Nov 21

Authors by Alphabet – C is for Peter Carnavas

I’m a day late, but here is the next instalment of my Authors by Alphabet series featuring Australian picture book authors. This week’s post: C is for Peter Carnavas.

Peter Carnavas is an Australian author and illustrator who lives on the Sunshine Coast.

jessicas box - carnavasHis first picture book, Jessica’s Box, focuses on the challenges faced by a young girl as she starts at a new school. Originally published in 2008 by New Frontier, the book has recently been re-released in a special new edition with the original text accompanied by slight alterations to the illustrations.

Jessica's Box - WheelchairPublished in conjunction with The Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Jessica’s character is portrayed in a wheelchair in the newly released version. The visual literacy prompts add an awareness of diversity for young readers, while the storyline still encourages children to be confident, friendly and inclusive in a very general sense. I love that such a simple change adds so much to the story and, as a supporter of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I especially love that it gently introduces children with physical disabilities into the reading experience of young children.

Peter has written and illustrated numerous picture books including Sarah’s Heavy Heart, The Last Tree in the City, The Important Things, The Boy on the Page and The Children Who Loved Books. He has also illustrated several books by other authors including the Mr Darcy series by Alex Field and My Nanna is a Ninja by Damon Young. For Jonathan!, Carnavas was the author only with illustrations by Amanda Francey. He has also illustrated the junior fiction novel My Totally Awesome Story by Pat Flynn.

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Peter’s books are wonderful – special messages for young readers intertwined with engaging stories and appealing illustrations. I tend to group Peter’s works with author/illustrators such as Australian Bob Graham and Canadian Peter H. Reynolds, who also use their gorgeous books to encourage children to value family, friends and creativity, use their imagination, include others, be kind to others and their environment, and similar important themes.

I follow Peter’s Facebook page and enjoy his regular updates from school workshops and the images he shares of his illustrations.

You can find out more about Peter Carnavas at his website and Facebook page.

This post is part of a series inspired by the Authors by Alphabet posts found at Suz’s Space.

More ‘C’ Aussie Picture Book Authors
Rod Clement
Karen Collum
Maree Coote
Meredith Costain
Gary Crew

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Nov 13

Authors by Alphabet – B is for Bronwyn Bancroft

If I thought selecting an Australian picture book author to feature for my first Authors by Alphabet post was difficult, it was nothing compared to the amazing list of authors I had to select from this week. My final selection: B is for Bronwyn Bancroft.

I love Bronwyn Bancroft’s artwork, so it is no surprise that I find her picture books appealing. I first saw her illustrations in Katrina Germein’s Big Rain Coming, but have since purchased several books both written and illustrated by Bronwyn.

Big rain comingBronwyn Bancroft is an Indigenous Australian artist, illustrator, author, fashion designer and arts administrator. She was born in Terrigal, NSW and is a descendant of the Bundjalung people. She has contributed artworks to more than 20 books for children, including works by Sally Morgan, Katrina Germein and Oodgeroo Noonuccal.

The amazing a to z thingOne of the things that I find most appealing about Bronwyn Bancroft’s picture books is that there is so much story in both the illustrations and the text. They also introduce young readers to Australian Aboriginal culture in a beautifully visual way that they can easily relate to with bright colours and bold shapes.

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Her baby and toddler books share appealing images of native animals and Australia’s natural environment as they teach the alphabet and counting.

why i love australiaWhy I Love Australia is another favourite, with wonderful text and illustrations that capture so much of the spirit of the different Australian environments – outback, city, suburbs, beach, coral reef, desert sky and more.

Remembering lionsvilleRemembering Lionsville is a picture book for slightly older (school age) readers where Bronwyn shares some of her own family’s oral history and childhood memories. It is a snapshot of Australian rural life and, to quote Bronwyn from her author’s note, ‘a story of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people existing in support of each other’.

