Uncategorized

Meet the writer – Robyn Osborne

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

 

Robyn Osborne

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 1st February 2016 – issue 572

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

From an early age I enjoyed reading, writing and creating fantasy worlds. My parents were both avid readers and encouraged my love of books. At the start of high school, my choice of authors such as Steinbeck, Orwell, Huxley and Tolkien got my creative juices flowing, much to the disbelief of my Grade 9 English teacher. After presenting her with a beautifully crafted story about an orphan wolf, I was accused of copying from a book. She couldn’t believe a 14 year old could have written so well. Although this happened many years ago, this unfair accusation still rankles and made me aware of the damage that unfeeling comments from teachers can do! Luckily, my Grade 12 English teacher was much more supportive and encouraging. Long years in the public service stifled my creative flame, but on my return to university in my thirties, I re-discovered my love of writing. I also made sure my wonderful Grade 12 English teacher received a complimentary copy of my very first published book.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I hate reading my writing aloud, especially to family and friends. I do recall giving some of my angst ridden teenage poems to the English teacher when I was in Grade 12. He must have seen some merit, as one was published in the Nambour High School Yearbook of 1976! I guess this counts as my very first piece of published writing, albeit unpaid.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

After completing my first junior manuscript about a boy who desperately wanted a dog, I sent it off to a number of publishers, who promptly responded with a negative, or didn’t respond at all. The record for the longest response time I received from a publisher was just over five years, which I have to say is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the decision was still no. I sat down, re-wrote the story as first person, cut out lots of the descriptive guff and re-submitted to Macmillan Education. To my surprise they said yes and D.O.G. was published in 2005.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I would describe myself as a children’s/YA author, however I have also written adult stories. There is certainly a canine theme running through my writing, and while my husband thinks it’s time to ditch the dog (figuratively speaking), my animal obsession is a big part of who I am.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

My published books are D.O.G., (2005, Macmillan). Next came Dog Logic: a pooch’s guide to dogs behaving badly, (Big Sky Publishing, 2010) which was co-pawthored by my clever canine companion Sox.  Dog Logic is a training manual with a twist – it is written from a dog’s point of view.  Sox continues his literary career as a columnist in the Kids Club section of Dog’s Life magazine and he also has his own Facebook page – which is remarkably clever of him, considering he moved on to the Rainbow Bridge in 2012 at the ripe old age of 14. My other dog, Snowy was not to be outdone and in November 2014 Midget Bones’ Diary was published by Puppy Care Education. Midget Bones’ Diary is a witty, winsome memoir and follows in the paw steps of Bridget Jones, with a touch of ‘Jackie’ Collins and a large dose of Lassie thrown in. 2014 was a big year for me, as my first picture books were also published; Going Fishing & Going Camping (Big Sky Publishing). Can I add that all these books were trade, not self-published, without sounding too elitist? I do get a little tired of people assuming I have gone down the self – publishing route, especially snooty book shop owners. I have also had short stories and articles published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Being my first published book, I have a soft spot for D.O.G. I also love the fact that my two beloved dogs, Sox and Snowy continue to live on through their respective books. My current dog Jack is keen to put claws to computer, so who knows what will come out of the Osborne household in the future.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I am happy to read just about anything, as long as it is well written. I do enjoy a good historical fiction.

Do you have a favourite author?

Where do I start? Bill Bryson’s humorous take on life always lifts my spirits. I also love Mary Renault’s Alexandra the Great trilogy, as well as the Arthurian books by Mary Stewart.  Also Hilary Mantel and Salman Rushdie…the list goes on.

Do you write full time?

Oh, what a joy to be a full time writer…and actually be able to afford to feed Jack the dog. No, I haven’t given up my day job (see below). I do recall a moment at one of my schools, when the Principal told me they were ordering a set of my (then) newly published novel, D.OG. I was feeling rather proud and pleased with myself, until I worked out the royalties from this sale would just about pay off my chocolate account at the school. I think it was then I realised that life as a full time writer wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

What are your other jobs?

I am a primary teacher and have recently gone into Special Education.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

I was lucky enough to be one of eight participants chosen nationally to attend QWC/Allen & Unwin’s Manuscript Development in 2011. I have also won awards in a number of writing competitions. In 2009 my picture book manuscript, ‘Going Fishing’ received a Highly Commended at the CYA (Children’s and Young Adult Writers And Illustrators Conference) in Brisbane. This is the story that has since been published, so the judges obviously had good taste. Interestingly, my other manuscript, ‘John’s Blanket’ won first place, but is as yet unpublished (but I live in hope).

