One thing that staying inside has lead to – is a tidy up of this blog. With my second picture book hovering in the wings I thought it was time to upload a new page to showcase the soon to be released Temper Tabitha, illustrated by Leah Russack and published by Larrikin House.
Written in rhyme and metre, as is most of my work, Tabitha is a feisty little girl who likes to get her way. Readers will be bemused and amused as they follow her antics especially when she locks horns with a little boy as determined to get his way as she is.
So perhaps the adults will step in to help? Well yes, they do. But not in the way you might expect.
I’m so looking forward to seeing Tabitha in the world but while we wait you might like to pop over to her page where you can download some colouring activity sheets and if you’re as excited about holding your own copy of Tabitha as I am then you can pre-order a copy from here.
Wishing you all a safe and anxiety free Autumn and may all our tantrums during this time be tiny.
Some people have asked the question – what is the difference between a rhyming poem and a story written in rhyming verse? And I thought the easiest way to answer this question was to show you two examples of my own.
The School Magazine – Countdown – Sept 2007 [VOL.92 NO.8]
A Story written in rhyming verse
Simply put then – a poem captures a moment, a feeling, an emotion and a story tells a story with a beginning, a middle and and an end.
Halloween isn’t really something that we celebrate in our family, especially now that the kids have grown up. However, having said that, I do enjoy a spooky story (I grew up reading Stephen King) so thought I might share one on Poetry Friday which is being hosted today on Tabatha Yeatts’ blog.
When Jen Storer announced that this year we could submit as many pieces as we liked to her Scribbles Creative Writing Awards and that there was a new poetry section – I got busy. I ended up submitting 6 pieces. Five picture books text and one poem and I’m very thrilled to announce that the poem (My Island) and one of the picture books (Betsy’s Bargain Bloomers) have made the shortlist along with all these wonderful fellow kidlit writers/illustrators listed above.
It can be daunting entering competitions and there have been some interesting discussions on facebook about this, particularly about the disappointment that the non-shortlisters feel. Competitions are tough, not only for the entrants but for the judges also, especially, as Jen informed us, that some entries missed out by only 0.5 of a mark and of course it’s terribly frustrating not knowing if your entry was one of those.
However, despite the disappointments and the not knowing, I think competitions are invaluable (as some of you may know I run my competition every Spring for Writers of Rhyme and Metre) because they force you to write something new or polish something old and get it out there in front of readers and this what it’s all about really isn’t it? Getting our writing read.
So huge congratulations to everyone who entered this year’s CWA and I hope that some of you will consider entering my comp too.
It’s probably terribly vain but sometimes I Google my name just to see what’s floating about and here’s what I discovered today.
This poem was first published by The School Magazine (ORBIT) in 2005 and again in 2016. It also appears in the New Mulberry English Course Book published by Oxford University Press in India, now in its third edition which probably explains this translated recitation.
Two more poems have been recorded by Shaheen Aggarwal – I just love the way she reads them, so expressive.
Puppy & Me was first published by The School Magazine (COUNTDOWN) in July 2006 and Nothing to Worry About was first published by The School Magazine (COUNTDOWN) in June 2006.
The School Magazine have been supporting children’s poets for over 100 years and they too have now started to utilise YouTube as another means for sharing poetry for children. Here are the links to some more of my poems that have been published by The School Magazine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to some of my poems and please do show your support by giving them the ol’ thumbs up.
Round and round and up and down we go – the life of a writer. At the moment I seem to be on the way up, understanding full well, that after an “up” there is, more often than not, a “down” but until that moment happens, I’ll enjoy the ride.
My most recent news is that a picture book, written during my May Gibbs Creative Time Fellowship in Canberra, has been picked up by Scholastic Australia. This is huge for me as I’ve been sending them manuscripts for nearly four years. I’ve always felt Scholastic might be a good fit as they definitely don’t shy away from rhyme and many of their books are extremely humorous and I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a comedian. It really is the most wonderful feeling.
Just before the Scholastic acceptance I received another two acceptances from a new publisher, Larrikin House. They too are a good fit for me, funny and open to rhyme. We ran a competition to see if we could find an illustrator whose style might fit and we did – it’s such a joyous time.
Walker Books Australia will be publishing a rhyming picture book in time for Christmas next year. There’s been a change of illustrator so I’m looking forward to seeing who the new one will be – very exciting. I’m also holding my breath as another picture book goes to an acquisitions meeting next week. Nerve wracking but exciting all the same.
So while I’m up on the swing I will smile and enjoy the view and feel incredibly grateful to all who have supported me along the way. Thank you!
Now that I’ve settled back in at home I’m asking myself exactly how creative was I during my month in Canberra? Well, let’s see…
I polished the text for my next picture book with Walker, due out by Christmas next year (2020).
Walker is also considering another picture book at the moment, fingers, toes and eyes are crossed.
I wrote a number of poems, one of which has been purchased by The School Magazine (they are sitting on 3 others). I also wrote a couple of picture books, one of which is being considered by one of the major publishers in Australia, for this I am holding my breath.
A new publisher Larrikin House has accepted a picture book called Temper Tabitha due out in March 2020 and is seriously considering another one.
