I’m very pleased to announce the launch of the crowdfunding campaign for a unique and wonderful book I’m involved in, as part of the writing and production team–Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books.
Inside Story will be a full colour illustrated book, an invaluable resource and guide for aspiring writers, illustrators, editors and designers, but also of great appeal to anyone interested in the wonderful world of Australian children’s books. Commissioned by the New England Writers’ Centre, with the support of Create NSW, it is being produced and published by UPA Books, the collaborative imprint newly launched by United Publishers of Armidale partners Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, working with a team of local professional writers, illustrators, designers, and editors. Contributions from other creatives and professionals–writers, illustrators, editors, designers, agents, publishers, booksellers and reviewers- from across the country are also included. The book will be published under the UPA Books banner in May 2022.
The crowdfunding campaign is to raise funds for printing, marketing etc. Here’s the direct link to the campaign, which includes a video, lots of good FAQs, and all details of perks etc:
There are great perks available for campaign backers, including, of course, copies of the book. Regular updates on progress of the book will be posted on the campaign page. The crowdfunding campaign will end on Dec 2.
And here below is the fabulous video to introduce the crowdfunding campaign, and the project itself. Hope you might consider joining us!
We had the best time last night at the launch of A Hundred Words for Butterfly! Part of the launch included readings by the fabulous writers who were finalists and winners in the #100words4butterfly writing comp, and their stories, as well as some of my Basque-themed recipes, appear in this gorgeous digital magazine put together by the wonderful Hannah Oakshott from Spineless Wonders Short Australian Stories. Yummy food and amazing microlit–a perfect combination–check it all out below!
Congratulations to all the finalists and winners, and thank you so much to all the wonderful Spineless Wonders team, it was an absolutely awesome launch and I am still on a high!
Over on Writer Unboxed, I’ve had a post published which is about the wonderful experience I’ve been having, working on the marketing of A Hundred Words for Butterfly with the wonderful Spineless Wonders team. It’s been one of the best book marketing/publicity experiences ever, and in this post I wanted to pay tribute to the team and their inventiveness, imagination, passion and sheer hard work, as well as describe in detail what we did.
Here’s a short extract:
In Australia, Spineless Wonders are known and highly respected for their innovative and dynamic approach to publishing, and their marketing strategy for all their books and events has always been focused on imaginative community engagement. And as we worked on our plan for the marketing of A Hundred Words for Butterfly, that engagement became more important than ever, because a large number of Australians, including but not only in our two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, were (and still are) in lockdown due to an outbreak of the Delta strain of Covid19. (All of us working on it were in that boat). So it was even more crucial to come up with great ideas for activities that would offer people something fun, exciting and creative to do even when they were stuck in lockdown. After much discussion, we decided on three main themes/prongs for these.
Delighted to say that the first review of A Hundred Words for Butterfly has just appeared, on the Kobo website, which is one of the retailers where you can buy the book. It’s an absolutely lovely review by the fantastic artist Lorena Carrington. Here’s a short extract:
Sophie Masson’s A Hundred Words for Butterfly is a wonderful listen. The relationship and tension between twins Helen and Alex felt very real, and the gently unfurling relationship between Helen and Tony was refreshing and so lovely. And of course the wonderful descriptions of the towns and countryside – and food! – made me feel an intense longing for the Basque Country...
I’m delighted to announce that just one week away from official release and our celebratory event, A Hundred Words for Butterfly is now available to buy at several online audiobook retailers across the world, including Authors Direct, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, Audible, Libro, Apple, Booktopia, and others.
The book is three hours and 10 minutes long, and superbly narrated by the wonderful voice artist Sarah Kennedy. Sound design and editing are by Martin Gallagher, and production is by Spineless Wonders Audio. Hope you enjoy it! And please do consider writing a review and sharing it on the retailer platforms, your social media, etc.
So this is coming on September 15th, the fabulous online event celebrating the release of my audio novel for adults, A Hundred Words for Butterfly! Join us to celebrate, with special guests including me, the wonderful voice artist Sarah Kennedy (pictured below, she narrates the audiobook), and the winners and some finalists of the #100Words4Butterfly writing competition. Come along (virtually!) for a super fun night of games, cocktails (including the one below!), readings and more!
I am absolutely delighted to reveal the gorgeous cover of my upcoming audiobook, A Hundred Words for Butterfly, which will be published by Spineless Wonders Audio in just a couple of weeks: September 13. Isn’t it beautiful!
The cover is designed by the wonderful Bettina Kaiser, and later this week I’ll be publishing a fascinating interview with her about how she went about creating it. Today is all about celebrating an important milestone in the journey of my book: and I’m so thrilled about just how strikingly Bettina has captured the essence of the feeling and atmosphere of A Hundred Words for Butterfly!
