Meet the Author: Dimity Powell

It might take decades to be an overnight success. Persistence, patience and consistency are key.

Dimity Powell

Dimity Powell loves to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews exclusively for children with over 30 published stories and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, and as creative digital content, but picture books are her jam. Her latest titles include, This is My Dad (2022), Oswald Messweather (2021), Pippa (2019), the SCBWI Crystal Kite 2019 award-winning At the End of Holyrood Lane (2018), and critically acclaimed, The Fix-It Man (2017) also in simplified Chinese. 

Dimity is a useless tweeter, sensational pasta maker, semi-professional chook wrangler, Border collie lover, seasoned presenter and dedicated Books in Homes Australia Volunteer Role Model, Story City Community Mentor and G.A.T.EWAYS presenter who can’t surf despite living on the Gold Coast, Australia. Visit her anytime at: www.dimitypowell.com

Author Insight

Why do you write and what is about writing for children that keeps you producing stories for young readers?

The magic of experiencing a story unfold both as a reader and writer is something I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of. Stories were one of my whole reasons for being as a kid and while not all kids these days love reading as much as I did and still do, I hope know there is a story out there for them that provides that same mystifying personal connection; maybe it just hasn’t been written yet or in a way that resonates with them. This is part of what compels me to write on.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an author?

My sister and I still have aspirations of running a tea and book shop together; she’d drink and bake and nibble all day. I would hide in some corner and read, naturally. I’ve always wanted to be a Vet too, so I reckon I’d be in the country somewhere running an animal practice (and possibly writing in between birthing calves!).

What do you wish you’d been told before you decided to become an author?

Birthing calves might be slightly more lucrative than making stuff up.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

I truly think the best stories come from life – and simply living it. That said, many of my picture book story lines are promoted by a casual suggestion or request for something. I welcome story prompts as they are often the green-go buttons that set my creative thought processes in progress.

Walk us through your creative process. Once you have a story idea, what’s your next step?

Once the seed of an idea or story is planted, I normally allow it to germinate organically, in other words, I sit and think and ruminate on a number of possibilities, characters, names, outcomes. Then I’ll often draft these initial ruminations in long hand in a note book. I prefer to ‘hear’ my characters’ stories and let them tell them to me in my head before committing them to paper. Time, quiet and space are the best fertilisers for this part. Once the rough outline is captured on paper, I then switch to recording everything online: editing, exploring language, researching statistics, endings, character arcs, more editing … I normally get a trusted crit buddy to eye over the manuscript as well before even thinking about submitting.

How has your childhood influenced the writer you’ve become?

I think it’s more about the books I read and how they made me feel as a young reader that I still hold on to. I try to remember that when penning a story for a particular age group. No matter what happened to me in my own childhood, it’s how I reacted to it or felt about that experience that provides the most useful and authentic elements in my storytelling today.

Share a little about your path to publication.

After completing a creative children’s writing course while my child was still in Kindy, I promptly set up a spread sheet to record my rejections! This wasn’t for lack of confidence in my abilities rather simply an expectation as the norm. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it for a while as the first short story I ever submitted to the NSW School Magazine was accepted.

After that I won a publishing competition which resulted in my junior novel, PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail? (2012) and really launched my notoriety as an emerging children’s author. My ambition to publish a picture book was realised in 2017 with, The Fix-It Man after a long and arduous period of ups and downs. My publication apprenticeship continues to this very day.

How closely were you involved in the creation of the illustrations for your beautiful book This is My Dad? Are they what you envisioned for this story?

Nicky’s illustrations are again, 100% spot on for this story. We collaborate effortlessly but this time there was little involvement or back and forth necessary, possibly because this is our third book together and I have immense and implicit trust in her ability to ‘get’ my narrative intent.

What do you hope readers will take away from your stories?

I hope readers both young and old feel a genuine connection with my characters that transcends simple entertainment. I hope they are moved to feel and ponder on the experiences those characters endure and are better able to understand their own situations and the world around them because of their stories. And ultimately, to appreciate that everyone’s story matters.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it?

Not usually. If a particular narrative has too many road humps, I simply write around it, invite a bit of that precious ‘quiet’ time and wait for the solution to present itself. It always does. Walking my demanding dogs helps too. Never underestimate the cleansing, rejuvenating power of nature.

Is there an area of writing that you still find challenging?

Endings. And reaching them. So really, most areas! Honestly, though, when something ‘writes itself’, it’s awesome however without the challenge of the odd struggle, not only would my job be less interesting but my stories more pedestrian.

What are you working on at the moment?

There’s a second, Pippa picture book in the works for publication this year or next and I currently have a few other picture book scripts in various stages of development that I absolutely love.

What’s the best aspect of your creative life? —the worst?

Best: I get to learn something new each and every day. EVERY day. I love that.

Worst: Hmm, not having a functioning Time Turner necklace thingy like Hermione had.

How important is social media to you as an author?

I’ve known successful authors who lived without it but for sheer visibility and accessibility, I think it’s pretty vital. If nothing else, it gives creatives a chance to preen and self-pontificate a bit, right! SM does provide platforms to celebrate each tiny baby step forward too, which is important in this business as not all wins are colossal to begin with. The key is finding the platform you are most comfortable with and represents, ‘you’ the best, then be consistent.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

It takes decades to be an overnight success.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors?

It might take decades to be an overnight success. Persistence, patience and consistency are key.

In three words, how would you describe your writing?

Are you kidding? I can’t describe anything in three words! Here goes: mellifluous, satirical, pure-hearted.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life?

Stephen Fry. He’s like every Shakespearean play rolled into one; tragic, comic, historically brilliant and desperately poetic. He could tell me anything he wants; I’m sure I’d find it illuminating.

Now for a little light relief – If you were going to be stuck in a stalled lift for several hours who would you choose to share the experience with you and why?

Ryan Reynolds. Because I’d really like to visit Canada one day and I need to know more about Deadpool 3.

Book Byte

Leo lives with his monster-battling, world creating, children’s author mother, and has never known a father figure. So when his teacher announces Tell Us About Your Dad Day, Leo’s tummy flip-flops; he worries that he won’t have anything to present to his class. Then he remembers that he already knows someone cool, courageous and clever – someone who’s not his dad, but is his everything. A heart-warming celebration of families of all shapes and sizes that will resonate with millions of children.

Available from EK Books:

Or

Dimity Powell: https://dimitypowell.com/this-is-my-dad/ – signed copies

Amazon Books:

Boomerang Books:

Booktopia:

Dymocks Books:

Readings Books:

Barnes and Noble:

Indigo Books:  

This Is My Dad Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgWxDgJnHpY

 

Meet the Author: Penny Macoun

Penny’s top tip for aspiring authors: Don’t give up, enjoy the process and it will take as long as it takes.

