Thursday, June 30, 2011

Currently living in the twighlight zone

My 8-4 occupation is as a secondary school teacher and I LOVE my job. At the moment, my two Y12 (16/17 year olds) are 'studying' Macbeth. With one class, I've given them this bizarre task of creating FB profiles for the characters so that they can then 'document' the story via FB technology. We agreed today that sending an update via cellphone while in the battle-field probably wouldn't really work!

It's been fun. And, I've been involved in other school related matters.

Before 8am and after 4pm, it's the family which has been busy and happy with lots of baking and cooking (the boyfriend of eldest has come home for his tertiary hols so we have had an extra and welcome member to the whanau).

And, I have been chipping away. These last 10 days have been all about important conversations - not action. The feed back I've received from two valued critics has continued to inspire and motivate me.

Two weeks and two days till school holidays where I shall endeavor to plough through another 20,000 - 30,000 words.

Deadline? 1st of November.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

one dies and one lives

Today I wept again.
How can one describe satisfying grief?
Poor Fleance who has always done the right thing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

a review of Bloodlines from the post teen section of society

To get reviewed in any publication is an honour even if the review is bad. To be reviewed by the cynical audience one is trying to attract is a bonus. To have thus said is gold:

‘Admittedly when I first saw the cover I expected yet another clichéd vampire love story. With a title like Bloodlines and the creepy eyes of the Taylor-Swith-esque girl, it is not hard to see why. Never the less I I quickly discovered that the book possesses extreme depth and clever characterisation. Roxborogh allows the reader to connect to the protagonist on a highly emotional level. I enjoyed Bloodlines immensely and discovered that a fanatic following of the trilogy exists online.’

Pippa Schaffer is the critic.The review is from the Otago University’s Critic Mag – March edition.
In it are some articles from my own students. To be mentioned means the story is worthy; to be included means the writer is worthy.
All hail to thee, Pippa.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

emotional male main characters

Yesterday, I was directed to an excellent post which was advice for women authors writing about/from the male perspective.

In a nutshell: no tears; avoid deliberations with involved emotions; get into the action.

Excellent advice. And, I try to base my experiences on the people I know well. Except, I am married to a man, who is, to quote Macbeth 'I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none.' (Act 1 sc 7).
And yet he cries. Not half as much as me nor my girls but put on 'Marley and Me' or 'A League of their own' and he's weeping by the end.

My daughters ADORE this about their father: that he feels, that he overtaken sometimes by what he feels deeply and he feels safe in their company to show it.

They also tease the crap out of him for it.

But, does he do this publically? No.
Does he allow his decisions to be directed by his kind heart? No.
He does the above in the safety and sanctuary of his home before his close allies - his family.
He might talk about his heart to others and often is compassionate but they do not see his tears (or, sometimes his anger). They see only his genuine desire to be a good person.
Last night, while discussing the above with my daughters, they said the description of a man by the advice did not fit the picture of their father. And yet, added to the qualities above they offered this from their experience of their father: faithful, honourable, honest, true, kind, strong, funny, playful, nerdy (ie really, really intelligent = he's two papers from finishing his BA and he gets As all the way), respected (from what they have observed from his work with the many things organisations he is involved with), calm on the outside, patient, understanding, slow to get angry...'
Don't you just want to have one of these?
Then Mackenna said: Oh My God, we just describe Fleance! Mum! You based Fleance on Dad. You have told everyone that he was some god-like character that you would love to run away with but you've actually got him.'

Youngest speaks: Not as good looking though.
The three of us fall about laughing while husband/father is in the other room helping others in his role as a Victim Support volunteer.
Lesson? Firstly, I'm lucky. Secondly, less tears. Even the 'at the moment perfect husband who is glowing in his current worshipped state by his wimen' says - no tears. We don't like tears. Or eyes filled with tears. Or the suggestion of tears. - I'm getting the picture!
Finally, men wants results. Men want ways to fix things. They do not want to sit about discussing the price of wool. They want to DO.
Got it.
By the way, Fleance is a bit busy at the moment to discuss the price of wool. But, I will keep all else in mind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The two statements (other than I love you) I tell my husband in the middle of the night:

You're snoring.
Just going to write a scene.
His reply to both (all)? Okay, love.
No wonder we wake up tired.

Why I Love Teaching Macbeth

cos they say:
um, so why did....
and how come...
yet but why did he....
but i thought she would be madder (after showing them the Polanski film)
Yeah... she just looks weak.
Exactly – she’s just unhinged.
She should be strong.
Many nod
Yes, I say. I think of her as mean, nasty and peed off.

Polanski had just lost his pregnant wife to a brutal murder and he was a angry and sad man.

