My first book is now available!

It’s been a long time in the making… but I am very excited to announce my first children’s book called The Spell of Possibility: A Herald Hounds Adventure is now available as an ebook!

The Spell of Possibility is the story of Jake Finnegan and his younger sister Milly, who are thrown into adventure when they visit a strange house called Trickery Hill for the summer holidays. After Jake accidentally creates a powerful spell, they are transported to the Fae Kingdom – a realm where clockwork creatures roam the sky and leprechauns make flying shoes. The children soon find themselves caught up in a magical conspiracy against the Kingdom’s Immortal Rulers. 
Jake and Milly join forces with a faerie called Scoop, the headline-hunting editor of the Fae Kingdom’s most well-known newspaper, the Fae Morning Herald. Scoop hires Jake and Abbie as special news reporters, called Herald Hounds. The Hounds must solve the mystery before the Fae Kingdom is destroyed, always keeping one step ahead of the Herald’s rival newspaper – the sneaky Otherworld Oracle.
Aimed at children aged 9-14 years old, The Spell of Possibility is also for older readers who still love a magical tale 🙂
You can now purchase The Spell of Possibility on Smashwords at:
And please visit my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/emmajblytheauthor/ to tell me how you liked it!
Thanks to all of you who have encouraged my writing over the years. This has been an incredible journey, and your support has meant a lot to me.
Now to start writing the next book in the series ….  🙂
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The West Wing vs Newsroom….

I know even as I start writing this, that comparing these two shows is a little unfair. Mostly because I can’t help comparing one season of Newsroom to my experience of The West Wing which is seven seasons rich. So for the most part I will try and contain myself to the first seasons.

So here we go 🙂 and warning – spoilers ahead.

I watched Newsroom over the past week or so – and while I liked it – really. really liked it – I just felt it fell short of The West Wing in a few key areas.

Firstly, characterization. The West Wing characters were ACTUALLY real people. They lived and breathed through the script, and made you feel like you really could open a door in the White House and find Josh and Donna bantering over take away Chinese containers. When I watched season one for the first time, I was sick in bed and watched it in very quick succession. One thing that struck me was that the characterization didn’t falter, not once. The characters just kept growing and our experience of them kept deepening.I felt there were a few off notes in Newsroom, and that some of the characters, like Maggie, became caricatures. She is clearly a Donna-type character, but it fell a little flat. It might have been the acting – Janel Moloney is a brilliant actress and managed to capture Donna’s charming naivety without overdoing it – and I don’t think the same can be said for Alison Pill, though she was likeable. Overall, I don’t think the cast lived up to The West Wing cast. I also felt apart from the main few characters I didn’t really know the others – for example, at the end when Sloan announces her interest in Don, that was a huge surprise, and I felt no emotional connection to the relationship at all. It just felt forced. Whereas with The West Wing, I felt that every single character  was fully developed, even if they only had a few lines in an episode.

Coming back to the two main leads – while I felt like I certainly got to know their characters throughout the season, I don’t feel as though there was much character growth in terms of the relationship dynamic. At the beginning of the season they’re at odds and Will can’t forgive Mac, and we kept coming back to that again and again. It grew a bit tiresome. (To be fair, if I am limiting this criticism to West Wing’s first season, the same could be said of Josh and Mandy).

Secondly, I felt it was a bit too “preachy”. As a passionate “lefty” I am always on board with a bit of Republican-bashing (just kidding). Lots of what he said through Newsroom needed to be said, particularly about Tea Party politics. But I felt by making Will a Republican it gave Sorkin a false license to just bash away at right-wing politics, which became a bit mind-numbing. I think the dialogue lacked the crispness and complexity of The West Wing.

Thirdly, I think Sorkin was a little sluggish with some of his plot conventions. The missent email (way overblown by Emily Mortimer), the getting high-on-air, the blackout – they have been done before – and better – in The West Wing. I think this is lazy writing on Sorkin’s part.

Probably what I loved most about it was that same sense of passion that The West Wing had – we can do politics better. We can do news better. We owe it to ourselves to have intelligent and articulate debates and dialogue with smart and informed people.

So I did like it – but couldn’t help feeling a slight nagging sense of disappointment.

I’d be interested to know what you think…

Nature not nurture?

When you have kids you learn many things. Like how to yell in that quiet way so your child hears your insane threat at the shops but the lady in front of you (hopefully) doesn’t. Or that it really is possible to survive on 4 hours’ sleep a night. And that you are indeed capable of rocking a baby to sleep while cooking the dinner while playing fairies with your toddler while reading up for a uni assignment.

At the moment, Bookworm and Picasso are teaching me all about nature over nurture. My two boys are only 16 months apart, and while poor Bookworm copped the full force of my probably neurotic and crappy first-time-as-a-mum parenting, they have had a fairly similar experience. But no two different boys could you find! A couple of weeks ago I did the Myer-Briggs personality test for kids on each of them and was astounded at the accuracy of the results. While I know they are young and will change, I found it really helpful information. Anyway in the three categories (they only have three for kids) Bookworm got an E for Extrovert, N for iNtuitive and a P for Perceiving. Picasso, on the other hand, got an I for Introvert, an S for Sensory and a J for Judging. Yes, completely opposite on every scale.

