PiBoIdMo and all that jazz


I’ve done Nanowrimo (that novel is stil waiting for a reboot as a young adult fantasy piece).  What an experience that was.

Those characters still call me and say,  ‘when are you going to do something about me?’

‘Sorry guys I will listen to you soon, promise, on my to do list, ‘  I reply with my fingers crossed behind my back and a pair of runners begging to be put on my feet.  Well seriously I did have a few friends reading it and they did want to know what was going to happen so one day I will get my act together.

This year I am going to participate in PiBoIdmo for the first time.  The idea of this challenge is to generate 30 ideas for picture books in 30 days.  Considering I have presently completed  only one(and it has been sent off to a publisher for consideration, cross my fingers and keep writing) and have four in process, the idea of generating 30 ideas appealed to me.

I love Tara Lazar’s list of guest bloggers and they have already started blogging.  We have opportunities to win prizes if we comment when visiting the inspiring blogs that are going up to keep us going with our generation of ideas quest.

I am looking forward to the comradarie of the facebook group, the blog, and the opportunity to develop the ways I generate ideas for picture books.

But most of all I love the creative energy that comes from knowing lots of my fellow children’s book authors are at the same time generating their 30 ideas in 30 days.

You can register here if you want to do it to, there’s still time to hop on board PiBoIdMo.

Other news 

Thank you to everyone who has recently joined this blog, 300 of you.  A special thank you to the people who leave comments, likes, and keep on coming back.

My poetry series on Miranda and Jackson might take a bit of a back burner for November.  My plotting is going to be focused on picture books!  This will be challenge for me as I love having several things going at once, and some mornings I realise just what needs to happen to Miranda and Jackson, maybe even having dreamt of them.  At the moment I am trying to think of a name for their lost child and something they can do that will help them with grief.  I need to give these characters moments of joy after putting them through the ringer.  However, focus November is my mantra.

Some great news re the plotting quest I did manage to do an almost complete outline for a chapter book for 7-10 year olds.  I only have to come up with my ending and then make sure the turning points match.

I have my ebook of After Yasi almost ready to launch for cyclone season.  I am excited about this because it will make the book accessible to people in a way the coffee table book couldn’t manage as a print on demand boutique community heritage book.  It is full of links to lots of online stories, resources, photographs, and projects to do with natural disaster and recovery through the arts.  I decided to make it a different experience from the coffee table book through the hyperlinks.  I am interested in continuing to explore these kind of journey beyond the text books.

Another good piece of news which I will detail in the future is that I sent some of my poetry for children and families off to a poetry collection and some have been accepted for publication! Woo hoo!  It is lovely to have other people appreciate what you do and give you some kind of confirmation you might have some talent for it.  Creatives on a quest do need that to know we are heading in the right direction.  Otherwise we wonder where the light at the end of that publishing tunnel for wider recognition is.

Those of you who know me well know how much I love poetry, but also know how much I acknowledge it isn’t a big earner, yet poetry at it’s best can touch the heart and inspire the soul.  I will certainly reflect more in future blogs on why poetry will always remain something I love and why and how it can be fostered in the family and educational environments.  I am developing the music to some of my songs and singing a lot, especially when I’ve been having a tough week.

A friend who was one of my early poetry mentors and writing heros, and even organised for me to do a poetry performance gig in Tasmania, sent me a collection of poetry which I am busy reading.I will review  this sometime soon, it might be after November though!  For now I am savouring and thinking about the poems, and finding my love of poetry renewed.  It’s a habit I find hard to break, but I am challenging myself and taking poetic techniques into the other genres I am now writing in.

All the best for your writing adventures, and for anyone doing nanowrimo PiBoldMo, write it, rock it and I so hope we all make our writing and publishing goals.

June aka gumbootpearlz.

Journey Planning

Living in  Brisbane is enhanced by knowing how handle public transport, but in the Cassowary Coast there isn’t any to handle so I am seriously rusty about how to do it.  So settling in well has meant rediscovering how to navigate it.

The internet makes it relatively easy to journey plan your trip by rail, bus, ferry and walking. You go to this site Journey Planner and plug in where you are and where you want to end up and it gives a number of options to consider and maps for any parts you have to walk as well as the cost (travelling in off peak times is cheaper.)  You can even go to google earth and prewalk the area.

There are lighted scrolling signs, labelled platforms, timetables at bus stops,  and audio announcements to further help you in your journey, as well as some kindly Brisbanites who don’t mind answering questions.

The next key to public transport in Brisbane is the Gocard, and knowing how to swipe it at the railway station and on the buses.  I’ve learnt that you need to swipe on at the start of the journey before you get on the train and as you leave the station, you must swipe in and out of all transport as this calculates your cost for the journey!

Another cool thing is that when you have your gocard you can top it up and protect your balance by registering your card, but don’t forget to write down the number on the back of your card in case you lose it.  I thought I’d lost mine, and went to shift my balance to another card, and realised I didn’t have the number written down anywhere!Luckily I found it or as well as my deposit for the go card I would have lost my travel balance.

