Freelance your heart out – a review…

Freelance your heart out
Kris Emery
2012, self-published

Thinking of heading into a freelance career?

There is a lot going for it – freedom of your days, you keep the profits you work hard for, satisifaction and no office politics or commuting.

Yet, there is also a large price to pay for the lifestyle.

Kris Emery takes you through her freelance journey in her new eBook, showing some of the pitfalls and mistakes she made and shares the lessons learned.

She writes quite honestly and in a friendly style so it is easy to keep reading, even if you are not a big business book fan :)

Because it is honest, the eBook shows that freelancing requires effort and dedication – it is not an easy ride, and it doesn’t suit everyone.

Despite a few stumbling blocks, it is simple to read and has some good ideas. This eBook is a great read for anyone considering moving into freelance, or having recently started a freelance business.

It also has some ideas for more experienced freelancers, but is more of a light read for this group.

The 25 tips are useful for anyone in freelance, although you have to relate the examples to your own expertise as Kris specifically covers her fields of transcription and translation.

What we can do together – our online power

The power of we has always been strong – our online world has often made that power more obvious, more influential and I guess more powerful.

links between blogs connect the world

links online connect the world

We have power online because today we can combine our voices in ways we couldn’t do in the past.

We can connect with new people to find a community of support and to raise a combined voice that is louder than our individual voices – think of people with a specific, uncommon interest or issue who would probably never meet in the real world but can find each other from across the world via the internet.

Bloggers acting together

Today is Blog Action Day.

Nearly 20,000 bloggers around the world are all blogging today on the same topic – the power of we.

Blog Action Day in itself is an example of the power of we – 20,000 people with diverse blogs, from different countries, using different languages, adding their own experiences and perspectives to discuss one important topic. Bringing awareness to their communities and influencing the world.

This year the theme is the power of we, but in the past topics have included water, food and climate change.

Think about the impact of thousands of bloggers sharing a message with thousands more. Together, bloggers can and do make a difference.

More power of we

There are many examples of how the power of we works , and how the internet, blogs and social media have enhanced that power.

With the connection of twitter, people in Egypt stood together and showed their government how they felt about things in their country. Alone, each person could do little; together they were heard.

Bloggers are having an impact on girls in Sierra Leone, too. Problogger wore a dress to a conference to raise funds and Love Santa will put Santa in a dress to get more girls into school. Many others are doing it in a dress, sharing the word (and pictures!) in blogs and other social media. Together we can get girls to school and change Sierra Leone for the better.

When a nasty radio DJ in Sydney insulted a journalist, people spoke out on the Change website – his advertisers pulled out and he had to apologise. People had a boundary and told him he crossed it. Phone calls from irate people would have had less impact in the past. Like advertisers pulled away from another DJ when he insulted the Prime Minister’s later father.

If you watch things like trends on twitter, you can see how people can increase the popularity of a topic. And how making people more aware of it gets it spread more – that is, once a topic trends, people talk about it more (this is what we talk about as ‘going viral’) and talk about the fact it is trending.

Sure on Twitter, many of the trends are about meaningless things, but sometimes, there is a trend because people make the effort to bring an issue to the fore. Like I expect BAD12 to trend today.

How will you use your power?

What online activities do you get up to? Can you use those activities to make a positive difference in the world?

What little thing will you do TODAY to build the power of we?


* Image courtesy of  Word Constructions

Book review: Does my head look big in this?

Does my head look big in this?
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Scholastic, 2006Cover of does this make myhead look big?

I was looking forward to reading this book, based on the fact it was encouraging cross-cultural tolerance and my fourteen-year-old daughter loved it.

Abdel-Fattah introduces us to the world of teenage muslims girls in modern Australia through the eyes of 16-year-old Amal. Amal believes in Islam and lives a comfortable life with her intelligent and accepting parents.

The story revolves around Amal choosing to wear the hijab as a sign of her faith and the usual teenage issues of boys, clothes, parents and make-up.

It is clearly written for a teenage audience and has less appeal to those beyond school politics and blushes over first crushes. However, with the cultural undertone of a Muslim girl, the story has an innocence and freshness that is nice to read.

Showing understanding of Muslims and other religions, this book has the potential to help foster better relations throughout the community. It is a positive and broad view of Islam, and teenagers, without any overt religious message. Most of the key characters are understanding of all religions and cultures met in the story.

While clearly an Australian book (set in Melbourne), Abdel-Fattah has used many American references and terms which is disappointing – especially in a story about the meeting of cultures.

In summary, a positive story that teen girls are likely to enjoy while possibly broadening their views of Islam.

Book review: Outside permission

Outside permission
Eleanor Nilsson
Viking, Ringwood, 1996

This was an unusual book to say the least.

To be honest, I read 40 or so pages and left it alone for a few months before starting again and finishing the book. The second time was easier as I had a clue to what was happening.

Outside permission is about David, his sister and their mate, Simon. They live n Adelaide, but not exactly the Adelaide we know as some power has taken over. This unknown (well unknown for the readers, the characters seem to accept the situation) power maintains records of everyone’s live – including the date of death.

