I’ve had the joy this month to get away with family for a couple of weekends, to the mountains and the city. In the mountains we stayed at the grande dame, The Hydro Majestic, where my husband and I spent a night on our honeymoon. This month was the first time I'd been back to stay since. I found the same misty mountains, the same creaky floorboards and the same small rooms, but my, what a reno! I loved the art deco fittings and finishing and the black and white photo aspects of the old girl in her glory adorning the rooms and hallways. It was a delight!
All this gallivanting was very nice, but it also meant I missed out on a few fab kid-lit events too, like the launch of Aura Parker’s gorgeous new picture book, Cocoon, and the 10th birthday celebration of RA Spratt’s Nanny Piggins series. As a consolation, I did manage to snavel a copy of Cocoon at the SCBWI conference (see last month's post), and I have been snort-laughing my way through the first of RA Spratt’s newest series, The Peski Kids. It’s a cockroach-infested hoot! How did I go with the bookface photo with Archie?
When I have been in author mode, I’ve had the chance to:
...Talk with a year 7 group at Arden Anglican School about developing great characters.
...Attend Amelia McInerney’s The Book Chook book launch at my old stomping ground in the mountains. The launch was a joy to attend, complete with real live chook and chook poop! The book is fabulous, and so too is my interview with Amelia on the Just Write For Kids blog - if I do say so myself ;) I even managed to schmoose my way into a photo on the Blue Mountains Gazette website. Isn’t it a great shot? I’m resisting all the captions that come to mind!
...Be interviewed by Kate Gordon, author of CBCA Notable YA novel Girl Running, Boy Falling, for her blog. You can check it out here.
...Catch up with a retired teacher librarian friend who horrified me with the tale of what’s become of her school library in a disadvantaged area of Sydney. I felt like crying. It propelled me to write an article for the Students Need School Libraries website/blog. Check out the website if you haven’t already, and watch out for my article.
...Write up my notes from the SCBWI conference. I’ve posted them on the Just Write for Kids blog, with links to the in-depth roving reporter notes for each session on the SCBWI conference blog.
...Organise an interview with Jo Sandu of Tarin of the Mammoths fame for Just Write for Kids – keep your eye out for that one on Friday 5th April.
...celebrate the CBCA Book of the year shortlist and with tweets and gifs across social media (I couldn't get to the AAA event this year, but it looked like brilliant fun).
...Catch up with a small group of author friends and meet the amazing Lisa Shanahan, whose Hark it’s me, Ruby Lee and The Grand Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler both made the CBCA Notable list last year, with Ruby Lee going on to become an Honour book. These books brim over with wisdom, warmth and heart and I commend them to you. I mention Lisa’s speech to the QLD CBCA Book Week dinner in my interview with Kate Gordon. If you haven’t read it already, I suggest you do. It’s beautiful and brings a tear to my eye every time I read it. Find it here. Listening to Lisa is like being wrapped in a warm, fluffy jumper whist dabbing at tears as she opens the world to you in a new way, unravelling the beauty in the painful, hard things as well as the happy, joyful things. I was encouraged to take notice of small moments, and to jot those down in my notebook.
On my radar:
Brain Awareness week was during this month, highlighting the advance in, and need for brain research. You may not know, but I donate my author royalties for When I See Grandma to Alzheimer's Australia's Hazel Hawke fund for dementia research and care, in memory of mum, to whom the book is dedicated. By the way, it's on sale now on the Wombat Book's website ;)
SCBWI Crystal Kite voting starts tomorrow. Looking through the brilliant list of Australian and New Zealand books this year, I am once again moved that The Scared Book was honoured with this award last year. If you're a SCBWI member, look out for the voting.
Katrina McKelvy launches two of her books in April, both, it would seem, in spectacular style: one of them at the Newcastle writers festival and the other at a community dog picnic! They sound amazing! I might not be able to get to them, but if you’re in the area, do go along. Find out more here.
As well as The Peski Kids, I’ve been reading an ARC of Kat Colmer’s You Can’t Beat the Chemistry. The sign of good book is when you don’t want the train to arrive at your stop because you are so wrapped up in the story. It has such great characters and I loved the Pride and Prejudice meets The Rosie Project feel. It was also the perfect book to read on weekends away. It’s out mid April. You can read a review by Kate Gordon on the JWFK blog.
Flash Fiction Fun Weekend in Canberra. I have a flash fiction story in the anthology that will be launched at this event. It has an amazing line-up of speakers including Graeme Simsion, Bettina Arndt, Irma Gold and Jack Heath, to name a very few. I went last year and it really did turbocharge my writing. I recommend it to the writers amongst you. I’m going to try hard to get there this year. Check back next month to see if I made it! Find out more here.
Other things I am looking forward to:
1 CBCA NSW Inc Northern Sydney sub-branch AGM and event at The Children’s Bookshop, featuring the voices behind the One More Page Podcast. Wednesday the 3rd April. Find out about it and rsvp here.
2. CKT festival and manuscript assessment on the 6th April at Gymea. This is a sold-out event!
3. CBCA NSW High Tea with the authors Saturday 13th April. Details here.
4. Flash Fiction Fun weekend 26th – 28th April, details above.
I'll leave you with some atmospheric shots from the Hydro Majestic. Until next time...