21 March 2015

Newcastle Writers Festival 2015

Oh my goodness, will somebody pinch me please?!

As I sit here at the computer chatting to a pyjama-clad MissyMoo3 (3), preparing to send the MissyMoos off to bed for the night, I'm finding it hard to believe that today actually happened. You see, today I participated - yes, participated - in the Newcastle Writers' Festival.

I was a member of a panel in the session: "Going it Alone: Navigating the complexities of self-publishing, both digital and print".

Last night, I got into marketing mode and made up a few more bookmarks to give out on the day - just like the ones I had at my book launch.



This morning, I left the house full of excitement and nervous energy, swapping being a netball mum to MissyMoo1 (8) this Saturday for an encounter of the literary kind at Newcastle City Hall.

Photo taken by the clever MissyMoo2 (5)

So there I was, at City Hall, being an author. Unaccompanied by children. Approaching the hall was like taking a walk down memory lane. I passed by a building in which I had spent the bulk of my last two years studying at law school. And then, right next to it was City Hall, a place I had previously only ever associated with balls and wedding expos. As if emerging from my past into my future, I entered the hall as an invited guest.


Festival program and my entry pass


Of course, the first thing I did was go to the bookshop!


Woohoo! Returning's first bookshop display!!


After buying a few books (not mine, I already have that one!), I went to the "green room" where I said hello to a couple of familiar faces and met a few new ones. I got to chatting with my fellow panelists and before we knew it, it was time to go to the session.

Very encouragingly, our session had to be moved to a larger room because of the interest it was generating.

Stepping out of the lift into a room full of people was quite daunting. I began to feel a little nervous. But I reminded myself that this is my "fun" and that I absolutely had to soak it all up. So I did. The time seemed to pass so quickly. Linda's questions were very well prepared and she hosted so well. The audience were very much engaged and asked their own questions too. Nim, Greg and I had some similar responses, but we each had some points of difference stemming from our differing experiences, which I personally found very interesting and which I hope the audience did too.

For me, I have very much "gone it alone" throughout my self-publishing experience. Not personally knowing anyone who had done it before me, I did all the research myself and made the publishing decisions myself without "colleagues" to bounce ideas around with. Sure, I didn't get things 100% right, but all in all, I think I managed it pretty well. Having the opportunity to tell others about my experiences was very rewarding, not to mention meeting others who have done similar (but different!) things to me. And hopefully a little bit of extra exposure will help to sell a few books!

After the session we headed back to the bookshop to sit at a signing table. Unfortunately we were hidden by the queue to Bob Brown, but I wasn't concerned, as I got to sit next to him - there's my brush with fame!

I drove home feeling exhausted and elated. What a day!

I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to take part in this amazing festival. The volunteers put in an incredible effort, not just over the weekend, but all through the planning stages which begin for the following year soon after the festival ends. Thanks to Rosemarie Milsom for including me in the line-up. The opportunity to tell my story, get my name out there and see my books on display in a bookshop are things I am very grateful for.





18 March 2015

An Open Letter to Melina Marchetta

Dear Melina,

You don't know me, but through your writing you have been a part of my life for around 20 years. Although you'll be at the Newcastle Writers' Festival this year, we'll probably never meet, as I won't be able to make it to your sessions. And it's the topic of the session you are running on Friday morning which has inspired me to write this.

"The Search for Identity".

Looking for Alibrandi was my "YES!" book.


Image source


Growing up in a country town with an Italian mother and Aussie father, identity was something I was constantly struggling with in my adolescent years. I didn't feel completely "Australian" because in the fairly mono-cultural community we were living in, I sometimes did and said things which were a little different. I didn't feel "Italian" because my close Italian relatives lived interstate and, while we were always on the phone (yes, Telecom did very well out of the Italians), we would only see them once or twice each year. I'm sure that if I'd grown up in Sydney or Melbourne, it wouldn't have been as much of an issue, because I would have been surrounded by others with similar backgrounds. But in my town, in my school, there were only a handful of us who had a parent or parents born outside Australia. I don't know how others saw me - I can't speak for them - but I know that to me "belonging" felt like an effort a lot of the time.

Like Josie, I felt like I didn't really belong anywhere.

When I read Looking for Alibrandi, my search for identity found something! It was the discovery of a "friend" in Josie. It was the validation in a book (a text we studied in English at school, no less) that some of the cultural and personal confusion I felt, was felt by others. It was overt acknowledgement by my peers that my background was just as normal as theirs. No longer was I feeling awkward talking about my relatives and that maybe I should call them by their English language equivalent names - now "nonna" was being bandied about in the classroom like any English word!


Melina, thank you for writing that book. Thank you for influencing me so positively at a time in my life when comfort with my identity and a sense of belonging was so important.


If you are planning on hanging around at the festival over the weekend, I am involved in a session on Saturday 21st March 1:30pm. If not, I hope our paths cross at some stage in the future.

Kindest and warmest regards,
Francesca




13 March 2015

Francesca's Festa of Favourites: March 2014

Hello! Bet you were wondering whether I'd make it this month. Well I did. So there. Here we are :-)

Francesca Writes Here

All I can say is at least I made it earlier in the month than February ;-)

Februaryhad a some wonderful favourites - and we made double digits!


  • Lara from This Charming Mum celebrated a birthday with an interesting number
  • Sonia from Life Love and Hiccups stuck it to the judgy mums of the world - well, one in particular
  • Vicki from Knocked up and Abroad wrote about these golden years and how she hit the road
  • Kirsty from 4 Kids, 20 Suitcases and a Beagle talked oversharing
  • Jodi from Making Words Count gave us an update about how kicking her own butt worked out
  • Kylie from A Study in Contradiction said what we're all thinking about balance in life
  • Emily cried fugly tears in making a tough (but right) decision
My favourite favourite for February was from Eva at

The Multitasking Mummy


She had some great gardening ideas for the kiddies - something I'm hoping to get into at some stage this year as we figure out what to do with our still-looking-like-a-building-site backyard.

Right. Time to stop living in the past. It's March now, so here's what this is all about:

Background

"Festa" in Italian means "party"(and, if you look around this blog long enough, you'll see that I'm a fan of throwing Italian words around). This is a place where you can add links to your favourite posts for March 2015, but here's the difference: they don't have to be posts you've written (but they can be). You can link to any post from March 2015, written by you or anybody else. 

Have you read or written something moving, funny, informative or otherwise awesome? Then let us know about it.

There are no rules here - it's pretty laid back. There is no obligation to read and comment on all the posts if you link up, but of course you can if you want to.

If you've linked a post or had one of your blog posts linked by someone else, you're welcome to add the Festa button to your blog. Also, I'm getting into the hashtag thing, so you can use #frafesta if you want to jump on the hashtag bandwagon when sharing on social media.


Time to get linking. I'm looking forward to reading these wonderful March posts!










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