Hello!

I'm Sally Murphy, an Australian author of over 30 children's books. I'm also the slightly crazy mother of six beautiful kids. You'll find bits of me buried somewhere in every one of my books. I love reading, writing, and speaking about reading and writing.

View my books or hire me to speak at your school, festival, or writers group.

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Poetry Friday: What a Wonderful World

It’s Poetry Friday and I want to share a beautiful video and my poetic response to it, as a kind of poetry prompt.

Here’s the video, featuring David Attenborough AND awesome images AND one of my favourite songs:

As an aside, this clip was shown at the CBCA Conference in Sydney as a means of demonstrating what nonfiction books are up against – a point which I thought was a good one, but given that it straightway made me a) want to write and b) find out more about some of the things I saw, I think a good audio-visual resource is a way into books and writing.

Anyway, while it was playing I knew I wanted to respond, but I also knew that I wanted to listen to the rest of the very interesting panel discussion. So I quickly scribbled the words What A Wonderful World on my notebook. Then I looked at what I’d done – I’d written one word per line down the page. Was this the start of a poem?

Some time later (and after the session was over) this is what I came up with:

What trees! What flowers!

A mountain, a sea

Wonderful whales, wonderful wilds

World upon world upon world.

 (Poem copyright S. Murphy 2016)

Short but sweet, but it led me to wonder if this was something I could do with other song titles, especially ones which have been set to video footage.

So here’s a prompt for you.

Either watch the above video, and then write the words What A Wonderful World down your page – and see where it takes you (it’s like an acrostic but with a word rather than a single letter beginning each ling). OR find a song that you like, take its title and do the same. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Have a great week. The Poetry Friday roundup  is at The Drift Record.

Bookweek Comes Early

Last week I was lucky enough to be the author in residence at Mandurah Catholic College, which was celebrating its annual Bookweek. The staff and students made this a really happy visit – from the library display of my books, to the wonderful efforts at portraiture, and, of course, to the engaged, enthusiastic students from kindergarten through to year 9.  Here’s a little video featuring the displays and some of the wonderful author portraits. Enjoy!

 

Thanks for having me, MCC.

Book Love: Spreading the Word About Your Latest Read

Robyn's beautiful book, Wildlight.

Robyn’s beautiful book, Wildlight.

Recently my dear friend, Robyn Mundy, who is also a brilliant author and all-round lovely person wrote a brilliant blog post about why you should support authors, publishers and readers (that’s you – in fact, that’s all of us) by buying a book rather than borrowing it from someone else (pause here and go and read her post, if you haven’t already).

When I read this post I thought ‘Bravo young Robyn! I agree totally!’ (Which is pretty common because when Robyn says something it is well considered and very  clever)

But then I had a thought. What if you can’t afford to buy the book and don’t have access to a library? Or what if you find a book left behind as part of Bookcrossing? Or what if you are holiday with your bestest friend and s/he says, drying her eye as she finishes the last page: “You have got to read this book, NOW.” Or what if…well, you get the picture. There are times when borrowing or passing on a book might  be a good idea.

So then  I thought ‘well, what can the reader who has borrowed (or found) the book do to show the author some love (which is lovey) or some support (ie sales, which equals money which equals being able to pay the bills and write some more)’? SO, as I sat on an airplane yesterday, I brainstormed some ways that you  (and me – cos I’m a reader too) could show support for the author of that free book you’ve read.

  1. Blog. Write a blog post about it! Could be a lengthy review, could be a short review, could just be a ravey post (which is really a review anyway). Include the cover image so people knows what the book is about, and a link to the author’s website and even figure out where it can be purchased.
  2. Tweet. Haven’t got time to blog? Use Twitter. You can say a lot in 140 characters. Say something ravey, tag the author or publisher and watch it get retweeted very enthusiastically.
  3. Instagram. Take a photo of the book and pop in on Instagram. Even less words required. Could be just a photo of the book, or a selfie of yourself showing it some love, or a styled shot of book and relevant props.
  4. Goodreads. Pop over to Goodreads and give the book a good rating. If you’ve got time, add a review (could be one you’ve written elsewhere). Chat with other fans if they’re there.
  5. Amazon (and other Bookstores). Head to Amazon, find  the book’s listing and, again, rate and review it. Other bookstores that have rating systems include Fishpond
    With author friends loving each others' books.

    With author friends loving each others’ books.

