My new historical novel for children, Sydney under Attack, comes out in early March(Scholastic Australia) and in anticipation I’ve made a little trailer for the book–hope you enjoy!
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!
In my latest post on the international writing website, Writer Unboxed, I write about physical journeys in fiction, concentrating on how I’m doing that in a historical novel for children that I’m writing at the moment, plus looking at the classic adventure novel I consider to be one of the great ‘road trip’ novels, Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff. Here’s an extract from my post:
At the moment I’m writing a historical novel for children, set in the Roman province of Brittania (Roman Britain) in the late first century AD/CE. The novel involves a great deal of journeying, as the main characters attempt to meet up with someone who always seems to be a day ahead of them, and whom they have to chase after from town to town. Eventually they do catch up with him, but not in the way they hoped and it makes matters much worse as they then have to flee cross-country to escape pursuers! This is the part I’m up to, and I know my poor exhausted characters still have a way to go!
Most of my novels in fact involve journeys of one sort or the other, it’s a natural theme of my writing—perhaps because I was brought up between two countries, France and Australia, and we travelled so much as kids. But in this one, the structure and plot of the novel absolutely depend on the physical journey. Now when you’re writing a novel like that, you have to work hard to make sure that the constant traveling doesn’t get boring for the reader (as well as tiring for your characters).
You can read the whole post here–and please do make comments(on the Writer Unboxed site) if you like!
Some years ago, in a little antique shop near the British Museum in London, I bought an extraordinary object–a Roman key-ring, that is, a key designed to be worn as a ring. Made of lead, it was dated to the 1st century AD. It wasn’t particularly expensive, because apparently such rings are not uncommon finds. But I was immediately fascinated by it when I saw it in the window of the shop: it was the kind of humble object that propels you straight into another world, another time. And when I looked at it more closely, I saw that the ring size was very small–on my own hand, it only fitted on the little finger. So either it had been meant for a very small woman or a child, or it had simply been meant to be worn around the neck, on a leather thong or something similar. And what lock would such a key open? Definitely not a door, but probably a box of some sort. A money or valuables box? A medicine box? I had no idea as to the truth of it, but immediately what ifs began bubbling in my head…I began to see, through the mists of imagination, a figure become clearer, a young girl living in the province of Brittania whose widowed Roman father is an oculist, an eye-doctor(they were commonly found in Roman times, especially in Gaul and Brittania). And when he dies, he leaves her this key, a mysterious key that does not fit any of the locks of his boxes. And he tells her not to speak of it to anyone, but to find her uncle, who will know what to do. And so she sets off…
I began writing the story not long after I bought the key. But for various reasons–mostly because I couldn’t get past certain plotting problems with it–it never got finished or even really properly going. I had set it aside and almost forgotten about it until just a few weeks ago, when trawling through documents in my computer, I came across the outline and sample chapters which was all I’d written of the novel I’d called ‘The Key to Rome.’ Instantly, it called to me again. I got the key itself out of the display box in which we keep it and I looked at it for a long moment, and then I knew: I had to write this story! And now I knew just how to write it, and what I had to change to make it work.
So that’s what I’m working on: the unlocking of the story, and the real meaning of ‘the key to Rome.’ And now, somehow, all the plotting problems have disappeared, the story is powering along, simpler, tighter, stronger than I’d originally seen it.
And that’s why writing is so exciting!
It was the inaugural Spring Fairy Dance festival in the charming small new England town of Uralla on Saturday–a festival themed around all things fairy and magical, aimed at children and the young at heart. It was a big success, with the townspeople supporting it strongly and visitors enjoying it. And for its special storytime event, I created a video poem called Fairy Feet–thought readers of this blog might enjoy it too!
Delighted to announce the virtual launch of Four on the Run today, which is happening on the United Publishers of Armidale website! The book, illustrated by Cheryl Orsini and published by Christmas Press, is being launched by the wonderful author Lesley Gibbes, in the first of four pre-recorded videos which also includes a talk by me about the book, a reading of the first chapter, and a book trailer. Available from this morning and well beyond. Check it all out here. And hope you enjoy!
The charming little town of Uralla, not far from our place, has an equally charming new initiative in the shape of fairy doors that sprung up all over town in the first days of the pandemic shutdown back in late March.
And now the fairy doors have their own map, so visitors and local residents can go on a tour of discovery. And I’m proud to say that on the back of the map is printed a fun little children’s story I wrote for local and visiting children, and which has been used in schools to inspire drawings of the scenes described!
I’m very pleased to announce that I’m part of the presenters for a brand new program of online writing workshops offered by the South Coast Writers’ Centre. The program will begin in late May and run for several months.
