Dear fellow adventurer,
The jingle of Christmas bells is a distant memory and the Easter Bunny has hippity-hopped out of town (although my keyboard is still a bit sticky with chocolate!) and so much has happened in my corner of KidLitLand in the months in between! Here’s something I’ve discovered – the longer I’ve taken to start writing this news, the harder it is to start. It’s a bit like all those photos stacking up on my phone - the more there are, the more I’m putting off downloading or dealing with them! But here I am! I shall put this news off no more! You might like to grab a cuppa before we set off!
Whilst the weather is cooling down, my writing life is hotting up! I mentioned in my Cheers to Christmas that I have signed a contract with EK Books for a picture book to be illustrated by Arielle Li and released mid next year. And what a joy this is! I’ve already seen some initial artwork and the storyboard for the book – and I can’t stop sighing, it’s that beautiful! I can’t wait for you to see it too! But in the meantime, you can check out Arielle's latest picture book, just released, Get Ready, Mamma written by Sharon Giltrow and also published with EK Books. It is ‘touring’ with Books On Tour on the Just Write for Kids blog - you can read the review and follow along from here. Check out the cute trailer below. You could even WIN a copy! And, on a side note, congratulations to EK books for being shortlisted for the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year (Oceana Region) at the Bologna Book Fair!
It was marvellous to back in front of kids, post Covid lockdowns, in the Easter Holidays, conducting a writing workshop with WestWords, at the Dundas library. I do love the energy and imagination of kids! PLUS most of them knew my play in The School Magazine published last year, and one of them had seen it performed by their class!! How incredible is that??!! I’m now represented for author visits by Creative Kids Tales Speakers Agency (check me out here) and I have some spaces left for book week if you’d like to book me up!
Talking about in-person events, I also had a bookstore appearance at Dymocks Neutral Bay for their VIP shopping night. And how fabulous to see families who already know and love my books, and to have booksellers who are so supportive.
Another thing that’s back in full swing is my writer’s group meeting in person again! Zoom’s been great for iso times, but there’s nothing like the energy of a group of writers in a room! And we’ve had such exciting news: several of us have had pieces picked up and published in The School Magazine, PLUS Jenny Hale has gloriously illustrated a new picture book, Buster Follows his Nose, written by Paula Stevenson and published by Little Pink Dog Books. It releases in May. AND group member Lisa Nicol’s MG book, Dr Boogaloo and the Girl Who lost Her Laughter has been selected in the top 10 Children’s books for 2021 in China! Awarded at Shenzhen Reading Month, a large literary festival and also home to the world’s largest bookshop. How cool is that??
After a bit of an hiatus, I enjoyed blogging over at Just Write For Kids with an interview with author Martine Murray, who, despite being an award-winning traditionally published author, has chosen to establish her own publishing company (Parachute Press) in conjunction with Anna Read, to publish their own picture books. Find out why and about their latest book, The Owl Who was Left Behind, on the JWFK blog, here.
Sadly, as some things crank up, another winds down, and with Katrina Roe leaving Hope 103.2, our book chats will come to an end. Our Dec, Jan, and March final chat are of the books below (Feb was a CBCA Notables recap). You can find out more about the books by checking out my Facebook and Instagram posts.
I’m sure, like me, you watched in horror as the floods earlier in the year devastated many families and communities. Kid’s author Zanni Louise organised an auction of mainly literary prizes to help raise funds to help rebuild Lismore. The auction raised over $56,000 and I was the lucky winner of a soon-to-be-released picture book by Crystal Corocher The Naked Sheep, which looks like lots of fun!
A bit of industry news, in case you missed it:
CBCA Notables and Shortlist has been announced, and, as usual I am thrilled for my fiends who made the lists! You can find them here.
The inaugural Forevability Awards, celebrating books for kids with a theme of disability, illness and inclusion, were announced recently. It was a joy to be one of the judges and see what amazing books are being created dealing with these important topics. Congratulations to the winners and shortlisted creators, and to all creators who reflect a diversity of characters and situations and help readers stretch their empathy muscles by creating books with great artfulness, insight and sensitivity. You can see the winners on the awards Facebook page here.
On this theme (Blatant pug here): Wombat Books, has a fantastic value Empathy book pack with four 4 books for $55 – including my When I See Grandma and books from my friends, Katrina Roe, Penny Jaye and Heather Gallagher. It would be a fabulous resource for school libraries as well as for in the home. You can order the pack on their website here.
For those who’d like an insider’s guide to publishing for children, United Publishers of Armidale (UPA) have compiled Inside Story, a book with heaps of useful information about the publishing process, from writing and illustrating picture books, through MG and non-fiction, to editing, marketing and distribution and everything in between. I’ve got my copy and was excited to see some of Jenny Hale’s illustrations included, and CBCA friend, Jan Latta with a segment.
The new Australian Children’s Laureate has been announced for the next two years, and I think Gabrielle Wang is a marvellous choice! You can see a short video of her here.
If your inbox is anything like mine, it gets filled with an awful lot of junk (another thing that I put off auditing!), but a couple of author newsletters that are always welcome are Al Tait’s and Irma Gold’s. They always have some great book industry and/or writing news in them (Al’s is kidlit related and Irma’s is a broader audience). Both writers also have podcasts – Your Kid’s Next Read (Al with with Megan Daily), and Secrets from the Green Room (Irma with Craig Cormick).
Writing NSW also has a great newsletter with courses and opportunities (I’ve had a bit of success submitting to writing competitions found in them) and also the chance to WIN free books - recently I won a book that I was desperate to read –Kate Simpson’s Non-fiction picture book, Ouch! Tales of Gravity. Archie reviewed this one on his Story_hound Insta page (below - some stills from the video). Writing NSW also has free seminars for members, like the First Friday Club, which I zoomed into recently, and heard all about Panterra Press. These really are informative and helpful sessions for writers, especially if you want to be published. Children’s author and festival director of the next Kids and YA Festival in June, Belinda Murrell is speaking at the next one, on the first Friday (6th) of May.
Things I’m looking forward to:
Finding a contract in my inbox ;-)
Nat Amoore is launching her newest MG book – this time it’s a graphic novel with Mike Barry, We Run Tomorrow, which sounds amazing. You can meet her and Mike at Gleebooks on Saturday, 7th May between 1 and 5 pm.
Checking out a few sessions at the Sydney Writer's Festival 16-22 May.
Writing NSW Kids and YA Festival 25th June.
I’m booked in for the CYA conference again this year in July. It’s over three Saturdays (9, 16, 23) and online, like last year, and I’ve booked a couple of assessments with publishers/editors which I got a lot out of last year.
Until next time (and hopefully not so belated)
All the best,