  6. Tell a Friend. Haven’t got a blog, social media account? Just tell a friend about the book next time you see them – or ring them up to tell them. This is just another way of reviewing the book – but what a wonderful way! And a great conversation starter.
  7. Tell a stranger. Kind of the same as 6 (except I don’t recommend ringing a stranger to recommend a book). Strike up a conversation in the supermarket queue or at a party or while you’re browsing in a bookstore. Seriously, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
  8. Respond creatively. If you’re a fellow writer, write a poem/story/whatever responding to the book or its issues or one of the characters viewpoints, or whatever. If you’re a visual artist, respond with a piece of art. If you’re a photographer, or musician or installation artist or whatever – be inspired by the book. Then, when people stop to admire your work, or read it on your blog or whatever, tell them about the book that inspired you.

    These youngsters responded creatively

  9. Pinterest. Create a Pinterest page dedicated to the book and pin the cover, pictures of the author, photos of places mentioned in the book, links to reviews etc. Or just have one pinterest page called ‘Great Books I Have Read’.
  10. Give It as  gift. Not the copy you scored for free – a brand new copy. We all have trouble thinking up gifts for friends/frenemies, Great Aunt Ethel/Bob next door/whoever. If you have loved a book, buy it for someone who you love. They will thank you for it.

The Australian book community is facing massive challenges at the moment, and is in the midst of a battle for survival. If you love a book (especially an Australian book, and whether or not you bought it or borrowed it), show it (and its creator) some love. Today.

Being an Author: 7 Things to Do Every Day

I’m busy. Super busy at the moment:  working on my PhD, running a busy household, writing and, of course, trying to run my career as an author. Some days it feels like that last one is the bit that gets pushed to the side.  I have to give priorities to my family, I have to work on my studies (submission date is creeping ever closer) and I’m a writer, so I have to write. But my career? When do I get time to work on that: to boost my skills, boost my brand, promote my books (and myself)?

The simple answer is, I need to be doing things every day. And, if you want to make a living as a creator, so do you. So, here the things I try to do every day, most of which take very little time, to ensure my career keeps moving.

  1. Read. Okay, so this one can take as much or as little time as you like, but if you want to be a writer, you need to keep reading, no matter how busy you are. For me, it’s a combination of reading children’s books to stay abreast of what’s out there, and to grow my own skills through exposure to good writing, as well as reading more broadly for lots of reasons. I read news articles and commentary to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world, I read blogs from other writers and industry people, I read in genres other than my own to again grow my skills. Don’t have time to read? Then you don’t have time to be a writer. Or, you make/snatch the time. I carry a book wherever I go. I multi task – I read good stuff in waiting rooms, rather than old magazines. I read my blog feeds while eating lunch, I listen to audiobooks when I’m driving. Whatever it takes.

    SallyMurphy-Background.jpg

    You can see I never run out of reading materials. My house is full of books.

  2. Write. I’ve already labelled this as one of the things I put before developing my career – but it is, in essence, at the very centre of my career. I wish I could say I write for hours every day, but at the moment my studies preclude hours and hours, and when I’m juggling those other things on my list, sometimes there isn’t even an hour left in my day. But again, I make it a priority to write something new at least five days a week – even if that something new is just a short poem. It’s not always good writing, but getting it down is what matters. You want to be a writer, you gotta write, and that means making the time, not waiting for the time to magically appear.coffee and poem
  3. Tell people you are a writer. If you want to be a professional, you gotta act the part. In the past, I kept a bit quiet about my writing, because I felt like I was showing off, or thought people might not be interested. I would say ‘I work from home’ or simply “I write”. Now, when people ask me what I do, I always say ‘I’m a children’s book author’. Then, if they ask for more detail I tell them, and I always have a business card in my wallet which I present when they ask where they can find out more. This isn’t pushy: it’s professional.
  4. Tell yourself you are a writer. If it helps, dress for the part. Sometimes when I am not feeling very authorish, I’ll put on my favourite big earrings or colourful clothes that I wear for school appearances: even though I’m not going anywhere.I don't dress like this every day - but sometimes dressing up helps me feel authorly.
  5.  Do at least one thing every day to promote yourself and/or your books. For me, that means using social media: as well as this blog and website, I have a twitter account, Facebook author page, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. I don’t do every one every day, but I make sure I do at least one. It takes 30 seconds to compose a tweet or Facebook status. Not every post has to be saying ‘buy my book’ – in fact, though it’s the subject for a post of its own, very very few posts should do that, if any at all. Promotion might be letting people know where you are appearing, where your books have been spotted in bookstores, book news and so on, or it might be simply engaging with readers and potential readers by sharing interesting links, or photos or world views. I combine my social media with my reading, by tweeting and facebooking articles I find about matters relating to reading, literature and poetry.
  6. Be organised. It is a career and it must be treated as such. For me, this means that when I sit at my desk in the morning, I make a list of anything that MUST be done that day and I cross it off as I go. I also have a longer running list of objectives, which I revise weekly. On my daily list I include emptying my inbox, and promotion tasks, as well as the writing and study things I need to complete. If I’m honest with you, I don’t always get everything on my list done, but when I sit down the next day I see the uncrossed things and put them at the top of that list.
  7. Lastly, but most importantly, enjoy the ride. Some days – most days, being an author is hard slog. But every day I try to remember to smile, if not about something that’s happened that day, then at least by looking back. From my desk I can see copies of my published books, the wards I’ve won and other reminders that I AM an author. So, while some days the smile comes from the joy of creation, or an acceptance, or lovely feedback, or just finally finding the perfect word, other days I look up from my desk and see those reminders. If you can’t find anything to enjoy about being a writer, it’s just hard work. When there’s a smile on your face the work is easier – and better, too.Being an author is fun!

