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KABOOM!!!!

A CRACKER & GILLY MYSTERY – Book 4

CHAPTER 1

Oh, Ooh, Kablooie, We’re in Trouble Now Boys

Kablooie, and from the shops side of the beach to above Pyang Avenue, from the Surf Lifesaving club to the Bowling Club, the lights went out, the stars and moon in the sky the only light to be seen.

‘Run to the beach, geez, run.’ Cracker pushed his two mates toward the beach where even the minimal light from the moon failed to pierce the night darkness.

Trann and Bone needed no persuasion and leapt in to full speed. Unfortunately, the boys hadn’t been given clear enough directions and they crashed into each other and fell to ground in a sprawling entanglement of arms and legs.

‘Stop mucking about you fatheads. We could be in serious trouble. Run that way!’ pointed Cracker, ‘Duck down when you hit the sand and hide under the lee of the beach.’

The three boys fled to the beach where they found a deep depression which would conceal them from even the most determined searchers.

After a space of three to five minutes three heads appeared and looked back at the electricity substation that, as a result of one arrow fired into the night had unexpectedly turned the boys night of adventure, by exploding in a fizzing, sizzling, spark flying nightmare.

‘Keep calm,’ Cracker ordered. “We go home and say nothing. Meet back here tomorrow at eight, ok?’

Not quite meeting each other’s gazes, the three boys hi-fived and went their separate ways.

 

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It’s officially the end of Week 3 of our Book Tour and our time on the farm, and our retreat, is at an end.

Here’s what we learnt:

  1. Horses can eat water lilies out of their dam and survive
  2. 36 degrees is unpleasant no matter where you are
  3. taking time out is important, so important that I think this should be number 1
  4. Cleaning is a great way to get out of writing and our caravan is now spotless
  5. Christmas Book Tours are fun as long as you have a farm to come home to
  6. You can write wherever you are but sitting under a shady tree watching donkeys and goats increases productivity
  7. Being still increases productivity
  8. Taking time to look back is important…it shows you how far you’ve come
  9. taking time to look forward is important, too, and what better time is there to plan out the new year than when you’re feeling good about point number 8
  10. Taking time now to do nothing much except write (and clean and sell books and go for long walks in the bush and swim in the sea and watch horses eat grass and count the stars in the night sky) is the best time of all.

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At school this week one of my students told me she was up to 35,000 words of her NaNoWriMo project…do the rest of us have any excuse if a fourteen year old can achieve such a result on top of school work, assessment and end of year co-curricula activities?

My student is aiming for 50,000 words and beyond. This is her first novel. And my excuse for not writing? I’m too busy…

What’s your excuse?

 

 

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The smell of smoke from a real campfire is different from the smell of smog or cigarette smoke. In the city, those are the only types of smoke I get – but today I’m sitting before my campfire, which my sister built from gathered wood and newspaper, peeling a stick so I can toast marshmallows with it. Above me, I can see a thousand stars and bats fly overhead in swarms. As I look up at the night sky I imagine I’m a pioneer.

 

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Shops like BCF and Anaconda encourage a belief that to venture into the bush, one needs the latest top-notch equipment. Super-strength chairs, microfiber jumpers, expensive and oh-so-fancy sports shoes. Yet here I am, sitting in the dirt, in old jiggers and the same woolen jumper I’ve been wearing all week.  We toast marshmallows – which, according to my sister, means burning them to a crisp. ‘It’s burnt and tasteless,’ she says. ‘I like that in a marshmallow.’

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To me, the bush isn’t about high tech and fancy. To me, the bush is what we are doing right now – sitting with family and friends, rejoicing in the simplicity, while smoke from a real campfire fills my nostrils.

Sam

 

 

 

 

 

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gilly

The teacher begins:

Today, class, you’re going to write a story. Not just any story. A good story. And in order to write a good story you must follow the rules of story writing:

A story?

1.  You must be disciplined.

…I’m not…

2.  You must work hard.

…I don’t…

3.  You must be organised.

…I never have been…

4. You have twenty minutes to write your stories, starting now.

…and so I stare out the window…

I’m a writer…I live in my head…I dream…I  think of somewhere else, anywhere else, where the world makes a kind of sense that it never does in this room…this room with its four walls and it rows of desks and a clock that ticks so slowly that it has to gather its energy to to continue its tedious journey around and around in ever meaningless circles…and I wonder who came up with such a punishing existence and called it…learning…in this classroom where we all stare out the window……dreaming…I close my eyes and begin to write.

Chapter One

…once upon a time…

 

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I dare you not to be inspired by my young friend, Briana’s, story…what do her illustrations suggest…

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My mind is racing….who is the girl…what are her motivations…what is her journey….