David and Simon often dare each other to do things, but lately Simon has been acting differently and sets a much harder dare with unseen consequences. The final consequences surprised David and me as a reader, although some of that was surprise on my part was disbelief in the method of the ending.

I found some of the inconsistencies to be distracting in an already complex story. For example, they boys went to school (not yet in the senior class), could drive and went to fancy restaurants without parents. It made it hard to decide how old they were – perhaps not a critical detail but distracting none-the-less.

certainly not a book for children or early teens – the language, violence and adult-scenes are not an issue, but understanding the issues (as they are implied not written) and implications requires a certain amount of sophistication.

I can see that some people would enjoy this book, and the suspense is interesting, but I doubt I’ll be bothering with it again.

Because Mommy loves you ~ review

Because Your Mommy Loves You

Andrew Clements
illustrated by R W Alley
Clarion Books 2012

 I grabbed this book from the library to read with my 2 and 3.5 year olds – and we all loved it! So much so I’ve now ordered Clements’ related book about Daddy!

A mum and her son prepare for and go on a camping trip together. Various things happen to the boy and Mum repeatedly gives him the opportunity to gain independence and skills – she doesn’t drop everything to do things for him.

As parenting educator Michael Grose says, ‘never do for children what they can do themselves’. The Mum in this book lives by that policy and it is so positive and encouraging to see that in a child’s book.

The boy gets satisfaction in doing things for himself, knowing Mum is there if needed – or for a cuddle afterwards. There is no doubt for him that Mum loves him but she is there to teach and guide rather than  moddycoddle him.

Okay, I love the sentiment and message of the story, but Clements carries it off with a nice story about interesting events. Add in the great illustrations which show the story and provide more things to discuss, and it is a lovely book for any home library.

It is obviously a picture book aimed at older toddlers and pre-schoolers into early primary. So it is easy to understand and is short enough to keep young children interested. The illustrations are drawings but accurate, detailed and colourful.

A book to enjoy reading together but also for children to look through by themselves. Thoroughly recommend this one!

Prime Minister Literary Awards for 2012

Yesterday, the Prime Minister and Arts Minister announced the winners of the 2012 Prime Minister Literary Wards. Such awards are always a good thing, but being the National Year of Reading seems to add some significance to the event.

I’d certainly feel ‘special’ if I’d written a winning book this year!

And given that they had a record number of entries this year, I’m assuming others feel the same way about winning (or being acknowledged) in 2012.

Prime Minister Literary Award 2012

You can look at the shortlisted books but this year’s winners are…


Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears


An eye for eternity: the life of Manning-Clark by Mark McKenna

Australian history

The biggest estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia by Bill Gammage

Children’s fiction

Goodnight, mice! by Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson

Young adult fiction

When we were two by Robert Newton


Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies

Congratulations to all those writers! I look forward to reading at least some of them before the end of 2012.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Internet searching summarised

I just came across a search engine of sorts, one I hadn’t heard of before but really like for specific purposes now.

WolframAlpha calls itself a computational knowledge engine and what it appears to do is collect information on your search term rather than send you to a list of sites which may or may not tell you the whole story at one place.

For examples, see my searches on kangaroosfiction and Melbourne.

I think it’s a great research tool – just to gather an overview of something of interest or a really good summary of key facts for serious research (such as for school work or background for writing an article or story).

It is of course still US-centric, but at least they clearly make those details as such (eg in definitions they give American pronunciation) and do include metric details (by default for searches about Australia).

Age appropriate books for kids’ gifts

Giving books to kids is a fantastic gift.

Why? It encourages reading which is such an important skill, it develops imagination (which helps problem and solving and creativity in life), it is a healthy pursuit, it is a change from computer games & TV (it takes more imagination, too) and broadens their horizons.

But buying gifts that suit the child isn’t always easy – knowing which book is for which age group can be tricky. I wish books had it written on their somewhere – I have seen it on a couple of books but it is not the norm.

And it isn’t just reading ability which is easier to judge by looking at the book – the content of the story is critical but impossible to fully comprehend without reading it.

I’ve found one online bookshop that puts books into 3 groups (babies & toddlers, 4 – 8 year olds and over 9s) which is a great start but it is actually the over 10s I find hardest to pick in a store.

Another one divides children and young adults’ books into some detailed categories, which is uncommon, but doesn’t help much with the age range unfortunately.

So if the bookstores & publishers aren’t making it easy, we’ll have to do it ourselves! Over coming days, I’ll add posts for each age range to share some recommendations and hope you all will share your knowledge, too.

Climate change action day

Last week we encouraged everyone to read about climate change as part of blog action day. Following on from that, this Saturday is the International Day of Climate Change where we can again make ourselves heard on this issue.

A few facts and details about the 24th October:

  • likely to be the biggest environmental action on the planet to date
  • events are being held across the world (see our side menu to find your closest events) and images will be posted online to a common gallery
  • the aim is show everyone and especially those involved in the Copenhagen discussions, the importance of 359.  “350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for parts per million carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. 350 is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. (Watch this animation – scroll down the page). “
  • reducing global carbon emissions is really our only hope to get below 350 and slow climate change. We can all do a bit towards that and our leaders in Copenhagen need to do more

As you join in events, let us know so we can continue the discussion about affecting climate change.