In a scene from A Hundred Words for Butterfly, my characters are in the charming village of Espelette and sit down to enjoy a very classic local dish: axoa (pronounced ‘atchoa’).
Traditionally served on market days, this simple and delicious Basque stew was popularised in Espelette, and in fact in recipe books is often called ‘axoa d’Espelette‘. This dish really highlights piment d’Espelette and in my previous post I indicated where you can easily buy it, but as I mentioned, hot paprika(non-smoked) will make a reasonable substitute (note that sweet paprika is too mild, and smoked paprika really doesn’t taste anything like the piment). The axoa really benefits from cooking ahead and letting it rest—for instance, you could cook it at lunchtime but serve it at dinner time. Even cooking it an hour or so ahead of serving and letting it sit will enhance the flavours. But don’t despair if you don’t have time–it’s excellent even if you don’t have time to cook ahead!
This recipe is my version of axoa, with a twist on tradition. Not only do I provide a vegetarian as well as a meat version, I use green capsicum (bell pepper) instead of the more traditional long pale green pepper (mild variety). Red capsicum however is a traditional part of the stew. And together they look just right, highlighting the traditional vibrant Basque colours of red and green! In the quantities given, the recipes each serve 3-4 people. (‘Axoa’ by the way means ‘chopped’ in Basque, referring to the meat).
Ingredients common to both versions: one large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 red capsicum, 1 green capsicum, olive oil, chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, bay leaf), piment d’Espelette, salt, 200 ml water or stock.
Other ingredients for meat version: 500 g diced veal (the traditional meat for this dish) or pork (which also goes well, in my experience), or 500 g minced veal or pork. Chicken could also be used.
Other ingredients for vegetarian version: 150 g soaked beans. I used black-eyed beans as they don’t take too long to cook (and we grew them!) but you could also use Lima beans (butter beans) or white haricot beans. Also, a bit of extra vegetable stock to cook the beans. If you are making the vegetarian version, cook the beans in stock first till they are at least three-quarters cooked, before adding to the basic mix to cook more.
So, first of all chop your onion, garlic and herbs. Deseed and dice the red and green capsicums. In a pan, cook the onion, garlic and capsicums in olive oil for 15 minutes then add the diced meat or the part-cooked beans, add the herbs, salt, and dash of piment d’Espelette. Reduce the heat and add the water or stock and cook at low heat, lid on, for about 45 minutes. The meat should be very tender but not falling apart, ditto the beans, and the sauce should be thick and reduced. After you turn off the heat, let the stew sit for as long as you can, before reheating, adding another sprinkle of piment d’Espelette, and serving with boiled potatoes or rice.
As I mentioned in my post about the piment d’Espelette last week, over the next few weeks I’ll be posting recipes for some simple Basque food, and thought I’d build it up so you could, if you want, create a whole Basque-inspired meal around it, similar to what my characters in A Hundred Words for Butterfly enjoy!
Today I’m introducing four simple dishes that can function either as snacks, entrees, lunch dishes or even grace a pintxo table if you want (pintxos are the Basque version of tapas). And by the way, don’t let anyone tell you that pintxos are ‘Spanish’–they are found on both sides of the French/Spanish border, just like the people who make them, because they are Basque 🙂
I’ve made all of these very recently and the photos are all my own, so you can see they are definitely home-made 🙂 All are very simple, very quick, and and very tasty! By the way, they all include a sprinkle of piment d’Espelette–great if you can obtain some, for example here or here, and I recommend it for that characteristic Basque taste. But you can certainly use good hot paprika if you don’t have any piment handy.
So here are the recipes!
Garlic and egg soup: Garlic cloves (up to 6 for 4 people); stock (chicken or vegetable) olive oil, thyme, bay leaf, eggs(1 per person) salt, piment d’Espelette, slices of bread. Cook the whole peeled garlic cloves in olive oil till they are golden, then add the hot stock. Add salt and a sprinkle of the pepper. Add chopped thyme and the bay leaf. Cook, uncovered, for 30 mins then crack the eggs into the soup to poach them. Fry the slices of bread and cut up to make croutons. And serve!
Simple Basque salad: On a plate arrange lettuce leaves with slices of Bayonne-style ham (Serrano ham is fine if Bayonne ham is unobtainable), and slices of roasted red and green capsicum. Sprinkle a vinaigrette made of olive oil and white wine or cider vinegar over the lettuce, and a small pinch of piment d’Espelette on the ham. For a vegetarian version, you can use sheep’s milk cheese (such as Manchego) instead of the ham, and you can also add other ingredients to the basics, such as tomatoes, artichokes and asparagus.