Patterns of Australia

Bronwyn Bancroft is an author whose books I will always, always pick up if I see them in a library or bookshop and who I have recommended enthusiastically on many occasions.

You can find out more about Bronwyn Bancroft at her website.

This post is part of a series inspired by the Authors by Alphabet posts found at Suz’s Space.

More ‘B’ Aussie Picture Book Authors
Faith Baisden
Jeannie Baker (born in the UK, but living in Australia)
Graeme Base
Aaron Blabey
Nick Bland
Christina Booth
Choechoe Brereton (born in the UK, but living in Australia)
Janeen Brian

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Nov 10

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You ReadingI’m just scraping in at the last minute for this week’s It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. I’m using this meme as a way of tracking my reading and, hopefully, inspiring me to work through my TBR pile a little faster.

My first It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? post last week included a long list of books that were sitting on my bedside table. From now on, my plan is to include two separate lists – an updated ‘What I’m Reading’ and ‘What I’ve Read’ with a list of the titles I have completed over the previous week.

What I’m Reading

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I’m still working my way through last week’s rather excessive list of books. I read three books, but have added one new title, The Raven’s Wing by Frances Watts, a YA novel set in Ancient Rome. The list now includes:

Tiger Stone – Deryn Mansell (YA Fiction, Black Dog Books)
Lost & Found – Brooke Davis (YA Fiction, Hachette)
Journey to Eos – Paul Russell (Junior Fiction, Blueprint Publications)
The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World – A L Tait (Junior Fiction, Hachette)
The Adventures of Sir Roderick the Not Very Brave – James O’Loghlin (Junior Fiction, Pan Macmillan)
Spark – Rachael Craw (YA Fiction, Walker Books)
Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld (YA Fiction, Penguin Books)
The Wives of Los Alamos – TaraShea Nesbitt (Non-fiction, Bloomsbury)
The Imaginary – A F Harrold (Junior Fiction, Bloomsbury)
Unladylike – Pam Hogeweide (Non-Fiction, Civitas)
A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction – Terry Pratchett (Non-Fiction, Doubleday)
The Raven’s Wing – Frances Watts (YA Fiction, HarperCollins)

 

What I’ve Read

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In the past week I have completed three novels:
A Thousand Pieces of You – Claudia Gray (YA Fiction, HarperCollins)
This is a really intriguing YA sci-fi novel based on the premise of travel between parallel universes. There is suspense and a touch of romance, but I particularly enjoyed the way the complexities of dealing with multidimensional travel were explored, especially the emotional and moral complications of interacting with other timelines.

The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion (Fiction, Text Publishing)
This sequel to the popular The Rosie Project was quite enjoyable. The protagonist has such a different outlook on the world, it is interesting to simply walk a while in his shoes and experience the world as he does. The story did lag a little for me in places, but there were other scenes that were quite intense and on the whole I really enjoyed reading the book.

Rescue on Nim’s Island – Wendy Orr (Junior Fiction, Allen & Unwin)
This is the third book in Wendy Orr’s fabulous island adventure series Nim’s Island. Nim is brave, inquisitive, confident and resourceful and in this book, she has some new friends to help her overcome some unexpected dangers. A great book for both boys and girls, the pace is maintained from the early pages throughout the book, keeping readers hooked as they try to work out how Nim and her friends will save the day.

 

Previous Bedside Book Tally: 14

Current Bedside Book Tally: 12

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Nov 06

Authors by Alphabet – A is for Kathryn Apel

I’m joining with Suz from Suz’s Space to run a weekly Authors by Alphabet post. I’ve decided to focus my posts on Australian picture book authors. This week is ‘A’ and I’m featuring Queensland author Kathryn Apel.

I’ve never met Kat in person, but we have been chatting on Twitter on and off for many years.