Penny Macoun was born in Sydney, Australia. She has been writing since 1993 when her story about a funnel web spider was printed in a school newsletter.  Ever since, Penny has loved the ‘other worlds’ that words create, and hopes to continue to create these worlds for many years to come.  Rollo’s Wet Surprise is her second book. When she is not writing, teaching or editing, Penny dabbles in various forms of visual arts and enjoys being in the garden.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I enjoy creating the ‘other worlds’ you find in stories. It fills me with excitement to create something new. Words are my passion.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I am a trained Primary School teacher. Up until the pandemic I had been a casual teacher for eight years. When I decided to put a hold on teaching, I decided to follow my career dream of being an author.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? As a self-published author my toughest obstacle was learning all the things I had to do as a ‘publisher’ such as getting an ABN, how to purchase ISBNs and understanding the intricacies of getting files ready for producing a book.

How involved have you been in the development of your book/s? I have been involved every step of the way. This is why I decided to self-publish my books, because I wanted to be able to produce the book how I wanted it to be. I thought of the illustrations as I edited the stories, which meant I could give clear guidelines to the illustrator.

What’s the best aspect of your creative life? Being able to set my own working hours and have flexibility to do things during the day if I want to. Oh… and sleep in.

—the worst? Low income. I love what I do, but slow and few book sales makes the balance sheet a bit difficult to look at sometimes.

How has your childhood influenced you as a children’s author? I think my career as a teacher has influenced me as a children’s author, rather than my childhood. I was working on an adult murder mystery for many years but it was my experiences of reading to children in the classroom and using books to educate that made me begin to see that some of my stories could be turned into books for children.

How do you approach a new picture book project? Walk us through your creative process. Once you have an idea, what’s the next step? I don’t really set out to write a picture book. I write a story and as I write I am thinking if pictures can be attached to what I have written. Then I edit the story and create a storyboard to work on layout and illustration ideas. I then send the storyboard and the manuscript to the illustrator, who will begin on the artwork. They start by sending me character sketches and a black and white storyboard layout and then will add colour. We send ideas and illustrations back and forth until I give them the tick of completion. The illustrator then sends me print ready files to upload to Ingram Spark to create my book.

How much time do you spend on creating each picture book? Once I have written a story, I like to leave it alone for a few months before looking at it again and starting the editing process. I then will edit the story and send it to my friend, who is an editor. I also use another editor to have a non-biased look at it. After several reviews and the creation of the storyboard and illustration ideas, I give everything to the illustrator, who will usually take a couple of months. Therefore, I guess the whole process can take about six months minimum.

What are you working on at the moment? I have written a sequel to Gorkle, which was my first children’s book. Now that Rollo’s Wet Surprise is complete, I will begin editing it.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? Yes, I do experience writer’s block. Usually when I have to write something for the writing group I am in. To overcome it, I will either work on a different piece of writing or just do something that isn’t writing, so I can go back to it with a fresh view. Often a few hours or days away from the desk is enough to rejuvenate the writing juices.

What do you hope readers will take away from your stories? Enjoyment and the experience of learning something without even realising it. As an educator, I am always working to link books and my own stories to experiences or things children can learn from.

Is there any area of writing that you still find challenging? Writing chapter books for children. I would love to explore this area more. Five years ago I couldn’t even write a picture book and now I have published two, so there’s hope for me yet.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as an author? Take my time and don’t rush the process. I made this mistake with my first book, which meant there was a lot to fix by a designer before I could publish the book. Rollo’s Wet Surprise went a lot smoother.

How important is social media to you as an author? I find social media is important to get the word out about what I am doing professionally. I also regularly update my website. I find the engagements are becoming fewer as people become disillusioned with social media, which makes me wonder if people are looking at my posts anymore. However, I do feel that an author should use every method they can to spread the word about what they do; someone, somewhere will see the post and hopefully tell someone else and ultimately create a few book sales along the way.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? I don’t really remember ever being given advice but something has stuck with me. I was with my dad at a shop counter after I had been looking at the books on display. It was in a hospital convenience store. I said I wanted to be a published author with lots of books like Bryce Courtenay. My dad scoffed and didn’t think much of this as a career, but the shop attendant said there was no harm in trying. Now most days, Dad asks me if I’ve written another book.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Colourful. Educational. Fun.

Website: www.pennymacoun.com.au

If you look at the Rollo’s Wet Surprise page you will find links to all online stores that have this book. I also sell both of my books through my website.

BOOK BYTE

Rollo is a dog that loves to go to work with his owner, Jim, who is a builder. Jim and his team of builders have been working on a house that Rollo has enjoyed visiting because the family like to give him lots of pats and the garden is nice and big, so he has lots of places to explore.

One day, the builders are moving lots of big, heavy windows to a safe area. Rollo begins to explore this new part of the garden, and sniffs around.

While Rollo is exploring, he tries to walk on a surface that he thinks is hard. Unfortunately, the hard surface is a pool cover and Rollo finds himself falling into a large swimming pool. Jim helps him out and everyone thinks it is very funny, except for Rollo.

This book is ideal for teaching children about being safe around water and remembering to always close pool gates and never go near a pool without an adult.

Meet the Illustrator: Kym Langfield

It’s my special pleasure today to introduce Kym Langfield, the illustrator of my newest picture book, Solo Dan. Kym is a children’s illustrator, author and teacher. Her titles include Adventure Guide – Teddy Town (Picture book, The Book Company, 2014) and Just One Wish – Christmas Tales Anthology Three (Short story, Storm Cloud Publishing, 2018). She gained her diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books from The London Art College in 2016, and she has experience in editing and writing book reviews.

Kym has a passion for watercolour, and also enjoys combining pencil, ink and collage. She is a primary school teacher, specialising in literacy and visual arts. Kym also creates commissioned art on a casual basis.

Kym, How did you come to illustrate Solo Dan? I was sitting in McCafe of all places, enjoying a hot chocolate with my eldest daughter, when I received the best email from a lady called Jennifer Sharp, from Daisy Lane Publishing. One of her writers had noticed my artwork on social media and Jennifer asked if I’d be interested in illustrating a book for her. I was thrilled!

I was sent a couple of manuscripts to consider and I immediately felt a strong connection with Solo Dan. As a primary teacher, I feel very much for children who go through struggles in their lives. Reading Teena’s manuscript made me quite teary! Jennifer and I decided that Solo Dan seemed to be a natural fit for me.

What were some of the challenges in creating the illustrations? I wanted to make sure that the main character Dan looked consistent throughout the story, so I drew him in lots of different poses and positions.

Another challenge was drawing so many different types of characters, including toddlers, elderly people, guinea pigs and cats. I made sure that I looked at lots of different photos and examples of these character types (including photos of my own family members!) before designing my own!

Walk us through your creative process. Once you have an idea, what’s the next step? I often have an image come to my mind very quickly. Then I figure out how I’m going to draw it! I do lots of Google searches, take lots of photos, look at photos and books that I already have, until I’m satisfied that I can put the picture together.

I spend a lot of time sketching the picture and making lots of alterations/improvements until I feel that I have drawn it just right.

Finally, it’s time for the colour! I often use watercolour to apply a base coat to the picture. Sometimes I add an extra layer of paint, or I move onto coloured pencils to add further details and shading.

For Solo Dan, I learnt how to use Photoshop to add digital improvements, alterations and to add text to the illustrations as the final step.

How much time do you spend on creating each illustration? I tend to spend a couple of days sketching an illustration, a day or so adding the watercolour and another part of a day using the coloured pencils. Usually no more than a week.

