From Hook to Book

Archive for the tag “Research”

Killer Clothes – Literally

arsenic bottleDuring the 1800s the population of Victorian England were quite literally eating, wearing, sleeping and washing themselves to death with arsenic.

While researching rat poison, strictly for my novel, of course, I came across some startling facts. Arsenic was used as a common green colourant, creating the gorgeous Scheeles green, Emerald and Paris green dyes. Arsenic dyes went into everything from wallpaper, clothing, jellies, sweets, artificial flowers, soaps and candles, as well as children’s toys.

green dressLadies swooned in their bright crinoline gowns, never suspecting their dresses were poisoning them and the cause of their aches and pains. A person could become ill just sleeping in his bed surrounded by fashionable green wallpapering, breathing in the paper dust and vapours.

Green wallpaperWith the ready availability of the impossible to taste, smell, detect, common household grains or bottles of liquid arsenic, there were plenty of deliberate poisonings too. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning imitated common gastric complaints and ailments: stomach pains, cramping muscles and sweating, and it is thought that many murder victims went to their graves under the guise of food poisoning or intestinal diseases. Desperate murderers of the day often sought to claim the “life insurance” held by many householders  to afford them a decent burial when the time came. For some, that time came sooner than expected.

It was the late 1800s before synthetic dyes began to replace arsenic greens, and quite some years after their poisonous nature was first discovered. Makers of millions of yards of wallpaper and other manufacturers held out insisting that their products caused no harm, until science could irrefutably prove that arsenic was poisonous in such applications and not just through ingestion by mouth. By the 1900s forensic science could detect arsenic in the deceased and it passed out of popularity with poisoners too.

Now to the writing month that was October

Books Read:                          1 x YA novel (no time to read – see “houses moved”)

Words Written:                       12000

Words Edited:                         20000

Convict Slang Learned:

Knuckle – to pick pockets

Horney – a constable

Glim stick – a candlestick

Houses Moved                       1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was gobsmacked to see this guy moving house in Fuzhou, China back in 2006. It was incredible how much he had stacked on such a small cart. We were  lucky to have a large moving van and a couple of energetic professionals to assist us in relocating our worldly goods.

Source: Convict slang A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language (Author James Hardy Vaux 1812)

How Sweet It is…

to be a writer!

photoGot to love it when you get to make old-fashioned toffee in the name of research.

This batch is a tad bitter because I was trying to make it as if I couldn’t adjust the heat on the gas, since the toffee in my story is being made a very, very time long ago, under less than ideal conditions, in my new YA historical.

And since I must suffer for my art, I had to eat it too. It was actually very delicious toffee. But don’t tell anyone, because a writer’s life is supposed to be full of bitter pills.

What fun/scary/fabulous things have you done lately for your art?

The BIG Question in your Novel?

Big ProblemThe first time I was asked: “What is the big question in your novel?” I responded with a blank look.

BIG question??? Hmm! Hadn’t really thought about a BIG question. I was just writing what I hoped was a cracker of a story and following my main character’s journey through a testing and changing time for women during the era of The Great War.

“Wrong. No! You must be writing to answer a question,” insisted my uni research tutor.

Really!???

Turned out, I was actually asking and exploring quite a few questions, but it took me some considerable effort to seek them out and, even more so, to articulate them and find the core question.

Being an historical novel, I thought, at first, that my questions would be very different to those that might be posed in a contemporary story. I considered them to be all about a woman’s right to happiness and did they have any rights to it, over duty, in the era of 1912 – 1920? I thought the question not relevant to young women in western society today, who often have so many choices.

Eventually I worked the major question in my novel through to:

At what point do we question the rightness and rationale of what we’ve been taught? (Or should we?)

Of course, this turned out to be a timeless question, relevant to as many women/people in the world today as much as a century ago. A right of passage and a question that – in some form – has  been explored and debated in books the world over – through every genre.