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I am a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Qld Writers Centre (QWC).  I also subscribe to two excellent writing e-zines; Pass It On and Buzz Words.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I have run workshops at libraries, most recently in Brisbane for children during the Christmas holidays. After reading my two picture books, we got down to the business of unpacking what makes a narrative. The kids were very enthusiastic – right up until they had to put pencil to paper! I do think writing should be a fun activity, rather than a chore, so we continued with lots of oral discussions instead.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

The best way of contacting me is through my website Robyn Osborne

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

At our house, we are all a bit obsessive with our reading. Once a book is started, everyday life simply gets in the way of reading. Same thing applies for writing. When I’m in the writing zone, the real world seems to disappear.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

My website is Robyn Osborne

Sox ‘The Philosophical Pooch’ also allows me to use his Facebook page from time to time.

Writing

Meet the writer – Stephanie Campisi

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog. This takes time and I’m often running behind but from now on I’m hoping to keep this up to date.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go please meet….

 

Stephanie Campisi

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 1st February 2016 – issue 571

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

When I was first able to write, I think. That sounds a bit facetious, but I was that kid writing illustrated tomes throughout primary school and handing in novella-length manuscripts as part of English class. A shameless knock-off of a Tin Tin story involving detective dolphins was probably the highlight of my primary school writing efforts. I should probably apologise to Ms Ferguson for that.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

I actually sold the first short story I ever submitted, and I still have the (very small) uncashed cheque as a memento. I’ve since balanced out that initial success with hundreds of rejections, so that’s kept my ego in check.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

Everything. I have a bit of a Georges Perec bent in that I want to try my hand at every type of writing possible – I’ve written everything from picture books to novels to poetry to interactive fiction. Most things seem to come out with a bit of a fantastic twist and plenty of wordplay, so there’s that. Puns. Can puns be a genre?

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

On the strength of titles alone, Pebble Without a Cause is probably the winner. A pebble in a family of boulders feigns being a moon rock in order to stand out – with disastrous effects. I think you can do a lot working at the intersection of sad and silly, which is where my books tend to land.

Do you write full time?

In a sense. By day I’m a copywriter specialising in branding and identity projects, and with a particular interest in packaging copy. I’ve also worked on a lot of media tie-ins for big Hollywood properties that I’m not allowed to name, which has been a daunting but exciting experience. (If only the stuff with my name on it could sell so well!) It’s forced me to err on the side of brevity and to consider words as part of a larger whole – and of course to write with a particular impact or outcome in mind.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Early on in my writing career I was focusing mostly on short fiction for adults, and was shortlisted for a couple of awards – Aurealis and Ditmar best short story short-listings, and a Best New Talent shortlisting. I’ve also judged a couple of awards, including the John Marsden Short Story Award, the My Brother Jack Award and the Small Press Most Underrated Novel Award. A challenging but rewarding experience involving huge stacks of paper and marking rubrics!

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I’m a member of my local chapter of the SCBWI, and I’ve found it invaluable in keeping on top of industry news and in meeting like-minded authors. It can get lonely being hidden behind a screen all day!

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

I’ve recently moved from my native Melbourne to Portland, Oregon (which is basically Melbourne but half the size and on the other side of the world), so any Aussie visits or workshops are most likely to be conducted via Skype. Getting in touch with Sammy Bosch (Sammy@mightymedia.com) is probably the best way to arrange an in-person visit.

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Just to be true to yourself as a writer. I think my agent probably cries a little each time I submit a manuscript – each is less marketable than the previous one and unashamedly falls between genres – but a book takes so much time and energy that it doesn’t make sense to work on something that you’re not truly passionate about.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

Feel free to stop by my website at www.stephaniecampisi.com; if you like photos of coffee and tweets about etymology and Old English, you can follow me on Twitter at @stephcampisi.

Picturebooks · Publishing · Writing

Meet the writer – Spider Lee

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog. This takes time and I’m often running behind but from now on I’m hoping to keep this up to date.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go please meet….