I think Macbeth is hot, says one of my internationals at that moment.
We erupt in laughter and finish the lesson offering the best actors to play the modern version (though most of us – including me – were hiding behind our eyes at the murder of Duncan)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I make no apologies

I have been weeping for an hour. We writers are mean! mean! awful! dreadful!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Current favourit line

‘My point is, Dougal, that is if you want to continue to use the king’s cook in your inn you need to take your bull head and remove it from my arse!’

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sometimes you've just got to ask a man

Which I did last night with no lucky from hubby who had had a very hard day so today I asked a fellow teacher: it you loved a woman whom you knew didn't love you and who loved someone else but could never be with that someone else and you were offered the chance to be wed to her, would you do it? Knowing it was a ruse?'

'He would think he could win her over by the time they spent together,' said my collegue. 'it's such a male way of thinking.'

Perfect answer. It was what I thought would be the case so I nudge my loved characters onwards with each facing internal and external struggles.

I've passed the 56,000 word make which is almost half way. Writing about battles and pain and loss is harrowing. I'm much better at the moment writing the more light-hearted and humorous moments.

But, every night, I chip away and on the weekends I try to devote longer time to writing. My deadline is 1st November.

And, writing this post aint making that happen any quicker....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The problem with children of an author

I read them out a sentence.
'Why?' asks the youngest.
'What does it feel like?' asks the eldest. 'What does it look like? smell like? sound like?

Damn critics.

Bloodlines shortlisted for LIANZA awards

Excitment much. Here is the press release:
LIANZA announces the Children’s Book Award Finalists for 2011
LIANZA (The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) received over 100 nominations for their 2011 Children’s Book Awards with the prestigious LIANZA Esther Glen award receiving the highest number of submissions by publishers.

Awarded by Librarians for outstanding children’s literature in New Zealand, the LIANZA Awards are for excellence in junior fiction, young adult fiction, illustration, non-fiction and te reo Maori.

Belynda Smith, Panel Convenor and the Children’s & Young Adult Services Librarian at Takapuna Library commented that “the calibre of entries by some of our favourite writers and illustrators was outstanding. The quality of entries in the LIANZA Esther Glen and the LIANZA Young Adult was exceptional making it extremely difficult to narrow down the finalists”.

The judges found that reading submissions post the Canterbury earthquakes was a poignant experience, especially as many of the LIANZA Young Adult titles were tales of survival and on reflection it was as if some writers had a sense of what was about to come.

The magic of the picture book continues to delight for the LIANZA Russell Clark Award and the judging panel commended publishers for investing in these visual treasures.

Alice Heather, Panel Convenor for the te reo Maori category, says that "the high standard of this year’s entries for Te Kura Pounamu cover a wide range of genres and for very early to young adult readers with beautifully translated picture books, a graphic novel, non fiction and a novel series."
The LIANZA and Te Rōpū Whakahau taonga are the only awards for children’s books in te reo Maori supporting the Treaty of Waitangi and bicultural development of children’s literature in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The LIANZA Esther Glen Medal, New Zealand’s longest running book prize, is awarded for a distinguished work of fiction for children. In establishing the award in 1945 LIANZA named the book award after a pioneer in children’s literature, commemorating New Zealand children’s author and editor, Esther Glen.
The Judges for the LIANZA Esther Glen Medal, LIANZA Young Adult Medal, LIANZA Elsie Locke Medal, and LIANZA Russell Clark Medal are: Belynda Smith (Panel Convenor), Takapuna Library Auckland; Pene Walsh, Library Manager Gisborne District; and Lily O’Donovan, Children’s Specialist Wellington City Libraries.

The Te Kura Pounamu Award judges are: Alice Heather (Panel Convener); Māori Adviser for school Services National Library Auckland and teacher with library responsibility at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi marae, Margaret Ngaropo, Library Assistant Maori Services Manurewa Library and Naomi Cussack, teacher at TKKM o Puau te Moana Nui a Kiwain Glen Innes

The Full list of the LIANZA Children’s Book Award 2011 Finalists:

LIANZA Esther Glen Award (Junior Fiction)
The Haystack by Jack Lasenby, (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
Dreams of Warriors by Susan Brocker (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
Sheep on the Fourth Floor by Leonie Thorpe (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
Boy Zero Wannabe Hero by Peter Millet (Faber & Faber)
Shadow of the Boyd by Diana Menefy (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)

LIANZA Young Adult Award (Fiction)

Smiling Jack by Ken Catran (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
Fierce September by Fleur Beale (Random House New Zealand)
Ebony Hill by Anna Mackenzie (Longacre Press)
Blood Lines by TK Roxborogh (Penguin NZ)
Lethal Deliveries by Ken Benn (Penguin NZ)
The Limping Man by Maurice Gee (Puffin)