Bunyips Don'tI remember having a debate with my Writing for Children tutor, several years ago, when I wrote a glowing review on the picture book Bunyips Don’t by Sally Odgers and illustrated by Kim Gamble. My tutor maintained how could the book end with a celebration when Young Bunyip had moved to the sunny side of the swamp with new friends leaving old Bunyip alone? To her, Young Bunyip was bucking his heritage and a selfish creature for deserting Old Bunyip. I argued that Young Bunyip tried to encourage miserable Old Bunyip, living in the dank and dark, that he could dance and play (be happy) on the sunny side of the swamp and to come with him. Old Bunyip chose not to just because Bunyips Don’t dance and play and live on the sunny side. He chose to live the same old unhappy life rather than make a choice to change. In the end, my tutor was more convinced but still struggled with Young Bunyip “abandoning” his heritage and his kind’s way of life.

Doesn’t enjoyment and love for a book often come down to reader perspective?

If I hadn’t been going to uni, would I have ultimately learned as much just in the writing of my novel and formulated the same BIG question? Perhaps!

But the scope of my Master’s degree insisted I explore and articulate the social context and big question of my novel leading me to discover and thrill to what I discovered were the many layers to my story. Many intentional but some that I found had emerged organically too.

Chris pre-grad (Large)So last week, I walked the ramp to the RMIT graduation stage with a huge grin on my face and grasped my degree, very pleased and proud to be a Master of Creative Media (Creative Writing) with Distinction.

Now – onward to get my novel published. And discover the BIG question in my new manuscript/s.

Often I hear writers asked, did your idea spring from plot, character or setting? Not, what question are you asking. So I’m asking you: Do you write with a BIG question in mind?

Chris post graduation (Large)

Shattered Anzacs and Broken Promises

Mid-way through the year, I realise my pledge to read 52 books in this Year of Reading may have been a bit of an over-estimation on my part. Hey, I know what went wrong, I should have aimed for shorter books. All the ones I’m reading are hundreds of pages long. So from now on, I’m going to leave off the number of books I’m up to and just enjoy the reading.

I’m back into reading the era I’m about to write again for my new historical novel, set during and post WW1. I’m not usually one for war movies or books depicting the grit and gore of battles. My passion lies in the personal, emotional and psychological journeys of my characters, living through those times, but for me to understand how they think, feel and react I must read the books. Some are harsh; so is war. The more I read, the more I cannot believe that WW1 is not a key focus in our education system. Before I began researching four years ago, you could have grown crops of wheat to feed whole suburbs in the gaps in my knowledge. I still have so much to learn, as evidenced in my research trip, but I’m engrossed and passionate about the people and the time enough to set and write another historical saga in the same era as my previous novel. Plus I really need to write and learn more in order to understand what went on and what it was for.

Shattered Anzacs living with the scars of war by Marina Larsson

Historian and author Marina Larsson explores the impact of war disability on the lives of soldiers and those of their families upon their return from WW1. Larsson comprehensively details the effects and attitudes of society, the government, and real families utilising interviews with the offspring of returned soldiers of WW1. Larsson’s text is accessible and highly readable, despite the incredible breadth of her research. The text explores the effects of having a soldier living in the household with an ongoing disability, often a “nervy” and “changed” man. It further addresses the  financial and physical effects and impact on disabled WW1 returned soldiers’ employment prospects.  I highly recommend this excellent resource for anyone writing on the experience and legacy of war.

University of New South Wales Press, Sydney 2009

ISBN: 9781921410550

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

The strength of Birdsong is Faulk’s authentic battle scene descriptions and their shocking psychological effects on the men fighting. He takes you into the trenches and onto the battlefield. And he doesn’t let you escape a single moment of the unrelenting battle morning where tens of thousands went over top to be mown down, caught on the wire or tripped up in the bodies of their mates.  Events in the past are described in captivating detail – as if it’s happening now. The character progression of the main character, Stephen Wraysford, an initially selfish young man who seduces his host’s wife and whom appears to care about nothing and no one, is riveting. Alternating viewpoints enable a steady progression in Wraysford’s mental deterioration and those of his men.