 

Spider Lee

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 25th January 2016 – issue 570

When did you know that you were a writer?

Most creative people have been creative their whole lives, it’s something that grows inside you so it is hard to define a starting point. I did not come from a bookish environment and really only opened my eyes to reading when I became a parent myself. When I decided to become a writer, I googled myself and found that I already was a successful writer, or at least someone with the same name as me was. So my first task was deciding on a new name. Spider has been my nick name from a very young age, it’s easy to remember and works well with the primary age readers.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

Putting yourself ‘out there’ for others to judge & actively calling yourself ‘a writer’ takes a great deal of courage. I have learned that adults will be polite and encouraging regardless of what they really think but children are gut wrenchingly honest, both with their body language and their comments. When I first read Wobbly Boots to a classroom of children, I learned more in 10 minutes than a week of writing workshops … brutal and inspiring all at once!

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

In retrospect, the publication of my first two picture books, Wobbly Boots and The Hair Ball were bitter sweet. The years of rejection letters and the resulting self-doubt most emerging authors experience can make you vulnerable when it comes to signing your first contract. It’s not always easy to judge the integrity of others in the publishing industry or understand the dynamics of the whole process but I guess like most experiences in life, once bitten twice shy … it’s part of the journey.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I absolutely love writing middle grade fiction, particularly contemporary humour which will engage primary aged boys in the delights of getting lost in the adventure of a book. As a teacher I see so many boys disengaged from reading, you know the ones who just think that if they are holding a book you will be fooled into thinking they are reading! There is nothing more rewarding as a teacher than guiding those children to find books and authors that they grow to love.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I have been writing for about 8 years and have published poetry and two picture books so far, Wobbly Boots & The Hair Ball, but I am finding an easy connection to middle grade fiction, possibly because I am one of 12 children and as a teacher I am surrounded by this age group every day.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Wobbly Boots is dear to me because it deals with a young child’s emotional journey when the adults they love make poor choices. The concept was born out of witnessing the pain young children find themselves in and if this publication helps even one child make sense of their world and come to a place of healing and forgiveness then it was all worth it.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I would choose a middle grade novel over adult fiction any day. I enjoy the odd well written autobiography but when it comes to fiction, the mindset of a child is so much more fertile and receptive to unpredictable or unconventional plot lines. Maybe I’m just immature!

Do you have a favourite author?

Authors – Tim Winton for his beautifully complex characters, Shaun Tan for his ability to present such a fresh perspective, Julia Donaldson for her delightful rhyme and metre and Andy Griffiths for his wicked humour.

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

There are few ‘real’ modern day heroes these days but Andy Griffiths is definitely one. He is humble in his success and generous with his advice for fellow writers. An inspiration to so many children, Andy is living proof that a super-man needs neither height, muscles, fake tan or perfect hair to succeed in life and make the world a better place.

How do they encourage you?

By being willing to be accessible to fans and writers regardless of age or where you are on your writing journey.

Do you write full time?

I wish! I don’t believe the industry as a whole supports the concept of a full time writer, it’s just a romantic notion … a myth. Most writers have an alternate paid job, be it inside or outside the industry, for financial support or at the very least, a wage earning spouse.

What are your other jobs?

I teach primary aged children which enables me to be immersed on a daily basis in the language, emotions and interactions of children who are the same age as my characters. It provides me with a rich pool of ideas, a sounding board for plot lines and gives me instant feedback chapter by chapter.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

The Hair Ball was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards in 2014 and I have several manuscripts which placed very well in the CYA Conference Competition in the last couple of years.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

The ASA & SCBWI provide me with what I see as a safety net of professional advice and a broad range of opportunities to develop my craft.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

Workshops run by Sally Rippin, Karen Tayleur and Alison Lester were all memorable for the honest way they shared their writing journey as all of them have worked hard for the success they have achieved.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

contactspiderlee@gmail.com

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

I keep a reading journal and write down all my thoughts about a book as soon as I finish reading it. Publishing details, what worked and what didn’t, if I related to the characters and felt emotionally invested in the storyline. I reflected back though this when I am editing manuscripts to help me compare the calibre of my work to texts which publishers obviously felt were marketable.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

www.spiderlee.net.au
www.facebook.com.artbyspiderlee
https://www.facebook.com/kelly.hunter.1253
http://spiderlee.net.au/blog/

PASS IT ON · Picturebooks · Writing

Meet the Writer – Karen Hendriks

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog. This takes time and I’m often running behind but from now on I’m hoping to keep this up to date.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go please meet….