Do you have a favourite medium? Yes, I love watercolour. The colours and the way the paint absorbs and mixes together is always a surprise! It can also be nerve racking too!

Is there any area of art that you find especially challenging? Adding the paint is always nerve racking because it’s like taking a risk or gamble every time I add colour! Will the paint behave the way I want it to? Will the colour palette look OK? Will the paint complement the picture or ruin it?

 

What’s next on your creative journey? Do you have any other picture books in the pipeline? I have been challenging myself to submit my work to a few illustration challenges currently happening with Australian groups/publishers.

Being September and a big fan of Christmas, I am already designing some new Christmas card designs, which I will sell via my social media pages. I’m gradually illustrating some early designs for a close family member who is an aspiring author. I’ve recently completed a few commissions which has been lovely. I also enjoy writing my own stories, so I will get around one day to illustrating one of my own stories!

What’s the best aspect of your creative life? As a busy mum and teacher, it’s really lovely to have a creative hobby/job just for myself. However being a creative person, I do love to bring creativity into my children’s life and into my classroom as often as possible! I really believe in making time for creativity every day.

—the worst? Wanting more time! It would be wonderful to have more hours/days/quiet time just for creativity.

Where do you draw your inspiration? Often my own children and the wonderful students I teach. I also find lots of inspiration in nature – both flora and fauna. I live at a quiet bay area, which is always an inspiration. I’m also inspired by touching stories that I hear, either in the news or in the lives of my family and friends.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an illustrator? That the digital side of illustration is just as important as creating the illustrations traditionally. It is really handy if you know how to use programs like Photoshop and to obtain skills in typography and book design.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? To draw daily and to get your work ‘out there’ on social media as much as possible.

What is your creative dream? To write and illustrate a book (books preferably!). I’d love to be involved in creating a Christmas book. I would love to dedicate more of my time to creating books and running art workshops eventually.

Now for a little light relief – If you were going to invite two special guests for lunch, who would they be and what would you serve them? It would have to be a high tea! Preferably a garden party setting. Lots of tea and cakes. As for the guests – this is too hard! If I stick to arty people, I’d love to invite illustrators I admire and hope that they share their tips and tricks with me! I’ll start with Anna Walker and Tania McCartney.

I think it would be lovely to share a high tea with yourself, Teena, and with our wonderful publisher, Jennifer Sharp!

That would be a treat, Kym. We will have to arrange that!

Kym’s top tip for aspiring illustrators: Make time each day to practise drawing, even if it’s for only ten minutes per day. It’s amazing how quickly your skills can improve by doing this. I also found that enrolling in an illustration course (I have a diploma in children’s book illustration) improved my skills and knowledge greatly.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Solo Dan

Written by Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Illustrated by Kym Langfield

 

Dan has never had a place to belong. He bounces from one home to another, like a ball no one can catch. He’s OK with that. Families can be too much trouble. His shadow is all the company he needs. Or is it?

Perhaps what he really wants is a forever home.

A story about hope, love and belonging.

Buy the book here: https://www.daisylanepublishing.com/product-page/solo-dan

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Creators: Bedtime Daddy

It takes a team to create a picture book and today it’s my pleasure to introduce the author and illustrator of Bedtime, Daddy! This quirky look at the nightly bedtime routine is sure to become a family favourite. First, a little about author Sharon Giltrow and illustrator Katrin Dreiling…

Sharon grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not writing, Sharon works with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Sharon was awarded the Paper Bird Fellowship in 2019. Her debut PB Bedtime, Daddy! was released in May 2020 through EK Books.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sharon_giltrow

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sharongiltrow1/?hl=en

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sharongiltrowwriter/

Katrin is a German-born language teacher but moved to Australia with her husband and three children and became an illustrator.

Katrin creates quirky illustrations that feature different media. Her first picture book The World’s Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington has been awarded Notable Book 2018 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and she also delivered illustrations for a highly successful video animation production on YouTube.

Katrin was awarded the Harper Collins Illustrators Showcase Award 2019 at the biannual SCBWI conference in Sydney. She is represented by Essie White at Storm Literary Agency.

Katrin also teaches art to children twice a week and conducts illustration workshops for both adults and children. She also loves to spend time with her family, writing quirky stories and walking her Golden Retriever Loki.

https://www.katrindreiling.com/

https://www.instagram.com/katrinartworks/

Congratulations to you both on the release of this fun story about bedtime. Sharon, I’m guessing the story was inspired by your own parenting experiences. Tell us a little about your writing process and how the story came to be published.

My story Bedtime, Daddy! is based on my real-life parenting experiences and my inspiration for writing came from my family. All the excuses that little bear uses are excuses my children have used to postpone bedtime over the past 13 years.

My writing process starts with me brainstorming the idea, researching the idea, mapping out the narrative ARC then writing the first draft. After I am happy with the first draft, I send it off to my critique group. Once everyone has critiqued the story, I take everyone’s suggestions, go through them page by page and comment by comment and then incorporate the ones that ring true. Then I let the story sit for a couple of months, then re-visit, revise it again, work out page turns and when I am happy submit it to publishers.

For Bedtime, Daddy! I wrote the first draft in June 2017. After numerous revisions I submitted the story to EK Books in June 2018. I received an email from two weeks later and signed the publishing deal two months later. EK Books asked Katrin Dreiling to illustrate the book.

Katrin, what was your response on first reading Sharon’s manuscript? Did the story immediately conjure images for you? Please share a little about your process in illustrating the book. How collaborative was it?

Thank you for having me, Teena! When I first read Sharon’s manuscript I had so much fun and straight away the feeling this would be a great project. I am a mum of three teenagers who never enjoyed and never will enjoy going to bed and still find every excuse in the book to avoid it so the theme definitely hit home. Hence I put a lot of my children’s face expressions and body language when they were little into the illustrating process.

Sharon, has the book been illustrated the way you envisioned it would be when you wrote it?

That is a very interesting question. When I wrote my book, I pictured the characters as people. A daddy and a child, although I hadn’t pictured the child as a boy or a girl. EK Books asked Katrin to illustrate people as well as bears for the characters and they shared Katrin’s illustrations with me. I was still picturing the characters as people, however the very wise Anouska Jones, EK Books editor, suggested that we go with the bear characters as they would have more worldwide appeal. I trusted Anouska as she had a lot more publishing experience than me. So, the characters are bears and they are perfect and I love them dearly.

Do you have a favourite part of Bedtime Daddy?

S. This is a very hard question as I have many favourite parts, but if I had to choose just one it would be the part where Daddy bear is wearing his favourite dinosaur pyjamas on his head.

K. I think I like the part where Little Bear puts Daddy to bed the first time and gives him a kiss best because to me it symbolises little children’s sweet determination and innocence when they copy grown up behavior and try to be responsible parents. It’s a beautiful age.

What do you hope readers will take away from the experience of reading this book?

S. That children and parents will enjoy the book as they laugh together over the antics of cheeky daddy bear going to bed.