I enjoyed “most” of Birdsong. Except for the modern day viewpoint of Wraysford’s grand-daughter, which to me added nothing to the story. The character Elizabeth discovers/reveals nothing that couldn’t have been shown in “real” story time. The writing in this section also dragged the reader out of the atmosphere of the story and read as pure telling. The book does tend to “tell” a lot but the power of the battlefields prose kept me turning the page. It is a searingly authentic look at what our male ancestors went through and why these men were never the same.

Random House

Epub ISBN: 9781407052564 (Vintage 1994)

Talk to me, I’m a writer!

And people do. Incredibly generously. No matter where I go, if I ask a question and say I’m writing a book, mouths and doors open. Even when we barely speak the same language.

My recent research revealed that the location of French farmhouses, at least in the Somme area of France, aren’t like our Aussie farmhouses situated out in the middle of paddocks, far from town, but are located within the village, often on the main street.

Big buildings with high wooden doors and entries, or perhaps steel for the more modern, can line the street, like in the photo here. Beyond the walls and doorways are the yard in the middle and the farmhouse at the back. When asked why farmhouses weren’t on the farm land, my guide explained that it’s safer in the village (in numbers) unlike being isolated out on the land alone. In a country invaded often over the centuries, this made a lot of sense.

The farmyards’ location and set-out is integral to an important meeting of two central characters in my story and when I learned of their true location, I realised I’d set up their meeting all wrong. Only trouble was, since my guide wasn’t a farmer, how did I find out what lay behind the closed doors and gates of French farmyards to even begin to imagine their set out or setup? Many haven’t changed layout much over the century since the war, but, of course, most are much more modern in technology and living arrangements today.

Skulking along the main road of a small village seemed the closest I could get to seeing inside, snapping surreptitious photos through the odd door or gate left ajar. Until… My sidekick and I came across the huge house (pictured) next door to a “farmhouse”.  When Jackie, as we came to know him, stepped out the farm gate to retrieve something from his car, we bade him ‘Bon jour,’ and when he responded in-kind, I took the opportunity to ask him how old was the house as a lead in to asking about the farm.

He said he’d pop back and ask the owner of the “chateau” who was inside. Minutes later he returned and asked us to come in and meet the owner. Before we knew it, we were shaking hands with Jacques, Jean Claude and Jackie and explaining my interest as a writer in both the chateau and the farm. To my bemusement, Jean Claude started filming me while I interviewed Jacques. I feared, he may have misunderstood and thought me famous. The word writer seems to carry such weight. I started to explain that I was your garden variety writer, not discovered yet, but knew my words not understood by Jean Claude’s grin and failure to put down the camera, so we both continued to enjoy the moment.

Next thing, Annik, Jacque’s wife arrived and she very graciously took us off to show us through the lower floor of their delightful chateau. I was both awestruck and embarrassed, not having meant to impose so much on their kindness and generosity of spirit. My time with Annik stretched my French to surprising lengths and I found long forgotten phrases and words in my efforts to communicate with her. How could I forget, la fenêtre, the window and other such descriptions around the house from Form One French class? Sr Austin would be proud of me.

Annik and Jacques allowed me to take photos and answered all my questions. I also got to see through the disused farmhouse and imagine how it might have been when one of my characters lived there so very long ago. She may not live next to the chateau but I’m hoping it’s going to find a small role in the book too.

The meeting reminded me how often and how much people are happy to share their knowledge, expertise and sometimes important parts of their lives with me, indulging my writer’s curiosity with an openness of spirit I delight in and very much appreciate. I’ve spoken to rodeo clowns, sailors, itinerent workers, coal miners and now chateau owners to bring authenticity to my stories. Each time I feel they’ve given me a gift. They certainly enrich my stories.

Publication is a tough gig, but the writing life is pretty damn cool.