Karen Hendriks

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 18th January 2016 – issue 569

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

This year when I decided to follow my dream and write.  I have always wanted to write but you are not a writer until you commit.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I have been reading my stories each week to children  from Kindergarten to Year six at school which has been extremely rewarding and I have even received author letters from them and some are now wanting to be writer’s themselves.   The snowball effect.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

None yet just writing getting ready for my first submissions. Yeeks.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

Children’s picture books yay

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

This year .  Some of my stories are called Wombat Cuddles, Happy, A very Clever Plan, Scaredy Pants or It is Only the Night, Clever Sneaky, Mr Brown, my favs are Wombat Cuddles  and It is only the Night.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Wombat Cuddles and It is only the Night and the students at school love them and want them as books. They have drawn pictures and written me letters as and author and also about the characters.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

Children’s Picture books and self help books

Do you have a favourite author?

Mem Fox, Lynley Dodd, Libby Gleeson, Joy Cowley

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

No not yet but Mem Fox is my hero and Joy Cowley sent me her book writing for children such a creative, gorgeous lady.

How do they encourage you?

I met Mem and she was amazing and Joy wrote to me.

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

Yes last term I have been teaching Creative Writing to Stage two and Three Students.  I had no idea that my actions would ripple through the school it has really shown me that I am a writer.

Do you write full time?

No

What are your other jobs?

Casual teacher

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?
No

Have you ever been awarded a grant? How did it help you?

No

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

ASA
Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

Yes I have been to Cathy Tasker’s writing picture books course and one other course in Beecroft.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

For the school students we have been looking at techniques in picture books and doing fun little activities based on this.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

Via email, mobile or Facebook.  I would love to do this immensely . I was going to visit local schools to gauge their responses to my stories.

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Yes writing and reading go hand in hand together.  I am Reading Recovery Trained, L3trained, learning difficult and ESL trained, behavioural difficulty trained and no matter what Reading and writing go together. Reading seems to takeoff first. A world of possibilities is opened through both.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

Email, Karen Hendriks Facebook

Uncategorized

Meet the Writer – Tania Ingram

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog. This takes time and I’m often running behind but from now on I’m hoping to keep this up to date.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go please meet….

Tania Ingram

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 11th January 2016 – issue 568

 

Tania Ingram

When did you know that you were a writer?
Back in Primary School I won several writing competitions and remember thinking ‘If only I could do this every day.’ I think then I knew I was a writer; however, it took me another thirty years before I finally had the courage to send my work to a publisher.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?
I was fortunate enough to have my first piece of work accepted for publication. It was a picture book called Dog on Log and was published by Omnibus / Scholastic in 2013. I remember being thrilled and thinking ‘Wow! That was easy.’ Little did I know that it would be another three years before another of my manuscripts would be picked up for publication. I laugh now at how naïve I was.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?
I’ve only written children’s books at this stage, although I’d like to try an adult novel one day. My mind seems to gravitate more towards the child genre, I’d like to think it’s because I’ve yet to grow up!

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?
I seriously started writing in 2011 and have one picture book currently published. I have four books coming out with Penguin in 2016 (a series called Jinny and Cooper) and an Aussie Mates chapter book also coming out next year with Scholastic called The Great Barbie Disaster.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?
I’ve really enjoyed writing the Jinny and Cooper series. I’m currently writing book 4 and I’m delving deeper into the characters and exploring what makes them tick. Sometimes they do things that surprise even me.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?
I read a lot of children’s books because I have a daughter who loves reading and being read to. It’s such a joy to share different adventures and worlds with her. I do try to slip in a YA or adult book when I can as well, for a change of pace.

Do you have a favourite author?
I have so many favourite authors that I’d have a hard time narrowing it down to just one. I’ve recently read several of Neil Gaiman’s books and I love his writing style. He has a wonderful way of providing a lot of information in just a few words, which is a skill I’d like to learn.

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?
I am very lucky in that I have several author and illustrator friends who I also consider mentors. We are fortunate in Australia to have such a strong, talented and supportive writing community.

Katrina Germein in particular has been an enormous source of encouragement and assistance to me and has really helped me to step outside my comfort zone.