Kat is the author of the picture book This is the Mud!, illustrated by Warren Crossett (Lothian Children’s Books, 2009). Readers are introduced to the unfortunate cow – This is the cow, who was chewing her cud, as she went for a drink and got stuck in the mud. – and then follow the adventure as the rescue team for the largely indifferent cow gets larger and larger. I love that the book has such an everyday Australian rural setting – the cracked mud, the utes and the farm equipment – without being overtly ‘Aussie’. You can find my review of This is the Mud! here.

As an author, Kat has a particular interest in poetry and rhyming. This is the Mud! features rhyming text and Kat has recently released a junior fiction novel, Bully on the Bus (UQP, 2014) which is written in the verse novel format.

Kat’s has also hosted a Month of Poetry challenge in January over the past couple of years. I have no particular drive to write poetry, but I took part in the challenge with a friend a few years ago and had a fantastic time. It was wonderful to read the poetry shared by others as well as challenging myself to write outside my comfort zone. My son even joined in for a while.

You can find out more about Kathryn Apel at her website and you’ll also find her on Twitter (@katapel).

More ‘A’ Aussie Picture Book Authors
Sara Acton
Emma Allen
Pamela Allen (technically born in New Zealand, but now lives in Sydney)

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Nov 03

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You ReadingI have decided to join in the It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme hosted by Sheila from Book Journey in an attempt to help me focus on working my way through my reading pile. I always have a few books on the go at once, but recently I’ve found that I’m trying to read ALL the books at the same time. As a result, I’m not finishing books as quickly as I should because I just get started when I’m distracted by another bright, shiny book that I just have to start RIGHT NOW!

Hopefully each week I’ll be able to list books that I have completed as well as new books I’ve added to my reading pile. I’ll list the books I have stacked on my bedside table each week. I’ll leave out any picture books and younger junior fiction that I’m planning to read during the week, but will include everything else – older junior fiction, middle and YA fiction, adult fiction and non-fiction titles – each listed with the publishers blurb and cover image. From next week, I’ll also include a list of books I completed during the previous week.

Bedside Book Tally for this week: 14

tiger stoneTiger Stone – Deryn Mansell (YA Fiction, Black Dog Books)

When you’re sworn to silence it pays to keep your eyes and ears open.

Tiger eyes, tiger spirit, tiger stone. Only a daughter could unlock the stone’s power. Java, fourteenth century. The villagers are fearful of Mbah Merapi, the rumbling volcano that overshadows their lives. Kancil, the lowliest kitchen servant, knows the real danger is human but is fatherless and mute – and she will lose everything if her identity is revealed. How can Kancil warn the villagers of the danger they are in?

 

lost and foundLost & Found – Brooke Davis (YA Fiction, Hachette)

At seven years old, Millie Bird realises that everything is dying around her. She wasn’t to know that after she had recorded twenty-seven assorted creatures in her Book of Dead Things her dad would be a Dead Thing, too. Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and has not left her house since her husband died. She sits behind her front window, hidden by the curtains and ivy, and shouts at passers-by, roaring her anger at complete strangers. Until the day Agatha spies a young girl across the street. Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven when his son kisses him on the cheek before leaving him at the nursing home. As he watches his son leave, Karl has a moment of clarity. He escapes the home and takes off in search of something different. Three lost people needing to be found. But they don’t know it yet. Millie, Agatha and Karl are about to break the rules and discover what living is all about.

 

journey to eosJourney to Eos – Paul Russell (Junior Fiction, Blueprint Publications)

‘I don’t believe in fairies!’ yelled Penelope in tears.

Being only twelve years old and a human, Penelope wasn’t to know that these five little words would change her life irreversibly. For magic does exist. So too do fairies, pixies, ogres, wand watchers, magical orbs and the magical world of Eos.

When Penelope declared her non-belief in fairydom she unknowingly strips the colour and magic from her fairy, Nu. In her panic at being cast out, Nu performs a final spell shrinking Penelope to the size of a pencil. Now human and fairy are in serious trouble. They have no choice but to join forces in the hope of restoring the magic in Nu and Penelope to her normal size.