It was reinforced for me as the school year began, and I watched them do their homework. Bookworm complains dramatically and when he finally gets his book out he dashes it off as quickly as possible. It’s barely legible and as one of the teachers pointed out to me this year, he’d write with his feet if he thought that would make it easier. Despite him talking the whole time it’s done in about 5 minutes. Now we come to Picasso. He is so painstakingly slow I want to tear my hair out, and I could, because it would actually grow again by he time he finished. Every word is perfectly formed, and rubbed out and redone the minute there’s a stroke of pencil out of place. And since his teacher told him to leave a two-finger gap between words, he has fully embraced the letter of the law. Two-finger spaces are carefully measured with a precision that would make an OCD sufferer proud. When I suggested he didn’t ACTUALLY have to be QUITE so specific his eyes welled up with tears so I hastily just left him to it.

Funny kids. It will be very interesting to see how things go as they grow up!

New horizons up ahead

On Wednesday I finished my exam on International Security, hit the send button, and watched as four years’ worth of work came to a glorious end.

I started my Masters of International Relations four years ago, when Little Miss was about one, and I wasn’t working. I felt lost in nappies and motherhood, and I needed something for me. So, naturally, a Masters Degree was the logical solution 🙂 Then I started working just two days, then two became three, then four – and finally I was working full-time and I was still slogging away at the degree in my “spare” time. There were times when I nearly gave it away, and to be honest I don’t think anybody could have blamed me. But I like finishing what I start, and I stuck with it – in no small part due to Souljourneyboy’s unfailing support.

Despite the stress I have to say I have loved it, and I really am going to miss the intellectual stimulation. But I am so relieved it is done! And now I’m looking forward to some new challenges, which will be:

Enjoying the kids more

I’m so enjoying the fact there’s no niggle of guilt now that I should be listening to a lecture, or reading, or studying. I’m looking forward to being present when I’m with the kids, instead of secretly trying to nut out ethics around humanitarian intervention in my head when I’m supposedly playing lego.

Getting on top of my health

I’ve done it – officially signed up for the next round of Michelle Bridges! It starts on November 19 and I’m hoping to lose around 8kg, but most importantly get fitter and healthier. I’m sure it will kill me, but I am excited!

Spending more time on my spiritual journey

This week I went to the funeral of a dear friend’s father. He was a wonderful man, and his spiritual journey is so inspiring. He was one of those people who absolutely lived as he believed. He was authentic, humble, prayerful and loved Jesus a lot. He loved those around him and made life better for all who knew him. Hearing about his life made me realise how much I want my life to count for those things too.

Writing

I really want to get serious about my writing now – and more specifically, a children’s book I have been writing on and off for the past 10 years. It’s been through many incarnations and came very close to being published a few times – and I am determined to either get it published, or publish it myself.

So here’s to new plans and fresh beginnings!

Computers, beauty, gambling, kids and humankind

One of the things I find interesting about being a parent is watching children being initiated into universal experiences – the kind we all face, sooner or later. Well this morning, it happened to all three of them – Bookworm, Picasso and Little Miss.

It started with Bookworm. He has been working (somewhat) hard on an assignment this week, and fired up the computer this morning to complete the finishing touches, only to find that – shock horror – the computer had died. Completely. And now, of course, his assignment is trapped inside an impenetrable spiderweb of technology. Poor Bookworm – I tried to make him feel better by telling  him of the times it happened to me – I can recall three separate occasions where I had to start essays over from scratch. Sadly, my stories didn’t seem to cheer him up much, given the assignment is due on Monday.

Next was Little Miss. She had put on her new pink Barbie socks for the first time before complaining that they were too tight and didn’t feel right. “Take them off and find another pair,” I said. A pause. “But Mummy…I like the look of them.”

Ah, Little Miss. Tis the age-old conundrum faced by countless generations of women across the globe – beauty or comfort? I was sure at that very moment there were tribeswomen in Africa discussing the same issue – not about high heels or socks, perhaps, but those neck elongator things have never looked comfortable.  I had to confess to her that the gorgeous red sandals I had worn yesterday are actually hideously crippling and will most likely mean I have to wear special fitted shoes one day. But these red sandals are just so cute. I left it up to her – and yes, like so many before her, she went tripping off to the park in the pretty pink socks, comfort be dammed.

And finally, there was Picasso, faced with a morally ambiguous fiscal transaction. He desperately wanted to buy an iPad game called “Slotto” – a virtual gambling game which is basically just a precursor to pokie machines. I gave a rousing sermon on the dangers of gambling and the pokies, and in touching detail  described the life of despair and anguish that awaited, should he travel down that lonely path. Then Souljourneyboy piped up with, “Also I think it looks really boring, You’d be sorry you spent that $2, mate.”

Well that clinched it and he made a wise choice, deciding $2 was too much to pay for the game. I’m sure on some deeper level he really was turning his back on gambling, of course.

So all in all it was an interesting morning – for the kids and humankind as well 🙂