Living the Dream – Story City

Living the Dream – Story City

ABC Radio promo pic Feb 2016

Story City new app – photo courtesy Damien Larkins ABC Radio Gold Coast

As children’s authors, we often live the lives of our heroes vicariously. It’s much easier, safer and cleaner that way. However, part of me still relishes the breathy feeling of discovering the missing link for myself, trekking down the baddies armed with nothing more than a sharp pencil, and surviving a mutant alien invasion with all of my limbs intack. It’s thrilling stuff living in the heart of your own adventure and being your own hero, and the reason choose-your-own-adventure style storytelling is so popular with young and old alike. It’s also why I decided to ‘choose’ a different path in my story creation, for a short while at least.

ABC Radio promo pic 2 Feb 2016

Photo courtesy ABC Radio Gold Coast

Last year I embarked on a writing adventure that challenged my ability to pen such a story suitable for the digital format. Story City is a FREE downloadable app using GPS and geocaching technology to inspire people to get active and physically immerse themselves in real-life choose-your-own-adventure stories. It ingeniously unites our modern-day love affair with technology and the need for fast access entertainment with a solution to stave off obesity and anti-social behaviour that can be associated with our overuse of modern devices. In otherwords, it gets us out there on the streets living and breathing stories in the real world.

Story City soft Launch WAC Gold Coast December 2015 (1)Of course many of the multi-genre and variously rated stories don’t take place in the real world as such. Themes are as diverse as your imaginations but they all share a common thread; their settings are based on real-world locations giving users a fascinating sense of place. Users can choose stories that most appeal to them, then from a starting point, they are in full control and can choose where and how the adventure unfolds. Each tale has several endings. The beauty of this style of storytelling is that there can be no true disappointing ending. If you aren’t satisfied with the path you chose, go back and choose another! Even if you choose the same direction over and over again, chances are the location will evoke a different sense of reality for you; the weather may be different, the sounds, smells and people surrounding you may have altered subtly. The scope for continued enjoyment is off the Richter Scale with Story City! Ultimately, it’s plain old-fashioned fun, suitable for young and old, Luddites and techno junkies, locals and tourists.

In addition to this, Story City uses local writers, illustrators, musicians and voice-talent to produce the stories. There is nothing better than homegrown to add a delicious dollop of authenticity and pride.

Story City Gold Coast team February Launch 2016

The Gold Coast team headed by Emily Craven

When I was accepted to be part of the Gold Coast team, I was thrilled to be part of the Story City family which has live working stories in AdelaideBrisbane and the Gold Coast with more planned for other regional and capital centres and a notable list of commendable authors and artists including fellow SCWBI members, Isobelle Carmody, Kim Wilkins, Tim Baker and Trent Jamieson to name just a ridiculous few. But I also shivered with panic (on the inside where nobody would notice, mind) I mean I usually struggled to come up with one acceptable ending, let alone up to eight!

The Chapel of Unlove SC coverDespite scathing deadlines and a collection of plot lines more convoluted than a bowlful of spaghetti and the odd dejected child wondering when she was getting her next meal, I managed to produce The Chapel of Unlove. Mine’s a quirky, spoof type tale based in the surreal surroundings of Sanctuary Cove at the north end of the Goldie (where I live). It’s fantastical, fun, and kid-and-family-friendly but touches on a few of the delicious life-parodies one can encounter here on the Gold Coast which naturally involves pirates and Elvis impersonators. What more could you ask for?!

Dim and Story City Shortlistees Writers Activation Centre August 2015

Working collaboratively

I encourage anyone with a passion for adventure and a quest to be their own hero to experience the stories of Story City. If the chance to be a contributing artist or writer comes to your town, I urge you to consider pouncing on it. Preserving the art of storytelling in a multi-sense way whilst actually making stories immediately accessible in the hands of our audiences is a marvellous opportunity not to be missed. I learnt a lot. I’m edging over into the realm of plotter vs panster thanks to this project. And I had a heap of fun along the way.

Over the next month or so, I hope to divulge more of the hows, whys and whos behind my Story City Creation. You can follow those posts at Dim’s Write Stuff. Visit the Story City website to register your interest as a future contributor or simply learn more about the team behind the stories behind the adventures!

STORY-CITY-LOGO-HIGH-RES-BG-150x150Story City Gold Coast is presented by Story City and funded by the Regional Arts Development Fund. The Regional Arts Development fund is a Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast Council partnership to support local arts and culture.

Dimity Powell is a published children’s author and SCBWI member residing just around the corner from Bat Man on the Gold Coast. She is the official Blogger coordinator for this year’s 2016 SCBWI Sydney Conference. You can follow her reviews on Kids Lit at Boomerang Books Blog or visit her at Dim’s Write Stuff.

SCBWI Queensland’s Gold Coast meet a great success

Inaugural SCBWI Queensland Gold Coast Regional Meeting 

Report: Sheryl Gwyther, SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor

Another SCBWI Queensland regional members’ meeting was held on Saturday 24th August – time time, at Tallebudgera Valley on the Gold Coast. It was splendid to see authors and illustrators traveling from as far away as north of Brisbane to south of the Queensland/NSW’s border.

Twenty-five writers, illustrators and librarians, SCBWI members and non-members talked, listened, shared morning tea, lunch and then afternoon tea, networked, shared recent successes and other news, and generally had an excellent time at the home of Angela Sunde, SCBWI support team member.gold coast gig9Our guest speaker, Judith Rossell presented a powerpoint of her work, especially her recently published picture book, Oliver.judith r 2 Of great interest was her journal of drawings she worked on at her May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Residency in Brisbane. The story is set in Victorian England and her pen and ink drawings are sublime.

SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor, Sheryl Gwyther also presented a slide show, Dinosaurs, Research and Writing … turning a trip through time into a novel, talking about the journey of her children’s novel, Secrets of Eromangasheryl_presentationThank you to Angela Sunde and husband, Rob Brown for their generous hospitality, and to Judith Rossell who generously donated her fee back to SCBWI Qld. And thank you to our wonderful members who once again proved that they are the best bunch of people this side of the Black Stump. 🙂

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NEXT SCBWI Qld MEETING: Gold Coast area

SCBWI QUEENSLAND NETWORKING MEETING

Beautiful one day, perfect the next

Beautiful one day, perfect the next

Everyone is welcome to attend our meeting at the Gold Coast

  • 2nd Presentation: Sheryl Gwyther, author … DINOSAUR BONES & other BITS & PIECES, the search for a story

It’s also the chance to catch up with friends, network and meet new people who share the same passion.

WHEN:  Saturday, August 24th 10.30am – 3.00pm

WHERE:  Burleigh area. Contact Angela Sunde (our Gold Coast SCBWI correspondent) at angelasunde @ live.com.au for the meeting’s address

Tea and coffee/morning tea will be provided but BRING some LUNCH TO SHARE

RSVP ESSENTIAL  –   22nd August  queensland@scbwiaustralianz.com

COST:    SCBWI members  $5        Non-members $10

HITTING THE HIGH NOTES AT THE SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE, NEW YORK

Better late than never! Here’s a guest post from SCBWI West’s Reporter-at-Large and Regional Advisor, Frané Lessac, illustrator, and Susanne Gervay, SCBWI Australia/NZ RA and author. Thank you, FranéSCBWI_2013_NY_blog headerHave to admit, I was a wee bit anxious leaving an Australian summer for sub zero temperatures of the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. I need not have worried. The Conference hotel was conveniently located smack bang above Grand Central Station with gazillions of restaurants, shops and public transport right downstairs.

The bonus of attending SCBWI New York is that many of the top US children’s book editors, agents, publishers and art directors get involved. With 999 attendees, 17 countries represented, and 45 US states, it was a constant thrill in the elevators to find out who was from where. When they realized WA wasn’t an abbreviation for the state of Washington, West Australia always got the biggest wow. 🙂 new-york-new-york_Frane-

Meg Rosoff gave the first keynote entitled “So When Are You Going to Write a Real Book, You Know, For Adults?” She was hysterical when she translated that into a list of people she wanted to punch in the face for asking. Most celebrity authors were targets. Jay Leno’s book, IF ROAST BEEF COULD FLY had a roasting for sure.

I must have heard Shaun Tan speak over a dozen times. He never ceases to amaze me. Every time his talk is different – even if he’s talking about the same piece of art. He received a standing ovation, not only from me, but by the other 998 attendees too!

