Ahhh, May! Snuggling into bed or in front of a fireplace with a good book and Honey Dew Melon Green Tea from Tea Drop. Or crunching through a crimson carpet of leaves on walks. Bliss! These have been my bubble wrap moments during May - cushioning the spaces between many other wonderful, but ping-pong frenetic days. I've had to bring in three little helpers to look after the lettuce, beetroot and fennel in my Vegpod while I've been kicking up my low-heeled boots!
Appearing at the Sydney Writer's Festival was a spine-tingling, goosebump-inducing experience. A few butterflies even found their way into my tummy - so it was just as well as I had The Scared Book to help settle the excitement and the nerves.
The Big Backyard was a fantastic venue at Carriageworks, with an array of activities to entice children to engage with books. The Storytime Clubhouse was a cosy cubby filled with bean bags for kids to lounge around and listen to authors and illustrators read to them. It was a joy to be part of the line-up. Nothing beats the thrill of reading your books to a live audience and seeing them respond. One young girl staunchly resisted her father's efforts to extract her before the end of The Scared Book, and one young boy enthusiastically explained to me how the pictures work in When I See Grandma. I fear I may have gotten a little inappropriately up close and personal to the metallic chuppa-chup! Your lips aren't actually meant to touch the microphone, right? But the kids didn't seem to mind.
Thanks to Brydie Wright for the photos of me
Speaking of fabulous books, I was so excited to attend the book launch of my friend, Shelly Unwin's new picture book, Blast Off. What kid isn't intrigued by space? Shelly's brilliant rhyming story of kids blasting off in their rocket is quirky, fun and factual. The illustrations by Ben Wood are a blast too. This is a book that the kids will want to revisit again and again. I predict it will blast off the shelves! I interviewed Shelly on the Just Write for Kids Blog a while ago - you can read the interview (in three parts) starting here.
I've also attended two other literary events. The first was a SCBWI afternoon with marketing expert Jackie Barton from HarperCollins talking about Marketing Magic, and Angie Schiavone, the new SCBWI book reviewer, talking about book reviews. Lots of fascinating insights from both speakers. You can read a round-up of the day here.
The second was a CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch author panel with Belinda Murrell, Lesley Gibbes and Kate Simpson talking about pitching books to (not at!) publishers. It was fun and informative, as always. In other CBCA news, I have just taken over the reins from Tonya Alexandra to become Secretary of our sub-branch. So if you're on our mailing list, look out for email updates from yours truly.
Talking about Tonya - she has a new book out in her Olive series for teen readers: The Implausible Story of Olive Far Away. I've just managed to get my hands on a copy and I can't wait to read it! I loved her invisible character, Olive, in the first book, The Impossible Story of Olive in Love.
In Just Write For Kids news, I had fun being one of the selection panel for a new logo and banner. Check out the artwork by winner Jason Howe, on the website here. It is Pretty amazing! I also posted part two of the interview with fabulously-fearless Katrina McKelvey, here. Katrina has even more news to share in part three, live on Friday!
I do hope you follow the JWFK book blog tours at Books on Tour. I entered one of their competitions and was lucky to WIN a copy of Maura Pierlot's Trouble in Tune Town! It's a fun and affirming rhyming story of musical notes that fly off the page. The illustrations are gorgeous and I love the inclusion of the lyrebird as the child's friend.
Talking about winning, I also won a copy of Adam Wallace and James Hart's new book in the Accidentally Awesome series. This one's called Frantically Fantastic and it's set on a farm - my favourite place in the whole world, but alas, not so for the book's hero (would we call him a hero?) Jackson Payne. Full of fun, quirky, madcap slapstick, sure to get 6-10 year-olds laughing - and reading!
Talking about reading, I've been playing catch-up with the gorgeous Tan series by Jen Storer. It's been on my radar for a while, but I haven't gotten around to checking it out - but others have - including a film producer who has optioned it for live-action film! Go Jen! I follow Jen at her website Girl and Duck, and her Q&Q vlogs - anyone interested in writing for children should do the same. You'll find great wisdom dosed with Jen's whacky sense of humour and ginormous heart. A bit like her Tan books, really.
I've also been reading the debut YA psychological thriller by Sarah Epstein, Small Spaces. Wow! Be warned, it is very true to it's genre - so not for the easily creeped out nor to be read alone in a house at night! I loved it! I only had one sleepless night :) It's excellent writing, full of great characters set within a creepy-thrilling story and had me questioning whether or not Tash was a reliable narrator almost all the way through. I wrote a review on Goodreads. But wait - I can't find it! It seems to have disappeared! Growling in frustration here! ... Anyway, Small Spaces is an excellent example of its genre, a real heart-thumping page-turner.
What I'm looking forward to in June (this year is galloping along!)
1. I've been asked to speak at the launch of the new CBCA Eastern Suburbs sub-branch on Wednesday 20th June. Check out the flyer to see the other guest speakers, and come along!
2. The Kids and YA Festival at Writing NSW (formerly NSW Writers' Centre) on the 30th June. It's a brilliant program put together by the amazing Belinda Murrell. I'm on a panel with other members of my writers' group, first thing in the morning. Find the program here.
I'll leave you with a little something I sketched at a micro-workshop run by Toni, from the Erin Hill Studio, held at Harry Hartog Bookshop, Warringah Mall on the weekend. It was such a joyful way to spend 1 1/2 hours! I'm no 'big A' Artist, never will be, but it doesn't mean I can't enjoy myself by mucking about with a marker and water colours. It's more about capturing a moment, or feeling, than accuracy, and that's fine with me! It seems similar principles apply to art as in writing - do a little bit often and you'll improve. Three minutes a day, that's what Toni said. I think I might enjoy finding time to do just that!
Until next time,