August happenings and May Gibbs Fellowship!

Monday, 21 August 2017

It's been an icy August this year in Canberra, but lots of toasty things happening to warm things up.

Some super special news is that I've received a May Gibbs Fellowship for 2018. Head still spinning from this one! and I'm so incredibly grateful. I'll be spending a month in Adelaide later next year (2018), working on some secret squirrel business (gotta love secret squirrel business). It's particularly special because May Gibbs is close to my heart. Thank you, May Gibbs Children's Literature Trust!

In the spirit of Things All Happening At Once, I've opened an etsy shop! I'll be printing some of my artwork locally, along with a selection of pages from Australia Illustrated. All prints will be A4, on beautiful archival paper, and can be posted anywhere in Australia. I'll be adding to my store over time. Click the image above to visit!

My very first greeting cards (with Nuovo Group) have arrived (above). I squealed a bit when I saw them--how gorgeous do they look? Huge thanks to Cristina and Fil. They'll be available Australia-wide and it's going to be quite surreal seeing them in stores.

I have a comp running until 3 September if you'd like to win one of two sets (below). Click here to enter.

The Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Awards were announced on Friday. I went to the National Library for the announcement, then sat for a book signing with friends Pauline Deeves, Cate Whittle and Stephanie Owner Reeder (below). We're always laughing; it's such a good thing.

HUGE congrats to the winners, honour books and shortlistees, most especially our own NLA buddy Gina Newton, for her win in the Eve Pownall with her book Amazing Animals of Australia's National Parks.

You can see all the results on the CBCA website here.

Another something HUGE... I've signed with HarperCollins for a picture book that's dear to my heart. Dream publisher, dream book. Can't wait to share more about it, as it's been such a long journey, this one. I'll soon be busy finalising text and illustrating, as the book is out December 2018, and I hope to launch in Adelaide during my May Gibbs Fellowship.

Yet another something huge--the installation of some ceiling lights from IKEA that I've been lusting after forever. It really is the simplest things that make us so happy, non?

Book Week is upon us and I hope you're doing something wonderful. The theme this year is Escape to Everywhere, and you can learn more about it and purchase Book Week merch right here. I mean, who wouldn't want to plaster their walls with this incredible artwork by Freya Blackwood?

Have a fabulous, bookish rest-of-August, whatever you're up to.


Oooh--and PS: here is the launch poster for Merry Everything! If you're in Melbourne late September, I'd love to see you there! Click on the poster to RSVP.

greeting card GIVEAWAY!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

To celebrate the release of my very first greeting cards, I'm giving away a set of each type! The cards are being released by Nuovo and will be available in stores Australia-wide.

The first is a set of pastel Australian animals (above). These measure 10 x 10cm and are perfect for gifts. There are six in the pack and they are blank inside so you can use for many types of celebration.

The second (above) is a set of regular-size greeting cards (12.5 x 17.5cm) featuring boys from my book Australia Illustrated (EK Books). I've always thought it so difficult to find cards for boys that don't feature a footy, train or boat, and I think these cards cover so many types of boy--at least, I hope so! There are ten cards in this pack and they are blank inside, so you can write what you want. Each card has HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the front.

To win...
...just leave a comment below, telling me what kind of card I should create next. Theme? Design? Style? A gap in the market? Give me your thoughts! And be sure to add the number to your  comment--1 or 2--indicating which pack you'd like to win. If you don't mind which one, then put both 1 and 2!

Comp runs from today until 9pm Sunday 3 September. Anyone from anywhere in the world can enter so long as the cards can be posted to an AUSTRALIAN ADDRESS.

I will choose two winners and will announce them on this blog within 24 hours of comp closure, so please do check back to see if you've won. The last book comp I ran, one of the winners never got in touch with me, so do check back!

Good luck!

footy banner tutorial

Saturday, 12 August 2017

If you have ever found yourself in the position of conceiving and crafting a footy banner, you'll understand that 4 hours (a friend took a week) of wrangling crepe paper and glue--for the sake of 6.7 seconds of paper-shredding glory--is enough to propel one headlong into the liquor cabinet.

Drink no more. Here is a tutorial that will hopefully take you 30 - 40 minutes. Seriously. And you'll retain your sanity, not to mention your liver.

You will need crepe paper, scissors, wooden poles at least a metre long, PVA glue and a sewing machine. Don't even think about sticky tape. Anyone who tries to tell you sticky tape sticks to crepe paper needs to be unfriended on Facebook (and maybe even unfollowed on Twitter).

If you want to make a larger banner, just make two of these and sew them side by side. You'd also need to add more strips to make it deeper.

Here we go...

click to enlarge

I hope this makes your child super happy, and keeps you out of the liquor cabinet. And one final tip, make sure your camera is prepped and ready to go before your child begins running... it's over in seconds!

merry everything launch!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Click on the poster to head to The Little Bookroom's events page to RSVP.

children's story time for Book Week

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Book Week is coming!

To celebrate, I'll be doing story time readings at Dymocks Canberra Centre on Saturday 20 August, in support of Marymead.

It breaks my heart to think there are children without books in our community. So important to support these kids in need, and I hope you can join me for this fun event. There'll be activities and goodie bags, and prizes for the bets Book Week costume!

Click the poster for more details and to RSVP, as spaces are limited. See you there!

mid-winter update

Friday, 4 August 2017

Hello, possums! Are you toasty warm? I truly hope so.