Another keynote was by NY Times bestselling mother and daughter writing team, Julie Andrews and Emma Walton. Although their presentation was heavily scripted, it was a highlight seeing Mary Poppins in person.

Mo Willems gave the closing keynote – inspiration and infotainment at its best.

A major US children’s bookseller had some good news to share. In her opinion: The library and school markets are healthy. Schools have money to buy books, although mostly paperbacks. They’re looking for short stories, fairy tales and folktales relating to the curriculum, and narrative non-fiction. Also the go: action packed novels, bullying, movie tie-ins, war, survival and diversity.

There are funds for author school visits with Skype visits on the increase. Bookstores are coming back and the balance is changing. In the future, stores may be used as showrooms, as people buy an ebook after viewing the print version. The balance will never be equal again, but children still want a book to hug.

Frane in America1

Frané keeping company with pumpkins.

If anyone would like more information about attending the New York or Los Angeles SCBWI Conferences, please feel free to contact Frané Lessac.

Conference blog link: http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com.au/

SCBWI Queensland members’ get together

It’s always fun getting together with our members. Here’s an image of our last meeting held at The Collectors’ Cafe, at Queensland Museum in Brisbane.

Angela Sunde, Sheryl Gwyther, Julie Nickerson, Anil Tortop, Betty Collarson, Jacki Halpin and Jennifer Poulter on the other side of the lens.

Angela Sunde, Sheryl Gwyther, Julie Nickerson, Anil Tortop, Betty Collarson, Jacki Halpin and Jennifer Poulter on the other side of the lens.

Our guest speaker, Jessica Miller spoke about her short-listing in the Text Prize with her work-in-progress, Elizabeth and Zenobia, a junior fiction novel. It sounds like a fascinating read and we can’t wait for it to be published one day, for surely it will. 🙂

Members also shared some of the work they’re doing at the moment, and discussion ranged from e-book publishing contract pros and cons; Angela’s new picture book draft :); Betty’s story for kids set in her home country of Brazil, and a whole heap more. The coffee was good and the muffins even better.

Sorry to those members unable to make it on a weekday – promise the next one will be on the usual Sunday.

LAUNCHING A NEW CHILDREN’S WRITERS GROUP in Brisbane

SCBWI Queensland member, Yvonne Mes talks about the support that beginning/emergent writers value … a specific writers’ group for those who want to write for young people (besides our fabulous organisation, SCBWI)

I recently joined SCWBI and am relatively new to writing for children. I realised quickly that having your stories critiqued can be a very valuable process to improve your writing, your stories and yes, dare I hope…one day getting published.

I am part of two critiquing groups online, http://www.scribophile.com  though they don’t solely focus on writing for children (you should check it out, I find it quite addictive) and a small offshoot of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 forum http://www.juliehedlund.com/12-x-12/ . If you haven’t heard of that, you should check it out as well, though they are closed for registration by now.

The online critiques have been valuable but it would be great to see local writers come together to critique each other’s works as well as provide moral support in getting published in the Australian market. Maybe you know of an active Brisbane based critique group looking for new members? If so, please let me know.

A mix of new and more experienced writers would be great, and if you are an experienced or published writer, you can add ‘mentor’ to your resume as well as being reinvigorated by newbie enthusiasm.

I’m based in Brisbane and would welcome anyone to join me in finding a suitable place and time to meet and brainstorm some ideas for a successful critique group. Hopefully, someone with actual experience with critique groups would like to put their hand up as well.

If not, I am happy to give it a go. Or alternatively, if you live a little further afield, we could start an Australian SCWBI online critique group.

Yvonne Mes

 NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!

 NEW WRITING GROUP in S.E. Qld

BEGINNING/EMERGING CHILDREN’S WRITERS

 SCBWI (Qld) has joined forces with BOOK LINKS (Qld) on their initiative to help set up a writing group for beginning/developing writers. As you know, there hasn’t been a local writing group (other than SCBWI Qld) catering for children’s writers in many years – so this is a great leap forward.

The first meeting will be on Saturday, the 6th April at 2pm – this get-together will be at the Queensland Writers Centre on Level 2 at the State Library. Subsequent meeting could be in a cafe chosen by writers. Let us know if you’re interested.

Email queensland@scbwiaustralianz.com