K. For parents it will be nice to be reaffirmed that this bedtime pattern is universal and maybe something to embrace rather than dreaded? Kids grow up so quickly but that’s easy to forget when you are busy and tired. For kids it will be pure fun to see Daddy being put in a child’s position – what can be better? 😊

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

S. My creative inspiration comes from real life and reading picture books.

K. I work a lot with children when I give art classes or spend time with my own kids and I am always amazed at their own unique creativity. Other than that I love to look at other illustrators’ work and find inspiration.

 How has your childhood influenced you as a children’s books creator?

S. My love of books as a child influenced my love of writing.

K. Growing up in Germany, you spend a lot of time indoors especially during the colder months. I listened to many audio plays during that time and would just draw and paint whatever and however I wanted. There were no rules and I felt free in mind and on paper.

 What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published?

S. Finding a publisher that loved Bedtime, Daddy! and believed in the story as much as I did.

K. Probably realising that I need to be more patient and that these things rarely happen overnight.

What’s the best aspect of your creative life?

S. Creating something out of an idea. Taking an idea and making it into a story. Turning a blank page into a story. Sharing that story with other writers and readers.

K. I work from home in a lovely, small studio guarded by my massive dog and I can schedule my day exactly like I want it. I also love to be able to express myself creatively and hopefully touch children’s lives with my work.

 —the worst?

S. Wondering if publishers are going to publish it and then if readers are going to enjoy it.

K. An increasingly high chocolate consumption…

 What would you do differently if you were starting out now in this industry? What do you wish you’d known?

S. Try and picture how the story is going to look and read as a book.

K. I’d definitely be more patient. I think…I hope…

 What’s the best advice you were ever given?

S. Just write! Get that first draft down on paper. Also read lots of books.

K. A good friend of mine who also happens to be a very successful illustrator once told me to keep busy and not to think about the getting published aspect too much. It will happen – that is ultimately true because you are honing your craft this way minus the worrying.

 What’s your top tip for aspiring children’s books creators?

S. Make time to write. Even if it is just for 15 minutes at a time. Use what time you have and write.

K. Keep busy 😊

How important is social media to you?

S. Social media is very important to me. It has allowed me to reach out to readers and other writers from all around the world.

K. It is very important and resulted in several contracts for me. It can be a bit distracting or just plain “too much” sometimes and that’s usually when I take a break or keep a bit more quiet. I try to keep it always running in the background, though.

 Is there a favourite childhood book that has influenced you creatively?

S. Are You My Mother? By PD Eastman I read and re-read it as a child over and over again.

K. Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking with the fabulous ink illustrations by Rolf Rettich in the 1987 edition.

BOOK BYTE

Bedtime, Daddy!

Written by Sharon Giltrow

Illustrated by Katrin Dreiling

Putting Daddy to bed can be hard work. Especially when he starts crying! This story will show you how to wrestle your daddy into his pyjamas and read just one more bedtime story. ‘I’m thirrrrrrrrssssssty,’ says Daddy. ‘I need to poop … I’m hungry … But I’ll miss you,’ he says, while he looks at you with cutie eyes. You’ll have to battle the bedtime excuses and use go-away monster spray until Daddy finally goes to sleep. Bedtime can be a mission for many, but with these gorgeous illustrations of a little bear and his dad, this is the perfect role-reversal bedtime story to help put any fussy child to bed in a fun and positive way. Full of heart and humour, Bedtime, Daddy! is for anyone who wants to try and put a grown-up to bed.

Buy the book here.

 

Meet the Creators: Vikki Conley and Penelope Pratley

One of the loveliest aspects of my writing life is connecting with other children’s book creators and sharing the excitement of a new story finding its way to young readers. This week I’m chatting with Vikki Conley and Penelope Pratley about their creative life and their beautiful picture book, Ella and Mrs Gooseberry.

Congratulations to you both on the release of this warm-hearted story about Ella’s quest to find out what love looks like and how to help her next door neighbour find it again. It brought a smile to my day and I’m sure it will become a favourite with families.

Penelope, what was your response on first reading Vikki’s manuscript?  My first response to a manuscript is always to draw a few quick sketches as I read the story and see how the characters present themselves.

Did the story immediately conjure images for you? Immediately I knew that the images where the characters explain ‘What love looks like’ would use the colours of the rainbow in the background which would lead to a rainbow of colour as Mrs Gooseberry danced in her kitchen. I also really wanted to include the ‘floating’ elements to represent the magic feeling that is love.

Please share a little about your process in illustrating the book. How collaborative was it?  As an illustrator I complete a storyboard that is then sent to the publisher. The art director and editor then provide feedback on placement and any early changes that may need to occur. Then I complete a set of ‘good copy’ drawings that are sent back to the publisher and shared with the author. From there the publisher provides me with any further changes before I commence the final illustrations using pencil and watercolour paint.

Vikki, has the book been illustrated the way you envisioned it would be when you wrote it?  When I write, I visualise scenes, not necessarily exact color or style. However, I always hoped that the story would be in soft watercolor with gentle characters and warm colors. Penelope has done just this with her beautiful illustrations. So I think the answer is yes!

Do you have a favourite part of Ella and Mrs Gooseberry?

V. I love the floating images that represent each character’s wonder and response to the question, “What does love look like?” I was thrilled when I saw Penelope had conceived this concept for the story. It added visual excitement and supported the story in such a original way.

P. It’s so hard to choose just one part! I’m particularly fond of the ‘love looks like’ pages – especially the ‘grandma’ page as it’s based on my beautiful mother-in-law. I also love the small story of the soccer ball getting stuck in Mrs Gooseberry’s front yard that we later see Mrs Gooseberry kicking happily.

What do you hope readers will take away from the experience of reading this book?

V. That they will be encouraged to wonder. That they will explore the idea of love with their family. That they will consider how others feel. That they will feel warm inside like an apple pie!

P. I hope readers will appreciate the importance of community and will value that love comes in many different forms and that a child’s solution to a problem comes from the heart.

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

V. In so many places. In particular, I expose myself to a lot of art and wilderness. I read widely. As a treat, I try to get to galleries and performances. A podcast, audio book or music is often playing in my car, or while I cook dinner. I walk among trees and along rivers several times a week. I then try to notice the small things in life – sounds, body language, light, movement, colors. Diverse experiences are also good for my creative juices – travel, food, climbing mountains, trying new things regularly.

P. Well Vikki’s beautiful story obviously, my family and friends and ‘Olive’ who was an elderly blind lady I used to read to after meeting her on the bus home after school. I would spend my Sunday afternoons walking to her house and reading her The Secret Garden and many classic tales.

How has your childhood influenced you as a children’s books creator?

V. Enormously. I grew up on a farm nestled in between the mountains, rainforest, the ocean and a national park. Animals, the natural world and adventure left a lasting imprint on my mind and soul. I have memories of doing backflips down sand dunes and spotting kangaroos hopping along the beach on remote islands, body painting myself with white clay found in river streams, making daisy chains for the orphan lambs that we reared by bottle, and eating icecream with mulberries picked straight from the tree. I still feel, smell and smile about all of these memories. They inspire my writing every day.

