2016 has been a whirl, with so many highlights, as well as the challenge of balancing study, writing and work commitments.
With just a few tweaks left to finalise my PhD research (Crafting Animal Characters in Children’s Literature), I look forward to working on several new projects over summer and launching a new book in 2017, but first I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to the schools, festivals and libraries that hosted me in 2016. Here are some of the highlights:
The inaugural 7 Rooms 7 Stories Writers Festival in Busselton was fabulous and I’m thrilled to have been invited back in 2017. Boasting a sparkly new name ‘Between the Lines’ this festival is sponsored by Dymocks Busselton and will be held in March at Mary MacKillop College.
A few weeks after 7 stories, and further south, I enjoyed mixing with local creators and interstate visitors at Great Southern Grammar’s Literature Festival.
Meeting readers during school visits and returning to schools I’ve previously visited is especially rewarding. In the first half of the year that included St Stephen’s, St Mark’s and Lakeside SHS (Perth) as well as St Josephs College in Albany…
Travelling to Wickham in the Pilbara, celebrating Granny Grommet and Me being part of Better Beginnings Recommended Reads for 4s & 5s was fun.
So was revisiting NSW’s Riverina. Thank you Albury and Lavington Libraries for organising school visits last May.
Each Winter brings the excitement and anticipation of the SCBWI WA Rottnest Retreat. This year was as fabulous as ever, spending time reading, writing and workshopping with friends as well as being inspired by visiting legends Erica Wagner and Craig Smith. Thanks to the SCBWI organisers…
July brought the long-anticipated launch of The Shark Caller, a YA novel that was ‘in-production’ for about ten years. Some books take longer than others! To celebrate there were two launches; one at the Albany Surf Club and the other at Perth’s fabulous Aquarium (AQWA). Both were wonderful evenings.
Between these two launches, my sister, Karen and I went on a road trip/writers tour of Esperance and the Goldfields region where I enjoyed meeting students at Esperance SHS, Esperance Anglican Community School and Kalgoorlie’s John Paul College.
The second half of the year is when things get busy for children’s authors and 2016 was no exception. The excitement began with Albany Library and Penguin Random House helping to organise a Shark Caller Haiku Competition. The entries were delightful and I met with the winners to enjoy a milkshake meeting.
Then it was Bookweek. Thank you Iona, Newman, Mel Maria, PLC, Southlands Albany and Brighton Primary. As well as Rio Tinto for organising a full day trip to Paraburdoo …
Then in October (and November) it was time to celebrate Fremantle Press’s 40th birthday. What a fabulous milestone for an independent publisher!
In October I also enjoyed an amazing week in Bunbury and Busselton as part of The Literature Centre’s Talented Young Writers’ Programme facilitated by one of the Centre’s motivating Education Officers, Beck Blaxell. Each year the TYWP programme reaches hundreds of budding creators, giving them unique opportunities to develop their skills. It was a pleasure to work with these highly committed high school students.
One 2016 regret was having to cancel sessions at Bremer Bay Primary due to urgent family illness. Thankfully my Mum is now okay and I hope to visit Bremer early 2017.
So that was my 2016. Thank you again to all of the schools, festivals and libraries that hosted me this year. After the adventures above, my 2017 resolution was going to be to slow down and enjoy each moment… however with some exciting events coming up, this might be a challenge!
More about that in the next post. In the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Year!
The students (from Years 6-12) meet four times a year with a visiting author to hone their writing skills. We talked about developing ideas, plotting, character development and my PhD research topic ‘anthropomorphism’. Students shared their own ideas and writing drafts. I heard so many great stories and can happily report that the future of WA storytelling is in safe hands.
Thank you to all at The Lit Centre for inviting me to be part of this great program, to the schools, teachers and parents for supporting this investment in our future. And… a special shout-out to Beck who made sure everything ran smoothly, for being wonderful company and for introducing me to the delicious cabbage salad at Market Eating House (sounds weird, tastes great).
Thank you to all the wonderful students and teachers who hosted me for Bookweek. With schools ranging from inner-city Perth to Tom Price and Paraburdoo, this year’s theme certainly resonated with my travels …
‘Australia! Story Country’ was a fun theme and the 2016 displays seemed even better than usual. Granny Grommet and Me, Lighthouse Girl and The Kid whose Mum Kept Possums in her Bra worked particularly well with the Aussie theme.
Here are some of my favourite Bookweek photos.
Thanks again, Newman College, Mel Maria Catholic Primary, Paraburdoo Kindies, Tom Price Year 7, Presbyterian Ladies College and IONA Presentation College, Albany’s Australian Christian College (and next week Brighton Primary).
In addition to the amazing books that are shortlisted, here is a quick shout-out for Frane’ Lessac’s terrific new picture book, A is for Australia.
My favourite page is the Rottnest Island spread. With lots of fun facts, it’s a great Bookweek resource.
This year I’ll be at Newman College, Mel Maria Primary, Presbyterian Ladies College and Iona Presentation College for Bookweek. I’ll also be in Paraburdoo as part of Rio Tinto’s Groundbreaker Pilbara Exhibition. I’m looking forward to meeting hundreds of young readers and hearing all about their favourite Australian stories.
The pilot scheme began in 2004 with six WA libraries providing reading packs to the families of newborn babies. What a wonderful way to encourage a love of reading!
Since then, the program has grown and includes far flung communities from Wyndham to Esperance. Each year over 60,000 families receive a Better Beginnings reading pack. I’m honoured that Granny Grommet and Me, my picture book with illustrator, Karen Blair is one of the 30 recommended books for 4 and 5 year olds. And the cover image sits beside one of my all-time favourite stories, Harry the Dirty Dog.
Better Beginnings is sponsored by state and local government as well as Rio Tinto. This year, to commemorate 50 years since iron ore ship, Houn Maru left Dampier for Japan, Rio Tinto is facilitating the Groundbreaker Pilbara Tour.
Last week I travelled from Perth to Wickham in the Pilbara to help celebrate Rio’s ongoing link with Better Beginnings.
While I was there, I met lovely Pre-Primary to Year Two students from Wickham Primary. They were keen readers and we had fun sharing stories. I even met the son of one of the real Granny Grommets.
Before my sessions I squeezed in some sightseeing, with a quick trip to the old port of Cossack, the Burrup peninsula and a selfie with the wonderful Red Dog.
In August I will be visiting two other Pilbara communities as part of the Groundbreaker Tour. On 19th August I’ll be in Dampier and then on 22nd August I will travel to Paraburdoo. Thanks to the Rio Tinto organisers. I’m looking forward to meeting more Better Beginnings readers soon …
The K-Year 2 students at Gairdner Primary and their teachers are very talented artists. Look what they made after we read Granny Grommet and Me!
I love the way the budding illustrators mixed the bright colours with edacol dye. If you look closely you can see all sorts of sea creatures; saw fish, octopus, jellyfish, angelfish, whales and even leafy sea dragons… Thank you for inviting me into your classroom.