How do they encourage you?
I’m encouraged via many avenues. I’m inspired when fellow writers share their journey, knowledge and successes. It gets me fired up to keep writing.

I’ve also been given fantastic opportunities to present at conferences, take workshops and join panels, which are things I probably wouldn’t have sought out on my own.

Perhaps most of all though, I’m buoyed by their friendship and support. It’s lovely to be surrounded by people who‘ll give you pep talks when you’re feeling disheartened and cheer for you when you get a book contract.

Do you write full time?
I am lucky enough to be able to write full time at the moment. It does mean occasionally living on noodles though. J

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?
I’m a member of SCBWI, which is a terrific organisation full of supportive and inspiration people. I’m also a member of the ASA and SA Writer’s Centre, both which provide great information and workshops for writers. A couple of years ago I joined a local group called the eKIDnas, which is a great peer network of authors and illustrators here in South Australia.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?
I can be contacted though my website: TaniaIngram.com

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?
My number one advice would be to finish that book! It’s easy to have a great idea and begin a book but much harder to persist and finish it. Also, gratefully listen to any feedback you receive from editors and publishers, even if they’ve rejected your manuscript. Editors and publishers will point out your weaknesses, which can sometimes be hard to swallow but will make you a better writer in the long run. Finally, don’t ever give up.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.
You can find me through my website: TaniaIngram.com, on Facebook (TaniaIngramAuthor) and Twitter (@TaniaIngramAuth).

 

Thanks Tania – and if you are an Australian Children’s Book Writer (published or unpublished) and you’d like to be featured in PASS IT ON – please do get in touch and I’ll send you the questions.

Picturebooks

Ella saw the tree – Blog Tour

robert

Today I’d like to welcome Robert Vescio to my blog to help celebrate the release of his fifth picture book titled ‘Ella Saw The Tree’.

So Robert – what is your book about?

Ella saw the Tree is an entertaining story about living in the moment. 

One windy day, as Ella plays in her backyard, she is showered by leaves. When she looks up, Ella sees a tree in her backyard … has it always been there? And why is it crying?

It’s not until Ella carefully and attentively takes the time to – smell, listen, feel and look – that she discovers the tree in her backyard, as if for the very first time. By slowing down and experiencing new sensations, Ella learns to appreciate the simple things in life.

Ella Saw the Tree is a beautifully illustrated and captivating story that show’s children how easy it is to appreciate the world.Ella Saw the Tree_Cover

And what inspired you to write it?

My children are easily distracted with television and video games that it can be difficult for them to focus. We often tell our children to ‘pay attention’ but we don’t often teach children HOW to pay attention. So I wanted to write a story that does that in a fun way.

Also, parents have told me that they’ve seen their children read a book and realise they have no idea what they’ve just read. They’re there in person, but their mind is elsewhere.

Mindful awareness can teach children how to live in the moment and become more aware. By taking in information from all their senses, children are able to explore as they learn about their world.

I’m hoping this story will help bring mental health, wellbeing, better concentration and reduce anxiety.

Mindfulness can increase happiness in a child’s life.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being fully present in the moment; an awareness of our moment-to-moment experiences in our everyday lives.

Mindful awareness can teach children how to live in the moment and become more aware. By taking in information from all their senses, children are able to explore as they learn about their world.

Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way. When a person is mindful, they are focused on the present moment, not worrying about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future, purposefully concentrating on what’s happening around them and to them and not being judgemental about anything they notice.

We spend so much time thinking over stuff that happens, or worrying about things that may be happening in future, that often we actually forget to appreciate or enjoy the moment. Mindfulness is a way of bringing us back to experience life as it happens.

When you’re mindful it gives you a clear head, slows down your thoughts, gives your body time to heal, lets you relax, helps you cope with stress and helps you be more aware of yourself, your body and the environment.

What do you hope people will take away from reading this story?

Ella Saw The Tree is an entertaining story about living in the moment. By using the senses to smell, listen, and feel, the simple act of seeing something like a tree can be surprising and fun.

Teachers and parents alike can use this story as a starting point for discussing the concept of engaging all senses and being mindful of the little things in life.

For children, reading this book will open new perspectives on the world and being present in the moment.

Ella’s teacher in the story is a tree. Ella learns to appreciate her surroundings by using her senses.