P. I was very ill as a child and still suffer from a range of chronic autoimmune conditions. So books and art have always kept me company. When I returned to school in grade two after a long stint in hospital our class was reading Possum Magic. The accompanying activity was to recreate one of Julie Vivas’ stunning watercolour illustrations. That moment was completely magic for me. I was not a great reader until early high school but would spend hours listening to stories on cassette tape and poring over picture books. My Nan in particular encouraged my love of art, always providing a steady stream of paper and materials to keep me company while I was unable to attend school. Art and creativity have always had a consistent presence in my life.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published?

V. Finding space in my life to just keep writing.

P. Believing that I could. Because it doesn’t matter how many people tell you can do something until you believe it yourself.

What’s the best aspect of your creative life?

V. Working with other creators who bring their own imagination and flair to a project. That sweet spot where story meets illustration is like honey on crumpets!

P. Oh my goodness – there are SO many! I suppose the best one is I get to do what I love every day and I am still available to be a mum to my two beautiful children.

—the worst?

V. Having to keep so many multiple projects and jobs on the go in order to be able to afford crumpets.

P. Time! I never seem to have enough of it and I spend vast amounts of time alone. Sometimes it would be great to have someone to bounce ideas off as I’m creating.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now in this industry? What do you wish you’d known?

V. I would have reworked my early manuscripts for longer before I started submitting. Perhaps done my Australian Writers’ Centre Picture Book course sooner – it helped me take a giant leap.

P. I think the only thing I would do differently is to have started sooner.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

V. Just keep writing.

P. Do all things with excellence.

What’s your top tip for aspiring children’s books creators?

V. Just keep writing. But also seek opportunities to improve eg a mentor, a course, a writer’s group.

P. Put your work out there and put time in to hone your craft with daily repeated practice.

How important is social media to you?

V. I used to be slightly afraid, almost opposed to social media. However, I now embrace it. It’s helped me connect with many creators and professionals in the industry. It’s also allowed others to share my journey and support me along the way.

P. Not overly important as far as self promotion but super important for the beautiful friendships and for the advice of fellow illustrators and writers who are so generous with their time and knowledge.

Is there a favourite childhood book that has influenced you creatively?

V. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton because it is pure bliss and wonder. And also The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth for its fun and cheekiness. How can you ever forget that line…? “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man.”

P. Ha! I can’t possibly only share one. Possum Magic – Mem Fox, Let’s Play – Marie Hall Ets, Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams, The Little Matchstick Girl – Hans Christian Anderson, and The Little Green Road To Fairyland- Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.

Vikki Conley. Photo: Rachel Winton Photography

Vikki Conley is one of the most prolific emerging children’s authors, with seven picture books being released within the next two years. She is a writer, book reviewer and intrepid adventurer. She has worked as a professional writer and marketer, with diverse communities in Africa, Asia and Australia, for over 20 years.

Vikki has been short-listed, long-listed and placed in competitions including Jackie Hosking’s Poetry For Kids (2019), the CYA Competition (2018 & 2019) and the Charlotte Waring Barton Award (2017). Vikki has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and has completed two children’s picture book courses (Writers Victoria and the Australian Writers’ Centre).

To find out more about Vikki, visit https://www.vikkiconley.com/

Penelope Pratley

Penelope Pratley is an emerging illustrator, writer and educator living in NSW, Australia. The first picture book she illustrated was published in 2018. With an aim to grow hearts she uses watercolour, ink, pencil and mixed media. Penelope always had a BIG dream to write and illustrate quality books and inspire children to read. When she’s not working in her garden studio or munching chocolate freckles, you’ll find her at the back of the local bookshop in the children’s section. Penelope has illustrated two picture books published in 2019 and is excited to be illustrating more for publication in 2020. To find out more about Penelope, visit https://www.penelopesnest.com/

About Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Grumpy old Mrs Gooseberry from next door has lost her love. ‘I didn’t know you could lose love,’ says Ella. So she begins her quest to find out what love looks like and how she can help Mrs Gooseberry to rediscover it. Her mother says love is like home-cooked pie. Her teacher says it’s like lanterns in the night. Perhaps love might look like a little kitten. Ella and Mrs Gooseberry is a heart-warming picture book about a child’s understanding of love, selfless giving and how it makes you feel.

It is available from www.ekbooks.org and wherever good books are sold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Sonia Bestulic

The spotlight this week is on a delightful new picture book about music and noisy play and it’s my pleasure to welcome author Sonia Bestulic, who stopped in during her celebratory book tour to chat about her writing life.

Sonia was born and grew up in Sydney, Australia, enjoying a childhood filled with wonderful books, a passion for writing, and musically entwined, having played the violin until her late teens, including performances at the
Sydney Opera House. Sonia is founder of Talking Heads Speech Pathology, the well-known, reputable Sydney-based clinics established in 2006. A long-term advocate for children’s learning and literacy, Sonia continues to write and speak when it comes to all things children.

You can find out more about Sonia at her website and on Facebook.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write to create connection. Books are such a powerful and personal mode of connection, and with children’s picture books there is a beautiful layer of shared experience that occurs with the child and the reader (who is often a parent/ carer or educator). I consider myself and other authors as facilitators of connection, which is both humbling and amazing.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration? Very much from my personal experiences (with my own children and extended family), and professional life experiences working closely with children and families. Generally I enjoy observing life- the people, the places, and nature.

Where do you slot in time to write around your family commitments and career? Whenever I can – this is an ongoing challenge for me! Generally I do enjoy writing during early mornings and evening time when the children are asleep.

Reece Give me some Peace is a wonderful picture book about music and noisy play. It’s a delight and brought a smile to my day. It also reminded me of the precious little peace and quiet parents get to enjoy when children are young. Is the story inspired by personal experience?

Absolutely! I wrote Reece Give Me Some Peace! in the period of my life when my three young children were two, three and four years old at the time. Life was certainly hectic, and there was always activity happening. Having three children so close in age brought with it a strong reminder to live in the moment and be playful. Reece Give Me Some Peace! reflects that, as well as the difficulties parents often experience, in trying to enjoy moments of peace and quiet in a noisy child inhabited household.

How does your knowledge as a speech and language pathologist influence you as a children’s author? My knowledge as a Speech & Language Pathologist has a massive influence on my writing. I work so heavily to support and further develop children’s oral language skills and readiness to read, spell and write; and so I look to incorporate language features and themes that will create a rich and engaging language experience for children.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Patience and perseverance in having my voice heard in a busy and competitive industry.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations?

The development of the book has been a fantastic journey that I have certainly been involved in. I had welcome opportunities to provide feedback and collaborate with regards to the cover and overall illustrations; and initially was able to provide an illustrator’s brief, which allowed me to communicate the strong visual I had in my mind when writing the text.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The avenue for creative freedom and expression.

—the worst? Can be a challenge making the time to do as much writing as I would like!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Set more dedicated writing time in my daily routine – this is still a current goal. Step out of my comfort zone sooner and proactively network.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Get ready to be extremely patient!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Don’t evaluate your manuscripts based on whether a publisher takes them up or not.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Keep writing, get feedback, keep submitting, network.

