronicles series) by Lynette Noni

The Fall by Tristan Bancks

Liars (series) by Jack Heath

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

Indigo Blue by Jessica Watson

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Riders Of Thunder Realm (Paladero series) by Steven Lochran

Ice Wolves (Elementals series) by Amie Kaufman

Books for kids 14+

Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth

Carve The Mark (series) by Veronica Roth

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Across the Nightingale Floor (series) by Lian Hearn

Chaos Walking (series) by Patrick Ness

Road to Winter (Wilder series) by Mark Smith

The YKNR Admin Team would add:

I Am Out With Lanterns by Emily Gale

White Night by Ellie Marney

Living On Hope Street by Demet Divaroren

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology (Edited by Danielle Binks)

After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Brontide by Sue McPherson

Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia (edited by Anita Heiss)

The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer

Warcross (series) by Marie Lu

Bro by Helen Chebatte

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon

The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick

Just Breathe by Andrew Daddo

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Don’t forget to check the original recommended reads list here as well. 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic adventure series for kids 9+ – The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher (click the titles to find out more about my books).

 

*NB: This site uses affiliate links. You’ll find more information here. Most of the books on the lists are also available at your local independent bookshop, on Amazon, or at your preferred online bookseller.

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Come and say hello at Wollongong Writers’ Festival https://allisontait.com/2018/11/come-and-say-hello-at-wollongong-writers-festival/ Fri, 02 Nov 2018 01:35:34 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7183 I’m gearing up for my last official public appearance of the year and I hope you’ll come along to cheer me on! I’m part of the children’s program for Wollongong ...

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A. L. Tait at Wollongong Writers' Festival2018I’m gearing up for my last official public appearance of the year and I hope you’ll come along to cheer me on!

I’m part of the children’s program for Wollongong Writers’ Festival, which is being held as part of Viva La Gong on 10 November, 2018, at McCabe Park in Wollongong.

It’s going to be a really fun day out, and the children’s program includes:

•the fabulous Sue Whiting, whose latest picture book In The Deep Dark Forest is proving a hit with young readers
Dale Newman, illustrator of KidGlovz, one of Book Boy’s fave graphic novels a few years back, and
Gabrielle ‘Journey’ Jones, whose spoken word poetry is a joy to behold.

My one-hour slot starts at 1.40pm, and I’ll be talking to kids about inspiration, ideas, and tips for writing great stories, as well as reading from The Book Of Secrets (Ateban Cipher #1).

I’ll have copies The Mapmaker Chronicles and Ateban Cipher series for sale, so come along and pick up signed copies for Christmas!

More information here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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