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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kristen's book trailer

I've been encouraging my students to make book trailers. My class are currently doing some as a follow-up to their Literature Circles and as a sweetener I've suggested we could enter any that are completed on time to the Inkys Creative Reading on Insideadog. The only headache was all the copyright issues. There are web sites with some creative commons free-use stuff on them, but try telling that to the boy who just wants a picture of a green Chinese dragon to go on his book trailer for Dragonkeeper!

However, there is, I have discovered, a "fair use" thing for education purposes and I am told that as long as you acknowledge, it should be okay.

Meanwhile, some of my book club members have been having a go. One of them is Kristen Huang, a young lady who simply loved Wolfborn. She wants to enter her trailer and I have put it up on Teachertube, but right now the thing is appearing without sound and I know the sound is copyright-free, because the artists on that web site did give their permission for free use of their music.

The images may be another matter, but she has acknowledged the web site and I'd like to say here that there is no intention to infringe copyright and it was done just so that we can enter the competition (prize: an e-reader, not money).

So for the time being, I'm going to pop Kristen's book trailer up here and hope no one objects. I'm very proud of her.

My Reading is Up

My reading from To Kill A Mockingbird is now up on the Banned Books Week dedicated channel. It's a great place to visit. All those banned books being read. Take a look: By the way, I think it might sometimes be a good idea to ban a book. There's this discussion up on Goodreads about Catcher In The Rye with people complaining they had to read it at school, that they loved it as teens and hate it now, that they can't see how teens could like it because clearly this guy doesn't know about teens... Of course, it's the first book considered to be YA, but never mind. I read it three times before I was out of high school (once for pleasure, twice for school - Year 11 and Year 12). Just as well I liked it the first time! My advice: ban it again. Then people will want to read it. ;-)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Book Week Video and Me

Boy, did I have fun and games loading my first video on Youtube! I decided to read from To Kill A Mockingbird - that wonderful scene where Scout has her first day at school with this pretty young thing just starting out in teaching. I soon found that the two minutes allowed for a Banned Book Week Virtual Readout didn't give me much time to read that scene, so I cut it down to a little snippet which I recorded on Photo Booth. I then followed the instructions and proudly uploaded it as instructed on the Youtube upload page. Er ... yes. It stopped after 40 seconds of the two minutes and when I went to check out the video the synch was appalling. My voice was reading normal speed but the image was rushing along at about a million miles an hour. At this stage I haven't a clue how to delete it, but will do so when I can. Anyway, I then discovered that the .mov format doesn't work well with Youtube. The page suggested that I re-do it as a Quicktime file through iMovie. I did so - and found that I could export directly to Youtube. I followed the link and there I was, large as life and twice as ugly, reading from a banned/challenged book I adore. So here's the link to the complete one and once it's up on the dedicated Banned Books Week channel, you can watch it with all the others. Have a look at it and a chuckle and then how about doing your own? Mary of Bookhounds tells me this could be an annual event. Wonderful!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tolkien Week!

It's also Tolkien Week! And I've missed Hobbit Day, which was, let's face it, just before I finished term. September 22nd is the joint birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins and a good day to host a party, read from The Hobbit or at last toast our heroes. I was tired, term was nearly over and I just forgot. Oh, well, I had chocolate at La Ganache on Collins Street in Melbourne, with a friend. But if it's still Tolkien Week, I'm sure we can do something.
Have a drink for me and toast two of literature's most wonderful heroes.

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2011 - September 24 - October 1

I have on my computer desktop a folder labelled "Banned Books Week". Some time ago I thought I might try a class activity centred around it. I never got around to it but once more it is Banned Books Week, as I was reminded by taking a look at Mary's Bookhounds. My class is on term break, but I believe there are things you can do yourself. One of them is to read from a banned or frequently challenged book and upload it to a special Youtube channel. I'm going to have a go at this, perhaps tomorrow when I can haul out some of my favourite banned/frequently-challenged books - and heavens, it's amazing what's on the list! I'm spoiled for choice. If any of my students or former students are reading this (I'm talking to you, Dylan, but there are others), why not do it too, if you have a web cam? Or go to an Internet cafe and use their web cam? Let's show we support such books as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Catcher In The Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights/The Golden Compass and hundreds of others! The Banned Books Week web site has links to the ALA web site which has lists of banned classics and frequently challenged books for the last ten years. The Banned Books Week web site has instructions for how to upload your virtual readout video. If anyone reading this does it, please get in touch and I'll put in a link both to your site and your virtual readout. Go on, don't be shy! I know a lot more people read this web site than comment, so how about coming out and making yourself known? I will announce when I've done my virtual readout and pop in a link. By the way, do go take a look at Bookhounds. It's an excellent blog and updates more often than I do.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


