About

Meet Maria… 

Maria is a primary teacher, public speaker, journalist. She has also worked in public relations (PR) communications and administration. She started Big Sister Blogs to record things that matter to her. In Writerly Wisdoms, she shares tips from author, illustrator and storyteller workshops. Her picture books reviews are from a teacher’s perspective. Why? ‘Because Picture Books are a child’s first interaction with literacy.’

Her wish for children is… 

…to engage with Australian authors – writers, illustrators and storytellers as the gold sticker every child deserves. 

‘Children mirror you. They’re little sponges who love learning. Give them stories in shelf loads.’

Achievements 

2019…

  1. Library for All – picture book story, Little Godwit (end 2019)
  2. Creative Kids Tales (CKT) Collections Vol 2 – Libraries Have Bottoms and Ghost House (end 2019)
  3. Rainforest Writer’s Retreat anthology – Marvellous Mabel Moss (end 2019)
  4. Attended writing workshops.
  5. Attended Conferences, Festivals and Retreats.
  6. Reviewer for StoryLinks, part of BookLinks (Qld) Inc.

2018…

  1. Share Your Story Anthology, Christmas Bellyaches.
  2. Attended writing workshops, assessments.
  3. Attended Conferences, Festivals and Retreats.

2017… 

  1. Longlisted Greenleaf Press Picture Book competition with Cecilia Cicada
  2. Published an ekphrastic poem, ‘We Are Travellers’ — in Dr June Perkins’ Ripple Poetry.
  3. Some conferences, festivals and retreats.
  4. Writerly Wisdom blog posts
  5. Picture book Reviewer
  6. Blogs about life within her space – Personal Blog
  7. Australian Writing Centre (AWC) writing workshops online

2016…

  1. Numerous AWC workshops online.
  2. AWC podcast, So You Want To Be A Writer with Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait.

Published over 100 stories in Townsville Bulletin and The Sun Newspaper during  her Journalism degree – 1996 Maria Gibbs. 

Advice for writer & illustrator

Maria says becoming a writer is like doing an apprenticeship. She started in 2016 and is working towards 2021 for publication.

  • If the voice in your head tells to give up, it can also tell you to have a damn good go.
  • If you know what giving up feels like, what would happen if you didn’t.
  • Resilience (never give up, dust yourself off. {Aka., Shit that rejection hurt. Okay. Get your arse into gear. Go learn some more/build your craft. Attend conferences, festivals, workshops, retreats. Pay for assessments, edit before submitting. And join the right critique group for you. Repeat.)
  • Perseverance (keep trying, do your best. {Aka., if you’re unrelentingly passionate, giving up is not an option. It could take, 5-10 years. Give or take a few cuppas in between)
  • Respect (Look, Listen, Do. {Aka., It’s free to be kind, caring and considerate}

She believes writing communities offer a sense of place and belonging.

Her philosophies

  • Be positive. Be productive. Be proactive.’
  • ‘If you have something positive to say, say it.’ 
  • ‘Get in. Get it done. Get it finished. ‘ (For reluctant doers of first drafts, school work, cleaning your room, setting the table etc.,)

Prior… because she’s been around for a while.

As a teacher of some 20 years, it’s the ‘Ah Ha. I got it now!’ light-bulb moments which keeps her in this profession. Her passion is for children to read, thrive and discover. To be themselves with confidence, knowledge and have a zingy ting for life.

In-between… because she wanted to learn.

Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Journalism – She wrote over 100 stories including two front pages  — The Townsville Bulletin, ‘O Negative Blood for Premature Babies’ and The Sun Community Newspaper, ‘V8 engine drivers headbutting with Police’ (byline Maria Gibbs). Publicity Assistant – during Townsville’s VP50.  She interviewed Vietnam Veterans and wrote stories for the Townsville Bulletin (Dear John Letter, Nurses of War etc.,).

Prior prior… because she’s older than she remembers.

She worked in local government administration for 18 years – public relations, payroll (in the days of counting cash in a small locked room with a burly security guard outside), cashiering, Cotter’s market co-ordinator etc.,

She’s travelled extensively, written numerous reviews on ‘Tripadvisor, mpare5‘ and according to stats some 50 000 travellers have seen her reviews.

Along the way…

She loves taking photos which ‘make her look twice’. See her Instagram. She went to Toastmasters International which helped crush her fear of public speaking. She has a passion for writing and as the bossy, eldest of seven she started a personal blog ‘Big Sister Blogs’ to share their goings-on. She is Aunt to 20 nieces and nephews and proud mother to one son.

Firm Friendships…  

Her 40+ year friendships from boarding school are worth sharing. It’s the thing kids crave at school —  to belong and have friends.

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Family

One day she’ll get around to filling this spot too. If you can’t wait check out  her personal blog – family.

Knowledge is Power 

To quote her Dad, ‘Every day above ground is a good day.’ Her father passed 2 August, 2018 (the month before Father’s Day). Maria and her mother nursed him at home. Their palliative nurse said. ‘Remember. They’re always in our hearts and by our side. No matter where you are.’ 

To quote her Mum’s father, ‘My father used to say, “Learn and put aside.” Whenever you need that knowledge, it will always be there to use. When Maria reached ‘end stage renal’ in 2016, it scared her into realising, ‘Oh my God! I haven’t started that book I always wanted to write.’ Her successful kidney transplant was 3 Feb 2017. She returned to teaching full-time in 2019, grade one class in Brisbane. 

To quote her husband, before he passed June 2018, from aggressive pancreatic cancer, what he wished for her. He said, ‘I want you to be happy.’  His last wish was to be home on the farm on the Atherton Tablelands. Maria drove him back from Townsville. Palliative care nurses supported her with his care.

He was diagnosed 22 May, 2018 (advise he had six months to live) but doctors didn’t count on how aggressive the cancer was. He passed 21 June, 2018. Maria set up an In Memory for research and ‘early detection’ for men and women. Pancreatic cancer (the silent killer) is the least publicised (compared to breast cancer…) yet highest and most painful disease. Steve Jobs and Pavarotti, high profile people could not beat it either. Research is key. Knowledge is power.

Headshots…

Maria Parenti-Baldey, primary teacher, writer, amateur photographer and blogger at  www.bigsisterblogs.com  and www.mariaparentibaldey.com