Hi there! Welcome to my little writing corner.
Also drop by my website http://www.misshelenbooks.com (showcases my children’s books).
Tucked cosily away in my study, I blog about my writing journey (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the crazy!), and any related writing issues. Sometimes I might include a poem or two. You just never know – the topics are very diverse. The stories, articles or entries (whatever you’d like to call them) reflect what I am experiencing or thinking about at the time, in relation to my journey as a poet/writer. But I would never profess to know how to teach anyone to write, so that is one thing I won’t be doing on my blog. So come with me on my journey.
Spread your wings
Surrender your fears
(Helen Ross 2009)
But, sometimes I do feel I need a parachute.
I am a bit of a perfectionist (or try to be) and am always trying to improve; so I do have a tendency to edit past blog entries. You will no doubt see the inclusion of graphics, extra snippets of information, improvement to grammar, or placing a recalcitrant comma back to where it belongs, etc.
Also find me on FaceBook
http://10yellowbananas.wordpress.com (cyber launch 2009)
http://helenrossnanowrimodiary.wordpress.com (2010 entry)
http://misshelenspoetrycorner.wordpress.com (work in progress)
A little about me: - Please continue reading – but you might want to grab a coffee first).
Masters of Education (International), Monash Uni
Grad Cert Applied Linguistics, Griffith Uni, Brisbane
Graduate Diploma Secretarial Studies
Diploma Primary Teaching, Victoria
Freelance Journalism (North Point Institute of TAFE, Brisbane) 2011
Diploma In Writing, with ‘The Writing School’ (formerly, NSW Writing School) 2000
How it all began:
I was born in Melbourne, Australia (nee Helen McKenzie) and have always loved drawing, arts and crafts; winning my first drawing competition in grade 6 for designing a sausage sizzle poster.
From an early age I have always enjoyed painting, drawing, most art and crafts, the theatre, music and reading. I used to spend hours in my bedroom drawing, and making crafts, particularly Salvador Dali like surrealistic sculptures out of old clocks, and witches out of corn of the cob skins from Mum’s home produced corn patch (the latter creations were a bit smelly, especially after sitting in my dresser drawers for months).
Graduating in January 1978 as a Primary teacher, I loved encouraging my primary school students to develop their imagination and creativity through story telling, creative writing, art, music and drama.
However, since my teens, I had always felt that there was something else in me trying to get out. A passion. Something that I not only enjoyed but was good at (even if I had to work at it). Consequently, in my search for ‘that niche’ I tried most things – silver jewelry making, tap dancing, drama, African dancing and the list goes on……
Thinking I had discovered ‘my niche’, I then spent three years studying drama part time, but little did I know that a poet was soon to be born. And all because of a gorilla named Lulu.
Birth of a poet …
As part of a drama assignment I had to write and ‘perform’ a poem, or piece about an animal, as selected by a ‘lucky dip’. My animal was the gorilla and so I penned my first poem, Lulu, the gorgeous gorilla. By this stage I was about 27 years of age. At 29, and being occupied with a new found romance, I found myself neglecting my drama classes and spending time alone writing ‘heart felt’ poetry while waiting for the phone to ring. Yes, pitiful!
I remember one weekend, with some time on my hands, having the urge to write some humorous children’s poems. My cat seemed to be a very attentive audience so I figured they couldn’t have been too bad. Soon after, I sent these poems (in story book format) out to approx six/seven children’s publishers, and although I received rejection slips, I did receive some very positive feedback and decided to keep on writing.
Undertaking a Writing Course
In 1989/1990, after moving to Brisbane, I began a correspondence Diploma in Writing course with ‘The Writing School’ (formerly NSW Writing School). I began entering competitions and had some of my ‘heart-felt’ poems published in poetry anthologies.
Writing for Children: Poetry Award
On one working day in 1993, at the age of 37 years and an office manager (got to be more to life than this) I again had the urge to write humorous children’s poetry. Verses literally began tumbling into my head. Three months later I had ended up with approx. 120 poems. In 1993 I won first prize (Children’s poetry category) in the 1993 OZ waves Award and University of Queensland Press Book Prizes for my humorous poem, Magpie Mania (under pen name, Jean Ross). My prize was a book. I was so chuffed AND it still takes pride of place in my library. Also as a former canoeist I had my poem, Come ‘n Try Canoeing published in the Queensland Canoe Federation Inc. Magazine May/June 1993.
I began exploring different story ideas and began illustrating again and joined some Writers’ groups to keep in touch with latest news and competitions. By this time the writing bug was well underway and in 2000 I completed my Diploma in Writing course. (Yes, it took ten years to complete but I was determined to finish it – unfortunately other ‘life things’ got in the way).
In 2004, at age 47 (wow, where had the time flown!) and having gone through a number of career changes, I felt that this was the time to begin a new chapter and actively pursue my writing.
Birth of ‘Miss Helen Books’ – giggle verses and stories for children….
I didn’t want to spend the possibility of months and years of sending manuscripts to publishers and receiving rejection slips in the mail. Also I didn’t want to be dependent on a publisher deciding whether my book was marketable or not (when I believed there was a market for my style of writing). So in March 2006 I published my first book, Ten Yellow Bananas and followed up with my second book, Santa is in the Chimney in September of that year.
