Monday, February 13, 2012

Skype chat with Janelle Lee

Today we were lucky enough to have a Skype chat with author, Janelle Lee. Janelle spoke to us about the importance of keeping a Writer's Notebook. It was great to chat with a published author to find out about being a writer and how she gets her ideas, inspirations and what she does with them. We all have so many new ideas.

Before our chat we came up with some questions to ask her.

(click picture to enlarge)
Here is what we learnt-

Janelle's first book 'The Carter's Big Move' was published in 1996. It took 17 drafts and nine years to be published! She started writing when she was six. Janelle described her Grade four teacher and told us about how he had encouraged her and her writing. She said she is always inspired by her family.

We asked Janelle why she writes, she said simply that she loves it! She described her writing as something she owns- nobody tells her what to write or how to write it. It is hers. She owns it. Janelle explained that she gets ideas for writing as soon as she walks out the front door. She said there is always a story in everything as long as you keeps your eyes and ears open. 

Janelle described her best memory as a writer was when she went to a writing conference in New York last year. She explained how she met with an editor and got lots of advice. Janelle described that some of her goals for the future are to write 100 books and to write a screen play. She even met with a Hollywood movie director to get some advice. Janelle is always learning!

Janelle writes many genres, her favourite being books for children but she has just published her first adult fiction book called 'Hell Has A Harbour View'. She has another being published at the moment which is about Bondi beach. Janelle's favouite book that she has written is called 'Paragon' but it hasn't been published yet. Janele said she loves Charles Dickens and her favourite book is 'Great Expectations', she also loves 'The Colour Purple' by Alice Walker. 

Janelle answered that writing makes her feel a range of emotions, depending on what she is writing about. She said that she always feels sad when a book she is writing comes to an end, but she soon moves on to writing about something else. 

Janelle keeps all of her ideas in notebooks and manilla folders. She said it is important to keep her ideas and notes so she can go back over it. She said it is also important as proof that she wrote it incase someone was to plagarise her work. Janelle also uses butchers paper and story maps to keep track of her story ideas and development. 

Janelle gave us some ideas for when we write a story. She said to start at the end, write about the characters and write all of your ideas down before you begin. 

While Janelle hasn't won any awards personally some students she works with at Gol Gol Public School in NSW have won two national prizes and an ABC radio award.

Janelle said the best thing to do to become a better writer is to write what you know, there is no point trying to write about something if you don't know about it. She also said to challenge yourself! Use new words and extend your vocabulary. A big piece of advice was to READ! She said the more you read the better writer you will be!

Thanks Janelle for a great chat!

We will be chatting some more with Janelle during the year to discuss different parts of the writing process. Stay tuned for future posts.

What kinds of things do you put in your Writer's Notebook?

What's your favourite thing about your Writer's Notebook?  

How do you think the Writer's Notebook can help you become a better writer?  

Would you like to be an Author one day?


  1. Thank you all for a wonderful, warm welcome into your classroom. It is always a pleasure to talk with children who take such an interest. Happy writing!

    1. Dear Janelle Lee,

      Thank you for posting a comment on our blog. We really enjoyed our skype with you, we hope we can do it again one day. Hope to talk to you soon.

      From Campbell & Lance ACPS :)

  2. WOW! I am thrilled you got to skype an author! Through Writer's Notebooks you will all be able to see you are all now authors too!

    My Grade 3/4 class last year had their own Writer's Notebooks and so many seeds were planted for them. It was a place they could 'stand on the shoulders' of other authors and re-create snippets of talk, lift lines, or play with vocabulary.

    I'm sure keeping a Writer's Notebook will bring you as much joy as it did us! I cannot wait to see your journey this year and share our stories about how the Writer's Notebooks make us better writers.

    Miss Dwyer
    Northern Territory

    1. Dear Miss Dwyer,
      Thanks for posting a comment on our class blog and I Hope your Class has a really good year doing there Writers note book because I think my class is enjoying their writers note book. What are some ideas that your class used when they do Writers Note Book?

      Aitken Creek Ps

    2. Dear Miss Dwyer,
      Thanks for sharing your comments with us in our class blog. We enjoy using our writers note book to brain storm ideas for writing a very good story.

      Aitken creek
      primary school

  3. Dear miss spink and grade 4,5,6

    I had a really good time skyping with a real author it was really fun and interesting.