Return to the Coal-face

One-hundred years ago, my great-grandfather trekked down the pit road six and a half days a week, sometimes a mile into the gloom, to reach the current coal face of the Hamilton Palace Colliery in Lanarkshire, Scotland. (Those who lived in the colliery’s tiny pit village of Bothwellhaugh affectionately knew it as the “Paillis”.) It might have taken John an hour before shift start for him to ride the cage down hundreds of metres to the road below before beginning his walk, and he didn’t earn a shilling until the first coal shards hewn hit the bottom of his skip.

In the quiet of the mine, every noise magnifies, the laughter and cursing of men, the snickers and snorts of pit ponies, the clang of picks on rock and shot fired into the bords bringing down stone and coal and earth. Some shifts, depending on your bord (work face), you’d spend soaked to the skin from start to end, if not soaked with sweat from the heat generated deep underground, you’d be wet through from the sodden roads or lying crouched in cramped quarters to get at the coal.

We can read a hundred books, and scan a thousand photographs and still be hard pressed to realise the eerie, cloying nature of dust-filled air and the closed-in walls of the underground caves of a coal mine. Tiny lamp lights carried not far in front, especially in the days of naked flame lamps pre-gas and battery lit lanterns. Danger lurked in a myriad of life-threatening ways. Precipitous rock was not always given to staying put leading to frequent “falls of stone”, or men and lads might face a panicking pit pony sending a tonne of skip and coal  careering down the tracks to crush any body unable to jump into a cutaway in the wall, or see the pony fall victim itself, another of the many unfortunate creatures  lost to the task.

Men might  drown with an inrush of water. Others fell down shafts or found themselves crushed between hutch (skip) and props. The tales and manner of demise of workers, especially in the shameful era before men’s lives were considered more important than the tonnage hewn, are endless, even without the oft written about explosions from fire damp and roof falls. I cannot imagine many miners, wheelers, shiftmen or engine drivers began their shifts at ease, nor saw their loved ones wave them off without a prayer. In the course of writing my novel, I’ve imagined their discomfort, the dirt, the wet, and the fettered fear that must have travelled the pit road with all who worked the tunnels. Last week, for a second time, I ventured down a coal mine too.

My first trip underground was mid-2010 when I went down a Lanarkshire coal mine, into the gloom, yet fully trusting of our guide and in the knowing we were down for a limited time and with all the safety precautions of modern-day OH&S. Still I found it unnerving and the prickles jagging up my spine only eased on stepping back into daylight. I was determined though to tour underground at the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine, it being my great-grandfather, John McConaghy’s workplace the last eighteen-years of his working life before ill health saw him retire in 1930.

Regardless of whether you’ve a family history connected to mining, the tour at Wonthaggi offers excellent insight into the workplace/life of a miner, wheeler or shiftman. From the steep trek down a (tourist smooth) path between the skip tracks to the ride out up the very steep incline in a cage train, I found the tour took me not only down into the mine but transported me to another time. Part of me wanted the human voices to hush and let me hear the whispers and sounds of the long-ago workings take up instead. Only the coward in me remained happy to keep it real and modern and focused. A few seconds pause, at one stage, saw our humorous guide, Rod, snapping off the lights to give us an inkling into just how black, dark can be. From then on, though the periodic lamp lighting somewhat injured the pretence going on in my imagination I was most grateful for the light they cast just the same.

Rod told us tales of how the miners used to kick the thunder box before opening the lid for a sit, lest they got a bite on the bum from a rat for their oversight. Yet the rats were the miners’ mates. The miners used to feed them. And if the rats hung around, you knew you were pretty right. But if the rats were running past, you knew to high-tail it out of there fast too.

We writers and descendants are lucky to have such opportunities to hear the whispers of our forebears and vicariously experience a tiny taste of their lives, without the danger, the suffering, the physical and health damage working in any mine (be it coal, gold, tin, or other) can inflict on a body leading to premature illness or death. I’ve often lost sight of some of the harsh realities while writing my novel, which is set in both Wonthaggi and Bothwellhaugh. At times I saw only the romantic side of a different era and place and lifestyle, despite working hard to establish authenticity, but then even war can take on a romantic side in literature. We can paint the suffocating air, the crash and grind and squeal of a hutch careening out of control and slamming into flesh, but I am grateful not have to see and live the aftermath and grieve as men, and wives and mothers did often in days when many had no choice but to follow the pit road. I am grateful as are some I’ve interviewed and read about that those days are gone. Though there are others that equally mourned the passing of such days and a life that was all they knew.