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Give her some friends and a setting…and suddenly I have a plot for a story…

I didn’t expect it and I didn’t ask for it…but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, inspiration comes when I least expect it.

Who is the girl and how will her story unfold…

 

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With all the focus nowadays on productivity, promotion and presence, it’s hard sometimes to remember why we started writing in the first place…

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soldier for web
soldier for web

Ideas for stories are all around us. In my local newspaper today is a story about a little known role of Australian soldiers in WW1.

It made me think about our recently released middle grade novel, Dirt Busters, and where our inspiration came from – although my co-author and I disagree about whose idea it actually was – to save fights I’ll use the words ‘we’ and ‘ours’ – but the more I think about it the more I realise our idea grew – as ideas do – like topsy.

 

medal for web

We found an article and we liked the idea of an old medal and we already had the setting – a development site – and an old professor turned up and we found him a shack to live in and we started to ask questions like what was the professor doing down the coast in an old shack and – boys being boys – our characters, Cracker, Trann and Bone had to follow him to see what he was up to…and our girl character, Gilly, being Gilly, had to have plans of her own and so a billy cart race was born with the race taking place – yep, you guessed it – at the development site.

As ideas go, it’s turned out to be a good one as so far the response to our novel has been great and we keep getting asked when is our next book being released.

And here’s the article that inspired it:

Moruya Examiner, 23 August, 1919:

On Friday night last Pte, Frank Stewart was the recipient of the usual Shire address and a presentation from the Bay to honor him as a returned Australian soldier. The occasion was rather unique, in as much as the ceremony too place during the interval of a picture show. To this entertainment about 50 of Private Stewart’s friends and relatives from the Aboriginal Reserve had been invited. The presentation was made y Mr D F Mackay and was received by much acclamation and to the accompaniment of the indispensable leaf strains of music…

(Please note, the aborigine pictured in this blog post is not Frank Stewart…)

 

 

 

 

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on the road

Your book is finished and it’s time for the fun part, right? Time to hit the road and do the big tour. And, of course, if you’re anything like me, thinking big is the easy part. It’s what we writers do, isn’t it?

I was ready to hook up the Kimberly Kamper and head around Oz, stopping in at schools and libraries, selling books with gay abandon…I was a tad worried about being locked in a moving vehicle with my co-author for the several months this tour was going to take but, hey, I could always sit him in the back with the child locks on if he misbehaved.

But then I had to go and get this email from The Book Designer (www.thebookdesigner.com) with the title, 7 Top eBook Blog Tour Sites, written by Greg Strandberg at http://www.bigskywords.com.

Researching the marketing game has seen me write and discard several marketing plans in the last months as I’ve talked to editors, publishers, distributors, bookshops, school librarians and book fair co-ordinators. And I was ready to hit the road, even with my brother, actually he’d come in handy for flat tyres and such…

I mean, let’s face it, we writers spend all our lives cooped up in attics tapping away at our keyboards so can we be blamed for  dreaming of a few champagne celebratory drinks after the hard work is done, followed by a road trip to make us if not rich then at least famous…

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But it’s not how it’s done anymore…well, at least not exclusively…marketing nowadays means more time at the keyboard, blogging, tweeting and…err…touring virtually. Strandberg lists his top seven virtual tour sites in his blog but he’s written a book that lists fifty sites, Tour Your Book, 50 eBook Blog Tour Sites That Increase Amazon Sales, and it’s those last couple of words that has me unpacking the trailer before I’ve even begun…because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my marketing research it’s that ebook sales are what drive sales nowadays and, according to the gurus who run sites like http://www.thebookdesigner.com and http://www.digitalbookworld.com there’s only one way forward for we wanna be marketers of our words…and it doesn’t involve sunsets on deserted beaches with fishing rods and celebratory drinks…

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Cheers…

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Research is such a wonderful thing…and knowing when to stop gathering information and start writing is a skill I mastered early on in my writing career. But marketing, well, that’s a different story. I’ve been working on my marketing plan for our middle grade reader novels for weeks and so far I’ve been happy with the results. Most of what we will be doing is within the realms of possibility, if not probability…

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But then I had to go and blow it all with one tiny google search, http://www.digitalkidsauthor.com, by Sydney writer, Karen Robertson. If you have never thought about turning your story into an app then I suggest you don’t go there…but, alas, I was hooked. I downloaded the Author’s Guide to Book Apps and What is a Book App and Could YOU Create One? The capital letters are Robertson’s, not mine but already I’m screaming YES! YES! YES!

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And my co-author and illustrator are groaning into their hands. Looks like fun, sounds like fun, so it’s gunna be fun, right? Better yet, the guys at Demibooks, http://www.demibooks.com, promise it’s easy…stay tuned…

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