blossoms and busy bees - spring has sprung!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Hello, spring!

Have bulbs popped in your garden yet? They seem to be a little slow this year, but it could be because of, you know, no rain, hardly any all year. In fact, our garden is a dust bowl. We'll be 10 years in this house this coming January--the longest I've ever lived anywhere in my life, and our entire garden has shifted and changed so much. Thanks to these concerning weather changes, we've had to let go of a lot of our plants, and install new ones.

Like changing lavender for native grasses. Mondo grass for wandering succulents. Manicured pittosporum hedges for organically-constructured protea or laurel screens (we're still deciding which plant we'll use). Real lawn for will-let-you-know-when-we-can-afford-it-good-heavens-the-cost-is-completely-outrageous faux lawn. It's like we're living in the Great Victoria Desert. And living on the top of this mountain we're on, you can't bury more than a daffy bulb without hitting rock or clay.

In fact, I've had to delete English gardening shows from Foxtel IQ because the limerick-green lawns and emerald hedge-rows make me want to weep a bucketful of non-existent rain. Am I alone?? But then, with the horror our farmers are going through ... I really can't complain.

Anyway--BOOKS! Let's get onto books. August and September are huge for kids' books in Australia, and lots has been happening.

On 20 September, we celebrated the Australian Reading Hour. It's One Hour of the year where you are not allowed to do ANYTHING else except share books, with yourself, with kids, with pets, with plants. Whatever you like.

For our One Hour, Katharine Murphy, Leife Shalcross and I nattered about all things reading and story at Harry Hartog bookstore in Woden, Canberra. Thanks to the amazing Claire, Sophie and Glenn for organising. It was brilliant fun.

Just look at how stunning this store is... below, before guests arrived.

We even got to nominate five of our favourite books (of course, these were my five favourite this WEEK, and I made that very clear). Mine were:
  • The Last Peach by Gus Gordon (Viking)
  • The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall and Isabelle Arsenault (Walker)
  • Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys by Mike Unwin and Jenni Desmond (Bloomsbury)
  • His Royal Tinyness by Sally Lloyd-Jones and David Roberts (Walker)
  • Florette by Anna Walker (Viking)

Thanks to Claire for these great photos.

Sadly, I was too deep in book production to do much for Book Week this year. I did manage a couple of visits, and also attended the Book of the Year announcement at the National Library. So exciting to see so many talented friends and colleagues take home lovely shiny stickers. It was great to catch up with local author/illustrator friends, too--some of us hadn't seen each other in ages! Here are the winners and honour books.

L - R: Devon Sillett, Cate Whittle, Emma Allen, Harry Laing, Gina Newton, Stephanie Owen Reeder
me, Tracey Hawkins, Shelly Unwin, Maura Pierlot, Pauline Deeves
Our local SCBWI group met in August, too. My friend and book partner, Christina Booth, was in town at the end of her Book Week tour, and we had a lovely time at the National Library. So happy that our Gum Family window was still up and Christina got to see her beautiful artwork in situ.

L - R: Emma Allen, me, Christina Booth, Catherine Morgans, Possum 1, Possum 2
Shaye Wardrop, Nicole Godwin, Amie Sabadin, Tracey Hawkins
Shenanigans with Christina and Possum 1
illustrator/author team!
Earlier this month, I was chuffed to take part in a panel for the ACT Writers Centre's amazing Hardcopy program. It was the first time Hardcopy had included a children's book creator, and it was a real honour. Participants can't stop raving about this brilliant initiative for emerging creators, and we enjoyed such an engaged audience.

Below is our panel chair and Hardcopy team member Nigel Featherstone (author of contemporary fiction, short stories and creative journalism, and holding The Gum Family Finds Home, incidentally!!). Next to me are authors LJM Owen and Merlinda Bobis, and it was such a perfect combination. Three very different creators with varying perspectives to share made for fascinating conversation. And Nigel was one of the finest chairs I've worked with on a panel. Just delicious stuff.