 

race to the end of the worldThe Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World – A L Tait (Junior Fiction, Hachette)

A map of the world? Why did the King need one of those? Besides, everyone knew that if you went too far in either direction you’d fall off the edge, and if that didn’t kill you Genesi the dragon of death would be waiting. The King is determined to discover what lies beyond the known world, and has promised a handsome prize to the ship’s captain who can bring him a map of the whole globe. To do that, they’ll need mapmakers – and 14-year-old Quinn is shocked to be one of the chosen. While his older brothers long for adventure, Quinn is content with a quiet life on the farm, but when word of his special talent gets out, he has no choice but to pack his bags and join the mismatched crew of slaves and stowaways on board the Libertas. The other competitors will do anything to win, but the greatest danger may come from the strange sea monster hot on their tail or the mysterious unchartered lands for which they are bound. Nobody knows what lies off the edge of the map, but Quinn is about to find out that it’s more than anyone bargained for . . .

 

a thousand pieces of you

A Thousand Pieces of You – Claudia Gray (YA Fiction, HarperCollins)

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You, the first book in the Firebird trilogy, explores an amazingly intricate multiverse where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

 

the rosie effectThe Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion (Fiction, Text Publishing)

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are now married and living in New York. Don has been teaching while Rosie completes her second year at Columbia Medical School. Just as Don is about to announce that Gene, his philandering best friend from Australia, is coming to stay, Rosie drops a bombshell: she’s pregnant.

In true Tillman style, Don instantly becomes an expert on all things obstetric. But in between immersing himself in a new research study on parenting and implementing the Standardised Meal System (pregnancy version), Don’s old weaknesses resurface. And while he strives to get the technicalities right, he gets the emotions all wrong, and risks losing Rosie when she needs him most.

 

rescue on nim's islandRescue on Nim’s Island – Wendy Orr (Junior Fiction, Allen & Unwin)

Nim lives on an island with her father, Jack, a marine iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie, and their friend Alex Rover, the adventure writer. Nim’s island is the most beautiful place in the world, and she wouldn’t swap live anywhere else.

When Jack invites a group of scientists to visit, they bring their children as well. But two of the scientists have plans other than studying algae… By the time Nim discovers what they really want, and what they will do to get it, the children are in grave danger. And so is the island! Nim must choose between saving a natural treasure and saving someone’s life.

 

the adventures of sir roderick the not very braveThe Adventures of Sir Roderick the Not Very Brave – James O’Loghlin (Junior Fiction, Pan Macmillan)

In a land where peace is threatened by assassins, invading armies and unhappy peasants, one knight must be brave enough to journey forth on a great quest.

‘But that can’t be me,’ thought Sir Roderick. ‘I’m the most junior knight in the kingdom. And definitely the most hopeless. They wouldn’t pick me to go somewhere so dangerous…

Would they?’
sparkSpark – Rachael Craw (YA Fiction, Walker Books)

Death by design.

Evie doesn’t have a choice. One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer. The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death. And then there’s Jamie. Irresistible. Off-limits.

 

afterworldsAfterworlds – Scott Westerfeld (YA Fiction, Penguin Books)

Darcy has secured a publishing deal for her three paranormal books. Now she must find the wherewithall to write the second one whilst she has a reprieve from going to college, thanks to her savvy sister. She has enough funds for 3 years in NY… if she eats only noodles every day.

In the story Darcy has written, the character Lizzie survives a traumatic shooting event only to discover that she has become a phsychopomp; a spirit guide to the dead. But she’s not dead.. or is she? With one foot in each world, Lizzie’s challenges are somewhat unique. Then there’s her hot spirit guide… and all those ghosts that keep appearing… and the ‘living’ friend she usually tells everything to…

More than all I’d seen and heard. It was coming back to life that made me believe in the afterworld.

