This month of February has felt a bit like my French Bulldog, Archie – truncated, heavy at one end, and bringing me a lot of joy! At the end of the month, there was a lot to pack into a short space: I’m talking about the SCBWI conference and the Night of the Notables. And herein lies the shenanigans!
Anything run by the truly wonderful Susanne Gervay is bound to have elements of zany mixed in with the warm and wise. So the SCBWI Sydney conference was hallmark Gervay!
It started off with a pre-conference speed-launch at The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft, with not one, not two, not three, but NINE books by uber-talented creators: Aura Parker, Dimity Powell, Caz Goodwin, Amelia McInerney, Kelly Hibbert, Meredith Costain, Shelly Unwin, Aleesah Darlison, Christina Booth. They each had 3 minutes to creatively introduce their book. Cram 150 conference (and other) spectators into a 40 person capacity venue, and you had a great test what the Aussie kidlit community is known for – kindness and generosity of spirit. The place was oozing it! It was also oozing with crittters…
There was a rascally raccoon and giant Koala on the loose. There were authors emerging from writing cocoons with giant wings. There was a chook stuck in a book. And a London Bobby to rustle them all up. Such imagination! Such inventiveness! Such fun!
It was a special joy to get my hands on a signed copy of Amelia McInerney’s yet-to-be-released Book Chook. I interviewed Amelia recently for the Just Write for Kids blog. You can read part one HERE and part two comes out tomorrow – don’t miss it.
Here are a couple of (tame) photos of the day. I see you, Nat Amoore from One More Page, peeking through the cracks! Attempted photo bomb!
On Monday, the SCBWI conference was in full swing. I had great fun catching up with writing friends, meeting online friends IRL (in the real life) and forming new friendships and connections. And tweeting. Lots of tweeting! Although I couldn’t keep up with Oliver Phommavanh on the day – he has some sort of tweeting super-power. Must be all the hamburgers! He also speed-wrote a blog about his conference take-homes – it’s worth a read Here.
Also, check out the official SCBWI conference blog HERE. I hope to write up something about the conference for JWFK in the near future.
After sitting in the conference room all day, it was great to put the glad rags on and dance to the groovy beats of the SCBWI Beatnickers band after dinner. I’ve seen a few photos on facebook of the groovers and shakers of kidlit… I’m looking at you, Sue Whiting 😊. Nice moves! My photos are a bit more tame...
On Tuesday I recuperated in the morning and started with Mira Reisberg’s humour workshop in the afternoon (I took home a great idea for a story) followed by the CBCA Night of the Notables at Dymocks. Matt Cosgrove’s speech on the night was delightfully funny. I discovered we had a few things in common – growing up in Western Sydney and fathers who were both Vietnam veterans. He showed us how to draw his famous Macca the Alpaca using only the letters YOU. A stroke of brilliance for the authors in the room (there were many), playing to our strengths – words! Below are some photos, finishing with a zombie appaccalypse - Matt's words, not mine :-)
I was thrilled to see some of the books I’ve mentioned in my news and on the radio included on the CBCA notables list: Duck!, Beware the Deep, Dark Forest, All the ways to be Smart, Mr Walker, Chip the Lifeguard, A Boat of Stars, Room on our Rock, and three of the older readers: Lenny’s Book of Everything, The Things that Will Not Stand and Girl Running, Boy Falling. The latter book by Kate Gordon I’m especially thrilled about as the publisher, Rhiza Edge is an imprint of my Indie publisher, Wombat Books. I'm in the photo with Kate and fellow Wombat books AND Rhiza Edge author Penny Reeve/Jaye.
In publishing news, I’m excited to have TWO stories to be published in anthologies this year! It’s been a joy to work with Irma Gold on my prize-winning story, Tagging, for inclusion in a flash fiction anthology released mid-year. I’ve also just found out that Christmas Press has accepted my short story for their illustrated Christmas Cornucopia anthology released – you guessed it – in time for Christmas this year. Can’t wait to see both stories in print!
On my radar this month:
Bird on a Wire (Little hare). I love this rhyming, fun picture book about one-upmanship, with a gorgeous and clever message of contentment at the end. I lugged my copy around both days of the SCBWI conference hoping to have it signed by the author, Kate Gordon, (of Girl Running, Boy Falling fame, above) and Nathaniel Eckstrom (who also illustrated Duck! mentioned above). And voila! Don't you love the endpapers?!
The Book Chook (Schlastic), Amelia McInerney and Connah Brecon’s story about Ray the chook, who is surprised to discover that he is a drawing in a book. Delightful and funny.
The Box Cars (EK Books). I went to the launch of this sweet book at the beginning of the month and was rewarded to see Robert Vescio again and meet Cara King! This book is getting some great reviews – here’s one. I interviewed Robert a few books back (he’s creating quite a library) for the JWFK blog- you can check out the interview in two parts HERE.
You MUST look out for Christina Booth's hauntingly beautiful picture book One Careless Night. It's so moving, The words are poetic, lyrical and divine, and the illustrations powerful. It's about the last thylacine. It has a touch of Margaret Wild and Ron Brook's iconic Fox about it. And Aura Parker has another charming, delightfully quirky picture book - Cocoon. It's gorgeous. She's launching it at Kinokuniya, Sydney. She'd love to see you there: find out about it here.
Another thing I loved this month was the Mary Poppins Movie. I loved it. Loved the music. Loved the story. Loved the way Emily Blunt played Mary. Love Emily Blunt!
Things I’m looking forward to:
1 Talking with a year 7 class at Arden Anglican School next week
2 Posting part two of my interview with Amelia McInerney tomorrow and the launch of The Book Chook, Monday 11th March.
3 Creative Kids Tales conference 6th April with a manuscript assessment with Sue Whiting. I’m polishing off the story with my writer’s group before submitting it to Sue.
4 CBCA shortlist announcement on the 26th. They have a fabulous AAA event on the day - details here.
5 CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch AGM and first event of the year on the 3rd April. Head here for details.
Wishing you a wonderful March.