What’s inside Inside Story? Check this out!

There’s only two days left till the end of the crowdfunding campaign for Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books, the wonderful non-fiction book about Australian children’s books which I’m involved in compiling. And UPA Books have created a great little video which gives you a bit of a glimpse into what you can expect to find in this unique, informative and beautiful book. Have a look–it’s worth checking out!

Cover reveal of Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!

I am delighted to reveal the fabulous cover of Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, my forthcoming picture book with Kathy Creamer, to be published by Little Pink Dog Books in June 2022. Isn’t it fantastic!

Here’s the blurb of the book:

Richie the rooster loved waking up the farm each morning. He loved it so much that he began to crow earlier and earlier. Again and again!  Stop, everyone cried. But Richie wouldn’t stop. Until one day…

A hilarious story about how sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, by the acclaimed author and illustrator team who also created See Monkey and Join the Armidale Parade.

This was a story that was such fun to write, and pure joy to see the wonderfully riotous, colourful and characterful visual world Kathy has created for the noisy but endearing rooster Richie, his long-suffering friends on the farm–and the sneaky intruder with the red coat 🙂 I think readers are going to have a lot of fun with it, too. Can’t wait till it comes out!

Find out more and pre-order the book at the Little Pink Dog Books website, here.

A Hundred Words for Butterfly now available on Audible

For anyone who uses Audible, some good news: A Hundred Words for Butterfly, narrated by the wonderful Sarah Kennedy and published by Spineless Wonders Audio, is now available for purchase there, just in time for the holiday season! You can get it free with an Audible trial if you’re not yet a member, buy it within a subscription, or buy it separately, as a non-member. If you do decide to obtain it via Audible, I’d be delighted if you could put up a review of it there. Many thanks!

And remember, you can of course also get the book on many other platforms, see the full list here. Reviews on any site very welcome!

Great little promotional videos from Spineless Wonders Audio

Spineless Wonders Audio have just produced a couple of fabulous little promotional videos, written, edited and filmed by the talented Ben Vella, for the books and authors featured in their growing audio book list. And of course I’m part of that, with A Hundred Words for Butterfly!

Check them out below: the first one features a quick grab of me talking about Authors Direct.

And below is the second video:

Cover reveal for Sydney Under Attack!

I am excited to reveal the absolutely stunning cover of my forthcoming historical novel for middle-grade readers, Sydney Under Attack, which is set in late May and early June 1942, at the time of the Japanese midget submarine attacks in Sydney Harbour.

The book will be published in March 2022 by Scholastic Australia, it was edited by Clare Hallifax, and the cover was designed by Chad Mitchell. Isn’t it striking!

Here’s the blurb of the book:

In 1942, 12-year-old Nick lives in Rose Bay, Sydney, with his mum, dad and sister, and dreams of becoming a writer like his dad. But with the world at war, Nick is constantly on alert for anything that seems out of the ordinary and then late one night he sees it! A plane! But no-one believes him! Then, the unimaginable happens. Sydney is attacked! And Nick starts noticing people behaving strangely. Is it just his imagination or something more sinister?

I hope readers will much enjoy this novel, which is as much a mystery and spy story as it is historical novel and war story. Nick was a great character to write–he is so lively, energetic, and imaginative, even if he does sometimes gets hold of the wrong end of the stick 🙂 And it was a fascinating book to research, too–trawling through documents, archival films and photos, and Sydney newspapers of the time (thank you, Trove!)

The book is part of Scholastic’s Australia’s Second World War series–it’s the third one, in fact. And I wrote the first in that series, too, War and Resistance, which was published in 2019. Sydney Under Attack also has a link not only to War and Resistance, but to another novel of mine, 1914, published in 2014, which was part of another series Scholastic published, Australia’s Great War. The three novels are linked through one French-Australian family, the Jullians, who appear in different roles in each of the three books, as main characters in the first two, across two generations, and as important but not main characters in the the third. It has been absolutely amazing to have been able to do that and keep the link through the three books!

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!

My reading from The Silver Apples of the Moon

In this short video, I read an extract from my short story, The Silver Apples of the Moon, which was published in the superb illustrated anthology, South of the Sun: Australian Fairy Tales for the 21st Century, released earlier this year by the Australian Fairy Tale Society and Serenity Press.

