After a delightfully mild May, winter announced itself this week with gusty and frosty force, giving the trees one final shake to loose the straggling leaves and send them whipping around in wild flurries. Hunkered down in the warm indoors, we primed ourselves with vitamin C against winter colds by juicing the oranges from our groaning tree - don't you just love the synchronicity of nature? Vitamin C just when you need it! And the sweet juice, squeezed by loving hands is to be savoured, not taken for granted like a supermarket commodity.
With a new season comes a re-naming of my regular news updates. I think it encapsulates the heart of my ramblings and saves you, dear reader, from cheesy attempts at alliterative or clever titles! Plus, each title was only good for one time, a bit like single-use plastic bags.
This month's kidlit adventures included a visit to the Sydney Writer's festival, where I got to see Sally Rippin talk about the new and last book in the gorgeous Polly and Buster series. My adult daughter shares a love for fine kids and YA books, and this series has captured her heart. I also saw Sally and her co-host of The Kid Lit Club vlog/podcast/facebook, Adrian Beck host an impromptu story-telling session with Deb Abela, RA Spratt and Oliver Phommavanh (authors included in Total Quack Up anthology). So zany and fun! You can listen to a great interview with Sally and Adrian at the festival on the One More Page Podcast: Beyond the Book here.
This month I also had a fun-filled author visit to Horsley Kids Early Childhood Centre, where the kids enthusiastically searched for hearts that had 'bloomed' whilst I read the love-story When I See Grandma. The kids then they showered their teachers with love by covering them with the post-it note hearts. It was blooming lovely!
Whilst (vaguely) in the area, I visited Lost In Books, in Fairfield. This is an amazing kid's bookshop that seeks to engage the local culturally and linguistically diverse community in amazing and creative ways. Their tagline is 'A kid's bookshop that speaks you language.' Do check out their website. It also had two other attractions for me:
1. They had an exhibition of children's books from around the world, presented in conjunction with IBBY (international Board on Books for Young People). As it turned out, the exhibition had been packed up by the time I got there, but the super friendly and accommodating Jane Stratton and her team allowed me to dive into cases of packed-up books.
2. The illustrator of The Scared Book, Kim Siew, painted the murals that adorn the walls of the shop, and she regularly runs workshops there, so there was a personal connection that I wanted to explore.
That also led me to visiting the Fairfield City Museum and Art Gallery. This not only houses an amazing display from Farifield's bygone eras (it's like a little historical village), but also cutting edge art installations that I found thought provoking and moving. One of the highlights is an exhibition called 'The Gatherer' by none other than... Kim Siew! It was a thrill to see The Scared Book peeking out from a display cabinet with some of the things you can buy on her etsy store - worth checking out!
I went to a book launch for The Children's Bookshop owners, Paul and Beth MacDonald's new picture book, The Hole Idea, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom. Author and editor, Sue Whiting, helped launch the book, describing it as 'an ode to the creative process and the power of story.' It is a great book by a super-supportive duo who help keep this industry afloat. And there was cake! Watch out for interview with them on the Just Write For Kids blog soon.
Talking about the JWFK blog, I hope you've been following my interview with the wonderfully generous and talented Jo Sandhu. May's instalment is here and it's a real treat for writers. Watch out Friday next week for the final part.
May is also the month for what has fast become one of the premier conferences on the Australian kidlit calendar: KidLitVic. I went to the inaugural event a few years ago now, and it was a seminal time for building a foundation of friendships that have been a source of encouragement and mutual support in out writing lives. I found this reflections post by Emma Bowd a good summary of this year's conference.
I have friends going to the CBCA National Conference in Canberra this weekend. It is also a (bi-annual) highlight of the Kidlit calendar. I went a number of years ago when When I See Grandma had recently been published. It was the first ever conference I attended as a writer. It was scary but wonderful and awe-inspiring. I met Bob Graham! Say no more! The line-up this year is fantastic too.
You know that I didn't get to the Flash Fiction Festival in Canberra last month, but a friend of mine went and found it invaluable. She even told me that my story was used in one of the workshops as an example of strong openings. How cool is that? Irma Gold has blogged her experiences on this event in her post Four Launches and a festival (don't you love the title?) and you can read it here. Also, I recommend subscribing to Irma's newsletter for great industry information and inspiration.
I have read some brilliant books this month: 1. Catherine Greer's YA debut Love, Lie, Repeat was a gripping thriller that was unsettling and crept up on you unexpectedly. You can read my review over on Goodreads here. 2. Everything You've Never said by Samantha Wheeler: an insightful and important book for upper primary kids and beyond. You can read my review on Goodreads here.
I'm also enjoying the clever-zany junior fiction Juno Jones by Kate Gordon, (check out the Books on Tour blogs) and I was fortunate win a copy of the gorgeous picture book Colouroos by Anna McGregor, (check out the The Books On Tour blogs for this one too). You might have noticed, that following Books on Tour is a great way to find out about new release books and authors, and also WIN copies of books - it's how I won the Colouroos, thanks to the generosity at the people at Hachette. You can subscribe at Just Write For Kids here.
With Mother's Day being in May, my family gifted me with two wonderful books for grown-ups with one, Gravity is the Thing, being written by an author of books for kids too: Jaclyn Moriarty. I'm loving it! Below is a photo of me reading it with Cat-on-a-lap, not wanting to be outdone by Story Hound!
You can see what other books have been on my radar by following @story_hound on Instagram. At then of this post, you'll find three that have been favourites so far in May.
Things I'm looking forward to:
1. Author talk at Gordon library tomorrow night, by Catherine Greer about the aforementioned Love lie Repeat. Technically in May, but I'm preparing my news early this month!
2. Attending a Flash Fiction reading event at a new gallery in the Blue Mountains on Friday night (also technically in May). I'll be reading my award-winning piece, Tagging. It's a bit unnerving having adults as the audience instead of kids!
3. Attending an author afternoon tea at Belrose public school, organised by my local CBCA sub-branch on the 6th June. These are always wonderful events where a bunch of authors visit the school and excite kids about books.
4. CBCA Northern Sydney sub branch event at Belrose Public School on June 12th for a book launch with Matthew Shallvey and meet the publisher of Big Sky Publishing, Diane Evans. You'd be welcome to join. Details here.
5. Launch of Nat Amoore's hotly anticipated mid-grade novel, Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire on the 8th June.
6. CBCA Northern Sydney Christmas in July at Forestville RSL on the 31st July. This a not-to-be-missed opportunity to hear from the amazing, award winning author Margaret Wild and the fabulous and award winning illustrator David Legge. I am looking forward to getting a signed copy of Bamboozled - a book which had my girls enthralled when it was first published 21 years ago. There's now a 21st anniversary copy available! Details here.
As promised, I'll leave you with the most popular stills on Instagram. Until next time...
For the super-cute moving pictures, you need check out Instagram :)