 

the wives of los alamosThe Wives of Los Alamos – TaraShea Nesbitt (Fiction, Bloomsbury)

Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London and Chicago – and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship in the desolate military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with a P.O. Box for an address, in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of ‘the project’ that didn’t exist as far as the greater world was concerned. They were constrained by the words they couldn’t say out loud, the letters they couldn’t send home, the freedom they didn’t have. Though they were strangers, they joined together – babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up. But then ‘the project’ was unleashed and even bigger challenges faced the women of Los Alamos, as they struggled with the burden of their contribution towards the creation of the most destructive force in mankind’s history – the atomic bomb. Contentious, gripping and intimate, The Wives of Los Alamos is a personal tale of one of the most momentous events in our history.

 

the imaginaryThe Imaginary – A F Harrold (Junior Fiction, Bloomsbury)

Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn’t exist, but nobody’s perfect. Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up? A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

 

unladylikeUnladylike – Pam Hogeweide (Non-Fiction, Civitas)
In the contemporary church, women are held back from positions of authority and leadership simply because they are women. Gender matters instead of gifting or calling. From the pulpit, to the home front of marriage, women of faith are taught that men lead, and women assist. But is this biblical? Has God created women for helper roles?

In her book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church, author Pam Hogeweide confronts the patriarchal view of women that has been mistaken as God’s divine will. Not so, writes Pam, who dismantles the discrimination of women in churches by reexamining her beliefs. Pam tells how she changed from being neutral about the roles of women in the church when she realized it was an issue of justice rather than theology.

Combining history, theology and vivid storytelling, Unladylike is a call to women and men of faith to join Pam in resisting the injustice of inequality in the church.

 

a slip of the keyboardA Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction – Terry Pratchett (Non-Fiction, Doubleday)

Terry Pratchett has earned a place in the hearts of readers the world over with his bestselling Discworld series – but in recent years he has become equally well-known and respected as an outspoken campaigner for causes including Alzheimer’s research and animal rights. A Slip of the Keyboard brings together for the first time the finest examples of Pratchett’s non fiction writing, both serious and surreal: from musings on mushrooms to what it means to be a writer (and why banana daiquiris are so important); from memories of Granny Pratchett to speculation about Gandalf’s love life, and passionate defences of the causes dear to him.

With all the humour and humanity that have made his novels so enduringly popular, this collection brings Pratchett out from behind the scenes of the Discworld to speak for himself – man and boy, bibliophile and computer geek, champion of hats, orang-utans and Dignity in Dying.

 

IMWAYR 3-11-14

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Oct 29

Shout Out – Children’s Book Bloggers

I was recently the feature blogger at the Newcastle Writes website. In several conversations since my profile was published, people have commented on the amount of time I volunteer to manage the Kids’ Book Review website. I head up a team of amazingly generous and knowledgeable contributors who also volunteer their time to the site, but my personal contribution is probably in excess of the 25-30 hours I quoted in the profile, especially when you factor in reading time, research and sourcing content for the site.

Like most bloggers, I fit my online commitments in around my other responsibilities and I receive very little financial compensation for my efforts. I choose to commit my time to running Kids’ Book Review because I am passionate about highlighting wonderful books for kids and teens and promoting amazingly talented authors and illustrators. I love to talk about books and the children’s/YA publishing industry and running KBR means that I am constantly engaged in conversations with parents, teachers, writers, illustrators, publishers and librarians who share my interest in this topic.

I’m hardly an anomaly within the Australian book blogging community, however. There are many children’s book bloggers who tirelessly share their knowledge and experience with others, review books, promote authors and children’s book events, share classroom and teaching tips related to children’s books, and generally put in a huge amount of time and effort for no compensation other than the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that they have made a positive contribution to an industry which they passionately believe in.