    In my writers note book i like to put in pictures then write about them.

    My favourite thing to do in my writers note book is to write down all my ideas.

    I think writers note book helps me because your learning things that you might need when your older.

    i dont want to be an author becouse i think it would be a bit to hard for me do write a book then to get it published and i dont think that i would write many books that are intresting.

  4. Dear 456 and miss Spink

    It was great getting to know Jenalle and I can't wait to read one of
    Jenalles books.

    I like writting in my writers notebook what I did on the weekend and
    writting about the holidays.
    Where free to write just about what ever we whant.
    Nealy evry day practicing to write.
    I would not whant to become a author.

  5. Dear 4,5,6 and miss Spink
    I enjoyed the skype chat with Janelle Lee,the aurthor.
    she gave me tips of how to write a very good story.
    And i like Janelle's library ,she had a lot of books.

    your dear student

  6. Dear Janelle Lee,

    Sorry I didn't get to skype with you. I wasent even at ACPS yet. I really tought it was very kind that your teacher and family to encourage you to do the thing you love. I am guessing that is writing stories.

    I have never had a writers noebook before and i only have a rough idea of how it works. If i can just ask on little and simple question, What types of thing do you write in your writers notebook and manilla folders?

    If you could answer just that one quetion I will be happy and it will give me more of an idea of things to do in my writers notebook.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Makeelly 4,5,6 ACPS Victoria.

  7. To Janelle,

    Thank you for skypeing and writing to our blog we really
    Appreciate it. Do you have your own blog.

    Mustafa :D

    1. I plan out my characters. Who they are. What they like. What they don't like. Their friends. Their enemies. Where they live etc. The manila folder is to keep everything together as sometimes I am out and think of something so I use what ever paper is available and put it in the folder. I even keep paper beside my bed as I have woken up in the middle of the night and have written things down.
      Thank you for the question

    2. You are welcome and I blog on my website and have guest on others in America. I find it a fun thing to do.

  8. dear janelle lee

    i diden't get to do skype with you because i was away from school.

    i would have loved to skype with you because i love reading books.
    what type of books did you write in your writers notebook?

    sheree 4,5,6, ACPS VICTORIA

    1. I am sure Miss Spink will Skype again. I use a writer's notebook for all the books I have written and are writing. It helps me to keep focused. I am glad to hear that you love reading books.

  9. Dear 4,5,6,

    It was good skyping with Janelle Lee. We learnt SO much about her and her books. She has written books for children and adults too. We asked so many questions so that we could know more about her.

    In my writer's notebook I would write my good memories and much more. My favourite thing about my writer's notebook is the front page , very colourful! My writer's notebook can help me become a better writer because all of my plans are in it so I know what I am writing and what I have planned in place. But I am note really interested in becomming a writer!

    From Hanis

  10. Dear Grade 4-5-6

    The chat with Janlle was awesome! It was the first time I used Skype before. I think Janlle is a great writer. I want to read one of her books cause they look so intersting. She gave me some tips about writers notebook. Remember what her goal was? She said that she wants to publish 100 and write a screen play. I think she will reach that goal. Good luck Janlle!

    I put as many things possible in my writers notebook. It could be anything from the letter Alpha to the element zinc. It could be from the moon to a nuke. My favourite thing about writers notebook is that I can write absolutely anything I want. Writers notebook really helps me to put down ideas. The really good thing is that I can write anything. I don't have to waste time on things I don't like. That makes me a better writer. I'm not going to aim for writing stuff but I think I will write in my spare time.

    Cheuk Yue

  11. Dear miss Spink

    You have done a good job writing about Janelle.
    You where right when you said that Janelle is an good Author.
    I hope we get to know her better and get to go on Skype and talk to her more about the books shes wrriten.

    From:Amar grade 4,5,6

  12. Dear 4/5/6 and Miss Spink,

    I love talking to Janelle Lee on a skype chat it was good to meet a real author. Janelle told use somethings she does with her
    writer's notebook.

    In my writers notebook we have done write a about a name,write about a word and write a list.

    My favorite thing in my writer's notebook is write a word where a word like Australia and then do other words around it.

    A writers notebook can help you become a better writer beecause you can just get things off your mind.

    I would love to be an author oone day because I would like to write a book for children and adults.