My workshops are about writing for children, with each 2-hour session focussed around a particular area: the first session around picturebooks; the second on writing children’s fiction; the third on writing YA fiction. They will be held over three weeks in June and early July, and are open to writers right across Australia, at any stage of their careers. More info and how to book for my workshops soon!
There are already however great workshops by other presenters which you can book for right now, check it all out here.
A Story of Hope in Troubled Times
By Dee White
People have likened the current pandemic to life during WW2, but it’s different. Covid-19 is an unseen enemy. Where I live, there are no marching soldiers with guns or snarling dogs chasing us down the street, filling our waking hours and our sleep with terror.
That’s the life my main character Ruben has to endure in my new historical fiction, Beyond Belief, after Paris is invaded. It’s 1942, just after the Vel D’hiv roundup when more than 13,000 Jews were arrested and taken to the Vélodrome d’Hiver (Winter Velodrome) before being transported to concentration camps and killed.
Ruben is one of the lucky ones who flees his home before he and his parents can be arrested. Although he’s a fictitious character, his story is inspired by true events. After the arrest of so many men, women and children, the Algerian Muslims of Paris decided that something must be done. They offered protection to Jews and gave them false identities and helped them escape the city.
Ruben is one of the children who seeks refuge at the Mosque and there he must change his name to Abdul and learn to pass himself off as a Muslim. If his true identity is discovered, he’ll be killed and so will those trying to save him. Even if Ruben escapes Paris, that won’t be the end of his story. Nowhere in France is safe for Jews.
Although Ruben’s life is hard, it has hope – and not just for Ruben, but for the whole of mankind. I wanted this story of interfaith solidarity and support to be about humanity and how strong people are when we unite – and we can make it through adversity if we help each other. I started writing this story four years ago, but here we are in adversity, working together to make it through.
Ruben has to endure hardship and it changes him as a person, but he emerges stronger and more resilient. War is hard. I haven’t glossed over that. But there is hope, that tomorrow things can be different and although it’s a new reality and we emerge changed from hardship, the pieces can be rebuilt.
Although I wrote Beyond Belief for children, adults are connecting with it too. One adult reader wrote to me and said, “I loved the book: despite the suffering and loss experienced by the children, there was such courage and an underlying spirituality and wisdom passed on to them by their parents and the Muslim community. This imbued them with amazing strength.”
I spent a month in Paris researching Beyond Belief. I wanted to walk in my main character, Ruben’s shoes and write his story with authenticity and understanding. And I wanted to reflect the experiences of all the Jews, gypsies and people with mental and physical illnesses who became victims of Hitler and if they survived, suffered lifelong trauma. My father was one of them.
You can find out more about Beyond Belief and my personal journey writing this book, at my website www.deescribe.com.au my Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9kDJT5Al7QknKwpCYd09oQ
and at DeeWhiteAuthor on social media.
Beyond Belief is available at all good book stores and online from
Boomerang Books htt https://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/
Collins Booksellers http://www.collinsbooks.com.au/book/9781760662516
I’m absolutely delighted today to announce the launch of a fabulous brand-new creative activity pack for children and their families, carers, schools and libraries, which I’ve created with Kathy Creamer, a good friend of mine who’s a fantastic illustrator. It’s called the Fox and Chook Creative Activity Pack and is themed around, you guessed it, foxes and chooks (for non-Australians, that means chickens!)
This gorgeous pack, which is presented as a downloadable PDF, includes lots of fun activities: from lots of creative writing exercises to colouring-in pages; from looking at and discussing classic paintings to discovering fabulous facts about foxes and chooks; from listening online to a fun fox and chook story(one of mine) to sculpting your own fox and chook out of modelling clay, from sharing real-life stories of foxes and chooks to learning how to draw them and to make your own shadow puppets–and more!
You can access the full activity pack directly here on my blog: Fox and chook creative activity pack by Sophie Masson and Kathy Creamer full final or from the special page on Sophie Masson Presents, where you will not only find the full pack but also the colouring pages as a separate PDF to download and print out easily.
Please note that this activity pack is copyright to me and Kathy Creamer. Till September 30, it is available free for families, schools and libraries to download, use and print, but must not be extracted or reproduced without written permission and acknowledgement of authorship and cannot be sold or used commercially by any entity or individual.
Kathy and I would like to thank the fantastic New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) in Armidale, for kindly researching paintings in their collections for the Foxes and Chooks in Art section of the pack, and for giving us permission to include images of them. We would also like to acknowledge Christmas Press and illustrator David Allan for images from Two Trickster Tales from Russia and photographer Nathan Anderson for the wonderful fox photo on title page (photo available free to download on Unsplash).
So have a look, check it all out–and hope you enjoy! And as we’d love to see your creative responses to these exercises, do tag me if you decide to put them up on social media. You can tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And you can contact me via this blog, or via the contact form at Sophie Masson Presents. You can contact Kathy here.