I don’t think most people realise just how much time this takes, so in the interest of giving a great big virtual pat on the bag and a heartfelt THANK YOU!!! to these wonderful bloggers, I thought I would share links to some of their blogs and websites here. Bookmark these sites and return to them regularly. They are a treasure trove of information for parents, teachers, writers and anyone interested in children’s literature. There are, of course, also a huge number of authors who share writing tips and resources for the benefit of other writers, and I’ll create a separate shout out list of those in the near future.

 

Kids' Book Review

Kids’ Book ReviewTania McCartney, Susan Whelan, Anouska Jones, Jo Burnell, Sarah Steed, Coral Vass, Anastasia Gonis, Georgia Kartas and Connie Spanos

Reviews of books for toddlers to teens, interviews, guest posts, event and award updates, giveaways, blog tours, resources for parents and teachers.

 

The Book Chook

The Book Chook – Susan Stephenson

Book reviews, resources, tips for parents and teachers.

 

Children’s Books Daily – Megan Daley

Book reviews, tips for parents, reading activities, encouragement and tips on how to create wonderful book and reading memories with young children.

 

Honey Bee Books

Honey Bee Books – Melissa Squire

Book reviews and related activities for young readers.

 

Alphabet Soup – Rebecca Newman

Articles, tips, reviews and resources for kids who love books and creative writing.

 

My Little Bookcase – Jackie Small

Reviews, resources, literary activities and advice on how to build a love of reading and writing in young children.

 

 

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Oct 22

Midweek Music: Truly Brave

This mash-up by Cyndi Lauper and Sara Bareilles is such a beautiful tribute to children who suffer with cancer and other debilitating health issues. They lose so much of their childhood while they lay in hospital beds receiving treatment.

Truly Brave is a combination of Lauper’s True Colours and Bareilles’ Brave. It has been used as part of Hoda Kotb’s crowdrise funding efforts for the American Cancer Society focusing on paediatric cancer research. The video features young cancer patients from the The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Oct 15

Midweek Music: Hymn to Her

I can remember when Hymn to Her was first released by The Pretenders back in 1986. I stumbled across this cover of the song thanks to my friend Cathy (from Most of us Need the Eggs) sharing it on Facebook recently. I think these five voices combine to create something quite beautiful.

This version of Hymn to Her is taken from the album Songs that Made Me by Katie Noonan and features Katie Noonan, Kylie Auldist, Angie Hart, Deborah Conway and Ainslie Wilis.

If you would like to compare with the original, here is the music video featuring Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders.

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Oct 10

World’s Most Inept Fangirl

Last weekend I attended the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle. I had various family commitments over the weekend, so I was only able to get to two sessions on the Sunday, both related to writing for children and teens. You can read my overview of the sessions here.

One of my motivations for attending the sessions that I did was to meet up with three authors whose books I have read and enjoyed and who I have traded emails and tweets with. Social media provides wonderful opportunities to connect with authors and other creatives and sometimes it comes as a little bit of a shock to realise that I have never actually met some of the authors I have been chatting with via Twitter and Facebook.

On Sunday, I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet up with Melissa Keil, Kylie Fornasier and Wai Chim after their panel sessions at the festival. They were all just as lovely in person as they are online and I enjoyed my conversations with all three about various bookish topics.

Melissa, Kylie and Wai probably don’t realise it, but I had copies of their books in my bag all day. Not only that, but I had two cameras (a compact camera and a DSLR) in my bag as well as my phone, all of which were more than capable of taking photos. (It’s worth noting that I had a collection of cameras with me because in between sessions at the writers’ festival, I went on a Heritage steam train trip with my children, where I took numerous photos. I’m a fangirl, not undercover paparazzo).

So how many signatures did I get in my books? How many selfies with my author friends? Um, well, the answer would be none.

No signature in Melissa Keil’s wonderfully entertaining YA novel The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl.

Melissa Keil book 2

No signature in Kylie Fornasier’s YA historical fiction Masquerade, a romantic mystery novel set during Carnevale in Venice in the 18th century.

Kylie Fornasier book

No signature in either of Wai Chim’s junior fiction Chook Chook novels (I have two of the three books in the series).

