It’s been a wonderfully bookish and writerly start to the year. I have attended author talks, book launches, writing workshops, a teacher/librarian conference and I have read a pile of fantastic books. I have been to the theatre, socialised with other writers and generally indulged in my obsession with books and words. Oh, I was also one of the guest speakers at a library events about children’s creativity and have signed a contract to have a picture book published. Like I said, it’s been a great start to the year.
Given that this is fundamentally a book blog, you’d think I would have had no trouble finding things to write about and publish here given all the great bookish things I have been doing. Some posts would be more appropriate for my writing website, but generally speaking, there has been no shortage of content for Reading Upside Down. In theory.
In practice, I have put a lot of thought into all the things I could write about and haven’t done very much actual writing. I blame a combination of busyness, procrastination and an inability to work out where to start.
But, start I must, otherwise I will continue to go around and around getting nowhere. Like this:
So, in an attempt to clear the backlog of topics from my head, I have put together a summary of what I have been up to. I am hoping to expand on many of these points in the near future. The points are in neither chronological nor logical order.
- Book contract signed! Watch this space for more information. I’m expecting my first picture book to appear on shelves in March/April 2015. The story will be illustrated by the amazingly talented Gwynneth Jones.
- Joined author/artist Ursula Kolbe at Charlestown library to discuss Ursula’s latest book, Children’s Imagination: Creativity Under Our Noses. I contributed content to this book and I am very passionate about the message the book promotes – the importance of encouraging children to think creatively and the value of imaginative play.
- Attended a fabulous talk by author/illustrator Narelle Oliver at Belmont Library.
- Attended several book launches, including Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney, Tiddas by Anita Heiss, Jam for Nana by Deborah Kelly and Lessons of a Lac by Lynn Jenkins and Kirrili Lonergan.
- Attended several events held as part of the Newcastle launch of Anita Heiss’ Tiddas including an ‘in conversation’ event between Anita and Lisa Heidke, the launch at the Lake Macquarie Art Gallery and a Girls’ Night event where Lisa and Anita both read from their books and discussed women’s fiction. We also managed to fit in two social events – lunch at Rustica and a post-event cocktail at Le Passe Temps on the Friday.
- Took my 13-year-old daughter to see the Hunter Region Drama School’s performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Civic Playhouse in Newcastle.
- Took my 10-year-old son to see a performance of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s The 13-Storey Treehouse at the Laycock St Theatre in Gosford.
- Attended a Writing for the Education Market workshop run by writer Kerri Lane/Kaz Delaney.
- Attended various local CBCA meetings and events as part of the wonderfully dynamic Newcastle sub-branch, which celebrates its first birthday this month. I have taken on the role of Promotions Officer for this group.
- Visited a local primary school as a Role Model for Books in Homes, talking with the students about why I love books.
- Attended the first Newcastle/Central Coast/Hunter SCBWI meeting, along with 13 other local writers and illustrators. I’m really looking forward to seeing this group grow and develop.
- As part of my decision to take my writing more seriously, I have joined several professional organisations including CBCA (last year), SCBWI, ASA and the Hunter Writers’ Centre. I have also registered as a Role Model with Books in Homes.
- Failed to get to the CBCA Conference and Sydney Writers’ Festival. Also completed failed to attend even one session at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival thanks to family illnesses and other commitments. I also missed attending the first National Book Bloggers Forum (#NBBF14) held in Sydney and hosted by Random House and Penguin and I don’t have any plans to attend either the SCBWI or CYA Conferences in July. This has been a source of great frustration. I am hoping that I will have more opportunities to attend conferences and festivals in 2015 and have plans to volunteer at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival.
- I am planning to attend the NSW Writers’ Centre Kids’ and YA Festival in Sydney this weekend.
I have also read a gazillion awesome books. OK. That’s an exaggeration, but I have read some really fantastic books this year, many of them by Australia authors. I have made an effort to read some grown-up books, since my work at Kids’ Book Review tends to mean that my reading pile is mostly picture books and novels for kids and teens.
Reviews are on the way for:
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
- Heart Beat – Elizabeth Scott
- Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia – Amra Pajalic, Demet Divaroren (eds)
- Tiddas – Anita Heiss
- Chocolate Cake for Breakfast – Danielle Hawkins
- Calypso Summer – Jared Thomas
- Writing Clementine – Kate Gordon
- A House for Donfinkle – Choechoe Brereton
I think that covers most of the things that I should have been sharing here, but haven’t. Now I can focus on what is coming up and I’ll also backtrack to share more details about several of the things listed here, as well as posting some reviews. I also want to post a weekly update about what books I am currently reading.
Hopefully now that I have taken the first step, I’ll be able to get myself into a blogging routine once again.by