Where has April gone? Before I could say 'Anzac Day,' April disappeared into an afterglow. I've captured the embers here
before they flicker away:
First, book news- I had to pick my jaw up from my laptop keyboard when I discovered that The Scared Book has been shortlisted with five other fabulous books for the SCBWI Crystal Kite award. This peer-voted award is where other children's authors and illustrators vote for their favourites in a number of rounds. I'm thrilled that Scared made the final round. Voting closes on the 30th.
Talking about SCBWI, I attended a fabulous afternoon catching up with other kid's-bookish people and getting all sorts of ideas about presenting in schools. I came home with a few tips on how to ramp my presentations up a notch or two! Perfect timing for my Sydney Writer's Festival gig in a few days time! There's a fabulous write-up about it on the SCBWI blog here.
I loved catching up with the regional head of SCBWI, Susanne Gervay, more personally at a Flash Fiction weekend I attended in Canberra last weekend. This was a fabulous time of networking, meeting facebook friends in person, hearing amazing presenters (like Jack Heath, Josh Donellan, Irma Gold, Carmel Bird, Craig Cormick and many more) and honing flash (ie really short) fiction stories. Organised brilliantly by the amazing Suzanne Kiraly. It was such fun! See the full schedule here. I'm going to have to blog about it more extensively later. If you're a writer, I commend it to you for next year. It also inspired me to get a copy of Susanne Gervay's YA novel Butterflies. I know I'm very late to the party on this one, but it was well worth discovering: surviving the trauma of severe burn injury is a subject I have not read about in any other novel, for children or adults, and in Butterflies, Susanne Gervay speaks sensitively, eloquently and insightfully to and about those who live in the aftermath of burns injury.
(PS how cool is the newspaper-spine wallpaper in the East Hotel conference rooms?)
On the writing front, I've been reworking a manuscript that hasn't been getting any traction in the publishing world. Michelle Worthington has helped me infuse the story with what I hope to be the perfect blend of humour and heart. I've started sending it out - wish me luck! I recommend Michelle's manuscript assessments - you can find her over at Share Your Story here. On the reworking front, I so identified with Sue Whiting's blog about the struggle of writing a measly 500 words, you might like to take a look here.
Talking about Michelle Worthington, she's the Reese Witherspoon of Aussie Kid Lit - a pocket-sized dynamo in high-heels, oozing intelligence and generosity! I've been part of her 30 Day Social Media Challenge for Creatives facebook group. What an eye-opener it has been, as Michelle has pushed participants beyond our comfort zone to engage more meaningfully with our followers and friends. For example, I never would have thought to go 'LIVE' on facebook, but as I and other participants braved our insecurities, it really felt like we were connecting in a more personal way. Facebook even told me that "your video is popular in NSW" and then "your video is popular with women 35 plus!" It was pretty hilarious!
Talking about connecting with people, in the real world, I finally caught up with Zanni Louise in person when she was in town for some holiday workshops at The Children's Bookshop, Breecroft. I interviewed Zanni last year on the Just Write For Kids Blog, and she has an avalanche of books out this year. Also at the bookshop, I went to the launch of Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg and Andrea Edmond's poignantly beautiful picture book, Visiting You (I bought 3 copies!) and I also caught up with Penny Reeve at the launch of her new chapter book, Camp Max, in my old home town of Penrith where my Mum worked in the library for about 20 years. I couldn't help myself sniffing all the newly-minted books!
I also loved meeting families when I partnered with Vinnies at Brookvale for a special Storytime session early in the month. We had a gorgeous little crowd of enthusiastic participants for a reading of The Scared Book. It's such a brilliant store with so many treasures - so worth checking out.
Meanwhile, in cyberspace:
I got to interview the crazy-fearless Katrina McKelvey for the Just Write For Kids blog this month. She is just so inspiring! Don't miss the interview here, and look out for part two and three in May and June.
If you are a writer and haven't subscribed to Sandy Fussell's newsletter, I advise you to do so. It combines her love of writing with her love of technology, and is chock-full of great writer-tech.
What I'm watching:
Have you discovered the delightfully effervescent Word Of Mouth TV with Kate Forsyth and Sarah Mills yet? It's all about books, authors and cooking - I'd recommend subscribing.
I'm also enjoying the remake of Lost In Space on Netflix. They have certainly remixed and turbo-charged Dr Smith and the robot, to add a higher dose of menace than the original, and it's compelling. Danger Will Robinson, Danger!
Books on my radar. April has been a YA and mid-grade month for me:
Sue Whiting's Missing is a beautiful, devastating reflection on grief, and the question: is it better to know even if the truth seems unbearable? There is alchemy in the writing. Brilliant.
Dragonfly Song, Wendy Orr's highly awarded epic triumph of a novel, has a mute heroine whose voice will paradoxiacally haunt you long after you've closed the book's cover.
llluminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, is an intelligent, inventive dossier-style, genre-mashing politically charged romance-with-zombies-in-space, whose horror elements stretched my limits for this genre.
You can see my reviews for these books over on Goodreads
What I'm looking forward to in May:
1 Sydney Writer's Festival. I'll be in the Storytime Clubhouse Sunday May 6th at 3.00. I'd love to see you there. I'll also be hob-nobbing at the the launch party on Tuesday night, feeling very out of my depth but not wanting to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
2. The launch of my friend, Shelly Unwin's new picture book, Blast Off on Saturday 12th May 4-5pm. Details here
3. Lights off Torches On event at Crown Street Public School Tuesday 15th May. I'll be there in my PJ's with lots of other amazing authors, like Jacqueline Harvey.
4. Another SCBWI event on the 20th May, conjuring up some Marketing Magic. Check out the details on the Australia East and NZ website.
5. Not one, but TWO fabulous CBCA events - A pitching panel on Wednesday 23rd and a fun day of bookish craft on Sunday 27th. See the website for details.
I can see I'm blasting off on a turbo-charged month! See you on the other side.