I’m hoping this book will help children to calm themselves down, resist focusing on negative emotions, be more aware and improve their capacity to pay attention to being in the moment.

The more present and mindful you are, the happier and resilient you will be.

This is a great book to be shared with children of all ages.

What has been your journey up to this point?

My picture books include,Jack and Mia (Wombat Books) listed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge, Barnaby and the Lost Treasure of Bunnyville(Big Sky Publishing), Marlo Can Fly (Wombat Books) listed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge, No Matter Who We’re With (IP Kidz) and I have more picture books due for release soon.

Many of my short stories have been published in anthologies such as Packed Lunch, Short and Twisted, Charms Vol 1, The Toy Chest and The School Magazine NSW.

I’ve won awards for my children’s writing including First Place in the 2012 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition and Highly Commended in the 2011 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition.

I am a Books in Homes Role Model and I enjoy visiting schools.

What is the most important thing about what you do?

For me the most rewarding part about being a picture book author is sharing my stories with children. Not only do I create fans for my books, but it’s great to see how I can make a difference in a child’s life.

I enjoy visiting schools because it connects kids to books and gives them an appreciation of the process involved in creating the books they love. It’s a much more powerful way than simply reading them.

Do you think picture books are important?

Most definitely. I love picture books because of the way they express emotions and ideas in simple ways. Picture books invite engagement – a connection. That’s why I enjoy writing picture books because it supports an adult-child conversation. The pictures help to initiate a discussion with young children and express their feelings. 

What is next for you?

My next picture book Eric Finds A Way (Wombat Books) and illustrated by Ann-Marie Finn will be released in July this year. It’s a wonderful story about believing in the ability to think creatively.

I also have another two picture books due out later in the year: Finn and Puss with EK Books, and stunning illustrations, by newcomer illustrator, Melissa Mackie and Bigger Than Yesterday, Smaller Than Tomorrow with Little Pink Dog Books and the very talented illustrator Kathy Creamer.

You can find out more information about Robert and his books on his website www.robertvescio.com and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RobertVescioAuthor/?fref=ts

Thank you for having me on your blog, Jackie. It’s been wonderful sharing Ella’s story with you and your readers.

Thank you Robert and I wish you all the best with your lovely new picture book.

To continue with this blog tour please follow the links below…

Just Write For Kids: http://www.justkidslit.com/robert-vescios-story-on-mindfulness-opens-our-hearts/

Kids Book Review Giveaway: http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2017/04/giveaway-ella-saw-tree.html

Kids Book Review: http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2017/04/review-ella-saw-tree.html

Emma Middleton: https://emmamiddleton.com/2017/04/26/sharing-ella-saw-the-tree-by-robert-vescio/

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Uncategorized

BLOG TOUR: PICKLE AND BREE’S GUIDE TO GOOD DEEDS: BOOKS 3 & 4

pickle-and-bree_playground-meanies_coverLook what’s happening to celebrate the release of the latest two books in the award nominated Pickle & Bree series, The Playground Meanies & The Big Snow Adventure.

BLOG TOUR!

13/2/17 Boomerang Books    &    Pass-it-on Jackie Hosking

14/2/17 Creative Kids Tales

15/2/17 Buzz Words Di Bates

16/2/17 Aussie Reviews

17/2/17 Just Write for Kids   &    Julie Grasso

BOOK GIVEWAYS!

Just leave a comment on any of the posts in the blog tour, comment on facebook or twitter or even email alrey@msn.com.au  to win a copy of The Playground Meanies or The Big Snow Adventure.

JUMP THE SLUSH PILE IS BACK!

Win an opportunity for a children’s editor at The Five Mile Press to look at your picture book submission (strictly 500 words or less). Just comment on any of the posts in the blog tour and add initials JSP.

OR

Win a free picture book assessment by the author Alison Reynolds. Just comment on any of the posts in the blog tour and add the initials PB.

Remember the more you comment, the more chances you have to win.

TEDDY BEAR CONTEST FOR ALL AGES!

Win a print of Mikki Butterley’s fabulous artwork from one of these two books. Just send a photo or drawing of your favourite teddy to alrey@msn.com.au or upload to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or Twitter @AlisonReynoldsa

Competitions close March 24th and winners to be announced and contacted by March 31st.