I’ve submitted five other picture books to five different publishers that, as yet, haven’t been officially rejected – I like to live in hope, you have to in this game, so no news is good news, until it isn’t.
I submitted 3 stories and two were accepted into Michelle Worthington’s anthology – Spooktacular Stories: Thrilling Tales for Brave Kids.
Elizabeth is celebrating the release of her new book Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer which includes 22 poems about everything soccer – the ball, shin guards, uniforms, teammates, dribbling, fans and even the handshake after the game. So in the same tradition I thought I’d share a poem that I wrote, wait for it, 13 years ago about my oldest child Harrison and his love of Aussie Rules Football. And as it’s Mothers’ Day here in Australia on Sunday I thought that this was the perfect poem to share. It actually came to be written as the football club had a competition running for mothers to write a short story about what it was that they enjoyed about mothering a junior football player. So this is what I wrote. It won the competition in case you were wondering.
Welcomed at the airport by the wonderful Virginia West on April Fool’s Day – so my adventure began. Today is my final day in Canberra and I can’t believe how quickly four weeks have passed. This post will be a little summary of my time here.
The first adventure began at the airport as we were unable to find where Virginia had parked the car! It reminded me of that Seinfeld episode. It was very funny and made me feel right at home. Once the car was found we went to the National Museum for a lovely lunch and I stared in awe across the lake at the The National Library.
After a lovely lunch of pulled pork and salad we did a quick grocery shop before I was taken to my new home at The Australian National University. My apartment was very cosy and I particularly loved the shower – great water pressure!
Reading back over my notes – which I wasn’t very consistent with, I can tell you that I wrote all afternoon and most of the next day which made me feel very writerly. Now I don’t want to do a day by day report so I’ll only mention some of the highlights. The first was a visit to the Botanical Gardens where I accidentally walked up Black Mountain to the Telstra Tower. I say accidentally because I had no intention of walking up the mountain until I stumbled upon a sign that said – this way to the Telstra Tower – and I thought, how hard can it be? Well, very hard, that’s how hard. But I did it!
The second was Tania McCartney’s Hip Hip Hooray Book Launch at Harry Hartog’s. Only a ten minute walk from the apartment I managed not to get lost and enjoyed catching up with some fellow writers that I’d only ever met online.
Next was the absolutely wonderful launch of This is Home – Essential Australian Poems for Children (in which I have two) selected by Jackie French and illustrated by Tania McCartney – one of reasons for choosing to spend my time in Canberra apart from the fact that I’d never been here before. Apologies for my lack of photographs I was too busy getting the authors to sign their poems for me.
Mum and Dad drove up from Ballarat for the launch which was a huge effort. Caught up with them a few times – one time included visiting the Portrait Gallery.
On Monday 15th Tania McCartney organised a get together of the SCBWI ACT group at the NLA’s cafe Bookplate where I was surprised with birthday gifts and made to feel incredibly welcome. Again so nice to put faces to names.
Another thing that I have done is create a photobook of my poetry this time with Mixbook. This is such a fun thing to do and a lovely way to showcase your work. My dream of course would be a proper published collection of my poetry illustrated by a proper illustrator and published by a proper publisher – the dream of any children’s poet I should think.
I’ve written quite a few new poems while I’ve been here. One was inspired by the Eagle’s Nest Sculpture at the Arboretum which I was able to visit twice thanks to Virginia West. The first time was a drive through where I took this picture then wrote a little poem.
The second time we visited was for lunch and what a funny lunch that was! The views were spectacular, my entree, however, was not. We ordered their lunch special which consisted of 3 courses. I ordered the prawn bisque for my entree which turned out to be 3 huge king prawns ankle deep in a tiny bowl of red-ish, luke-warmish soup. I managed to tackle the flesh from 2 prawns but gave up after that as the soup was now cold and my hands were completely covered in it, prawn flesh, shell and another liquid that I couldn’t quite determine. When asked how my dish was I had to be honest and suggest that it wasn’t the best way to serve soup. For what it’s worth, soup, in my opinion should not be eaten with your hands. The main dish was better and the cheese was lovely and the fact that they overcharged me by $100 has been rectified. A memorable and comedic day!
Another terrific experience was my visit to the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL) thanks to Belle Alderman. For those of you who don’t know NCACL is an independent not-for-profit body that collects, preserves and shares the works of Australian’s children’s book writers and illustrators. If you’d like to learn more about this amazing organisation their website can be found here.
Wrapping this up I would really like to thank everyone who has made this time available to me. This is the first time in my life where I have been on my own for this length of time. My children are now all adults and this time has given me a moment to reflect on, not only my writing but also my life which lately has offered up quite a few challenges. I have been able to use this time to reset and rethink and rejuvenate. It really has been the most wonderful experience and I encourage everyone to consider applying. The next round’s deadline is Tuesday 30th April – so you’d better get a move on.
I fly out tomorrow and I’ll be very sad to go but I am also very much looking forward to seeing my family again. I really have missed them terribly which is also another lovely reason to go away for a bit. Thank you to the May Gibbs Literature Trust, thank you to Virginia West, thank you to the SCBWI ACT gals particularly Tania McCartney for including me in so many things. Here are some random photos that I did manage to take. Thanks again Canberra – it’s been swell!!