I’ll be proud to see the novel that has resulted from my research published. I’m delighted that the feedback coming already has acclaimed its veracity and believability. Research is my bliss in being a writer, almost equal to the writing, be it interviewing a rodeo clown, climbing down a coal mine, or scuba diving in the ocean. I wonder what on earth, above or below, is coming next…

I’d love to know what type of things you’ve done or adventures you’ve had in pursuit of authenticity in your writing research. If you like, you can leave me a message in the comments.

No. 510

Or what should be titled “The best conversation starter ever”.

What began as a trip in 2008 to explore my ancestral roots, grew into a niggle that refused to be stilled. Perhaps weeks of researching my family tree and their migration from Ireland to Scotland and on to Australia placed me in just the right mood to be open to the teeming vibration of possibilities I found from the moment I began to walk through the reconstructed setting of the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine.

Writers will recognise that feeling – that stir – there’s a story here. I didn’t know what it was at the time. All I knew was – “it’s here”. And what a setting? What a history? What a backstory?

I couldn’t use my family story because, well, there wasn’t one. Okay, of course, there is a family background, a migration, of good, solid, hard-working people who flew under the radar and left little trace of themselves or their lives. Not in the newspapers, nor in diaries, or letters – nowhere it seemed of note. A lot of people ask if my novel is my family story. No, it is not. But it is their background, their journey and representative of lives lived in the early nineteen-hundreds, a time of mass migration to this country and the age of the coal industry.

I found little oral history to be told either, much as I quizzed my mother, imploring her to search perhaps missed grey areas of her memory that may turn up some trinkets of possibility. But no. My great-grandparents were battlers who got on with life, despite the loss of more than half their children at birth and in infancy, uprooting themselves twice in search of a better life for their family. They made no fuss or show of their lives and seemingly had no desire to record it. But their background, their journey to Australia, the places they lived, those details I’ve lifted and molded to my story. Some extras too, remembered from anecdotes told by my grandmother, embellished and expanded by Mum, have been woven into a work that is otherwise entirely fiction. But it is the small gems of truth that bring authenticity and texture to my story and were a great thrill for me to include beyond the more impersonal, yet invaluable greater research.

One treasure I did unearth during the research is the medallion I am wearing in the photograph at top left of this blog and reproduced below – No. 510. This is a replica of my great-grandfather John McConaghy’s miner’s token. Every time a pit worker went down the mine, he took his token off the board so that the mine management would know who was below and who to search for in the event of an accident. John’s number was 510 for all the eighteen-years he worked there. My grand-father, Ted Nash, who later married my grandmother (and John’s daughter), along with his four brothers all worked at the mine too, though most of them, including my grandfather, only briefly.

I wear the token on a strip of leather, often, and it never fails to amuse and delight me how often a stranger will ask me the meaning of the number 510, or what the medallion represents. I’ve had strangers ask on trains, in Melbourne Central, restaurants, the supermarket, even in London, who cannot keep their eyes from it, and I watch as their curiosity grows. They’re always intrigued with its background too. I’m often surprised how many people are connected in some way to the State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi or who’ve had ancestors working in coal mines somewhere in the world.

Just thought I’d share this gem and tangible link to my past and my story, which, to me, makes it all the more precious.

Research Tips for Writers – Guest blogger Tania McCartney on the Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour

I’m delighted to welcome, guest poster, Tania McCartney, author, editor, publisher and founder of the wonderful children’s literature site, Kids Book Review – in celebration of her latest release Riley and the Grumpy Wombat (Ford Street Publishing). Tania is the creator of the popular Riley the Little Aviator series of travelogue picture books, and is both published and self-published in children’s fiction and adult non-fiction. She’s here to share her Research Tips for Writers. Welcome, and I’ll hand over to Tania.

