My life as a children's author while juggling being a mum, a wife and professional volunteer. (Sometimes it gets complicated)

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Katapult - Edition 8 - August, 2018

Welcome to Katapult!

This August weather has been glorious here! Warm, sunny days and cold, snuggly nights. We spent a few days in Port Stephens over the weekend for my birthday and the weather put on a show. It was the prefect weekend away - great food and accommodation, yummy high tea, lots of presents, very successful whale watching experience, and relaxation (except I forgot both pairs of reading glasses so no reading for me!).

So what’s been happening at my desk since the last time we had a chat? Bucketloads!

What’s Up?

1) Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton's visit to Newcastle:

The boys came, talked about their latest treehouse book, drew a few pictures, hit marshmallows at us with tennis rackets, and then signed our books and posed for photos. Too much fun! Kids and adults were highly entertained by their antics. 

2) Puppy Update: 

Ivy had her 5 month birthday on the 28th July and she is a master of chewing things! This has inspired me to write a picture book about a puppy who chews everything, especially boxes! Too much inspiration around here to ignore any longer. I asked my facebook friends to help me with some non-human puppy names for the puppy in my story. I got over 100 suggestions! Watch this space.

Upcoming Events

1) Book Week School Visits:

Kirrili and I will be visiting lots of local bookshops, preschools and primary schools in the coming weeks to help celebrate books, reading, and writing. We have made a video giving some lucky children a sneak peek inside our upcoming picture book, Up To Something, which will be released May, 2019. 

Good luck to all my creative friends who will be sharing their writing and illustrating talents across Australia!

2) Hunter Writers Centre - Writing for Children Workshop:

I'll be attending this workshop presented by Sue Whiting this Saturday and I can't wait. A few spots are still available if you're free and live near Newcastle. Click here for details.

Publishing Update

1) Kirrili has been working very hard on the illustrations for Up To Something. We can’t wait to share this one with the world! Wish I could show you some of the sketches :)

2) Cheri has continued to work on the illustrations for No Baths Week too. I haven't seen anything for a few weeks so she must be working very hard.

3) And now I can finally announce that my fifth picture book, Isla’s Family Tree will be illustrated by Prue Pittock ( and published by EK Books in 2020. Prue’s work is beautiful and her style is perfect for this story. Her initial concept sketches were divine. Prue and I look forward to sharing more of Isla with you next year.

Anything to Share?

1) It’s Love Your Bookshop Day this Saturday, 11th August. Go and support you local independent bookseller and eat cake with them.

2) Good luck to all the publishers, authors and illustrators who have books shortlisted in the upcoming Book Week Awards. Winners will be announced Friday, 17th August.

Here's how you can get involved:

Recent Book Purchase/s?

Barney by Catherine Jinks and Stephen Michael King
The 104-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton

Where can you find me on social media?

I’ve made it easy. Just click on the live links below and like or follow me.

Feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email:

I’d love to hear from you!

This is a photo of my studio. 
So how does Ivy entertain herself while I write? 
By chewing of course! 
Look at that mess.
She's supposed to be on the mat at the back :)
She chews that too - ha!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Katapult - Edition 7 - July, 2018

Welcome to Katapult!

July is one of my favourite months of the year! Both my children were born in July so it’s like Christmas at our house. Cards, balloons and wrapping paper can be seen everywhere. One party is sadly over, but we still have one more to go.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day as I write this newsletter today - something we haven’t seen enough of around here recently - we are water-logged! 

So what’s been happening at my desk since the last time we had a chat? Plenty!

What’s Up?

CBCA NSW Branch Inc Newcastle Sub-branch Meeting: 

Our latest meeting featured Ed Wright from The Creative Wordshop. Ed shared with us how his business is helping local writers of all ages and experiences improve their writing skills. 

Puppy Update: 

Our puppy, Ivy turned four-months old on the 28th June. She has certainly claimed her spot in our family and we adore her. The good news is she is 100% clear of any health issues and we managed to avoided surgery last month for a reoccurring abscess. She is happy and busy - just the way puppies should be. We’ve completed puppy school now and things are going well. Fingers crossed they stay that way! I could waste time looking at her all day long - similar to when you bring newborns home. I just wish she would stop stealing things and chewing them! She's so cheeky.

And of course I have a picture book story plan thanks to her puppy antics with a box.