 

Welcome everyone!pickle-and-bree_big-snow-adventure_cover

Today I am very pleased to be able to welcome Alison Reynolds to my blog where she will be sharing tips on how to write a series.

Alison is the wonderful author of a new series of picture books about Pickle and Bree, two friends who gently teach children to explore the skills needed to successfully manage relationships with their friends and family.

When I asked Alison how to write a series this is what she said…

 

Five Tips on Writing a Picture Book Series

 

  • Create characters that you want to write book after book. When you write a series, you are going to visit them again and again. It is so much easier if you can’t wait to write their next adventures.

 

  • Get to know your characters thoroughly. In a series you need to come up with many different story lines and this is so much easier if you can know how your character will react in different situations.

 

  • Make sure your characters are consistent. A common theme throughout the Pickle And Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds books is Bree’s impatience and energy. If she suddenly became easy-going and lazy, this would make her seem inauthentic when you read the whole series.

 

  • Give the illustrator and the reader more variety – show your characters in different locations.

The first two Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds books were set in home. In books 3 & 4 they left their home, giving the brilliant illustrator, Mikki Butterley, the opportunity to create entirely different worlds. The Big Snow Adventure is set on a snow mountain and The Playground Meanies is set in a playground.

  • Series are very popular at the moment in the publishing world. I loved reading series as a child and still love reading a series today. If you have an idea with excellent characters, why don’t you go for it!

 

Thanks Alison – some really great advice.

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Uncategorized

AUSTRALIA ILLUSTRATED VIRTUAL LAUNCH

 

australia-illustrated-launch-posterI’ve been very quiet on this blog lately – life has been throwing itself at me all over the place. How delightful it is to finally be able to share some really exciting news with you all. Please welcome Tania McCartney, who has come along with tea, to help celebrate the launch of her brand new picture book Australia Illustrated. Welcome Tania!!

Australia Illustrated is a hefty 96 pages long. How long did this book take you?

A long time! Around about a year—including research.

The book is divided into state and territory ‘chapters’, and the first chapter header I did—of New South Wales—took me four solid days of work, ten hours a day. It’s a fully digital map done in an unusual way. The other maps took a lot less time because I was more familiar with the process … but they still took a lot of hours.

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I hand-drew and watercoloured over 1000 images for this book before scanning them and finishing them in Photoshop. This was before even placing them on pages, so yes, it took a long time!

How did you conduct your research?

It was a pretty typical blend of internet searches, books and encyclopedias. Of course, much of it I already knew as fact, and because the book is predominantly visual, it was more about visual research than text research. I nearly broke Google, searching for reference images!

What was the inspiration behind this work?

It was born of my return to illustration after almost three decades off. I was a prolific drawer through childhood and into my early twenties, but adulthood kind of got in the way. It’s been a secret dream to illustrate my own books, but I truly believed I’d lost the ability, and even now, I can’t believe I’ve actually illustrated a book.

I started the 52-Week Illustration Challenge in January 2014 as a way to force myself to practice drawing every week, and it was pretty much responsible for my reconnection with art. I practiced night and day for almost two years, and was stunned how it all came flooding back.

I’d had a seed of an idea for a book about Australia that was nothing like any other books done on the topic, and this seemed the perfect way to try my hand at an illustrated work. My publisher at EK Books, Anouska Jones, championed the idea from the start, and before I knew it, I was contracted and embarking on an extraordinary journey.

Pretty much the entire book was done organically, and I’m really aware what an opportunity that was. It also helped me ‘ease into’ this new artistic challenge. I’m beyond grateful.

What mediums did you use to create the pages?

Lots! I sketched in pencil, inked with fine-liner than used watercolour and gouache to colour. I also mono-printed colours to use as backgrounds (an example of this is the chalkboard-style backgrounds and the orange ‘dirt’ of the chapter headers).

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At least half of the book is digitally-rendered. I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to do this, and I also used digital patterns and filters. On top of that, I created my own fonts and added them to the pages.

It was crazy good fun. In fact, a friend looked at the book recently and she kept saying: ‘I think you had a lot of fun with this.’

I know the book doesn’t contain a lot of text and relies on visual literacy, but what did you do first? The pictures or the text?