That’s my seven. What about you? Is there something YOU do every day that you’d suggest other writers do?

 

Poetry Friday: Cherry Tomato

I’ve been busy writing about poetry for my doctoral studies, which means (a little ironically) I have missed the last two Poetry Fridays. So I was determined to post something today but couldn’t settle on a topic. So, I decided to scroll through my photos and choose one to write an impromptu poem.

The first photo that caught my eye was this one:

Tomato 2015

I took it early last year. It’s the first, perfect, cherry tomato from last year’s crop. I was so proud of that one tomato that I photographed it and shared here on my blog, and on Facebook and Twitter too.  But afterwards I ate it which is, after all, what one should do with a tomato. I remember very clearly that it was delicious – and left me wanting more, which of course I had to wait for, because the others weren’t ripe yet.

How to capture that in a poem? Here’s my effort.

Cherry Tomato

You looked

too perfect to eat

So instead I took a photo

shared you with the world.

through social media

collected likes

and comments.

 

Later though

I succumbed

to your wiles

and ate you in a single

sweet, tangy mouthful.

 

I don’t remember who commented

or how many likes you garnered

but I do remember

that delicious bite

that I couldn’t share

with anyone.

(Poem copyright Sally Murphy 2016).

 

Haven’t written a poem lately? Here’s a challenge: scroll through the photos in your social media account, or on your phone – then see if you can capture that moment in a few lines of poetry.

Have a great Poetry Friday. The roundup today is at Buffy’s Blog.

Poetry Friday: Joi, the Glug

I love finding old anthologies and collections of poetry, and discovering what they offer as well as seeing what  children of the past were offered.

I came across an anthology called This Land on ebay and just had to have it. When it came I was amazed to discover that it was the same age as me (wasn’t I cute?) and my beautiful gold teddy.

This Land

 

The anthology is filled with poems by poets whose works  I grew up with – CJ Dennis, Colin Thiele, Banjo Paterson, Dorothea Mackellar and more, as well as others I was less familiar with. There’s lots to like her, though in some ways the collection shows its age, with some colonial overtones that (thankfully) have not stood the test of time, and a massive imbalance in representation of  female poets.

Anway, back to the poems. I thought I’d share one to give you a taste, and chose one randomly by the letting the page fall open.

Joi the Glug

By CJ Dennis (1876-1938)

The Glugs abide in a far, far land

That is partly pebbles and stones and sand,

But mainly earth of a chocolate hue,

When it isn’t purple or slightly blue.

And the glugs live the with their aunts and wives.

In draught-proof tenements all their lives.

And they climb the trees when the weather is wet,

To see how high they can really get.

Pray, don’t forget,

This chiefly done when the weather is wet.

(Read the rest of the poem here – it’s longish, but worth it).

What I love about this poem is that it seems nonsense and lots of fun, but as you read further it emerges that it is also a comment about unquestioning conformity. CJ Dennis was one my favourite poets as a child – and I think I’ll share some more of his work in future posts, but in the meantime, if you haven’t read his work, look him up!

This week, Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura Salas. Do drop by and see what other poetry goodies have been posted around the blogosphere.

Have a great Friday!