Dear fellow adventurer,
Winter has begun with an abundance this year – an abundance of freezing days!! But there have been many sunshiny moments to warm body and heart.
I can finally announce the news that I hinted at last time… I have a new contract for a picture book to be published by HarperCollins, probably in 2024 - I’m so thrilled! This manuscript has had a long and winding road to publication: A Tale of Many Publishers! It began with an idea from one publisher, but in the end didn’t get through acquisitions :-( I then took it to another publisher at an assessment at the CYA Conference last year, and they loved it but didn’t think their publishing house was quite the right fit for it. But super-kindly they sent it to their friend, a publisher at another company, HarperCollins, and they took it on! After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and ‘noodling,’ the contract was signed last week. I’m thrilled! And so are all the publishers who had a hand in it, and for whom I am thankful!
It's also been wonderful to get glimpses of my picture book with EK books (illustrated by Arielle Li) progressing! I have some cover art designs to comment on - they are all so good, it's so hard to choose!
I’m excited to be part of the State Library of NSW online Storytime, this week (It's actually tomorrow, 15th June, 11 am). I’ll be on zoom with a The Scared Book and a big bag full of toys for some MONSTERous fun! I’d love you to join me – you can register here. And a reminder - book week is coming up next term and I still have some availability for author visits. If you'd like to book me for your school or preschool, contact Creative Kids Tales Speaker's Agency here.
Talking about The Scared Book, it was lovely seeing photos of Wendy Fitzgerald reading my book at the Words on the Waves Festival – thanks Wendy! There are so many festivals and conferences at the moment - and I have a serious case of FOMO! Eg the CBCA Conference in Canberra looked like such a fun and fascinating program, and so many people I would have loved to meet and catch up with!! The Kids and YA Festival at Writing NSW is coming up in a couple of weeks – and the FOMO is intensified! Although I really can’t complain because it’s also wonderful celebrating special life events with family and friends!
I did get to drop in on the Sydney Writer’s Festival Family Fun day and bump into a few kidlit friends. I even got myself drawn into a pretty cool looking super-hero by Mike Barry and finally got my We Run Tomorrow book signed by both Mike and Nat Amoore! Doubly cool!
Another friend I bumped into recently was Paula Stevenson, doing the rounds of bookshops with her delightful new picture book, Buster Follows His Nose. You may remember I mentioned this book last time, as the illustrator is one of my writing group buddies, Jenny Hale. It’s so cool that I’m friends with both the author and illustrator of this gorgeous book!
On the subject of writing friends, I was thrilled to hear that our SCBWI Australia East and NZ leader, Susanne Gervay won this year’s SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for her novel, Heroes of the Secret Underground! Susanne is such a force for encouragement and good in the KidLit world, and she was recovering from an operation when the award was announced: I’m sure this news gave her a much-needed boost. I remember how meaningful it was for me to be honoured with this award for The Scared Book a few years ago. If you know Susanne and would like to send her warm wishes too, she’s made a fundraiser for helping those displaced by war in Ukraine (an issue close to her heart), in lieu of cards and flowers etc. It’s just another example of her big-hearted engagement with the world. You can donate here.
Talking about SCBWI, I got a lot out of one of their recent digital workshops - Marketing for Authors: From Self-Promotion to Getting the Most from Your Publisher with US author Margot Wood. It was such a helpful insight into the role of various people in the publishing house and schedules for publishing etc! I really recommend these free workshops to SCBWI members – I catch up on them after the event, but you have to be quick – they're usually only up on the website for a month.
Something else I've found insightful and helpful for my work is reading George Saunders’ A Swim In The Pond In The Rain: What Reading the Nineteenth-Century Russians Can Teach Us about Stories, Truth, and Transformation. I am loving this book – the gentle and wise insights given and the way Saunders interrogates and reflects on the writing of the Russian masters. The lessons are simultaneously wise, heart-warming and instructive.
Another heat-warming moment was reading an article in April’s The Literature Base Magazine (Part of the Magpies Magazine) by Allison Paterson, who mentioned When I See Grandma amongst many other beautiful recommended books about grandparents. It’s so gratifying to know that this book is still quietly working to bring love and compassion behind the scenes.
Whilst I miss chatting to Katrina Roe on the radio, it hasn’t stopped me reading some wonderful children’s books lately! A few junior fiction/Mid grade reads that have had me hooked recently are:
The Magic of Magnolia Moon – I couldn’t love this book more – gentle, wise and quirky - I adore Edwina Wyatt’s writing, and I didn’t think she could top her first Magnolia Moon book (The Secrets of Magnolia Moon), but I think this one was even more lovely than the first! the Magnolia Moon books sit on my most-cherished-books shelf!
The Callers is Kiah Thomas’ first mid grade novel and it’s a cracker! It’s a fresh, gripping adventure story set in a fantasy world that’s easy to read and keeps you guessing and glued to the last page! I loved it. I interviewed Kiah on the Just Write for Kids blog about her picture books, a while back. you can find the blog here.
Sue Whiting’s new series, Pearly and Pig is another great (albeit icy) Antarctic adventure story: with characters that are lively and quirky, and similes and metaphors that are fresh and fun along with many great puns! I’m in the middle of it at the moment, and loving every page.
Books on my radar:
Two books by Kathryn Apel - one picture book and one verse novel - Miss Understood (illustrated by Beau Wiley) and What Snail Knows. More on them next time...
Things I’m looking forward to:
SCBWI zoom about picture books on Sunday 26th June, details here.
CYA conference and assessments in July. Details here.
Something I’m sad to miss: Kids and YA Festival - but I hope some of you get there! It's on the 25th June. Details here.
Until next time, I'll leave you with a photo of a visitor I saw on a harbourside walk last week!