An article on community writing challenges in the pandemic

An article in which I was a joint contributor, wearing my hat as Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre, has just been published in the international academic journal Reflections, which focuses on issues of community writing engagement. The article, written with Ariella van Luyn from the University of New England(who is also on the NEWC Board) and Lyn Aspey, current NEWC program manager, is about how NEWC had to move our program online during 2020 and the first covid lockdown, and is centred in particular around the online course in historical novel writing which Ariella ran that year. Each of us wrote our sections from a particular perspective; myself as Chair, Ariella as course facilitator/presenter, and Lyn as both a course participant and later program manager. Ariella also wrote the introduction and conclusion.

Thought it might be of interest to readers: check it out here.

Inspired by The Ghost Squad…

It’s been a year since the release of The Ghost Squad, and right now I’m working on an exciting collaborative creative project inspired by the book, with the extraordinary artist Angus Nivison, under the auspices of Arts North West and the New England Regional Art Museum. We had a great meeting about it yesterday and it’s inspired me to put up again the stunning trailer for The Ghost Squad, created by Whiptail Productions. More details on the collaborative project soon!

Crowdfunding campaign for Inside Story!

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!

Story seed, story feather: one of my writing workshops

I run a lot of writing workshops, both in person and online, and today I thought I’d highlight one of my favourites, Story Seed, Story Feather. Suitable for both kids and adults, it features two really fun and intriguing ways of starting a story, and to explain the concept I’ve created a little video which I hope you enjoy.

And if you’re interested in finding out more about booking one of these workshops for your school or writing group, contact Speakers Ink.

My poem-reading playlist on You Tube

I’ve created a new playlist on my You Tube channel, which presents video readings I’ve done of several of my published poems for kids. I created it to help support my presentation in the fabulous CBCA NSW online conference focussed around Poetry(which you can still book in for, as it’s pre-recorded and available till the end of May for delegates). I also thought it could be an ongoing resource for parents and schools, and in fact anyone who might be interested. Hope you enjoy!

Looking both ways…

Tomorrow, together with renowned artist Angus Nivison, I will be leading a workshop for Arts North West called ‘Looking Both Ways’ which will be pairing artists and writers to produce jointly-inspired works: image to text, and text to image.

It’s come out of a fabulous Arts North West project in 2019 called Art Word Place, which similarly paired artists and writers. That though was about artists creating works inspired by writers’ words: in my and Angus’ case, I wrote a poem called Sky Dramas, New England, and Angus created a painting inspired by it called But in the Dry (based on the second stanza of the poem, which was fuelled by the terrible drought we were in the midst of at the time. )

This new project however is indeed ‘looking both ways’ as writers will create writing based on artists’ work and artists will create works based on writers’ words. Aside from Angus and I, eleven professional local writers and eleven professional local artists will be taking part in it. It’s a two-part workshop, with tomorrow’s concentrating on setting everything up and beginning paired projects and a final one on April 17 where completed works will be presented to the group. It’s going to be an amazing experience!

Photos below are of me and Angus at Art Word Place; my poem from that project; and Angus’ painting inspired by it.

Lovely trailer for album inspired by French Fairy Tales

It’s always wonderful when fellow creators working in other art forms are inspired by your work, so I was delighted when French Fairy Tales, my book with the wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington (Serenity Press 2020), became the inspiration for talented musician and composer Reilly McCarron’s new album, Il était une fois (once upon a time in French). The album will be released in April by Serenity Press, and it features Reilly’s haunting compositions and soundscapes, brief readings in French translation by Cathy Abadie of snippets from my own retellings of the stories, and evocative singing by Cathy of the beautiful old song, A la claire fontaine. It’s amazing, actually, to hear Cathy’s translation of my retellings of the tales, because I created the English translations directly from the French originals, and now they’ve cycled back into French, but using my words!

You can read more about the album in this post by fellow fairy tale aficionado Louisa John-Krol, and watch a gorgeous trailer for the album below.

Exciting event coming up in January!

I’m excited to be taking part in a fabulous event, Word.Play Presents the Jigsaw Cinema, which is a multi-arts production for children, with words, music and visuals. It’s based around children’s books, and one of my books, Join the Armidale Parade, illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dog Books), will be featured. The event will be held as part of Bellingen Shire Arts Week in both Dorrigo and Bellingen on January 11, 2021, and if you’re in the area, why not come along?

Here’s a description of the event:

Word.Play presents “The Jigsaw Cinema” – a storybook adventure! Live narration & music (composed & improvised) set to films of quirky peephole illustrations from our featured children’s books. Come & hear sound worlds collide, sonic textures, live projections, “jigsaw puzzle” films of our featured book’s illustrations – bringing an almost cinematic concert experience to life for audiences, young & old.Curiosity is awakened. What picture will be revealed next? Who is creeping in the moonlight? The instruments sound, another piece of the puzzle is revealed…

Author Sophie Masson brings your adventure to life as your live narrator. Sophie is joined on stage by director Maryanne Piper (clarinets, percussion, saxophone, whistles, electroacoustic sounds), Alana Blackburn (recorders, electroacoustic Sounds) & Damian Wright (Guitar – aka Bandaluzia Flamenco).

You can find out more here.

Launching the fabulous Cat and Mouse Activity Pack!

I am delighted to announce that today my lovely illustrator friend Kathy Creamer and I are launching a fabulous new creative resource for children, families and schools: the Cat and Mouse Creative Activity Pack. Fully illustrated in colour, it’s packed full of fun reading, discussion, writing and art activities, and is a follow-up to the very popular Fox and Chooks Creative Activity Pack, which Kathy and I launched back in April.

In this new Pack, you can find fun facts and stories about cats and mice; story starters to get you writing, a look at books featuring cats and mice as characters and a look at some fabulous artworks featuring these animals (with many thanks to the wonderful people at NERAM!); great drawing, colouring and modelling activities, and more. We hope you will enjoy it and let your imaginations roam free!

You can download the Pack here: Cat and Mouse Creative Activity pack by Sophie Masson and Kathy Creamer or at the Sophie Masson Presents site.

Note: the Cat and Mouse Creative Activity Pack, like the earlier one, is free to download, use and print at home or in schools, but must not be used commercially in any way, except with our written permission.