How important is social media to you as an author? I have to say, being comfortable using social media has been a bit of a journey for me. I have always preferred a more quiet life on social media; however I quickly realised the importance and relevance of connecting to an audience through social media – it really is an avenue that allows an author to effectively engage others in sharing their author journey, book travels, and just get to know them as a person overall. I certainly had to step out of my comfort zone!

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? By taking a mind break and doing something different. I try to be very clear on what specific obstacle I am facing/having difficulty with, and then I move on to a different task, as often ideas and solutions flow more easily when I am not overly focused on the task at hand. Taking a walk, sitting quietly observing nature and even doing household tasks allows my mind to wander and work through that block and provide me with at least the very next step to take.

Do you have another book in the pipeline? I sure do; I have another children’s picture book in the making at present; and it is due to be published with Big Sky Publishing mid-2019. Nancy Bevington is once again the illustrator, and it is looking beautifully amazing so far.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? A constant evolution.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? It would definitely by Dr Seuss! I would love to know as much as possible – his inspiration, his typical day, his toughest challenges in the industry, his tips and strategies, his way of organising his great ideas.

BOOK BYTE

Reece Give Me Some Peace

Written by Sonia Bestulic, illustrated by Nancy Bevington

A fun-loving book about the wonderful world of music and of noisy play!

Reece is a very cheeky, curious young boy who loves making NOISE. Today he’s making music. There are lots of interesting clangs, bangs and thumps coming from his room as his playing gets more and more vigorous. His mother’s requests for him to be quieter only seem to make him louder and louder. As his exuberance for his playing grows, so does his mother’s exasperation! Will she ever get any peace?

The simple rhythmic text combined with delightful illustrations remind us of the power of learning through play and exploration. Kids will love making the lively sounds, and parents and carers will relate to the challenge of being able to enjoy some quiet; especially when there are instruments at play!

The book is available from book retailers and also from the publisher here

You can find out more about Sonia and her book by following the blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the direct links:

Monday Sep 3 – Sunday Sep 16 www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday Sep 3 mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com

Tuesday Sep 4 educateempower.com.au

Wednesday Sep 5 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Thursday Sep 6 kelliebyrnes.com

Monday Sep 10 sharingyourstory.com.au

Tuesday Sep 11 telltalestome.wordpress.com

Wednesday Sep 12 missielovesbooks.com

Thursday Sep 13 readingtime.com.au

Friday Sep 14 readilearn.com.au

Just Write For Kids & Books On Tour www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour www.facebook.com/booksontouraus www.twitter.com/booksontour_aus www.instagram.com/booksontour_aus

Meet the Author/Illustrator: Anne Helen Donnelly

It’s always a celebration when a new picture book becomes available for young readers and today it’s my pleasure to welcome Anne Helen Donnelly as part of her online book tour for Ori’s Clean-up, latest in her Ori the Octopus series.

Anne lives in Sydney with her husband and her two young children. She has taught dance, been an entertainer at children’s parties, and she reads and teaches art and craft to children. She paints children’s canvasses and makes greeting cards.

Anne has been encouraged to share her story-telling, her illustrations and her creativity, resulting in her Ori the Octopus series. The first book Ori the Octopus was closely followed by Ori’s Christmas, both released in 2017. In 2018 Anne is combining another of her passions, care of the environment, in her third book Ori’s Clean-up, released this month.

I asked Anne about her creative life…

What’s the best aspect of your creative life? Getting out doing readings and workshops with children.

—the worst? I have been trying to revamp my website for two months now, this would have to be top of my list right now.

Where do you draw the inspiration for your picture books? For my current picture book, the environment and its care has always been a passion for me. Otherwise, from everywhere/anywhere. I can think in pictures, so I may see something that sparks an idea.

How has your background in dance and being an entertainer at children’s parties influenced you as an author/illustrator? The dancing has helped me as I have had to capture the attention of children and motivate them. Teaching 20 four and five-year-old boys teamwork in a dance troupe is a tough gig. The entertaining is the same. You use anything that works; comedy, magic, games and mostly getting them involved. And you learn not to do one thing for very long and to mix it up.

How do you approach a new picture book project? Walk us through your creative process. Once you have an idea, what’s the next step? Like most writers, an idea usually has to sit and ‘cook’ until it’s ready to be told. Then I write the first draft, then many, many redrafts with usually more than one critique and assessment.

What are you working on at the moment? I am working on promoting my new book. I just completed four events up in Port Macquarie and have some 11+ events coming up this year.

Also, as mentioned earlier, I am revamping my website while ‘cooking’ another picture book manuscript or two.

How much time do you spend on creating each picture book? I assume this means after the manuscript has ‘baked’? It varies, starting at eight months.

What do you hope readers will take away from your stories? An enjoyable story, lovely pictures and a message. My current book has a clear message of taking care of our environment, regardless of how young you are.

Is there any area of art or writing that you still find challenging? We are all always improving so I like to think that my manuscripts in two to three years’ time will be better than what I am writing now. Ditto for illustrating, but I do find drawing hands challenging.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I would say what is my toughest obstacle now as an independent publisher is competing with trade published books for promotion/sales and shelf space.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing and illustrating children’s books? I would still be involved with children in a voluntary manner in between a regular job like I used to be. My last university qualifications mean, prior to entering the Kid Lit world, I was a health manager. I used to manage a Cancer Care Centre across two hospitals. It was a generalist management role; budgets, doctors and other health workforce, patients, service delivery, accreditations, complaints, improvements etc – the whole works.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as an author/illustrator? Network earlier on.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become a picture book creator? Some more facts about the size of the Australian market and the common obstacles. I probably would have still continued anyway, I like to try things. You only live once!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? My first editor helped me with my writing by saying I had some $5 words in my manuscript. Meaning, some of my vocabulary was aimed too high for my intended readership.

Now for a little light relief – If you were going to be stuck in a stalled lift for several hours who would you choose to share the experience with you and why? Tough one. I really don’t know. My mum’s uncle was an amazing man. He was an interpreter in the British forces in Malta. He spoke five languages perfectly, down to the accents. I only got to meet him twice before he died, and I so enjoyed listening to him and talking with him. He felt like a kindred soul, and so down to earth. It would have been wonderful to have more time with him.

Of course, I also had to ask for Anne’s top tip for aspiring author/illustrators. It’s good advice:

Do a good picture book writing course and get to as many pitching sessions and manuscript assessments as you can.

BOOK BYTE

Ori the Octopus and his friends have left their rubbish everywhere. They tidy up, but it doesn’t work. To keep their home clean and healthy, they need to do something different, something better.