The story is a mix of fairytale, crime thriller, and the supernatural. Hope you enjoy the reading and that it stimulates you to want to read it all and seek out the anthology, which is packed full of extraordinary stories, poems, lyrics and illustrations from both established and emerging Australian writers and illustrators. (By the way, this is very much an adult book, not one for kids.)

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.

Something a bit different for the weekend!

Thought I’d offer something a bit different for the weekend: two of my husband David’s short wildlife videos taken on bushwalks in our region. These are very recent and show two faces of wildlife spring here: a young spotted-tail quoll venturing out, and a carpet snake(or diamond python)coming out into the sunshine after hibernation. Both videos are pretty amazing, and shot just with a small digital camera with a very good optical zoom.

Quolls, which are mainland Australia’s largest native carnivorous marsupials, aren’t rare exactly but they are not common either and around here they are mainly found in the gorge country where there are plenty of places to hide. People rarely see them as they are mainly nocturnal, but clearly this youngster doesn’t know quoll protocol yet 🙂 Isn’t it just gorgeous!

Meanwhile, carpet snakes, as they are commonly known, are found both east and west of the Great Divide–and in this case, on the Great Divide, as this impressive specimen was in the gorge country too. They are non-poisonous snakes but can still inflict a nasty bite–it’s recommended to get a tetanus shot if you get bitten. Despite how close up it looks, David kept a respectful distance away, but the snake wasn’t bothered by him at all anyway.

My version of merlu koskera from the Basque country

Last night, to round off a week of celebrations around A Hundred Words for Butterfly, and to keep up the Basque theme, I made the dish known as ‘merlu koskera’, which is a beloved fish and vegetable soup/stew popular up and down the Basque coast, on both sides of the border, from Biarritz to San Sebastian and beyond. If ttoro, the delicious fish and seafood soup from the Basque coast, which I featured in an earlier post, is flamboyant in its rich redness, merlu koskera is themed around green and white, the other colours of the Basque flag. Traditionally, it’s a spring dish that features ‘merlu’, a type of cod, with seafood, asparagus, peas and boiled eggs as other ingredients, cooked in a delicious sauce of fish stock and white wine, and flavoured with parsley, garlic and piment d’Espelette. But as with most Basque dishes, it’s a flexible thing that can be interpreted according to what you have on hand, and that’s what I did. Here in Australia we can’t get merlu, so I substituted Pacific cod(bought frozen from the supermarket) and as our peas are not yet ready, it being a bit too early in spring for that, I substituted spinach for them. The asparagus though is ready so a bunch of them, fresh-picked from the garden, went into the dish, along with boiled eggs and prawns. (Mussels and clams are also popular additions in the Basque country). And of course piment d’Espelette (for which as I’ve indicated before, you can at a pinch substitute hot non-smoked paprika). My version of the dish was also less on the soupy side, more on the stewy side instead! If you want more soupy, add more fish stock than what I’ve indicated here.

So here’s my version of merlu koskera:

Ingredients (for 2 people): bunch of asparagus, steamed; handful of ‘English’ spinach, lightly steamed; 2 small/medium fillets cod; 6 prawns (or any other seafood you want); 2-3 boiled eggs; chopped parsley; 3 cloves garlic, sliced; half a cup of fish stock; splash white wine; pinch piment d’Espelette; salt to taste.

Method:

Lightly flour the cod fillets, and fry till the coating is getting golden. Add the parsley and garlic, lightly fry(do not let it burn). Add the fish stock and white wine and simmer for about 5 mins. Meanwhile, quickly cook the prawns in a little olive oil, set aside. Add the cooked spinach to the fish mix, stir(without disturbing the fish, add prawns and asparagus, heat through, quickly. Take pan off heat, arrange everything, including the halved boiled eggs, in a large dish or bowl, with the spinach down the bottom, the cod on top and everything else arranged around it. Sprinkle with the piment d’Espelette and serve with bread and boiled potatoes if you want. And that’s it!

Note: If you want to do the whole traditional thing, the peas(pre-cooked) go in at the same time as the spinach did in my version.