You’d think it would be pictures first, but it wasn’t always that way. For each chapter header, I have a ‘capital city icons’ page, so I spent time researching the most known and most popular icons for each city, listing them and editing them. I then drew the pictures to match.

Another example is the Native Animals page—I wanted to, again, research the most iconic first. Ditto place names and plants and people and other specific topics.

Sometimes, though, I would just operate on one idea—like Tasmanian chocolate factory, for example—and I’d come up with the imagery first. Even in this instance, though, I still had to research the chocolate-making process first—so in a way, pretty much all of the pages were at least initially text-driven, including those with barely any text.

I love the cover. Why yellow?00a-cover-pastel

I actually designed the cover first—which is really unusual. It inspired the rest of the book. And I created the background colour in a dozen different hues, from black to pale blue and bright orange. As soon as I did the yellow, I knew it was perfect. It just looked the best.

A secret regarding the colours in the book—they were taken from old Bewitched reruns. I took photos of some of the clothing and room settings on my TV then scanned the photos into Adobe Illustrator and eye-droppered the colours I wanted. I simply adore the colours of the ‘60s!

What pages did you find the easiest and the hardest?

The hardest, for me, were the layouts that—for some indefinable reason—just weren’t working. Some examples were the Wildflowers page in WA, the Cattle page in Queensland, and both Precious Rocks and the Diverse pages at the front of the book. These, and a few others, went through many incarnations in an attempt to get them right—with colour changes, layout changes and more.

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I also struggled with the endpapers. I had several designs and they were just ‘okay’ in my view. I’m so much happier with the final design but it took a while to get there.

The easiest pages were the ones that seemed to fall into place immediately.

Do you have favourite pages?

I do. They include Uluru, the Tassie chocolate factory, Butterfly Gorge and Tassie honey. Also love Darwin icons and Canberra hot air balloons. The food icons spread is a lot of fun, too. Makes me hungry.

I really like the maps, too—they took so much time and energy and I’m pleased with how they look against the orange ‘dirt’.

Will there be more books in this style?

Not exactly the same. I really want to explore different styles now—and I enjoy collaging and layering variant styles and techniques. I get bored easily and couldn’t imagine doing the same style forever. I have several books I’m now creating digitally, but even then, the actual style can really differ. It’s going to be fun exploring!

Learn more about Tania’s work at www.taniamccartney.com or follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @taniamccartney

Australia Illustrated is published by EK Books and will be on sale 1 November in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, with a release date of 28 November in the UK. Hardcover, clothbound, 96 pages, AU$29.99, ISBN: 9781925335217 www.ekbooks.org

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Celebrating World Poetry Day

logo school mag logo

Today is World Poetry Day and I thought it might be fun to do a blog tour of poets who have had their poems published in The School Magazine as they are also celebrating their 100 year anniversary this year.

The first poem of mine that The School Magazine published If I Were a Giant (Orbit March 2005) marked the beginning of a decade full of submitting my poems for children to the magazine in the hope of receiving that wonderful letter (now email) saying…

Dear Jackie

Your manuscript has now been assessed by our editorial team.

The good news is that we think your piece would work well in The School Magazine and would like to purchase it.

These few words always make my day light up, my face light up and my heart light up. These few words confirm that I am what I say I am. A poet and that is very reassuring.

Don’t get me wrong I, like most writers I think, doubt my ability every single day. I just did a quick count of how many pieces I have submitted to the magazine over the last 11 years and it totals about 130. Of those 130, 21 have been published so more often than not I read these words…

Dear Jackie

Thank you for letting us see this manuscript submission. The Editorial Committee of The School Magazine have now had a chance to read it. The consensus is that it does not meet the current needs of the magazine.

These are sad days but not devastating days and after I’ve grieved a little I see what else I might be able to send in. It’s a lovely rock-a-by process that keeps me writing and sending and hoping and smiling and crying and on and on.

Below is a gallery that I have created of a few of the poems that The School Magazine has published over the years. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to share my poetry through this wonderful magazine and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them and if you’d like to read more of my poetry you can go here.

Poetry Blog Tour

To continue with the blog tour please visit the links below and I hope you all have a wonderful World Poetry Day.

Claire Saxby

Janeen Brian

Julie Thorndyke

Lorraine Marwood

Pat Simmons

Rebecca Newman

Sally Murphy

Sophie Masson

Stephen Whiteside

Yvonne Low