Along with picture books, I have a quiet addiction to history and historical writing. I know – chalk and cheese, right? Perhaps not. The current spate of enormously successful faction books and picture books with historical undertones tell us history is the new black for children’s literature.

Notoriously, history books of the past have been bogged in a morass of boring… but very crafty, highly creative authors, illustrators and publishers are windsurfing across that bog with bright, light, whimsical and thoroughly entertaining stories that are truly shifting the way we teach history to kids.

History Books
Having studied history at uni, it felt like a natural progression for me to move into historical fiction, and I’ve recently finished a non-fiction book for the National Library of Australia (Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline, out 2012) that takes Australian history and unfurls it like a long-lost scroll, and takes kids on a journey through time. Part of the process of writing this book – and the historical fiction I’m currently working on – was to hone my research skills, and work out a format that works for me.

My personal ‘format’ relies on visuals. I operate visually and even note-taking is documented in a visual way – via spread sheets and images that help capture the message I’m trying to convey. For Australian Story, I kept spread sheets that documented each event, timeframes, people involved, key dates, links and where I sourced the information. I also placed selected images on the spread sheet, and made my own additional notes to help with context.

One of my key tips for researching books that require a lot of detail, is to keep several versions of your document. Every few weeks I would save my spread sheets as new versions, date the old ones and archive them. This allowed me to keep several ‘works in progress’ that I could refer to down the track as the main document was updated and edited and altered towards a final version. Sure enough – in the final stages of production, these archived early versions came in very handy.

Picture Books
Researching is vital for historical fiction, sure, but it can also be important for fiction-writing… even picture books.

For my newest Riley book – Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne – I actually did a lot of research both for the book proper, and for my teachers’ notes and kids’ activities, which I write to complement the book. Although I’m a Melbourne girl, I really wanted to open and explore the sights of this gorgeous city and surrounds even further – and I needed to know MORE in order to do that.

When you write a book, you should know your material. Even for a low text picture book like Grumpy Wombat, I took the time to get to know more about each site featured in the book so I could answer questions for children and write some ‘fun facts’ into an activity book I have created for my book launches (these will eventually be on my website http://www.taniamccartney.com/4kids.html). This research was also priceless for my teachers’ notes http://www.scribd.com/doc/61497405/Teaching-Notes-Riley-and-the-Grumpy-Wombat, which offer teachers some fascinating ways to engage children in the story.

For all my Riley books, I spend time researching the featured animal as well as the featured city. I need to do this not only for my teachers’ notes and school presentations, but also because I weave both cultural and faunal facts and intimations and metaphors into each story… like the fact that wombats are often in a bad mood (well, they appear to be, anyway – and you would, too, if you had to spend most of your time alone and live in a cold, dank hole in the ground).

Fiction
In 2007, I began work on a YA novel (working title: The One) that was based on ancient spiritual beliefs. The research required to write this took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to spend so much time researching for this book, but the need arose naturally and I ran with it. The more wonderful moments of synchronicity I experienced in writing The One, the more I wanted to give weight to what I was writing.

And nothing gives weight and power to fiction like historical facts.

For The One, I was required to explore not only other countries and cultures but the customs and rites of ancient peoples. I loved every minute of this. My findings really enriched the storyline and – most surprisingly – were actually responsible for bringing together my plot threads into one glorious ending.

I highly recommend researching to add intensity and weight to fiction, no matter how far removed the plot core is from reality.

Faction
Of course, research is vital for factional writing, and the process can be an intense one. Authors write this type of book in different ways but I prefer to research and write the parts I need as I go along. Some authors read up on and completely research a person’s life or an event from start to finish, before penning a single word of their story. I like to combine the research and the penning so my writing and comprehension of the subject matter is fresh.

Some authors write out the entire plot before commencing the story proper. This allows them to get an overview of where the book will go, and how they can incorporate and flesh out their characters and story structure.