The other day I made an honest mistake and thought I had to swipe on when I was on the train because I had done that when getting on the bus.  Eeks.  The station master was lovely and said, ‘not to worry, you can’t do much about it now, just swipe on the next piece of transport you get on, but don’t swipe off when you leave the station today or your journey will be out of wack.’  So we did and that was all cool.

I reckon it is good to take a gocard pro with you (not always possible) and ask specific questions at the ticket stations (which are not open on the weekends in some of the smaller stations because there are gocard and ticket machines everywhere not actual people.)

One thing enjoyable about a new city is finding new things to photograph.  In Brisbane there are leafy suburbs and then there are more industrial ones. We went to Milton and if I was writing that into a novel I’d add to my writer’s notes that it  should smell of the Castlemaine Brewery.

Many of the stations have a mural which you can look at as you stop and pass the stations.

I have been on the lookout for painted traffic signal boxes on every trip.  Walking Brisbane makes it easier to take a photo, than take one from a moving car whilst your partner is driving.

So there you have it some simple tips to using public transport. My next adapting- to- new- home- project, is to navigate the interesting cultural and arts groups and find some to join as well as exploring more of the diversity of  Brisbane.  I am on a bit of a budget until I find some bread and butter work, so can’t really head off everyday, but can make the most of each trip I am able to do, and each group I am interested to connect with.

The great thing about mastering navigating the  public transport is it will help my confidence in job searching, as it will be a while before we can afford to run a second car.


(c) June Perkins

Driving City and keeping a challenge small

trafficImage Credit: Greg Neate Creative Commons some rights reserved

Those of you who follow this blog regularly will know that I have been a bit wary of driving in Brisbane.  So much so that I just didn’t drive at all for our first few months here.

You will know that it took me many years to finally obtain my licence  and I have only had it for a few short years and that my PNG Mum has never obtained her license.

You may not know that I felt like all my ancestors were with me the day I got my license.  It was a big deal!  I was doing it for my Mum as much as myself.

I have loved having a license and being able to stretch my horizons with the freedom it brings.  I especially enjoyed shopping without all the family in tow!

I think part of the problem with me driving in the city is that I learnt to drive in the country.  I just wasn’t sure I could safely cut it on city roads.

A dear  blog reader did say,’ you are just making a bigger obstacle for yourself June, just do it,’ and so her voice was in my head a lot in a positive way, saying ‘ you can do it!’

So yesterday I took the plunge, and began to drive again.

We started by dusting off the driving cobwebs with a  Sunday afternoon, simple back street drive,  on flat roads, through a countrified surburb.  Some how I ended up driving past a prison,  a mental hospital, and a lot of large kangaroos.  I had no idea where we were going as we were just driving for the sake of driving.

I negotiated lane changing and merging on small roads, past lots of roundabouts.  I paid particular attention to being even more watchful on the road, and using my mirrors.  Lots of my country drives were highway single lane, straight into town.  Really simple!  It’s not that you are not paying attention to the road, it’s just that there is so much less that can go wrong.  Driving around town in the country was very simple as well.

I did okay for my first city drive, but then I didn’t do anything too complex, next time I will build on that.  It might be a slow adjusting process, but I think I will work the most on lane changing safely as I just haven’t had to do that much at all , and our suburb is super hilly so I have to do a lot of hill driving practice till it becomes second nature.

The best thing about Sunday was lifting the chip on my shoulder and hurling it off into the bush! I look forward to the day I feel confident to drive and navigate my new home, but am happy to have taken the first wheels in that direction.  Many more driving adventures to come, starting with the simple and building to the days of complexity, like some of the wet season driving in the North, now that was a challenge!


(c) June Perkins


The country heart opening to the city


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A found creek near our new home

Since moving back to the city I miss that the country heart knows the families of the people the streets are named after, and always has the possibility of running into people well known when on a trip to the supermarket.

I found that like a security blanket, because everywhere I went there was nearly always someone known and trusted who would help you out.

I knew all the people in the stores and every outing to buy something came with a conversation.  I had so many friends so easy to drop in on, and they were all ages.  I loved some of the older members of the community who knew stories about so many things.

I could navigate my car trips very easily in and around Tully and the outlying townships, and drive by suburb, then cane, and banana field just outside the town.  The changing landscapes were interesting and sometimes we’d go on photography adventures to find hidden creeks that were beautiful to photograph.  Nature was so near.

The country wasn’t perfect though.  Sometimes that feeling of safety was interrupted and random things happened like someone trying to make us open our doors in the middle of the night when they were drunk or drugged and our car window being smashed outside our home in the middle of nowhere happened.  It hurt knowing that someone who knew us felt the need to do that.  We always thought we just got along with everyone.

But most of the time people have to be pleasant to each other as they are always going to run into each other, and conflicts need to be resolved.  There are some people who don’t understand that and treat people as if they can avoid them and they just don’t have a country heart.

The friendships I made there are some of the truest I have ever made.  They can be much harder to make in the beginning, but after time, a couple of cyclones, and even being a fellow mother trying to find a school community that makes your children feel at home, with very small choices, you find people and the place grow on you. I will never forget a mum from Kindy running up to me and saying, ‘you have to swap classes, the best teacher is this one, ‘ how right she was!

