Agatha Christie’s “Blue Year”

Agatha Christie - "Blue Year"

When Writing NSW asked if I would like to review On the Blue Train by Kristel Thornell, a novel about the eleven days in 1926 when Agatha Christie disappeared, I thought it would be an interesting assignment and a chance to learn more about this famous author and to perhaps finally read one of her books. Continue ReadingAgatha Christie’s “Blue Year”

First Sentences on Instagram

First Sentences - Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

A little while back I published a blog post titled Writing First Sentences. The piece was in part inspired by a series I have been posting to Instagram of photos of books tagged as #bookcovers and #firstsentences. In the post, I commented on the cliche “you should never judge a book by its cover”, admitting that in some cases, like Dog on It by Spencer Quinn, I loved the cover AND loved the book. But for me, the best gauge of whether I’ll enjoy a work of fiction or nonfiction is to read the first sentences. Continue ReadingFirst Sentences on Instagram

Can I Pat That Dog?

Can I Pat That Dog?

When my son was a five-year-old, I gave a talk at his child care centre called, Can I Pat That Dog? I based the talk on a book of the same title written by Susan McLaine and Karen Damiani and illustrated by Margaret Power (Angus and Robertson 2004). And though it’s over ten years since that child care centre visit (and my “little boy” is now a sixteen-year-old who towers over me!), I still highly recommend the book. Continue ReadingCan I Pat That Dog?

Three Visits to Dahab (Egypt)

Michelin Map - Dahab, Egypt

Is it wrong to want our favourite places to stay the same? Probably. It is over twenty years since I last visited Dahab. I have read tourists still flock there from all over the world. Aspects of Dahab’s villages and surrounds must have changed beyond recognition for this “old timer”. Of one thing I am sure, the sunrises and sunsets at Dahab will still be stunning! Continue ReadingThree Visits to Dahab (Egypt)

Thanks, Ian St James Awards

Ian St James Awards

In their heyday, the Ian St James Awards offered the biggest fiction prize in the UK and Ireland for unpublished writers. I submitted several short stories to the awards from 1992 to 1995. None were finalists, let alone winners, but the critiques provided by the judges inspired me to keep writing! Continue ReadingThanks, Ian St James Awards

Bedtime Stories and Teenage Readers

50 Great Bedtime Stories

My son was born at 5:36 am on the 2 June 2002. It had been a long night, and it was a long day (admittedly, more so for my wife!), and when I went home from the hospital that evening, it was with the surreal realisation I was now a dad. I decided my first dad-duty would be to buy a book of bedtime stories. Continue ReadingBedtime Stories and Teenage Readers

An Editor’s Magic Touch

tallandtrue-editor-corrections-sm.jpg

It’s little wonder many writers thank their editors in forewords, dedications and acknowledgements. As I’ve found writing book reviews for Writing NSW, editors have a magic touch when it comes to reviewing a writer’s work and suggestings edits. Whether there “aren’t many edits” or there are “structural” problems with the writing! Continue ReadingAn Editor’s Magic Touch

Do You Reread Books?

Penguin Books Australia on Facebook

In a Facebook post last year Penguin Books Australia asked, Do You Reread Books?  And if so, What book have you reread the most? I’ve kept all my favourite books with the thought of one day rereading them. And then I start a new book, it becomes a favourite and is added to my bookcase to read again … one day! However, there are three books I have reread, at least once. Continue ReadingDo You Reread Books?

More Albums That Changed Your Life (Part 2)

Albums that Changed Your Life - Queen, A Day at the Races

The purpose of the Albums That Changed Your Life blog post was to unleash me from the constriction of the Facebook challenge rules and write a short piece about each album. But even a “short piece” about 18 favourites ends up being a long blog post, so I’ve split the post into Part 1 (albums 1-10) and Part 2 (11-18). Continue ReadingMore Albums That Changed Your Life (Part 2)

Albums That Changed Your Life (Part 1)

Favourite Albums - The Babys

A friend nominated me for a recent Facebook challenge. If you haven’t joined the movement to delete Facebook, you will have seen it, “Albums that changed your life”. It also appears as the “Ten album challenge”, the “Pictorial music challenge”, the “Seven all time favourite albums” or as “what-the-heck, I’m just posting my favourites!”   Continue ReadingAlbums That Changed Your Life (Part 1)