Buy the book at Booktopia general site and bookstores and on Anne’s website annehelendonnelly.com

Anne has been out and about chatting about her new book as part of the launch celebrations organised by Books on Tour. Here’s where to find her other book stops…

 

 

 

 

 

Monday July 30 – Friday August 3

www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday July 30

educateempower.com.au

Tuesday July 31

maureeneppen.com

Wednesday August 1

missielovesbooks.com

Meet the Author: Kate Simpson

It’s always an occasion for celebration when a new book is sent out into the world and today it’s my pleasure to introduce Kate Simpson, whose picture book Finding Granny is set to touch the hearts of young readers and their families. Kate’s doing a Blog Tour this week and full details follow our chat…

Kate  is a picture book author and co-host of the children’s book podcast One More Page. Kate’s debut picture book Finding Granny, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones, tells the story of a small girl whose world is turned on its head when her beloved grandmother suffers a stroke. As well as being an author, Kate is also one third of the children’s book podcast One More Page, which features guest interviews, book reviews and giveaways, as well as a kid-centric segment called Kids Capers. Find out more about Kate at www.katesimpsonbooks.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesimpsonbooks/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ksimpsonbooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18072918.Kate_Simpson

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I love it. I didn’t discover writing until I was in my thirties, but now that I’ve found it, I wouldn’t be without it. I’m going to go a little bit Jerry Maguire and say that it completes me.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Well, from a financial point of view, writing is definitely the smallest part of what I do. I trained as a chemical engineer and in my day job I supervise asset upgrade works at two water treatment plants and a water recycling plant south of Sydney.

I guess if I wasn’t a writer as well as an engineer, I’d watch a whole lot more TV, sleep more and perhaps find more time to catch up with friends. But it’s all worth it!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I was quite fortunate in that my first manuscript got picked up relatively quickly. By that, I don’t mean overnight, and I don’t mean the first manuscript I ever wrote,  but within a few years of starting this writing gig, I was lucky enough to have Finding Granny selected for publication.

Aside from good luck, the main thing that I think takes the credit for this is my fantastic critique group, who not only helped me get my manuscripts into shape but also gave me great tips about how to work towards publication.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? I had a reasonable amount of involvement. This is my first published book and from talking to other writers, I had the impression that I would have virtually no input into the selection of illustrator and into the content of the illustrations, but in fact the publisher did consult me. I had an opportunity to provide my opinion on the choice of illustrator and to provide feedback on the roughs. I understand that illustrating is the illustrator’s  job, not mine, so I hope Gwynne would agree that I wasn’t completely diva-ish about what I wanted to see in the illustrations.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I suppose the creative satisfaction. I just love the feeling when you’re trying to achieve something on the page and it just sort of clicks. As the A-Team would say: I love it when a plan comes together!

—the worst? Fitting it in. I’m finding it harder and harder to find time to write around the other commitments in my life. I would love to have just a day a week to dedicate to my writing, but alas, it’s not to be (at least at the moment).

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t think I’d do anything differently. The single best decision I made when I was starting out was to join my wonderful critique group at the NSW Writers’ Centre, and they have made everything easier and taught me a packet, as well as becoming my tribe.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told when I was seven years old that this was even possible. I’ve always loved books but I thought that I couldn’t be a writer because I didn’t have any ideas. The thing I’ve learned is that for many of us, ideas don’t just fall from the sky. We need to go searching for them, cultivate them and sometimes just get out a bit of butcher’s paper and some permanent markers and brainstorm them! If anyone is struggling with story ideas, I’d strongly suggest trying Tara Lazar’s Storystorm, a month-long brainstorming challenge held in January, with the goal of coming up with 30 story ideas in 31 days. When you stop trying to find the perfect idea and just focus on coming up with as many ideas as you can, it’s amazing how the creative juices start flowing and how many of the ideas you have turn out to be real gems. There’s a wonderful quote from Linus Pauling that really sums this up: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”

What’s the best advice you were ever given? This is a long game. It’s unlikely to happen overnight and even if it does, it’s unlikely to make you a fortune or even allow you to quit your day job. You must be doing it because you love it. There is no other rational reason.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Well, I’ve probably made it clear already that my top tip is to join a critique group (preferably an awesome one, like the one I was fortunate enough to join). But since I’ve more or less covered that, I’ll add a second one: Don’t get caught up comparing yourself to other people. This is pretty basic life advice but it goes double for authors. Writing is not always a meritocracy. There is a lot of luck involved in whose work gets published and, once published, in whose work gets noticed. If news stories about overnight successes get you inspired, then by all means pay attention, but if you find yourself turning green with envy, it’s time to switch to another channel.

How important is social media to you as an author? I’m going to be honest and say I don’t know. Everyone advises you to have a strong social media presence and I do have a Twitter profile as an author and an author Facebook page, as well as a podcast, but as to how all that helps you to progress your career, I really don’t know. The one thing I do love is the wonderful writing community I’ve found through social media. Groups like Just Write for Kids and Jen Storer’s The Duck Pond are fantastic for creating a virtual tribe who understand what you’re doing and are interested in hearing you yabber on about kids’ books non-stop. Twitter can feel like a pretty negative place sometimes, but post a good news story about winning a writing competition or finishing a manuscript or having a book coming out, and watch how happy people are to celebrate with you.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? I absolutely experience writer’s block. More often than not when I sit down to write I really struggle to get the words flowing. One thing that I find often works for me to overcome this is to sit down with a pile of books that I love and that are in a similar vein to what I’m trying to write and I read a whole bunch of them in a row so that I am filled with the emotion that I’m trying to create on the page. Reading books I love also reminds me of why I love to write and gets me excited about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

How do you deal with rejection? With difficulty. Look, nobody likes rejection, right? But to be honest, I actually find the fear of rejection often to be worse than the rejection itself. The fear is what puts me off submitting my manuscripts, or even showing them to people whose opinion I respect.

One thing that I find helpful in dealing with rejections is to go on Amazon or Goodreads, find one of my favourite books and read the one-star reviews for that book. Even awesome books are not for everyone.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Varied, emotive, intimate.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? It’s funny you should ask. I’m lucky enough to have this opportunity roughly once a month on my children’s book podcast One More Page. I started working on One More Page almost a year ago with friends and fellow kidlit lovers Nat Amoore and Liz Ledden and since then I’ve had the privilege of knocking on doors and asking people if they would be willing to be interviewed for the podcast. Mostly, this is just an excuse for me to sit down and chat to some really awesome people about their books, craft and all the side stuff that goes along with writing. We’ve been on air since February and in that time I’ve interviewed authors, illustrators, editors and publishers including Jess Walton, Leigh Hobbs, Sue Whiting, Nicky Johnston and Anna McFarlane. It’s a dream come true!

BOOK BYTE

When Edie’s beloved Granny suffers a stroke, Edie feels as if she’s lost her – but the Granny she loves is still there. Finding Granny is a heart-warming story of changing relationships and the bond between children and grandparents. It’s also a sensitive exploration of coping with illness and disability that will offer children much-needed comfort.

You can purchase Finding Granny at https://www.booktopia.com.au/finding-granny-kate-simpson/prod9781925335699.html

Check out the rest of the links for the Finding Granny book tour:

Sunday July 1 – Saturday July 7 www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday July 2 sharingyourstory.com.au

Tuesday July 3 intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

Wednesday July 4 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Thursday July 5 readingtime.com.au

Friday July 6 brydiewright.com

Saturday July 7 whenigrowupiwannawriteakidsbook.blogspot.com.au

 For all enquiries to Books On Tour @ www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour

 

 

Meet the Author: Josey Hurley

Josey’s top tip for aspiring authors: Never give up and seize any opportunity – believe in the brilliance of your work.