Wai Chim books

And no photos.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve met many authors over the past few years, including quite a few in recent months. I attended the Kids’ & YA Festival at the NSW Writers’ Centre a few months ago and came home with, you guessed it, not a single photo of me with any of the authors I chatted with that day and not a single signature in any of the books I took with me for authors to sign.

I’m not sure why I don’t just pull out my phone and take a selfie. Goodness knows plenty of other people do it. I don’t think it’s so much about being shy or self-conscious as it is about not wanting to look like a groupie. Often it’s just that I’m enjoying the conversation so much that I don’t think of it, in the same way I don’t think of taking a selfie with my friends when we go out for coffee.

Maybe I subconsciously don’t want to ruin any chance I have of them thinking of me as a writer, rather than a fan.

Ironically, I’m already looking forward to signing my book for family, friends, other writers, and random strangers when it comes out next year. I certainly wouldn’t be bothered if someone put a copy of the table while we shared morning tea and asked if I would sign it for them. I’d actually be rather pleased.

Am I the only person out there who feels awkward asking celebrities (whether it be authors, actors, musicians, athletes or any other profession) for a photo and autograph? If you’re a writer, how do you feel about people asking for photos and autographs? Do you ask for them if you meet another writer?

I’m attending another writers’ festival in early November, so I’m keen for any tips on how I can overcome my reluctance to let my inner fangirl out.

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Oct 02

Books, Words, Conversations and Remembering Why I Blog

Taking some time out for a cup of tea and a good bookYesterday I had several conversations about books and writing.

 

I had a wonderful visit to MacLean’s, my local independent bookstore, where I chatted picture books and YA fiction with the owner for quite a while, as well as taking in two picture books (Engibear and Peter’s Railway) to show the staff should they have any budding young engineers or train enthusiasts come in looking for a recommendation.

 

(As a side note, Miss13 was not impressed that I was taking books TO a bookstore. “Are you really going to tell them how to do their job? Don’t you realise that most people buy books at a bookshop, they don’t take books with them when they go?”)

 

I chatted with several people on Twitter about books and writing, with some conversations sparked by this brilliant response by Ellie Marney to the recent spate of anti-YA fiction opinion pieces published in the US and Australia (if you want to read the negative pieces, Ellie includes links in her response). James Roy also wrote an excellent response to the YA-haters a little while ago.

 

I had an interesting conversation with Miss13 about books (once she recovered from the embarrassment of a mother who doesn’t know how bookshops work), which resulted in her gathering a few books to add to her reading pile, including The Jewel by Amy Ewing, Every Word by Ellie Marney and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

 

I chatted with a few authors on Twitter about upcoming titles, new releases and overseas releases of their current novels and I’ve worked on various bookish online commitments including Kids’ Book Review and local writing groups.

 

I also read several articles about current social and political issues, although I haven’t had time to weigh in on the conversations.

 

Through it all, I realised just how much I love having conversations about these things that are important to me – books and reading, encouraging and connecting with other writers, learning about the issues that are impacting my community and my world. Reading, thinking, communicating.

 

I’ve struggled to post here for some timely, largely because I couldn’t find any sense of focus. I couldn’t see any point in posting another fluffy, filler post or, worse, jumping on the click-bait bandwagon of the latest hot topic or social media debate?

 

Yesterday reminded me what I love about being part of the online community – the sense of connection, conversation and exchange of ideas – and how much I simply love to talk about books and writing. For me, this blog is the place where I can meet friends and start conversations. It has been neglected for a while, so it will take time for friends to realise that I’m home, but hopefully once they do, they’ll call in for a virtual cuppa and a chat.

 

If you enjoy chatting about the same things – books, writing, words, social issues and current affairs – please say hello, call in regularly and join the conversation. I’m going to look a bit silly if I sit here talking to myself and I can only take so many lectures from Miss13 on my inappropriate behaviour.

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