Fried sardines: You need fresh sardines for this (can be either whole, gutted and boned sardines or ready-prepared fillets). For 2 people, I used 3 sardines each. You also need an egg and some flour, salt, and you guessed it, piment d’Espelette! Beat the egg, dip each sardine in it then into the flour, making sure it’s all coated, then fry till done. Serve with a sprinkle of salt, the Espelette pepper, and either lemon or vinegar.
Mushrooms with garlic: In the Basque country, ceps or other forest mushrooms would often be used, but field mushrooms are also fine. Simply slice them finely and cook in a little butter for about 2 minutes, add crushed garlic, salt, some chopped herbs—whatever you have on hand (I used basil) and yes, a sprinkle of that Famous Pepper!
Today I’m delighted to be bringing you an interview with award-winning writer Felicity Pulman, who has embarked on a wonderful new project: republishing her popular young adult historical fantasy trilogy, Shalott, with new titles, new material and in new formats. The first book, Shalott: Into the Unknown, has just been released, and the other two Shalott: Dangerous Magic, and Shalott: End Play, will be published in September and November respectively.
Congratulations, Felicity! Why did you decide to republish the Shalott trilogy?
I wrote the first novel not realising there was more to come – and it was only when I got to the third novel that I understood what Callie’s quest was really all about. Rewriting and republishing the trilogy was my chance to ‘get it right’; to blend in a wonderful mix of magic and technology, and to seed in the ‘clues’ that there was much more to the teenagers’ quest than they first realised. It was also my chance to bring the books up to date for a new generation of readers, while introducing them to the timeless legend of King Arthur and his knights, and the mysterious and beautiful poem, The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
The original series came out in the early 2000s. You’ve changed the titles, but was there anything you decided to change within the stories themselves? And did you add any new material?
Basically the story remains the same, although I’ve strengthened the magical aspect, particularly from the points of view of Nimue and Morgan le Fay. Nimue’s magic helps to bring the teenagers to Camelot in order to thwart Morgan’s plans to divide the court through the love affair between Guinevere and Lancelot. But Morgan will stop at nothing to eliminate anything that gets in the way of her ambition for Mordred – and the teenagers are caught in the crossfire. I was also able to update the books to reflect society as we know it today in terms of hot button topics for teenagers, new technology, and even the deadly virus! A LOT has changed over the past twenty years.
Tell us about the process you went through in order to get the books back into print – what were the challenges? And discoveries?
I worked on an already formatted version while rewriting the novels, which caused all sorts of problems during editing and proof-reading. With hindsight I’d probably have been better off retyping all three novels! As a technotwit I knew I’d be better off asking for help rather than trying to navigate the self-publishing process on my own. Joel Naoum from Critical Mass Services has been a great help to me, finding editors, designers and printers, acting as a sounding board, and generally shepherding me through the whole publishing process. What I discovered was just how many decisions one has to make along the journey!
As a self-publisher this time, how are you promoting and publicising the books?
This is still a WIP. I’ve updated my website; I’m posting on facebook and other platforms, and also spreading the word via the various societies and writing organisations to which I belong. I need to make much more use of social media than I do, and I’m working on that, plus I’m also considering paying for some advertising. Friends like you have been really helpful with giving me ‘air time’ on your own platforms as well – much appreciated! Of course I always talk about my books at my workshops and author talks, with the age of the audience determining which books I mention. I’ll be canvassing local bookshops with copies of the trilogy, and also sending out press releases to local and any other media that I hope might be interested. Meantime I’m open to suggestions from everyone!
What advice would you have for other authors thinking of republishing their out-of- print titles?
It’s hard work but certainly worthwhile if you want to breathe new life into your books, especially if you’re technosavvy. But buyer beware: go with a reputable print company and make sure your books are readily available for purchase (as mine are through amazon and various other outlets.) If you’re outsourcing the publishing process, as I have, it can be expensive, and unless the book suddenly takes off for some reason you should realise that you’re unlikely to make any sort of profit, or even recoup your expenses.
Another of your novels is going to get a new lease of life, I believe, with your very first novel, Ghost Boy, optioned by a film production company. Can you tell us about that?
Ghost Boy is my most successful book to date, particularly as it now forms the basis of the very popular Ghost Boy tour up at the Quarantine Station in Manly, where part of the novel is set. The QS itself is a fabulous site – very cinematic, very historic, and very creepy, and students studying my novel find that the book really comes alive when they can walk in the footsteps of my characters. The film option was taken out several years ago, but I’ve now signed an option for the sale of my book, which means we’ve come one step closer to seeing my novel (and maybe its unpublished sequel: The Curse of the Quarantine Station) turned into a movie. Exciting – but I must admit I’m finding it very hard to let go!
Where you can buy Shalott: Into the Unknown, first volume of Felicity’s republished Shalott trilogy: