Thursday, November 26, 2015

Beans have been spilled...

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. I have been sitting on some news and was waiting for my opportunity to spill the beans. As I mentioned last time, I am between published books, and with that in mind I decided to put my hat in the ring when the call came recently for judges for the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for 2016. I have always been interested in trying out for this. And having just completed the Diploma in Children's Literature, and with this window of opportunity of having no eligible books of my own (which may or may not come around again), I thought this might be my best chance to take on such a role. I applied.

I have known the outcome of my application for several weeks, and today it was finally announced I AM A JUDGE for the 2016 Awards. Suffice it to say I am very excited and I'm looking forward to discussing the submitted books with the other judges. There will be lots of reading involved as you can imagine, and then lots of secrecy as I meet up with my co-conspirators to make shortlists and winner decisions. I have strong secret squirrel game so I am READY! You can read all about it below.


picFiona Mackie, Kathy Aloniu and Melinda Szymanik have been appointed as judges of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
The judging team will deliberate over an expected 150 entries in five categories: Picture Book, Illustration, Junior Fiction, Non-fiction and Young Adult Fiction. They will select five finalists, then a winner in each category.
Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, Lawren Matrix, and Mereana Taungapeau have been appointed as judges for Te Kura Pounamu – the award that recognises and celebrates books written or translated into te reo Māori.
The supreme winner, drawn from the winners of the six categories, will be declared the 2016 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year.
Between them the judges have huge experience of reading, enjoying and working with books for children and young adults.
“The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is delighted to have such excellent judges for the 2016 awards,” says its chair Nicola Legat. “These judges stand out as having remarkable experience and expertise across many aspects of children’s literature.”
The finalist authors in the awards will embark upon a nationwide author tour, in the week prior to the awards being announced at a ceremony to be held in Wellington in August.
The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is sponsored by Creative New Zealand, Hell Pizza, Book Tokens Ltd and Copyright Licensing Limited New Zealand (CLLNZ). They are also supported by the Fernyhough Education Foundation and Nielsen Bookdata. The awards are administered for the New Zealand Book Awards Trust by the New Zealand Book Council.
For further information please contact:
Nicola Legat
New Zealand Book Awards Trust
ph: 021 958 887
Judges Background Information – Additional information
Convenor of judges Fiona Mackie has 30 years’ experience across the education and libraries sectors, having worked as a teacher, a reference librarian, the Social Sciences Selector and the New Schools Advisor while at the National Library. She is a Past President of SLANZA — the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa — and is currently the teacher-librarian at Pinehurst College in Auckland.
Riki-Lee Saua (Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Tainui) is the Te Kura Pounamu Award Coordinator. Riki-Lee has worked in a number of Māori-specific roles at Auckland Libraries and Massey University Library. Currently she is a Subject Librarian at Manukau Institute of Technology in Otara, Auckland and is also a member of Te Rōpū Whakahau, the professional association for Māori who work in libraries, archives and information services.
Kathy Aloniu’s love of children’s literature comes from a rewarding 14 years spent as Manager of Children’s Services at the Invercargill Public Library. Kathy is currently City Team Leader at Dunedin Public Libraries and is an associate of the Libraries and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). In 2012 Kathy was part of the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards judging panel.
Melinda Szymanik is a highly regarded writer of children’s fiction. Her books include Jack the VikingThe Were-Nana and A Winter’s Day in 1939. Recipient of the University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer’s Residency in 2014, Melinda recently completed a Diploma in Children’s Literature from the University of Canterbury.
Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau (Te Aitanga ā Hauiti, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tuhoe) is Principal Librarian Children’s Services at HB Williams Memorial Library, Gisborne. Te Rangi Rangi continues to ‘raise reading levels’ for kura kaupapa Māori children participating in the Kiki Taumata programme. The programme is conducted in te reo Māori and supported by senior students.
Lawren Matrix (Ngāi Tuhoe, Ngāti Koura) is the Children’s Librarian at Te Matariki Clendon library in Auckland. Lawren is responsible for the provision of Māori-specific programming, story-time visits and other programmes designed for children and youth on behalf of Auckland Libraries. Lawren has strong connections with Māori and Pasifika community groups in the Clendon and the wider Auckland area.
Mereana Taungapeau (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai) is Heritage Programme Adviser, Māori, at the Alexander Turnbull Library. Mereana is involved in a number of outreach programmes responsible for connecting Māori children, youth and adults to library collections. Mereana has wide experience of delivering library outreach programmes for local kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Excuse me while I do the limbo...

