This month I've taken advantage of the long string of sunny Sydney winter days and popped to the beach. My family and I are not particularly beachy. Truth be known, I’m not a fan of salty scarecrow hair, clods of sand in swimming togs and fly sandwiches. But something happens to the beach in winter. Everything is softer, like a gossamer blanket has been thrown over it. The water is lit up with twinkling fairy lights, not blinding floodlights. Delicate baby blue skies melt to fairy floss pink and something inside me melts and softens with them. I took this photo on a day trip to Balmoral Beach.
I had some more fabulous book news this month -just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, The Scared Book has been shortlisted for another award: The Speech Pathology Australia Book Of the Year! You can see the full list of brilliant books here. It's wonderful to think that my quirky little book can be used to help children in this way. Cecile, a speech pathologist with a fabulous website - Book Share Time - has blogged about just that: how to use The Scared Book in speech therapy with children! Thank you Cecile!
My amazing publisher at Lothian, Suzanne O'Sullivan, had ‘the most scathingly brilliant idea’ which she gifted to me this month. So I worked up a manuscript and sent it in. Fingers and toes crossed that the team love it as much as us - and as much as I love The Trouble with Angels from which I’ve quoted Hayley Mills’ character in the top sentence. It’s one of my all-time favourite movies ever!
I've been Out and about a bit this month, starting with the Kids and YA festival at the NSW Writer’s Centre (now Writing NSW) directed by the wonderful Belinda Murrell. It was a brilliant day. (Technically in June, but as it was the last day of the month it made into this July newsletter!) I was on a panel with others from my writers’ group in the morning, and we had a full house! There was something for everyone at all stages of their writing career, and so much goodness to take away. The ‘Make us Laugh’ panel with RA Spratt, Oliver Phommavanh and Tim Harris, chaired by Jacqueline Harvey, did just that! Below are my three favourite photos of the day:
Talking about Writing NSW, if you are a writer, you should subscribe to their free, weekly Newsbite e-newsletter. It’s a fabulous resource for courses, competitions and information on writing. They even have give-aways! And this month, I won a copy of Bluebottle by Belinda Castels! Thanks Writing NSW! Also, consider joining - check out the website for all the fabulous benefits of membership.
The day after the festival, I attended a SCBWI event with publisher Heather Curdie from Penguin Random House and my publisher at Lothian, Suzanne O'Sullivan. As you would expect from a SCBWI event, it was informative and very helpful, and great catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
On a cold winter evening I attending the launch of Penny Jaye’s YA Out of the Cages and I was well rewarded not only with an insight into the writing of this powerful and important book, but also with a Nepali inspired feast! Exotic delicacies that I couldn't resist popping into my mouth and washing down with Chai that was rich, smooth, warm and comforting. I’ve reviewed the book on Goodreads here. Katrina Roe launched this important story about an experience that is horrifically all too real.
Talking of interesting launches, Julie Thorndyke launched her debut picture book, Waiting for the Night at the Children’s Bookshop on the weekend, and kids brought along torches for a bit of spotlighting the animals from the book that were displayed on the walls. She also had a lightbox for shadow puppet animals as the story was read. What great ideas! Libby Hathorn did the launching honours for this book written in beautiful, lyrical rhyme, perfect for bedtime. Published by IP.
Still on the subject of launches, I attended the launch of another debut author, Dave Ley, and his mid-grade novel, The Institute for Fantastical Inventions which Tim Harris described as ‘the best mid- grade book I’ve read this year. It’s smart and funny combined.’ With that recommendation, I’m looking forward to reading it! Published by Harbour Publishing House.
On my radar this month:
I’ve spoken before about the fabulous One More Page Podcast, and their recent roving reportage of the CYA Conference in Brisbane recently was a standout for me. Their interviews with speakers, attendees, competition successes and organisers captured the essence of this writing game – the process, perseverance and persistence that are essential for progress and publication.
I’ve also spoken about the fun to be had each month on Twitter with Picture Book Book Club. July’s chat was about using the senses in picture books and the guest was the lovely Tania McCartney. I even discovered a new (to me) illustrator and a book to help with my work in progress! So much goodness from one hour of twitter fun! August chat will be with Anna Walker - so for a chance to chat with this legend, join in on the first Thursday of the month.
I picked up a copy of Finn’s Feather by Rachel Nobel in a bookshop this month. This is a gorgeous, gentle book that deals sensitively with the issue of the death of a sibling. The relationship between Finn and his friend Lucas, is heart-tuggingly both wise and innocent and made me gasp out loud in the bookshop! Simply beautiful.
I have a soft-spot for goats, so the latest junior fiction from prolific and award-winning husband and wife duo Dianne Bates and Bill Condon, The Adventures of Jellybean, was always going to appeal to me! A gentle, feel-good story with playful, endearing characters, a spattering of dad jokes and plenty fun facts about goats. If you want to find out more, there's a good review on the Buzz Words site:
I caught up with the lovely Catherine Pelosi, author of Quark's Academy and the soon-to-be-released Something for Fleur on the Just Write for Kids Blog this month. The launch for Something for Fleur is on this coming weekend - see the flyer. I'm so disappointed that I can't get to this launch, but if you can, Catherine would love it! Part two of my interview with her is on the blog on Friday.
What I'm looking forward to:
1. Book week, book week, book week! I’m off to a number of schools for author visits over the course of the week. I’m so looking forward to having fun with the students and teachers.
2. CBCA Northern Sydney Sub-branch is having an illustrator’s panel event on the 8th August. I can’t make this one but if you can, then do go along - it will be fabulous.
3. Love your bookshop day on August 11th. The Children's Bookshop Beecroft is hosting a raft of events - including LIVE ALPACAS! I'll be attending the launch of Caroline Magerl's picture book, Maya and Cat on the day, and sadly missing out on Oliver Phommavanh's launch of Natural Born Loser at Better Read than Dead, Newtown. Make sure you pop into your local bookshop and show them some love.
4. With book week comes the Book Of the Year announcement by the CBCA. You can attend the Sydney event on Friday the 17th August - details here. I hope to be there.
5. On the 1st September I'm so excited to play a part in launching my writing buddy, Katrina Roe's most recent picture book with Wombat Books, Lily's Balloon, illustrated by Helene Magisson. I can't wait!
How will you share in all the children's book and bookshop love this August?