For my current faction novel, I keep notes on my research findings then write them immediately into the storyline without becoming too pedantic about things being ‘perfect’. Interpretation and fictional additions, especially dialogue, are what make faction novels so special, and getting bogged down or paranoid about ‘getting things perfect’ while you’re still busy plotting the story, may disable you.

Writing a first draft with a light touch may help you plot the bones of the book and could be the key to actually getting a first draft complete. Getting bogged in minor detail can hinder the process, and these more detailed elements are much easier to add to a skeleton storyline a little down the track.

Once the first-draft bones of your faction novel are complete, you can then think about how to pad things out, develop your characters, and ensure all vital parts of the historical puzzle are covered – not only in the right order, but with clarity and accuracy.

Absolute accuracy on content is the final stage – and some reworking, adding and deleting may be required.

Characters
Authors develop their characters in many different ways – some know them instantly and intimately, while others get to know them as they unfold. One of the most effective ways to develop characters (who are the driving force and emotion behind any story) is to research them either before or during the book-writing process.

Keep a spread sheet of your characters and make notes about their personality traits, their background, their likes and dislikes, their idiosyncrasies. Dig deep and get to know who they are. This kind of ‘research’ can be the most fun of all.

Researching Tips

• The internet provides a wealth of information at your fingertips, but don’t rely on it. There is a lot of pap and inaccuracy out there. If I’m researching on the internet, I search several sites and compare findings. I also frequent sites I can trust – like the sites of governments, organisations and established professionals.
• Cross-check your internet finds with printed books.
• Utilise your library, and if you can’t access the books you need, ask them to order books for you.
• If you are writing historical work for a publisher, your work will need to be heavily (and repeatedly) fact-checked. I was fastidious with my book for the National Library yet I missed several important entries and several were questioned for accuracy. Outside readers, historians and fact-checkers are a must, no matter how thorough you are.
• The wording used in historical work is subject to interpretation (and misinterpretation) so the right wording is vital. Be prepared to have your wording altered to minimise inaccuracy, misinterpretation, political correctness or subjectivity.

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A Journey around Melbourne
Tania McCartney, illustrations by Kieron Pratt
Ford Street Publishing, A$22.95, hardcover          

For more, see www.taniamccartney.com and www.fordstreetpublishing.com.

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour Dates:

Thursday 1 September

Blog Tour Announcement Tania McCartney Blogspot

Blog Tour Schedule Kids Book Review

Book Review and Giveaway Bug in a Book

Publishing v Self-Publishing Claire Saxby’s Let’s Have Words blog

Friday 2 September

Author Guest Post and Book Review Read Plus

Hosting a Fabulous Book Launch Sheryl Gwyther 4 Kids blog

Melbourne Via the Pages of Grumpy Wombat Buzz Words’ Book blog

Book Giveaway Handmade Canberra

Saturday 3 September

Interview with Riley Boomerang Books, Kids’ Book Capers blog

Book Giveaway Fat Mum Slim

Speaking at Schools Under the Apple Tree with Angela Sunde blog

Book Giveaway HerCanberra

Sunday 4 September

Book Giveaway Posie, The Blog

Writing Effective Teachers’ Notes Sandy Fussell’s Stories Are Light

Interview with Wombat My Little Bookcase

Book Giveaway Alphabet Street

Monday 5 September

Creating Effective Presentations for Schools  Blue Dingo

Researching Tips for Writers Chris Bell’s From Hook to Book blog

Book Resources for Parents The Book Chook

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Submission Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog

Tuesday 6 September

Writing Processes Soup Blog

Top 10 Book Writing Tips and Top 10 Book Marketing Tips DeeScribe blog

Travelling with Children Wise Words blog

Author Interview HerCanberra 

Wednesday 7 September

Book Review Buzz Words’ Book blog

Author Interview Helen Ross Writes blog

Book Review My Little Bookcase

Book Giveaway Australian Women Online

Thursday 8 September

Balancing Motherhood with Career Planning with Kids

Self-Publishing Journey, Review, Book Giveaway Pass It On blog

Tania McCartney Blog Blog Tour Wrap Up and Exciting Announcement

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