Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fuzzy Doodle is HERE!!...

I have been in the thrilling eye of a school visiting/author event whirlwind for a wee while but this is now quietening down and I seem to have popped out the other side. Big shout outs to the most fabulous Orakei Primary, Parnell District School, Northcote Primary, Mission Heights Primary and Milford Primary Schools who, I have discovered, all love books just as much as I do. I have also spoken with teacher trainees about using NZ children's books in the classroom, launched my new picture book and run a day long picture book writing workshop for adult writers. If you missed out on the Picture Book Writing workshop and would like to attend, I will be conducting another one on November 5th - details are here. Just havin' a lil hibernate now while the winter weather is extra rubbish and the school term runs down to school holidays. I will be back in to the swing of things come August. As always, despite the fact that I am in the teaching role for all these events, I always learn new things about public speaking and author visits.

1) Protect your throat. Talking a lot can put a big strain on it. Gargles, throat lozenges and rest where possible. And keep hydrated folks.

2) Wear layers because visit environments range significantly in warmth, especially in the recent unpredictable Auckland weather. Being too cold or too hot is very distracting.

3) Add ten minutes travel time on to the longest amount of time you think it'll take you to get to your destination. Be ready to hit the ground running.

4) Always pack some chocolate in your lunchbox - best mid visit boost ever. And a serviette or wipes - chocolate smears on your cardy look awkward.

5) My book earrings are worth their weight in gold. I have two or three ice-breaking props or items of clothing/jewellery and always have an ice-breaking opening line or two to warm both me and the children up and get us chatting.

6) Don't forget to take your visitor sticker off afterwards....

Meanwhile I can also report Fuzzy Doodle has had the loveliest delivery into the world. People have been saying some very kind things and you can read some early reviews  here at the My Best Friends Are Books Blog, and  here at the Booksellers NZ blog. I think the launch went well, many thanks to the brilliant Time Out Bookstore who hosted the event and all the wonderful folk who came and celebrated Fuzzy with me, and bought the book. Fuzzy has been feeling the love and loves you all right back. Here I am on signing duties on the day (photo credit - Sue Copsey).

I also made some origami butterflies with young guests (photo credit - Halina Szymanik)

And in an exciting development Fuzzy made the New Zealand Nielsen Bestseller List squeaking in at number ten on the NZ Children's and Teens bestsellers for the week ending June 11, and climbing to No. 8 for the week ending June 18. This is a first for me and I am extremely thrilled. Woohoo!!

Monday, June 6, 2016

and the book give away winner is.......

It is time to announce the winner of my book give-away.

Frogmella, the envelope please......

table top drumroll.............

...All the entries were fabtabulous. I love the heady magic of a good opening line and you all reminded me of some wonderful beginnings, but there can only be one... Maureen I could not help but agree about the game-changing nature of the Harry Potter canon, and that opening line of the first book does indeed draw us in before we are even aware we have been hooked. What deliciousness followed. You are my give away winner. A copy of Fuzzy Doodle will be on its way to you shortly.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Eventually, a reply...

I was pretty shocked and dismayed by a recent article that appeared in The Spinoff, defending the new initiative, the Academy of New Zealand Literature. The Academy seeks to support and promote New Zealand Literature here and overseas. The article was a reaction to some of the 'less than rosy' responses to the launch of the academy. I was shocked that children's authors were deemed 'the worst' of those responding, and dismissed as 'easily ignored.' Maybe it was meant as a joke, although it didn't feel funny at the time. At least the part about us discussing the initiative was true. We weren't happy there were no dedicated children's writers included in the 100 strong membership of the academy. I would have said that was a compliment to the academy - that we saw its value and appreciated what it might do for authors. I would have thought discussing this amongst ourselves where we sought to understand, rationalise and move forward would have been an understandable thing to do. But it came off sounding more like we had been throwing entrails in a cauldron while we concocted some curse against those working hard to create this new endeavour. In truth a large part of our discussion ending up referencing superheroes, capes, masks and wearing our undies on the outside. Someone asked whether you could wear a poncho instead of a cape (the consensus was yes). We're writers and illustrators. We're not new to rejection. We're also human.

In the moment when I read the article there seemed no response I could make that would not reinforce the writer's opinion of our group. I felt hurt and angry and all the words that sprung to mind were fairly loaded. We were exhorted not to 'fight' by others. We often say nothing because of fear. It's a small town. And times are hard. Yet if we always say nothing maybe we are 'easily ignored.' And none of these are 'fighting' words.

Most of all I'm sorry that this might deepen the divide between adult and children's writers. That's a real shame. We're not the enemy.

Now our online group has moved on to discussing the importance of breaking regularly from constant sitting to avoid blood clots - a serious issue for serious writers. We're talking about the LoveOzYa campaign, and about a similar promotional poster campaign that one of our group has been driving here in New Zealand. We talk about a lot of things that might help us. Sometimes we moan and groan, and get a bit feisty. Feel free to throw the first stone at us if you never do this. Anyways, our demonic cabal of cauldron stirrers is now on hiatus as we focus on our key obsessions of writing and illustrating, and the secondary ones of profile, promotion and marketing. I hope the Academy springs forward in leaps and bounds and is able at some near future point to bring children's writers and illustrators on board. In the meantime we will continue to look to each other for support and promotion.