This year is a year without a book. I have a small project which will be out in print next month and I have been writing, mostly on the novel which I began while at the Pah Homestead, but this has been a fallow year. Sitting on the sideline watching the book world move forward without me. Excuse me while I do the limbo.

After the hurly burly of the last few years this feels strange. But I am no stranger to strange. Much of the first half of the year was spent at the Pah Homestead. Several months ago my focus was on preparation for our big overseas trip and then we embarked on the trip itself, which was awesome and monumental, both literally and figuratively. And then we returned and the remainder of the year fell into a kind of limbo with few fixed dates. The most excellent NZ Book Week (in the last week of October) and the wonderful and full of warm fuzzies NZ Bookshop day (on Halloween!!) was a most welcome departure from this. Huge thanks to the NZSA for rescuing this incredibly important event, and to the two bookshops (Time Out Bookstore in Mt Eden and the Dorothy Butler Children's Bookshop in Ponsonby) who invited me along on the 31st to share in their celebrations. It was a day of mutual love and respect between booksellers, writers and illustrators, and readers, and every one felt very wanted by the end of the day. I have everything crossed and knotted that this becomes an annual arrangement.

But the rest of the time... well ... I'm mostly still in limbo. It feels like being in one of those flotation chambers where you have no choice but to be introspective. I've been navel gazing and reading posts and articles on the social media platforms I'm signed up to which can be a very dangerous occupation. And trying to fathom twitter which is a deep well of weirdness. Whether Essena O'Neill's reasons for quitting social media were honest or not she's right about sites like facebook, twitter and tumblr being a heavily filtered version of reality. Even if photos and comments are raw and genuine, folk still curate their images and words carefully to show the side of themselves they are willing to reveal. And people have agendas. Twitter, while it still feels like learning a foreign language, is a perfect example of an agenda driven medium. All sorts of strangers have started following me and I know it's not because of my phenomenal wit and stunning beauty (ahem - cough) as clearly neither of these are on display on the platform (cough, cough). For some, it's because they hope to sell me something at some point, whether it's their services or their books. I am allergic to direct selling, preferring to find my books by way of good writing and discovering an author is really cool and has interesting things to say, which seems to be a novel way of doing things these days. And I always (where possible) try and buy my required services locally. And yet twitter  is so interesting. Social media has multiple means of luring you in and turning you into an internet zombie ... anyways, as always, I have digressed.  

So, while I wander the labyrinth of social media like a modern day  Ulysses without a ball of string wondering whether I mind being lost or not, 2016 looms... looking mostly like a blank canvas. The thought of a new year is always a mixture of dread and giddy anticipation. So many possibilities, so much free time.

I do have a picture book scheduled for release next June. Yay!! Fuzzy Doodle. Illustrated by the marvelous Donovan Bixley and published by Scholastic. I don't have any pics to share yet and I am feeling a little coy about revealing any part of the story. Soz. But soon folks ... soon you can have a wee peek...

So, one key event for 2016, and the rest has still been feeling like a yawning chasm of nothing. An emptiness...

I booked a few things to give myself the illusion of busy and/ or important. Tickets for my SO and I to see The Tempest at the Pop Up Globe Theatre in March. And a follow up specialist's appointment in October. Woohoo! But after the schedules of the last few years things were still looking a leedle bit barren. Don't worry, my SO said, things will crop up. That's pretty much always been my philosophy too. Stay connected and involved. Keep writing - cos that's what I like to do. And have faith that things will arrive to pepper the calendar with busy and/or important. And fun!

And you know what? It's already started happening...