Yet, I struggled to find regular, fulfilling paid work to use my university education .  My occupations in the country were a patchwork of projects, the occassional consistent job and short term work I absolutely loved but which ended,  lots of voluntary work, and of course the bounty of being a parent who could become involved in the community.  One of my best memories is a parent/ teacher  race at an athletics carnival and the kids yelling out ‘ Go Mrs Perkins.’

There are possibilities in the city that suit the things I learnt in the country though.  The country was the place where I have found my writing and photographic voice.  It is a place full of artists and writers who want to be close to nature and part of vibrant community.

Now it’s a journey to try and relearn city life, and to find security in building new networks.  I am not there yet.  But I do find corners of green, people who care and want to assist me to learn how to be a city girl.

I have a country girls fears of the city, and a murder of a student at South Bank has had me worried,  but sadly there’s another back at the quiet community I came from.  Perhaps the whole world, city or country needs to build protection for all, so women, children, and men can truly be safe any place and time of day.

The first signs I have that the city can open its heart to us, are people who reach out to talk with us at the park.    An American with a basketball wonders what I am photographing and comes to ask me.

A small boy watches my son and the rest of the family playing AFL whilst his Dad is playing a community soccer game.  He comes and joins us.

I find the patches of green in the city, and love to come across a creek, and an inviting park with my family with me.

I don’t miss our old home when the cyclone season comes, because those butterflies as you wait to see how strong and which direction are horrible when you know what a large one can do.  I don’t miss the flooding, but I do still love our flooded in times as we had extra family time, and tales to tell.  I will always remember the canoe across the road.

I have to now take those first steps more boldly in our new home, just as my children are managing to do and add to my country heart, an openess to the city and the skills to navigate, use public transport, and connect with people.  Yet somewhere deep inside I can feel that my priorities have changed and will never be as they once were.

I have a feeling the country will call again.


Settling in


So many things have happened on the journey from here to now.It all began with the car journey from Tully to Brisbane, and our bird keeping us on our toes on the way down. We stopped into see Brad and his wife Jess as well as Dan on the way down.

1601325_10202260547568020_2084079989_nWe discovered which were the most boring pieces of road, and the most exciting. Brad, Dan I worked with on ABC open during the 500 words project, and had never met in person before.

“Met Daniel Battley AbcOpen in person with his two gorgeous sons. Awesome.  We went via an interesting back road into Bundaberg with navigator Sandon, like a rollercoaster ride, stomach survived just, bird doing well on our travels, and keeping us all entertained, classic photos of this later though, lots of Simon and Garfunkel in the car, more adventures tomorrow and then into Brisbane.”



Then there was the month we spent living in West End, house sitting for friends.  I loved the sunrise from their house.11485_10202284003434402_907842044_nWe went to a street neighbourhood gathering in their area.  It was awesome and my son jammed with some musos.  They are setting up a garden and doing lots of projects like clean up Australia day etc.

1623687_10202302670941078_523970318_nWe caught up with our friend Temily who lived around the corner who we hadn’t seen for over 10 years.  She is an artist and lived in a very interesting share house, full of energy, light and colour.

1558374_10202354760803292_2035081069_nWe visited the museum and South Bank.  The children were much taken with a Hobbit house featured in an exhibition of collections.  We went to the cricket as well, which was brilliant as it looked like Australia were losing, but then a miracle, they won and we were there.

1010579_10202260631130109_1452827514_nWe had lots of adventures house hunting and I made the following discoveries about Brisbane.

”Brisbane discoveries, looking for houses requires military operation precision, and a swot team to help you out, busking licenses for South Bank require auditions in November and only happen but once a year, some suburbs people appear friendlier than others, Aldis are cool, self serve zapping in shops requires practice …”

“More things learnt about Brisbane, videos can be found in vending machines, laundromats are plentiful, and have wifi and cool websites, birds interact with the city and find the nearest tree to flock too, and adopt humans to feed them, sunrise splashes golden light on buildings, afternoon practice bands near our home have a reasonable guitarist, and average drummer and singer, your real friends have to make appointments and cannot rely on bumping into.”

Finally we made it to our new house:

“Didn’t notice it on the first view through but there is a dish washer in the kitchen … an upstairs and down stairs clothesline and laundry, a shed, and to my relief quite a bit of storage under the house so we can fit our stuff and even divest of more with more sorting if we wish (my excuse we had looked at a lot of houses and I was getting tired) , bird is settling in but was a little crazy this morning on the new verandah poor thing!

Ben to the rescue. Have now put all our present stuff in the cupboard and made air mattress couches, plus we have a kettle, and a saucepan, and esky with ice, time to have a cuppa, other news both school kids have already been put on invitation lists to events with friends and started bringing home phone numbers, and are quite excited about finding buddies who want to get to know them better, this is what makes me the happiest.”

We continue to connect with old friends from the area as our boxes were all unpacked and our home began to felt like a home.  One of our friends from Atherton came to visit us with his son, and had a chat about the universe which was cool.

And so the journey to settle in continues, with new horizons like learning how to use public transport again, and how to drive around the city.