The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation's 'I Raise My Hand' campaign is in full swing. You may have seen the wall of hands in Officeworks stores around Australia. Thanks to this initiative, a whopping $300,000 has been raised for the ALNF, and they're hoping to extend their target to $400,000.

You can donate online right here. Donations provide learning materials for children in remote communities, train Indigenous students how to mentor other children, help provide teaching assistance for students, and more. All goose-tingling and life-changing stuff.

And be sure to check out their über cool LITERACY IS FREEDOM t-shirts, totes, mugs and water bottles. I'm so shopping!
Publication day for Mamie (pronounced May-me) is creeping up--it will be on shelves 16 November (you can pre-order here). I've been working on some promo for the book (along with my beautiful publicists) and Mamie, her Scotty dog, some butterflies and fairies (and a stunned koala) joined me for this little photo shoot. You might just see a gum nut baby, too.

On gum nuts, I received the most beautiful gift from Justine Powell of the CBCA. The Royal Australian Mint have released limited edition coins to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and The Magic Pudding. Look at this beautiful little set--how adorable, and something to treasure (I believe some sets are still left, but likely not for long... you can find them here). Thank you, Justine!

I was also gifted a copy of the new Snugglepot and Cuddlepie 100th Anniversary illustrated edition (HarperCollins). It's so utterly beautiful, and I've been poring over it every night. Thank you, Jacqui!

Okay, onto some news.

I'm really excited to announce my first junior fiction series is in the works. I'm busting to tell you more but suffice to say it involves a pug and it will be fully illustrated with line drawings. Its readership will be early readers and it's been an absolute hoot writing for this age group.

You may have seen some peeks at line drawings in previous blog posts these past months, but here's another. It's Miss Felicity Footlights, the drama teacher. Don't you love her culottes? Yes, there are pompoms on the cuffs. And yes, yes, the red boots are patent leather.

Jess Racklyeft and I have been working on our latest book for Windy Hollow--it's called Ivy Bird and it's such a joyful book. Jess has been trying a new illustration style and I'm quite obsessed. Here are some peeks, below.

Aren't the colours to die for?? Ivy Bird is out in later in 2019--will let you know when.

In the meantime, next April (2019) we have a sequel to Merry Everything coming out. It's called Hip Hip Hooray! and it's just the best fun because it's all about birthdays! I mean, who doesn't love a birthday party? Methinks I'll have a launch in Canberra for this one, just so we can have cake (and eat it, too).

Don't you love the narwhals whacking the piñata?

I recently signed for another book with the National Library and this one is really dear to my heart. It's another non-fiction book, digitally illustrated, and here is a peek at the pitch roughs...

This one won't be out till 2020. I've also been busy working on an NLA pitch with another NLA author, and it's been very exciting. The acquisitions meeting is soon, and we hope to hear some good news. Will reveal more when I can!

Now, I think it's time for more books! Herewith my latest purchases. Highly recommend each and every one, though a warning that only a quarter of the People of Peace entries are women. Just a heads-up so you don't become as outraged as I did. It's nevertheless an important and topical book, beautifully produced.

I've also just ordered Liane Moriarty's new novel, Nine Perfect Strangers. Readings have signed copies available here (though get in quick, as they'll disappear).

Oh, and I just had to share this beautiful gift from my friend, Sylvia. The gum blossoms just keep popping up in my life.

And now for my latest Insta Crush, Fotini Tikkou. I simply adore her colour palettes and quirk; she has a beautiful blend of urban cool and fairy tale whimsy.

Want more illustration? Who doesn't?? I've held another auction on Instagram during September (ends 30 Sep) and it's been a lot of fun. Here are some of the featured works, and you can see them all on the A Fleur a Day insta page. There are also a small handful of unsold originals--they are available at the auction start price. First person to comment SOLD, can nab one.

And lastly, to celebrate spring, I am having a special on my Fantastical Flying Creator. For one week only, it will be $49 (normally $99). It was recently updated and contains even more Industry Insider Info--now with 40 more pages than the original Flying Creator. Click the poster below for more info. Hurry--ends 1 October.

Happy spring, all!


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