Nathan, Ella and Oliver have saved Nathan’s dad. Now they need to save the dragons. Can they convince dragons and humans to work together? Not everyone is happy with their plans, and some are willing to kill to prevent them from succeeding.
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā: to speak of the home fires burning is newly released. This anthology of speculative short stories showcases some fabulous New Zealand writers … and me, too! Thirty-two great stories inside one awesome cover.
There’s never a dull moment when you’re dealing with dragons.
Tui, Nathan, Ella and Oliver have saved Nathan’s dad. Now they need to save the dragons. Can they convince dragons and humans to work together? Not everyone is happy with their plans, and some are willing to kill to prevent them from succeeding.
Coming in April!
It was pretty scary.
The most obvious thing was the computer. Okay, that’s normal. But that’s where normality ended.
Strewn around the computer there were papers. There were notes for a non-fiction book proposal that included calculations for the intrinsic rate of increase of pea aphids, notes about parthenogenic reproduction, and a list of potential titles, many of which included the word ‘alien’. There were also a smattering of papers and notes from the workshop I attended last weekend, a note about my son’s shoe size, and the beginning of a short story set in New Zealand’s not so distant future.
That’s not too weird, though the story is a little bizarre…
Making a lump under the papers were three D&D dice. I use them for my students–they can roll the dice to choose a random writing prompt from the list of 500 prompts I’ve made for them. Honestly, I don’t roll the dice to see if a character lives or dies in a story (though that could be fun). The dice sit on my desk between classes because they’re fun to roll around in my hands while I’m thinking.
Well, that’s not too strange…
Also on the desk was a stem of the storksbill I’d blogged about the day before. It was still there, though I should have thrown it on the compost when I was done with it. It was interesting to look at…
And nearby was the Weeds of New Zealand book that I’d used for reference when blogging about the storksbill. I’d gotten sidetracked after the blog post was written, and spend a good half an hour perusing information about weeds. I left it sitting out because, you know, everyone needs a weed book on their desk.
And here’s where the tableau on the desk got…um…interesting…
Two dead bumblebees nestled together near one corner of the computer. They’d been there for days–ever since I found them on the floor and noticed that one of them had a drop of venom on her stinger. I put it under the microscope at the time for a photo shoot, but then kept the bees on my desk as…as…well, for no good reason really, other than that I enjoyed looking at them, especially as their parasites (mites) started to abandon their dead hosts and crawl all over my desk, questing for a new bee.
That’s not weird, right?
Over on the other side of the computer was a dead German wasp in a plastic bag. She was in the bag because I’d just taken her out of the freezer. Um…yeah. She was clearly a queen looking for a good nesting site (and she was a non-native pest that I’m deathly allergic to), so when I found her in the house, the only sensible thing to do was to kill her. But there was no point in wasting her. I popped her into the bag and into the freezer to kill her without damaging her, thinking I’d pin her later and keep her for teaching.
That’s definitely not weird. Everyone stores bugs in the freezer, right?
And thankfully out of sight inside a folded piece of paper was the dead mosquito I’d brought back from Auckland because it was a species I don’t see much of here, and when I saw it land on my ankle to bite me, I thought it would be a good specimen to keep.
It was definitely time to clean the desk before someone came to visit.
I’m in a rainy Auckland this weekend at the Storylines Children’s Writers and Illustrators Hui. There are over a hundred writers and illustrators here this weekend, from people who have yet to start writing their first book to the venerable Joy Cowley, who has published so many stories over her long career she’s lost count of them.
Some curious observations:
The vast majority–probably 80%–of the participants are middle-aged women, parents of teens and adult children.
Another 10% is composed of younger women.
Most of the women are writers, though some are illustrators.
Only about 10% are men, and at least half the men are illustrators.
So why are most participants middle-aged women? Is it that a workshop like this appeals more to that demographic? Is it because that demographic has a greater ability to take off for a weekend to attend a workshop (both because of finances and because our children are old enough to stay at home alone)? Why aren’t more of the women illustrators?
My unscientific and haphazard look at how we all arrived at this place reveals a preponderance of teachers and former teachers in the group (which would partly explain the preponderance of women). Not surprising, perhaps. We have spent more time with children than others, and have an affinity for children and the books they read. Maybe we want to write the books we wish our students had read? Some, like the wonderful David Riley, who produces books about Pacific island heroes, write the books his students are desperate to read.
However we’ve gotten here, all of us share the goal of making emotional connections with children through stories and books. It is inspiring to hear the creative and diverse ways in which New Zealand authors are doing that.