LIANZA Russell Clark Award (Illustration)
The Moon and Farmer McPhee by Margaret Mahy and David Elliot (Random House New Zealand)
Quaky Cat by Diana Noonan and Gavin Bishop (Scholastic)

Hill and Hole by Kyle Mewburn and Vasanti Unka (Puffin)
The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate by Joy Cowley and Sarah Davis (Gecko Press)
A Dog Like That! by Janene Cooper and Evie Kemp (Duck Creek Press)

LIANZA Elsie Locke (Non Fiction)
Weird Wabbit & Friends/ Star Boy & Friends Series by Vasanti Unka (Penguin NZ)
The Life Cycle of the Pukeko by Betty Brownlie (Scholastic)
Sensational Survivors by Sandra Morris (Walker Books Australia)
The Kiwi Fossil Hunters Handbook by James Campton and Marianna
Terezow (Random House New Zealand)
The Tui NZ Kids’ Garden by Diana Noonan and Keith Olsen (Penguin NZ)

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Maori)
Mahiara by Sally Sutton, Illustrated by Brian Lovelock, Retold by Kāterina Mataira (Walker Books Australia)
Ngarimu: Te Tohu Toa by Andrew Burdan (Huia Publishers/ Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education)
Rāwiri, Matiu, He Kura Te Tangata, He Ora Kai Te Kupu Series by Peti Nohotima (He Kupenga Hao i te Reo)
Manu Haututū by June Peka. Illustrated by Jo Thapa. Retold by Kāterina Mataira (Scholastic)
Kapa, Te Niu Series by Hana Pōmare and Heni Jacob (HANA Limited/ Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education)
Te Mata o Tuna, a Hina rāua ko Mo’o Kuna by Hana Pōmare, Ellie-May Logan and Hēni Jacob (HANA Limited/ Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education)

The 2011 Award Ceremony will take place in Wellington on Monday August 8th at Caffe L’affare, College Street.

The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards 2011 are supported by, Caffe L’affare and The Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie, Wellington.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Teaching Macbeth

Today and a bit of yesterday, I introduced Macbeth by William Shakespeare to my two Y12 classes (that's 16 year olds to the non-New Zealanders).

I have avoided the Scottish play for a few years feeling my involvement in my imagined sequel tainted my instruction. A number of the girls I teach have read Banquo’s Son and Bloodlines and began making connections but I shushed them and said: put that story aside for now and look at this play afresh.

I was right to defer. And I was right to start again for, all the research I have done in the writing on this trilogy has so enhanced my appreciation of, not only the bard's excellence writing and appreciation of human nature but also the reality of the time, I know things which I did not before.

Act 1 scene 2. I could not have truly appreciated the weight of the claymore as Macbeth swung his passage through the battle (and therefore why the king was speechless with admiration for his fearless actions!). The description of Macbeth’s actions is akin to watching Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis in their action movies. Go back and, frame by frame, recount what Banquo and Macbeth achieved. Twice in one day they did this.

Act 1 scene 3 These were exhausted men. They had seen extraordinary horror. It was flippin raining and there was thunder and lightning. The irony of the situation was not lost. We, as an audience were introduced to intelligent but BOND like leaders.

So, now they meet the witches when all they can think of is a warm room, food and safe company (oh and a chance to wash off all that blood). The first thing Banquo says? ‘How far is it to Forres?’ This was the king’s hunting mansion which was the prearranged place they were all to gather. It’s probably about another day’s trek from what I can work out. (Trust me, I poured over the maps and worked out distances and times with horses and bad weather). Banquo is doing a 'are we there yet?' traveling filler.

Then, they are confronted with the witches. On the heath? Are you kidding? They've just slaughtered countless men and won a battle and its pissing down (‘so foul and fair a day I have not seen’) and they are stopped by three really ugly women.

Macbeth and Banquo are spent. They would be looking around thinking - okay -where is the rabbit (this is my Monty Python reference). Macbeth himself nails it when he says: 'why upon this blasted heath you stop our way with such prophetic greeting?'

The answer lies later on when we hear Hecate admonish the three witches for not doing as they should: cause the destruction of a mortal. Instead, she advises: draw him on to his confusion: he shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear his hopes above wisdom, grace, and fear; and you all know, security is mortals' chiefest enemy.'

There lies the intention.

Banquo says at the beginning: sometimes to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness do tell us truths; win us with trifles.'

These two hard-arsed soldiers who have proved themselves in a fierce battle are being tested. They are tired, cold, wet, emotionally spent and are tempted. Both respond to the prophecies – they are want to know more. The difference being in their response to what is offered. Fascinating.