With Santa and his reindeer only a few sleeps away, I am thrilled to think that The Scared Book might be found wrapped up under sparkling trees this Christmas (not just mine). My heart glows with thankfulness and gratitude for all who made this possible - the fabulous illustrator, Kim Siew, publisher Suzanne O'Sullivan and the team at Hachette, and some pretty awesome support crews and cheer squads, not the least being my wonderful online community of Just Write for Kids, my fabulous NSW Writer's Centre writing group and amazing CBCA sub branch.
Thanks too, to the marvellous booksellers who have The Scared Book on their shelves, some of whom have even allowed me to accost their customers with story times and games, especially The Children's Bookshop who hosted my launch. Thanks to the schools who invited me to talk with their fabulous students and Greenleaf Press who enabled some of these visits, and to the hundreds who entered my monstrous monster competition.
At this time of year when we make room to spend time with family, I am especially grateful to the shining lights of my life whose love and laughter is my chief source of inspiration and joy.
Hoping your Christmas is likewise adorned with the twinkle of love and laughter from Christmas past and present.
I’ve hurtled through November at the speed of Santa’s sleigh, to arrive in December, breathless. But what a ride! Despite giving you brief snap shots, this post is l-o-n-g due to all that's been happening. I hope you can stay with me till the end, or skip to the end - it's peaceful there :)
I visited the schools of my The Scared Book Monster Competition winners, and what fun that was! The two winners – Alyssa from Whalan Public School in Sydney’s west, and Nadav from Masada College in Sydney’s north – were ecstatic! The classes were wonderful and we had fun reading, talking and playing roll-the-dice-monster.
I ran a 1 ½ hour writing workshop as the prize for one of the winners of the CBCA Lunch With The Stars writing competition. Year 5 at St Kevin’s Dee Why were a hoot! Such great ideas and imagination. We discovered how writing is just like playing with lego, and did lots of playing around with words and characters. The Assistant Principal was so delighted with what we did – she was taking notes herself! ‘Best. Workshop. Ever.’ is what she said (or something like that)! I was chuffed. Sorry - no photos to show :(
I also went to a workshop run by the NSW Writer's Centre about writing comedy with Luke Ryan. I brought lots of great ideas home to play around with - so watch out! My writing buddy Wendy Fitzgerald was at the course with me. Here's a photo of us with Luke. You can't miss me with the name badge!
I popped into Harry Hartog Warringha Mall bookshop for story-time. They have some of the kids from the day-care centre to come along to their weekday story-time sessions – so it was the best -crowd- ever! Great Fun! Again, no photos! I need to remember to ask someone to snap a pic with my phone - I'm a slow learner!
You know I love a book launch, and this month I was at the launch of four books – Rainforest Feasts by Carolyn Eldridge- Alfonzetti, Sleepy the Sloth by Jan Latta, Bouncing Bouncing Little Joeys by Lesley Gibbes and A very Quacky Christmas by Frances Watts, all at one of my favourite haunts – The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft.
My photo was the #sundayshelfie for Picture Book Book Club, I was interviewed by both the Young Authors Academy, and Kellie Byrnes blog and The scared Book was featured in the inaugural Kid's Corner of the CBCA. I also recorded a short section of a video that Hachette are putting together for Christmas - look out for that one, I'm sure it will be hilarious!
Talking about Christmas - Christmas parties start in November - did you know? I’ve already eaten my way through three Christmas feasts before December! One with the Children’s Bookshop Speaker’s Agency, another with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SBWI) and finally with the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Northern Sydney sub-branch.
At the SCBWI event, it was fabulous to hear from Linsay Knight (Publisher) about Walker books (blog post coming…) and Corrine Fenton and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall about their collaboration to write a book that would form the basis for the Melbourne Myer Christmas windows – One Christmas Eve. And what a book! It is glorious – capturing my childhood dreams of dapple-grey merry-go-round horses. Had. To. Have. Signed copies by author and illustrator, thank you very much :)
I got to sit next to literary giant Libby Gleeson at the CBCA party and share the table with Freya Blackwood (photos mid and right, below). What a great night hearing them talk about their collaborations and insights behind them. I also picked up a signed copy of Libby’s aptly named classic (now out of print) Making Picture Books – a must have for anyone writing for kids. And the amazing president of our sub branch, Marian McGuinness, made all the committee a scrumptious Christmas cake each. It was so chocked full of yumminess that it was a weightlifting workout carrying it to the car!
I managed to catch a glimpse of the #8wordstory run by the Queensland writer’s centre. Did you see it? People tweeted stories in eight words and selected ones were written across billboards in south east Queensland. They had over 10,000 entries – that’s 80,000 words – novel-length! Mine didn’t make the cut, but I’ll tell you my two anyway:
She jumped! Splat! Mud speckled her yellow gumboots.
Write by numbers - such fun! Eight word story.
And around all this I continued with the usual – attending my wonderful writer’s group, sending various submissions to publishers, interviewing and blogging for Just Write For Kids (my interview with Tim Harris is here and Jan Latta is here), updating my website with book reviews as they come in (visit here) and I even squeezed in some reading (Nevermoor, a fantasy by Jessica Townsend and the Slated Trilogy, a dystopian series by Teri Terry - great reads!)
I got to pop to the shops and guess what I saw? The Scared Book in my local Target - I nearly jumped out of skin when I saw it! Right next to books about burps and bums and books that you should't open, apparently! It's enough to make The Scared Book blush!
I even have another story of mine in print. It's an epic battle between zombies and unicorns for popularity! You'll never guess what happens in the end! You can read it along with some other great stories in this Magic Day anthology:
And although this is a post about November, I’ll sneak in the first day of December, when fellow Wombat author and Hope 103.2 presenter Katrina Roe and I attended the Twilight Christmas Markets at Gordon. It was lovely to meet parents, kids and educators and have them read and admire, and even buy, our books. Such fun!
So, after a rather frantic November, I think I’ll leave any frenzy this month to Santa. I’m going to put my feet up and have a cuppa – a different tea each advent day, a perfect way to be still and reflect. To make space and prepare room for the miracle of Christmas. Do you like the tea-time advent calendar I made? (photo bottom left) My daughter found some amazing Christmas-inspired teas for us to share from the English Tea Shop. She can hardly wait for ‘Candy Cane’ (day 8) and ‘Gingerbread man’ (day 15). And me? I’m hanging out for ‘Silent Night.’
I may try and put together a little year-that-was slide show before the end of the year, but if not, I'll see you on the other side of Christmas!
Blessings to you all.