Also, during my years as a primary teacher my primary school students used to refer to me as ‘Miss Helen’, so I developed the ‘Miss Helen Books’ brand name. Both of the above published books bear the original logo ‘Miss Helen Books’.
The following logo is my new look logo (see more info below).
Having self published in 2006 and getting my work and myself out there has opened up many doors and opportunities. One opportunity is teaming up with Little Steps Publishing, Division of New Frontier, a reputable award winning children’s book publishing company).
The following books have been published by Little Steps Publishing. Ron Proft (former graphic designer at New Frontier/ Little Steps Publishing) even designed the lovely logo which appears on my books published with Little Steps Publishing, along with their Little Steps logo and imprint.
Little Steps Published books:
10 Yellow Bananas Published December 2009 (officially released March 2010). lllustrations by Dee Texidor. This is a NEW VERSION of the children’s book, Ten Yellow Bananas I published in 2006. Please note slight name change.
Bubble Gum Trouble and Other Giggle Poems was released early 2009. Bright bubbly illustrations by Dee Texidor
Published works and further information:
- Two of my poems published by Jelli-Beanz Publishing in their Packed Lunch Series. Volume 1: Hopscotch. Released November 2011.
- 10 Yellow Bananas (2010) New Version. Little Steps Publishing, New Frontier. Illus by Dee Texidor
- Bubble Gum Trouble and other Giggle Poems (2009) Little Steps Publishing. Illus by Dee Texidor
- Ten Yellow Bananas (original version) pub by Miss Helen Books, March 2006
- Santa is in Our Chimney pub by Miss Helen Books, September 2006
- Giggle poetry published in Cherububble (Primary/Early childhood education on-line resource), www.cherububble.com
- Early 2009, five of my giggle rhyming poems for children (Miss Murtle the Turtle, Hugs, Freckles, Tiddles, and Ten Little Men) selected for a book, Books For Fiji, published for the kids at the Namara District School in Fiji. This was a wonderful project put together by Morgan Hayton and Sally Odgers.
- Articles in Australia Bookseller and Publisher magazine
- Written a number of articles on self-publishing (click on ‘Articles tab above, for more information).
- Heart-felt poetry published in anthologies.
- TAFE telemarketing and course module writing (Medical terminology and Call centre telemarketing).
- Assessment writing for OLI (Open Learning Institute) Medical terminology Distance course
- Freelance education module writing for Education Resources (Int) P/L
- Articles for international self publishing websites.
- From July 2010- end December 2011 Resident Writer for South City Bulletin (Logan (Brisbane) community Magazine)
TAFE Queensland lecturer/teacher for 17 years. 8 years in Business Directorate lecturing in Business Communication subjects; 9 years teaching English in ESL/language/literacy programs.
Also experienced in conducting fun poetry workshops for Grades 1 – 6 in schools and libraries.
In 2007 awarded a RADF grant (Regional Arts Development Fund) through the Queensland Govt/Arts Qld and Logan Council, to undertake professional development in the area of illustrating a picture book (mentored by Jacqui Young) and writing children’s picture books (mentored by Dr Virginia Lowe) through Dr Virginia Lowe’s Create a Kids’ book e-course: http://www.createakidsbook.com.au An invaluable course.
In September 2009 I was appointed on the RADF committee for Logan representing the portfolio of writing (4 year appointment).
In June 2010 was awarded a second RADF grant to attend SCBWI (Soc. Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) Sydney Conference.
We are now up to 2012.
Am a full time writer; continuing conducting reading sessions & workshops in primary schools.
Am collaborating on a picture book with another writer. Stay tuned for updates.
Also trying to sort out lots of ideas that I have scribbled on bits of paper, shopping lists, message pads, envelopes, note pads, and those that are swimming around in my head. In July/Aug 2009, I had a couple of sessions with Arts Queensland Poet-in-residence, Hinemoana Baker, so I have also got back into writing other types of poetry styles (Haiku, Rooku, standard 4 line stanzas, etc.), and currently working on a collection of these, along with all my other projects.
So, in a nutshell, I am more than happy with my journey as a poet/writer.
My lovable husband (who is adamant that I mention that he is Brisbane born) and I have been living in sunny Brisbane since 1989 and live with our beloved pets.
And my other passions?
Anything arty/crafty; painting in oils; glass painting; movies (love French films, or English speaking films set in Paris, black and white movies, old Australian movies, the classics, etc.); doing coffee (though I now have a fabulous Nespresso machine at home so my husband doesn’t get hassled anymore to take me out for coffee); listening or dancing to music (especially French music or salsa); reading; playing with my beloved animals (two adorable but heavy cats, a gorgeous blue heeler).
ASA (Australian Society of Authors)
SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)
Book Creators Circle http://bookcreatorscircle.com.au
Also visit my web: http://www.misshelenbooks.com
Remember, it is not the attainment of your final goal that is important but the journey of pursuing something you love.
I hope you are enjoying your journey.
For book orders please click on Miss Helen Books tab above
or visit my website: http://www.misshelenbooks.com
* (I’d like to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by the Queensland Government and the Logan City Council through the RADF grant.
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