a wintry warmer and book peeks

Monday, 1 July 2019

I don't know about you, but I'm shivering in my ugg boots this early morning as I type up this blog post, warmed by a hot water with lemon and a little blow heater at my feet. Yesterday I clicked send on a final draft for my large format picture book for Hardie Grant Travel. My divine editor will be working her magic these coming weeks. Not much rest, though, as today I'm diving back into my junior fiction series, Evie and Pog (and will be underwater again for quite a while), so I wanted to say hi and send some pretty pictures and a few little happenings before I disappear again.

The first and most important thing I want to tell you is that I've rediscovered gypsophila. I remember wearing a baby's breath crown at my Debut ahem-years-ago (Debut? yes, that's how old I am) and I think the '80s ruined this flower (along with any form of dress sense and style, and let's not even mention the hair). But just look at this blossomy cloud, en masse, above. Is it not beautiful? So, I declare gypsophila so very much back, baby. I'm sure those little white buds have their own light source.

Despite the freezing temps, husband and I manage a lake walk every Sunday morning (well, he runs - I alternatively lumber or hop/skip/jump, depending on the degree of Celsius). I tend to take the same track that leads to the divine Beijing Garden - with its temple gates and serenity-inducing plants.

I love living in Canberra, and I think it's one of the most underrated spots in Australia, but when you're hunkered down with fast-tracking your mortgage, seeing kids through high school and into the work force, chipping away at house updates and working your creative fingers to the bone, there isn't much time or dollars for travel. So the Beijing Garden sends me to Asia, if only for a moment, and this view through the trees as I leave the garden sends me to North American lakes.

I can dream.

On a North America note, do you want a peek? Here you go...

And what's North America without South America, so here's a peek, too. Did you know the toco toucan's beak is a whopping third of its length, including tail? That bird has got to have some ripped abs to hold that thing up.

This travel book is out Feb next year. Cannot wait to show you!

And while we're at it, here is an Evie and Pog peek, too... That's my new rug (New Zealand wool, OMG, and it was almost half price!!) and that's also a chair and a plant from my living room. You know, when you put your house in your books.

On books, it's only two months until Ivy Bird hits the shelves! So so excited about this book. Here is a peek at one of Jess's illos from the book, and I'll do a cover reveal very soon. It's the BEST cover.

A couple of months ago, I was flicking through this absolutely gorgeous magazine from KidSpot, and could hardly believe my eyes when the second edition of Australia Illustrated appeared before my eyes. You know those times where you have to look not one, twice, but three times to be sure you're seeing what you're seeing? So so cool, and how much I want that floor mat map! Huge thanks to KidSpot for this amazing feature.

I had a massive end-of-fin-year sale on my Etsy store and I wanted to thank everyone for all the purchases! So grateful, and most of my backstock of prints have been snapped up. Prices have reverted from the sale, but if you'd like to see what's still available, click the image below.
What else? Oooh - the funnest thing happened. Story Box Library asked me to read some books! Nicole and her incredible team were in Canberra for the CBCA Conference and I had the enormous pleasure of recording two books - Mamie and Hip Hip Hooray! Talk about a pro team - it was an absolute hoot. Will let you know when my stories go live, but in the meantime, you can check out the Library's incredible line-up of readings by clicking the SBL poster below.


I also had the enormous pleasure (and honour) of designing a book cover for my dear friend and ├╝ber talented author, Dee White. Dee's amazing book, Letters to Leonardo, has been re-released in the States, and I put together this cover that I'm hoping reflects this divinely-penned story. Luckily, I have a son who's around the same age as protagonist Matt, and Riley served as an arm model!

When Matt Hudson turns fifteen, he receives a birthday card from his mother - but how could this happen? His father told him he died ten years ago. Was that a lie? Matt doesn't know who or what to believe. He sets out to find his mother, and the reasons behind her abandonment soon become clear...

Have you got goosies? I have!

I so hope this book does as well in the States as it did in Australia.

Just look at this divine little poppet. She's the baby of a local girl and she recently celebrated her first birthday with a Mamie-inspired photo shoot. What better way to cake smash than frocked up in this superb gum blossom creation. These photos just melt my heart.

(Belle Photography, Canberra)

And there is definitely some resemblance with baby Mamie from the book...

The past few months have been 12 - 14 hour days of book production (with no let-up till December) and so last weekend, I forced myself to move ALL day long and it was so good for my weary body. My studio was looking decidedly horrific, so I did a major clean out, and here is the result. It's so good to see some surfaces again.

I have quite the paper obsession (anything made of paper, really, especially books and artwork, of course) and my great dream to is create a stamp one day. Actually, in both senses of the word - would love to carve my own stamps for inking and stamping on artwork (I WILL do this one day!), and design an actual postage stamp for Australia Post. How cool would that be? Big dreams.

Anyhoo, the lovely Margaret Hamilton of Pinerolo Children's Book Cottage (and much other fame) sent me these special edition stamps by Australia Post - of what else but children's book creators. Hallelujah! Incredibly wonderful to see kidlit repped in this way. How completely gorgeous are they, in their own little booklet. You can get your own right here. Treasured. Thank you, Margaret.

Did you notice my new rug in these pics, did you, huh? More rug peeks now with my latest book purchases. Oh my goodness, these books are so divine. This first one, in particular, is astonishing. And The Girl Who Named Pluto had me rushed with goosebumps at the astonishing lives people live (though how I wish the internal paper was matte, to better showcase the stunning illos).

I've always adored Emma Yarlett's work, and Dragon Post is every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be. Loving the books by some of my fave illustrators, too - Isabelle Arsenault, Julie Morstad, Anna Walker and Jess Racklyeft (my co book creator!).

Are you noticing a bit of a space theme here? Of course, the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is nigh - 20 July. Below is the original NASA recording, including the astronauts prepping for take-off and landing in the Pacific ocean four days later. I particularly love watching them bop around the moon's surface like Thunderbird puppets, singing and having a jolly old time. And how I wish I could have zoomed around the surface on NASA's very first lunar rover. You can read more about that nifty (expensive!) buggy here. (The buggy cost $38 million in 1971, and you can times that by 6 in today's money.)

It was also a joy to receive a copy of this book from Jess Racklyeft - it's the first time I've ever had a book dedicated to me, and I just adore how this divine book turned out. It's a joy to see Jess authoring as well as illustrating now.

Oooh, and one more book to share - I have no words. If you love plants, just get it. Get it.

Well, lovely peeps, I must away. I have some book covers to finish off and some stories to edit for Evie and Pog. A big month ahead. At the end of the month, I'll be a presenter at the CBCA Act Branch event for the Book of the Year - And the Winner Could Be... It's a fun night of 'predictions' for honour books and the winning book in each category, and I'm doing - what else, but picture books! Check my EVENTS section for more details if you're in Canberra and can come along.

Do keep well and snug. I'm still working busily on my Missoni-inspired throw rug. Me and my crochet hook are getting there, and I hope to have a reveal soon.

Sending a big throw rug out to you all for a wonderfully productive and creative month.


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