Kids and YA Festival: 

I attended the biannual Kids and YA Festival last weekend hosted by Belinda Murrell and Writing NSW (formally the NSW Writers Centre). Lots of engaging and entertaining panels filled the day with inspiration and hope. I was lucky enough to have been chosen to pitch a picture book manuscript to a panel of three children’s publishers during the last session (Scholastic, Hachette, HarperCollins). Two of them wanted to see the manuscript after the pitch. I've sent it off now so cross your fingers for me :)

I love catching up with all my writing and illustrating friends from afar at events like this. It's such a warm and friendly community!

Photo 1: Belinda Murrell in conversation with Jacqueline Harvey
Photo 2: Dub Leffler, Sarah Davis (chair), Aura Parker, Kirli Saunders and Paul Russell

Photo 1: Dub Leffler
Photo 2: Me, Marian McGuinness, Belinda Murrell, Lindy Batchelor

Photo 1: Jacqueline Harvey (chair), Tim Harris, RA Pratt and Oliver Phommavanh
Photo 2: Kate Forsyth, Jane McCredie (Writing NSW), Belinda Murrell

Bookings for Books Week School Visits:

If you’d like me (or Kirrili and I as an author/illustrator team) to come to your school, shoot me an email so we can organise one that is perfectly designed for your school’s needs. Preschools, Primary Schools and High Schools welcome!

I'm also represented by: 

Greenleaf Agency (Greenleaf Press)

Upcoming Events

I’m doing a monthly story time event at Harry Hartog, Kotara until the end of the year. My July visit is on Wednesday, 11th July at 10:30am - first week of the school holidays.

All my 2018 story time dates can be found here.

We are going to see Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton on stage taking about their latest release, The 104 Storey Treehouse during these school holidays. Andy is my hero and I can’t wait to see both of them on stage. They released a second show in Newcastle recently. Tickets for the second show can be found here.

Publishing Update

I’ve been working with Kirrili and our publisher this week on all the draft internals of Up To Something due for release May next year (EK Books). OMG! is all I can say. Our book is coming together beautifully. We tweaked a few pencil lines here, and a few words there to make it the best book it can be. Kirrili is now ready to splash the colours around and start the final illustrations. We can’t wait to share this one with the world!

I’ve also seen some draft internals of No Baths Week today, due for release early 2019 (Big Sky Publishing). These are full of magic too. Cheri Hughes is a very clever chook. 

My fifth picture book, Isla’s Family Tree (third one with EK Books) has found a home on an illustrator’s easel who is busting to help my words jump off the page with the help of beautiful illustrations. I saw some of the concept drawings this week. My heart is singing. Her full identity will be revealed soon. This will be a 2020 release.

I know … when it rains, it pours! All three books in the one week! I have three beautiful illustrators working on my stories at the moment and I feel like the luckiest author in the world!

Anything to Share?

The Hunter Writers Centre is hosting a children’s writing workshop with Sue Whiting on the 11th Aug from 9:45am. If you'd like to join us, please follow the link here.

Recent Book Purchases?

Teacup by Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley (This one took my breath away.)
Errol by Zanni Louise and Philip Bunting (This one is simple and cute but clever.)

Where can you find me on social media?

I’ve made it easy. Just click on the live links below and like or follow me.

Feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email:

I’d love to hear from you!

Some photos of my winter Camellias I popped onto Instagram last week. 

I love receiving drawings from my daughter.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Katapult - Edition 6 - June, 2018

Welcome to Katapult!

So May has flown by and Winter has certainly started here. It’s cold and rainy this week so that’s great for getting lots of computer work done. So what has been happening at my desk since the last time we had a chat? Oodles!

What’s Up?

CBCA NSW Branch Inc Newcastle Sub-branch Meeting: Our lastest local meeting featured two wonderful children’s authors: Susanne Gervay and Deb Abela. These ladies had us enthralled as we listened to inspirational stories of how their latest titles came to be. I could listen to both of them all day long.

Kitlitvic Conference in Melbourne: Kirrili and I attended this conference on Saturday, 19th May. This was the third time we’ve attended and we always come home refreshed and motivated to continue to create for kids. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends, talk to publishers, make new friends, and meet those we’re connected to on social media but haven’t met in person yet. The day flew - when we weren't soaking up advice, we were trying to catch everyone you can in the breaks before they disappeared after the conference. 