We are having a strange winter in Canberra. Some of the coldest mornings we've had in years (I think minus 8 recently?? who knows. I was tucked up to the chin in bed!), yet I only trimmed the last of our iceberg roses (above) about 10 days ago. So so strange. AND they'd turned pink. Perhaps that rosy blush helped keep them warm?

christmas is coming... Merry Everything!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

No, I'm not talking about Christmas in July. What about Christmas in October? Why not? One of my favourite times of the year, I'm more than happy to bring out the baubles early, most especially when it heralds the arrival of a brand new picture book with the illustrious Jess Racklyeft. Creating a Christmas book has been on the bucket list for quite some time, and how satisfying to give that one an exuberant, tinsel-laden tick!

The idea for Merry Everything! popped into our lives just six short months ago, and is already on its way to print, for an October release with Windy Hollow Books. It was the most beautiful book to work on; Jess and I had so much fun, and wait till you see the illustrations! Gasp!

It’s Christmas Eve and the world is buzzing with busy. There's 
baubles to hang, shimmer to drape and scrumptious treats to prepare. 
From deer baking gingerbread to elephants gobbling candy canes and 
ducks snapping crackers, join these adorable creatures as they 
celebrate the togetherness that is Christmas.

This picture book, by an award-winning duo, features penguins 
in Antarctica, lions in Africa, pandas in the bamboo forests 
of China, whales in the deep blue sea and many more faunal 
friends--wrapping gifts, singing carols, decorating burrows, 
and watching the sky for that man in red.

Beginning on New Year's Eve and ending on Christmas 
night, this poignant story with lyrical text and whimsical 
illustrations, is one to treasure. It reminds us that no matter 
where we are in the world, this special time of year brings 
friends and family together as one.

I'll be heading down to Melbourne to celebrate the launch with Jess at The Little Bookroom in Carlton, so save the date - 10.30am, Saturday 30 September (yes, I know it's Grand Final day, no biggie). There'll be a book reading, signing, activities, and lots of Christmassy treats for the kids! Hope to see you.

photographing your books

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

If, like me, you're a bit partial to beautiful imagery, you might be tempted to bypass the standard 'author with cheesy grin and book' photo, and think about ways you can capture your titles in more creative, eye-popping ways.

While flicking through my instagram account recently, reminiscing over all the stunning pics talented people have taken of my books, it struck me how droolworthy beautiful book photos can be--both for posterity purposes, and of course--for promo.

Don't be scared--beautiful book pics are not difficult to create. Here are some tips and ideas to get you clicking.

Australia map--the entire thing!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Okay, can't wait a moment longer. Here's the entire Australia map! (Hardie Grant Travel, Dec 2017.)

I hope enjoyed this peek at my latest dream project. It's one of those endeavours I didn't want to end.

Keep an eye out for the map in shops and online, in time for Christmas.

If you would like some close-ups, see...

Northern Territory and South Australia

Australia map peek II

Monday, 3 July 2017

Today I thought we could head over to the Northern Territory, for a peek at my Australia map (Hardie Grant Travel, Dec 2017). From honey ants to dilly bags, bush tomatoes and sacred sites, this is a territory of vast beauty and cultural significance.

Then, I thought we could meander south... South Australia. From the Painted Desert to vineyards, lofty ranges, the Nullarbor Plain and the vast Southern Ocean, this is yet another state of extremes.

Stay tuned for a peek at the entire thing!

Northern Territory and South Australia
The entire map!

a dream project - Australia map!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

We all have dream projects, do we not? And sometimes they are curious things. For me, it's been a Christmas book, a map, an ABC book, a book about balloons, among others. Don't know why it's been these particular things; it just has.

This year, the magical dream project pixies fluttered in from a nearby wood, and granted two creative wishes--and one of them was a map.

A map! Hyperventilating.

This one is called Australia and it was some delightful journey, traversing--yet again--our big, beautiful land, exploring and learning even more about this incredibly diverse continent. I worked closely with the amazing Emily from Hardie Grant Travel to create this enormous--nearly 1.5 metres wide!--wall map. And I loved each and every minute. Very soon I'll be working on the packaging design, for a December 2017 publication.

Created with ink, watercolour and digital artwork, the map features flora, fauna, icons, sights and sites, along with Indigenous rock art sites and shipwrecks. There's also a key with over 250 labels, and fun facts dotted around in yellow spots.

I'm delighted to share the map with you, starting with our beautiful Sunshine State, Queensland. I'll take you through a peek at a few states, with a final glimpse at the entire map.

Huge thanks to commissioning editor Melissa Kayser for approaching me with this truly divine project. A major tick on the Dream Project list.


Northern Territory and South Australia
The entire map!

the low points

Saturday, 24 June 2017

soaring high before the low - barn owl pin by Jess Racklyeft

Recently, I had the most glorious news--something I've been waiting a career lifetime for. I'm still pinching myself, and the project has deep meaning to me. I might have even leapt in the air. Very soon, I'll be starting work on it, and this will be immensely happy-making.

This kind of news has happened to me before. Then not long after, it's been snatched away (for a variety of reasons), and I've found myself on the floor. This may also have happened to you. The floor is a very supportive place, non?

I have every faith there'll be no snatching, but it's been nevertheless interesting to experience quite the plummet since receiving this news. After discussing with friends, it seems this is a natural phenomenon. Just as we go up, we must come down. And of course, the creative career path is rife with intense highs and crushing lows. The rollercoaster metaphor could never be more apt.

The frustrating thing is, I'm currently working on two illustration commissions that I'm loving to bits, so I should be smiling from ear to ear. What, then, is the issue?
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