If all else fails in my library at lunchtime, the kids get stuck into World Records. There’s something addictive about looking up the biggest this, the longest that and continuing onto the most of the other. Once you start... And isn’t this year’s looking gorgeous, with a cover featuring striking holographic bubbles and colourful photos throughout, showing the bizarre zany things people do just to get in. I mean, come on - most swords swallowed underwater? World’s tallest lederhosen? There are also plenty of educational items in there, such as information about the continents and bird migrations. My own favourite, for personal reasons, is the title page, which shows the largest object lifted by helium balloons. It was the house from the movie “Up” recreated for a TV series called “How Hard Can It Be?” The house weighed 1966 kilos and there were 300 helium ballons 10 storeys high. It went up to a height of 3050 metres. It was, in fact, in the newspapers earlier in 2011, just in time to be of use to me, when I was teaching the movie for English. One of my Year 8 students asked, “Miss, would that be possible?” and when I showed her the article she was delighted to see that it was, indeed, possible. Now it’s all there in the Guinness Book of Records and I can show it to my class next year. That’s if the book hasn’t been stolen by then.

SheKilda Yet Again

On October 8th I will be doing two panels at SheKilda, the second women's crime convention to be held in Melbourne. My co-panellists will be Goldie Alexander, who has written far more books than I have, for younger kids, and the wonderful Catherine Jinks, author of a wide variety of YA novels in a huge variety of genres - SF, fantasy, mystery, ghost stories, historical fiction (the fabulous Pagan series set during the Crusades) - you name it, if it's a YA genre she's probably written about it. The convention itself should be terrific, if it's anything like the last one. People would yell out, "SheKilda!" and others would respond "No she didn't!" There were some great guest speakers and there was even a panel on fan fiction, with Kerry Greenwood admitting she wrote the stuff just for herself, very steamy, while Jenny Pausacker was happy to admit that she, too, wrote fan fiction and published it on-line. Also steamy. ;-) I met a lot of people I knew, because SF and crime fandom overlap. The con committee are all SF fans as well as crime writers/readers. I remember the time we all went off to see the Star Trek movie in Gold Class and afterwards walked around Borders putting our books facing outwards. Well, the others did - and they had to do mine as well, I was too embarrassed! (Hides face while Cecilia Dart-Thornton finds a copy of Crime Time and faces it outwards...). Come along if you can. It will be a great weekend. Check it out on the web site - SheKilda Again - and there's a single day pass if that's all you want to attend. The program is up so you can decide what you want to see. Come and hear me? :-)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This Year's Hugos

I've just read this year's Hugo and John Campbell Awards, which are up on the Locus web site. Go take a look. For once I've actually read a little of what's on the list. I loved the Connie Willis books and am slowly savouring Cryoburn. Connie Willis's time travel stories are always wonderful. The first I read was The Doomsday Book, then To Say Nothing Of The Dog, then some of the short fiction. These two were really one very long novel broken up, in which the time-travelling heroes are in wartime Britain. Lovely stuff! I'm going slow with the Lois McMaster Bujold book because it has been so very long since there was a Miles Vorkosigan novel. And nice to see a couple of Aussies there too. Shaun Tan for Best Professional Artist - yay! I've been a big fan of his work for years now. Well, why wouldn't I be? I'm a teacher-librarian, after all. I was lucky enough to have a long chat with him at last year's Aussiecon. Sean McMullen and I used to be in a Melbourne SF writers' group together; he was the one, by the way, who persuaded me to join the SCA and learn what you could and couldn't do with a sword and shield! Good on him for getting on the Hugo short list. I couldn't be more proud of him.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Wolfborn Giveaway 2

Thanks to those who have requested a sample chapter. The winners of the signed copies are Saskia Largent of Teamouse Book Reviews and Tina Young of Book Couture. Enjoy, ladies! I've sent off your copy, Sas, and will send off Tina's as soon as I can get to a post office. Lan Chan of The Write Obsession asked for a copy, although she'd read it, so she could do a giveaway herself and this is now arranged. If you'd like a sample after all, do drop me a line, but also go to The Write Obsession, where we're doing the giveaway and I'm answering questions asked by readers there. I've also sent Lan a copy of the MP3 CD with George Ivanoff reading bits from his novel and mine. I'll be happy to send this to anyone who wants it, but read the PDF first if you're interested - and then feel free to share both of these with friends - it's all promo for me! :-) It would have been nice to have had more inquiries for this freebie, but let's see if Tina and Lan can get more interest on their web sites - so far, there are several on Lan's and Tina has just put up a post about it. Thanks, everyone!