I had a wonderful manuscript assessment with a publisher while there. She has asked me to do a slight rewrite of both manuscripts I submitted to her, and then resend. This was wonderful news. I’ve completed one rewrite. I would have had both done by now but I've had computer issues since the conference. See below for my computer whinge.

We took our husbands with us (they went to the footy while the conference was on) as we have the previous conferences, so we could visit the most amazing restaurants together without the kids :) And then we did a little shopping on the Sunday before heading home. We felt the weekend was over in a flash, but it’s always so rewarding and fun. Can’t wait for next year!


St Philip’s Christian College, Cessnock School Visit: Kirrili and I visited the college on the 24th May as part of their annual Festival of Words celebrations. We spoke to and provided workshops for the Year 3 and 4 students. We were on the same day as Morris Gleitzman but alas, didn’t have time to have a cuppa with him. The kids we worked with had amazing ideas and contagious creativity. Its always rewarding when kids take a small idea and turn it into stories bursting with adventure, tension and chaos. We wrote about disastrous billy-cart stories following on from the storyline in our upcoming book, Up To Something. 

If you’d like us to come to your school, shoot me an email so we can organise one that is perfectly designed for your school’s needs. Preschools, Primary Schools and High Schools!

JWFK Blog Interview: I was interviewed for the Just Write For Kids blog by the lovely Debra Tidball. It was been broken into three parts as I talk too much and Deb couldn’t fit it in the usual two parts - oops! The third part was released last last week.

The first part is here.
The second part is here.
The third part is here.

Puppy Update: So, Ivy had her 3 month birthday on the 28th May, and we’ve had her for one month now. We’ve had some ups and downs I can tell you! She is so sweet and smart and I adore her puppy eyes. But we have been the most unlucky family when it comes to unlucky one-off health issues in the time. I asked my vet this morning if he has a frequent flyer scheme as I feel I’m there every second day. Ear infections, gastro bugs, possible food allergies, and abysses have kept us on our toes. Fingers crossed we avoid surgery over the next few days. Lucky we love her :)

Computer Issues: So my computer had a major breakdown! After I had one too, I called in an IT expert. After three visits from him, two visits to Apple, a visit from my electrician, a new screen and a complete rebuild of my computer at Apple (no computer for a whole week!), I am back up and running. It’s in times like these I realise how much I use and need my computer, how much I rely on it, and how grateful I am I had everything backed up! Back up people! Back up your computer now! (Then backup the backup!) Thank goodness of the iCloud!

Upcoming Events

1) I’m doing a monthly story time event at Harry Hartog, Kotara until the end of the year. My June visit is on Wednesday, 13th June at 10:30am.

2) Our next CBCA Newcastle meeting will feature Ed Wright talking to us about his business, The Creative Word Shop on Wednesday, 20th June. I'm looking forward to this.

3) This month is flooded with lots of lovely family and school celebrations. So I’m actually happy I have some breathing space to organise, attend, and relax and enjoy them.

Publishing Update

If you read the third part of my interview on the JWFK blog, you may already know I have been offered my fifth picture book contract. I'm so ecstatic! We won’t see this book until 2020 so this is where the waiting begins for you, but the fun behind-the-scenes stuff happens for me *though there is a lot of boring waiting for me at times too). I will share more information about this exciting news in the months to come. 

No Baths Week has been rescheduled for an early 2019 release (instead of Oct, 2018) so you’ll have to wait a few more months before this one hits the shelves. I know, it's a little disappointing, but it's for good business reasons. I won't bore you with the details.

Anything to Share?

Kids and YA festival: Saturday, 30th June: This festival is biannual and is always held at the NSW Writers Centre in Sydney. The program looks amazing and it’s another excuse to catchup with amazing people in the industry. Hope to see you there!

Recent Book Purchase/s?

Wolfie - An Unlikely Hero by Deb Abela and Connah Brecon
Elephants Have Wings by Susanne Gervay and Anna Pignataro
The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery by Deb Abela

Where can you find me on social media?

I’ve made it easy. Just click on the live links below and like or follow me.

Feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email:

I’d love to hear from you!

I took this photo a few weeks ago while at my daughter's soccer training. One of my contracted picture books is about rainbows. You'll see that one late in 2019.