Josey Hurley is a clinical psychologist who has worked in both educational and private settings. She loves stories – telling stories, reading stories and writing stories, that instil problem-solving skills, resilience and courage. Throughout her clinical work, she has seen the power and impact of words connecting to children’s lives by enabling them to feel safe in their world, manage their world, and to not feel alone.

She lives with her family on the South Coast of Western Australia.

Max the Mighty is her first children’s picture book.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I love words and the genesis of them and am enthralled by the magic that happens and the messages that can be conveyed when the words become sentences that burst with life and connect us to each other.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? My other two passions – working as a clinical psychologist and spending quality time in my art studio exploring the realms of pastels, acrylics and oils. I see both these areas equally as creative and I continue to be engaged with all three and feel very blessed that I am able to do so. And may it never stop!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Getting a rung on the board. Even though I have had ‘other’ items published (academic) this was different and more difficult.  When I met with publishers they were impressed, but I was unknown in this genre.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Yes, as it is about bringing the words alive and I have re-shined my negotiating skills. Finding a great Illustrator was essential and I have been very fortunate in finding the right match – which has resulted in a joyous journey.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Finding people that encourage and ‘get’ you.

—the worst? Editing – how many drafts?

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer?

I would hungrily search for more support networks, such as SCBWI through which I made contact with the talented Teena Raffa-Mulligan.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That it is a process that takes time and time and time and time – so you need stamina and perseverance.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Never give up.

 

 

BOOK BYTE

Max the Mighty

Written by Josey Hurley, Illustrated by Katherine Appleby

Max is a much-loved dog with a great big problem: his mum and dad love the beach, but Max is terrified of the ocean! This is a charming book about challenging your fears, and learning to have a great time in the process.

 

Links to Sales Sites and Author Website

Dennis Jones is the National Distributor – Angus and Robertson/Booktopia/The Nile/Fishpond/QBD/Abbeys/Paperbark Merchants/Little Steps plus others.

Website being developed.

Direct sales to:

Josey Hurley email: alps.1@bigpond.net.au

Katherine Appleby website

 

Meet the Author: Mark Greenwood

Mark’s top tip for authors: To write well is an ongoing process. Strive to learn and improve. Don’t be easily discouraged. Read with a writer’s eye. If you write about history, learn to balance reading for pleasure with research.

mark-photo

Mark Greenwood’s award-winning books examining history, myths and legends have been published and honoured internationally.

Simpson and His Donkey was a CBCA Honour Book and a USBBY Outstanding International Book. Jandamarra, illustrated by Terry Denton, was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature and the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards.

Mark often teams with his wife, illustrator Frané Lessac, to produce books that promote an understanding of multicultural issues, such as Drummer Boy of John John, Magic Boomerang, Outback Adventure, and Our Big Island. Their recent titles include The Mayflower and Midnight – the story of a light horse.

Mark’s latest picture book is Boomerang and Bat, illustrated by Terry Denton.

In 2017 he will celebrate the release of four middle grade chapter books in his new series of History Mysteries.

Find out more about Mark and his books:

http://www.markgreenwood.com.au
http://www.facebook.com/markgreenwoodauthor
http://www.instagram.com/markgreenwoodauthor

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I enjoy sharing stories.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Being published as a songwriter gave me the confidence to progress from writing lyrics to creating books for children. If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be making music for a living. I also enjoy collecting rocks, minerals and fossils. Perhaps I’d be a geologist or a paleontologist.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Starting out, knock backs from publishers were frustrating. Since then, I’ve learnt that publishing is a tough, competitive business and there are far more highs than lows when you persevere with stories you believe in.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? Many of my books are illustrated by my wife, Frané Lessac. I can visualise intuitively how she will paint a scene. With Jandamarra and Boomerang and Bat, I was happy to let Terry Denton’s art tell much of the story. To express what you have to say in fewer words is challenging but it makes the collaboration of text and art stronger. Having said that, I’ve never met Doug Holgate, the illustrator of my new History Mystery series…or Andrew McLean, the illustrator of a new picture book. I have faith in the publishers and the excellent reputation of the illustrators they’ve chosen.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I get to visit schools and speak at festivals and to spend time with other creative people. Through writing, I’ve been invited to many remote Indigenous communities. I particularly enjoy traveling to where my stories take place. Walking in the footsteps of my characters enriches me beyond writing a book.

—the worst? It took years of hard work, many rejections and hours of revising before my first book was published. Every writer has an impressive collection of rejections. They make us strong.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would make more time to read and write.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Being published once doesn’t make the next book any easier. Each new project requires that you work harder than the last one when you set high standards for your writing.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Persevere and be patient. Embrace the solitude of writing. Talk things through with people you trust. Seek out great editors. Be open to constructive feedback and change – ‘work on it’ can take stories in wonderful, unexpected directions.

What inspired your two new titles? The spark to write Diamond Jack came from a visit to the historical museum in Broome. I was curious about the town’s wartime history, and intrigued by one particular photograph. It showed five men beside a bullet-riddled aircraft. They’d been sent on a mission to locate a missing treasure of diamonds. One of the men in the photo was Diamond Jack. I began collecting information about him from libraries and archives. Researching history is like going on a journey of discovery. It helps me balance creative interpretation with historical authenticity. On the surface, the story of Diamond Jack is a remarkable wartime adventure and a tale of survival against the odds. Beneath the surface, it is an incredible true story of an endearing character, forced to confront the consequences of an amazing discovery.

The mysterious disappearance of Ludwig Leichhardt is one of Australia’s greatest unsolved mysteries. It has always fascinated me. Some time ago, I stumbled upon an article about a gold prospector, a teenage boy and a small relic, said to have once belonged to the explorer. I began researching – brushing away layers of time. The discovery of the relic was a story within a story. It was a possible clue to our most baffling history mystery – the fate of Ludwig Leichhardt and his expedition.
I’m interested in the many personalities who have contributed to our history. My intention in writing The Lost Explorer was to encourage an understanding and appreciation of the sacrifice made by people like Ludwig Leichhardt, who went forth into the unknown at a time when Australia’s interior was uncharted by Europeans. I hope these History Mysteries connect readers to the characters and their situations, so that the past lives and breathes. My aim is that these stories become a springboard for deeper study and learning.


BOOK BYTE

Delve into some of Australian history’s most baffling mysteries!

On January 30, the first two ‘History Mysteries’ in Mark’s new middle grade chapter book series will be published by Penguin Random House/ Puffin Books:

diamond-jackDiamond Jack

Paperback   ISBN 9780143309260

In March 1942, an allied aircraft prepares for a desperate midnight escape from Java, taking refugees to safety in Australia. Just before take-off, the pilot is entrusted with a mysterious, wax-sealed package. When the plane is shot down by the enemy and crash lands on the Kimberley coast, the package is forgotten – until a beachcomber stumbles across the find of a lifetime . . .

The book is available for pre-order here.

lost-explorerThe Lost Explorer

Paperback   ISBN 9780143309277

In 1848, the famous explorer Ludwig Leichhardt sets out on an epic journey. His aim is to cross Australia from east to west, but he never reaches his destination and no one from his expedition is ever seen again. Countless search parties look for the lost explorer but no trace is ever found – until a young boy is given an artefact with an incredible story . . .

The book is available for pre-order here